Although brain fog isn’t a clinically recognized term, it is becoming a global problem. Brain fog is a catch-all term that people use to describe their confusion, forgetfulness and inability to focus.

There are several causes of brain fog. People may tell you it’s just because you’re getting older (while getting older is a cause, feel free to ignore them.) Some serious conditions that cause brain fog include:

  • Mercury poisoning
  • Depression
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Thyroid conditions (both hypo- and hyperthyroidism)

First, rule out these conditions. Beyond those conditions, your lifestyle choices are the likeliest culprit of your fog.

Our rising dependence on smartphones, other electronic devices and social media correlates with the rise in brain fog reports around the world. The use of electronic devices, particularly closer to bedtime, disrupts your body’s sleep/wake cycle and contributes to poor sleep or insomnia.

Skimping on sleep in favor of squeezing in a few more hours of work or socializing also causes brain fog. Aim to get as close to the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night to stave off fogginess. Just in case you’re thinking that if not getting enough sleep causes brain fog, then getting more than nine hours of sleep will lead to more mental clarity: getting too much sleep causes brain fog as much not sleeping enough. (Just ask any hypersomniac.)

The food you choose to eat, and how often you choose to eat, can also contribute to the feelings of brain fog. One thing you can do to reduce or prevent feeling foggy is to avoid processed food. According to BeBrainFit.com, artificial sweeteners and other food additives (like MSG) in processed foods are proven neurotoxins. Adding more omega-3 fats and fruits and vegetables to your diet will also help you reclaim your mental acuity.

Getting enough exercise isn’t just good for your physical health. Adding aerobic exercise (for the release of dopamine) can go a long way toward combating the effects of brain fog and improve your mood.

Growing older can reduce mental clarity. But when you make good choices, it doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of aging.