Have you ever heard of the term “Brain Fog” before? Brain fog is often used to mean a series of symptoms such as absentmindedness, fatigue, inability to concentrate, confusion, and a whole host of other issues seemingly stemming from your brain. It’s reserved for the days when you forget your keys after walking out the door, leave your credit card on the table after paying for lunch, or stare at a blank page on your computer for hours trying to will yourself to type something. Many people believe that brain fog is just something that happens naturally—since it happens to so many of us. While it is true that certain activities such as: not sleeping enough, having a hangover, and being stressed out—highly increase the chances of you experiencing brain fog; there is one very common cause for brain fog that goes completely over most people’s heads. One of the most common causes of brain fog for people living in the modern world today is an ingredient in almost all processed foods. That ingredient is called… Monosodium Glutamate, or MSG for short. What is Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)? MSG is an artificial preservative created by food companies to help make food taste better and last longer. When chemists add 1 sodium atom (mono) to glutamic acid (glutamate), MSG is created. In its pure form it is orderless, tasteless, and looks like salt or sugar crystals. MSG is basically a free-form version of the amino acid glutamate—a powerful and vital neurotransmitter in the brain that is chemically responsible for over 90% of the synaptic (nerve) connections in the brain. While MSG is not pure glutamate, your body thinks that it is, and when you add some of it to food, that’s when the “magic” happens. What food is MSG in? Many Americans will undoubtedly think of Chinese take-out food when the word MSG is mentioned due to overwhelming and unabashed use of MSG by those restaurants. However, MSG is in a lot more food than just Chinese take-out. MSG—or a form of it—is present in almost every processed food intended for mass consumption. From cookies to chips to french fries to soups to canned food to dipping sauces to restaurant dishes, MSG is a VERY common food additive used across the entire food industry from family-run restaurants to international food chains. What does MSG do? Simply put, when MSG is eaten with food it “excites” our taste buds and makes our food taste better. It can make bland food taste incredible. It does this is by stimulating the nerves in your tongue into hyperdrive. Since your body thinks MSG is Glutamate, and glutamate is so important to the body, if you’re eating food that has a lot of glutamate in it, the nerves in your tongue will tell your brain that this stuff tastes really good so that you will want to eat more of it. MSG will also affect how your body perceives the nutritional value of the food. By overstimulating the taste buds on your tongue, MSG effectively “tricks” your tongue into telling your brain/body that whatever you are eating is full of healthy proteins, fats and carbs—making your body crave it more—despite the fact that you are eating french fries from a fast food place. What are the side effects of eating MSG? Have you ever heard the saying: “Too much of a good thing is a bad thing?” Well, in regards to your body ingesting extra glutamate—from eating too much MSG—that saying takes on a whole new meaning. This is because there are certain amino acids—such as glutamate—that excite our neurons. When these excitatory amino acids are overly abundant in the brain, they are referred to as excitotoxins because they over-excite the neurons so much that they can cause neurons to start dying at a rapid rate. Do you know what happens when neurons in your brain start dying? Instead of you getting brain fog the morning after you had a few too many drinks and are hungover… You may start developing PERMANENT brain fog—where absentmindedness, lack of concentration, willpower, focus or drive to do anything—becomes a part of your daily routine. How can you fight the effects of Brain Fog? As we often say, a healthy diet paired with a healthy training routine equals a healthy body and a healthy mind. If you have ever felt the effects of brain fog or feel them frequently, that should be a signal to you to seriously look at your diet and habits. Ask yourself these questions: Are you getting enough sleep at night? Are you eating a healthy, whole foods based diet? Are you working out regularly? ARE YOU LIMITING YOUR EXPOSURE TO MSG? When you seriously evaluate yourself and your habits and make corrections as necessary not only will that help to eliminate brain fog, it will help to improve all aspects of your life for years to come. 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