Back in the year 1948, at the Stevens hotel in Chicago, a meeting took place which changed the face of food manufacturing like none before. The effects would be far rippling into our present day. This was the meeting which unveiled MSG as a magical food additive. The most influential members of the food industry were present, representing Campbells, General Mills, Continental foods, Nestles, United Airlines Food service and the National Livestock and Meat board. The meeting was presided over by the Chief Quartermaster of the U.S. Armed forces. The subject of MSG was discussed and how US soldiers had noticed how it turned the Japanese food rations during World War II into palatable food rations. The meeting lasted 8 hours and by the end the leading food manufacturing were all looking at MSG for the following key promises: Improved flavor and odor appeal, ability to suppress undesirable flavors, suppresses bitterness and sourness and the ability to cover the tin taste from canned foods. They were later to discover that adding this miracle additive to their foods would create an irresistible desire to eat more of the same food.
Today the food industry has saturated the market with this food additive. It is almost impossible to pick up pre-packaged food which does not contain it. From your childhood favorites like chicken noodle soup, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Jimmy Dean Sausage to Swansons chicken broth, spaghetti sauce, taco mix and breads. Even the gluten free products popping up on the market are often hiding MSG in order to improve the taste of the products.
It wasn't until 1968 that the first reactions to MSG were noticed and reported by Dr. Ho Man Kwok, who wrote about his reactions in the New England Journal of medicine. This opened the door for independent researchers and people to come forward to tell how they were noticing effects from this food additive. The infamous "Chinese restaurant" syndrome is well recognized to be caused by MSG. Typical exposure would trigger: severe headaches, heart palpitations, numbness and tingling extremities, loss of mental clarity, vision disturbances, diarrhea, muscle aches and pains and dream disturbances. Researchers have found that 30 % of the population will have severe adverse reactions to MSG.
What people don't realize is that there is so much MSG in our food today that we are slowly being poisoned by the substance. The effects are cumulative so reactions can be much more subtle when you are consuming it on a daily basis for years. Let me explain some of the ways MSG affects your body:
Gastrointestinal: cramps, diarrhea, nausea, gas and bloating and a feeling of being hungry all the time. MSG depletes the amino acid taurine which in turns impairs the production of bile from the gallbladder. It also affects the lining of the intestinal tract causing food allergy reactions.
Cardio Vascular: rapid heart rate, sudden high or low blood pressure, ringing of the ears and vasodilatation- creating migraines and headaches. The neurological effects will also cause pain and tingling down the arm mimicking a heart attack.
Neurological: Depression, Mood swings, Rage reactions, Migraine headache, Dizziness, Light-headedness, Loss of balance, slurring of speech, Mental confusion, Panic attacks. Numbness and Tingling, Crawly feelings on the skin, Chills and Shakes, Hot flashes. Note: MSG poisoning often mimics Alzheimer's disease and Dementia.
Endocrine System Imbalances: Hormones don't seem to work well and are very hard to bring into balance. Menopause symptoms are exaggerated and uncontrollable. Blood sugar becomes out of balance because the MSG causes the pancreas to secrete insulin even though you did not consume sugar. This causes the blood sugar to dive and sudden uncontrolled hunger to appear. MSG wreaks havoc with the metabolism and can cause weight gain as well. Research has found that MSG induces insulin resistance and Leptin resistance increasing the likelihood of being overweight by 3 fold. Insulin is the hormone that brings sugar into the cells, with insulin resistance your body does not react to insulin which results in high blood sugar, pre-diabetes and weight gain. Leptin is a hormone which signals the body when you are full and to stop being hungry. It also warns your body when you begin storing too much fat. With Leptin resistance you find your hunger is not satisfied and your body keeps piling on extra weight.
Vision Problems: Blurred vision, Difficulty focusing and Pressure around eyes
Muscular: Flu-like achiness, Joint pain and Stiffness
Skin Reactions: hives, rashes, crawly skin, swelling of the tongue, bags under the eyes
Respiratory: shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, asthma, runny nose, sneezing
Urological: Bladder pain (with frequency), Swelling of the prostate, frequent urination
Children often get Hyperactivity, behavioral problems, ADD and ADHD, insomnia, restless sleep, nightmares, uncontrolled urination or bowel movements.
From this sampling of the most common symptoms of MSG poisoning, you can see that this food additive may be affecting a lot more people than is recognized. The only way to truly know how much this additive is affecting your health is to remove it from your diet for several weeks. This is easier said than done as MSG has many hidden names which manufacturers use in order to hide the additive from the public. Here is a list of the most common names of of MSG or food sources which are known to contain MSG.
