Do you feel like you just don’t have the energy you’re used to have? Do you live with a general sense of fatigue, no matter how much sleep you get? 

Does is seem like your brain just is not as sharp as it used to be? Do have problems concentrating or remaining focused? Are you forgetting things more often than you used to? 

Brain fog and fatigue often go hand in hand because they are often the result changes in the environment of the brain. 

Brain fog and chronic fatigue are two common health concerns I see in my office and I have also observed an increase in these two complaints during this past year. 

How are brain fog and fatigue related? 

What are the common causes of brain fog and fatigue? As a functional medicine doctor, I specialize in the root cause of health issues. Lets take a look at some of causes of brain fog and fatigue and how they are often coming from the same root causes. 

What is causing your fatigue? 

 The first thing we want to do is to rule out common causes of fatigue, such as low iron, medication side-effects, thyroid problems or issues with blood sugar regulation. If we don’t find problems with these, then we start looking for chronic factors that can cause fatigue such as: 

 

  • Chronic Epstein Barr infection/active virus replication
  • Adrenal gland fatigue 
  • High levels of inflammation in the body
  • Food sensitivities 
  • Yeast overgrowth in the digestive system
  • Leaky gut 
  • Poor energy production in cells due to altered function of mitochondria 
  • Sleep apnea 
  • Etc. 

 

 

There are direct connections between what happens in the gut and the brain.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6313445/

These are just of a few reasons you may be experiencing fatigue. We often find that the cause of fatigue is also the cause of brain fog. 

“Chronic fatigue – “an overwhelming sense of tiredness, lack of energy and feeling of exhaustion” (Krupp 1996) – is a frequent phenomenon in chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases. It is often rated by patients as their worst complaint, the most difficult problem to cope with, and the most important reason for work disability. Fatigue must not be mistaken for normal tiredness, and as such does not respond to rest or sleep.”

https://ard.bmj.com/content/74/Suppl_2/16.3

What is important to note here is that chronic inflammatory conditions, autoimmune diseases, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases all have 2 things in common: the immune system and inflammation. We will talk more about inflammation and brain function in a moment. 

What is brain fog? 

“You know the feeling: you can’t find a particular word, remember someone’s name, or concentrate the way you once did. Is it just aging, or is something else to blame? “It’s easy to underestimate how underlying conditions affect memory and thinking, and they are often overlooked,” says Dr. Shreya Raj, a neuropsychiatrist with the Center for Brain/Mind Medicine at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/is-an-underlying-condition-causing-your-fuzzy-thinking 

No one knows exactly what causes brain fog. This is because there are many reasons someone may experience it. 

We do know the brain is being affected, so let’s look at what the brain needs to function properly. I see brain fog as reduced function brain cells (neurons). 

What do your brain cells need to function properly? 

The adult human brain weighs about 3 pounds, but it uses 20% of all energy required by the body. This gives you some idea how much energy the brain requires for it to work properly.

How are brain fog and chronic fatigue related? 

Anything that reduces your brain’s ability to make energy will result is symptoms. The two most common symptoms are chronic fatigue and brain fog! 

What are common causes of reduced brain energy production? 

 

  • Chronic inflammation 
  • Reduced blood flow /oxygen to the brain 
  • Low thyroid function 
  • Nutrient deficiencies 

 

 

The most common cause, by far, is chronic inflammation. 

So the most common cause of brain for and chronic fatigue would be chronic inflammation. This has a significant impact on the brain’s ability to create the energy is needs to work properly. 

Common causes of chronic inflammation include: 

 

  • Food sensitivities 
  • Leaky gut 
  • Imbalance of microorganisms in the gut (good/bad bacteria, yeast, parasites, etc.) 
  • Autoimmune disease 
  • Chronic stress 
  • Chronic and active viral infections 
  • Poor sleep 
  • Adrenal gland fatigue 
  • Hormone imbalances (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone) 
  • Etc. 

 

Summary

The common link between chronic fatigue and brain fog is how the brain if functioning. The most common cause of reduced brain function is inflammation. This inflammation reduces how much energy the brain can make. Remember that your brain uses 20% of all the energy your body makes.The trick is discovering what is causing the inflammation. This is why taking a functional medicine approach is so important. There are numerous reasons why your body could be inflamed and in many cases there is more than a single cause. Once the source of inflammation is addressed, the brain is able to produce the energy it needs and symptoms of chronic fatigue and brain fog start to melt away. 

The purpose of functional medicine is: 

Understanding how the body works, knowing how and where to investigate health issues, knowing what to look for, understanding the significance of what is found and creating a plan of action to reverse and correct the root cause the health problems.

My wish for you…health, happiness and a better quality of life! 

If you would like more information about functional medicine and integrative medicine or Dr. Sexton go to www.napervilleintegratedwellness.com

Do your own research, inform yourself and ask lots of questions. When collecting information, you MUST consider the source. There is no shortage of false, misleading, outdated, profit-driven and utterly biased information in healthcare today; even from the most respected sources and organizations. 

This approach to healthcare is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, mitigate, or prevent any disease. This article is for information purposes and is not a substitute professional healthcare services. Contact our office for more information.