When I learned from one of my readers that she rooted out all the MSG in her diet and thereby drastically improved her health, I asked if she would write up something about her experience that I could share with others. She graciously complied and sent me the story below. We share it in the hopes that it helps someone else...
My journey with MSG begins with the common story of a working mother with three active children and a traveling husband. My time was stretched thin, so I had resorted to quick Hamburger Helper/Kraft Macaroni and Cheese/Marie Calendar Pot Pie dinners during the week, and McDonalds/Pizza Hut/Taco Bell type meals on the run. I also made, on the weekends, meals that utilized Lipton Onion Soup mix to make a beef roast or a meatloaf.
Over a time span of about 10 years of this I started developing health issues that were classified (due to no other explanation the doctors could think of) as Fibromyalgia. I also was not sleeping and I was retaining water. During this same period, my step-son was diagnosed with ADHD. His child psychiatrist recommended to keep his diet as healthy as possible and to avoid all MSG products in addition to a script (prescription).
This is where my research began of the foods in not only fast food but also in sit-down dining and grocery store products. It was important to know that labeling laws at this point had not caught up with the game of elusive labeling where MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) was also hidden under the names such as "spices" (that are undefined), "Autolyzed Yeast", and "flavorings," just to name a few. One of the best resources I used was the following website: http://www.truthinlabeling.org/hiddensources.html.
Before my research was over I had discovered some things that amazed me. Did you know that the state of California uses MSG for growing its vegetables? Neither did I. I discovered purple onions in a Central Market from California that were so large that they would spill over the largest hamburger bun. This cannot be normal. This made me look long and hard at buying organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible (especially when the skins are consumed). I also discovered that the Ruby Tuesday chain's baked potatoes were treated with MSG to keep them from spoiling and to add more flavor (when they presented me with an allergen list before ordering!). Cantina Larado gets their chicken and beef in pre-marinated pouches that are loaded with MSG--so much for fresh Tex Mex, as the sign indicated.
You will find that most food chains do not like to discuss food prep...so avoid these as they are hiding their practiced use with the stuff. Most everyone will tell you MSG is a natural ingredient that is found in tomatoes, corn, and onions--which is true--but you would not eat a couple of bushels of it in a hamburger from your local favorite food chain if they did not put it in there! Too much of anything is going to have a negative effect.
I could go on and on about my discoveries and this would be longer than anyone would care to read. So moving along, I will tell you that I also discovered, not only from reading but by physical experience, that MSG affects the neurological system as well. It tricks the mind into thinking the food you are eating taste good, which enables a cost savings to the food industry, allowing them to forego real food products such as salt, onion, garlic, etc. And in turn, it also creates addiction so that you will consume more of the product. It is a win-win for the companies making money and a lose-lose for the consumer who has a rise in medical care cost and weight gain. Oh yes, the product will also mess up the body enough for you to gain weight. Remember, your liver and pancreas can only filter out so much. The rest is up to us. So before it was all over with, my nerves in my digestive track, hands, tongue, feet and face were subjected to pain.
Today, through getting back to food basics in cooking and only going to places that serve "real" food (this includes marinades to salad dressings made in their kitchens) I no longer am suffering from the nerve pain or the "Fibromyalgia". I am able to work out and hike like I used to. I sleep again, which is a major big plus for my health. I no longer take any medicines for the troubles that MSG caused me. But I will be on a prescription multivitamin indefinitely, due to the nerve damage it caused. I am grateful that Michelle Obama has made it her personal mission to monitor the food our children eat and the impact it is having on them. If the rest of us get on the same page, we can get back the quality of food that we once had in our grocery stores, and drive down the price of quality so that it is affordable to all American families.
Best wishes to all who are trying to better their diets. Below are some links that assisted me in my search for truth: