Tuesday, May 24, 2011

MSG - Part 1 - It's Everywhere

Increasingly, health conscious people believe that MSG is harmful to health. Despite this widespread concern, the culprit in 'Chinese restaurant syndrome' is now being added to more and more foods. In fact, if you eat packaged and restaurant foods, it can be difficult to completely avoid MSG.

In this posting, I'll share about what MSG is and why it is so prevalent in our food supply.
Very few people understand why MSG is harmful. In MSG - Part 2 - Why It Affects You I will explain a bit about how the brain works, and how MSG affects brain function. Then I'll share some things that you can do to protect your brain.

Enhancing Flavor - Can You Eat Just One?

MSG makes foods taste better. It provides a flavor called Umami, savoriness or deliciousness. Makers of restaurant and packaged foods add MSG, because they want us to eat more. They want us to be addicted to their products. Have you ever been able to eat just one potato chip? Particularly the ones covered with that tasty stuff? It's practically impossible, right? Well, what's in the tasty stuff? MSG, probably in multiple forms.

What is MSG? Where Does It Come From?

Monosodium glutamate is the name commonly used for free glutamic acid. Glutamic acid is an amino acid that naturally occurs in proteins. Some free glutamic acid occurs naturally in whole foods that are consumed raw, or are cooked with the methods that people commonly utilize in their homes.

Industrial processes to hydrolyze proteins alter the amino acid structure, producing free glutamic acid in much higher quantities. Hydrolyzed protein always contains free glutamic acid (basically MSG).

MSG is white and granular. It used to be available as Accent in grocery stores.

It's Hidden In Our Packages - Everywhere!

Have you looked at labels and seen hydrolyzed protein? Or soy protein isolate? What about vegetable protein? These innocent-seeming protein ingredients are pervasive throughout processed foods.

It is possible to use chemical processes to significantly reduce the amount of MSG (or glutamic acid) in the final hydrolyzed protein, but the food and chemical companies don't go to that expense. Glutamic acid makes the food taste good, so food companies want us to consume it. They want us to want more . . . and more.

To make the situation worse, the FDA allows manufacturing companies to put deceptive information on labels. Yeast extract and soy protein isolate, for example, always contain free glutamic acid (basically MSG). Bouillon and flavorings usually contain free glutamic acid. When ingredient manufacturers make "natural flavorings" they put in a wide variety of ingredients, and they can even add in MSG.

When the "natural flavorings" ingredient is then included in a food product, "natural flavorings" is shown on the label. None of the individual ingredients contained in the "natural flavorings" are listed. In some cases, it is not even necessary that ingredients including MSG be listed on the label at all.

Do you coffee drinkers know that popular coffee restaurants are rumored to put MSG into their coffee? If it's not actually in the coffee itself - though it could be - it is almost certainly going to be in the flavorings and sweeteners. Maybe that's why people stand in long lines to get their pricey coffee drinks.

Here is an interesting distinction from the Truth in Labeling site. 'If MSG is processed into a product instead of being poured into a product, they declare that there is "no MSG added" or "no added MSG," even though they know full well that the product contains MSG.'

Below are links to a site where you can get lists of ingredients that contain MSG. But make sure you get to my other posting MSG - Part 2 - Why It Affects You for information about how the brain works, and why MSG has such powerful impacts on our bodies.

Truth in Labeling Campaign

This organization is dedicated to education and advocacy about MSG issues.


List of MSG containing ingredients. I highly recommend that you review this comprehensive list, which includes ingredients that often, but do not always contain MSG.

The following ALWAYS contain MSG. Glutamate, glutamic acid, gelatin, calcium caseinate, textured protein, sodium caseinate, yeast nutrient, yeast extract, yeast food, autolyzed yeast, hydrolyzed protein, hydrolyzed corn gluten.

Non-specific ingredient names like seasonings and natural flavorings are very highly likely to contain MSG.

Powdered milk and cheese ingredients are likely to contain MSG. I think powdered eggs are suspicious, as are powdered garlic, onions, and vegetables. 'Organic' foods that contain 'autolyzed yeast' and 'natural flavoring' will contain MSG.

Are you reacting to MSG? This is a list of adverse reactions that people have experienced. I discuss reactions further in MSG - Part 2 - Why It Affects You.

Why do government and industry hide the fact that MSG is in our food?

This link takes to you to a Truth in Labeling page that gives details. To get straight to the point about it, ultimately, it's all about money. Increased sales, lowered costs, and wanting people to be unhealthy, so they will go to the doctor and take more drugs.

