How to Get Fit, Feel Better, and Get Rid of Your Foggy Head: A Few Simple Steps

Laser BrainSuffering from foggy head syndrome…

Over the past few months, I’ve been experiencing an increasing set of symptoms that are best described as a “foggy head”. I would feel like I was drifting in a perpetual fog throughout the day, almost as if I had never quite woken up. I would catch myself looking at my screen in a daze from time to time…

I went to visit the doctor in what was probably the first time in quite a while, and I scheduled a blood test. The blood test came back with normal numbers all around, except for a few normal-high numbers for the liver, notably bilirubin. I had a follow-up ultrasound done of my abdomen, which found no problems at all. The doctor noted that I had two spleens, but told me that it’s harmless. I then had a second blood test done for the liver to rule out hepatitis and other diseases. My bilirubin was still high, but everything else was normal. This could possibly indicate that I have Gilbert’s syndrome, which appears to be relatively harmless.

So if everything was basically fine, then what was wrong? The symptoms hadn’t disappeared, so my doctor gave me a referral for a neurologist to try and figure out what was going on.

The symptoms worsen…

During this time, my symptoms were worsening. I would pass through days in a daze, feeling clearer only late at night. When the feeling was very strong, my gut sometimes felt like it was contracting or on fire, and I would feel like throwing up. I didn’t know how I could get through a day like that.

One day was particularly bad, so I went back to see my doctor to see if there wasn’t something else we could look at. He was completely stumped, and insisted I wait another couple of weeks until I see the neurologist, as my symptoms were quite vague and unusual.

I wasn’t happy with having wasted my time at the doctor’s office, though I know it wasn’t my doctor’s fault. He was simply doing the best he could. I was still upset at the time, and earned myself a speeding ticket for it. 😉 I could do nothing else but wait for the neurologist. My doctor couldn’t determine what was wrong, since the tests hadn’t shown anything wrong.

Something to note is that sometime before I went to see the doctor, when the symptoms were milder, I went to try acupuncture a few times. I had never tried it before, and I was curious. Later when my doctor noted my high liver test results, I was impressed with the way that the practitioner had been able to determine that I had a “fire of the liver”, without having any prior knowledge of my test results beforehand or of my symptoms, other than “foggy head” and “lack of energy”. I also did feel better after a session, though it was never permanent.

I was also impressed that he was able to tell when I was feeling foggier than other days simply by feeling my pulse on both of my wrists. Whenever I felt foggier, he would say that the pulse on my left wrist felt different; a bit weaker; again, this was without me ever saying anything beforehand. In fact, when I came back from my hike on Mount Mansfield, I felt really good and he said that my pulse was stronger. In fact, I felt great for that week, though the problems came back the week after. :(

Nothing I do seems to help?

At this point, I had already been to the doctor, done my basic tests, and I had even tried some traditional medicine. What else could be the problem?

Maybe the fogginess was due to a lack of exercise? It’s true that I do spend most of the day sitting on my ass, as I work in front of a computer. However, I am not completely inactive. I also walk around quite a bit when taking the subway, and also during breaks. Once a week or so, I walk about 5 subway stops and take the subway from there. I also ride my bike and I also do workouts twice a week. Although I’m not and I wasn’t super fit, I was still getting some level of exercise.

Maybe I was simply missing some high-intensity cardio? I started doing some runs up the stairwell in my office building up fifteen flights of stairs, but I would get back to my desk out of breath and just as foggy as before.

Maybe I just needed some more sunlight? I would walk outside in the sun for 15 to 20 minutes a couple of times a day, but I would feel just as foggy afterwards.

Maybe it was the EM waves from my cellphone? Well, I no longer leave my phone on the night table next to my head; it’s now located a couple of feet away from the foot of my bed. This didn’t seem to change all that much, though.

I was getting increasingly frustrated by the persistence of the fog and the lack of progress, and my seeming powerlessness to do anything about it. My girlfriend can testify to my increasing frustration, and I thank her for putting up with it and for supporting me through this!

The road to recovery

Me and my girlfriend did more research into “foggy head” symptoms, and I found that there is a connection between the liver and these symptoms. The theory is that our livers can become overloaded with toxins due to all the crap that’s in our food, water, and air these days. The body becomes less efficient at flushing these toxins out, and they can end up in the brain where they can have a detrimental effect.

Another theory that I’ve read is that our intestines are normally host to a healthy mix of bacterial flora, but due to our modern diet, this mix can become unbalanced and detrimental to our health. In the process of metabolizing what we eat, this bad mix of bacteria can create certain compounds that can give rise to a “foggy head” syndrome.

I don’t know how well these theories stand up to rigorous scrutiny, but the connection seemed to make sense; I decided to put it to the test.

Detoxifying your body

The first thing I did was a detoxification. No crazy fasts or disgusting enemas; I simply started following a 30 day detox challenge by adopting a 100% paleo cuisine. I have mentioned the benefits of going primal in the past but I have to admit that it’s not something that I had been very strict with, myself. I was still eating freshly-cooked food, to be sure, but I was also eating a lot of grains and pasta, drinking lots of milk, eating some processed food, and the occasional fast food. In the last few weeks before I started my detox, I had started to get into the habit of drinking a coffee with a Kit Kat bar. I actually had a craving for it every day. It doesn’t sound so bad, right? Well, maybe it wasn’t so great, either.

The day I went on the detox plan, I stuffed the milk in the freezer, stuffed the pasta and stuff like that in the tallest cupboard where it could not be easily reached, and drank mostly water for the first day and ate whatever was left in the fridge that could still be eaten.

That first day, my gut felt like it was declenching. I went through a LOT of water, and I could feel my insides washing out. The next day, I bought plenty of food at the grocery store and started to prepare healthy, clean meals. I also bought a couple of 4L water jugs from the store; I know, maybe not the most environmentally healthy thing to do, but our tap water actually smells pretty funky sometimes. I just don’t know about drinking chlorinated and fluoridated water, even after passing it through a Brita filter.

I felt much better after only a couple of days. I had my appointment with the neurologist that week, and when I went to see him, I already felt better. He did some standard tests on me, but he couldn’t find anything wrong. Based on my symptoms, he didn’t have a solid idea of what the problem could be.

He suggested three choices to me: Do nothing about it, wait a long time for a MRI in the public sector, or pay to get a private MRI. There was no way I was going to do nothing, and there was also no way I was going to wait a year or more to find out if there really was something wrong with my head or not, so I elected to do the private MRI.

During the rest of the week, my health continued to improve. I felt good that weekend, and I felt good the days afterwards. I started following the primal blueprint and fitness plan; primal eating is similar to the detoxification plan, and is a good way to continue. I’ve eliminated most grains, refined carbs, and other types of foods that can cause inflammation in the body and cause digestion problems.

Nothing I had tried up until this point had had any significant effect on my foggy head; only a detox and a shift to primal eating had a profound effect on my ability to think clearly, and on my general level of health. Although the fog isn’t 100% gone, I feel much better these days. I have a higher level of energy than I had before and I am now able to go many hours without eating, whereas before I would feel as if I was starving and I would have cravings for my Kit Kat bar. My mouth still salivates a little when thinking about it, but I can go without it. In fact, I’m perfectly happy with some fresh fruit as a snack!

MRI Results

The results of my MRI further confirmed that my feelings were not related to a physical problem with my brain:

  • The cerebullum, brainstem, and the cerebral hemispheres are of normal morphology.
  • Adequate grey/white matter differentiation. Normal size and shape of the ventricular system. The craniocervical junction and the midline structures as well as the orbits and their contents appear unremarkable.
  • No areas of unusual signal in the parenchyma.
  • No mass lesions. No demyelination. No gliosis.
  • Minimal left mastoid inflammatory changes.
  • Conclusion: Normal study.

So not only does my brain appear normal, it actually appears unremarkable! The only item of note is the minimal left mastoid inflammatory changes, which appears to be something unrelated to the brain; the conclusion is otherwise normal (other than the fact that I have quite an oddly-shaped head; yes, I saw the scans for myself!).

I guess this means that things are looking good up there, and I should stop worrying about that!

Going primal

Paleo diet.So, what does going primal mean? Primal eating is based on the idea that for over two million years, our diet was rather simple and specific: It consisted of animal fat, protein, and whatever vegetables, roots, and berries and fruit that we could forage. Our bodies are best adapted to this kind of diet. Although we can also digest grains and processed food, our bodies are mal-adapted to process these sorts of nutrients, and they can wreak all kinds of havoc within our bodies.

