People often express sympathy about our condition. When I tell them that we cannot eat most chips or at most fast food restaurants they feel that it must be awful to be unable to just grab something like that.
Actually, its not. Its a gift. Because if you felt as horrible as I do when you ate junk food, you would probably give it up too.
Which brings me to the MSG.
One of the additives that we end up avoiding by virtue of avoiding processed food is MSG. If you are trying to lose weight I have three suggestions for you
1) Do not start a food blog where you will be required to taste test desserts on a daily basis.
2) Do not drink soda or processed fruit juice
3) Avoid MSG like the plague.
Now MSG which goes by many other names and is commonly found in organic and gluten-free processed foods. It is an excitoxin like aspartate and it has long been suspected of causing brain damage in primates.
However these studies are not conclusive and the area appears to be poorly researched. They are old studies and I found no newer ones that focused on MSG alone. So there is not much evidence that MSG rots your brain unless you apply it topically to the brain, which you probably were not planning to do anyway. Feeding it to the monkeys did not seem to do much damage.
This doesn’t mean that there is no impact on the brain. There have not been a lot of studies. That said I don’t think there is any good evidence that eating MSG causes brain damage in people who are not sensitive to MSG.
However it can make you fat. MSG is the go to food additive for making experimental rats fat and diabetic.
It does this so well that when scientists want to make mice or rats obese, they just give them MSG. Yes, really. The following studies are not the point themselves, just notice how casually they mention that they made the mice obese and diabetic with MSG. Like its normal procedure. Because it IS normal procedure.
And in case you think exercise will help you stave off the effects of the MSG…it doesn’t help the rats too much.
And its not entirely because the MSG makes the rats hungrier. It turns out that just consuming high fructose corn syrup and MSG along with a normal amount of rat chow (so assume you eat healthy but have a few colas and a few meals full of MSG a week) is sufficient to make the rats pretty sick and pretty huge. So it makes you hungrier and makes the calories harder to burn…excellent!
And in case you are wondering if there is any evidence that MSG makes people fat (and not just Sprague-Dawley rats). …there is evidence
In China where consuming MSG and NO ADDITIONAL FOOD made the people fat
Which matches the result found in Thailand
And just as “peach pit extract” is simply arsenic by a different yummier sounding name, MSG is not always called monosodium glutamate. Be on the lookout for yeast extract, autolyzed yeast, hydrolyzed protein, anything ultra-pasteurized, sodium caseinate, calcium caseinate, bouillon, broth, stock, kombu seaweed, malt extract or even horrifyingly, natural flavors. Its in the natural flavorings in juice, it is in lunch meat. Its everywhere.
Oh and its organic too. It really is a yeast extract or seaweed extract, so it can easily be made organic. Here is a bit more about finding it from Livestrong.
This is why I use dried beans instead of canned and why I sometimes make some inconvienient choices on this site.
FYI Daiya claims to be MSG free. Plenty of salt but no MSG.
It is very difficult to completely avoid MSG and I am sure that I will slip up and pick something with it from time to time, but I am on the lookout for it. Testing carrot cake recipes is fattening enough. I don’t need any help from the MSG.