The Soy Connection

Hydrolyzed soy protein is added to many packaged foods. Why? First, food producers want you to eat more, and MSG certainly encourages hearty consumption. Second, putting soy protein in foods provides a profitable outlet for the waste that is left over after soy oil is removed from the beans. In a 2007 blog posting, I wrote about Kaayla Daniel's book, The Whole Soy Story. In the book, you learn that soy protein isolate was developed as a product, because soy oil producers had endless amounts of soy protein to dispose of. So they found a way to feed it to us. Very good for them, very bad for us.

Protein powders and protein bars, which people usually eat for their health, are mostly full of soy protein. If they are not soy based, the proteins may still be hydrolyzed and contain MSG.

Read Food Labels!

I did some label-reading research. I found MSG in some places that I was looking for it, and surprisingly, I did not find it in other places. I was encouraged to find that some packaged foods now actually do not contain MSG, at least not in the 'listed' ingredients. What is not listed we just can't identify. I was happy to find that some products actually specifically state "Contains traces of soybeans." In an earlier posting, I wrote about soy. Many people are allergic to soy, so the almost complete removal of soy from some products, and the labeling of products regarding the presence of soy is a big leap forward.

My first research subject was a popular brand of nacho cheese chips. You can't eat just one chip. I include all of the ingredients here, so you can see how processed this food is. Ingredients on the Truth in Labeling ALWAYS CONTAINS MSG list are in BOLD ITALICS CAPS. Ingredients that usually contain MSG are in bold italics.

Nacho cheese chips: selected corn, vegetable oil (sunflower and/or canola oils), seasoning (salt, cheddar cheese, corn maltodextrin, wheat flour, whey, MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE, buttermilk solids, romano cheese, whey protein concentrate, onion powder, hydrogenated vegetable oil, corn flour, lactose, natural and artificial flavor, dextrose, tomato powder, spices (still suspect, I think), lactic acid, color, citric acid, sugar, garlic powder, red and green bell pepper powder, SODIUM CASEINATE, disodium inosinate (which works with MSG), disodium guanylate (works with MSG), skim milk powder, whey protein isolate, corn syrup solids), calcium hydroxide. So you can see that it's full of the stuff.

For the following products, only the relevant ingredients are listed here.

A popular brand of corn chips seems to be MSG-free, at least from the label.

Semolina pasta seems to be MSG-free, at least from the label.

A popular brand of pasta sauce contains spices, onion powder, garlic powder, and dehydrated parsley (each of which could be suspicious), citric acid, flavor

Wheat crackers contain malt flour, spice extract
A popular brand of cookies contains artificial flavor, dried egg (suspicious)

A popular children's cereal contains natural fruit flavorings. I was actually impressed that this cereal did not contain more overtly MSG ingredients. I hope this means that they have actually improved the quality of the product, though I doubt it. Of course, it is still filled with sweeteners. Another brand of cereals boxes that I looked at did say "Contains traces of soybeans."

A popular brand of bread contains yeast. I am suspicious of some of the ingredients on the label, and wonder what is not on the label. It does definitely contain soy. Soybean oil, defatted soy flour (potential MSG), calcium propionate, sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate, monoglycerides, sorbic acid. It also contains wheat flour.

What is in my kitchen? My husband's bread contains soy in several forms, and yeast.

A popular "natural" brand of crackers contain spices (suspect), whey, malt extract, cultured buttermilk, SODIUM CASEINATE, maltodextrin, AUTOLYZED YEAST, citric acid, natural flavor.

Ketchup contains natural flavorings.

Bottles of a popular brand of seasoning that is considered healthy used to say "No MSG", but apparently they can't claim that anymore, because it is a soy product and contains isolated soy proteins.
So, that's it. Whew.

Make sure you get to MSG - Part 2 - Why It Affects You.

Educational Presentations About MSG

I give presentations about this and other food- and health-related topics. Feedback that I've received indicates that people take home information that positively impacts their food purchasing patterns. If you are interested in scheduling a presentation for a group, please contact me. sandra@MiracleInspirations.com

MSG - Part 2 - Why It Affects You

On to what happens when we eat the stuff!

You Are What You Eat! Choose Real Food for Health!

Sandra Lynn Lee
Certified Practitioner - The Emotion Code/The Body Code
Certified Healing Codes Practitioner
Miracle Inspirations
Everything in this newsletter is the opinion of the author and is provided for informational and educational purposes only. When information is drawn from outside sources, both credit and access to the source are given, when available.
Copyright 2011 Miracle Inspirations. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

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