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"Always Contains" vs. "high in free g...

Battling the MSG Myth » "Help! I Have a Question" » "Always Contains" vs. "high in free glutamic acid" « Previous Next »

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Unregistered guest
Posted on Tuesday, October 20, 2009 - 7:25 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The info I seem to lack in order to evaluate food choices is how much free glutamic acid.

For example, just because gelatin always contains free glutamic, is that necessarily worse that say "barley malt" which often does?

Ok: let's say it does, is it worse than gelatin?

How am I supposed to figure out whether I should go light on the cheese, or light on the dough when ordering a pizza?

Any thoughts would be very much appreciated.

Unregistered guest
Posted on Wednesday, October 21, 2009 - 2:08 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Mike, I gathered from your posts that you are fairly new to this discovery. If you are looking for take-out and fast food options that are safe, there is only one way for you to compile that list. You can call company reps and scrutinize ingredient lists, but most of us have found that these things are very unreliable and sometimes purposely misleading. This msg toxicity seems to effect everyone in differing degrees and symptoms so the only sure way to know what is safe for you is trial and error.

We post things that we have found helpful to try to steer someone toward a safer option in the beginning, but there are so many variables it is impossible to make a universal "safe list". It seems as if you are in that stage of trying to find "safe" alternatives to the products you used to buy. Sometimes there is no safe alternative and this will require you to change the way you eat and cook and shop. Also, some of the fast food meals will not cause you a problem if you eat them infrequently, but if you are trying to find fast food to eat for lunch every day, you are going to have problems.

I think it is safe to say that most people on this forum do not eat out very often. It is just so hard to trust others to prepare food safely since most people (even chefs) don't really understand this problem. Fast food and take-out places rely heavily on free glutamic acid to make the food palatable which is why there are so few options.

One rule of thumb that has helped me: Try to eat foods that most closely resemble how they appear in nature. Eat a peeled apple instead of applesauce, brown rice instead of white, wash lettuce for a salad instead of buying a bag of mixed greens. Generally, the safest route is to do the "processing" yourself so that you don't have to relinquish control to someone you will never meet. Also, in general a commercially manufactured product is done in the fastest way possible so if something requires cooking down (as in gelatin), you can be assured that it is done at super high temperatures which spells trouble for us.

In conclusion, you probably can't order pizza that works no matter how light you go on the cheese or the dough. I highly recommend Deb's book if you don't already have it. Also, if you are inexperienced with handling fresh ingredients there is help here. If you have any food questions just ask and you will get some great advice and tips.
Unregistered guest
Posted on Wednesday, October 21, 2009 - 6:21 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks Kristy.

I did order Deb's book, read it cover to cover, and yes: a great resource.

However, we (or at least I) don't have enough info to evaluate between choices.

It's very frustrating not knowing how free glutamic acid is in various ingredients. Some ingredients might be more potent, but you use less of it. Other might be less potent, but you use much more of it.

This would be similar to the idea of glycemic LOAD (glycemic index times qty) to predict the overall effect on the person.

For example, if you only use a pinch of salt, even if it has a maltodextrin in it, the effect would likely be smaller than having 6 ounces of cheese containing whey protein isolate.

The barley malt flour really confuses me. It's the #1 ingredient, but I have no idea of how big of a problem that would be versus the cheese containing whey, or how much would be in the tomato sauce, assuming there were no bad ingredients added.

And yes: I'm trying to come up with safe options, especially when out with friends.

I did make inquiries of various restaurants, and am posting the answers I get on this site. It's good to know, for example, that at Outback Steak House, king crab legs, a baked potato, & butter should have no problematic ingredients!

Unregistered guest
Posted on Wednesday, October 21, 2009 - 10:54 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)


I agree with you and would also love to have a definitive free-glutamate chart. I am always wondering about a lot of ingredients, i.e. what's on/in pizza? Until someone compiles such a list we will have to do what Kristy says, go the trial and error way.

About Outback, I ordered a baked potato once and the skin was heavily coated with some type of salty mixture. Don't know what was in it or even if all Outback's prepare it this way. Have you ever noticed this?
Unregistered guest
Posted on Wednesday, October 21, 2009 - 11:27 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Based on this from Outback:
"The sweet potato is rubbed with soy bean oil and baked. Then it is topped with brown sugar, honey butter blend (butter blend is palm kernel oil, soy oil and butter) and pure honey and then a sprinkle of cinnamon. "

my guess would be soy oil (just a guess).

Unregistered guest
Posted on Wednesday, October 21, 2009 - 3:37 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I can see their SWEET potato being rubbed with brown sugar, honey, etc; I never tried one of them, what I had was a regular baked russet potato that was coated with a salty substance.
Unregistered guest
Posted on Wednesday, October 21, 2009 - 4:29 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hi Mike,

I understand your dilemma as we have all been in your shoes. You understand that your body is hypersensitive to free glutamate acid (more so than the average person). Youíve seen how differently you feel when you eliminate it 100% from your diet. Now you are trying to decide how close to the line you can get without having a reaction. How many of the smaller doses of FGA can you eat and still feel okay?

I did this for several years and really regret it as my body became more and more sensitive with every bite year by year as do most people who are hypersensitive. The first two years I only avoided MSG, hydrolyzed protein and yeast extract (these were the only problem ingredients I knew of). I then started getting sick again and started to research more and found 5 more ingredients I should have been avoiding. I cut those out and felt fine for another year. Then I started getting sick AGAIN. I started researching more and luckily the internet was evolving and I found 5 more ingredients to cut out of my diet. Another year goes by and Iím still occasionally getting sick.

I finally found this website and learned about 20 ingredients that have trace amounts. I decide to cut all these little ones out even though I didnít see an immediate reaction and ALL of my symptoms go away. But because I ate all of these little ones over the years I permanently became even more hypersensitive but if I would have cut everything out at the beginning my stomach wouldnít be as damaged and I could probably get away with an emergency ďfast food safe mealĒ occasionally.

This happens because our bodies receive build up reactions from eating small amounts too close together. Everyone is different in how they respond and we would probably all list the ingredients in a different order on which ones appear to be more harmful to us than others. But we all know that if you play with fire, youíre going to get burned.

The set up and nature of Fast food restaurants cause cross contamination so even if a menu item appears to be safe, it has been handled with spatulas that touched the steak that was marinated in an MSG sauce or deep fried with the breaded chicken fingers that have MSG. I assume with your sensitivity level you wonít find a single safe fast food meal that wonít cause a reaction or build up reaction. However you may need to test the waters yourself and find your own comfort level but please understand that your sensitively will most likely get worse as you eat the trace ingredients.

The only places I have confidence in, are restaurants with an actual chef that knows how to cook, understands food allergies and cross contamination and is very willing to modify a dish to make it safe. These would be upper end restaurants where you can call ahead and talk to the head chef and review ingredients beforehand. High end steak houses and Disney resorts fall into these categories. I think these are the only places I would feel comfortable sending you. However you may find you can handle a Papa Johnís pizza but not Dominoís or Pizza Hut.

Iíd recommend you continue to keep a food journal and record your reactions to the various ingredients and see how your body responds.

That being said, yes there are some ingredients that are worse than others and you can potentially list them in order from the worst to the least. If you type up all the ingredients you are wanting to avoid in a column, then me (and Iím sure a few others) would be happy to put them in order of what we think are the worst to the least offensive. Would that be helpful for you? Also it may be helpful for you to know that 5 years ago when I wasnít avoiding all trace ingredients I had a standard rule that I could eat all breads, desserts and dairy products with no reactions or build up reactions. It was all the main dishes, sauces, dips, condiments, and snacks that were problems for me.

For your pizza question, the sauce would be the worst, cheese would be second and dough would be last. But that order can change depending on how processes the sauce, cheese and dough are.

(I apologize for my thoughts being scattered. I passed out and hit my head and Iím experiencing post concussion syndrome. Please forgive me for scrambled thoughts and typos over the next month or two while my symptoms fade).

Thanks, Emily
Unregistered guest
Posted on Thursday, October 22, 2009 - 8:39 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

OMG: Hope you're feeling better after passing out & hitting your head.

It's particularly nice of you to take so much time offering help to a total stranger.

My worst fear is that I've permanently "damaged" myself by eating the so much protein powder, l-glutamine powder, and gelcaps over the years.

My hope was after giving my body a rest, I might be able to simply avoid the MSG big ticket items, and not worry about the smaller ones; based on your experience, that may not be the case.

The problem is that each person is different, and we can't do a double-blind experiment. For example, would your condition worsened had you completely eliminated all trace free glutamates?

I agree with your point, and in fact, I'm not trying to see how much FG I can ingest without having a problem. What I'm trying to do is identify things I react to so I can avoid them completely. Based on how spacey and dizzy I feel after 4 days of eating that stuff, I'd prefer to avoid it and not even try to have it a few times/week. However, as you already know, it's a build-up and total kind of thing. So, if it was the cheese I had yesterday morning, it may well have because I had other stuff the days previous.

And yes, I totally intend to keep my rigorous food journal with my 180 columns in excel; there is no way I would have figured this out in only 291 days without it. I can't tell you how many hours I spent analyzing it, color coding columns, dragging a suspect item next to a reaction and re-analyzing all the data. I must have spent many hundreds of hours doing that, but it was well worth it.

I'm still discovering how FGA affects me. It appears it's a continuum: first red/itchy eyes, then brain fog/mental confusion, then stomach pain, then body itch/rash, then muscle paralysis (stiff jaw, severe muscle pain). The problem, of course, before discovering it was FGA, was I kept eating large amounts of it, and my symptoms progressed from mild to severe.

I'm going to post a separate threat and ask what people eat.

Thanks again, and hope you feel better.

Unregistered guest
Posted on Thursday, October 22, 2009 - 5:16 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks for the well wishes Mike, My foot is feeling better (I've been on crutches for the past 4.5 weeks) and I have seen improvement from the concussion but it sounds like I may experience the shots of pain, fogginess and dizziness from the concussion for 3-6 months. No fun, but I've been keeping a pain journal and I am seeing slow and steady improvement each day.

