MSG: Why You Should Avoid it?

msg-why-you-should-avoid-itMSG or monosodium glutamate is a flavor enhancer commonly added to Chinese food, canned soups and many processed meats. It is inexpensive and makes food taste better, so restaurants and food manufacturers are eager to use it as a flavor enhancer. While avoiding Chinese restaurants may decrease your MSG intake, this potentially dangerous chemical food additive is in almost every bottle, bag or can on your supermarket shelves.

MSG may be toxic. It is a chemically produced nervous system stimulant and for those with an MSG intolerance or allergy, exposure causes a powerful drug reaction. This reaction may include autoimmune reactions (swelling, respiratory distress) or a reaction similar to fibromyalgia and can occur from ten minutes to 48 hours after eating MSG flavored foods. It has been shown to induce asthma attacks resulting from the histamine response and histamine increases fluid retention and inflammation. Nearly 85% of people with Type I Diabetes have tested positive for antibodies to MSG and will exhibit a potentially dangerous allergic response.

MSG may also increase your risk of hypothyroidism by damaging the hypothalamus of the brain, which then indirectly causes a reduction of thyroid production. Symptoms of reduced thyroid production (hypothyroidism) vary from person to person but may include constantly feeling cold, feeling tired and fatigued, difficulty sleeping and insomnia, anxiety, depression, mood swings, weight gain, heavy periods, dry skin and hair, brittle nails, headaches, decreased memory and concentration and constipation and irritable bowel syndrome. Monosodium glutamate has also been linked to nerve damage and vision loss in some patients.

Avoiding MSG is increasingly difficult as food manufacturers continue to add MSG despite consumer awareness and growing concerns. Manufacturers who wish to improve the flavor of otherwise bland foods are forced to “hide” it on their nutrition (ingredients) labels. It may be listed by as many as 40 different names on a food label. It may be listed as monosodium glutamate, monopotassium glutamate, glutamate, glutamic acid, gelatin, calcium caseinate, textured protein, hydrolyzed protein, yeast food, autolyzed yeast or yeast extract.

Additionally, ingredients listed on labels as any type of “flavoring” or “natural flavoring” probably contain MSG. Pay close attention to foods that contain “broth,” “bouillon” or the generic ingredient “seasonings.” Ingredients that contain “soy,” “added protein,” “enzymes,” “carrageenan,” “pectin,” or “maltodextrin” or “maltodextrose may also contain hidden MSG. Foods that are fermented may also contain hidden MSG. Keep in mind that the earlier a questionable ingredient appears on a label (closer to the top), the greater the amount of MSG.

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