A Paleo Diet Clears The Fog For Chris



Written by Christopher Willis:



First off, I just want to thank Robb and anyone else who contributed to making this diet mainstream enough for me to hear about it because it changed my life (I’m sure you hear those last four words all the time, but nonetheless I’m sure it feels great every time).

Now for my story because I feel like its not a common one. I started college in 2009 at 18 years old eating an ”american diet” (bread, pasta, blah blah you get the deal). I had an incredible life. Amazing girlfriend, great family, good grades, heavily subsidized schooling, and an upcoming co-op at Cisco in Texas for the summer of 2010. Towards the end of my freshman year and into my co-op in Texas I began to suffer from anxiety, and more importantly the ever so descriptive ”brain fog” symptom. Now mind you, I am from Boston, MA so Texas was a bad place to have all of this hit me at once. This brain fog was BAD. With a capital B. I would try to think of things that I knew I had stored somewhere in the ole noggin only to turn up with nothing. It was incredibly frustrating and legitimately made me feel like I had early onset Alzheimer’s, or some shenanigans like that.

So I put my male pride aside and went to see a psychiatrist for this problem in late 2010. Fast forward until a month ago (March 2012). I was on 200 mg of Zoloft, and felt great. Miles better than I had ever felt, but I still had mild to severe ”brain fog”. And this brain fog occurred all day everyday by the way. Since the beginning, I had always heard of changing up your diet to help anxiety and improve mental health. I put off cleaning up the diet for a little while (3 years at this point) because I thought it was a bunch of hooey. Finally, March 2012 I read an article about the link between Gluten and Mental Health, and dieting solutions to help with brain function. The Paleo diet was listed as one of the most effective diets. So I decided to give it a shot. But not only give it a shot, I needed some science to back up the diet. I blame my Computer Science background for my lack of blind faith in phenomena. In other words, I question everything to death until I can wrap my head around it. So I went straight to the Bible of Paleo (the Paleo Solution book by Robb) and read about the diet.

So here I am a little over a month later (mid-April 2012). I am slowly tapering off my mega dose of 200 mg of Zoloft, which by the way was an incredibly good bandaid for my anxiety until I found out how much diet effected it. My workouts have been better than ever. Oh right, I neglected to mention the fact that I have worked out consistently since mid-High School, which is why exercise was ruled out as a possible cure for my anxiety. The brain fog is gone. Like, really gone. Not even placebo effect ”gone”. It just isn’t there anymore. The ability to think clearly has had an incredible impact on my quality of life. My anxiety is gone thanks to this diet. And I have gotten to a point that I feel so great that I don’t even care that I can’t eat cinnamon buns.



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  1. AJ
    July 2, 2012 at 8:14 am

    Nice job Chris!!!

  2. Crunchy Pickle
    July 2, 2012 at 11:48 am

    That is great!

  3. Lulu Jones
    July 2, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Good for your Chris. The paleo diet rocks!!! All these success stories really encourage me to stick to it.


  4. yep
    July 2, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    I have also found that when following Paleo, my head is much clearer, and my concentration is greatly improved. I went off the diet for two days and the fog was back! In my case I have had to fall off the program to appreciate how much the Paleo system works for me.

    • Missy
      October 31, 2012 at 5:17 pm

      Out of curiosity, when you started the diet, how long did it take for the brain fog to clear? Was it subtle over time, or you just noticed one day that it was gone. Have been on several antidepressants that seem to make the fog worse…would like to definitely give a change in diet a try :) Thanks

  5. Penny
    July 3, 2012 at 2:28 am

    I too have brain fog or lack of a good memory!!! I have been wanting to try the Paleo way of life but I love my sugar too much I guess. I am also a very picky eater that does not know how to cook and don’t like a whole lot of foods. So my food is very bland. I have half heartedly tried Paleo but have yet to go 100% or even 50% (as I like my bread with my eggs). I really need to really push myself because I would like to have my memory back too!

    • Jenny
      July 3, 2012 at 9:09 am

      Penny, a helpful exercise might be listing all the ways you CAN make it happen, and all the benefits you could get from it. Then maybe come up with some steps to get there, like “1. learn a new whole foods recipe every week” or something. It takes some work but in the end, you will only regret not doing it sooner. P.S. brain fog was my #1 and only symptom when I first did an allergy elimination diet several years ago and discovered gluten was the culprit. After only 2 weeks gluten free, I found out just how bad it really was (by feeling so damn good). Good luck on your journey!

