The Japanese Have the Highest Life Expectancy, yet They Seem to Have No Problem Asking for Seconds When it Comes to MSG or Gluten

Whereas the U.S. ranks on average 37th for life expectancy and 17th for obesity in the world, yet don’t worry bro, you’re gluten and MSG free (also, do yourself a favor and just cut back on the salt).

The Japanese are filled with foods full of MSG (pssss, ancient Japanese secret, it’s where umami comes from) and gluten (soy sauce), yet they are outliving Americans and being less of a fatass while they’re at it. Except, us Muricans get to claim that our fat dead bodies contain no MSG, they’re gluten-free, and make a great organic fertilizer in the end, so much winning.

MSG occurs naturally in many foods, such as tomatoes and cheeses. … Today, instead of extracting and crystallizing MSG from seaweed broth, MSG is produced by the fermentation of starch, sugar beets, sugar cane or molasses. 

Photo Description: a bunch of konbu is hanging in an area of Japan during it's natural processing to be used for consumption. Konbu is a natural producer of MSG.
Konbu, a natural producer of monosodium glutamates, so you can’t get more natural than that.

American’s have made “NO MSG” a thing, but why would you be taking health advice from Amercian companies standing to profit from it or individuals with an agenda?

We Americans are a food culture of fads and trends because the United States is barely 250 years old, whereas Japan has been around for upwards of 2,700 years to figure things out (also every other country around the globe has a tried and true food culture, many with a longer history).

Japan was also a vegan/vegetarian country for upwards of 1,200 years and shojin ryori (cuisine) is a reflection of that history.

American businesses from restaurants to food processors have been constantly touting how they have a healthier product or diet to sell to you. Labels like “no added MSG” (it has glutamates in it, but they didn’t “add anymore”) are out to feed on your fear of MSG. So in order to make heads or tails of this, I have included three quotes. One from a media outlet, an independent source, and a huge corporation (yea, you can say I cherry picked, but you can research the topic yourself).

The Guardian

The Guardian has an article titled “If MSG is so bad for you, why doesn’t everyone in Asia have a headache?” That title, I have to have to give credit where credit is due and that quote came from Jeffrey Steingarten, American Vogue (bravo, good sir).

“If MSG is so bad for you, why doesn’t everyone in Asia have a headache?

– Jeffrey Steingarten”

One Christian Ministry

Well I guess if you’re part of One Christian Ministry you find it to be un-godly.

“It is NOT simply a food additive, but a un-godly manipulation of the physical taste buds, scent (smell) receptors, digestive tract and brain.”

– One Christian Ministry


On the other hand, mega unethical companies like Nestle’s is touting it helps to reduce the use of sodium.

“However, MSG contains only about one-third the amount of sodium as table salt (13 percent vs. 40 percent) and so where we use it in products, in combination with a small amount of table salt, MSG can help reduce the total amount of sodium in a recipe by 20% to 40%, while maintaining an enhanced flavour.”

– Nestle.com

So whatever conclusion you come to, the Japanese have had foods high in glutamates for several centuries and MSG for over a century. Also as an FYI, I will be using “glutamates” and “MSG,” but they are not totally interchangeable….like totally, OMG.

“MSG is the sodium salt of Glutamic acid and one of the many forms of glutamate.”

– Nestle.com


I think Adam Savage’s website phrased it best’esss’esssssss’seeeess (that’s a word):

“MSG, a better tasting salt.”

– Tested.com

15339114268_4e9fd2685b_k. A lareg warehouse of mushrooms are being grown.
If vegans and vegatarians use mushrooms, it must because they love glutamates or they can lie and say they like it because it’s a phallic looking ingredient, you decide. This epic image is by Alison Harrington.

Glutamates occur naturally in a number of foods and American food producers love it.

Here are ONLY a few ingredients, producers, to restaurants that contain glutamates or use MSG.

Natural sources of glutamates

  • Tomatoes, peas, pecans, walnuts, mushrooms, milk, wheat to grape juice.


  • Burger King, Chick-Fil-A, KFC, Mcdonalds, Pizza Hut, to Applebee’s.

