One day, my husband got home and asked me: “Hey, do you know what MSG is? I talked to a guy from a restaurant today and he told me that if he feels that some food doesn’t taste good, he simply adds MSG. What is this anyway?”
I looked at him completely shocked because I knew what MSG was and that it can be found in junk food and all kinds of snacks in the supermarket. But I couldn’t imagine that it is used everywhere.
What is MSG or Monosodium Glutamate?
It is a salty form of a non-essential amino acid (the glutamic acid), a flavor and taste enhancer and a common food additive.
Although many people associate it only with Chinese fast-food and processed meat products, the truth is that MSG is present in processed foods that we eat every day, including salad sauce, pizza sauce, canned tomatoes, etc.
This additive is also present in many powdered infant milk formula and foods for children and babies.
How Does It Work?
Briefly, MSG tricks the taste buds and the brain making them believe that food tastes delicious. Being an excitotoxin MSG stimulates the brain to produce additional quantities of dopamine, the feeling well drug.
Unfortunately, the sensations caused by MSG do not last. But its negative effects do. MSG doesn’t catch us only because it makes food taste great. It effectively creates a physical dependency, causing consumers to return and buy those products again and again.
This not only determines excess food consumption, but can cause a real disaster in the whole body.
Some people who have MSG sensitivity may experience headaches and nausea. Unfortunately, the problems go even further.
Many studies linked MSG to weight gain and even obesity. And not just because it causes people to want more food. In fact, there is a study made for two groups of participants that had consumed the same number of calories. Those who ate MSG foods were three times more likely to gain weight than those who ate foods without MSG.
Scientists also associate MSG with liver and kidney damage, as well as increased blood pressure. Moreover, excitotoxins were associated with brain damage, resulting in a number of neurological diseases like Parkinson, Alzheimer, dementia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, lupus and many others.
Is There A Way to Avoid MSG?
The fact that you search the labels for MSG free foods, does not necessarily mean that you will eat such foods. This is because the FDA regulations do not require the listing of MSG unless it is added as a separate, 99% pure ingredient. Otherwise you may find it under many seemingly innocent names.
Here are some ingredients that always contain free glutamic acid that is processed:
- Monosodium Glutamate (E 621)
- Glutamate (E 620)
- Glutamic Acid (E 620)2
- Monopotassium Glutamate (E 622)
- Monoammonium Glutamate (E 624)
- Calcium Glutamate (E 623)
- Natrium Glutamate
- Magnesium Glutamate (E 625)
- Any hydrolyzed protein
- Yeast Extract
- Anything hydrolyzed
- Yeast Food
- Autolyzed Yeast
- Yeast Nutrient
- Sodium Caseinate
- Calcium Caseinate
- Textured Protein
- Soy Protein Isolate
- Soy Protein
- Soy Protein Concentrate
- Whey Protein Isolate
- Whey Protein
- Whey Protein Concentrate
Here are ingredients that often contain MSG:
- Citric acid, Citrate (E 330)
- Carrageenan (E 407)
- Any flavors or flavoring
- Bouillon and broth
- Pectin (E 440)
- Anything ultra-pasteurized
- Anything containing enzymes
- Anything enzyme modified
- Barley malt
- Anything fermented
- Malt extract
- Soy sauce extract
- Soy sauce
- Anything protein fortified
Glutamic acid is found naturally in many whole foods. When it is not processed, most people break it down in the liver and there is no problem with that.
You must not fear MSG, only avoid it. There is a very simple solution to that: buy whole ingredients and prepare your own food. This way it is certain that you will eat in a natural, healthy way.