The thyroid is an important endocrine gland and thyroid hormone which is secreted by this gland is important for the proper functioning of our brain and body.
There are various thyroid disorders like Hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s disease, Graves disease and the incidence of these conditions are rising rapidly.
One of the common symptoms that people who suffer from any of these thyroid conditions is – brain fog.
Now there is no medical terminology called brain fog but most of my patients use this term to describe their symptoms. The most important part to understand is, what are the symptoms that come under this brain fog, why do people with thyroid disorder have brain fog and is hypothyroidism brain fog reversible.
Thyroid Brain Fog Symptoms
As I mentioned before this term Brain fog is most commonly used but it doesn’t mean just one symptom but most often a combination of different symptoms. So below are the various thyroid brain fog symptoms that my patients describe as brain fog:
- Difficulty in focusing
- Loss of short or long term memory.
- Feeling “cloudy”
- Problems with thinking and communicating.
- Inability to concentrate and multitask
- Feeling confused
- Trouble with word-finding
These are just a few symptoms that I have heard most commonly from my patients of brain fog, but there can be other symptoms too. Any change that you see in your brain function can come under this category.
How does Brain Fog Happen
The brain is an important organ and vital for our existence. Our brain is made with millions of neurons that work together so that our brain can function.
All these neurons rely on a special structure called mitochondria to help them function properly. Mitochondria are energy powerhouse and are needed to provide energy to our neurons.
There are certain organs of our body that have a very high number of mitochondria depending on how much energy they utilize. Brain and heart are two organs that have a very high concentration of mitochondria.
So if these mitochondria are not able to do their job for producing energy then it directly affects the brain output. In people with thyroid dysfunction especially Hashimoto’s, we see that their mitochondria health is very poor and that’s the reason they have these brain fog symptoms or simply Hashimoto’s brain fog.
Why are your Mitochondria in poor health in Hypothyroidism
Mitochondrial health is affected by various factors and we need to understand these underlying factors to improve our brain health, which are created during hypothyroidism brain fog.
The thyroid hormone itself affects the mitochondria function. So low levels of thyroid hormones which are seen in hypothyroidism due to Hashimoto’s disease lead to impaired mitochondrial function and ultimately affect your brain function.
Inflammation is a hallmark of autoimmune disease including Hashimoto’s disease and causes the destruction of mitochondria. In recent years there has been special attention to mitochondrial dysfunction in autoimmune diseases. And it has been noted that mitochondrial dysfunction because of unregulated inflammation, excessive oxidative stress, nutritional deficiencies, and poor lifestyle choices are the major underlying factors for these diseases. And there are some research trials going on to try drugs that improve mitochondrial function in these autoimmune diseases.
Stress whether it is physical, emotional, mental or trauma affects our mitochondria. There has been a lot of research done which shows that emotional stress which affects our adrenal gland and creates dysfunction on our HPA axis ultimately deteriorates our mitochondrial health. Haven’t you noticed that after going through a stressful event in your life you feel that cognition and mental clarity is affected? So this stress affects the health of your mitochondria and doesn’t let them function perfectly.
Food specially processed food, sugar, and gluten are mitochondrial killers. A diet that is high in processed food and simple carbs especially sugars leads to mitochondrial dysfunction. Mitochondria are involved in beta-oxidation which is producing energy through breaking fatty acids and is a very important pathway that fuels our brain. Now when there is excess glucose ( sugar ) in our system this shuts down fatty acid oxidation and thus mitochondrial health is compromised. You might have heard of a ketogenic diet where people consume high quantities of good fat. This ketogenic diet if done correctly can support your mitochondria health. Now I am not proposing that everyone should do a ketogenic diet, but we should definitely do low carb diet to support our mitochondria
3 Step Program to Improve Hypothyroidism Brain Fog
Step 1.Removing the trigger which started this dysfunction.
- Diet: The most common food triggers which cause dysfunction of mitochondria are gluten, dairy, processed food, sugar, simple carbs. So these foods should be first eliminated from the diet completely in this first phase.
- Stress: Stress reduction is very important so that there is no further mitochondrial damage going on. For reducing stress you should follow a self-care practice. This is an important step to regenerate your brain and improve brain fog, but this is the very step that is most often overlooked. This can be as simple as deep breathing, yoga or meditation. But something which you can do on a regular basis even though it is only for 5 minutes. There are various videos and apps available these days, start with guided meditation or deep breathing or body scan meditation and make it part of your routine. A supplement to add during this time to help with stress and also helps support your mitochondria and energy is Cortisol Manager .
Step 2 Reducing Inflammation
In this step, we need to reduce the inflammation which is destroying our mitochondria constantly. This underlying inflammation is not letting your brain work at optimal levels, so unless we work on modulating this inflammation the brain fog will not improve.
- Diet: Here an antiinflammatory diet will be useful. We have already eliminated food which is proinflammatory and now we need to add food which reduces inflammation. So in this phase, you need to eat a low carb diet and a higher good fat diet. Mainly focusing on lots of low carb vegetables, low carb fruits like berries, a moderate amount of protein and having good fat like ghee, olive oil, nuts, coconut cream. Also add anti-inflammatory herbs like turmeric, ginger, green tea. During this step, you can also add intermittent fasting which will help with your mental clarity immensely.
- During this time you can also add a supplement called Inflammatone to help reduce your inflammation.
Step 3: Regenerating Mitochondria
Now, this is the last step where we need to support your mitochondria to work optimally. There are certain nutrients that support your mitochondria health and have shown benefit especially for brain fog.
- Magnesium: It’s a vital nutrient that supports your mitochondrial health and I have seen some good success with brain fog symptoms with it. There are various forms of magnesium that can be helpful, for general mitochondrial purposes and brain fog purposes magnesium threonate is a good one.
- Coq10, ALA, acetyl l carnitine– All these supplements are helpful to support your mitochondria. All of them individually have shown good results in supporting the mitochondria but I like to use them together and that gives the best results. Neurochondria is a supplement which combines all of them together
- Exercise: Exercise is an important way to regenerate your mitochondria and at the same time improve your mental function. Now exercise can be a double-edged sword in some patients. As in some patients, their disease process is so advanced that intense exercise programs can create stress rather than helping in reducing stress. So it’s important to do a graded exercise program where you start with very basic exercises and then build up slowly. The way to know where you start is very simple: that kind of exercise which doesn’t make you feel wiped out or tired is where you start.
Brain fog is a symptom that is frequently associated with thyroid disorder especially in hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s . Several patients suffer from it, and it affects the quality of life significantly. The main underlying reason for this brain fog is mitochondrial dysfunction. So if we work on mitochondrial health we can reverse brain fog symptoms. I have created this simple 3 step program to reverse brain fog which most people can follow easily and can reclaim their brain health again.