If you experience brain fog on the regular, you know it’s no joke. Brain fog can be so severe that it impedes your daily quality of life, down to your ability to think clearly, your ability to experience joy, your ability to work, your ability to communicate or show up as your best self in your relationships, and the list goes on.
The problem when researching brain fog is that there are so many theories and possible contributing factors floating around that it leaves you more confused than anything else. Perhaps you read that it’s due to an overgrowth of candida, the medication you are taking, or the heavy food you ate last night. But then why is it that someone who eats a diet of highly processed junk food can go about their day without the slightest degree of brain fog while someone who eats a diet rich in organic, whole foods struggles to think clearly?
The answer has to do with your liver and your brain.
The liver troublemaker: Epstein-Barr virus
The liver harbours many pathogens and toxins. That’s its job after all, to protect you from the onslaught of toxins around you. But one of the most prevalent and damaging of these pathogens is the Esptein-Barr virus (EBV). In his book Medical Medium: Secrets Behind Chronic and Mystery Illness and How to Finally Heal , Anthony William shares how EBV has created a secret epidemic.
“Out of the roughly 320 million people in the U.S., over 225 million Americans have some form of EBV. Epstein-Barr is responsible for mystery illnesses of every category: For some people, it creates fatigue and pain that go unnamed. For others, EBV symptoms prompt doctors to prescribe ineffective treatments, such as hormone replacement. And for so many people walking around with EBV, it gets misdiagnosed… Among the reasons EBV is thriving: so little is understood about it. Medical communities are aware of only one version of EBV, but there are actually over 60 varieties. Epstein-Barr is behind several of the debilitating illnesses that stump doctors.”
In his latest book, Medical Medium: Liver Rescue, he dives deeper into EBV’s impact on the liver. He explains how many people carry an EBV viral load in the liver without realizing it. EBV and other pathogens feed off of the toxins stored in the liver such as adrenaline, the stress hormone that runs rampant in most of the population’s blood stream due to the common fight-or-flight lifestyle. Toxic heavy metals and pesticides are other favourite foods for EBV, which most of us have accumulated from environmental exposure or exposure in our mother’s womb, especially in the case of toxic heavy metals like mercury.
To make matters worse, not only do pathogens like EBV continually feed off of the toxins stored in the liver, but they also create neurotoxic waste. As the liver fills up with these neurotoxins, it reaches capacity, at which point they escape into the bloodstream. William explains that neurotoxins have a unique ability to travel in the body and to cross the blood brain barrier. Once in the brain, these neurotoxins cloud and short-circuit neurotransmitters, leading to the symptom we know as brain fog.
Dirty neurotransmitters are not able to do their job of transmitting electrical impulses. As an electrical impulse runs down a neuron using an impure neurotransmitter chemical, it can’t burn clean; the impulse is shorted out, diminished, or left to run on less power. William says this discovery is nearly fifty years away in medical research.
Other causes of brain fog
EBV neurotoxins are not the only cause of brain fog, says William. Someone could have adrenal issues from prolonged periods of excess stress, which results in excess adrenaline being soaked up by the liver causing lower energy levels in the body. William also says that adrenaline can get into the brain, where it is highly corrosive to neurotransmitter activity and electrolytes. Over time our ability to produce more neurotransmitters becomes diminished due to poor diet or a stagnant liver.
As mentioned previously, heavy metals are another main cause of brain fog. These toxic heavy metals (like mercury and aluminium) oxidize in the brain and cause a metallic run-off that saturates brain tissue and short-circuits neurotransmitters. William says this type of brain fog is slightly different than the others, with moments of clarity and then fogginess.
Beyond adrenaline and heavy metals, other chemicals like solvents and prescription drugs can over-burden the liver and cause brain fog. However, this type of brain fog typically doesn’t have as much fatigue associated with it as when a virus is at play.
Everyone’s brain fog is slightly different and deserves to have its real causes recognized and identified individually. William states that many health practitioners fall prey to the belief that brain fog is purely gut-related, and while cleaning up the diet and healing the gut can do wonders for many people struggling with brain fog, those who have very high viral loads and sluggish livers congested with neurotoxins will struggle to find success by merely cleaning up the gut, especially because many gut-cleansing protocols fail to correct the aforementioned root causes of brain fog.
Detoxing your liver
Now that you have some of the answers for what’s really behind brain fog, you can move forward with healing. By eating a diet that consists of an abundance of fresh fruits, leafy greens and vegetables, along with avoiding the foods William discusses in Liver Rescue, you can begin detoxifying your liver, but also offer your adrenals and brain the support they need.
There are problematic foods—like eggs and dairy products—that feed viruses and other pathogens in the liver. That includes even grass-fed milk, cheese, and butter. Gluten is another offender. Gluten is a favoured food of the Epstein-Barr virus and other viruses and bacteria. And remember that the more a virus eats, the more toxins it will eliminate, which will only worsen brain fog and other symptoms.
Leafy greens, fruits, and vegetables, on the other hand, will support the liver in ridding viruses and toxic heavy metals from the body. Kale, red lettuce, butter lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, apples, peaches, plums, melons, papaya, wild blueberries, mango, and a little avocado—these are some of the foods William says to incorporate into your diet if you suffer from brain fog or wish to help avoid it in the future. These foods help to kill off viruses like Epstein-Barr, remove toxins from the body, detoxify and support the liver and brain, and so much more.
Straight celery juice on an empty stomach every day not only repairs neurotransmitter chemicals with its mineral salts, but also helps build new neurotransmitters in the brain. For more information on the incredible healing power of celery juice, check out this article, Why the Celery Juice Movement is Taking Over the World.
Brain fog is a serious condition impacting the lives of millions, and understanding its root cause is important so that we don’t mislabel those who are suffering. As William writes in Liver Rescue,
“So many people are blamed for their brain fog and called lazy, irresponsible, uninspired, or unpassionate. People are called silly and even stupid because of brain fog. Children are misunderstood and misdiagnosed because of brain fog. When young adults can’t find the right words to express themselves, and the words that come out of their mouths don’t come out the way they want—that can often be brain fog. Adults often feel inadequate or useless—that can be brain fog. When anyone has difficulty making decisions and feels like the process sucks the life out of them—that can be brain fog. There are reasons you’ve experienced it, and with the right commitment, you can free yourself from it.”