Just when you thought you were safe from those three nasty letters upon ordering your Chinese takeout “sans MSG, please”, it strikes again. Actually, it’s always been there, just in stealth mode. Sneaky little thing.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a neurotoxic food additive that has many side effects. In a category of chemical compounds known as “excitotoxins”, they over excite brain cells to the point of cell damage and cell death. Nice, huh? In sensitive people, like my dear mom, these can include headaches, dizziness, violent diarrhea (yikes!), and even anaphylactic shock. Longer term and more serious consequences of MSG ingestion include Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, depression, hyperactivity (ADHD), and you guessed it – obesity.
Cue the lobbyists…
The MSG industry has thwarted public outcry about this toxin by putting up the smokescreen, pointing out that MSG contains glutamic acid, a nonessential amino acid that occurs naturally in meat broths and naturally fermented products like soy sauce and miso. Phew, I feel better already (insert sarcasm here).
The key difference is that the form of glutamic acid in these foods is a naturally occurring isomer and, key word here – not toxic, except to hypersensitive individuals. However, like other things processed in a lab, the glutamic acid in MSG is unnatural isomer that causes dangerous neurological reactions in many people.
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As alluded to earlier, MSG and related substances are not always labeled. Calcium caseinate, sodium caseinate, textured protein, hydrolyzed protein, and citric acid always contain MSG and soy foods, nutritional yeasts, yeast extract, protein powders, malt flavorings, amino acids, and other ingredients labeled “flavorings,” “natural flavors,” or “seasonings” usually contain MSG. Go ahead, check just one label of your pantry or refrigerator items to see if any of these culprits are listed. I’ll be waiting…
To add insult to injury, a growth enhancer called Auxigro, which contains 30% MSG, has been approved as a spray for crops like apples and beans and MSG is frequently formed during processing even if it’s not deliberately added to a product. Two great reasons to choose organic over conventional produce and avoid processed foods like the plague.
All foods containing MSG should be avoided. Period.
Fallon, S, and Enig, M, PhD, Nourishing Traditions, 1999, New Trends Publishing, Inc., Washington, DC.
Louis, PF, “Yeast extract is hidden source of MSG in your food: Here’s where its found,” Natural News.com, Sept 13, 2011.
Samuels, JL, “MSG Dangers and Deceptions,” Health and Healing Wisdom, Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, 1998, 22:2:3
Samuels, JL, “MSG Update,” Health and Healing Wisdom, Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, 1998, 22:3:22.
Samuels, JL, and A Samuels, PhD, Search for Health, Sep/Oct 1993, 2:1:28-47; Blaylock, Russell, L, MD, Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills, 1996, Health Press, Santa Fe, NM.
Kristen Boucher is a registered nurse, healthy living junkie, health & wellness coach, real foodie, full-time working wife to an amazing husband, cloth-diapering crunchy mama of two beautiful girls, creator of The Superwoman Slim Down: A Real Food Detox & Cleanse for Real Women, Lose Weight, Feel Great: 8 Weeks to a New You, and Founder of MIX | Wellness Solutions For A Balanced Life, where she inspires busy women to eliminate the overwhelm to lose weight, kick cravings, stress less, and cook delicious, healthy, and family-friendly meals so they can gain confidence, double their energy, and save money without crazy diets, countless hours at the gym, or quitting their day job. Kristen can be found pushing the envelope at www.mixwellness.com and on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.
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