So back to the basics… sounds good, right? Unfortunately, that does not describe the kind of diet that most of us “enjoy” today. Highly processed and refined carbs are the order of the day. Our bodies have gotten used to a massive dose of carbohydrates every few hours, and it prepares plenty of insulin in response. This leads to a boom and crash cycle which sends our bodies through wild swings, increases stress and inflammation, and leads us to accumulate fat on our bodies.

Evolution of Man. Source:

We are simply not meant to eat this way! We did not evolve in these circumstances, and even our ancestors of a few hundred years ago did not eat the way that we do today.

In shifting to a primal diet, our body learns to burn fat instead of waiting for a periodic massive carb influx. It might sound somewhat counter-intuitive, but by cutting out refined carbs from your diet entirely and eating more fat and protein, you can actually improve your physique, increase your energy levels, and watch the fat melt away.

Here are some of the great benefits that I’ve noticed:

  • There is no longer a need to eat “snacks”. Whether I’m hungry or not, I find that I have much more energy throughout the day, and I can go longer without eating. This is because my body is no longer adapted to a periodic massive carb intake which must be satisfied to avoid feeling like crap.
  • When I do get hungry, it feels more real. I actually look forward to and enjoy eating healthy meals with clean cuts of meat and plenty of vegetables!
  • The fog is almost entirely gone. It’s not completely gone, but I feel much better than I have in months. There might be some additional steps needed to get rid of it completely, but I can actually live my life again!

One thing which I must note is that primal eating is most assuredly not a “low” carb diet or a no-carb diet. It is rather a “healthy” carb diet. You can get all the carbs you need from eating vegetables, fruit, and nuts. If you are a hardcore marathoner then you can always ramp up your carb intake if needed.

Here are some resources where you can learn more about healthy primal eating and paleo nutrition:

  • Nikki Young’s Paleo Cookbooks have some tasty paleo recipes, teaching you how to cook in a more healthy style with less refined sugars and processed foods.

I also have to mention the benefits of meditation. If I combine primal eating with meditation every now and then, I can end up feeling really great afterwards. My form of meditation is very simple: I simply sit in a quiet space with legs crossed, close my eyes, and pay attention to my breaths. If other thoughts come up, I pass over them briefly and then let them fall away to the side.

I’ve found that this can have a laser-like focusing effect on my thoughts. Before meditating, it can feel like my thoughts are spraying everywhere like a wild fire hose, but after meditating, my thoughts feel more collimated into a powerful laser beam.


Although I feel much better now that I’ve gone primal, I have to mention that my mouth still salivates at the thought of a freshly-baked baguette, with cheese and smoked salmon. Even if it turns out grains aren’t such a great nutrient, they can taste so good sometimes… so, as a compromise, I still allow myself to eat bread and other grains that I actually enjoy every now and then; I just don’t make them a staple of my diet. I also still eat cheese and other foods that are not quite “paleo”, but are not necessarily bad, either; besides, they taste good and don’t seem to have a negative impact on me.


So, reader, now you’ve heard my story; what do you think? Have you ever had a similar experience? What do you think about detoxification and about the primal eating plan? I wanted to discuss even more in this post, but I feel that it would start to turn into a mini-novel! As always, I’m looking forward to your comments.

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  1. says

    Thanks for linking to my post on buying almond flour, where I also talked about how I’ve embarked on the Gut and Psychology Syndrome diet which has totally cleared up my brain fog, my feet and back totally stopped hurting, I just feel better all around. And I’m not feeling exhausted and depressed. Amazing what a change in diet with do. It’s been eight months and I have not felt this good in more than a decade. Maybe all my life. Looking forward to continuing on the diet and to see what the next eight months hold. I’m glad you have found a way of eating that works for you and helps you feel better.

    • says

      I’m really glad that things have been improving for you; it’s inspiring to read about someone else who has suffered from similar symptoms and found a way back to health and a good quality of life.

      Health is so important; it is one of the true measures of wealth that we take for granted, until it slips.

