health hack

What Is Brain Fog And How You Can Beat It

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Have you ever walked into a room and forgotten why we've you went in there in the first place?

Maybe you’ve fleetingly stopped in your tracks, grasping to remember your own name for a microsecond?

There’s a name for this unsettling mental phenomenon: 'brain fog'. 

Symptoms of so-called 'brain fog' include forgetfulness, poor concentration, inability to focus and lack of mental clarity, all of which can strike without warning.

It’s worth noting that although ‘Brain fog’ can be attributed to age-related decline and a host of illnesses, it can also strike anyone at any age - even as early as your late teens.

So why do we have ‘brain fog’ and how can we beat it? 

For starters, your brain works hard 24/7, even while you're asleep. It requires a constant supply of fuel, which comes from the foods you eat. Eating high-quality foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourishes the brain and protects it from oxidative stress or the 'free radicals' produced when the body uses oxygen, which can damage cells.

No surprises here, but eating too much sugar and refined carbs can have a negative effect. Thankfully, eating an anti-inflammatory diet can help.

Shifting from a diet high in processed foods, carbs, and sugars to whole, fresh foods like salmon and spinach could make a huge difference to your mental clarity. Foods rich in antioxidants - like blueberries, dark chocolate, and artichokes - can also help boost mental function (yes you heard right, DARK CHOCOLATE).  

Besides diet, ‘brain fog’ can also be stimulated by alcohol and caffeine. In 2015, scientists from Duke University warned that binge drinking as a teenager, before the brain is fully developed, causes long-lasting changes to the regions of the brain that control learning and memory.

Numerous studies have also suggested that even moderate adult drinkers risk significant shrinkage in key parts of the brain. In July, the University of Oxford and University College found that people who have a drink or two every night from middle age are more likely to experience a steep decline in brain power by their 70s. 

Caffeine is a stimulant known to improve mental alertness. But the problem with caffeine is that the energy it gives us is short-lived. Drinking too much can lead to insomnia, headaches and dehydration - and as a result, can impair your mental function.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists says the best way to give up caffeine is to gradually stop having all caffeine drinks (this includes coffee, tea and cola drinks) over a three-week period. Try to stay off caffeine completely for a month to see if you feel less mentally fatigued without it – your brain will thank you for it in the long run.

The final way to beat ‘brain fog’? Sleeping for at least seven to eight hours each night helps to boost your brain performance. Another reason to put good quality shut-eye front and centre in your daily routine. Zzzzzzzz.

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5 Symptoms You Don't Want to Ignore

As we get older, we start to notice some unusual things going on with our bodies. From loss of taste to ringing ears (and hair growing in places it shouldn't be) our bodies are always changing. In a fast-paced world, it can be easy to ignore these niggling changes.

However, some of these oddities could be a warning sign of more serious medical issues. Here are 5 symptoms you should never ignore and why.

 

Symptom # 1 - Ringing In Ears

Ringing in ears could be associated with earwax build-up, head and neck tumours or problems in the jaw.

Alternatively, it could signify Tinnutus - depending on the type of ringing sound heard.

Tinnitus is the perception of hearing noises or ringing in the ear when no external sound is present. Tinnitus symptoms include hearing phantom noises in your ears and experiencing buzzing, ringing, hissing, roaring or clicking noises.

Tinnitus is actually a pretty common problem, affecting about one in five people. It isn't a condition itself, but rather a symptom of other underlying conditions that are associated with age-related hearing loss, injury in the inner ear, earwax buildup or blockage, or sometimes a symptom of allergies.

If ringing in the ears lasts longer than a week, go see your doctor.

Symptom # 2 - Losing Taste & Smell

Losing your sense of taste could be associated with Alzheimer's disease, nasal and sinus problems, nutritional deficiencies, head injury or even as a result of certain medications.

At birth, you have about 10,000 taste buds, but after age 50, you may start to lose them. Some loss of taste and even smell is common in older adults, especially after age 60.

According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 200,000 people visit a doctor each year for problems with their ability to taste or smell.

Scientists believe that up to 15 percent of adults might have a taste or smell problem, but many don't seek a doctor's help.

It's best to see your doctor if you experience losing your sense of taste and/or smell.

Symptom # 3 - Blue-ish Fingernails

Ick! Blue nails are a sign you're not getting enough oxygen to your fingertips, a condition known as cyanosis.

Having blue-ish fingernails could be associated with pulmonary obstruction, emphysema or lung disease.

If your nails are persistently blue, go see your doctor and ask to have your blood and oxygenation levels checked.

If the hue of blue is darker than a tinge, go see your doctor as soon as possible.

Symptom # 4 - Small Dots In The Eye

Ever looked into the mirror and saw small dots in your eyes? 

Your eyes are similar in nature to skin. Like skin, the eyes can get marked. These mars are called choroidal nevi.

Although the name sounds complicated, a choroidal nevus is merely a freckle in the eye. Choroidal nevi are usually harmless: in most cases, they can only be seen by an eye doctor.

Your doctor will likely monitor any freckle and alert you if it changes in colour, size or shape.

If you notice that the dots change shape, this could be associated with a melanoma and should be monitored by a doctor immediately.

Symptom # 5 - Excessive Female Facial Hair

Hirsutism is a medical condition most commonly caused by an imbalance of sex hormones, specifically excess male hormones called androgens.

One of the most common causes is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition affecting women of reproductive age.

The condition results in excessive amounts of dark, coarse hair on body areas where men typically grow hair - the face, chest and back.

The amount of body hair you have is largely determined by your genetic makeup.

This morning, I spoke about these 5 symptoms on The Today Show Australia. Check out my YouTube channel for more health hacks!