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MSG – Monosodium Glutamate Part II March 10, 2009

Filed under: Flavorings,Food Additives,Health Facts and Concerns — Yvette @ 4:20 pm

I received a inquiry on my previous post about MSG to elaborate on why it is addictive.  I welcome any other inquiries from anyone :)

MSG, labeled as monosodium glutamate, is addictive due it’s flavor enhancing qualities and it’s stimulating effects on the excititory neurotransmitters in the brain.  There is no conclusive data as to WHY MSG is harmful, but studies, reports and research show that it causes numerous adverse reactions and can even be dangerous in large quantities.

Here are some of the documented reactions to MSG.  If you experience any of these after ingesting a product containing this additive, then it would be wise to do your best to keep this out of your diet.

A burning sensation in the back of the neck, forearms and chest
Numbness in the back of the neck, radiating to the arms and back
Tingling, warmth and weakness in the face, temples, upper back, neck and arms
Facial pressure or tightness
Chest pain
Rapid heartbeat
Bronchospasm (difficulty breathing) in intolerant people with asthma
Intense cravings for the same foods

MSG is free-glutamic acid and is released from the breakdown of certain proteins.  Because this neurotoxin can formed during the manufacturing process, not just added to food as an ingredient it is good to be aware of ways companies hide this ingredient in their products.  Products that are manufactored at high heats or over long periods of time form MSG as well as other contaminants.

Companies might claim that MSG is nothing more than sodium salt from glutamic acid (an amino acid), and it occurs naturally, so the manufactored MSG can’t be harmful.  Yes, MSG occurs naturally, but when manufactored contaminants are released along with the glutamic acid, and this combination is what it harmful to the body.  Careful wording and manipulation helps these companies steer the public into thinking this additive is safe, this is similar the HFCS commercial I posted a few months ago.

Reports show that MSG consumption worldwide is about 4.4 million pounds in 2006, despite the knowledge in 1992 that it’s consumption is harmful to at least 25% of the population.  This does not include the hidden forms of MSG, such as hydrolyzed vegetable proteins, autolyzed yeast, hydrolyzed yeast, yeast extract, soy extracts, and protein isolate, which may be listed as “spices” or “natural flavorings.”

This food additive can also be compared to aspartame, both are derived from amino acids and isolated from their natural context.  Many believe that this isolation is what causes the body and brain to malfunction when ingesting an additive out of it’s natural habitat.  Tinkering with food additives is relatively new and our bodies are not adapted to handle these strange concoctions, it is best to stick to whole unadultered foods.


MSG – monosodium glutamate March 8, 2009

Filed under: Carcinogens,Flavorings,Food Additives — Yvette @ 3:23 am

I vaguely remember being in a Chinese restaurant during the 90’s when my mother asked for no MSG in our food.  This may have been during the time people started to realize how addicting MSG can be.  When  companies and restaurants find legal addictive substances you can be sure they will start adding it to our food to keep us coming back for more.

MSG is like crack, it’s an extremely addictive and harmful food additive.  MSG can also be labeling under “natural flavorings” which is why you need to be careful of the ingredient natural flavors, as I’ve said before.  The FDA forces companies to list monosodium glutamate as additive because of the adverse effects it causes in a good portion of the population.  The problem is that a good amount of people do not read the ingredients on their food labels.

I happen to be an avid label reader, even of foods I do not eat (this annoys the crap out of my mother).  I thought that MSG would have been banned by now because of how harmful it can be, but I have found through occasionally reading labels that MSG aka monosodium glutamate is still being put into foods.  I personally have found this ingredient in a lot of popular canned soups like Progresso and Campbells, not all of them, but some.  So be conscious consumers and read your ingredients!

* I just found MSG in Triscuits 😦


How do we fight? October 25, 2008

Michelle raised a very interesting question in her comment on Natural Foods Not So Natural.  I found my response to be a little to long for the comment section, so I decided to write a note on it.  Her question was, do we fight the big businesses that put unnecessary chemicals and sugars into our food, or do we spread awareness as much as we can?

