Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is one of the worst food additives on the market. Going incognito under various names, it appears in most processed food and fast food. And since Americans spend approximately 90% of their food budget on processed foods, Americans are consuming far too much MSG, thus contributing to the increasing rates of disease and sickness in this country.
It is so important for everyone to know the dangers of MSG so if you only have a minute, please read the next section. For more detailed information on the dangers of MSG, keep reading.
Know It In A Minute
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is an amino acid used as a flavor enhancer in over-processed foods.
- It is an excitotoxin, which means it overexcites your cells to the point of damage or death, causing brain damage to varying degrees, and potentially even triggering or worsening learning disabilities, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, and more.
- It is found in canned soup, diet soda, salad dressing, breakfast sausage, chips, frozen entrees, restaurant food, some manufactured vegetarian or health foods, and even infant formulas and baby food!
- It can cause nausea, headaches (it is a migraine trigger), seizures, and infertility and reproductive disorders.
- It causes weight gain and obesity by damaging the appetite regulation center in the area of the brain known as the hypothalamus, causing leptin resistence.
- Processed food manufacturers add it to food because it’s dirt cheap and increases appetite, thus increasing sales.
- It is also hidden in food labels under the following names: yeast extract, autolyzed yeast extract, broth, casein, hydrolyzed, autolyzed, malted barley, textured whey protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, and MORE.
What is Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)?
MSG is a salt of the amino acid glutamic acid (glutamate). Glutamic acid is just one of many amino acids that are the building blocks of proteins. It occurs naturally in many foods such as tomatoes, milk, and mushrooms. Glutamic acid that comes from a natural source is a bound glutamic acid, and when broken down during the digestive process it’s harmless.
In making processed foods, however, bound glutamic acids are broken down or made ‘free’ (free glutamic acid) through various processes (hydrolyzed, autolyzed, modified or fermented with strong chemicals, bacteria, or enzymes) to make monosodium glutamate (MSG).
How Does MSG Affect Your Body?
Dr. Russell Blaylock, a board-certified neurosurgeon and author of “Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills”, explains that MSG is an excitotoxin, which means it overexcites your cells to the point of damage or death, causing brain damage to varying degrees.
- Excitotoxins block the receptors in the brain that signals satiation.
- Excitotoxins have been found to dramatically promote cancer growth and metastasis.
From MSGtruth.org, here is a partial list of the body systems affected by MSG:
- Allergic response
- Blood pressure
- Digestive system
- Endocrine system
- Nervous system
- Thyroid function
- ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
- Multiple Sclerosis
Children Are at Higher Risk
A child’s brain is four times mores sensitive to damage by excitotoxins than is the brain of an adult.
Dr. Blaylock talks about damage from MSG:
The damage affects pregnant women, unborn babies and newborns. It produces changes in the brain that are irreversible. What we’ve found is that it reprograms the wiring of the brain, particularly the hypothalamus, so it doesn’t function normally. These children are abnormal for the rest of their lives in terms of their physiological function.
What Foods Contain MSG?
MSG (or one of its pseudo-ingredients) is found in:
- canned soup and dried soup mixes
- diet soda
- salad dressing
- breakfast sausage and other meats
- chips and other junk and snack food
- frozen entrees
- restaurant food and fast food
- Chinese food
- canned beans
- seasoning blends and mixes
- bullion and broths
- prepared pasta products (like spaghetti Os)
- microwavable cups
- some manufactured vegetarian or health food
- infant formulas and baby food
MSG By Any Other Name – How MSG is Hidden in Other Ingredients
If you look at the labels of your processed food, you might not see the words ‘monosodium glutamate’ anymore – but don’t relax just yet. Once customers learned to avoid MSG/monosodium glutamate, food companies started using other ingredients that contain free glutamic acid, which is the main component of MSG, like:
- yeast extract
- autolyzed yeast extract
- autolyzed vegetable protein
- hydrolyzed vegetable protein
- hydrolyzed yeast extract
- torula yeast
- textured whey protein
- textured soy protein
- textured vegetable protein
- plant protein extract
- calcium caseinate
- sodium caseinate
You need to also be aware of the ingredients spice, natural flavor, and artificial flavor as they can designate the presence of MSG. For a bigger list of ingredients you need to be aware of in your food, check out this list provided by MSGmyth.com.
