Monday, June 7, 2010

MSG in Your Food!

In this article from Natural News, writer Allison Bigger reports that MSG is indeed found in most processed foods, Chinese food, salty snacks, and other types of food. 

I could be wrong, but I thought this was outlawed? Nope, I WAS wrong. It's NOT banned. The Mayo Clinic's registered dietician Katherine Zeratsky says that symptoms of MSG in our systems are: 

               Facial pressure or tightness
               Numbness, tingling or burning in face, neck and other areas
               Rapid, fluttering heartbeats (heart palpitations)
               Chest pain
Wow! It is no wonder people who eat highly processed foods (most of us in America) feel these types of physical effects after eating out at restaurants or eating canned vegetables and soups. Zeratsky claims that there is not much evidence that MSG is the direct cause of these symptoms (I would like to know who has funded those studies) but that researchers are now recognizing a short-term link between MSG and adverse affects. That wasn’t too much of a stretch for me.

Of course, this Natural News article seems particularly biased. The main references are Wikipedia and Hmm…

The Journal of Head and Face Pain printed an article titled “MSG and Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein Induced Headache: Review and Case Studies.” The abstract of this journal article may surprise you: “Monosodium glutamate (MSG), an established headache trigger, has become far more prevalent in canned, packaged and prepared foods over the past decade. The presence of MSG in food may be difficult to detect since the terms ‘natural flavor,’ ‘flavoring,’ or ‘hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP),’ all may appear on food labels to refer to MSG, according to current FDA food labeling code. HVP typically contains 10–30% MSG.”  

Maybe you aren’t surprised by that, but I certainly am. It makes me surer of my raw food (or at least whole, clean, vegan) diet than ever before. Now, don’t forget, I am coming from a strong Standard American Diet background—I still like to go out to eat and I still have serious cravings for less nutritional and whole foods, such as delivery pizza and Chinese food. But knowing what really is lurking within my forkfuls  (“natural flavor” anyone?) helps me keep those cravings at bay!

There are studies, such as one conducted by Ronald Walker and John Lupien at the University of Surrey that seems to dismiss any negative side affects associated with MSG: “Conventional toxicity studies using dietary administration of MSG in several species did not reveal any specific toxic or carcinogenic effects nor were there any adverse outcomes in reproduction and teratology studies…The conclusions of a subsequent review by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) did not discount the existence of a sensitive subpopulation but otherwise concurred with the safety evaluation of JECFA and the SCF.”

So who am I to totally dismiss studies such as these? Well, all I know is that it is a chemical. Whether safe or not, I say, “No thank you, Mr. MSG!”

Can I go visit my organic garden now? 


Carissa said...

MSG is so bad for you. Here is hawaii there are a lot of places that still use it, especially korean and chinese places. When I was younger I used to eat this one korean soup every day, but I would also get bad migraines after eating it too. I never put two and two together until one day my Auntie told me that the MSG was causing my headaches. I try to stay away from the stuff now.

Lenny said...

one of my brothers loves chinese food. at the restrant he asks for no msg and they dont put it in. he could tell if its in it. my brother who cooks says he never ever uses msg. im learning a lot about good food from your blog. ...hugs from lenny

Candice said...

That's really interesting, Carissa! Yeah, eating food I know isn't made with chemicals helps, but I love love to eat out still. It makes it difficult to avoid additives! And Lenny, I'm glad you come back to my blog. I love to get your comments and your posts always cheer me up! :) A lot of people say they can taste MSG, so kudos to your brothers :)

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