Have you ever lost your train of thought in the middle of a conversation? Or walked into a room for something and forgotten why? Maybe you are forgetting the names of people you have known for years, or keep losing your wallet!
This happens to everyone from time to time, but if it’s becoming more frequent, there could be a simple reason. (And it’s not old age.) What you are experiencing is possibly a symptom of an underactive thyroid gland. These symptoms include brain fog, frequent forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating and constant mental fatigue.
Whilst research in this filed is still relatively limited, it is known that thyroid hormones act upon an area of the brain known as the hippocampus (which is responsible for memory function.) This little brain region forms part of the limbic system, which also regulates the emotions.
What can I do about it?
If your memory is starting to affect your work performance (or sanity!) don’t despair, there could be an easy solution. The first thing to do is to see your health care practitioner and get a full thyroid blood panel completed. Your GP will only usually request a TSH reading, but in order to adequately assess your thyroid function, you need TSH, fT3, fT4, rT3 and thyroid antibodies. Many nutrients are required for thyroid function and need to be evaluated by blood tests as well. Your naturopath can also order all of these tests, so that you can get to the bottom of the issue.
In the meantime, here are some easy ways to look after your memory:
1. Address stress:
Whether it’s short term or more particularly sustained stress, your brain will be negatively affected. Cortisol is rapidly pulsed from the adrenal glands into the bloodstream which can give temporary alertness; but later on creates extreme brain fatigue.
Take time out for a nature walk, a cup of herbal tea, a guided meditation or a soak in the bath. Let your brain switch off and rest for a while…
2. Get optimal sleep each night:
Whilst it’s true we need less sleep as we get older, it’s vital that we get enough for optimal focus and concentration each day. Every night, we need to allow our brain to rest deeply and let our subconscious mind process the day’s events.
If you are having difficulty sleeping, check out my free eBook to discover how to improve it.
3. Keep hydrated:
If you aren’t drinking enough water, brain function can be affected a lot! Check out the colour of your urine to establish whether you need extra fluid. If it’s pale or clear, that’s a good sign of adequate fluid intake. If it looks like a cup of tea or beer colour, then it’s time to go and have a glass of water!
On rising, drink a mug of warm water to help flush the toxins that have been released over night. As you work at your desk, keep a jug or bottle of water nearby and sip throughout the day. (Or make a nice pot of herbal tea.)
4. Address nutritional status:
There are many key nutrients that the brain needs to function at its best. These include B vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids and specific amino acids. You will find them in whole grains, oily fish, nuts and seeds, eggs and beans and pulses. Restricted diets, such as ketogenic, paleo or vegan diets exclude many of these nutrients and are not recommended long term.
Try keeping a meal diary for a week and have your naturopath assess whether you might need additional support by way of diet or supplementation.
5. Address digestive issues:
You could have the best diet in the world and still have a foggy brain! If that’s the case, you may have difficulty absorbing nutrients. The causes for this are many and varied, but include food intolerances, heavy metal toxicity, imbalanced gut flora (known as dysbiosis) or parasites. If these are left untreated, not only the brain, but the thyroid gland and many other parts of your body will suffer.
If you suspect your thyroid function needs attention or you need support for your memory, call me to discuss whether I can help. Or book an online consultation with me.