Filled Under: FDA
What is MSG? Side effects explained
Tags: MSG, side effects, excitotoxins
(NaturalNews) Did you know that a substance added to the foods you may be eating every day has been connected to a multitude of physical ailments, including everything from obesity to Alzheimer’s? And here’s the worst part: The food industry has been aware of this issue for decades yet uses this substance anyway. The troubling ingredient is monosodium glutamate. Read on to learn more about the hidden poison, commonly known as MSG, which may be lurking in your next meal.
What is MSG?
MSG, a salt form of a non-essential amino acid, is a flavor enhancer and common food additive. While many people exclusively associate MSG with Chinese takeout and salty processed meats, the truth is that MSG is contained in processed foods we eat every day, including salad dressing, barbecue sauce, bouillon cubes and canned soups and vegetables. It’s also an additive in many infant formulas and baby and children’s foods.
In short, MSG tricks the taste buds and brain into thinking that food tastes delicious. An excitotoxin, MSG works by triggering the brain to produce excess quantities of the feel-good drug dopamine. This allows food manufacturers to cut back on quality in order to increase their profits.
Unfortunately, the rush of good feelings caused by MSG doesn’t last, but the consequences do. MSG doesn’t just hook us by making food taste better. It is actually physically addictive, which keeps consumers coming back again and again. This not only leads to overeating but also wreaks havoc on the body’s comprehensive wellness.
Side Effects Explained
We’ve all heard of MSG headaches and nausea; this is often attributed to “MSG sensitivity.” Unfortunately, the problem goes far beyond that.
MSG has been linked to weight gain and even obesity by researchers. And it’s not just because MSG makes people want to consume more. In fact, groups of participants in one research study were restricted to the same caloric intake and physical activity, yet those who ate foods containing MSG were nearly three times more likely to be overweight than their non-MSG ingesting peers. (1)
Researchers have also connected MSG to liver and kidney damage as well as increased blood pressure. (2) (3) Furthermore, excitotoxins have been linked to brain damage, leading to a host of neurological diseases including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, dementia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, lupus and many others. (4)
How to Avoid MSG
If you regularly rely on the “No MSG” labels on your food, it’s still likely that you are eating foods containing MSG. How? Because the FDA’s and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s regulations only require that MSG be disclosed when it’s added as a single ingredient. In other words, if MSG is added on its own, it must be listed on food labels. Otherwise, it may be lurking in your food under one of many seemingly innocuous names. The following items are likely to contain MSG (5):
- yeast food, autolyzed or hydrolyzed yeast, yeast extract, textured protein (including TVP [textured vegetable protein])
- hydrolyzed protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, plant protein extract, hydrolyzed plant protein
- soy protein (concentrate and isolate)
- dough conditioners
- malt (flavoring and extract)
- malted barley
- sodium caseinate
- calcium caseinate
- seasoning, spices
- flavoring of any kind (may be listed as “natural flavors” or “natural flavoring”)
- whey protein concentrate
- hydrolyzed oat flour
- bouillon, stock, broth
And don’t assume that it’s safe just because it came from the local health food store. Many “natural” and “organic” products also contain MSG.
One simple way to avoid consuming MSG is to buy whole foods and prepare them yourself. However, this isn’t always possible. The best defense against MSG is information. By being vigilant about checking food labels, knowing what to look for and asking the right questions, you can avoid ingesting this known toxin and enjoy a healthier life.
Is eating DNA safe?
Eating DNA sounds scary but it’s completely safe. I do it every day. Let me explain.
DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid. The words “acid” and “nucleic” are in the name so it is hardly surprising that some people are concerned about its effects when eaten.
But the name is nothing to worry about. While DNA is an acid, it’s a very weak one – more like vinegar, or the citric acid in lemons, than a dangerous acid like sulphuric acid.
What about the word “nucleic”? That has nothing to do with nuclear energy – it refers to the nucleus or centre of the living cell. The nucleus is the compartment where, in animals, plants and fungi, the DNA is stored. (In bacteria the DNA just floats around in the cell.)
