Once thought to be just a harmless flavor enhancer, MSG has since been linked to many health problems, including high insulin and blood sugar, liver toxicity, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, fibromyalgia, as well as neurological and brain damage. Unfortunately, MSG is almost impossible to avoid.  There are more than 40 different ingredients out there that all contain MSG.

Back in the 1970’s, researchers discovered that pharmaceutical MSG killed brain cells.  It was later determined the MSG that was commercially available would actually have the same effect.  Do you know the mechanism behind how MSG works?  It acts as a nerve stimulant and changes how our taste buds taste foods.  In essence, it makes bad tasting food taste good.  You would think the FDA would require that manufacturers label all MSG-containing foods, but they don’t UNLESS the “added ingredient” is 99% pure MSG.  If MSG is produced as a result of protein hydrolysis or a byproduct of protein processing, the FDA does not require MSG to appear on the label.

The cold, hard truth is that MSG is found in almost every highly processed food, including veggie burgers and other frozen or pre-prepared vegan and “health foods” and these foods are not required to be labeled as containing MSG.  Particularly in the vegetarian/vegan types of processed foods, you may find ingredients on labels such as hydrolyzed vegetable protein, textured vegetable protein, and yeast extract.  No matter what they call it, it’s still MSG.

Some aliases MSG may be masquerading as:

  • Monopotassium Glutamate
  • Calcium Glutamate
  • Monoammonium Glutamate
  • Magnesium Glutamate
  • Natrium Glutamate
  • Yeast Extract
  • Anything hydrolyzed
  • Any hydrolyzed protein
  • Calcium Caseinate
  • Sodium Caseinate
  • Yeast Food
  • Yeast Nutrient
  • Autolyzed Yeast
  • Gelatin
  • Textured Protein
  • Soy Protein Isolate
  • Whey Protein Isolate
  • Vetsin
  • Ajinomoto

 So what’s the answer?  Eat unprocessed, whole foods!!

Since there are so many foods that may contain MSG, I say when in doubt, keep it out!  The more we eat a diet consisting of whole, unprocessed foods including vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, organic, grass-fed meats, and a modest amount of gluten-free grains, the less we have to worry about our foods being tainted with MSG.  Animal proteins should be clean, preferably organic and grass-fed, and meals should be made in your home or at a restaurant you can trust.  Yet another reason to avoid processed foods!