By Daniel G. Amen, MD

Many people know that food allergies can cause hives, itching, eczema, nausea, diarrhea, and in severe cases, shock or constriction of the airways, which can make it difficult to breathe and can be fatal. But can certain foods and food additives also cause emotional, behavioral, or learning problems? You bet. These types of reactions are called “hidden” food allergies, and they could be hampering your efforts for a better body.

My patient Mark had ADD and symptoms of anxiety and depression. He explained that whenever he ate foods with MSG, he became violent. To see why this was happening, we scanned his brain twice—once having avoided anything with MSG and once after he ate a Chinese dinner laced with MSG. The MSG scan showed a marked difference in activity in Mark’s left temporal lobe, the area associated with temper control.

I told Mark he could either stay away from MSG or take medication to prevent the problem. To my surprise, he opted for the medication. He explained that if he lost his temper one more time, his wife was going to divorce him, and “you never know what has MSG in it. Sometimes it is listed on the label as natural flavorings.” If you have problems with your temper, you might want to hold the MSG.

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