I prefer to spread awareness and cook/prepare good food for people.  My mother now spreads the word on how bad aspartame is and Ali shies away from buying certain brands of almonds that have added smoke flavor.  I think this is so awesome.  (Yay! I’m not just a crazy granola head!  People listen to me!)

Going up against big businesses wouldn’t be easy, honestly I don’t know how that would be done.  The problem is that food additives like high fructose corn syrup, natural and artificial flavors are so cheap that not only companies like McDonald’s use them, but companies that produce wholesome foods do as well.  Products that are labeled organic often contain natural flavors.  My beloved Amy’s Organic veggie burgers have natural hickory flavor 😦   This is because to be labeled “organic” 95% of the ingredients have to be organic.  Every single soy butter product that I have come across is made with natural flavors.  So, when I can, I will be making my own.  That is how I choose to fight Michelle 🙂

Here is the recipe if anyone is interested, it’s really quick and easy.

Ironically the recipe is called Michelle’s Better Butter (but it’s by Michelle Cook not my sis)

  • 1/2 cup organic extra-virgin coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup organic cold-pressed flax seed oil

Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan until it has liquefied.  Immediately mix it with the flax seed oil, stir until well it is mixed.  Transfer the liquid to a container and place it in the fridge.  You can store this for up to six months!

OK, so this butter is kinda nutty, but so am I.  I’m sure some of you react to the thought of eating flax seed oil similarly to the way my sister and I used to feel about peas.   But honestly, it’s a lot more appetizing than peas are to an 8 year old.  So, I’ll do my best to sell this to you.

This butter is wonderful because it’s delicious and it melts just like butter made from dairy.   It’s also packed with omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids.  These fatty acids are “essential” because the body requires these nutrients for proper functioning, but we are unable to produce them ourselves and must obtain them through our diet.  These are the only two fatty acids that the body can not produce, which makes this butter very convenient.

Maybe you’re like my mom and absolutely in love with butter, but maybe you’ll try it at least once 🙂


Natural Flavors Not so Natural October 24, 2008

Filed under: Acidity,Flavorings,Food Additives — Yvette @ 9:12 pm

I have a kind of….frustration with the ingredient “natural flavors.”  I’m annoyed by many food additives, like high fructose corn syrup, which my mother jokingly tells people not to mention in front of me.  I’ll most likely talk about that one another day.  But, currently I am annoyed with natural flavors.  One of the reasons is that I don’t want to consume it, and I can’t seem to avoid it.  It’s harder to avoid than high fructose corn syrup.  Hard to believe right?  Check your ingredient lists.

I’m frustrated because the term natural flavor leads the consumer to believe that this ingredient is formed by nature, that is in fact the definition of natural.  According to the FDA natural flavors are derived from herbs, spices, fruits, vegetables, beef, chicken, etc.  But a natural flavor is still a chemical, and much more similar to an artificial flavor in composition than anything you would find growing in a garden.  Both of these flavors are constructed by “flavorists” in a laboratory.  These flavorists use the same chemicals but different processes to compose the two flavors.

Why use natural flavors?  Why not use the real thing?  Why not use actual vanilla extract instead of natural vanilla flavor or almond extract instead of natural almond flavor?  It’s simply because natural flavors are cheaper to produce.  Most companies don’t care that they are pumping our bodies full of chemicals.  They’d rather make the extra buck or two if they can fool you into thinking that a natural flavor is perfectly natural to eat.  But it’s far from that.

So for example, during the process of deriving natural almond flavor traces of hydrogen cyanide are also formed.  Cyanide, a highly poisonous substance, doesn’t sound so yummy to me.

Although you won’t die from small traces of cyanide, your body won’t be too happy about it.  Chemicals cause acidic conditions in the body; diseases and viruses thrive in acidic conditions.  Natural flavors are listed all the way at the bottom of the ingredient list, so you may be inclined to think, “there’s not that much in here, a little bit of chemicals won’t hurt me.”  I know I’ve thought that too, but studies show that the average American consumes 124 pounds of food chemicals per year.  I’m not saying that natural flavors are solely responsible for diseases and viruses.  I do think it’s important to be aware that chemicals definitely don’t help your body, and that a natural flavor is anything but natural to your body.