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What is MSG exactly?

September 19, 2013 2 min read

It's a mouthful all right: monosodium glutamate.

MSG is found in nearly all processed foods. That means your soup, sauces, chips, crackers, sausages, salad dressing, frozen dinners and countless other items lining your pantry and refrigerator shelves, likely all contain it.


MSG is a flavor enhancer. Simply stated, it makes food taste better. But since the introduction of MSG in the American diet, many people (likely still unaware of the cause) have a physical reaction to consuming foods that contain this additive.

While the FDA states that these are short term reactions and defines it as "MSG Symptom Complex", the symptoms are disturbing and range from burning sensations of the mouth, head and neck, to weakness in arms or legs, chest pain, headache, upset stomach and hives.

But it gets worse. New studies link MSG to obesity, eye damage and depression.

So how can you protect yourself and your family against the side effects of MSG?

1. Become an informed consumer.

MSG hides behind many names on nutrition labels. Choose products from companies that do not use MSG. But be aware that it can be deceiving.

These ingredients ALWAYS contain MSG:

Autolyzed Yeast    Calcium Caseinate    Gelatin
Glutamate    Glutamic Acid    Hydrolyzed Protein
Monopotassium Glutamate    Yeast Extract    Sodium Caseinate
Textured Protein    Monosodium Glutamate    Yeast Food
Yeast Nutrient

These ingredients often contain MSG:

Flavors and Flavorings    Seasonings    Natural Flavors and Flavorings    Pectin    Bouillon
Natural Chicken Flavoring    Soy Sauce    Soy Protein Isolate    Soy Protein    Natural Beef Flavoring
Stock    Broth    Malt Extract    Malt Flavoring    Barley Malt
Anything Enzyme Modified    Carrageenan    Maltodextrin    Natural Pork Flavoring    Enzymes
Protease    Corn Starch    Citric Acid    Powdered Milk    Anything Protein Fortified
 Anything Ultra-Pasteurized


2. Focus on a diet rich in whole foods.

When you fill your pantry and fridge with whole foods, you automatically reduce your MSG intake. And while it may seem daunting to focus on fruits and vegetables and lean proteins instead of boxes and packages of food-like offerings, I often tell my clients dinner can be as simple as throwing chicken on the grill and roasting broccoli tossed with lemon and olive oil. Don't feel you need to reinvent the wheel. And if you need meal ideas, let me know. The bottom line (for so many reasons!) is to put yourself in control of your diet. Recognize the symptoms of a sensitivity to MSG and read about the studies showing up in Google searches. Eat with purpose. xo, Lonni  

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