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Eating to Combat Brain Fog

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Hypothesis and Emerging Research

Hypothesis and Emerging Research

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Some early observations support this concept (or parts of the theory), and there is scientific interest in elucidating exactly what’s at work.

Eating to Combat Brain Fog

Eating to Combat Brain Fog

If you’ve ever experienced brain fog, you know it’s difficult to pinpoint—slow thinking, haziness, difficulty focusing, confusion, lack of concentration, forgetfulness, cloudiness in thought processes, and difficulty communicating. These symptoms can, over time, result in reduced cognition and short- and long-term memory loss. Yet because the symptoms are subjective and brain fog is not a medical condition, getting the appropriate care can be difficult.

What causes brain fog is not clear, but some studies suggest it’s likely associated with inflammation in and blood flow to the brain. According to nutritional psychiatrist Uma Naidoo, MD, eating excess sugar, caffeine, and alcohol contributes to its symptoms. “Consistently eating a balanced diet with lots of nutrient-dense and antioxidant-rich foods can help,” Naidoo says. Nutrients fuel our brains and antioxidants help get rid of toxic compounds and counter inflammation: “Eating the colors of the rainbow to get the array of nutrients and antioxidants your brain needs is a great place to start.”

Fruits, vegetables, and legumes have a variety of antioxidants and nutrients. Their color can indicate the presence of certain antioxidants (flavonoids) that give them their pigment: red for lycopene (cherry tomatoes); orange or yellow for carotenoids (carrots); green for chlorophyll (spinach, dandelion greens); blue or purple for anthocyanins (blueberries); white for anthoxanthins (onions). Eating the full range can help your brain get the antioxidant support it needs.

Naidoo also recommends getting plenty of folate (vitamin B9), found in leafy-green vegetables—low levels are associated with symptoms of brain fog and feelings of fatigue. And she suggests swapping out a dairy-based yogurt for a coconut-based yogurt, eating chia pudding with berries and nuts, and adding veggies (especially leafy green vegetables) to as many meals as possible, including your breakfast.

Eating the Rainbow: Recipe Picks


Green Chia Pudding

Green Chia Pudding

A different way to get your greens in for breakfast.


Breakfast-for-Dinner Hash with Turkey Sausage, Butternut Squash, and Kale

Breakfast-for-Dinner Hash with Turkey Sausage, Butternut Squash, and Kale

Savory, sweet, and tasty.


Cauliflower Black Bean Scramble

Cauliflower Black Bean Scramble

Super savory and filling.


Herby Chickpea and Beet Salad

Herby Chickpea and Beet Salad

A sweet, earthy, creamy way to feel satisfied.

“Regularly incorporating fermented foods and spices—black pepper, turmeric, chili pepper, and black cumin (as a spice or a tea)—into your meals can help add antioxidants and flavor, too,” says Naidoo. “And developing research suggests that eating foods rich in the antioxidant luteolin can particularly help with brain fog over time.”

Researchers propose that luteolin, a flavonoid, may help decrease brain fog by reducing inflammation in the brain, limiting oxidative stress, inhibiting the activity of viruses, and reducing cognitive decline. You can find luteolin in foods such as celery, broccoli, artichokes, peppermint, green pepper, parsley, thyme, olives, and carrots.

Incorporating Spices, Herbs, and Luteolin: Recipe Picks


Marinated Olives and Artichoke Hearts

Marinated Olives and Artichoke Hearts

Quick, easy, and full of flavor.


Chicken and Veggie Noodle Stir-Fry

Chicken and Veggie Noodle Stir-Fry

Deliciously uses up leftover veggies.


Spiced Chickpea, Lentil, and Carrot Stew with Herbs and Yogurt

Spiced Chickpea, Lentil, and Carrot Stew with Herbs and Yogurt

A hearty, Moroccan-inspired stew.


Salmon Rice Balls with Cucumber Salad

Salmon Rice Balls with Cucumber Salad

Bite-size, onigiri-style rice balls.

Uma Naidoo, MD, is a nutritional psychiatrist who serves as the director of nutritional and lifestyle psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. She is also on the faculty at Harvard Medical School and is a professional chef. She is the author of This Is Your Brain on Food.

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of goop.

We hope you enjoy the book recommended here. Our goal is to suggest only things we love and think you might, as well. We also like transparency, so, full disclosure: We may collect a share of sales or other compensation if you purchase through the external links on this page.

We hope you enjoy the book recommended here. Our goal is to suggest only things we love and think you might, as well. We also like transparency, so, full disclosure: We may collect a share of sales or other compensation if you purchase through the external links on this page.



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