  2. says

    I hear you on the rag weed part, same applies over here. Unfortunately, still got till mid-September before rag weed pollen somewhat subsides…

    Kudos to you for being able to meditate, I can’t get rid of ideas and plans popping up constantly if I ever sit still for a second!

    Regarding going primal, where does chili flavored lindt dark chocolate fall? I can’t live without it 😉


    • says

      Hey Mich!

      I’m like you at the beginning, but I find it gets better after a good 10 minutes or so of pure meditation. I don’t do it that often, but I find it really helps to do it every now and then, especially when my thoughts start spraying all over the place or I feel nervous about something.

      I don’t think dark chocolate is the end of the world. 😉 In fact, there are health benefits associated with chocolate (the real stuff; not a sugar-laden candy bar). Mark Sisson has a wrap up on the different types of chocolates on his blog:

  3. says

    Kevin, I am glad you are feeling better. What a fantastic post. It really does prove that our very basic needs are so important. We can’t expect a fine machine like our bodies to work well on cruddy fuel.

    You have inspired me, and I am serious. I personally enjoy a coke with some horrible-for-me snack food and I need to stop it. I wouldn’t let me kids do it, so I shouldn’t either.

    Please keep us updated, ok?

    • says

      Thanks for the support, Kris, I appreciate it! Aside from the allergies I’m currently going through, I am feeling much better than I have in months. I couldn’t imagine a combination of brain fog + allergies; I would have been downright miserable! As it is now, I can bear it! :)

      I was starting to drink the coke every day as well; I believe that my body was starting to become mal-adapted to the influx of carbs that I was feeding it every day, and it was craving more. I’m so glad that I got myself off of that, and I don’t even have a craving for it anymore. I feel like it’s something I could use to degrease my car engine or something like that, but probably shouldn’t be drinking. I do sometime wonder what original Coca-cola, made from cola leaves, would have been like 😉

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. says


    Very interesting post. Glad to hear you are doing better. Your primal diet fits the way the body was designed and just about everyone would benefit from moving to it. Loved the picture near the end of the ascent then descent of man– it’s a classic.

    • says

      It’s ironic, isn’t it? The funny thing is that it’s entirely a symptom of modern agriculture. Look at the photos of your grandparents when they were young and your great grandparents, and you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone overweight, let alone obese. Take a trip around a Walmart today and notice the difference… this is a serious epidemic, but with a few simple steps, one can make a giant leap back toward health.

      It’s not only about that, but then there are the people like me who weren’t overweight at all (in fact, I wouldn’t hurt for a few more pounds), but end up with symptoms like foggy head. Feeding everyone on this planet might be more difficult without conventional agriculture, but we’ve paid a price for it along the way… and as for rich Westerners, they can certainly cut down on the frozen dinners and the like. Even grains are vastly preferable to those.

  5. says

    Glad to hear you are feeling better and have found a diet that works for you!!!

    Looks like we are going through very similar “phases” of life 😉 I was actually prescribed a detox diet just last week. I am already a vegetarian but I eat a lot of rice! Now I am supposed to stop eating rice and up my veggies. I have switched to Quinoa instead (if you have not tried that grain give it a try, it is very healthy and tastes good too) along with a lot of (mostly raw) fruits and veggies. I still cook my veggies but at least I am cutting down on snacks. If only I could force myself to drink a lot of water and exercise I am good to go! But “something” stops me :) It is great you are able to meditate, I have never managed to do that!

    Love that evolution of man pic! Keep us updated on the progress!

    • says

      Hi Suba! I’ve read that rice is among the “better” grains as it contains less anti-nutrients than wheat and other grains… but of course, since it’s still a carb-loaded grain, maybe it shouldn’t be such a big part of our diet. 😉 I don’t think I’ve ever tried quinoa; perhaps I should add that to my list of things to try! Although legumes are not really primal, I am partial to lentils, and they seem fine so long as you take care to soak them beforehand.
      It all starts in little steps. Exercising can start with little steps like taking the stairs, walking to the store, and doing a few planks every now and then! You sound like you’re on the right path… download the fitness ebook and let me know what you think!

    • says

      P.S. I found a good trick for water consumption. I bought myself one of those two liter water bottles that looks like a mini water dispenser bottle, and I fill it from 1/2 to 3/4 of the way full, and keep it next to me on my desk. I fill up my cup with that whenever I get thirsty, on top of the tea that I drink. I find that I end up drinking more water that way than I did when I had to get up and fetch more water each time.

