The Dangers of MSG (And Is It Lurking In Your Food?)

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In this post, you’ll learn:

  • What MSG is and why you should avoid it
  • Side effects that can be caused by MSG
  • How MSG can make you gain weight
  • Ways to tell if your food as MSG in it

What Is MSG And Why You Should Avoid It

 We’ve all heard of MSG, or monosodium glutamate is the sodium salt of a glutamic acid, an amino acid, and is used by many companies to intensify flavoring. It is used to make food taste good and to keep us coming back for more, one reason it is so popular in the food industry. Throughout the years, the use and side effects of MSG have been increasingly controversial and while many people try to avoid it, the may be unknowingly consuming it anyway.

 The Issue With MSG

Although glutamate is a key component in cellular metabolism and occurs naturally in some foods, posing no danger to us, it is when we begin to process glutamate that trouble arises. It can cause serious issues and can even hinder your fat loss efforts, as studies show that it can help lead to obesity.

Consuming foods that contain MSG, can cause many issues, especially in those who are already sensitive to it. People who consume MSG have reported a variety of reaction, such as headaches and migraines, weakness of arms and legs, upset stomach and a burning sensation in the mouth, head, and neck [1]. In a double-blind study, published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, it was found that those were sensitive to MSG also showed signs of muscle tightness, fatigue, numbness and/or tingling [2].

MSG And It’s Link To Obesity

MSG is also linked to obesity, inactivity and hormonal issues [3, 4]. What happens when you eat MSG, is it tricks you into thinking you are eating something that you are not, whether by tricking your brain into thinking you are consuming a different flavor, making what you are eating taste more savory or that the food is more nutritious than it actually is. It can also stimulate your pancreas into releasing more insulin and make you want to eat more, as it is an anti-appetite suppressant [5]. Because of these reasons, it has not only been linked to obesity but other diseases, such as Type 2 Diabetes and Alzheimer’s [6].

 Although many people try to avoid consuming MSG, most are completely unaware that some of the foods that they are consuming still use it. Even in food labeled “No MSG Added”, this ingredient is still often found, as it can be used in other ingredients in that food [7]. If the ingredients used in that particular food already had MSG in them, companies can claim that they did not add any.

How MSG Is Being Hidden In Your Food

What we tend to see food contain MSG, without plainly stating so, as it gets listed under an alternative name, so the consumer does not know that the food they are purchasing is harmful. This can include names such as hydrolyzed vegetable protein, yeast extract, hydrolyzed yeast extract and soy extract, among much more [8].

 This ingredient is found in common foods, like flavored snacks (chips, nuts, and crackers), non-organic broths, canned soups, and “convenience foods” (ramen, frozen dinners, flavor mixes, and salad dressings).

 One easy way to make sure that you avoid consuming MSG on your meal plan is to eat whole foods and purchase them as close to nature as possible. Also, read the nutrition label of your food so you know exactly what is being put it in and don’t be fooled by labels that don’t specifically mention MSG or monosodium glutamate.

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