If you experience brain fog after eating, you need to adjust your diet. Follow these steps to uncover the offending foods and clear your fuzzy thinking …
You know the feeling …
You eat a meal, then instead of feeling energized you feel exhausted, mentally fuzzy, and you just can’t think.
When you experience brain fog after eating, your brain is clearly trying to tell you something.
Either what you ate or how much you ate is the problem.
Finding the answer requires some detective work.
If you frequently experience brain fog after a meal, here are the three most likely culprits.
Food Additives Linked to Brain Fog
Whenever you eat processed food, fast food, or restaurant food, you really don’t know what you are getting.
Two common food additives — artificial sweeteners and monosodium glutamate (MSG) — are known neurotoxins that can cause brain fog and as well as headaches, mood swings, dizziness, anxiety, and depression. (2, 3)
Avoiding artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose won’t be easy if you’re hooked on diet soda, but at least they are listed on product labels.
Avoiding MSG can be tricky since it’s not required to be listed as an ingredient.
Innocuous sounding ingredients like seasoning, spices, natural flavors, and hydrolyzed soy protein can contain hidden MSG.
Some of the worst sources of MSG seem healthy — Chinese carryout, canned soups, health food store snacks, and veggie burgers.
A good rule of thumb is that the saltier the food, the more likely it contains MSG.
Unless a food in this category specifically says it’s MSG-free, it’s wise to assume it contains MSG.
You can largely avoid food additives by eating “real” food — not food that comes in a can, package, or box or from a restaurant.
Food Reactions That Trigger Brain Fog
If you get brain fog after eating a certain food, you may be allergic to it.
The top allergy causing foods are known as “The Big 8.” (4)
But it can be hard to detect the cause of your brain fog since these foods are so often “hidden” ingredients.
While not on this list, corn is another common allergen.
Wheat, corn, and soy are ubiquitous — 70% of US caloric intake comes from these three foods!
The University of Maryland has put together an extensive list of hidden sources of top food allergens.
You don’t have to have a true allergy for a food to cause mental fuzziness.
It can also be caused by a food intolerance which is not the same thing.
Food intolerance is a catch-all phrase that include things like lactose intolerance, gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), enzyme deficiencies, and metabolic conditions. (6)
For example, lactose intolerance doesn’t mean you’re allergic to dairy — it means you’re missing the enzyme needed to properly digest it.
The foods most likely to cause intolerance reactions are: (7)
- dairy products
- eggs, particularly egg white
- food additives including MSG
- strawberries, citrus fruits and tomatoes
- histamine rich foods such as fermented foods, vinegar, red wine, cured meats, and aged cheese (8)
You may be able to figure out which foods are troublesome for you by keeping a food diary — making note of everything you eat and how you feel afterwards.
If that doesn’t provide the answer, you can largely rule out food intolerances with an elimination diet.
This involves avoiding a food for two weeks, then reintroducing it, and noticing your reactions.
For instructions, you can download the elimination diet patient handout created by University of Wisconsin Integrative Medicine.
This includes a chart you can use as a food diary. Keeping track of your symptoms and progress is a must.
The Effects of Gluten on the Brain
Gluten is a protein in wheat that makes dough stretchy.
It’s also found in barley, spelt, rye, and, to a lesser degree, oats.
Avoiding gluten has become a huge dietary trend with almost one-third of adults actively trying to reduce gluten to lose weight and feel better. (9)
The downside of wheat and gluten has been popularized by bestsellers like Wheat Belly and Grain Brain.
Here are some some of the ways wheat and gluten can affect your brain.
Gluten triggers an autoimmune response that damages the small intestine in people with celiac disease.
If you have brain fog after eating, eliminating wheat and gluten would definitely be something to consider.
However, avoiding gluten should not have you running to the gluten-free aisle of your favorite health food store.
Gluten-free food has become a big business and you can easily find “faux foods” like gluten-free cake mix, pizza crust, bread, and crackers.
These aren’t health foods and won’t help your brain function better one bit.
While doing your wheat or gluten elimination diet, stick with real, unprocessed foods.
It’s only for a few weeks until you know if they are behind your lack of mental clarity.
The Blood Sugar Roller Coaster
Your brain gets its energy from glucose.
Complex carbohydrates, the kind found in unprocessed fruits and vegetables, provides your brain with a steady supply of the energy it needs.
Simple, or refined, carbohydrates like sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and flour products send your blood sugar level on a roller coaster ride — first up and then down.
When your brain glucose gets low, you can experience a host of brain symptoms — brain fog, mood swings, irritability, tiredness, mental confusion, and impaired judgment.
Besides reactivity to gluten, there’s another good reason to avoid wheat.
Shockingly, wheat — even whole wheat — raises your blood sugar levels more than eating a candy bar. (15)
Regular consumption of white sugar and other refined carbohydrates leads to chronically high blood sugar levels.
If you fall into a mental fog within a few hours of eating, you may be experiencing a condition known as reactive hypoglycemia.
This occurs when the symptoms of low blood sugar are experienced a few hours after a mealeven though blood glucose levels remain normal.
This is also known as postprandial (“after eating”) hypoglycemia or postprandial dip.
Besides brain fog, other brain-related symptoms include dizziness, shaking, and anxiety.
This condition is said to be reaching epidemic levels. It affects up to one-third of women in parts of Great Britain. (18)
Don’t overeat. Too much food at one sitting, regardless of what it is, will make you lethargic and unable to focus.
Overcoming Brain Fog After Eating — in a Nutshell
If you experience brain fog after you eat, start a food diary.
It’s the simplest way to determine which foods contribute to your brain fog.
The next step is to try an elimination diet.
Start with the foods you suspect might cause you a problem or with foods most likely to trigger reactions.
Avoid processed foods which are likely sources of additives and hidden ingredients.
Eat “real” food — the kind mainly found around the perimeter of the grocery store.
Be sure to include plenty of nutritious brain power foods in your diet that contain nutrients particularly helpful for foggy brains.
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Tags: HEALING | HEALTHY FATS | REMEDIES
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Tags: HEALING | REMEDIES | PREVENTION
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