  6. says

    Hey Kevin,

    Wow that sucks it took so long to work out where problems were coming from. I eat a pretty healthy diet and at home cook almost all food from fresh unrefined ingredients.

    Right now I make my own wholewheat flat bread as the bread in my diet and I have been eating a lot of beans and pulses.

    I do eat out occassionally and love chocolate but am trying to limit it to once a week.

    ….Also I exercise intensely 4-6 times a week.

    The problem I am having is insomnia… My brain never stops and I have always had trouble sleeping. I think I need to look into meditating for sleep and may try a full 30 day detox.

    Thanks and I am glad you are feeling almost better.

    • says

      How is the insanity program going for you, Forest? That must be really kicking your ass to do that 4-6 times a week.

      Check out my next post; I have a couple of tips there that might help you out with your insomnia. The exercises should also not be done too close to going to sleep 😉

      Thanks for stopping by… 80% of normal is pretty good, and I think it’s still improving from day to day. I’ll be better able to tell when I get over this minor cold/allergy that I came down with a couple days ago.

      • says

        Hey Kevin, just checked out the new post and left a comment. Great stuff.

        Insanity is going well. I am on week 4 of this round in physical time but only week 2 of the program…. basically I am being a bit easier on myself. If I miss a workout I just restart the week. The first week I was sick for 2 days. So I had to redo week one. The second week I missed a day due to a hangover (oops) and a second day due to waking up too late and having plans (oops again). Anyway so I restarted week 2 this week and so far so good. Strangely the extra two (almost full) weeks have strengthened me and I should go into the second phase stronger than ever before!!

  7. says

    I hate rag weed – my allergies every year are horrible.
    Yes, big kudos for being able to meditate. I should try that myself to ease and clear my mind. How long have you been doing this – just since the foggy head?

    • says

      The past week has been kind of painful; it seems worse this year than last year.

      I have gotten more serious about it ever since the foggy head symptoms started getting worse. You know, last year was pretty good; I don’t think I ever really complained about having a foggy head. I must be getting older or it’s simply an accumulation over the years. I am still not 100%, but I still feel so much better since I cut out the crap a couple of weeks back. The only thing that held me back this week was the allergies.

      There is really no big deal to meditation; I am really not a guru, no matter how much a certain friend of mine makes fun of me, and I don’t go into a zen state (the more advanced meditators might), though I do end up calmer and more relaxed. 😉 Anyone can do it just by following my steps above. I think I’m gonna follow-up on this topic though since there is interest!

  8. Frank says


    Has your doctor recommended an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT)?

    You may have early symptoms of insulin resistance.

    Being a long time diabetic I often experience foggy head symptoms if my blood sugar is borderline high for a period of time.

    You are on the right track with your diet as carbohydrates wreak havoc with insulin secretion and blood sugar control and I wish you continued success in your quest for good health!

    • says

      Hi Frank,

      I think my doctor might be a little annoyed after seeing me a few times. 😉 I did take a comprehensive blood test which turned out OK, and I have been feeling better as of late with the change of diet. If the symptoms start coming back again, I’ll ask him about that test. Thanks for sharing that tip!

  9. Alex says


    It’s possible that you might be on the right track in investigating a G.I. infection of some kind. Some of these nasty bacterial infections can create toxins causing serious fatigue. Some will also block B-vitamin uptake which can cause some foggy head/memory issues. Clostridium difficile maybe? C. diff bacteria produces spores which might be causing some of the allergy symptoms.

    Good Luck

    • says

      Hey Alex,

      Something like that could have been possible, for sure. Things definitely seem better with the shift in diet! I don’t think it was C. difficile though… I would probably be in the hospital.

      Thanks for the comment!

  10. says

    Hi, I totaly agree with you, this is entirely a symptom of modern agriculture. I try to make as much as possible my own vegetables and also have some fruit trees. But still, I recommend to all, please buy food from your local farmes, if you hace a chance. As we each day here, that some bad ingreadians are in meat, bread, and all sorts of food.


