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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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How To Break Up With Your Doctor Or GP

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Nobody likes a breakup, but sometimes, you gotta pull the plug.

We all know this feeling applies to romantic relationships, but did you know it also applies to your relationship with your GP or doctor?

It’s important to know that not every practitioner is for you - much like how every person on Tinder isn't for you either (!).

So if you’re feeling that your GP or doctor is not a great fit for your needs, how do you navigate the murky water of breaking up with them? Swiping left IRL isn’t an option (yet). Do you have a face-to-face discussion or pull the classic smoke bomb manoeuvrer?

Your doctor or GP is a member of your trusted inner-circle of life professionals, like your accountant or lawyer. There is no stigma in having an open conversation, but there are a few simple tips to keep in mind, which can make the transition process between professionals smoother.

Read on to learn how you know it’s time to move on - and what you can do.

* As a side note, I recently spoke about this topic on Channel 9's The Today Show - check out the video here!*


Tip # 1 - You Don’t Fit The Age Group

If you’ve had the same doctor or GP since childhood, there’s a good chance you could have outgrown their expertise. Your doctor or GP might have specialised in childhood & adolescent health, so as you grow, keep in mind that there are others out there who could better serve your needs.


Tip # 2 - A Specialist Is Better Suited To Your Needs

In my opinion, it's always great to have an open conversation. As a patient, you ultimately hire your GP or doctor for their expertise as medical professionals. If you feel that your GP or doctor is not delving deep enough into your case, there’s no shame in asking to be referred to a specialist in that particular medical discipline who can give you a more in-depth consultation.


Tip # 3 – Your Doctor Breaks Up With You

If there is a conflict of interest with your case, your doctor or GP could be obligated to refer you to another practitioner. It’s worth noting that doctors and GPs are also human beings and thus prone to changing practices, retiring from service and moving interstate/overseas. When this happens unexpectedly and you’re left in the lurch, read on…

 

Tip # 4 – Ask for Referrals From Your Existing GP or Doctor

It’s perfectly acceptable to ask your current GP or doctor for his or her help and advice in finding someone new. It may sound counterintuitive, but they have the most immediate access to your health records & history and could recommend another medical practitioner within their clinic or practice that is more suited to your needs. Plus, doctors and GPs work in a practice with other practitioners who might specialise in other areas of medicine, so they can more easily share notes within one organisation. 


Tip # 5 – Listen to Family & Friends

Talk to your family and friends and ask for recommendations of medical professionals whom they consult with. Make sure to ask WHY their doctor or GP comes with their recommendation. Is it their breadth of experience? Their friendly manner? Make a list of qualities you are looking for and crosscheck with your family & friends referrals.


Tip # 6 – Search When You Are Healthy

Chances are, the time you are most likely to be searching for a GP is when you’re ill and feeling downright rotten. This isn’t ideal for a number of reasons, but mainly because you won’t be on your 'A' game to spend time asking the questions you need answered. Instead, pencil in half a day to meet with medical professionals when you’re feelin’ fine. Pick and choose your final candidate based on the outcome of these consultations. 


Tip # 7 – Search Digitally & Trial IRL

If you are Google searching for a new medical practitioner, it’s important to try before you buy. Have several consultations with several doctors before you commit to one. Have a chat about your specific health concerns or keep the conversation general and discuss the working relationship you'd like to have in the future. It can be good to trial out a new doctor or GP for the ‘small stuff’ - like a cold - so when the big stuff comes along, you know who to call.
 

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