Monosodium Glutamate is the sodium salt of glutamic acid, an amino acid found naturally in foods that contain protein. It acts as an excitatory neurotransmitter. Free glutamic acid is found primarily in processed foods. When eaten, it can over-stimulate your nervous system and cause a wide range of adverse effects.
Unlike table salt or other seasonings, MSG does not alter the actual taste of food; instead it enhances taste by exciting and increasing the sensitivity of taste buds. It has a drug-like effect upon the flavor perception of the person who has ingested food or drink that contains MSG.
MSG has no nutritional value, nor is it a preservative, as frequently claimed.
MSG does not affect food, instead it - into thinking the food you are eating tastes good. Manufacturers can use inferior ingredients, and by adding MSG, mask the inferior quality and freshness of foods.
It is used to disguise the tinny taste of canned products and to give a fresh taste to frozen or freeze-dried foods. Food companies are able to make their ingredients go much further with the help of this flavor enhancer, thus cutting their production costs. Inferior products and higher profits prevail at the expense of consumer health. MSG is not a preservative and does not protect food from contamination or spoilage.
One food scientist told me that ONLY about 5% of the people are sensitive to MSG. Other sources put the number much higher. But, even if it IS just 5%, that represents around 15 million Americans.
Is that insignificant?
Why is MSG still on the market if it causes such debilitating reactions?
MSG production and consumption are multi-billion dollar industries. The passivity of government regulatory agencies, such as the FDA, coupled with established relationships with food-industry-sponsored lobby groups, have allowed a dramatic increase in MSG-use by manufacturers. Current levels added to food are fifty times higher than amounts used forty years ago - and the quantity continues to grow every year.
Where do you FIND MSG?
It's in many foods including packaged food, canned food, restaurant food, drinks and candy. It's even sold in the spice section of the grocery store. MSG alone has no flavor. It enhances the flavor of other foods by exciting our taste buds. You'd think that MSG would be listed on the products that contain it. It is, but it isn't always easy to find. You see, some manufacturers KNOW that MSG is harmful so they use different names to hide the truth that their product contains it.
Here are some common ingredient names that contain MSG:
What are some adverse reactions to MSG?
In sensitive persons, MSG may trigger an allergic reaction.
Some others include:
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How do I avoid MSG? It's almost impossible. However, if you make an effort to avoid the major sources of MSG - and read package labels carefully - you can reduce your reaction to it.
Canned foods like chili or stew are loaded. I also find it in almost every brand of frozen dinner entrées. Food manufacturers change their ingredients from time to time. So, read the labels every time you buy something. You may find that a product you used to buy NOW list MSG or one of its cousins on the label.
Eliminate processed foods if you want to lower your MSG exposure.
What about dining out? You'll need to ask questions when you're at a restaurant. Generally, the more expensive the menus the less the chance they're adding MSG or using cheap processed ingredients.
Be particularly careful when you see "No MSG Added." All that means is that the restaurant (or food processor) didn't add any extra MSG. Because it can be formed during cooking or processing, MSG can be present. High protein foods that cook for long periods are suspect. It's wise to avoid pot roast, stews and most Oriental cooking. The longer meat is simmered or stewed the more likely it will produce MSG.
What should you do if you eat some MSG and get sick? Drink water - a lot of it. The water will dilute the levels of MSG in your body and help flush it out more quickly. I have personal experience with this technique and I can testify that it works. It isn't easy because it's hard to force water when the MSG is making your feel bad. Do it anyhow.
Explore the resources available online: There are a number of websites that offer information and suggestions about MSG - and other glutamates. Here's one that offers plenty of good information MSGTruth.org. I am astonished by how much of these neurotoxins are in our food supply. It takes diligence to avoid MSG, but the effort is surefly worth it. In addition to the uncomfortable side effects - like migraines - there is even data that suggests excess glutamates may be partly responsible for cancer. I am particularly impressed with their presentations of foods to avoid.