What is monosodium glutamate or MSG?

Monosodium Glutamate, known by various names, is a sodium salt of glutamic acid. It is one of the most naturally occurring amino acid that can be found naturally in certain fruits like grapes and tomatoes, processed cheese, mushrooms, and other foods. 

Monosodium glutamate is one of the most popularly used ingredients that is known to enhance the flavor of the food. It is commercially used by food industries to preserve the food for longer duration and enhance the taste of food. The unique taste exerted by monosodium glutamate salt is termed as umami, which in Japanese means a ‘pleasant savory taste.’ MSG can be found in various foods and food products, which may be hidden MSG.

As a flavor enhancer, many forms of MSG or malic acid are known as L-glutamic acid, and D-glutamic acid usually containing other toxic byproducts.

When proteins are consumed in their normal condition, the stomach breaks down these proteins into L-glutamic acid. When proteins are processed, hydrolyzed, or fermented, as in MSG or protein powders, veggie proteins, etc., they divide into both Dand L-glutamic acid. This implies it's the D-glutamic acid that's the culprit causing MSG reactions. However, D-glutamic acid is tasteless and benign. The more likely cause would be the toxic byproducts of processing, as well as an inability to take care of L-glutamic acid. When proteins are processed, or fermented, they won't just create D- and L-glutamic acids, they will make a plethora of toxic byproducts that might also be a factor in MSG symptoms.

Research studies have suggested monosodium glutamate to regulate the autonomic reflexes in several brain areas to induce pleasant savory taste. MSG is present in various food products that you can find in food shops and grocery stores and is also found to be used extensively in Chinese food products.1. 

See: How to heal leaky gut naturally

Hidden names for MSG on food labels

Some of the hidden names for MSG are listed below:2.

- Glutamic Acid 

- Monosodium Glutamate 

- Natrium Glutamate

- Yeast Food

- Monopotassium, Calcium or Monoammonium  Glutamate 

- Calcium Caseinate

- Yeast extract or Nutrient

- Any hydrolyzed protein

- Sodium Caseinate

- Magnesium Glutamate (E 625)

- Autolyzed Yeast

- Gelatin

- Whey Protein Isolate

- Soy Protein Isolate

- Vetsin (Filipino term for MSG, the salt form of glutamic acid)

- Ajinomoto

- Textured Protein

Other names of MSG or food ingredients that produce processed free glutamic acid are listed below:2.

- Bouillon and broth

- Maltodextrin

- Citric acid

- Anything ultra-pasteurized

- Barley malt or Malt extract

- Pectin (E 440)

- Protease

- Anything enzyme-modified

Soy sauce or its extract

- Anything protein-fortified

- Seasonings

-  Carrageenan (E 407)

See: Functional Medicine For Brain Fog Treatment

How is MSG made?

How is MSG made and processed?

For the vast production of the MSG, the fermentation process is carried out where various microorganisms are used, like bacteria belonging to Corynebacterium and Brevibacterium. For the production of MSG on an industrial scale, the hydrolysate of molasses, and modified food starch are used as carbon source. Ammonium salts and urea are used to promote the growth of microbes to meet the nitrogen requirements. The fermentation process yields glutamic acid, which is then purified for consumption.

See: How To Manage Fibro Fog Or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

MSG and the nervous system

MSG impact on the nervous system

It appears that the mixture of processed L-glutamic acid, potentially D-glutamic acid, together with toxic byproducts, is the cause or worsening of MSG symptoms. This is the reason why certain men and women that are MSG sensitive and can't tolerate MSG or processed protein products denatured in the manufacturing. This can contain any protein that's been broken down, heated, or processed - found in many packaged foods. L-glutamic acid found in processed protein foods, in addition to when proteins are naturally digested through the gut, is a stimulating molecule that triggers nerves and taste. Very high doses of L-glutamic acid may overstimulate the nervous system.

It turns out that the body tremendously regulates the quantity of L-glutamic acid allowed into the blood. The body needs it, and when there's not sufficient, the body will use other amino acids to produce its own glutamic acid. This is the reason why glutamic acid is a nonessential amino acid--the body can make it's own. This implies the value of glutamic acid to the role of the human body and nervous system. Additionally, it indicates the importance of the health and integrity of the intestinal skin as a protective barrier from excessive or overwhelming quantities of amino acids, which can overexcite the nervous system.

It's a fact that when proteins have been processed, they may be denatured or turn into being a D- or L-glutamic acid. Some specialists believe D-glutamic acid that's the culprit for toxicity reactions to MSG because processing fats has been demonstrated to improve D- not L-glutamic acid. The consensus appears to be the cause of MSG symptoms is the toxic mix of surplus L-glutamic acid and excess toxic compounds.

The kind of glutamic acid known as L-glutamic acid, which naturally occurs in many foods and proteins in the body, is thought to be a nontoxic form by most specialists. The average human has L-glutamic acid in the body that's the most important component of proteins. It's found in meat, poultry, eggs, eggs, milk, cheese, fish, and even wheat. Additionally, it is found in most grains, beans, vegetables, mushrooms, fruits, and seaweed.

In these organic kinds, glutamic acid is bound to other proteins in chains of amino acids or proteins. The process of preventing lactic acid in the protein chains throughout the human digestion of proteins is usually not a problem.

See: Ayurveda treatments to prevent and reverse Diabetes Mellitus

Is MSG bad for you?

MSG and its toxic effects

Although MSG is widely used as a flavoring agent in different foods, numerous studies have also hinted about its possible toxic effects. Chronic consumption of MSG salt has shown to cause cardiovascular disorders, CNS disorders, overweight and obesity, hepatic damage, and reproductive malfunctions. Monosodium Glutamate is often used as a food additive in various processed and canned foods as well as crackers, processed meat, frozen fast foods, and salad dressings.

