There are lots of negative information concerning MSG in regards to human health. Monosodium glutamate is said to cause headaches, asthma, and even brain damage. On the other hand, other sources claim that MSG is safe. In this article, we’ll be explaining why Americans should avoid MSG.
What Is MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)
MSG is a type of glutamate formed by combining sodium and glutamate. It’s also found naturally in foods like meat, parmesan cheese, tomatoes, walnuts, asparagus, mushrooms, clams, and sardines. Many people associate MSG with Chinese foods since it’s very famous in Asian cooking. MSG doesn’t have a taste, but when added to food, it boosts their overall flavor profile bringing out the savory and ‘umami’ flavors.
MSG can be chemically produced and resembles table salt or sugar. It has glutamic acid made through starch fermentation, but there is no difference between glutamic acid in MSG and that in natural foods.
Why Should Americans Avoid MSG?
Researchers have confirmed that amino acid glutamate when in its free state (when not bound to a full protein like meat) can lead to a negative reaction in some people. The glutamic acid in MSG works as an excitatory neurotransmitter in one’s brain, stimulating nerve cells to convey its signal. Also, cases of headaches, rapid heartbeat, sweating and tightness in the chest have been reported due to MSG consumption. Researchers have confirmed that amino acid glutamate when in its free state (when not bound to a full protein like meat) can lead to a negative reaction in some people. The glutamic acid in MSG works as an excitatory neurotransmitter in one’s brain, stimulating nerve cells to convey its signal. Also, cases of headaches, rapid heartbeat, sweating and tightness in the chest have been reported due to MSG consumption.
A study done on the effects of MSG in individuals with irritable bowel syndrome and chronic pain condition, fibromyalgia, found that the subjects experienced gastrointestinal pain, diarrhea, headaches, muscle pain, extreme fatigue, and cognitive dysfunction. When the subjects were put on a diet low in free glutamate, these symptoms improved. Another research proved a connection between higher consumption of MSG and the prevalence of overweight adults in China. Additionally, it was proven that injecting a newborn mouse with a large dose of MSG caused harmful neurological effects.
A three-gram dose per meal is more than enough to cause severe symptoms. Note that, a three-gram dose in a serving is about six times the average daily intake. It’s also true that high glutamate activity in the brain can cause harm and a large intake of MSG can spike the blood levels of glutamate. Another study confirmed that a megadose of MSG raises the blood levels by 556 percent. To test for glutamate sensitivity, you should avoid eating free glutamate food for a period of two weeks or a month. Instead, eat whole and non-processed food, use whole herbs and spices, avoid foods that are naturally high in glutamate and make marinades and salad dressings from scratch.
Interestingly, not everyone reacts to the MSG effects, some people can consume large amounts of free glutamate foods without the occurrence of any symptoms. But if you’re experiencing unexplained symptoms like bowel disturbance, cognitive dysfunction, headaches, or pain that lacks a structural explanation, you must avoid any form of glutamate.
Using The MSG
For those who want to determine if they’re sensitive to MSG, they can use very little to boost flavor. MSG is said to increase flavor and has less sodium than regular table salt. A half teaspoon of MSG is enough to enhance flavor in a pound of meat or up to six servings of veggies or soup. For those looking to try the seasoning itself, you can sprinkle a bit of it in your soup and see if you like how it tastes or the way it makes you feel.
It doesn’t matter how long MSG has been in the market, many still refer to it as a dangerous neurotoxin. A lot of research has been done to try and prove its safety, yet it isn’t enough to convince everyone. Some evidence shows that MSG is safe if taken in moderation, but mega doses are said to be harmful. In case you experience symptoms from consuming MSG, you should avoid it completely. But, if your body doesn’t react MSG, then there’s no reason to avoid it. Remember, MSG is very common in processed, low-quality foods, which should be avoided or eaten in small amounts. Focus on eating a well-balanced diet full of whole foods. Generally, studies of MSG have failed to show significant symptoms, even in people who claim to suffer from MSG reactions.
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