MSG vs. Soy - are they the same or different?
One of my current Leap patients asked me to find an alternative to soy sauce since she is reactive to soy and still wants something for asian food and sushi. With my own test results unveiling I have a food sensitivity to MSG (monosodium glutamate), this has brought up more questions. I admit, I thought, 'I'm not eating any msg, I don't eat Chinese food - unless it's homemade!' However, MSG can be added to food products, but it also is naturally occurring in other foods. MSG is found in snack foods, mixed nuts, flavored peanuts, oriental foods, soups, baked goods, processed foods, anything ultra-pasteurized and protein fortified, bouillon cubes, stock, sugar beets, sodium casein ate, barley malt, carrageenan, maltodextrin, malt flavoring, condiments, candies, anything fermented and anything that says "NATURAL FLAVORS" - tricky! Since msg is also naturally occurring in hydrolyzed proteins, plant protein extracts, textured protein, autolyzed yeast and soybeans, it is not always listed on labels. The Food and Drug Administration requires that any added msg must be included on the ingredient list, however if the chemical is naturally occurring as in plant proteins or soybeans, it does not have to be listed. What does this news mean? It means that even though 'soy' came up on Phase 4 of my Elimination diet because soy itself did not show up as a reactor, I really do have at least some degree of inflammatory response from eating soy. When I sought out the Leap test results, I had a few food items in mind that I was suspicious of. These included: soy, grapes, lettuce and I thought certain vegetables, only because I eat SO many of them!
None of these directly showed up on my lists, however, you'll remember I am reactive to fructose - meaning of course grapes, one of the higher fructose containing fruits, and msg - the soy is revealed!
Back to our original dilemma, msg vs. soy and what to do? For those people with a food sensitivity or allergy to msg, you should avoid soy as well until you can determine if there is a quantity or frequency you can consume without a reaction. For example, I cannot tolerate msg, but perhaps I share some edamame with my husband when we go out to eat. The trick is to figure out how much is ok for you. This means eliminating soy during the first 3-4 weeks of the elimination diet and then 'testing it' starting in small amounts. Try one serving and then do not eat any more for 3 days to give the symptom/side effects time to announce themselves. If it seems to be ok, you can try a larger serving or some edamame and also some tofu, or a veggie burger or a glass of soy milk. The best option is to take it away for awhile and then challenge the food.
Here is a homemade option for soy free soy sauce. Remember that msg is found in bouillon cubes, unless you buy the msg free variety. Note that the package must say 'msg free' not just 'no added msg.'
4 Tbsp. Beef bouillon
4 tsp. Balsamic Vinegar
2 tsp. Dark molasses
1/4 tsp. Ground ginger
1/8 tsp. Pepper
1 Pinch garlic powder
1 1/2 Cups water
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes. This will reduce to about 1 cup.
Let me know if it works well enough to replace soy sauce!