MSG: A Very Tasty Poison

The Journey of a Thousand Miles begins with a Single Step

I started my health journey like most people do. By eliminating the bad, unhealthy ingredients one by one. So far I have eliminated chlorine, fluoride, high fructose corn syrup, white flour, white sugar, soy and all of its by-products, every kind of trans, hydrogenated or vegetable oil, chemicals in every beauty product and make-up (except hair spray, anybody have a good recipe for that?) chemicals in every cleaning, household and laundry product, prescription drugs, caffeine, regular table salt, pasteurized and homogenized dairy, factory-farmed meat, artificial food dye, processed lunch meat, breakfast cereal, non-stick cookware, aluminum and all products containing GMO’s.

This process can be very daunting if you are just starting out. Remember to start with ONE thing at a time. If you are new to real food, I would recommend that you start by eliminating trans and hydrogenated oils first.

And now I want to talk about MSG. That nice, slow killer.

What is MSG?

MSG is an additive that has been widely studied and proven to be a dangerous, neurotoxic substance. It causes dizziness, violent diarrhea, anaphylactic shock, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, brain lesions, retinal degeneration, obesity and neurological damage. It has been linked to neuroendocrine disorders, obesity, reproductive disorders, stunted growth, behavioral disorders, learning disabilities, memory disorders, hyperglycemia, addiction, stroke, epilepsy, ALS, schizophrenia, anxiety and depression. MSG is an excitotoxin, which means that it over excites your cells to the point of damage, acting as a poison. Despite these dangers the FDA has labeled MSG as GRAS (generally recognized as safe). MSG is also highly addictive and tastes delicious, making it doubly dangerous.

Where is MSG?

The really scary part to me, is that MSG is not always on the label. Even seasoned Label Nazi’s like myself have a tough time avoiding it entirely. Products containing calcium caseinate, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, sodium caseinate, textured protein, hydrolyzed soy protein, and citric acid always contain MSG. If the label says “flavorings” “natural flavors” “seasonings” or the like, they usually contain MSG. The new crop spray for beans and apples, contains 30% MSG. 90% of products sold in fast-food restaurants contain MSG, even those fancy salads.

Food manufacturers are hiding MSG so you don’t know where it is. Lately, food manufacturers mention a “clean label” when referring to soy sauce and other processed flavor enhancers that already contain MSG in the form of glutamic acid.  Food manufacturers use these ingredients so they can claim “no added MSG”.  Hence a “cleaner” label.  They know it’s in there, they are just hoping you don’t.

Common Foods to avoid:

    • Soy protein- used in baked goods, hot dogs, vegetarian foods
    • Powdered Cheese- used in snack chips and mac & cheese and boxed dinners
    • Malted Barley- used in breads, bread mixes and beer
    • Hydrolyzed protein- used in canned tuna, self-basting poultry, canned and dried soups
    • Powdered milk- this is used in ALL low-fat dairy products
    • Seasoning mixes
    • Bacon Bits
    • Baking mixes
    • Bouillon cubes
    • Bread Stuffing
    • Broth and stock
    • Canned meats
    • Cheese dips
    • Clam Chowder
    • Corn Chips
    • Croutons
    • Dry roasted peanuts
    • Frozen dinners
    • Frozen pizza
    • Gelatin
    • Potato chips
    • Pot pies
    • Processed meats
    • Relish
    • Salad dressings
    • Salt substitutes
    • Canned soup
    • Soy Sauce
    • Infant formula
    • Baby food
    • Virus vaccines
    • Corn Oil
    • Whey Protein

This is not a complete list by any means. MSG is literally in hundreds of thousands of products. But this will give you somewhere to start. The best way to avoid MSG is to make your own food. Throw away everything that comes frozen or boxed or canned or prepackaged and learn how to make these foods on your own. Buy your own herbs and spices to season your food. Start small, but DO start!

I don’t want anyone to think I’m perfect by any means. I still have a lot of things on my health list to cross off. I need to find a natural alternative to hair spray, I still wear mascara even though I’m sure it’s terrible, I still haven’t started grinding my own grains even though I’ve threatened to do it for 2 years. I only remember to soak grains and legumes about 50% of the time. I don’t cleanse or detox nearly as often as I should. I haven’t exercised in over a year, I work at a stressful job. I still need to study electromagnetic energy, and do something about the worst offenders (bye bye microwave). I haven’t replaced all of my plastic food containers yet. I still take birth control pills and I have a hard time resisting a good pastry! I just quit smoking recently and that was a huge hurdle for me, I procrastinated about that one for a while…. But I take it one thing at a time and learn as I go.

So what does your healthy journey look like? Are you overwhelmed? What is the next thing on your list?



  1. denlyn3 said,

    March 26, 2012 at 8:34 AM

    Thanks for the information, we have to be so careful and alert about everything we put in our bodies.

