Kombu, a seaweed, was first used in Japan as a
flavor enhancer. A Japanese doctor isolated the main
ingredient -- MSG, or monosodium glutamate -- and started what has
become a million-dollar industry.
MSG is now the most widely used flavor enhancer in
the world. MSG and MSG-containing substances are used in
processed food, in fast foods, and in Chinese food. They're
also found in nearly all canned and frozen foods.
While some people can use MSG with no adverse
effects, many others have severe reactions to it, some of them
life-threatening. MSG has been linked to asthma, headaches,
and heart irregularities. Behavioral and physical problems of
children, such as incontinence and seizures, as well as attention
deficit disorder (ADD), have been diagnosed and successfully treated
as MSG disorders.
Those wishing to eliminate MSG from their diets are
faced with an almost impossible task. Food preparers are often
unaware that they're even using MSG. Labels can be misleading.
A label that says "No MSG added" doesn't necessarily mean that the
food is free of MSG, it simply means that the manufacturer didn't
put in additional MSG. MSG goes under many aliases, one
of the most common being "hydrolyzed vegetable protein," an additive
used to increase the protein content of a wide variety of foods.
Manufacturers also hide MSG as part of "natural
flavorings," because it is a natural product. But being
natural is not the same as being harmless.
Below is a partial list of the most common names for
disguised MSG. Remember also that the powerful excitotoxins
aspartate and L-cysteine are frequently added to foods and,
according to FDA rules, require no labeling at all.
Additives that always contain MSG
Terms that frequently indicate hidden MSG additives
Additives that may contain MSG or excitotoxins
For more information, see:
Blaylock, Russell L., M.D.
Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills, Health Press, Santa
Fe, NM 87504, 1994.
Schwartz, George R., M.D. and Schwartz,
Kathleen A. In Bad Taste: The MSG Symptom Complex,
Health Press, Santa Fe, NM 87504.
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