by: Dr. Craig A. Maxwell
What is Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)?
MSG, otherwise known as monosodium glutamate, is a savory-tasting flavor enhancer. It may sound harmless but it’s actually one of the worse food additives you can consume. It’s is responsible for a myriad of unexplainable symptoms ranging from headaches to chronic gastrointestinal distress.
Perhaps best known as an addition to Chinese food, it is added to thousands of products you and your family regularly eat. This is especially true if the majority of your foods are processed.
MSG is one of the worst food additives. It is added to canned soups, meats, salad dressings, frozen dinners, most restaurant and school cafeteria foods, and even baby food and infant formula.
MSG not only enhances the flavor of foods, it also makes processed food taste better and smell fresher.
The benefits of MSG to the food industry are quite obvious, but this additive could be causing you and your family major health problems.
A Brief History of MSG
MSG was invented in 1908. The inventor was Kikunae lkeda, a Japanese man who identified the natural flavor enhancing substance of seaweed.
Learning from this substance, man-made MSG was created. Mr. lkeda and a partner formed Ajinomoto, which is the world’s largest producer of MSG. The company is also a drug manufacturing company.
MSG is approximately 78 percent free glutamic acid, 21 percent sodium and 1 percent contaminants.
MSG makes you think the food you are eating not only tastes better, but has more protein. It does this through tricking your tongue using umami, a little-known fifth basic taste.
Umami is the taste of glutamate. This savory flavor is in the toxic additive MSG. Virtually all foods containing MSG will taste much better than foods without it.
Interestingly, the use of MSG didn’t become widespread until after World War II, when the U.S. military discovered that Japanese rations tasted much better than American versions due to the addition of MSG.
MSG Side Effects You Need to Be Aware Of
MSG has a disturbing amount of possible side effects associated with it. If you’ve been living with chronic symptoms you can’t quite put your finger on, they may be caused by monosodium glutamate.
These side effects include:
- Tingling mouth
- Flushing skin
- Excessive thirst
- Heart palpitations
- Hives/rashes/itchy skin
- Asthma attacks
- Neurological dysfunction
- Eye damage
- Obesity (by causing you to eat much more!)
- Unexplained muscle twitches
MSG is classified as an ‘excitotoxin’, meaning it over-stimulates your brain cells into an early death. A lifetime consumption of MSG may also lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis.
Alternative Names for MSG
In recent years, food companies have started getting wise to the educational information out there about MSG. A rise in concern about MSG allergy and intolerance has prompted new marketing techniques to sneak this dangerous additive into your food.
The following ingredients ALWAYS contain MSG:
- Autolysed Yeast
- Calcium Caseinate
- Glutamic Acid
- Hyrolyzed Protein
- Monopotassium Glutamate
- Monosodium Glutamate
- Sodium Caseinate
- Textured Protein
- Yeast Extract
- Yeast Food
- Yeast Nutrient
These ingredients OFTEN contain MSG or create MSG during processing:
- Flavors and Flavoring
- Natural Chicken Flavoring Stock
- Anything Enzyme Modified
- Soy Sauce
- Corn Starch
- Anything Ultra-Pasteurized
- Soy Protein Isolate
- Malt Extract
- Citric Acid
- Natural Pork Flavoring
- Soy Protein
- Malt Flavoring
- Powdered Milk
- Natural Beef Flavoring
- Barley Malt
- Anything Protein Fortified
Testing for MSG Sensitivity and Other Food Allergies
It is estimated that nearly 40% of people are intolerant to MSG. With these kinds of numbers, it’s amazing this stuff is even allowed in our food! The best way to tell if an intolerance to MSG or any other food ingredient exists is to get tested. Remember, even if you tolerate MSG, it is important to reduce, or avoid consumption due to its excitotoxin effect.
For my patients I recommend the Alcat Comprehensive Wellness 1-Kit. This panel tells you exactly which foods and chemicals you are sensitive to, and how severely. Just take it to the nearest LabCorp office for blood drawing and they pack it and send it off for you. You should receive your results in 7-10 business days!
How to Avoid Monosodium Glutamate When Eating In
The best way to avoid MSG is to eat as many whole foods as possible. This means loading up on healthy fare like organic vegetables, fruits, whole nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, organic meat, poultry, and wild-caught fish. These foods are loaded with the essential nutrients your body really needs and benefits from.
Be sure to get your healthy fat in there too. Coconut oil, butter, olive oil, and avocado are all sources of the fat your body needs to function at its best. Despite what you’ve heard, saturated fat is not the cause of heart disease. It is essential to your health. Your body cannot function properly without it.
This isn’t to say that all snack foods need to be completely off-limits but it’s important to become a label-reader. With so many different names for MSG, it’s easy to eat some of it without meaning to. When choosing a snack food, let’s say potato chips, look for a brand that contains only organic potatoes, oil, and salt. The less ingredients in your food, the more pure, and the less likely to contain dangerous additives like MSG.
How to Avoid Monosodium Glutamate When Dining Out
Avoiding MSG when dining out can be tricky, especially if you want to enjoy some Asian cuisine. The best way to avoid MSG is to call the restaurant before you visit. Ask the restaurant owner or manager if they use monosodium glutamate in their food.
Letting them know you have an MSG allergy, or are concerned about possible health effects, will inspire them to be transparent about their ingredients.
Just remember, whenever you’re dining out, you run the risk of eating something bad for your health. Even if it looks appetizing on the plate, a large majority of restaurants still have some pretty disgusting ingredients in their food.
Get That “Savory Flavor” the Safe Way
Just because MSG can harm you doesn’t mean you have to completely give up that delicious, savory taste. Organic soy sauce is an ideal flavor enhancer to add to any home-cooked Asian stir fry. Be sure your soy sauce says “organic” on the label or you run also the risk of eating GMO soy. Bragg’s liquid aminos is another healthy alternative to add savory flavor to home-cooked dishes without making yourself sick.
Do your health a favor and read labels and buy organic whenever possible. Once you reduce or cut MSG from your diet, you’ll be amazed at how much healthier you’ll feel!