Processed free glutamic acid (MSG) is deadly and it's unlabeled in hundreds of foods. One of the tricks played by the food industry is the deceptive insertion of "no MSG added" on food labels. While there may be no "extra" MSG added, there is sufficient amounts through processing and hidden within many ingredients which cause havoc to our health. One those ingredients found in many foods is corn syrup.
What is MSG?
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is not a nutrient, vitamin, or mineral and has no health benefits. The part of MSG that negatively affects the human body is the "glutamate", not the sodium. The breakdown of MSG typically consists of 78% glutamate, 12% sodium, and about 10% water. Any glutamate added to a processed food is not and can not be considered naturally occurring. Natural glutamate in plants and animals is known as L-glutamic acid.
In contrast, processed free glutamic acid (MSG) contains both L-glutamic acid and D-glutamic acid, and is also accompanied by pyroglutamic acid and other impurities. The impurities differ according to the starting materials and methods used to produce the glutamic acid (MSG). It is only acid hydrolyzed proteins that contain mono and dichloro propanols (which are carcinogenic), and it is only reaction flavors that contain heterocyclic amines (which are also carcinogenic).
By FDA definition, processed free glutamic acid (MSG) is "naturally occurring," because the basic ingredients are found in nature. "Naturally occurring" does not mean that a food additive is being used in its natural state. "Naturally occurring" only means that the food additive began with something found in nature. By FDA definition, the ingredient "monosodium glutamate" is natural. So is hydrochloric acid. So is arsenic. "Natural", especially in our beloved food industry, doesn't mean "safe."
Processed free glutamic acid (MSG) is created when protein is either partially or fully broken apart into its constituent amino acids, or glutamic acid is secreted from selected bacteria. A protein can be broken into its constituent amino acids in a number of ways (autolysis, hydrolysis, enzymolysis, and/or fermentation). When a protein is broken down, the amino acid chains in the protein are broken, and individual amino acids are freed. These processes are discussed in some detail in food encyclopedias -- wherein articles on glutamic acid and "monosodium glutamate" are generally written by persons who work for Ajinomoto, Co., Inc., the world's largest producer of the food ingredient "monosodium glutamate."
It used to be that when any ingredient contained 78%-79% processed free glutamic acid (MSG), and the balance was made up of salt, moisture, and up to 1 per cent impurities, the FDA required that the product be called "monosodium glutamate", and required that the product be labeled as such. The FDA required that other MSG-containing ingredients be identified by names other than "monosodium glutamate." Never has the FDA required mention of the fact that an ingredient contains processed free glutamic acid (MSG).
While the glutamic acid in "monosodium glutamate" is generally produced through bacterial fermentation, the glutamic acid in the other MSG-containing ingredients is made through use of chemicals (hydrolysis or autolysis), enzymes (enzymolysis), fermentation, or a complex cooking process wherein reaction flavors are produced from a combination of specific amino acids, reducing sugars, animal or vegetable fats or oils, and optional ingredients including hydrolyzed vegetable protein.
It is now essentially unregulated when it comes to labeling standards. A label may say "yeast extract", "calcium caseinate", or "beef flavoring", but the product still contains varying amounts of "free" glutamic acid. This makes it very difficult for consumers who are trying to avoid it. It is also very dangerous for those who suffer severe reactions to it. Many people who are very sensitive to MSG experience respiratory, neurological, muscular, skin, urological and even cardiac symptoms.
Some of the common ingredients which contain MSG are: Plant Protein, Hydrolyzed Corn Gluten, Hydrolyzed Pea Protein, Textured Protein, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Autolyzed Plant Protein, Yeast Extract, Calcium Caseinate, Sodium Caseinate, Gelatin, Disodium Guanylate, Disodium Inosinate, Carrageenan, Xanthum Gum, Maltodextrin, Natural Flavor, Barley Malt, Malt Extract, Soy Protein Isolate, Ultra-pasteurized Soy Sauce, Whey Protein Concentrate, Soy Protein Concentrate, Whey Protein Isolate, Protease Enzymes, Protein Fortified anything, Enzyme Modified anything and Citric Acid.
MSG in Corn Syrup
All corn syrup contains some processed free glutamic acid (MSG). In producing corn syrup, producers do not take the time nor undertake the expense to remove all proteins. The remaining protein is broken down during production, resulting in processed free glutamic acid. The final product would also contain free aspartic acid, free phenylalanine, and the free form of the other amino acids found in corn protein.
"There is no corn syrup without free glutamic acid present, it doesn't exist," said food scientist Mae Geraldine. "It is a byproduct of processing and the expense to remove it would exceed production costs."
High fructose corn syrup may be worse for an MSG-sensitive person than is plain corn syrup because an enzyme is added to high fructose corn syrup, further breaking down any protein that may be present.
A study published in Genes & Nutrition suggests that eating high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) may boost risk of various liver diseases such as adiposity, hepatic steatosis, hepatic fibrosis and liver damage like cirrhosis.
Previous studies show that a variety of dietary components such as fat, sugars, and neonatal treatment with MSG contribute to the development of liver disease. Exposure to HFCS promoted hepatic fibrosis and markers of liver dysfunction
MSG within corn syrup can cause harmful effects on the function of hypothalamus-pituitary-target gland system. It leads to erosive and ulcerative lesions of the gastric mucosa and an increased secretion of hydrochloric acid and an increased body weight.
Cycle of MSG leading to Obesity:
1. MSG is eaten.
2. Cells in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus that produce dopamine and regulate appetite are destroyed.
3. Hypothalamus becomes leptin-resistant
4. Glutamate activates AMPK, which slows metabolism AND desire for physical activity ("lazy mice").
5. The fat cells release leptin to stop AMPK, but the hypothalamus ignores the signal.
6. Appetite stays high, activity is depressed. Calorie intake goes up, calories expended by metabolism go down, calories expended in activity go down.
7. MSG although it is an amino acid, signals the pancreas to release insulin
8. Insulin drops our blood sugar - causing increased hunger at the same time it packs away excess calories as fat
ALWAYS Contain MSG
OFTEN Contain MSG
ALWAYS Contain MSG
OFTEN Contain MSG
Natasha Longo has a master's degree in nutrition and is a certified fitness and nutritional counselor. She has consulted on public health policy and procurement in Canada, Australia, Spain, Ireland, England and Germany.