Lesson learned: always wear shoes while cooking in the kitchen (I dropped a heavy pan on my bare feet while standing on tile, then passed out from the intense pain and fell head first onto the tile and was unconscious for awhile and received a concussion and now some post concussion pain).

Back to the MSG topic, I think all of us that post here on this forum would agree that for individuals as sensitive as you are to MSG should religiously avoid all the ingredients on the MSG list (the big ones and little ones).

However there are lots of natural foods with small amount of FGA or large amounts of bound glutamate. These are the gray areas and the area where a build up reaction can occur. If you were to 100% eliminate all bound glutamate from your diet you'd starve so we must find a proper balance with safe cooking methods and rotating foods so we don't consume too much of it.

For example, I avoid all the ingredients on the MSG list but handle bound glutamate food very well. I have never received a reaction from eating too much wheat or too many dairy products. However, I try to not eat too many so it doesn't stress my body or cause me to become more sensitive.

However there are others on this site where wheat really bothers them- its just too much bound glutamate that turns into FGA when cooked. They must avoid it all together. Or there are others like Deb A. that does fine with wheat as long as she doesn't eat too much at a time.

I don't see a point to completely eliminate a whole food group if your body does okay with it in a rotation diet. But I do agree with your post where you say if you are going to occasionally get a reaction from a trace ingredient (like pectin) why occasionally eat it, just avoid it all together. I hope this helps.
Unregistered guest
Posted on Wednesday, October 28, 2009 - 7:30 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

This is a great discussion, and we are on the same path with the same dilemmas (perhaps harder than some because the one that reacts is a 12 year old child which is a really tough age to make major dietary changes!!).

Mike, I totally get where you are coming from, wanting to know exactly what you are dealing with in which ingredients. I wish I had that information too. However, even if we had it, I would surmise that it wouldn't help as much as we might think...

From what I understand, glutamate is the #1 most common nuerotransmitter in the brain, and is actually released from our own cells as needed. There are huge number of things that effect that process...calcium (high calcium is really bad for glutamate sensitive people), magnesium (which regulates calcium), and so many other things. Aluminum toxicity makes the reaction worse, as does hypoglycemia (the drop after eating a lot of sugar). Stress/cortisol is intricately tied in with glutamate management. And Cortisol is tied in with blood sugar management.

So even if you find something that shouldn't be safe but feels like it is, it might not be the next day, or the next week - even if you aren't building up glutamates. Frustrating, isn't it?

There are some supplements that will help. B vitamins, esp extra B6, is supposed to help though I forgot why. Taurine makes a huge difference for my son - after 5 days off of it, he was falling apart. Magnesium to bowel tolerance has been recommended to us and seems to help.

Also someone here recommended ibuprofen if you do get a reaction to something and that has been a godsend for us. We only use it 1-2/week at most but wow. Improvement in 1/2 hour.
Unregistered guest
Posted on Thursday, October 29, 2009 - 10:11 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hi Lisa,

First, let me say how excited I was seeing all the posts when I clicked the "Last 1" button! I really appreciate you & everyone's efforts and contributions. I've been checking the board many times a day hungry for all insight, thoughts and suggestions.

The point you made about magnesium is really interesting. At many times during the last year, I had the impression that my calcium and magnesium supplements (or lack thereof) were affecting the dizzy / woozy feeling I was periodically getting. It seemed that if I didn't take magnesium supplements for a few days, I'd be setting myself up for problems.

Because I was using the far infrared sauna in my building most days (trying to cook the offending "allergen" out of me faster, I presumed I had sweated out vital minerals and electrolytes.

The wrinkle you've added is I should take note of the magnesium relative to the calcium and see if that tweaks things in my favor a bit. I have gone through my 180 columns of data for the last 291 days, and I do feel that magnesium was indeed relevant, though not the sole cause or cure.

Thanks again to everyone,
Unregistered guest
Posted on Monday, November 15, 2010 - 12:40 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Please be careful with supplements, Mike. If you are going to take minerals, it's best to find a powder like Magnesium Orotate from Beyond a Century. Ecological Formulas makes Tri-Salts, which contain calcium, magnesium, and potassium carbonate in powder form...the less fillers, the better. I find these and other items like powdered B6 at Most weeks, I just rely on whole fruits and vegetables for my nutrients, along with good meats, rice milk I make by pureeing cooked brown rice with water,vanilla, and salt, almond milk I make by pureeing slivered almonds with water, my own baked goods, whole milk mild cheeses, and I use Organic Valley whole milk in my hot drinks. I do okay with some dairy like whole milk organic yogurt (Stoneyfield and Brown cow vanilla or maple). I use S$W kidney and black beans and cook some from scratch, too. I rely less and less on commercial products, and feel best that way. And do helps get rid of toxins. Be careful of any prepared juices. You may also be reactive to sulfites like many of us are, so be sure to read that chapter. You are doing great, and you will get better at reading your body and foods.

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