Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

MSG: The "Toxic Spill" in Food and the Saga of a Crusade to Identify a Hazardous Food Additive

Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

MSG: The "Toxic Spill" in Food and the Saga of a Crusade to Identify a Hazardous Food Additive

Article excerpt

MSG: The "toxic Spill" in Food and The Saga of a Crusade to Identify a Hazardous Food Additive

"Better Living Through Chemistry" is a concept that has become a belief through the power of advertising. Some of our "better living," however, has been achieved by paying a severe price. We are slowly discovering the magnitude of contamination, toxic spills, and polluted water that chemicals can foster.

In this context it becomes easy to comprehend the passive and rapid acceptance of monosodium glutamate (MSD) and other flavoring agents that can cause health problems through food.

This particular chemical acts like a drug upon the body; its true nature can be better understood because neuroscience links it with impaired brain function. When monosodium glutamate is ingested, we might view its long-range effects as a toxic spill into the food supply.

It isn't easy to avoid MSG; it also shows up in various disguises such as hydrolyzed proteins and autolyzed yeast in many forms unidentified. Except for the purpose of flavoring, MSG and its derivatives serve no essential purpose. They do not preserve food, nor do they fill a nutritional need.

Since its beginning in this country, MSG has become a multi-billion dollar industry. Food companies rely upon it to flavor, disguise unwelcome tastes, and even compensate for inferior ingredients used in products.

Thix "toxic spill" in our food cries out for attention. Its defenders voice rebuttals that echo the attempts at explaining the harmlessness of tobacco, the safety of radiation. The Food and Drug Administration, a federal agency empowered to regulate food additives, does not view MSG as dangerous despite growing evidence that, for some people, its effects can be disabling.

Since the book In Bad Taste: The MSG Syndrome was published, the need for intensified vigilance has become clear. As the consumer becomes enlightened, labelling deception seems to broaden. Often the problem is compounded by the fact that an ingredient containing MSG is not required to be identified because it is composed of variations of MSG.

Many people react to the MSG experience. They are not always benign or transient. In our experience, patients have developed neurological conditions similar to Giles de la Tourette Syndrome, Trigeminal Neuralgia, and unspecific symptoms mimicking multiple sclerosis and muscle degeneration.

In our practice we have observed reactions of severe palpitations, heart rhythm disturbances and liver abnormalities. Psychological disturbances including depression and anxiety attacks have also been seen after MSG ingestion.

Gastrointestinal distress, headaches, dizziness and mental confusion are not unknown in these reactions, and asthma attacks are of great concern.

Particularly distressing are the hyperactivity and learning disorders that can be attributed to the absorption of monosodium glutamate by children. They symptoms are often misdiagnosed and attributed to "junk food."

One of the questions frequently asked is why this additive produces so many diverse symptoms? One assumption is that it strikes where the patient is most vulnerable, the brain being most often affected.

It is not unusual to suffer a variety of side effects when dealing with a substance that shocks the nervous system.

A New Entrant: Autolyzed Yeast

Recently food processors have begun adding monosodium glutamate in the form of autolyzed yeast. It serves as economic purpose for processors because it is less expensive than hydrolyzed protein and its low cost is an incentive for the baking industry to use instead of MSG and hydrolyzed protein. …

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