Food producers

  • Campbells Soups, Dorito’s, Accent seasoning, Lawry’s seasoning, a lot of salad dressings. Along with these products, in general products that say they are: natural flavours or seasonings, natural beef or chicken flavouring, hydrolyzed milk or plant protein textured protein may contain MSG.

The real possible cause of MSG symptoms, yea not strictly racism.

“The side effects of it can range from frequent to mild headaches, water retention/bloating, swelling, dehydration (you’re thirsty), and your foods start to taste more bland.” I will tell you that MAYBE YOU ARE USING TOO MUCH SALT?!

Yea, I went uppercase and bold for this one.

In labs, they have not been able to consistently reproduce results, and my guess is a simple guess (not like I have to tell you this, but I’m far from being a doctor) which you probably won’t find on the web because it is my speculation that you’re simply taking in way too much salt (sodium). The side effects of a diet high in sodium can range from frequent to mild headaches, water retention/bloating, swelling, dehydration (you’re thirsty), and your foods start to taste more bland. I don’t know about you, but that is exactly what most people complain about MSG causing.

I’m backing it all up with my research.

From the World Health Organization to the United Nations has ranked the United States life expectancy: *53rd (Japan was ranked #2), **31st (Japan was ranked #1), to ***43rd (Japan was ranked #1)

– World Health Organization
A 48-piece wings and bottomless bucket of fries is nothing like a kaiseki course which has a variety of seasonal food from multiple food groups versus just two. Image by Kinosaki Onsen

The healthiest countries in the world according to 24/7 Wall St.

The metrics included health, access, and economy.

  • 1) Qatar: life expectancy of 77.6 (28th highest)
  • 5) Japan: life expectancy of 79.9 (4th highest)
  • The rest was mostly Norwegian countries with Singapore being the only other Asian country to make the list.

For the full list, you will have to go to USA Today for the full article “The healthiest countries in the world” because the article on 24/7 Wall St. requires you to click multiple pages to see their list (it’s annoying, so you’re welcome).

Soba noodles are eaten in Japanese culture, so that you will have a long life. So don’t feel guilty asking: “please sir, I want some more,” like Oliver Twist. Only Muricans will ask “WHAT?!? Another?! You know kid, it has buckwheat/wheat flour and MSG from soy sauce, yet you still want more. Image by Christian Kadluba aka Pok Pok.

*According to Geoba, these are the countries with the longest life expectancy, top 100 (2018)

  • 1) Monaco: 89.37
  • 2) Japan: 85.52
  • 53) United States: 79.25

For the full list, and to learn more about who “Geoba” is, you can click the link which has a number of top 100’s.

Most Americans are used to downing buckets of soda because it’s so widely available in vending machines to restaurants, but don’t expect that in Japan. Image by (c)Tomo.Yun (if you can check out this photographer who provides royalty free imagery!)

**Life expectancy by the World Health Organization (2015)

  • 1) Japan: 83.7
  • 31) United States: 79.3

You can find the full list on Wikipedia.

***Life expectancy by the United Nations from 2010-2015

  • 1) Japan: 83.74
  • 43) United States: 78.8

You can find the full list on Wikipedia.

Does sashimi fall under what us Muricans consider the “raw foods diet.” Image by (c)Tomo.Yun

How do the United States and Japan rank on overall mean BMI (body mass index)

A healthy weight range:18.5-24.9

  • 1) Nauru (Micronesia), 32.5kg/m² is the most obese and overweight country.
  • 17th) United States, 28.8kg/m²
  • 166) Japan, 22.6kg/m²

The data was compiled by the World Health Organization in 2014, and you can view their total findings here on Wikipedia or through an article on MSN which utilizes the same resources.

How about comparing the healthiest cuisines in the world according to Healthline.com

  • 1) Greek
  • 2) Japan

For the full top 10 list, you’ll want to go to www.healthline.com

Shabu shabu and Japanese can eat this all day, everyday without whining about a headache. Image by Christian Kadluba used under CC.

I’ve provided the links below for you to research it yourself.

I went through each source to see if I could come to a consensus, and I’ve included my thoughts on each article. (links are provided, so that you can go and check it out for yourself).

