No More MSG: The Food Additive You Should Learn Live Without

May 6, 2015 Updated: May 6, 2015

To create and sustain health, feeding the body properly is absolutely essential – which is why I advise my patients to eliminate all processed foods. Why is this so critically important? Because virtually all processed foods are loaded with bad-for-the-body additives that wreak havoc on your health. Topping the charts of dangerous additives is the deservedly maligned MSG, (monosodium glutamate), a known carcinogen, endocrine disrupter and killer of brain cells, which may also be linked to the development of cardiac problems, kidney problems, neurological disorders, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease to name a few. Any wonder why feel I must spread the word on this devastating toxin millions of people eat every day?

To follow are a few key points everyone needs to know about MSG – which I hope will inspire you to jettison the stuff from your pantry, fridge and ultimately, your life:

Not Feeling So Good?

Processed foods fill the body with additives. Whole foods don’t. MSG, which is found in an estimated 80% of processed foods, sets off a variety of adverse reactions such as skin rashes, headaches, moodiness, irritability, IBS, heart palpitations, depression and more, depending on your tolerance. How fast and hard you get hit by these problems depends on your ability to tolerate it, but regardless, eating foods laced with MSG are devastating to your organs. In short, MSG has the ability to make people feel lousy in the short term and potentially, very, very sick in the long-term. Whole, unprocessed foods have the opposite effect. The choice is yours.


Do It Yourself

The simplest way to keep MSG off your plate? Cook for yourself. Keep restaurant meals to a minimum and eliminate processed foods. In other words, take control of your ingredients and what goes on your plate. Most restaurant meals are flavor “enhanced” with MSG, as are virtually all processed foods, so the more you cook for yourself, the fewer additives you’ll be dumping into your bloodstream. Assemble your meals from fresh, whole foods, veggies and fruits, unprocessed and uncut to ensure you’re eating MSG-free.

What Did You Say Your Name Was?

Chances are, if you saw MSG on the label, you’d put it right back on the shelf and keep walking. Food processers know this, so it’s rare that you’ll see the actual phrase “MSG” on a label. Instead, they hide the evidence by making MSG difficult to identify. Also known as glutamate (the chemical in monosodium glutamate), MSG often lurks behind murky phrases like “natural ingredients,” “natural seasonings, ” “natural flavors,” or specific ones that don’t easily reveal the presence of MSG, such as maltodextrin, gelatin, glutamic acid, citric acid, hydrolyzed yeast, protein isolate, textured protein, hydrolyzed protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), soy protein extract, autolyzed plant protein, autolyzed yeast, yeast extract, sodium caseinate, calcium caseinate  and modified corn starch to name a few. As the FDA doesn’t consider glutamate hazardous to eat, it’s easy for food processors to blur the presence of MSG, making it nearly impossible for the average consumer to recognize.


“No Added MSG” Doesn’t Mean MSG-Free

Even more absurd is the loophole that allows processed foods to be marked “no added MSG,” or “contains no MSG,” even though they still contain glutamate, the chemical in MSG. While it may seem like hair-splitting, the phrases “no added MSG,” “contains no MSG,” and even “MSG-free” are by no means a guarantee that glutamate isn’t in the processed foods you buy. Even some processed organic foods are guilty of hiding the nasty stuff. In many cases, a close label-reading will turn up glutamate here too, so my advice is to skip all processed foods, organic or otherwise.

Shop Like a Sleuth

If you must eat the occasional processed food, look for items with no more than 3-to-5 ingredients on the label, and be sure each ingredient is an actual food or specific spice, not a blend of chemical additives. Also, when you go to the supermarket, take along a copy of Truth In Labeling’s comprehensive guide to the names of ingredients that contain MSG. You can download a PDF from . For a more in-depth examination of MSG’s impact on your health, take a look at Dr. Russell Blaylock’s excellent book ‘Excitotoxins – The Taste That Kills’ – you’ll never look at processed foods the same way again!

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*Image of “instant noodles” via Shutterstock