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MSG Alert

My journey toward healthier eating has been an interesting one. I realized early on that slow steady changes are the ones that seem to make the greatest and longest lasting impressions. I would slowly wean myself from something I considered unhealthy and I would discover the original unadulterated tastes that made up the "naughty" food to begin with. For example, a fruit roll up would be replaced with actual strawberries or cherries, a potato chip would become a baked potato, or white bread would be replaced with whole grain cereal or a bowl of brown rice. I am finally to the point where I truly enjoy the foods without the addition of sugar or salt or other unnecessary enhancements. Some of the discoveries I came upon in the foods I used to consume scared me enough to forgo the slow steady weaning process and just quit eating them cold turkey. The flavor additive MSG was one of them.

MSG or monosodium glutamate is one of those nasty additives that the food industry refuses to let go of despite the cases of evidence against its safe consumption. The fact that it is a multi-million dollar industry might give us a glimpse into their reasoning. MSGs main purpose is to enhance the flavor of foods. It is generally found in soups, chips, gravies, sauces, and diet foods. After initially discovering that this food additive destroyed sensitive brain cells, the FDA mandated that it be taken out of infant food. The food industry found a couple of ways around this temporary block. They were able to call it a natural flavor or spice without actually disclosing that it was in a product. (Glutamate is an amino acid. This is the reason why it can be called natural.)

Along with aspartame (NutraSweet- another blatant poison) and L-cysteine, MSG has been given the title of excitotoxin. After consuming a meal of Campbell's soup and Diet Coke a person has enough excitotoxins in their blood to stimulate the neurons in their brains to death. The deaths of these nerve cells cause brain damage in various degrees.

Some of you may actually notice symptoms of the excitotoxins doing what they do. After eating a meal at a Chinese restaurant, many people complain about tingling limbs, headaches, and various other neurological challenges. These complaints stem from the consumption of MSG.

Hydrolyzed vegetable protein or HVP is another cover up for MSG. HVP is created by boiling vegetables in sulfuric acid for several hours. The vegetable mixture is then neutralized with a caustic soda. The resulting concoction is then dried. The result is a brown sludge. This brown sludge not only contains MSG but two other excitotoxins and some known carcinogens. And no, the FDA does not regulate it.

When I started closely reading the labels of everything my family consumed, I cried. Things that I thought were safe were full of hidden dangers. I didn't know what food companies I could trust. The soup isle frightened me. Campbell's meaty chunky soup had salt, MSG, and hydrolyzed vegetable protein. These soups had enough sodium in them to cover up the taste and make the soup last for decades. My soy sauce had HVP and my favorite Orv's Pizza had L-cysteine (another excitotoxin used for dough conditioning). I purchased Orv's specifically because of the big "no MSG" sign they place on their packaging. I would like to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that may not have realized that their food was poison but my children ate it and I'm not in the mood to be nice.

Certain people are more susceptible to MSG than others. Infants and children, pregnant women (their babies), and people with low blood sugar among others need to be very aware of their MSG consumption. Many theories are out about the possible link between consumption of excitotoxins and neurological diseases such at Alzheimer's, ALS, Huntington's disease, and others.

After realizing that the food industry really is out to protect only itself, I have taken responsibility into my own hands and called a couple of companies when I spot words like spices or natural flavoring on packages. I've also found some frozen pizzas that are safe to eat (Amy's and AC LaRoca's among others). After I noticed that MSG is in A LOT of processed foods, I again realized the beauty in the taste of simple foods. Flavor additives are not necessary with a wonderfully cooked squash or perfectly ripe plum.



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