This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Charles Penick, MD
Brain Fog Biohacking: Whether or not you are dealing with brain fog, addressing brain health should be a significant value to anyone interested in living a long and healthy life. Brain related disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s are on the rise, and today we tackle all things brain health! Let’s clear the fog of today and pave the way for a thriving brain tomorrow.
What is Brain Fog?
Although it is not a medical term, brain fog is the layman’s term for virtually anything that interferes with your ability to think clearly. Brain fog can show up as an array of symptoms, including confusion, poor memory, disorientation, forgetfulness, irritability, inability to concentrate, lack of clarity, and wandering thoughts. 
Research indicates 60% of Americans suffer from moderate to severe cognitive dysfunction, a number that is rapidly growing. An estimated 5.8 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s (2019) with numbers expected to triple over the next ten years.  Whether you are facing severe neurodegenerative disease or are experiencing the daily struggle of brain fog—cognitive dysfunction is common, but it’s not normal.
By better understanding the various root causes of cognitive dysfunction, we can start making better lifestyle choices to support brain health. Paired with some bio-hacks to supercharge your brain health, there is no reason why you or anyone you love should be facing the daily struggles of cognitive impairment.
What Causes Brain Fog?
We’re facing an epidemic of broken brains. The dysfunction in the issues causing brain fog is generally multifaceted: the perfect storm of inputs that creates the symptoms you are facing. Several factors can lead someone down the path of cognitive dysfunction. By addressing these, we can start, to piece the brain back together and regain clarity.
The brain weighs about three pounds or 2% of your body weight. It’s the most energy-intensive organ in the body, consuming 20-30% of your caloric consumption, 20% of the oxygen you breathe, and 25% of the body’s blood flow.  What you feed your body (and brain) matters, so let’s explore the in’s and out’s of what to eat and when to eat it to maximize cognitive function.
- Diet Quality (with quality fats): brain health requires cholesterol-rich saturated fats from animal fats like tallow, lard, butter, and ghee. These types of fats help rebuild cellular membranes. On the other hand, highly processed (heated) vegetable oils and trans fats are rancid and cause chronic inflammation. Stick to organic whenever possible and pasture-raised anytime you’re consuming animal products (grass-fed and finished). On top of the good fats, a quality diet with plenty of high-quality animal proteins, lots of properly prepared vegetables (sprouted, fermented, and cooked) to rid food of its anti-nutrients like lectins. 
- Addressing intolerances and allergies: this is where bio-individuality comes in. Understanding your individual body’s needs is vital, requiring knowing which foods do and don’t work for your body. Common allergies include gluten, soy, and wheat, but merely taking on allergies because they’re common isn’t useful. Get to know how your body reacts to foods, with an awareness that just because something is common doesn’t mean that you have it. Just because a food is commonly considered healthy doesn’t mean it is so for your body. Always tune in to your individual needs!
- Diet Variation: Although ketosis is a great tool to produce quick-burn and clean fuel for the brain, it’s essential to vary the diet (some higher carb days, some keto days, some fasting days) to keep the body continually adapting. Forced adaptation is the key to metabolic flexibility, and it prevents hitting dietary plateaus. Chronic keto can result in the downregulation of your metabolism, so don’t forget to vary your diet.
- Intermittent fasting: Intermittent fasting (IF) is a daily restricted feeding window, whereby you mindfully incorporate a significant fasting window each night. IF should last at least 12 hours (12 hours of fasting and 12 of feeding), but ideally, you want to restrict it even more to only 4-6 hours of feeding daily. This allows your brain’s glymphatic system to operate every night, which is your brain’s self-cleaning mechanism. An impaired glymphatic system has been linked to various cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia, so getting enough high quality sleep in a fasted state is key to brain health. 
- Fasting: Like an intermittent fasting window, fasting amplifies all the benefits of brain-boosting ketones and can allow the brain to do even deeper cellular clean-up via the glymphatic system. Having semi-annual or even seasonal 5-day water fasts is a profound tool to improve cognitive health and reduce whole-body inflammation. 
Sleep plays a significant role in your cognitive abilities and overall brain health. The brain remains very active during sleep. New studies suggest this is one of the only times the brain undergoes a self-detoxification mechanism through the glymphatic system of the toxins that build up during waking hours. This is one of the most imperative processes that help prevent age-related cognitive decline and diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. [2, 5]
Sleep deprivation plays a detrimental role in short term cognitive abilities like memory and reaction time. Studies show that driving while tired can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. 