The Many Names of MSG
Ingredients which contain MSG: MSG, Monosodium Glutamate, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Protein, Hydrolyzed Plant Protein, Plant Protein Extract, Sodium Caseinate, Calcium Caseinate, Yeast Extract, Textured Protein, Autolyzed Protein, Autolyzed Yeast, and Hydrolyzed Oat Flour, Umami.
Frequently Contain MSG: Malt extract, Malt Flavoring, Maltodextrin, Bouillon, Broth, Stock, Flavoring, Natural Flavoring, Natural Beef or Chicken Flavoring, the use of the term "Seasoning and Spices" on the label.
May create free glutamic acid in manufacturing, which may create an MSG reaction: Enzymes, Soy Protein Concentrate, Soy Protein Isolate, and Protein Concentrate, whey protein isolate.
Foods to watch out for include: Carrageenan, Soybean milk (naturally high in glutamate & often has hydrolyzed vegetable protein added to it), kombu, miso, and soy sauces all contain MSG. Tapioca starch, Citric Acid (often made from corn and may be reactive). Avoid low fat or no fat as these are heat treated and this causes the proteins to be denatured releasing glutamic acid.
You will also find MSG in any fried and breaded foods, canned soups (Campbells soup uses straight MSG in most of their soups), any products that come ready made in a box or frozen pre-made dinners, and many sandwich meats.
Read your labels, companies often tell white lies for instance Swansons Soup broth states that there is no MSG added on the front of the label. However is you read the label you will see that they include Autolyzed Yeast Extract in the product, which creates MSG in the way they process it.
Educate yourself: Search the web for MSG and you will find many websites dedicated to helping educate you about this food additive. There are also several books on MSG, available on Amazon.com, I recommend:
Excitotoxins the Taste that Kills by Russell Blaylock, M.D.
See this video interview with Dr. Blaylock on the subject of MSG in foods: http://tv.naturalnews.com/v.asp?v=8C501468CA914ABEE2D9395667D5F200
How to Detox and Repair from MSG Poisoning:
Because MSG affects so many systems and organs of the body the repair and detoxification can be a bit of a challenge. I have comprised a list of supplements I found to be particularly helpful in clearing MSG from the body quickly and repairing the damage it has done to the body.
Avoid Caffeine as MSG seems to magnify the effects of caffeine. It would be best to limit caffeine to white or green teas or decaf coffee. Drink lots of water to help flush the system of MSG Use higher doses on supplements for the first 2-4 weeks until you feel much better. Then gradually decrease and eliminate them.
Beware of the new Umami Burgers: There's new trendy restaurants popping up all across California as well as openings in Miami Florida and New York City, they all serve the hottest new burger called the Umami burger. But what is Umami?
Umami is the taste of free glutamate, it is coined the "fifth taste" which is savory after sweet, sour, salty and bitter. For many people, free glutamate can have the same effects on your body as MSG, I suspect it has to do with just how much is present in the food. (Since to make MSG you take glutamate broth, add sodium, dry it and that produces MSG crystals). Umami burgers are designed to optimize the levels of free glutamate bringing the burger to about 2100 mg. of free glutamate, while a fresh tomato contains about 140 mg. If you are MSG sensitive it may be wise to avoid these particular burgers, as some people react to high amounts of even natural glutamates.
Studies suggest that approximately 30 % of the population is very sensitive to MSG. I suspect that this sensitivity increases with age, as I have spoke to many women who have become more sensitive to this additive at around age 50. Other factors have to do with how much you consume on a daily basis, water intake, hormone balance, how toxic is your system and if you exercise regularly (as it seems to me that MSG gathers in the lymphatic system).
I wanted to make you aware of this controversial food additive so you can make an educated decision for yourself as to whether or not it is effecting your health. I have tried to give you what I consider to be the most accurate information I could find on the subject, but it is a tough subject to find clear answers on.
Please contact me with any comments, personal experiences or questions,
Natural Health Counselor/Educator/Certified Herbalist
E-mail me for a personal consultation to help you evaluate your needed supplements at Answers4health@aol.com
Disclaimer: Supplement recommendations are not designed to treat a disease condition. Discussions are for educational purposes only. Supplements should be used to nourish and strengthen the natural function of the various body organs and systems so that they will have a greater capacity to heal themselves. It is not intended to replace your doctor's recommendations. Any questions or concerns that you have regarding existing medical conditions, or the use of medications with supplements, should be discussed with your nutritionally oriented medical doctor.
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