When people think of MSG (monosodium glutamate) their minds automatically turns toward Chinese food. I, like most of you, never thought twice about looking for MSG in the foodsthat I ate daily. I mean I’m not eating Chinese food daily so why in the world would the foods that I eat have MSG anyway?
Well, to understand this let’s first discuss what MSG is. MSG is a food additive that was initially a natural process derived in Japan where they extracted glutamic acid from sea weed. It was a long and slow process to extract this naturally so scientists decided to find a more efficient mass producible method and in the mid 1950s they were successful. They were able to pin down the compounds necessary for large-scale production that could be achieved through a bacterial fermentation process.
According to TruthinLabeling.org, “Prior to 1958, there had been little or no comment to the FDA on the food ingredient called monosodium glutamate, so following passage of the Food Additives Amendments, monosodium glutamate was grandfathered as generally regarded as safe (GRAS). Grandfathered, yes. But never tested for safety. The safety of monosodium glutamate was not then, and has never been, established. Monosodium glutamate has never been tested for safety.”
Since the mass production of MSG began there have been some common reactions that have been notated and reported to the FDA. Some of these reactions are:
There are many less common reactions and a complete list can be found at truthinlabeling.org. Personally, in the past when I’ve eaten MSG I’ve noticed severe reactions from my fibromyalgia. I, within hours of eating MSG, have found the muscle that runs up my neck get tense and start to spasm resulting in a migraine, shoulder and back pain and a flare up of my TMJ. It’s a fairly immediate and intense reaction that I would blame on gluten, random food allergies or over use of my muscles. A reaction to MSG never crossed my mind!
Now that we know what MSG is and how it can affect your body let’s investigate what foods commonly have MSG in them. While MSG isn’t hidden in these foods most people don’t read the labels on the foods so they never realize that the food has MSG. One example of this that shocked me when I realized that it had MSG in it was Kraft Mac n Cheese. It clearly states monosodium glutamate but I can tell you that I ate this my entire life and never thought twice about it.
Other common foods that you eat are riddled with MSG. Some of those foods include pizza dough, parmesan items, gravies, dipping sauces, KFC (actually most fast food chains), caesar salad dressings, soups, soy sauce and any products made with soy sauce, and basically anything that comes out of a can. Avoid seasoning packets, bullion cubes or powdered foods like gravy mix, chip dip mixes and such. Also try to avoid any drinks that have carrageenan in them (a lot of nut, soy, and coconut milks too!). Here is a fantastic infographic outlining more sources of glutamate that you never realized you were ingesting. For an extensive list of MSG riddled foods that you should try to cut out of your diet visit msgtruth.org.
So what does this all mean? Well, just think about all of the different things on the list above that you ingest daily or even multiple times per day. The build up of this toxic chemical in your system can wreak havoc on your system. Because MSG is an excitotoxin which means that it binds receptors in the brain and excites neurons to death the more that you eat the more susceptible you are to the symptoms discussed above of MSG.
This is one food additive that I never knew was an issue but the longer I go without eating MSG laden products the better I feel. Don’t wait until you find yourself a victim of the symptoms like I did. Act now and remove the products that contain MSG. Try to strictly remove it for at least 3 weeks and then add it back into your diet and see how your body reacts. If you have no reaction then that’s great, you are one of the many that don’t have issues with this chemical but if you do have a reaction then it should be something that you eat rarely if even at all.
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