Early in the movie, "Joe Versus the Volcano," Tom Hanks is tricked into believing he has a fatal condition called a "brain cloud," probably brought on by working in a dreary office lit by old-style fluorescent lights. Based on this belief, he volunteers for a thrilling but ultimately deadly mission. This scene came back to me as I was thinking about what we term "brain fog" and how that relates to the connection between the physical brain and the immaterial mind.
Until recently, with the advent of functional MRI's and other tools, the brain was the mystery organ that seemed to play by its own rules, carefully tucked away in the skull behind the "blood-brain barrier." "Fog" and "cloud" seemed to describe what we saw when we looked at the gray matter of the brain. Now we're learning more about how this organ interacts with the rest of the body and how to optimize conditions so it works well. We're also discovering the ways that the physical status of the body effects our moods, feelings, and thoughts.
- Have you ever had depression, anxiety, irritability, or lack of focus?
- Has a blood sugar crash ever overwhelmed your willpower and equanimity and turned you into a poor version of yourself?
Many paleo/primal/real food researchers have written at length on this topic, and I recommend this link if you want to read more on how diet and brain health go together: http://paleoleap.com/brain-on-paleo/
The point I want to touch on though is another kind of brain fog that can be as powerful as body chemistry. We call it belief, and scientists are learning that the brain and body respond to what we believe (not just what we think we believe) in truly remarkable ways. Known as the placebo effect, it is constantly, and usually unconsciously, shaping our experiences - and our health, for better or worse.
Is it true?
Asking this simple question is like a vitamin for belief-based brain fog. It helps us to consciously check out whether we are limiting ourselves to familiar routines and wondering why this low-grade fuel is not getting us where we want to go. Just as real food can upgrade our bodies, real thoughts, those fundamentally correlated with a reality larger than ourselves, can free our minds for new possibilities, like the sun shining through the fog.
Verona Rylander is a psychotherapist with a degree from Naropa University in Boulder, CO. She grew up on grass fed beef and organic vegetables in Paris, TX and has a long history of curiosity about health, food, nutrition, cooking, and beyond. She's here to offer a broader perspective on Primal Living, changing habits, willpower, body image, and importance of your thoughts.