This past weekend, a friend asked me if I would do a blog about MSG. The request came in the form of a text message:
“Any chance you could do a blog on msg? I didn’t know Doritos and ranch dressing have msg!”
Oh yes, they do. And yes, I will do a blog on it.
MSG, or monosodium glutamate, is a food additive used in things such as salad dressings, condiments, soups, frozen meals, salty snacks, bouillon cubes, meats, cafeteria food, and many restaurant foods (including fast food). Basically, it is a flavor enhancer. Until the 1960s, MSG was prepared using wheat gluten. Now, however, it is produced by fermentation of starch, sugar beets, sugar cane, or molasses (Wikipedia.org).
And just for the record, the FDA says that MSG is safe for people when “eaten at customary levels.” Do you guys know anyone who eats more than “customary levels” of processed foods? Most of America does! Processed foods are found at every fast food chain, grocery store and gas station, and at many restaurants. They have become a staple in our diet.
Some infant foods and formulas even contain a form of MSG, which is just awful. MSG is toxic to the nervous system and a since a baby’s brain is not fully developed yet, these toxins have easy access. Some formulas sold in the US that contain aspartic acid or MSG include Nestlé Carnation Good Start and Enfamil Nutramigen Hypoallergenic Formula (westonaprice.org).
MSG is an excitotoxin. Excitotoxins overstimulate brain cells, eventually killing them. MSG can also damage the appetite regulation part of the brain, which leads to overeating and eventually weight gain and obesity. This is why when we have a bag of chips in front of us, we sometimes feel like we could eat the entire bag! Another negative side effect of MSG is inflammation inside the body. Inflammation is a precursor to many diseases, including diabetes, cancer, arthritis and heart disease.
Many people are extremely sensitive to this food additive without even knowing it. Some people who eat MSG just feel an overall sense of bloating, stomach pain, headaches, or discomfort. It can cause allergies or asthma to flare up, and make people feel extremely uncomfortable after eating. Have you ever eaten a big meal at a Chinese restaurant and felt sort of sick when leaving? Although you may have chalked it up to eating too much, it could be a result of the MSG you just loaded into your system.
So, what’s the best way to avoid MSG? As usual, avoid processed foods! Tomorrow I will provide a list of alternative names for MSG. I recommend you take this list and go through your kitchen and just get an idea of what foods you consume contain MSG. My goal is for everyone to become more aware of MSG, not to totally eliminate it from their diet. By increasing your awareness, you can determine whether or not you experience any type of reaction when eating foods containing MSG. And if you do, you may want to consider reducing or eliminating it slowly. And of course I recommend extra caution when feeding your kids foods that contain MSG. Remember, their little brains and bodies are still developing, and it’s extremely important to put the best foods possible inside of them.
Check back tomorrow for a list of alternative names for MSG!