  • BBC: Is MSG as bad as it’s made out to be? Excerpt: “So while nothing is ever truly laid to rest in science – and Dr John Olney spent much of his life after his early animal experiments campaigning for tighter regulation of MSG use – the FDA now says the addition of MSG to foods is GRAS, or ‘Generally Recognised As Safe’.”
  • David Chang, Chef David Chang on the Joy of Cooking With Science. Excerpt: “We’ve been brainwashed to believe that science is scary. Just think about MSG, which has been banned in certain cities and provokes an irrational fear in many consumers. But it’s just a sodium ion attached to glutamate, which is something your body produces naturally and needs to function.”
  • Food Navigator, Does MSG have a future in Europe as umami gains flavour favour? Excerpt: “I live and work in Switzerland where it is very common to have your Aromat alongside the salt and pepper. Eastern European cooking also traditionally uses MSG as a seasoning in home cooking to compliment staple foods such as potatoes, rice, soups and stews.
  • The Guardian, Chinese restaurant syndrome: has MSG been unfairly demonised? Excerpt: “The additive monosodium glutamate has been blamed for everything from headaches to chest pain. Now, some chefs, including Heston Blumenthal, are saying that’s nonsense.” On the other end of the dicussion, the article goes on to say that it could potentially make food taste so good, that you become a fatass (I really paraphrased that, and you should really go read this).
  • The Healthy Home Economist, “Chicken Broth “No MSG” Labels Are False,” Excerpt: “Mice fed MSG get morbidly obese. I truly believe, although I have not seen any studies on this yet, that the rampant use of MSG in processed foods plays a big role in the epidemic of fat and obese children in our society today.”
    this is a funny one because it touts that MSG lead to mice becoming morbidly obese, yet isn’t the vast amounts of Asia that uses it nowhere as obese as the U.S.?
  • HealthlineMSG Good or Bad? This article is very well rounded and the conclusion is “MSG Seems to Be Mostly Harmless.”
  • Mayo ClinicWhat is MSG? Is it bad for you?: “However, researchers have found no definitive evidence of a link between MSG and these symptoms. Researchers acknowledge, though, that a small percentage of people may have short-term reactions to MSG.”
  • MunchiesI’ll Never See Food the Same Way After Living On MSG For a Week
  • Nestle, Are MSG and glutamates safe?: Can you really trust Nestle? Well, regardless of the type of company they are, they do cite that the ingredient helps to reduce sodium intake and it is considered safe to use.
  • The New York Times, Yes, MSG, The Secret Behind the Savor
  • Science Friday, Is MSG Bad For Your Health: excerpt: “Then in 2000, researchers conducted the largest double-blind, placebo-controlled study on MSG, consisting of 130 subjects who said they were sensitive to the additive. The researchers found that MSG produced short-lasting and minor reactions in a subset of people—but these could not be reproduced consistently upon retesting.” (Read about more MSG-related experiments in this peer-reviewed essay appearing in Clinical Correlations: The NYU Langone Online Journal of Medicine.)
  • Smithsonian Magazine, It’s the Umami, Stupid. Why the Truth About MSG is So Easy to Swallow “Few remember that the food pariah and hot trend are so closely connected” by Natasha Geiling
  • Tested.com (Adam Savage), Why You Should Embrace the Culinary Benefits of MSG. I like Adam Savage, but the article does not necessarily contribute much more than what is already out there except “another study in 2000 found that glutamate is the single largest contributor to energy generation in your intestines. Meaning the amino acid is an essential element in helping along the digestion of your food.”

In conclusion, all of Asia and the rest of the world have no issue with it, just Americans.

Over a billion Chinese, 120+ million Japanese, and another several hundred million throughout Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe all use MSG. Well,  that doesn’t matter because us Americans are going to market “that MSG is bad for you” even though it is also used extensively in the U.S. #hypocrites #doanythingforabuck (insert Goodfellas laughing hilariously meme here).


  1. This is a really cool post and opens up so much conversation. One thing I noticed during my trips to japan is the “continental breakfast” you get at the hotels. They always serve salad of some sort and it’s always on everyone’s plate and sometimes it’s the only thing on their plate. Subtle, but big difference in giving some insight as to lifestyle differences.

    1. It’s just some Americans think they epitomize or are the authority on all things, yet the numbers and reality don’t reflect that. Ultimately, it’s just companies touting BS things to profit…. my friend and i joke, every time he eats bad, we say, “I’ll just eat a salad.”

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