Brain Detox: Increase Your Memory and Focus – and Lift the Fog

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 01/07/2024

A brain detox can help improve cognitive function and mental clarity by promoting the elimination of toxins and waste products from the brain and central nervous system.

Here’s how to detoxify your brain and discover how sleep, exercise, and dietary habits can impact your brain health. 

Human head with brain illustration

Glymphatic system explained

The glymphatic system is a waste-clearance system that facilitates the brain’s natural detoxification process.

In addition to waste and toxin elimination, the glymphatic system also enables the transport of amino acids, lipids, and neurotransmitters across the central nervous system, which plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy brain function.

Research published in Neurochemical Research found that the glymphatic system relies on a complex interplay between cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and astrocytes, a specialized type of brain cell that provides structure and nourishes neurons. 

The flow of CSF through brain tissue allows nutrient exchange and the removal of waste products, which helps maintain normal central nervous system functions and may lower the risk of neurological diseases. 

The glymphatic system plays a profound role in removing and eliminating certain abnormal protein clusters, including beta-amyloid and tau, which are strongly associated with the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

Watch the video below to discover the importance of sleep for brain health. 

What is a brain detox?

A brain detox focuses on enhancing the body’s natural ability to cleanse the brain from waste products, heavy metals, environmental toxins, damaged cellular components, and defective proteins. 

A buildup of these potentially harmful compounds can impair normal brain function and increase the risk of poor cognitive function, mental health issues, and neurodegenerative diseases. 

Brain cleanses typically involve certain dietary and lifestyle factors that can activate the glymphatic system, trigger cellular repair mechanisms, and improve brain plasticity associated with better cognitive health and neuronal longevity. 

Memory loss illustration

Signs you need a brain detox

Impaired waste clearance and nutrient exchange in brain tissue can lead to poor brain function, which can manifest in a wide range of cognitive symptoms and behavioral changes. 

Here are common signs that can indicate you may benefit from a brain detox:

  • Memory issues

  • Brain fog

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Poor problem-solving skills  

  • Fatigue

  • Mood changes

  • Irritability 

  • Sleep issues 

While these symptoms may be linked to ineffective glymphatic waste clearance, they can also be early warning signs of certain neurodegenerative disorders, and it’s crucial to consult a healthcare provider for a thorough evaluation of your symptoms if you are concerned about your cognitive health.  

Woman sleeping

6 ways to detox your brain

Research published in PLOS Medicine suggests that certain dietary and lifestyle habits can profoundly impact brain health and reduce the risk of neurological diseases and cognitive decline. 

Here are six ways to detox your brain.

1. Quality sleep

Sleep detoxifies your brain, and lack of adequate sleep can lead to various cognitive issues, and poor mental health, and may increase the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Evidence published in Brain Science found that the glymphatic system is most active during slow-wave sleep phases, generally called deep sleep. 

Changes in brain chemistry during deep sleep allow an increased flow of CSF into brain tissue, which leads to an 80 to 90 percent higher activity of the brain’s natural detoxification processes than during waking stages.  

To achieve a good night’s rest, it’s crucial to avoid stimulants like alcohol and caffeine, limit blue light exposure from digital devices, and maintain a consistent bedtime routine. 

In addition, consuming plenty of sleep-promoting foods and taking magnesium and zinc can support restful sleep and help extend deep sleep phases linked to better brain cleansing.  

2. Reduce stress 

Chronic stress can disrupt normal sleep cycle regulation and is associated with sleep issues, which can impair the body’s ability to effectively cleanse and detox the brain. 

While it’s almost impossible to avoid all of life’s stressors, finding effective stress-reduction techniques can counteract the detrimental effects of stress on sleep and supports effective brain tissue detoxification.

Practicing deep-breathing exercises, spending time in nature, socializing with friends and family, pursuing hobbies, and engaging in physical activities are excellent strategies to reduce stress.

In addition, adaptogenic herbs such as ashwagandha, rhodiola, and Siberian ginseng are natural remedies that can help improve the body’s stress resilience and have been found to promote relaxation and sleep. 

Man hiking

3. Exercise

Physical activity plays a vital role in promoting glymphatic waste clearance, which may explain why exercise is associated with better brain health and a lower risk of various neurodegenerative diseases. 

A study published in Frontiers in Neurobiology found that exercise can enhance blood flow to the central nervous system and stimulate the movement of CSF, which promotes nutrient exchange and waste-product removal to and from brain cells.    

In addition, moderate exercise routines and activities such as walking, gardening, or hiking can reduce stress and promote healthy sleep, which benefits cognitive functions and supports effective brain tissue cleansing.   

4. Healthy Keto®

Increasingly more evidence suggests that a nutritious low-carb diet like Healthy Keto is associated with mental clarity, more energy, and better cognitive performance.