- Sleep Quantity: most people are aware that sleep quantity matters and timing refers not only to how many hours but also which hours you get to sleep. Our circadian rhythm works with daylight in that our body’s sleep rhythms require total darkness to sleep. Ideally, you want to wind down when the sun starts to set, and naturally, humans sleep longer hours in winter (when nights are longer). Aiming for 7+ hours is ideal, and if you can wake up without an alarm clock, even better. 
- Sleep Quality: quality matters perhaps even more than quantity because the deep regenerative brain healing sleep requires quality sleep. Quality sleep is the deep and REM phase of sleep, which goes beyond light sleep. This requires sleep hygiene like taking electronics out of the bedroom, avoiding artificial blue light 2+ hours before bed, having a regular sleep/ wake cycle, avoiding too much stimulation before bed (like heavy exercise), and avoiding too much caffeine (especially in the afternoon). 
Neurons in the brain are responsible for communicating and processing information. Keeping up with this task requires the constant turnover and renewal of your brain cells, which happens when you exercise.
Exercise helps with the prevention of brain atrophy and improved cognitive functions like learning capabilities. One of the body’s signaling mechanisms for neuronal growth is called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is triggered during vigorous exercise. 
- 20-40 minutes of aerobic exercise triggers a 32% increase in BDNF
- One of the best forms of exercise for cognitive health is high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which optimizes an array of hormones, including IGF1
- Short bursts of intense exercise have also been associated with longevity and a lowered biological age
- Endurance training is less beneficial for brain health and can take a toll on the physical body too in the long run, lowering your biological age
Toxins generally bioaccumulate in our nerve tissues, and due to its high-fat content, especially in the brain.  Although it is impossible to avoid all toxins, being mindful of small daily exposures is critical because they may seem insignificant in microdoses, but they build up over time.
The top areas to be mindful of toxin wise include:
- Diet: non-organic food grown with pesticides and herbicides, as well as GMOs.
- Heavy metals: silver (with 50% mercury) amalgam fillings, inherited in utero, old school lead-based paint, make-up
- BPAs and the other plastic-based chemicals: from the lining of canned food, plastic containers, and bottles.
- Water: contaminated from old pipes or the added neurotoxic chemicals introduced into city tap water.
- Mold: especially black mold, caused by damp areas or water damage in homes and workspaces.
Addressing cellular detox and healing requires an upstream approach that addresses all the steps back to the root cause. I call this the 5R process, which includes:
- 1. Remove the Source – We need to determine which toxic sources (heavy metals, biotoxins, environmental toxins, and toxins inside your home) are causing body-wide damage. Once identified, these sources can then be safely ushered out of the body using my crafted protocols.
- 2. Regenerate the Cell Membrane – In healthy individuals, the supple bi-lipid fat layer of the cellular membrane allows both nutrients to flow inside easily and toxins and free radicals inside the cell to leave unimpeded.
- 3. Restore Cellular Energy – As nutrients flow into the cell, they feed the powerhouse called the mitochondria, which produces ATP (energy). Without adequate ATP production, our cells are unable to detoxify or regenerate properly.
- 4. Reduce Inflammation – Toxic inflammation comes from 3 primary sources: overconsumption of refined sugar and grains, bad fats and toxins from food sources, cosmetics, air pollution, toxic cleaning products, and more.
- 5. Reestablish Methylation – The body needs methyl groups to turn stress hormones on and off; if depleted, our body stays in a constant state of stress.
You can learn more about the 5 Rs at DrPompa.com.
Head trauma is increasingly recognized in terms of a primary source of brain issues. Cognitive impairment is a common consequence of traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBI has a range of symptoms that impact brain wellness, including attention, processing speed, episodic memory, and executive function. [2, 11]
Apart from brain fog, the head trauma caused by injury can have a severe influence on a wide range of ways someone operates in the world. Those with TBI often lack self-control and self-awareness, often leading them to behave inappropriately or impulsively (without thinking it through). Individuals can have a harder time paying attention, remembering things, processing and understanding information, planning and assembling, and reasoning or solving problems. 
