Food for Thought: The Skinny on MSG

About 30% of our population experience adverse reactions to MSG. Sometimes we don't see the symptom being MSG related because they may not show up for an hour or more after a meal while in some people, it can show up before they leave the dinner table. Most sufferers just pass it off as typical….an inconvenience they have learned to live with. Some symptoms are, migraine headache, simple headache, depression, rash, racing heart, lethargy, asthma like symptoms, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, bloating, diarrhea, general weakness, gastric distress, shortness of breath, irregular heart beat, panic attacks, mood swings, flushing, tremors, poor concentration and hyperactivity in children.

Bowel complaints and IBS are probably the most common MSG induced reactions. Many people who have had their gall bladder removed complain of gall bladder attack like symptoms after eating foods containing MSG. Taurine, a free form amino acid makes bile that breaks down large fat globules which in turn makes them easier to digest. When MSG interferes with taurine's function, fat digestion becomes difficult and we end up with digestive distress.

You may not think of obesity as an MSG symptom simply because we don't feel the effects right away. I'm not saying that everyone who is over weight should blame MSG but, we are constantly hearing how obesity has more than doubled in the past fifty years and MSG's has been in use since the 1950's. Scientists fatten rats and mice to be used for experiments by injecting them with MSG. It is said that rats and mice who are injected with MSG have triple the amount of insulin in their pancrease causing them to become obese. If this is true, it is easy to see how it would affect our own bodies. Insulin is excreted from the pancrease into our bloodstream when we eat and moves the blood sugar into our cells to be burned as fuel. If there is too much insulin in the blood stream, it prevents your body from burning stored fat. In short, insulin promotes storage of fat and hinders the body's ability to lose it. Have you ever heard someone say, "I am not eating as much as I used to but I am still gaining weight"? Maybe they aren't making excuses; maybe it is what they have been eating.

If you are MSG sensitive, you have to change the way you eat and start reading labels to overcome the symptoms. Start by looking in your own kitchen cupboards and fridge. You will be surprised at what you find.
Foods contain MSG with these words on the label:

* Monosodium glutamate
* Geletine
* Hydrolyzed plant protein
* hydrolyzed vegetable protein
* Glutamate
* Autolyzed plant protein
* Yeast extract
* Sodium caseinate
* Yeast food or nutrient
* Calcium caseinate
* Textured protein

Foods with the following ingredients often contain MSG:

* Malted barley
* Caramel flavoring
* Soy protein
* Broth, stock or bullion
* Whey protein
* Pectin
* Rice, wheat, or oat protein
* Soy sauce
* Products enriched or nitamine enriched
* Flavoring or flavors
* No fat or low fat items
* Milk powder, dry milk solids, or protein fortified milk
* Spice
* Anything fermented
* Anything containing modified enzymes

Rule of thumb: You can tell how much MSG is in a food by reading the label. The closer to the beginning of the ingredient list you find MSG; the more there is added to the food.
Foods that nearly always contain MSG:

* Canned soups
* Soup mixes
* Salty snacks
* Canned gravies
* Many salad dressings
* Soy sauce
* Most fast food
* Sausage
* Prepared foods

The best way to help yourself is to know your symptoms. Arm yourself with information from the Internet, your library, ask questions at the Health Store and talk to your doctor. Read labels and listen to your body.