Yesterday, I talked about MSG: what it is, what types of foods it’s found in, and what it does inside the body. It’s something we want to keep out of our diet as much as possible, but in order to do that we need to know what to look for on food labels.
Some labels will shamelessly say “monosodium glutamate”. Fine – those ones are easy to pick out. You’ll find this on things like Doritos, Cheetos, and many soy sauces. However, MSG can be very slightly chemically altered, which then allows food manufacturers to call it something else on the label. And these forms of MSG still contain glutamic acid and carry the same health risks, so we need to look out for them.
Remember, MSG affects us all in different ways – some may react immediately to it and for others, it may take years of MSG ingestion before they start noticing symptoms. People especially sensitive to MSG include children with autism; people with allergies; those with an unhealthy liver; someone with a CoQ10 deficiency; people who suffer from epilepsy, fibromyalgia, hypoglycemia, or Parkinson’s disease; someone with a magnesium deficiency or a B-vitamin deficiency; and people with Type I diabetes.
Alternative names for MSG:
Autolyzed plant protein
Hydrolyzed plant protein
Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
Vegetable protein extract
Some alternative names substances that contain varying amounts of MSG are listed below. These may be okay in small amounts depending on how sensitive one is, but often a food item contains three or more of these ingredients, which is something to watch for.
Brown rice syrup
Malt extract or flavoring
Modified food starch
Natural flavors or flavorings (this one is very common)
Natural meat flavorings (beef, pork, etc.)
Soy extract or sauce
Soy protein isolate
Some of these ingredients are fairly common, which is disappointing. Yet another reason to focus on fresh, whole foods! Just read labels carefully, though, and if you or one of your kids has some type of strange reaction after eating something, be aware that it could be from the MSG. To see a more complete list of foods containing MSG, go here.
What about soy sauce?
One PWN reader e-mailed me yesterday to ask if Kikkoman Soy Sauce contains MSG. The answer is yes, unfortunately. Soy sauce is one of the biggest offenders! We use Ohsawa organic Nama Shoyu at our house. It’s an unpasteurized soy sauce, and it’s only ingredients are organically grown whole soybeans, mountain spring water, organically grown whole wheat, and sea salt. Pretty safe, and it tastes just as good as regular soy sauce to me! You can find this product at most natural food stores. We often bring sushi or Japanese food home and eat it with this soy sauce, to avoid having to use the restaurant types that typically are high in MSG.