12 different names for MSG
You probably shop in the organic and natural section of the grocery store, trusting that the food here is as healthy as can be. Perhaps you buy “natural” chips, crackers, or veggie burgers. Unfortunately, many of the packaged foods here still contain monosodium glutamate (MSG). Yes, it is the same MSG that we all try to avoid when considering to eat at a Chinese restaurant. For some people it can cause debilitating headaches. For others, GI upset. For most of us, we just want to avoid it because we know it is an unhealthy additive.
Why is it in my food?
Flavor enhancers like MSG do exactly what the name implies: they make the food taste better than it normally would. Aspartame (Nutrasweet) is also an excitotoxin. MSG had a humble and innocent beginning as a flavor enhancer. At the time, food manufacturers thought that since it is a type of amino acid found in nature, it must be safe to eat. Of course, lead and mercury are also found in nature, but we know better than to put them in our food!
Why is it bad for me?
Most of the flavor enhancers, including MSG, are also excitotoxins. Excitotoxins are literally toxins that enter your brain and excite certain brain cells. After about an hour of this over-stimulation, the brain cells die secondary to free-radical exposure.
The neurons that are most affected are motor neurons, which can lead to neurodegenerative diseases such as Multiple sclerosis (MS). Excitotoxins are a common trigger for migraines, but can also cause other seemingly unrelated symptoms such as childhood behavior problems or fatigue. MSG is often in baby and toddler foods too. Excitotoxins are particularly harmful at this age because young brains are still developing.
What are the other names for MSG?
MSG indeed has many pseudonyms. As long as an ingredient is not 100% MSG, it can go by another name. Familiarize yourself with the list below so you can avoid it next time you shop. The easiest way to avoid eating an excitotoxin is to avoid packaged foods, but when you must, please read the ingredients label carefully!
Dr. Melissa DeForest: I am a Naturopathic Doctor who specializes in digestive disorders. My goal is to educate, inspire, and empower others to lead a life they love.
Disclaimer: All information presented here is for educational purposes only, and should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise, supplement, or diet routine.