Monosodium Glutamate (MSG): Is it safe? This is What You Need to Know

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Monosodium Glutamate (MSG): Is it safe? This is What You Need to Know

Behealthywise - Monosodium Glutamate - MSG

Behealthywise - Monosodium Glutamate - MSG

Good healthy food is always important to my family. We all like variety of food and love to try out something new any time. I find myself critiquing the taste of foods whenever I eat out though sometimes food tend to taste better when you do not have to cook it yourself.

Chinese cuisine always surprises me how tasty all the dishes are. But it got me thinking … Why does some food taste better than I can make it myself?

In the catering and food manufacturing industry, some things are added to food that would not normally use in my kitchen. The same is in the case for some canned and processed foods. One such additive or taste enhancer is Mono-Sodium Glutamate popularly known as MSG.

MSG was discovered in Japan at the beginning of 1900’s. MSG is defined as an excitotoxin, which means a substance affects and eventually kills neurons in our body. A neuron is an excitable cell specialised for transmission of electrical signals in our body. Basically, they keep our body going through their communication. Excitotoxins interfere with their functioning and can kill them.

To stay scientific for a moment this is what happens:

Humans lack a blood – brain barrier in the hypothalamus, which allows excitotoxins to enter the brain and cause damage, according to Dr Russell L. Blaylock in his book Excitotoxins. According to animal studies, MSG creates a lesion in the hypothalamus that correlates with normal development, including obesity, short stature and sexual reproduction problems.

So, there we are, Sounds terrible, though not everybody is going to die on the spot because they have an intake of MSG. It does go to show that obesity for instance does not just come from the greasy chips and chicken and other fast foods for the reasons we think. There are more often hidden substances that play an important role.MSG is one of them.

It is interesting to note that with its widespread use in the food industry, its name rarely appears on the labels of the product where the ingredients are listed and if it does at all, it will be unrecognisable name. So, you do not really know your MSG intake if you do not cook your own food from fresh produce, leave alone if you snack on all sorts of tasty things.

Monosodium Glutamate is a sodium salt of the amino acid glutamate. It is used to enhance the taste of foods and food additive, such as barbecue sauces, bullions and marinates, just to name a few.

It gives the food that wow taste which makes one want to go for a second and a third helping.

There are two forms of glutamate: ‘bound’ and ‘free’. The bound is part of any protein along with other amino acids. Manufactured MSG is in ‘free’ form. The manufactured MSG contains processed free glutamic acid, which does not occur naturally in unprocessed, unfermented and unadulterated food such as milk, meat, peas and mushrooms.

Monosodium glutamate does not have a distinctive taste of its own. Many scientists believe that MSG stimulates glutamate receptors in the tongue to augment meat-like flavours. In other words, it “enlarges” our capacity for taste perception.

As mentioned before, MSG does not often appear on the packet you buy and may be presented under other names.

For Instance:

  • Glutamate textured protein
  • Monosodium glutamate hydrolized protein
  • Monopotassium glutamate
  • Glutamic acid yeast
  • Calcium caseinate yeast food
  • Gelatin yeast food

Reported side effects include:

  • Headache/migraine
  • Nausea
  • Fast heart beat
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Skin rash
  • Forgetfulness
  • Diarrhoea
  • Dizziness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Sleep disorders
  • Blurred vision
  • Obesity

Not everybody react the same to MSG and certainly small amounts will have no effect at all. Some people can however be very sensitive to it and although they have the symptoms, they may not recognise what causes it. In this case lay off products that contain MSG for a while and see if there is any improvement. It is advisable to always keep a food journal.

Do not forget that the symptoms listed here can also be caused by other excitotoxins such as Aspartame (found in artificial sweeteners). Some people react immediately upon ingestion but for some it will take as long as 48 hours before any symptoms present.

If you have any of the above symptom,

  • Avoid eating out for a period of time
  • Eat only home cooked food
  • Do not use any food taste enhancers
  • Use natural spices and herbs
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners, diet sodas, sweets and breathe freshener chewing gums.

If symptoms reduce or stop then you may suspect MSG or Aspartame as the culprit.

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