Studies suggest that following a brain injury, there is a larger cerebral uptake of ketones. Ketones can provide a much more efficient source of fuel for the brain than glucose (sugar), and so solutions for TBI-related symptoms, including brain fog, are heavily centered on the production of ketones. [13, 14]
- Fasting: fasting has been studied extensively as a neuroprotective mechanism following a traumatic brain injury. Neuroprotection from fasting is due to ketone production and use, which results in increased tissue sparing. [14+ 4] Benefits have been shown for moderate TBI with as little as a 24 hour fast, but opting for a 5-day water fast is ideal for maximizing autophagy and ketone production.
- Ketosis-centered diet: Like the ketone-boosting benefits that fasting has on TBI, a ketogenic diet is ketone rich and offers anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective benefits Ketones are an easy fuel source for the brain.
Bio-Hack Your Brain
Without addressing the (potentially multiple) root cause(s), bio-hacks won’t be long term solutions. Dealing with the causes mentioned above, like head trauma, toxicity, exercise, sleep, and nutrition, should be prioritized. However, the bio-hacks play a profound role in speeding up the track to healing and getting your brain back.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a non-invasive treatment that involves breathing 100% pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber. The body can take up to 300% more oxygen than breathing air at normal pressure.
HBOT has demonstrated various benefits for the brain. It provides improved blood flow to the brain, which is vital for cognitive health. Studies show that regular HBOT use provides benefits in various areas, including physical, psychological, and cognitive tests. 
Also known as ‘smart drugs,’ nootropics are any targeted supplement that enhances brain function, either acutely or assists in the long-term repair and health of your brain. Targeted improvement areas include improved cognitive function, mainly executive functions, memory, creativity, or motivation.
- CBD: Cannabinoid extracts is associated with a wide array of benefits for the brain, including profound anti-inflammation. CBD is being used as a tool for preventative and potentially reversing severe cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s by removing plaque-forming proteins that promote the disease. 
- Exogenous ketones: although you can’t necessarily out-supplement your natural production of ketones (through a ketogenic diet and fasting), using exogenous ketones, such as ketone-salts or ketone esters, is one way to support your body’s ketone production and ease the transition into ketosis. 
- L-Theanine: found in tea, this naturally occurring amino acid has an anti-inflammatory effect known to promote cognitive clarity, with a calming effect (but no drowsiness). 
- Ginkgo biloba: is known for its ability to improve memory and mental processing, improving blood flow to the brain and reducing cortisol (a significant source of inflammation) 
Brain fog and cognitive conditions are incredibly common in the modern-day. The cause is multifaceted, as is the healing approach. Brain health requires addressing a few key areas, including diet, sleep, cellular toxicity, exercise, and head trauma. There are various ways you can help speed up the healing process, too, including hyperbaric oxygen therapy and taking nootropic supplements.
Beat Brain Fog with B-Brain
These days, most of us are juggling remote work, childcare, and household chores. But hustling to the point of exhaustion isn’t new in our go-go-go culture. There’s a reason burnout became an occupational phenomenon in 2019, as doctors and researchers begin to fully understand the repercussions of stress on the body. One of the biggest consequences of stress? Loss of brain function. Brain fog, headaches, mood fluctuations, and memory loss are just a FEW symptoms that come with chronic stress. It may be because stress is robbing your body of some essential nutrients.
Your body releases several critical vitamins and minerals to fight the inflammation and free radicals your system creates in response to stress. One of the first nutrients to go? B vitamins. B vitamins are crucial for brain function, stress management, and immune system function. So, stress and nutrient depletion create a dangerous feedback loop of chronic stress, brain fog, mood fluctuations, and… more stress. Plus, B vitamins are water-soluble and your body doesn’t produce them on its own, so it’s important to replenish your stores regularly.
B-Brain by Systemic Formulas is packed with targeted B vitamins and other nutrients to support brain health and your natural stress response. With B-Brain, you’ll get nutrients that promote concentration, clarity, alertness, and better memory function. Added nutrients help bridge the gap between the left and right hemispheres of your brain for even more mental power.
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Medical Disclaimer: This article is based upon the opinions of Dr. Daniel Pompa. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Pompa and his associates. This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Charles Penick, MD for accuracy of the information provided, but Dr. Pompa encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.