Monosodium Glutamate. Most likely when you hear the word you probably think Chinese food, right? But ladies and gentlemen, MSG is found everywhere, including many items you find on the shelves of your neighborhood grocery store. MSG is found in many canned foods, soups, and processed meats. Companies throw MSG in to enhance their flavor, but at what cost?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration classifies MSG as generally safe, although people sensitive to MSG suffer from extreme adverse reactions (me being one of them) such as migraines, heart palpitations, body aches, mental confusion, and even mood swings. If I get dosed with MSG, I get a migraine that lasts for days, so I am very cautious about avoiding the stuff.
These days, however, it’s getting more difficult to avoid being poisoned, because MSG hides in more than 40 other FDA-approved ingredients! It seems food companies are aware of the bad rap MSG gets, and instead of getting rid of it, they have gotten extremely sneaky with the food labels. What’s aggravating and extremely dishonest is the fact that if the company doesn’t add the ingredient called “monosodium glutamate” they are still allowed to claim “No MSG Added” on their label.
So for those people like me who get blinding migraines and flu-like symptoms from MSG, we are left with no protection from the FDA. Instead, we are forced to put on our detective hats every time we purchase something at the food store.
Here are some of the names MSG is known by, so you can recognize it on food labels when next shopping:
- Glutamic acid
- Monopotassium Glutamate
- Yeast Extract
- Autolyzed Yeast
- Yeast Food
- Yeast Nutrient
- Hydrolyzed Protein
- Soy Protein Isolate
- Soy Protein Concentrate
- Whey Protein Isolate
- Autolyzed Plant Protein
- Hydrolyzed Oat Flour
- Textured Protein
But hold up, Health Coach Jenna. I’m not sensitive or allergic to MSG. Why should I bother cutting it out?
The effects of MSG are accumulative. So just because you don’t experience any adverse side effects now, doesn’t mean you won’t later. According to Dr. Russell Blaylock, in his book Exitotoxins: The Taste That Kills, sensitivity to MSG builds up in our bodies until we reach what he called our “threshold of sensitivity”. MSG intake causes brain damage, leads to nervous disorders, and causes rapid hormone fluctuations. In a scientific study, scientists found that mice injected with MSG become rapidly obese, inactive, and have other hormonal issues (2). More importantly, if you are pregnant or nursing, you should be even more cautious about MSG intake, because infants and children are four times more sensitive to MSG than adults (1).
The main points I hope you take away from this article:
1. Just because the label says “MSG Free” doesn’t mean it is.
2. MSG is damaging to your health, and even more so to infants and children.
3. The other names for MSG. You can find a downloadable list of all the MSG- containing ingredients at Food Renegade. Just click HERE and scroll down to the orange box at the bottom of the page.
And remember folks, if you stick to real, whole foods, it’s much easier to avoid these toxic chemicals! Also, remember the basic guideline of five ingredients or less. And chances are, if you can’t pronounce the ingredient, it probably isn’t the best thing for you.
Proud to be MSG Free,
1). BLAYLOCK, RUSSELL L. EXCITOTOXINS: THE TASTE THAT KILLS. SANTA FE, NM: HEALTH, 1998. PRINT.
2. LORDEN, J.F., AND A. CLAUDE. “BEHAVIORAL AND ENDOCRINOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF SINGLE INJECTIONS OF MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE IN THE MOUSE”. NEUROBEHAVIORAL TOXICOLOGY AND TERATOLOGY 8.5 (1986): 509-19. PRINT.