What is MSG? Monosodium Glutamate. It is added to foods because it stimulates the taste buds in the tongue and the taste and appetite centers in the brain. Because it stimulates the appetite centers, you want more of it. You eat more, so you have more tendency to gain weight. Part of the chemical action also tends to make you feel lazy. And they wonder why we are having an epidemic of obesity in the United States?
The food industry doesn’t really want you to know about all the bad things MSG does to you, so they make sure any news stories about it get buried. They also come up with new ways to disguise MSG or give it new names (“cleaning up the label”). The food industry loves MSG, because they can add it to cheap food to make it taste better and make you buy more of it (see above).
Disease states affected (not in a good way) by MSG include: ADD/ADHD, addiction, alcoholism, allergies, Alzheimer’s Disease, asthma, autism, diabetes, depression, dizziness, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, high blood pressure, hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, inflammation, migraine, multiple sclerosis, obesity, pituitary tumors, rage/panic disorders, rosacea, sleep disorders, tinnitus, and vision problems.
Why does the FDA allow MSG to be added to food if it is such a health risk? Only 2-5% of the population is actually allergic to MSG. or that may be 1-2% of the population, if you believe the food industry “independent” scientists. For people who are allergic to MSG it is far more than a headache or digestive problem, it is life-threatening. However, it is estimated 30% of the U.S. population is MSG-sensitive, which means they will have headaches, skin rashes, digestive trouble, and other problems which lead to some of the diseases listed above. [I always wonder how they get these estimates, when the people who are MSG-sensitive may not even realize it themselves. The percentage could be higher.] A person may not be MSG sensitive when they are younger (I wasn’t), but over time and exposure they may become sensitized to it.
The culprit in MSG is glutamic acid (glutamate). Glutamic acid occurs naturally in various foods, which is why they get away with calling MSG “natural flavorings.” The following foods may contain enough glutamic acid to trigger a reaction in people who are sensitive: Soy, yeast, wheat, peas, barley, red meat, fish, corn, cows milk, seaweed extract, beets, over-ripe tomatoes, and mushrooms. (Sigh . . . I love sautéed mushrooms.) If you want more information about MSG, the best place I have found yet is MSGTruth.org. The scientist who founded the organization, Carol Hoernlein, is solid and easy to read.
I can be careful about what I buy in stores, but it is restaurants and potluck gatherings that destroy me. I can avoid the obvious stuff, but you can’t always tell when someone has used Accent, or soy sauce, or a seasoning packet that may contain MSG.
PLEASE — look at your ingredients when you cook (whether in a restaurant or at home), and stop adding ingredients that contain MSG. You don’t want to make 30% of the people who eat your food sick. And that 30% could include YOU.