What is Monosodium Glutamate?
Monosodium glutamate is a chemical salt added to improve the flavor of food. Glutamate, which is MSG’s naturally occurring cousin, is found in the human body as an amino acid (especially in the brain, where it is found in high concentrations) and serves as a neurotransmitter, which is a chemical that either allows (which is the case with glutamate) or prevents nerve impulses from being sent from one neuron( a nerve cell) to another. Glutamate has been found to have a function in memory, and learning in humans.
What foods contain MSG?
MSG is widely used in Asian foods, to add a meaty savory flavor, that appeals to your 5th sense of taste( the other four are salty, sweet, sour and bitter) known as “Umami” which is Japanese for delicious. Foods such as Ramen noodles, and other Asian dishes, usually contain MSG. MSG is also used in the United States, in various seasoning products, such as “Accent” to impart flavor to foods. MSG is also commonly used in all types of processed or” junk” foods, ranging from potato chips to hot dogs. If you go down the junk food aisle of your local store and read labels, the majority of those products contain MSG.
Why you can’t just eat one chip?
According to research, MSG can affect your body’s natural biochemistry, causing you to overeat. It may stimulate production of the hormone Ghrelin, which is responsible for feelings of hunger, and your appetite. Hence, once you eat chips that contains this chemical, your body craves more (which is also due to the delicious flavor that hits your Umami taste buds). This in some instances leads to you eating an entire bag of chips in one sitting.
Why MSG is considered harmful?
Well as mentioned previously, MSG is commonly added to “junk “or processed food. Hence, continual over consumption of this type of food, can lead to obesity and all of its associated problems, including heart disease, atherosclerosis (hardening of blood vessels) diabetes, metabolic disorders, and more.
MSG has also been linked to:
1 Chronic headaches in individuals who may have an increased vulnerability to this chemical.
2 Elevated blood pressure which can lead to hypertension, strokes or heart attacks.
3 Kidney problems in individuals sensitive to this chemical.
4 Brain issues, including memory loss, and decreased cognitive function (because in high amounts MSG can be a neurotoxin.)
5 Liver issues, as the liver is tasked with the removal of this substance from the body.
Since glutamate is naturally occurring in meats and plants, I recommend that you avoid consuming extra amounts of this chemical in its artificial form,which can also be disguised as glutamate, glutamic acid and hydrolyzed protein on food labels. This may require some extra work on your part when it comes to grocery shopping, but it is well worth the effort.
Always Remember- Foods are like friends. Choose them wisely!
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2–“International Symposium on Glutamate. Proceedings of a Symposium Held October 12-14, 1998 in Bergamo, Italy.” The Journal of Nutrition, vol. 130, no. 4S Suppl, Apr. 2000, pp. 891S-1079S.
3-Obayashi, Yoko and Yoichi Nagamura. “Does Monosodium Glutamate Really Cause Headache? : a Systematic Review of Human Studies.” The Journal of Headache and Pain, vol. 17, 2016, p. 54.
4-Shimada, Akiko, et al. “Headache and Mechanical Sensitization of Human Pericranial Muscles After Repeated Intake of Monosodium Glutamate (MSG).” The Journal of Headache and Pain, vol. 14, 24 Jan. 2013, p. 2.
5-Sharma, Amod. “Monosodium Glutamate-Induced Oxidative Kidney Damage and Possible Mechanisms: A Mini-Review.” Journal of Biomedical Science, vol. 22, 22 Oct. 2015, p. 93.
6-Rogers, Michael D. “Further Studies Are Necessary in Order to Conclude a Causal Association between the Consumption of Monosodium L-Glutamate (MSG) and the Prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome in the Rural Thai Population…Insawang T, Selmi C, Cha’on U, Et Al: Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) Intake Is Associated with the Prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome in a Rural Thai Population. Nutr Metab 2012, 9:50.” Nutrition & Metabolism, vol. 10, no. 1, Jan. 2013, pp. 14-16.