    • March 26, 2012 at 11:28 AM

      Yes, being healthy is a whole lot of work 🙂
      My theory is the longer you try to be healthy, the more confused you get about it!

  2. meginp said,

    March 26, 2012 at 10:04 AM

    That’s a huge list! And I was thinking MSG was only in Chinese food…

    • March 26, 2012 at 11:27 AM

      Kinda scary the places they hide it isn’t it? Baby food for crying out loud?!

      The food industry is in business to sell food. The more addicted you are, the more likely you’ll come back for more! MSG is highly addictive.

  3. Jennifer said,

    March 26, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    I couldn’t agree more about taking it one step at a time. Sometimes I get so discouraged because my improve-our-health to do list is still so long, but then I look back and think about everything we’ve done in the last four years and it’s kinda amazing. “Be kind to myself” should also be on the list!

    • March 26, 2012 at 3:16 PM

      Jennifer, I agree. If you’re making yourself miserable to be healthy it just isn’t worth it. We all need chocolate sometimes right?

  4. March 26, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    Heather I’m grateful you were so honest about your failures too. It’s so hard on this journey to feel like we aren’t doing enough but we already do so much. I too have my pit falls, man do I love chocolate 🙂 Did you see Hungry for Change? They do talk about MSG, they say that it’s how they get rats fat to do testing on them. You can do a google search on MSG fat rats/mice and see photos. I grew up on Kraft mac & cheese, in fact it was one of the only things I ate at some part of my life, no wonder I am where I am, I had no idea until I read this that it was in there! thanks for another wonderful post 🙂 Hugs, Corri

    • March 26, 2012 at 3:14 PM

      Corri, Rob and I just watched that movie last night. It was such great motivation to keep trying to improve. I also am going to go out and try to find an affordable juicer 🙂

  5. Eggkins said,

    March 26, 2012 at 5:42 PM

    last week I joined sociallyfit blog and gave up sugar, refined food stuff and starchy foods – I was going too anyway but I liked writing it on a blog and being accountable to the internet. And like you, I plan on getting rid of more unhealthy things/habits. It is a slow process but one worth making.

    • March 26, 2012 at 5:46 PM

      Sugar is a tough one, I wish you the absolute best of luck. I would stock up on L-Glutamine. It is an amino acid that is excellent for sugar/carb cravings. Keep me posted on your journey!

      • Eggkins said,

        March 26, 2012 at 5:55 PM

        I’ve actually been using coconut oil when I get cravings, which are dwindling daily.

  6. momgonepaleo said,

    March 26, 2012 at 6:26 PM

    Great piece. Love it.

  7. Jennirific said,

    March 26, 2012 at 9:11 PM

    excellent post! you’ve got a great blog here, i’m really enjoying 🙂

  8. Marcella F said,

    March 27, 2012 at 5:33 AM

    Thank you for your honesty. I really enjoyed reading it because I tend to be on the guilt train for not doing enough to get off processed food. I’ve been wanting to get off caffeine for a while but have never done so due to the withdrawal symptoms. I’ve drank coffee since I’ve been three years old, so it’s a forty year old habit. I read your post on how you got off caffeine and it inspired me to try it also. I bought dpla and Dandy Blend online and the package should be here by April 2nd. I’m so excited to try this since my almost three year old daughter is starting to follow in mommy’s footsteps. I really don’t want her to be addicted to caffeine and struggle with it like I have.

    I just started reading your blog and I really look forward receiving your posts in my email.

    Keep up the great work!

    • March 27, 2012 at 9:19 AM

      Marcella, None of us are perfect. Who wants to be perfect anyway? That would be boring! I am so proud of you for trying to quit caffeine. I think you will be amazed by your increase in energy. Just remember that it might take a while for your adrenal glands to kick in and start doing their job without that caffeine boost. Some people feel fatigued and need extra sleep for the first week or so. I would also start adding Dandy Blend to your regular coffee one TBSP at a time, until you are used to the taste. Great luck, I think you are going to kick this habit! Keep us posted!

  9. March 28, 2012 at 4:11 PM

    Eggkins, giving up sugar was the best thing I did, good luck!

    This information on MSG is great, it shouldn’t even be considered a foodstuff, it’s shocking.

  10. April 18, 2012 at 1:57 AM

    This is excellent information and you packed a lot of data into a concise post! Thank you for this – I learned quite a bit.

  11. April 27, 2012 at 2:09 AM

    […] MSG: A Very Tasty Poison […]

  12. May 6, 2012 at 4:52 PM

    […] spices (code word for MSG, see the whole MSG story here) […]

  13. April 12, 2014 at 1:00 AM

    […] from miso, mushrooms, beef, dashi, kombu, fish sauce, sun-dried fish, and most fermented foods.  MSG (monosodium glutamate) is unfortunately added to most dishes in South East Asia to enhance this […]

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