In the COVID-19 era, many people complain of brain fog even months after recovering from the virus. In order to optimize cognitive function, it is important to understand the factors contributing to the function of the brain. Our brain's ability to store and access information is dependent on several factors, including the cells in the brain, connections between neurons, and our lifestyle. In this article, we'll explore ways to improve cognitive function, starting with the factors that affect the brain.
One of the most crucial factors is sleep. During deep sleep, our body and brain rest, heal, and repair. It is also the time when short-term memories are transferred to long-term memory, making it easier for us to access the information in the future. If we are not getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night, or if we are not getting into the deeper stages of sleep, these memories are not consolidated and the short term memory suffers.
Stress can also impact cognitive function. Hormones in the adrenal glands play an essential role in memory, concentration, and focus. However, stress can cause an increase in adrenaline and cortisol and a decrease in the master hormone pregnenolone, making it harder for us to calmly think and incorporate new information.
Inflammation can also affect cognitive function. COVID-19, for instance, causes inflammation in the brain, leading to mood changes, cognitive slowing, and memory loss. Eating a diet that is low in sugar, gluten, dairy, and soy can help reduce inflammation throughout the body, including in the brain. Maintaining a healthy weight through exercise and movement can also boost brain health. In older adults, exercise has been shown to increase brain function and memory by 200-300 times.
Hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and thyroid play critical roles in brain function. When these hormones are imbalanced, cognitive slowing, forgetfulness, and brain fog can occur. Estrogen, for example, increases the connections between brain cells, making it easier to access information. Progesterone helps encourage relaxation and sleep, allowing memories to consolidate. Supplements, herbs, minerals, and vitamins known as nootropics can also help improve cognitive function.
In conclusion, optimizing cognitive function requires a holistic approach that includes maintaining healthy lifestyle habits such as good sleep, stress management, exercise, and a healthy diet. It also involves understanding the impact of hormones and inflammation on cognitive function and taking steps to maintain balance. By adopting a holistic approach, we can improve our brain function and reduce brain fog, making us more productive and alert.