Is your turkey toxic? The food you serve this holiday may do more than pack on a few pounds, they may actually do damage to your brain. Taking a little extra time to make your shopping list and add in a little more chopping time can help you prepare a healthy holiday meal. Chemicals found in some of our most basic turkey dinner treats contain Monosodium glutamate (MSG). MSG a flavor enhancer added to thousands of foods you and your family regularly eat. Its one of the worst food additives out there and hides in many Thanksgiving and holiday meals.
Some adults know they are allergic, or sensitive to MSG, due to itching, swelling, or feeling ill after ingesting something high in “natural flavorings” which is a trick that many advertisers use to get you buy into the idea their food is healthy—when its anything but! We see kiddos running around with hyperactivity beyond what we would have expected after a little pie, which is often due to their sensitive brains being effected by the synthetic glutamate. This actually makes their brains agitated, leading to focus issues, temper tantrums and upset children.
What is MSG?
MSG is an excitotoxin, which means it overexcites your brain cells. Some people are very sensitive to this and can have anxiety or irritability after eating small amounts of MSG. Over consumption has been said to lead to irreversible brain damage to varying degrees, and potentially even triggering or worsening learning disabilities. Common adverse effects linked to regular consumption of MSG, include: obesity, eye damage, headaches, stress, fatigue, disorientation, depression, hyperactivity, focus issues, rapid heartbeat, tingling and numbness.
While glutamate, a naturally occurring amino acid, is produced by our bodies and found in many protein-rich foods, including, meat, vegetables, dairy, eggs, fish and poultry, MSG is derived from the synthetic processing of glutamate. In 1908, MSG was developed by a Japanese man for the purpose of enhancing flavor in food. He later went on to form Ajinomoto, the world’s leading MSG producer and, ironically, also a drug company.
Small doses of MSG can be just as bad. The FDA admits that “short-term reactions” known as MSG Symptom Complex can occur in certain groups of people, namely those who have eaten “large doses” of MSG or those who have asthma. We have also seen many children have these reactions.
According to the FDA, MSG Symptom Complex can involve symptoms such as:
• Burning sensation
• Facial pressure or tightness
• Chest pain or difficulty breathing
• Rapid heartbeat
How to Have an MSG-Free Thanksgiving
Self-basting turkeys are advertised for their built in moist texture and easy preparation. But MSG additives are the real secret ingredient. Other packaged Thanksgiving foods, such as store-bought stuffing cubes and packaged gravies are often loaded with the chemical. Most creamy canned soups, some broths, as well as packaged casserole toppings like crispy onions are “kept fresh” with MSG.
Get a better Turkey. When buying a Thanksgiving turkey, your best bet is look for a store that offers locally-farmed, organic birds. Unlike factory poultry farms, organic farmers give birds access to pasture, use organically-grown feed, and don’t use growth-promoting hormones or antibiotics. Local Harvest is a good online resource to find organic farmers markets and sustainable farms in your area.
Avoid using processed, packaged foods. Use the natural pan drippings from your turkey basting to create the base for a natural homemade gravy.
Use real spices. Your cupboard has the flavors you need as does your produce section of the supermarket. Fresh garlic, thyme, rosemary, nutmeg, and more holiday flavors can be found without any additives, just got to look and maybe spend a bit more time prepping them.
Better broth and stock. If you’re like me you just want stock, not chemicals. Did you know that if you are buying your chicken broth from the store that it most likely contains an MSG ingredient?. You can’t just look for the letters M-S-G anymore, they don’t tell you that their products contain MSG now that the world knows the health implications of MSG.
Be on the lookout for these other terms:
- Textured protein
- Autolyzed yeast
- Yeast extract
- Yeast food
- Glutamic Acid
- Autolyzed plant protein
- Sodium caseinate
- Calcium caseinate
- Hydrolyzed protein
- Hydrolyzed vegetable protein(HVP)
- Hydrolyzed plant protein (HPP)
- Soy protein extract
- Natural flavors
- Textured Protein
- Yeast Nutrient
Also make sure to look for the term: processed free glutamic acid — the potentially harmful chemical in MSG — is always in calcium glutamate, monopotassium glutamate, magnesium glutamate, mono-ammonium glutamate, natrium glutamate, yeast extract, and hydrolyzed products including hydrolyzed protein.
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Emily Roberts MA, LPC is the clinical therapist for the Neurogistics Children’s Program. She has worked with Neurogistics for over a decade. Emily is also an award-winning author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Becoming Who You Are, Psychotherapist, TV & Media Contributor, educational speaker and parenting consultant. Express Yourself is available at bookstores nationwide and on Amazon. To learn more about Emily click here.
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