MSG: Killer Taste

What is MSG?

Monosodium glutamate or better known as MSG is a salt of the amino acid – Glutamic Acid (glutamate).  There are two types of glutamate, one that occurs naturally and is not harmful; the second version is the kind we find in processed foods known as flavor enhancers.   Free glutamic acid or MSG is harmful and is made by hydrolyzing vegetable protein or by fermenting glucose from starchy foods like beets.  Basically, the amino acid glutamate that is man made is not the same version that occurs naturally.  Therefore, it does not behave chemically the same way in your body as the natural version of glutamate would.  If “free” glutamic was exactly the same as natural glutamic, they wouldn’t need to hydrolyse vegetable protein (split the amino acids apart).

Why is MSG Bad?

Manufacturers of MSG can not only make free bound glutamic acid from foods, but also create it chemically.  MSG can be and is made from genetically modified foods or GMO’s.  Not only is the man made version of glutamic acid different from the natural version, but because it’s made from GMO’s it also contains RoundUp Ready genes.  That means you are also consuming pesticides. The reason food manufacturers use “free” glutamate from its bound form, is that it tricks your brain into thinking you are eating nutritious food when in reality you are not.  By deceiving your taste buds you will eat more of their products.

MSG causes a spike in glutamic acid, which is used throughout the body as a neurotransmitter.  Neurotransmitters carry nerve cell impulses throughout your body.  Some amino acid neurotransmitters like glutamate trigger nerve cells to fire and others like gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) tell those firing nerve cells to stop firing.  So, you can see that disrupting your bodies natural balance is a VERY delicate situation.  When your body changes excess glutamate into GABA it creates a calming affect.  This calming effects the same receptors in your brain as some narcotics such as valium.  GABA may be addictive.

Here is the main problem with free glutamic acid – It is the very same neurotransmitter that your brain and many other organs including your ears, eyes, nervous system and pancreas use to initiate certain processes in your body.  This means that when you consume MSG your body becomes over stimulated.  Excitotoxicity is a term used to describes the over stimulation of the nervous system.  MSG is known to trigger an addictive reaction and has been named as the silent killer.  This silent killer overstimulates your brains cells until the cells die.

 Side Effects of MSG

(MSG symptom complex )

  • Headache
  • Flushing
  • Sweating
  • Facial pressure
  • Facial tightness
  • Numbness, tingling or burning in the face, neck and other areas
  • Heart palpitations
  • Chest pains
  • Nausea
  • Weakness

 Body Systems Affected by MSG

  • Blood Vessels–Changes the diameter of your blood vessels
  • Hearing–Ringing of the ears
  • Thyroid Function–Stimulates hormones from your pituitary gland
  • Nervous System–Kills oligodendrocyte the cells that produce myelin
  • Placenta–Studies performed on mice have shown that high doses of MSG can cross the blood brain barrier through the placenta, causing damage to the growing baby’s developing brain
  • Digestive System–Inhibits production of bile
  • Lungs–Induces asthma attacks
  • Brain–Excitatory neurotoxicity, MSG crosses the blood brain barrier
  • Endocrine System–Sterility in female animals by overstimulating prolactin production of the pituitary gland
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)— Decreases blood glucose from over stimulation of your pancreas
  • Heart Rate–Causes irregular or racing heartbeat by decreasing taurine that regulates heartbeat
  • Vision–Causes blurred vision from glutamate receptors in your eye becoming over stimulated.  Studies done on animals have shown that when fed MSG damage to the retina occurs.
  • Pancreas–Glutamate stimulates the pancreas causing insulin resistance (Type II Diabetes) and obesity.  People with Type I Diabetes who consume MSG may have an even more excess of glutamate because their immune system attacks the way glutamate is metabolized. Their immune system doesn’t attack glutamate itself but, they have antibodies which attack GAD – the enzyme responsible for converting glutamate into GABA.

How Do You Avoid MSG?

There are no regulations that require labeling of MSG or the other names by which it goes by.  Even foods that say “natural flavors” in their label may contain up to 20% MSG.  With more and more people becoming aware of the harmful effects of MSG food manufacturers have become sneaky by renaming MSG and making new forms of it.  Some of these new names are: autolyzed yeast, yeast extract, beet extract,  maltodextrin, hydrolyzed protein, sodium caseinate, mono-potassium glutamate, textured protein and MORE.

MSG is in more than just your food.  It is also found in your personal care products like soaps, cosmetics, shampoos and lotions as well as spice blends, supplements and protein powders.  Any time you see an ingredient with the words hydrolyzed or protein, it contains free glutamic acid.  For example: hydrolyzed wheat protein, hydrolyzed pea protein, hydrolyzed whey protein, hydrolyzed, corn protein and tomato protein.

If you want to avoid MSG read labels carefully.  The more ingredients you don’t recognize the more you want to stay away from those foods.  It can be difficult because food manufacturers don’t like to give you the whole truth when labeling their products.  Sometimes they will use words like natural flavors and spices.  Even if a food product says no MSG, beware that it may be processed with free glutamic acid.  If you would like a more in depth list of hidden sources you can look Here

The FDA offers almost no help to consumers who want to avoid MSG.  Processed free glutamic acid and MSG are not the same according to the FDA.  This means that even though a product did not have MSG added to it during processing, it will still contain free glutamic acid by the very way it was processed.  For example: ultra-pasteurized milk does not have MSG added to it.  Although, during the pasteurization process an enzyme is added that  can free glutamic acid from the milk protein, which in turn produces free glutamic acid (MSG).

The Bitter Truth

I could write a book on MSG, it’s hidden sources and the harmful effects it has on your body.  If you want to avoid MSG as much as possible you should prepare your meals from whole foods in their natural state.  Eating unprocessed food is a must for avoiding MSG.  Be careful and read labels, just because a product labeled “Natural” doesn’t mean it is safe.  According to the FDA  “Natural” only means that the ingredient started out as natural, but the end result is far from anything found in nature.

How Do You Feel About Food Manufactures Poisoning You Through Your Food?  Let Me Know Your Opinion In The Comments Below

Photo Credit:.freedigitalphotos.net “Skulll” by luigi diamanti

Do you have something to say? Join the conversation!