  11. Jaime says

    If anyone is still reading this I just am checking in…I have undergone miscellaneous tests over the years to the point where I just dont feel doctors can help anymore? This sounds like it might work for me…but I have 3 children and my diet is a large part of theirs. Does anyone know a good site I could find that offers child friendly recipes that offer whole food quality? I still am uncertain with what I’m dealing with but I won’t allow myself to be drugged up with medications just for the heck of it when my doctor is uncertain of what I’m dealing with? Does that make sense? And when you say foggy is it almost like a sheet of cellphone that you are looking through? I always feel like I’m watching everything from somewhere else? It’s so hard to explain? But I’m really getting depressed but don’t want to take meds because what is getting me depressed is the condition in which I cannot figure out? I don’t know. If any one reads this I’d love some insight? Thank you :)

  12. Patricia says

    I knew all of this about primal eating and I have recently changed my diet however, any time I eat ANY of the “wrong” foods my head feels cloudy. I would love to be able to have a treat once in a while. Looks like I have to give them up (all but chocolate) forever…I had a small part of a cinnamon roll yesterday and I am feeling quite foggy today…grr! I guess I will try detoxing for a few days. And how do you feel about coffee. I love it and have always been able to drink it. Now I think its causing problems…I will cut back to see how it affects me but I don’t want to give it up entirely…

    • says

      Hi Patricia,

      Coffee is a mixed bag in my opinion! I believe that sometimes coffee can hurt and make us feel foggier, but other times, I do find a little bit of coffee really helps with concentration. One thing I suggest is to try cutting it out entirely for a week and see how you feel, and then come back to a cup a day and see how you feel, then. By trial and error you’ll learn to cut down on those things that cause problems, while taking things in moderation so that you don’t have to completely eliminate the things that you enjoy.

      I find that a “holistic” approach helps: combining exercise with stress-reduction techniques, while reducing grains and simple sugars, taking in more fruit and vegetables, and moderating one’s intake of alcohol, caffeine, and so on. It’s sometimes hard to really point to one factor in particular, but if you make a little bit of progress on many different fronts, you might find that this makes a bigger difference overall.

      Cheers, and good luck on kicking that fog! :)

  13. daniel says

    People have been living on bread for thousands of years, discounting the medieval period they lived just as long as we do today 70 – 80. While i understand wat you are trying to say i think the main problem is just eating things in moderation!

  14. Shannen Darcy says

    Thank you so much for writing this!
    I have been having all of your symptoms for ages. But reading this has given me the idea to do exactly what you have done. So thank you so much!
    I’ll be trying all of the things you said above, so hopefully it help with all of my symptoms.
    Again, thank you so much for posting this!

  15. Dave says

    Low testosterone and/or high cortisol can cause anxiety and a slew of other brain symptoms including fog. Diet can play a role in this. Eliminate caffeine, refined sugar and refined/white flour. That includes a lot of supposed whole flours. Ensure you get adequate zinc intake. A Paleo diet will accomplish this. Also do power lifts at the gym like squats and deadlifts that build mass in your legs and create core stability. You’ll want to limit cardio to sprints instead of distance as distance running reduces muscle mass (and testosterone) and stresses your heart. If you must do distance running then don’t go more than 30 minutes.

    I had suffered from that foggy brain feeling for years. About 6 months ago I started practicing what I am preaching and have noticed a huge difference. A side benefit is that I look great too and notice more and more women giving me the once over. I am more alert, think better and feel better.


  1. […] Get Fit, Feel Better and Get Rid of Your Foggy Head – Here is a great article by my friend and fellow blogger, Kevin, over at Invest It Wisely. […]

  2. […] Nutrition is an ever-changing field, so the consensus of one year will be the discredited theories of the next. I have personally seen health benefits from switching to a more primal or paleolithic type of diet, and while I don’t go hardcore and reject all modern foods (sure, I eat pizzas every now and then, and I eat at restaurants though I go for delicious yet primal meals, like duck), I do try and eat less refined grain/sugar products, and this alone has made a difference in my mood and well-being. […]

  3. […] Stick to fruit, vegetables, and hearty carbs, and keep overall calories from fast-burning carbs low. Get more energy from healthy fats, which burn more slowly and are more effective for long, sustained workloads. Train your body to burn more fat instead of asking for sugar every couple of hours, and you will be able to work more effectively as well as have a healthier metabolism. […]