The third part of the name – “deoxyribo” – also has a chemical sound to it but this just refers to ribose, which is a sugar a bit like glucose but with fewer carbons. The “deoxy” part means the ribose is missing one oxygen atom.
This makes DNA a very stable, non-reactive molecule and ideal for the long term storage of genetic information. It is also a good food.
Why am I so sure that eating DNA is safe?
I am sure because nearly all the food we eat contains DNA and lots of it. The reason is simple. Organisms are not built of continuous matter like plasticine, we are made up of tiny balloons called cells.
Ancient stories describe how people were fashioned from clay but actually it is more like being made of Lego blocks. Bacteria are single-celled organisms, most animals and plants are multi-celled organisms. Cats are bigger than mice because they have more cells.
In a sense, we are all like Lego constructions.
And here’s the amazing part – virtually every cell has its own DNA (its own genetic information or genome) and each cell in your body carries your genome. So each block is more like a smartphone than a balloon – each block has its own computer code or DNA genome.
In complex organisms each cell has the same DNA but interestingly different genes are active in different bodily organs. Think of genes as different apps on a smartphone – so all the smartphones that make up your liver will have one set of apps on, and your muscle cells will be using a different set of apps.
In plants, different apps (genes) are on in leaves and roots but all the cells of a plant carry the same set of genes, i.e. the same genome.
So whether you are a vegetarian who eats lettuce and cauliflower or an omnivore who eats steak and kidney pies, you are eating cells, and each cell contains DNA which in turn contains the entire genetic information or the whole genome of each species you eat.
The only living parts that don’t contain DNA are things like egg whites or filtered milk that are there for energy storage, or blood juices in which our blood cells float.
Carolina Biological Supply Company
DNA is pushed out of hair when it forms so hair doesn’t have much – if any – DNA, but hair roots do, and in mammals red blood cells (but not white blood cells) push out their DNA as they mature so they can squeeze along tiny blood vessels.
But most parts of animals and plants are made up of cells containing DNA. This is why police can identify suspects from either a drop of blood or a hair root at a crime scene. They could also identify a lettuce or a strawberry from a leaf or from the fruit.
If you eat a three course meal – oysters for starters, chicken and asparagus as a main, and fruit salad for dessert, you are eating lots of different DNA.
Can DNA from food get into my own DNA?
Basically, DNA, like proteins and complex carbohydrates, gets broken down into pieces – this is what digestion is all about. Your teeth mash it up and enzymes throughout your digestive tract cut it to pieces.
Enzymes produced by your pancreas called DNases are specially designed to break the DNA into tiny pieces that can be taken up into your blood and then carried around and used by other cells to build new molecular structures in your body – including possibly your own DNA.
Could any of the genes, from any of the organisms you eat, get into your DNA and do you harm? It’s a reasonable question, but the answer seems to be no. Imagine you dropped a smartphone in a blender or ate it (please don’t) – all the components would be mashed up.
When you eat and digest DNA it seems that the long coding sequences, the narratives or the apps that specify gene products, are so cut up that they can no longer function as genetic material. There are few if any sentences left, just letters or fragments of words.
Even if some sentences did survive your digestive system it is unlikely they would enter your cells or harm you in any way.
Our world is awash with DNA and always has been but there is no clear evidence that eating DNA can harm you.
Genetically modified organisms
So what about genetically modified organisms or GMOs? Are they safe to eat too?
I certainly think so. If you ate a fish with a gene from a strawberry or a strawberry with a gene from a fish, to me it is no different from eating fish for the main course and strawberries for dessert.
I don’t think eating DNA or any combination of different DNAs from different species could do us harm.
To convince yourself that DNA is contained in food you can do a simple experiment at home. You can extract DNA from fresh strawberries.
I wouldn’t eat the DNA alone though. When wet it is slimy and when dry it looks like cotton wool. But when mixed with the other components of strawberries it is undetectable and harmless, and strawberries taste great as they are.
Merlin Crossley works for the University of New South Wales. He receives funding from the Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council.
Beer brewers nationwide are scrambling to head off proposed new federal regulations that would make it more difficult to use leftover grains from the brewing process as animal feed.
