MSG, Monosodium glutamate, is lurking in many of your favorite foods and your kids’ lunchboxes. Think this flavor enhancer won’t hurt you or impact your kiddos? We’ve seen some scary side-effects from people who thought they were immune to the tasty foods filled with MSG. But when emotions become erratic and behavior is out of control, they start to see how much MSG can impact their lives and health. MSG can kill brain cells; be aware of what’s hiding in your foods.
What is MSG and What Does it Do?
We know those cheese puffs are delicious but how are you feeling afterwards? Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is the sodium salt of glutamic acid. MSG is not a nutrient, vitamin, or mineral. It has no health benefits, and is used to bring out the flavor of food. It is a processed food enhancer and pharmaceutical additive that is a dangerous neurotoxin (excitotoxin). It can kills brain cells in the hypothalamus and has been linked to migraines, seizures, ADD/ADHD, heart palpitations, as well as obesity and disorders associated with metabolic syndrome, including progressive liver disease.
MSG is used in the food industry as a flavor enhancer with an umami taste that intensifies the meaty, savory flavor of food, as naturally occurring glutamate does in foods such as stews and meat soups. The problem is, most people are not even aware of which foods have MSG. Sure, that Chinese restaurant down the street definitely uses MSG for its food, but it’s not the only culprit in American cuisine.
MSG has been used to enhance the flavor of food for more than 100 years. Originally synthesized by Japanese biochemist Kikunae Ikeda in 1908 when he noticed a Japanese broth called dashi that contained no meat had a meaty flavor that wasn’t identified. He called this umami, roughly translated to “delicious taste.” He then sought to synthesize the main source of it. MSG first hit the market in 1909.
You may think the sodium is the bad part of MSG. The “glutamate” of MSG, not the sodium, is what negatively affects human bodies. Glutamate is not naturally occurring; naturally occurring glutamate in animals and plants is known as L-glutamic acid. However, by FDA definition, MSG is naturally occurring as most of its basic ingredients are found in nature. Naturally occurring by FDA standards only means that the food additive began with something naturally found (in nature). This explains how calling something “natural” does not really mean natural or safe in the food industry.
MSG is not only found in food. Here are non-food products that may Contain MSG:
- Hair conditions
- Dietary supplements
Watch out for words such as “protein,” and “hydrolyzed.” Many vitamins and supplements use MSG and binder and fillers. Our Neurogitics supplements and brands we suggest to customers do not. This is why we utilize pharmaceutical and professional grade products to ensure quality and purity. Not every brand out there can say this. Be sure to check and research your supplements.
While it is not a good thing to put in anyone’s body, there are many Americans that show signs of reactions to digesting MSG. It is difficult for consumers to avoid MSG and other foods. For those that suffer severe reactions and are sensitive to MSG, effects may include respiratory, muscular, cardiac or neurological symptoms. Some people have reported numbness, chest pain and headaches after eating food with MSG.
MSG Causes Inflammation
Even if you are really careful with your diet, MSG can make your digestive tract and brain inflamed. This leads to the inability for your body to get rid of toxins. MSG has also been linked to obesity and liver disease for this very reason. A study at the Journal of Medicinal Food, identified it as a factor in obesity and liver disease. Co-Editor-in-Chief Sampath Parthasarathy, MBA, PhD, Florida Hospital Chair in Cardiovascular Sciences at the University of Central Florida, Orlando, said “Although MSG has been deemed a safe food additive, its dosage, interaction with other drugs, effects on vulnerable populations (including children and the elderly) and effects on chronic inflammatory diseases and neurological diseases are unknown.”
Foods That Contain MSG
Since MSG is added to so many packaged and processed foods, it is nearly impossible to list them all, let alone remember them on your next shopping trip. Ingredients containing MSG may be listed as hydrolyzed protein, autolyzed yeast, glutamic acid and yeast extract. Fermented packaged foods are also a red flag.
- Dairy. Pasteurized milk, especially ultra-pasteurized milks, contain MSG. This include organic milks.
- Powdered milk
- Fat-free milk
- Ice cream
- Parmesan Cheese. This one is in a category on all its own, because it has the highest concentrate of MSG of most of these on the list. Make sure not to add that extra topping of parmesan next time you’re at an Italian restaurant.
- Fruits and Vegetables. It can be natural foods and still contain MSG. The FDA allows for things to be applied to fresh produce. Many of these things can still have the USDA’s certified organic seal. The rules to not apply to crops after they are harvested. Much if what is added is or contains MSG. AuxiGro, a very controversial chemical-based growth enhancer (approved by the EPA) includes free glutamic acid (MSG). AuxiGro has been approved for spraying on every crop with no restriction on the amount of free glutamic acid.
- Flavored Potato Chips, Doritos, Cheetos & Flavored Pringles. What makes those flavorful snacks? It’s not only the cheese. These flavorful chips are flavored with large quantities of MSG. This goes for many salty flavored snacks, not just potato chips.
- Soy Sauce. Another one of the biggest culprits. Soy sauces has large quantities of MSG.
- Baby Formulas and Baby Foods. In baby formula, MSG is marketed as ‘natural flavorings’. Most powdered infant formulas contain some of the following ingredients: processed milk and or/soy proteins, enzymatically hydrolyzed reduced minerals, whey protein concentrate, corn syrup solids, casein hydrolysate, modified corn starch, and carrageenan, which are broken down into MSG during the manufacturing process. Is that really what you want to add to your baby’s diet?
- Frozen dinners. Being frozen for large periods of time can hurt the flavor. That’s why many frozen dinners, on top of being made with crazy amounts of preservatives, are packed up with MSG.
- Soups. Campbell’s chicken noodle soup gets its taste from added MSG for flavor. Instead, try making chicken noodle soup from scratch at home. But don’t add any bouillon; it’s an MSG laden flavor enhancer.
- Knorr Chicken and Beef Bouillon. That added flavor you throw into your broths, stews, and rice dishes is chock full of MSG. I know it’s a great food enhancer, but almost entirely made out of MSG.
- Chicken. Especially fried chicken. Especially fried chicken at KFC. Try to stay away from fried chicken from any restaurant, most importantly the KFC fried chicken. For alternative, try making some from scratch at home.
- Sausage products. Much like chicken, sausage products are filled with MSG to enrich flavor.
- Cold cuts. Large companies such as Boar’s Head add MSG to their cold cuts to give that extra bit of flavoring to your sandwich.
- Gravy. Especially the gravy at fast food restaurants and many cafeterias.
- Ranch dressing. Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing is a huge culprit, but it’s not the only company promising natural and instead adding chemicals to their recipes.
- Fish sauce (in Thai food or Chinese).
- Canned products. Much like with frozen foods, canned products are full of MSG for added taste. Check the labels if there are any natural enhancers don’t get it
Next time you go to a restaurant, ask if your food is being made with MSG. Stay away from Accent or other pure MSG products added to make your restaurant meal extra flavorful. I know with busy schedules, it’s difficult to make wholesome food at home using no frozen or canned products, but your family’s brain and body will thank you.
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