    • einstein
      July 6, 2012 at 5:38 am

      Penny, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. You have to decide what is more important for you and go get it! Good health and good memory or your sugar and bread. As simple as that.

  6. Gabby
    July 3, 2012 at 6:37 am

    Good for you! It’s about priorities — how hooked are you on sugars and glutens vs getting well? Paleolithic really does work!

  7. Jolinda
    July 3, 2012 at 7:46 am

    Brain fog takes many forms. My husband (70 years old) had a mild stroke almost 2 years ago. The only residual affect was his thinking. He was still smart but it seemed sometimes there were a few pixels missing. We started Paleo eating in January of this year to try to help his blood pressure which was not controlled with drugs. His blood pressure has become stable, normal, pot belly gone, AND his thinking is right back where it was – a smart man with a thoughtful opinion about everything. I love what Paleo has done for my guy. Oh, and I lost 17 pounds to be back at my “30 year old” weight!

  8. Dave
    July 3, 2012 at 10:43 am

    I lived with a brain fog like that too until I began paleo a year ago. It would be pretty acute and present with a “fatigue spell” as I would call it that would hit any time of day, especially after a meal. I work on an ambulance, so I would be working with patients when I suddenly couldn’t function. I felt incompetant at those times. It was horrendously frustrating. I’m now a much much more competant provider. I wonder how many people are living like zombies in their life, relationships, vocations, because of the tyrrany of the SAD.

    • kiran
      July 4, 2012 at 12:50 am

      [The big problem is that most people are on the “see food diet” and not even the SAD diet (not trying to defent SAD by any means just making a point). Once you want to give up “foods” that are slowly poisoning you, you will see the difference. I have NO allergies, medical issues (except syndrom X in the family) and I have still seen a remarkable improvement in my heath. I just went 30 days strict again (although I’m almost always trending Paleo anyway) and although I’m pretty ADD my brain fog is gone and well I can funtion normaly more or less … I like that.

  9. BrendaB
    July 4, 2012 at 6:39 am

    Curing my brain fog was one of the major reasons I tried Paleo. Besides needing to get back in control of my eating and lose that stomach fat that had crept up on me, I really did not have any stomach issues that I could physically feel, allergies, etc. But I really wanted to know if I went strict Paleo if that “band” across my forehead feeling would go away and help me have more clarity. So I did the whole 30, kept going with Paleo and I lost a lot of the stomach fat and yes, my head is clear and light now. No more “medicine head” feeling!

  10. Max Ungar
    July 5, 2012 at 7:47 am

    Great Work Chris! Keep it up!

  11. Barbara
    July 8, 2012 at 8:16 am

    Great work Chris!!

    My husband switched to a Paleo diet (plus dairy) to improve his running endurance and it made a world of difference. Grains = pains.

  12. chris
    October 24, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Hi Chris
    I have experienced a similar phenomena recently (mid to late 2011). I am in my mid-twenties with everything going for me but have strangely and seemingly out of nowhere starting suffering from ‘brain fog’ and mood swings. I have found this quite difficult as I have always been very sharp and advise clients on complicated issues as part of my job. This can be quite awkward when I lose my train of thought mid-sentence!
    I have been looking for a cause of this sudden change in brain function so your post and the associated comments I found very interesting.
    I had, until early 2011, never given much thought to diet and its consequences nor at that point had I experienced any brain fog or mood issues. I then read and implemented a palio type diet (palio plus legumes) which resulted in significant fatloss. I am not sure whether this diet in fact caused the brain fog as a byproduct or if it made the impact of grains etc (when I do eat them) more pronounced thus causing the ‘brain fog’?
    I am going to try the palio diet and see if this helps at all.
    PS I have asthma and eczema which I understand are autoimmune related which may mean that I am more susceptible to diet/grain related issues.

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  14. Kat
    September 15, 2014 at 2:23 am

    I am an intelligent woman who seems to have come unravelled and is in a permanent state of ‘brain fog’ and unable to remember simple logical things… It’s really become an issue in my life to the extent that relationships and quality of life have been compromised – the doctor keeps recommending anti-depressants… I started a proper paleo diet a week ago – no fog clearance yet – though I am feeling less anxious… going to hold on an keep going as it seems that women in particular have a range of hormone issues that happen at the same time and it may be that being closer to 40 I now have more years of rubbish to ‘get shot of’ through dietary change – but boy I hope it happens soon!
    Thanks for all the success stories – they make it easier to keep going!

    • Robb Wolf
      September 15, 2014 at 8:58 am

      I did a podcast with Dr. Ruscio a few weeks back and he talked a ton about brain fog. Give that a listen.

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