Sonoma County brewers say beer is good for cows, too
Beer brewers nationwide are scrambling to head off proposed new federal regulations that would make it more difficult to use leftover grains from the brewing process as animal feed. That could force them to dump million of tons of waste into landfills instead.
The waste product, known as “spent grains,” is left over when a brewery steeps barley, wheat and other grains in hot water, extracting a sugary liquid that eventually becomes beer.
Nearly every brewery has an arrangement with nearby farmers to use the tons of spent grain produced every year as feed for cows, pigs and other livestock. The breweries usually give it away or sell it at an extreme discount compared with commercially available feed.
The Food and Drug Administration, however, is proposing rules that would make breweries meet the same standards as livestock and pet-food manufacturers, requiring sanitary handling procedures and extensive planning, record keeping and reporting to health officials.
While it’s not clear exactly what such a system would cost, area brewers say it is likely to be impractical both financially and administratively.
If such rules are adopted, “the whole process would have to go away,” said Rich Norgrove, brewmaster at Bear Republic in Healdsburg and Cloverdale. “It would become cost prohibitive.”
For 18 years, Bear Republic has sold its spent grains to Knight’s Valley rancher Cheryl LaFranchi, who has come to rely on it as a main food source for her 300 or so head of cattle. She takes up to 12.5 tons at a time, five times a week.
“Now the government wants to get involved,” she said. “What are they going to do with it? Put it in a landfill?”
That’s exactly what will happen at Anderson Valley Brewing in Booneville if the regulations are approved, said brewmaster Fal Allen. The brewery generates nearly 1,500 tons of spent grain every year, all of which goes to nearby rancher Peter Bradford. But the likely cost of the extra food processing equipment and paperwork would make it cheaper just to dump it, Allen said.
That would spell disaster for the ranch, Bradford said, because he pays Anderson Valley a pittance for the grain, about a tenth of the cost of any other feed.
“It would be a tremendous hit on our production,” he said. “We rely on the grain … It is certainly one of the best feeds for the price.”
The FDA is collecting comment on the proposal through Monday. The Brewers Association and the Beer Institute, the two primary industry associations, have mobilized brewers and farmers to weigh in against the idea. Lawmakers from major brewing states, such as Colorado and Oregon, also have spoken out against it, Brewers Association Director Paul Gatza said.
“Grains have been given to livestock for thousands of years, and there’s not been a problem with this,” Gatza said. “This is just a regulation solving a problem that doesn’t exist.”
Beer Institute spokesman Chris Thorne said he is optimistic the industry will convince the FDA that the proposal “exceeds the intent of Congress” when it passed recent legislation calling for an overhaul of food safety rules.
Using spent grain as feed “is a terrific lifecycle story that should be encouraged,” he said, “because it’s basically recycling.”
The FDA did not make a spokesman available last week but in a written statement said that the proposal stems from a broad modernization of the nation’s food safety system, the largest overhaul in at least 70 years.
“This proposed regulation would help prevent foodborne illness in both animals and people,” the agency said in the statement. “The proposal is part of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act’s larger effort to modernize the food safety system for the 21st century and focus public and private efforts on preventing food safety problems, rather than relying primarily on responding to problems after the fact.”
The agency couldn’t immediately say whether there had ever been reports of foodborne illness related to spent grains, though North Coast farmers and brewers say they have never experienced any such thing.
At the region’s largest brewery, Lagunitas in Petaluma, the effect of the regulations could be considerable, said Leon Sharyon, the brewery’s chief financial officer. The brewery generates at least 450 tons of spent grains every week, more than 23,000 tons per year. That number could double now that a second Lagunitas brewery has opened in Chicago.
“We would be forced to just dump it, put it in the landfill,” he said. “Nothing good comes of that.”
Santa Rosa rancher Jim Cunningham has been feeding his cattle about 10 tons of Lagunitas grain per day for about two years. Commercial feed costs about $350 per ton these days, an expense that has risen sharply during the recent droughts in the Midwest and California. Lagunitas sells the grain for $100 per ton.
Losing that source “would cut us,” he said. “It might put us out of business if we couldn’t get cheaper feed.”
(You can reach Staff Writer Sean Scully at 521-5313 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @BeerCountry)