Is Your Cell Phone Causing Your Brain Fog? It Doesn't Help, Say Scientists

These days, we rely on technology for just about everything — and with good reason. The advancements in cell phone technology, especially, have made everyday life way more convenient. Within moments, we can connect with anyone in the world, order any item to be delivered, and partake in medical appointments or work meetings. But with our increase in usage comes an increase in potential damage: As it turns out, electromagnetic fields (EMF) emitted by cell phones may be harming our brain health. You probably can't throw your cell phone away, but there are steps you can take to minimize the risks. We spoke to experts about the symptoms of excessive EMF exposure and how you can mitigate damage.

What are EMFs and how do they affect me?

“Thanks to our growing use of technology, 90 percent of women are overexposed to electromagnetic fields [EMFs],” says Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, author of Zapped (Buy on Amazon, $15.99). Adds Jill Carnahan, MD, founder of Flatiron Functional Medicine, “EMFs emitted by cellphones, routers, and other devices wreak havoc in the body, causing an increase in free radicals that may impair cells’ ability to function.” The potential result? Fatigue, trouble concentrating, nausea, and more.

Complicating matters: An animal study done on rats found that EMFs may weaken the blood-brain barrier that protects the brain from harmful substances — a factor Gittleman says magnifies symptoms.

Is electro-pollution leaving you exhausted?

If you're frequently fatigued and suffer from at least two of the symptoms below, exposure to EMFs may be to blame:

  • Memory lapses or lack of focus

  • Sleep difficulties/disturbances

  • Blue moods or anxiety

  • Nausea

  • Dizziness

  • Headaches

  • Muscle or joint pain

How To Limit Damage From EMF Exposure

Doctors can run tests to measure inflammation and immune system disruptions caused by EMFs. But given the impact of EMFs, all women can benefit from taking the steps below.

Limit cell phone exposure. To do: Put your cellphone in speaker mode so you can hold it 8-to-10 inches away when talking to reduce the EMFs that reach you, say experts. Another bonus: Setting your phone down and putting it on speaker mode leaves your hands free so you can multitask (and dishing with your gal pals makes doing the dishes more fun). Also, try texting instead of talking when reception is poor (a phone can increase EMF output when trying to get a signal) and turning off your router when not in use and at night, says Dr. Carnahan. “Your body works to eliminate toxins as you sleep, but EMFs interfere with that process.”

Change your diet. Gittleman advises eating berries, kale, cabbage, and artichokes daily, as their antioxidants defend against free radicals. To make daily consumption of these important nutrients easy, try this protein-packed Blueberry Kale Smoothie from food blog The Lemon Bowl. Not a smoothie person? Whip up this kale, cabbage, and artichoke salad for lunch. Bonus: It'll stay crunchy for a while, so you can enjoy leftovers.

Use herbs. Rosemary, sage, and garlic are all shown to reduce EMF-induced cell damage. Protect your health in a delicious way by combining these herbs to make Martha Stewart's Herb and Garlic Marinade. Use it to flavor chicken before throwing in on the grill, or smother fresh vegetables in it to make them even tastier. Thirsty? Pair your herbaceous meal with some refreshing green tea. A 2016 study found that the polyphenols in green tea may also help protect against EMF damage.

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.