Limiting carbohydrates and obtaining most of your calories from healthy fats pushes your body into a metabolic state known as ketosis. 

During ketosis, your body burns fat instead of sugar, which generates large amounts of ketones.  

“Ketones cross the blood-brain barrier and serve as a very efficient fuel for brain cells,” explains Dr. Berg. “Ketosis promotes a steady and reliable energy source for the central nervous system, which enhances overall brain function, including the glymphatic system and detoxification processes.”   

A study published in Frontiers in Neuroscience found that beta-hydroxybutyrate, a primary ketone generated during ketosis, has neuroprotective properties and directly enhances glymphatic waste clearance. 

The same study investigated the effects of glucose on glymphatic processes and concluded that a high-carb diet is associated with a reduced elimination of metabolic waste from neuronal tissue.     

Intermittent fasting illustration

5. Intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between set periods of fasting and eating. 

Intermittent fasting promotes brain growth and has positive effects on the brain's ability to eliminate waste products and toxins.   

Fasting triggers autophagy, a critical biochemical process that recycles and removes defective cellular components, including faulty proteins and damaged mitochondria. 

Autophagy promotes effective glymphatic waste clearance and helps cleanse brain cells from potentially harmful substances linked to poor cognition, neuroinflammation, and the development of age-related cognitive decline.  

6. Probiotics

Although probiotics don’t directly impact the glymphatic system, beneficial gut bacteria communicate with the brain and can influence central nervous system functions. 

A study published in Neuroscience and Behavioral Reviews found that probiotic supplementation promotes normal brain function and can help decrease symptoms related to cognitive decline in older adults.

It’s thought that certain probiotic strains can increase the production of serotonin. This crucial neurotransmitter regulates cerebral blood flow and promotes the exchange of nutrients and waste product removal in the brain. 

Consuming plenty of probiotic foods such as sauerkraut, miso, natto, kefir, and yogurt can increase gut bacteria diversity linked to better mental and cognitive health and a lower risk of mood disorders, including depression and anxiety.     

Brain detox written in the sky

Key takeaways

A brain detox stimulates the glymphatic system, a cerebral waste-removal process that cleanses brain tissue from toxins, metabolic waste products, and damaged cellular components.

Evidence suggests that dietary and lifestyle habits such as getting restful sleep, a low-carb ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting, and regular physical activity directly stimulate glymphatic clearance.

Enhancing the body’s ability to cleanse and detoxify the brain is associated with better cognitive function, mental clarity and focus, improved memory, and a lower risk of neurodegenerative diseases, including dementia and Alzheimer's.  


1. How long does it take the brain to detoxify?

A well-working glymphatic system detoxifies the brain during deep sleep phases, which typically lasts between one to two hours per sleep cycle.

However, poor glymphatic waste clearance can cause a buildup of toxins and waste products, and it can take several weeks of good-quality sleep to detoxify the central nervous system properly.   

2. How do you detox brain fog?

Brain fog can be a symptom of neuroinflammation, poor nutrient exchange, or a buildup of metabolic by-products, damaged cellular components, and other toxins in brain tissue. 

Dietary and lifestyle factors such as restful sleep, physical activity, intermittent fasting, and a high-fat ketogenic diet can enhance the brain's detoxification pathways, which helps remove potentially harmful waste and stimulate cerebral blood flow linked to mental clarity, focus, and improved memory function. 

3. What is a brain detox?

A brain detox focuses on stimulating the glymphatic system, which facilitates waste-removal and detoxification processes in the central nervous system.

Certain dietary and lifestyle factors such as good quality sleep, a low-carb diet, intermittent fasting, and regular exercise can directly stimulate glymphatic waste clearance. This promotes effective brain detoxification, which is linked to better cognitive health, enhanced memory functions, and a lower risk of neurodegenerative diseases.  

4. What is the glymphatic system?

The glymphatic system facilitates the brain’s natural detoxification processes by channeling cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) through brain tissue. This allows nutrient exchange and the elimination of potentially harmful toxins, waste products, and damaged cellular components.  

The glymphatic system is crucial for normal brain function and helps remove abnormal protein clusters, including beta-amyloid and tau, which are associated with the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. 

5. What is the best way to detoxify your brain?

The glymphatic system is most active during deep sleep, and getting adequate restful sleep is essential for effective brain detoxification.

In addition, physical exercise, intermittent fasting, and the ketogenic diet have been found to stimulate glymphatic waste-removal processes, which support the clearance of toxins and metabolic by-products from brain cells. 

6. How do I know if I need a brain detox?

Symptoms including brain fog, poor memory, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, changes in mood, irritability, and sleep issues can be signs of impaired waste-removal processes within the central nervous system and indicate that you may benefit from a brain detox. 








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