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  • Writer's pictureErick Rivas

The Impact of Highly Processed Foods on Brain Fog

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

Have you ever felt like your brain is foggy or “sluggish”? If so, you may be experiencing a phenomenon known as “brain fog.” Brain fog can be caused by a variety of factors, including lack of sleep, stress, and poor nutrition. In this blog post, we will explore how highly processed foods and some of the ingredients contained in those foods, can contribute to brain fog, and what you can do to reduce your risk.


What Is Brain Fog?

Brain fog is a mental state characterized by difficulty concentrating or remembering things. It also involves feeling mentally drained or overwhelmed. People who suffer from brain fog often feel exhausted and struggle to focus on tasks that usually come easily to them.

Highly Processed Foods and Brain Fog

Highly processed foods are those that have been heavily altered from their original form—think deep-fried fast food items or pre-packaged foods and snacks. This type of food is often high in sugar, salt, highly inflammatory fats, artificial additives, and preservatives. All of these ingredients can wreak havoc on your cognitive function and contribute to brain fog.

Sugar's Impact on Brain Fog

Consuming large amounts of sugar can cause blood sugar levels to spike and crash quickly. When this happens, it can lead to fatigue and difficulty concentrating—two symptoms associated with brain fog. Furthermore, studies have found that people who consume more sugar are more likely to experience depression and anxiety—both of which can worsen symptoms of brain fog.

Gluten's Impact on Brain Fog

Gluten is a protein found in wheat-based products such as breads and pastas that many people have sensitivities towards. Consuming gluten can trigger an immune response which results in inflammation throughout the entire body—including the brain! This inflammation has been linked with impaired cognitive performance leading to problems such as memory loss and difficulty focusing—both common indicators of brain fog.

Highly Processed Seed Oils Impact on Brain Fog

Highly processed seed oils, such as vegetable oil and canola oil, contain high amounts of Omega-6 fatty acids. These omega-6 fatty acids are highly inflammatory, meaning that when consumed, they can cause inflammation throughout the body—including the brain. This inflammation has been linked to impaired cognitive performance and symptoms related to brain fog.

Alcohol's Impact on Brain Fog

Although alcohol can contribute to brain fog and impair cognitive performance, it is not classified as a highly processed food. However, I felt compelled to include it within this blog because it is a popular substance that is commonly used in many societies around the world.

Alcohol consumption has been linked with impaired cognitive performance due to its dehydrating effects on the body. Dehydration causes fatigue which leads to difficulty focusing—symptoms commonly associated with brain fog. Additionally, alcohol disrupts the production of certain hormones in the body that are responsible for regulating mood and energy levels—two key components in managing brain fog symptoms effectively.


These are just some examples of how highly processed foods can contribute to your risk for developing brain fog symptoms but there are other dietary habits that may be at play as well. Reducing your intake/consumption of highly processed foods is one way to reduce your risk for developing brain fog but it’s also important to pay attention other factors such as stress levels, sleep schedules ,and overall diet quality . By making small changes over time you may find yourself better equipped for tackling those tasks that used give you trouble due the dreaded “brain fog”!


Erick Rivas

Integrative Nutrition Health Coach



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