Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is an evil, manufactured food enhancer. It tricks you into thinking that what you are eating is so good! As an inexpensive and nutrient deficient way to make food taste better, it stimulates the taste buds, and eventually the brain receptors, into perceiving salt and sweet sensations instead of bitter or sour. It not only causes a wide variety of unsettling reactions in anyone sensitive to it (headaches, dizziness, rapid heart-rate to name just a few of dozens), but it also contributes to the decline in health of anyone who ingests it. It's bad for you, period. It's sneaky too because it hides in your food under names you would never associate with glutamate. I'm hoping the information I provide will change that.
I cannot recommend the book Battling the MSG Myth enough for an extremely thorough breakdown of MSG, its origins, sensitivity symptoms, disease related statistics, shopping tips, recipes and more. This book was invaluable to me when I started my MSG-free journey and is the most comprehensive book I've read on the subject to date. The author's blog can be found at http://www.msgmyth.com/.
The following websites are also a wealth of "technical" knowledge regarding MSG (I highly recommend checking them out as well):
Truth in Labeling http://www.truthinlabeling.org/
MSG Truth.org http://www.msgtruth.org/.
When free glutamate (the manufactured form of glutamic acid, not to be confused with the harmless "bound" glutamate naturally occurring in certain foods and the human body...of course man had to mess with nature) is in its purest concentrated form, it must be labeled as MSG on food products containing it. However, since free glutamate can be a component part of certain food additives, the FDA allows it to go into food unlabeled as MSG. Any number of ingredients might contain varying amounts of glutamate, which makes it very difficult for consumers to try and avoid it.
Below is a comprehensive list of words found on labels that most definitely contain processed free glutamic acid, the form of glutamic acid found in MSG in varying amounts.
The following substances contain the highest percentage of factory created free glutamate:
Glutamate, Glutamic acid
Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP)
Hydrolyzed Plant Protein (HPP)
Hydrolyzed wheat extract/Senomyx
Vegetable protein extract
Autolyzed Plant Protein
Yeast food or nutrient
The following substances contain varying amounts of free glutamate. (Please note that some food labels list several of these items, which can add up to a toxic cocktail):
Malted barley, malt extract or flavoring
Maltodextrin, dextrose, dextrates
Caramel flavoring (color)
Stock, broth, bouilllon
Whey protein isolate or concentrate
Natural chicken, beef or pork flavoring
Soy sauce or extract
Cornstarch, fructose (made from corn)
Corn, wheat, rice or oat protein
Anything enriched or vitamin enriched
Protein fortified "anything"
Enzyme modified protein food
Ultra-pasteurized dairy products
Fermented protein food
Modified food starch
Rice syrup or brown rice syrup
Lipolyzed butter fat
"Low" or "no fat" items
Citric Acid (when processed from corn)
Corn syrup and corn syrup solids
Milk powder, Dry milk solids
Protein fortified milk
Gums (guar, vegetable)
Dough conditioners (some include lecithin, whey protein, L-cysteine)
Lecithin (if from hydrolyzed or soy products)
Gluten and gluten flour
Protein powders: whey, soy, oat, rice (as in protein bars, shakes and body building drinks)
Amino acids (as in Bragg's liquid amino acids, and chelated to vitamins)
Algae, phytoplankton, sea vegetable powders
Artifical flavor (wheat extract: senomyx)
If these additives are on the label, free glutamate is usually present since they are used to break down proteins:
Protease, Protease enzymes, Enzymes found in malted barley flour, reaction flavors
MSG overstimulates the brain cells and glutamate receptors throughout the entire body, eventually leading to a host of psychological and physical problems not limited to: brain damage, learning disabilities and behavior problems (ADD, ADHD), hypoglycemia, migraines, obesity, Alzheimer's Disease, depression, cancer growth, seizures, sudden cardiac death and on and on.... the potential for these ailments is not limited to those like me who are highly sensitive to MSG, but this is for anyone who consumes it. Please note the following references:It was overwhelming to me, to say the least, when I first discovered this lengthy list of ingredients that I now wanted and needed to avoid. (I was also shocked and angered at how the FDA could allow corporations to dupe consumers into thinking their products were "MSG-free" when in fact, that is just not the case! Some products even say "No MSG" on the label when it's just not true.) Don't be discouraged into thinking you can't make the switch because it's just too hard. Print out this list and take it shopping with you until you are familiar with what ingredients to avoid. My very first attempt at MSG-free grocery shopping resulted in a 2 hour ordeal that left me almost in tears. I didn't think it was possible to find natural alternatives to the things I used to enjoy. But it is possible and I'm here to help with recipes, tips and natural product information. It took me years of research and I never stop learning. It is my desire to share what I've learned with others and to help make the switch to MSG-free eating all the more easier! :)