- Overweight or obesity: Taking MSG in the diet on a routine may MSG intake may intoxicate the neurons present in the Hypothalamus of the brain. This results in the disruption of hypothalamic signaling, causing leptin resistance resulting in overweight and obesity.3.

- Central nervous system or CNS disorders - MSG intake may be related to its detrimental effect on brain neurons. Glutamate is an important excitatory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, and its excess leads to excitotoxicity.  This excitotoxicity may cause severe neuronal damage and other possible complications. Common complication related disorders include ischemia and traumatic brain injury.4.

- Cardiovascular system: MSG that is taken on a chronic basis promotes enhanced cardiac tissue oxidative stress. This stress results in the damage of cells in the cardiac tissue, making it prone to various cardiovascular disorders. 

- Pregnancy- MSG consumption during pregnancy is considered to cause harmful effects. During pregnancy, the fetus and the body of the pregnant women are sensitive to various foods. Physicians recommend not to consume outside foods or foods that contain MSG as they can cause teratogenic effects on the fetus.  This effect is particularly important if the mother is allergic to MSG. If she consumes it, the allergic reaction could multiply, producing adverse effects.4.

- Liver damage - Regularly consuming MSG is known to stimulate the production of lipid peroxidation products leading to oxidative stress and damage to the liver and kidney.5. 

- Reproductive dysfunction - MSG has also shown negative effects on reproductive organs, causing reproductive malfunction. The different mechanisms by which MSG may induce reproductive malfunction is by altering spermatogenic function, decreasing the sperm count, abnormal sperm quality, and low pH of sperm. All these reproductive dysfunctions caused by MSG is due to oxidative damage. Oxidative damage leads to histological alteration and imbalance in the gonadotropin hormones.6.

- Other health issues linked to MSG include neurological and brain health issues, high cholesterol, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, disturbances in the gut-brain connection, fibromyalgia, obesity, fatty liver, high insulin, and blood sugar, and many more.

See: Probiotics benefits for digestive health

Danges & prevention of hidden MSG

Dangers of Hidden MSG

As a flavor enhancer, MSG is required by the FDA to be listed in the ingredients. However, as a processing agent, which is extremely common in many food items, MSG does not require labeling. This exposes many people - and D-glutamic acid and its toxic byproducts on a regular basis. Just a small fraction of the population reacts to MSG, and much appears to be based on the amount of MSG one is subjected to and how sensitive the intestinal wall is to toxins.

In a healthy body, hydrochloric acid (HCl) and digestive enzymes break down proteins. The body's digestive tract controls how much lactic acid is freed up from the protein chain, but free L-glutamic acid absorption is extremely restricted, and most of it's passed off as waste through the intestinal tract. If this sort of free glutamic acid is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream due to a breakdown of intestinal skin, it may trigger a neuroexcitatory toxic response in the body. D-glutamic acid is created by processing food, and the body doesn't appear to recognize it.

How To Prevent Non-Labeled MSG

We should be reading labels and avoiding any food with MSG. MSG can be an irritant or neurotoxin and can possibly damage the intestinal wall over time and create other issues later on. All processed foods must be avoided to prevent non-labeled MSG. This includes many healthy foods, such as veggies burgers, turkey sausages, textured or hydrolyzed proteins, and processed protein powders. MSG has various hidden names, and one should put a limit on consuming them. Taking MSG on a routine basis can damage your brain and may lead to various other health conditions. So, whether it is maltodextrin MSG or a modified starch msg, check the sneaky MSG names before going for it.

See: Auricular Acupuncture for Mental Health & Alcoholism

References

1. Niaz K, Zaplatic E, Spoor J. Extensive use of monosodium glutamate: A threat to public health?. EXCLI J. 2018;17:273–278. Published 2018 Mar 19. DOI:10.17179/excli2018-1092

2. http://www.hungryforchange.tv/article/sneaky-names-for-msg-check-your-labels.

3. He, Ka & Zhao, Liancheng & Daviglus, Martha & Dyer, Alan & Horn, Linda & Garside, Daniel & Zhu, Liguang & Guo, Dongshuang & Wu, Yangfeng & Zhou, Beifan & Stamler, Jeremiah. (2008). Association of Monosodium Glutamate Intake with overweight Chinese adults: the INTERMAP study. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.). 16. 1875-80. 10.1038/oby.2008.274. 

4. Malik, Saima & Kazmi, Zehra & Fatima, Iffat. (2017). Monosodium glutamate: Review of clinical reports. International Journal of Food Properties. 20. 10.1080/10942912.2017.1295260. 

5. Ortiz, Genaro & Bitzer Quintero, Oscar & Beas Zarate, Carlos & Rodríguez-Reynoso, S & Larios-Arceo, F & Velázquez-Brizuela, Irma & Pacheco-Moises, Fermin & Rosales-Corral, Sergio. (2006). Monosodium glutamate-induced damage in liver & kidney: A morphological and biochemical approach. Biomedicine & pharmacotherapy = Biomédecine & pharmacothérapie. 60. 86-91. 10.1016/j.biopha.2005.07.012. .

6. Kayode OT, Rotimi DE, Kayode AAA, Olaolu TD, Adeyemi OS. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) Induced Male Reproductive Dysfunction: A Mini-Review. Toxics. 2020;8(1):7. Published 2020 Jan 22. DOI:10.3390/toxics8010007

See: Ayurveda for heart health

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