The Bonvie Blog: Monosodium Glutamate, or MSG
Here’s the best New Year’s resolution you can make
BY LINDA BONVIE
If you made a New Year’s resolution, probably by now the enthusiasm in following this self-improvement ritual has slowly faded into the humdrum of daily life.
But I’m here to help revitalize things. It’s not too late to make one of the best New Year’s resolutions of all. In fact, this idea is one that will benefit the entire family – young, old and in-between.
I’ll cut right to the advantages: Putting this resolve into action can significantly improve your health, especially protect the youngest – and oldest – members of your family from brain damage, get some nasty carcinogens out of your diet, protect your heart and eyes, and help you keep your weight under control. Actually, that’s just the tantalizing top five of the pluses this resolution has to offer.
So, you’re probably wondering what this magic, life-altering secret of staying healthy could be? Well, here it is: Simply keep as much processed free glutamic acid out of your diet as you possibly can.
Not sure what processed free glutamic acid is? Hint — it commonly goes by the acronym “MSG,” a sort of food-additive slang to stand for toxic ingredients added to processed foods to zip up the flavor. But here’s the most frustrating part – while plenty of folks are checking food labels so they can avoid MSG, they won’t find it listed. Sure, monosodium glutamate is required by the FDA to be labeled, but this problem extends way beyond that sole ingredient to over 40 different additives that are routinely dumped into everything from infant formula, to meals for invalids, to protein drinks, to everyday foods literally ranging from soup to nuts.
Industry hype gets hyperactive
During the past year I’ve been noticing a widespread media campaign on all levels, much of which is disseminated by the “International Glutamate (dis)Information Service” that’s laser- focused on convincing you that MSG is totally harmless… and, unbelievably, even beneficial!
This propaganda, appearing on Facebook, in the news, and flowing from press releases, is stunningly similar to a campaign several years ago created and funded by the Corn Refiners Association to try and salvage the image of high fructose corn syrup. The main goal in that marketing mission was twofold: (1) present as gospel-truth “facts” about HFCS that trashed years of scientific findings as to the danger of ingesting free (unbound) fructose, and (2) make anyone who attempted to tell family or friends about the health risks of HFCS seem like a nitwit who doesn’t know what they’re talking about.
Thankfully, the many millions put into that effort by the CRA wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on. Consumers know by now that HFCS is bad news. And food manufacturers know that consumers know.
But with MSG, the situation is a bit more tricky. The monetary stakes are higher, the products that contain processed free glutamic acid are much more numerous, and industry has the full and unbridled support of the FDA.
And it seems that when it comes to “proving” their point, anything goes.
Take, for example, a “study” that came out last year from none other than the prestigious Harvard Medical School and its affiliated hospital, the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.
Apparently the goal of this absurdity was to generate cool headlines such as “Monosodium glutamate could actually be key to healthy eating.” Yep, that must have been it, as the study wasn’t much to write home about, let alone write a news story about.
It went like this: 35 women wore special glasses that tracked their eye movements as they walked around a buffet table. Half the group had eaten an MSG-spiked soup beforehand, and those women had “more focused gazes during the meal,” and chose foods with “less saturated fats.”
Of course, you could say that’s just plain silly, who would believe such drivel? But the glutamate industry (yes, there is a glutamate industry) has a lot more up its sleeve. And one thing that will help you to avoid being conned by its disinformation is to keep the following six big fat lies you’re going to hear in mind, courtesy of our friends at the Truth in Labeling Campaign:
#1: The glutamate contained in MSG is identical to the glutamate in the human body.
#2: MSG is very well researched and found to be safe.
#3: It must be safe, since the FDA has said so.
#4: MSG has been used for over a century without adverse reactions.
#5: MSG is naturally made, similar to yogurt, vinegar and wine.
#6: Monosodium glutamate occurs naturally in food.
Also remember that it’s not just “some” people who need to dodge these noxious additives. Those who suffer reactions are indeed reacting to a toxic substance, not having an allergy attack, such as a sensitive person would to nuts or milk. The effects of MSG can range from migraines, asthma, skin rashes, irritable bowel, seizures and heart irregularities such as A-fib.
And as for all those names, the aliases that processed free glutamic acid hides under, I’ve listed the top ten below. For the full story, the best place to look is to health freedom fighters, Truth in Labeling Campaign (TLC). (The folks at TLC are excited to unveil a new website this Spring and to continue to update and add to the valuable information and resources we’ve come to expect from these critical allies.)
It would be bad enough if what we were being told by industry and its shills were just half truths. But these are flat-out lies, being told for the purpose of keeping the “glutes,” as TLC calls them, doing business as usual and continuing to poison our food while telling us everything is A-OK.
As Citizens for Health President and Board Chair Jim Turner once remarked about aspartame, another neurotoxic food additive: “The brain you save may be your own.”
Top ten names of ingredients that always contain processed free glutamic acid (Courtesy of the Truth in Labeling Campaign)
- Autolyzed yeast
- Soy protein
- Any “hydrolyzed” protein
- Whey protein isolate
- Yeast extract
- Sodium and calcium caseinate
- Textured protein
- Anything containing “enzymes”
- Soy sauce
- Monosodium glutamate (E# 621)
Linda and Bill Bonvie are regular bloggers for Citizens for Health and the co-authors of Badditives: The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet – and How to Avoid Them.