Wednesday, June 02, 2010


I know quite a few of you will stop reading this post because it is *gasp* health related, but for those who may be interested, I am dedicating this post to giving some info about MSG. The fact of the matter is most people have NO idea how much MSG they are consuming. So I figured I would share a few things I have learned over the past few months!

I guess the most important thing to do is to define MSG (aka: Monosodium glutamate & sodium glutamate). It is sodium salt of the naturally occurring non-essential amino acidglutamic acid. It is used as a food additive and is commonly marketed as a flavor enhancer.

And I guess the second most important thing to do is share with you some facts I have come across. So here goes!

- MSG has been hidden in food ingredient list hydrolyzed vegetable protein, autolyzed yeast extract,soy protein isolate, and many other names

- It was once predominantly made from wheat gluten, but is now mostly made from bacterial fermentation.

- Like the sodium salts of other amino acids, MSG is a stable colorless solid that is degraded by strong oxidizing agents.

- MSG is used commercially as a flavour enhancer. Although once associated with foods in Chinese restaurants, MSG is now used by most fast food chains (Burger King, Wendy's, McDonalds, Taco Bell, KFC, Chili's, TGIF, Applebees, Zaxby's, Denny's. The list can go on and on and on) and in many other foods, particularly processed foods. (For example: soups, chips, BBQ sauces, seasonings, salad dressings... just to name a few.)

- A report from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, on behalf of the FDA, concluded that MSG was safe for most people when "eaten at customary levels". However, it also said that, based on anecdotal reports, some people may have an MSG intolerance which causes "MSG symptom complex" and/or a worsening of asthmatic symptoms.

- MSG is added because the food being prepared for sale to the public is of low quality due to cheap ingredients or due to too long shelf life. (If the food is of low quality I probably don't want my son eating it anyway.)

- The FDA has set no limit on how much of it can be added to foods.

- It is an addictive substance, and because of that it is often referred to as "nicotine for food". You wonder why you cant just eat a few Doritos? Why you consume half the bag in less time than it takes you to say, "Man, these are good!" Its because they are covered in MSG. And MSG is addicting.

- MSG stimulates the pancreas to release insulin into the blood stream even when there are not any carbohydrates in the dish for the insulin to act on. Your blood sugar ends up dropping because of this flood of insulin, and then you end up hungry again an hour or so later. Does this sound familiar to anyone? Maybe when you eat Chinese food? Yeah. They use MSG in EVERYTHING they cook or even think about cooking.

Some results of MSG consumption:

Alzheimer's disease
Migraine headaches

- Food scientist Harold McGee states that "toxicologists have concluded that MSG is a harmless ingredient for most people, even in large amounts." Even if it is safe to eat in mass amounts, why on earth would I? Why would I intentionally feed my child something that has absolutely no nutritional value? Why would I feed my two year old something that would cause him to get addicted to junk food and possibly lead to obesity? Lets face it, if MSG is an ingredient, it can pretty much be classified as junk food. You don't see apples or carrots being fertilized with MSG do you? I know I am over-exaggerating a little bit, but I think you see my point.

Anyway, these are just a few things I thought everyone should know about MSG. We have tried to drastically reduce our MSG consumption in the Titus household. I don't know that we could ever COMPLETELY cut it out (I mean, there are times where I just NEED to eat some fast food), but we try our best to limit it. Buying real food as opposed to processed food is a good way to make sure MSG is not present. Eating at restaurants that do not use MSG is a good start too. But good luck, because as of a couple years ago there were only four restaurants in this town that do NOT use MSG in their food. (Chick Fil A, Sonic, Arby's and Hong Kong Cafe, if you wanna know.)

Go to your kitchen and start reading the ingredient list on things in your fridge and pantry. You might be shocked at how many things contain MSG. And if you want to reduce the amount of MSG your family consumes, start by reading nutrition labels at the grocery store. Paying attention to the ingredient list can make a world of difference.

Alright. Thats all the rambling I will do for now. If I stick around much longer I fear I will go off on my tangents about how dangerous artificial sweeteners and non organic milk happen to be!

Happy Wednesday everyone! Hope I didn't bore you to death. :)


Amanda said...

i read the WHOLE thing :D

Anonymous said...

I did too! It was very educational!