Hidden Ingredients in Our Food: MSG


This is the first in a 3 part series about hidden additives in our food. First, I will tackle MSG. In the following posts I’ll address sugars and gluten.What these foods all have in common are they are highly addictive, highly damaging and often hidden.

As our society’s pace of life has picked up we have more and more frequently turned to manufactured food to make ends meet. The problem is that real food is not cheap and fake food tastes bad. Not a great combo if you are a food manufacturer. So our food giants have to find ways to make less than palatable food taste great and cost less. Enter MSG.



Glutamic acid in it’s natural form in needed by the body. It is a non-essential amino acid that has important functions in the brain and nervous system. It also helps to heal the intestinal lining. It is found in many foods like cheese, milk, meat, fish, grains and legumes, seaweed, and bone broth.  The human body actually contains over 4 pounds of glutamic acid and if it is not found in the diet, it can be manufactured within the body. When we eat food containing this acid our body breaks it down regulating the amount extracted and excreting the rest. It is not stored in the body and is mostly harmless.

The problem arises when glutamic acid is altered by modern processing. MSG, or monosodium glutamate, is a byproduct of protein manufacturing. Through chemical processing the glutamic acid is broken off of protein, bound to a sodium molecule, purified into a white powder and added to foods to make them taste A-mazing. MSG can kill cells within the brain by exciting them to death. Therefore it is often referred to as an excitotoxin.



MSG has a cumulative effect and has been linked to numerous health conditions like metabolic syndrome, Parkinson’s and other brain and nervous issues. More immediate reactions to MSG can include brain fog, tingling, headaches and migraines, lethargy, numbness, shortness of breath and pain shortly after consumption (usually within about 3 hours and up to 24). Some people are more sensitive than others. It seems that severity of symptoms after exposure is often related to the health and permeability of a person’s intestinal wall. The rate of leaky gut in our society is ever increasing making many people very sensitive to this toxin.

msg quote


Because MSG tastes SO GOOD, it is found in highly palatable processed foods and restaurants. That is why MSG toxicity is often referred to as restaurant system. The more refined the food the more the addition of flavor is necessary.  The FDA only requires MSG be labeled if the added ingredient is 99% pure MSG. As a processing agent or byproduct MSG is not required to be labeled. This leaves the burden on you as a consumer to look for the hidden byproducts in your food. Reading labels and knowing what they mean is one of the most powerful tools you have for changing your health. At this time over 40+ ingredients contain MSG and do not require a label!

Following is a list of the most common hidden MSG names that I see when I am browsing through the inner aisles of the grocery store:

  • Glutamate
  • Anything hydrolyzed or any hydrolyzed protein
  • Yeast extract, autolyzed yeast
  • Gelatin
  • Textured protein
  • Whey protein (concentrate and isolate)
  • Soy protein (concentrate and isolate)
  • Soy sauce (and extract)
  • Carrageenan
  • Annatto
  • Bouillon, stock, chicken and meat flavor
  • Natural flavors, flavoring, seasoning, enzymes
  • Maltodextrin
  • Citric acid
  • Anything ultra-pasteurized

This is not a complete list, rather it is only what I see most often. To find a complete list check out the Truth in Labeling Campaign. MSG is not just in food but also in vitamins, supplements, medications and vaccines. It is also in skincare and cosmetics. Your skin is the largest organ in the body and is highly permeable. If you won’t eat it, you probably shouldn’t put it on your skin. Because, MSG is often a byproduct of unnatural protein break down in the food industry, you need to be extra vigilant when selecting protein powders. So many protein powders on the shelves are toxic and contain many additives besides MSG. Read your labels and know your source.

MSG is in almost all junk food.


  • Salad dressings and sauces
  • Nuggets, fish sticks and sausages
  • Store bought broth and bouillon
  • Seasonings, especially mixes like ranch or taco (Lawry’s brand contains yeast extract)
  • Chips and sweets
  • All fast food
  • Vegan foods
  • Protein powders and meal replacement shakes
  • Baby food and formula

The best way to avoid exposure of course is to stick to whole foods as found in nature as much as possible. If you cannot avoid processed food try to find packaged food with 5 or fewer ingredients. Remember “natural” doesn’t always = safe. Check those organic and natural labels. Not all MSG can be avoided.  As always remember to support the health of intestinal skin so that it continues to be an effective barrier against less than perfect food and pathogens.




This post was originally written for Crossfit Round Rock.

Follow by Email

Related Posts

Setting the Intention to be Intentional

Setting the Intention to be Intentional

I realized lately that my health (and life) has gotten sort of out of hand again. I function normal, sleep well and eat mostly healthy but something is off. I feel as if I am mostly just letting life carry me along. I am living under the tyranny of the urgent. So I set the intention to be intentional, purposeful; to tell myself that each thing I do in a day, especially the things I take for granted and just do, are important

Top 10 Essential Oils for Athletes

Top 10 Essential Oils for Athletes

As an athlete who does not rely on stimulants for an artificial boost in performance, I often employ other more natural modalities to support my body before, during and after exercise. One of my favourite discoveries has been the use of essential oils. Here are my top picks:

1 thought on “Hidden Ingredients in Our Food: MSG”

  • Hiya, I am really glad I have found this information. Today bloggers publish only about gossips and web and this is actually irritating. A good web site with interesting content, that’s what I need. Thank you for keeping this web site, I will be visiting it. Do you do newsletters? Can’t find it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word!

  • Follow by Email
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
  • RSS