Read Labels Everywhere, Even in Natural Health Food Stores
Unfortunately, you are not completely safe just buying food from natural health stores like Whole Foods Market; you still need to read labels on all the food you buy. You may remember my dismay after noticing that my son’s (former) beloved snack, Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies, contained MSG in the form of yeast extract.
Why Do Food Companies Add MSG?
There are several reasons (from MSGtruth.org) why food manufacturers add MSG (by any name) to their products:
- Increase sales. MSG stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin. Blood sugar drops because of the insulin flood, and you are hungry an hour later. Hungry people eat more food. The food industry has found their own “anti-appetite suppressant”. It’s a convenient way to keep consumers coming back for more.
- Reduce cost of production. The illusion created by adding MSG to a food product enables the food processor to add LESS real food. The illusion of more protein in a food allows the food producer to put LESS protein in it.
- Make food taste better. MSG makes cheap ingredients taste better. MSG tricks your tongue into making you think a certain food is high in protein and thus nutritious. It is not a “meat tenderizer”. It is not a “preservative”.
What Food to Avoid?
As you can see, MSG does a lot of damage to the body and is clearly something you need to avoid. It is not a necessary nutrient. Here is a list of how you can start avoiding MSG:
- Packaged or processed foods: As you can see above, processed foods are loaded with MSG.
- Fast Food: Fast food is loaded with MSG and many other chemicals that are unhealthy. For example, check out the ingredient lists at McDonald’s, Chick Fil A, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Burger King. You will see many listings of the “hidden MSG” ingredients as well as monosodium glutamate.
- Restaurant food: Restaurant food is also loaded with MSG. Be aware of the language restaurants use regarding MSG in their food. Some might say “We add no MSG”. But they are only saying that they, as in the restaurant staff, don’t add any. It’s probably already in the food they buy from their suppliers. Tricky, isn’t it?
- Infant formula, especially soy: Unfortunately infant formula does contain free glutamic acid (MSG).
- Toddler food that contains caseinate hydrolyzed protein broth
MSGtruth.org has a more comprehensive list of foods to avoid.
What Should I Do?
- The best way avoid MSG is by buying whole foods and preparing them at home.
- The next best thing is to become an expert at label reading and knowing the various disguises under which MSG travels. There are a few packaged prepared items at traditional grocery stores that do not contain MSG. At health food stores there are many more.
- Once you know how to read labels, you can find better alternatives. If you love an occasional snack of flavored chips (barbecue flavor, nacho cheese flavor, etc.) you now can see how MSG is an ingredient. Instead, try plain potato chips where the ingredients are potatoes, oil, and salt.
What Can I Eat?
- For cooking at home, MSGtruth.org provides a list of healthy items to eat.
- For eating out, we like Jason’s Deli. There is no MSG, high fructose corn syrup, or trans fats in any of their food.
A ‘Must Read’ Interview with Dr. Blaylock
Mike Adams from NaturalNews.com has a fantastic interview with Dr. Blaylock in which Dr. Blaylock explains in great detail the health effects of MSG, aspartame, and excitotoxins. The interview is full of great information and I highly recommend you read it all.
And if you want to watch a video, Dr. Blaylock presents a one hour lecture video with great information as well.
Even More Information:
- Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills, by Dr. Russell Blaylock
- Health and Nutrition Secrets That Can Save Your Life, by Dr. Russell Blaylock
- Russell Blaylock, MD
- Hidden Sources of MSG
- Truth in Labeling
- MSG Truth
- MSG Myth
- 12 Food Additives to Avoid
- Shocking Dangers of MSG You Don’t Know
- MSG: Is This Silent Killer Lurking in Your Kitchen Cabinets? on Mercola.com
- How to Find Hidden MSG on Food Labels on Mercola.com
- Grocery Warning by Truth Publishing
Wendy – ParentingTips365.com