How many people do you know eat at Taco Bell, KFC or take their kids to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal? Well fast foods, Chinese restaurants and some chain restaurants use a good amount of MSG, which stands for monosodium glutamate.
This deadly chemical is a flavor enhancer that was actually invented by a Japanese man named Kikunae Ikeda in 1908. He called it the natural flavoring enhancer substance derived from seaweed. Ikeda came up with a way to use just a hint of seaweed to produce this poisonous flavor enhancer called MSG, which contains 78 percent free glutamic acid, 21 percent sodium and one percent contaminants.
Ikeda along with a partner went on to create the largest MSG manufacturer in the world called Ajinomoto. Interestingly, Ajinomoto also became a drug manufacturer.
As WWI broke out, Japanese soldiers complained about how their military rations had no flavor, so the Japanese military began to use this deadly flavor enhancer in their food to shut them up. Unfortunately, they did not know its dangers at that time.
MSG did not become popular in the U.S. until just after WWII when the military remarked that the Japanese soldiers’ food tasted better than theirs because of the MSG in it.
When you eat MSG, it tricks your brain into thinking the food tastes much better than it actually does. It does this by tricking your tongue, using an uncommonly known fifth basic taste called “umami.” Umami is the taste of the glutamic acid, the savory flavor found in many foods like bacon, sausage and many, many products containing pre-packaged sauces.
Do you remember when Accent was introduced to the U.S. market? Accent was a flavor enhancer that used MSG as its main ingredient.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), unfortunately, recognized it as safe. Despite documented illnesses and adverse reactions to MSG, this classification has not been changed.
Approximately 10 years later, “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” was recorded in medical diagnostic literature describing numerous adverse reactions such as numbness, heart palpitations and headaches to name just a few.
Today, this syndrome has been more appropriately renamed “MSG Symptom Complex,” which the FDA labeled as a short term-reaction; however, there is so much evidence that many of the adverse reactions are not just short term.
You may ask, “Why is MSG so deadly?” Well, one of the problems is that free glutamic acid is the same neurotransmitter, something that the brain, spinal cord, nerves and other organs use to initiate certain functions or processes in your body.
The FDA even admits: “Studies have shown that the body uses glutamate, as a nerve impulse transmitter in the brain and that there are glutamate-responsive tissues in other parts of the body, as well. Abnormal function of glutamate receptors has been linked with certain neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s Chorea (a disease marked by uncontrollable muscular movements). Injections of glutamate in laboratory animals have resulted in damage to nerve cells in the brain.”
MSG is very addictive, and people will crave foods that contain it. I bet you know someone who is hooked on KFC, Taco Bell or McDonald’s. Maybe they go there two or three times per week to eat? They may even admit that they have a craving for it.
The FDA continues, however, to state that consuming MSG laden food does not cause these ill effects, however, many experts beg to differ. According to Dr. Russell Blaylock, a board-certified neurosurgeon and author of a book called “Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills,” explains that MSG is an excitotoxin (a substance that overexcites the nerves and cells in the body to the point of death, causing varying degrees of brain damage).
This brain damage can cause learning disabilities or worsen learning disabilities, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease and much more. Glutamate receptors have even been found in the heart muscle.
Dr. Blaylock reports that consuming free glutamic acid as found in MSG can be damaging to your heart and may explain the sudden deaths sometimes seen among young athletes.
“When an excess of food-borne excitotoxins, such as MSG, hydrolyzed protein, soy protein isolate and concentrate, natural flavoring, sodium caseinate and aspartate from aspartame are consumed, these glutamate receptors are overstimulated, producing cardiac arrhythmias,” he remarked. “When magnesium stores are low, as we see in athletes, the glutamate receptors are so sensitive that even low levels of these excitotoxins can result in cardiac arrhythmia and death.”
Linked to regular use of MSG are the following adverse effects: Obesity, eye damage, headaches, fatigue, disorientation and depression. The FDA has a list of symptoms, which they say are a result of “MSG Symptom Complex” such as numbness, burning sensation, tingling, facial pressure or tightness headaches, nausea, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, difficulty breathing, drowsiness and weakness.
Want to know how to tell if MSG is in your food? Well, the food manufacturers know that many of us are looking out for MSG in the foods we purchase, so they have gotten very sneaky and have given MSG alternate names or have hidden it with other ingredients. Here are some ingredients that contain MSG: autolyzed yeast, glutamate, monopotassium glutamate, umami, textured protein, yeast nutrient, calcium caseinate, glutamic acid, monosodium glutamate, yeast extract, gelatin, hydrolyzed protein, sodium caseinate and yeast food.
These ingredients usually contain MSG: flavors and flavorings, natural chicken flavoring, stock, anything enzyme modified, seasonings, soy sauce, broth, natural flavor and flavorings, soy protein isolate, malt extract, maltodextrin, natural pork flavoring, soy protein, malt flavoring, pectin, natural beef flavoring, bouillon, enzymes, barley malt and carrageenan.
So, my advice to you is to go through your kitchen cabinets and discard anything containing the above names, and the next time you go grocery shopping take this list with you and before you buy, READ THE FOOD LABELS!
Dr. Ramona Valentine
And, need I say for your health sake, stay out of fast food and Chinese restaurants!
If you are interested in learning more, call for information on our free health and weight loss workshops at (727) 771-SLIM (7546).
Dr. Valentine is a weight loss consultant, a health consultant and a chiropractor. You can reach her at 727-771-SLIM (7546) or stop by A Slimmer You at 10300 49th St. N, Suite 211.