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Brain fog & insulin resistance - What's the connection ?

With Monica Shepherd, Naturopath.

Insulin is a hormone created by the pancreas that allows the body to utilise sugar or glucose for energy. Insulin regulates blood sugar, and this is important because sugar is a main source of energy for many cells and is also essential for the normal functioning of organs, in particular, the brain (1). Sugar is the brain’s main fuel source, so if your blood sugar is out of whack, you may develop brain fog. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have diabetes although an annual HbA1c test, a simple blood test measuring your average blood sugar levels over the last 3 months is recommended as it is used not just to indicate diabetes, but prediabetes as well. Prediabetes and diabetes occur when the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin to maintain normal blood glucose levels, whereas insulin resistance occurs when cells in your body do not respond well to insulin and allow uptake of glucose leaving it circulating in your blood stream which can have severe consequences.

Functionally, brain insulin resistance can manifest as (2):

- Impaired central regulation of nutrient partitioning

- Cognitive and mood dysfunction

- Brain-specific neuropathology and neurodegeneration

With brain fog you may experience:

-Decreased concentration

-Mood swings

-Memory problems

Naturopathy and nutrition can help support insulin resistance and brain fog particularly by working one on one with individuals.

Here are some well-researched herbs that Naturopath Monica Shepherd would often combine for insulin resistance-driven brain fog:

Lions Mane (Hericium erinaceus)

Lions Mane has the properties of being anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, cognition-enhancing, hypoglycaemic, and neuroprotective.

Corn Silk (Zea mays)

Corn Silk has the properties of being anti-inflammatory, hypoglycaemic, and hypolipidemic. There are many applications for corn silk in metabolic syndrome.

Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica)

Got Kola has the properties of being anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective, hypoglycaemic, and neuroprotective. It is traditionally used in many Asian countries for diabetes.

Take home note: brain insulin signaling helps regulate whole-body metabolism (3). If you’re experiencing brain fog and looking to support your metabolism, they are connected to each other.

Book in an appointment with Monica or Holly here.


(1) Arnold, S. E., Arvanitakis, Z., Macauley-Rambach, S. L., Koenig, A. M., Wang, H.-Y., Ahima, R. S., Craft, S., Gandy, S., Buettner, C., Stoeckel, L. E., Holtzman

, D. M., & Nathan, D. M. (2018). Brain insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer disease: concepts and conundrums. Nature Reviews Neurology, 14(3), 168–181.

(2) Cetinkalp, S., Simsir, I., & Ertek, S. (2014). Insulin Resistance in Brain and Possible Therapeutic Approaches. Current Vascular Pharmacology, 12(4), 553–564.

(3) Milstein, J. L., & Ferris, H. A. (2021). The brain as an insulin-sensitive metabolic organ. Molecular Metabolism, 52, 101234.

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