MSG: Improving Taste Means Improving Nutrition?

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msgMSG, or Monosodium Glutamate is a salt of the amino acid – Glutamic Acid (glutamate), so chemically speaking, it is approximately 78 percent free glutamic acid, 21 percent sodium, and up to 1 percent contaminants.

MSG or Monosodium Glutamate definitely stimulates your taste buds, but how food tastes does not improve the nutritional value of the food you consume.  The promoters of MSG would, however, disagree.  They are trying to promote MSG as a critical flavor enhancer that is necessary for humanity to consume nutritious food.  Perhaps a coincidence, but interestingly enough, the country’s waistline began to increase at about the same time consumers began purchasing pre-packaged convenience food and fast food, which both rely on MSG food additives to make food taste better.  Another interesting note, since rats are not typically overweight, for experimental purposes, the standard method for increasing their body weight to make them clinically obese is to inject them with MSG.  I won’t argue that MSG is a flavor enhancer.  It obviously makes us think food tastes better.   I do not believe that flavor enhancers magically make food more nutritious.  In fact, if anything, flavor enhancers tend to be needed for sub par food that doesn’t have much nutritional value at a all.  junk-foods-w-msg

Most naturalists and clean food proponents will argue that any artificial or synthetic food additive is bad for you, while MSG proponents argue that MSG is identical to the glutamate already in the human body, so it must be safe and good. Unfortunately what isn’t considered is that synthetic processes used to produce food additives are not pure or identical to the real thing and can create an overabundance of the chemical.  Because of this, there is always a chance of an adverse reaction.  Some people with food sensitivity to MSG have complained about headaches, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, eye problems, numbness, depression, fatigue, and the list goes on.

So then, why do companies add MSG to food? Essentially, MSG changes your perception of not only the taste of food, but also the nutritional value of the food you are consuming, so you are tricking your body into thinking that the food you are eating is good for you, even though it may not be.  MSG also stimulates an insulin response, even when there are no carbohydrates present.  This acts as an anti-appetite suppressant, so you are physically full and still hungry.  Since MSG introduces excess glutamate into the body, the body changes that glutamate to GABA, which has been shown to be potentially addictive and have the same calming affects as valium.  Ultimately though, adding MSG to food allows food manufacturers to add less real food because an illusion has been created that more protein is already present, which lowers manufacturing costs.  The bottom line is that MSG is very profitable for the food industry.

In an effort to hide the additive in packaged food, MSG is rarely ever referred to as MSG.  MSG also goes by several other names: Monosodium Glutamate, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Hydrolyzed Protein, Hydrolyzed Plant Protein, Plant Protein Extract, Sodium Caseinate, Calcium Caseinate, Yeast Extract, Textured Protein (Including TVP), Autolyzed Yeast, Glutamate, Glutamic Acid, Monopotassium Glutamate, Yeast food, Yeast Nutrient, Hydrolyzed Oat Flour, Corn Oil.  Can you see the trend?  If an ingredient on a product references “___ protein”,  ‘Hydrolyzed”, a Glutamate, or a Caseinate, there is a good chance, it is actually MSG.

Some interesting links:


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