Updated: Mar 3, 2019
Its full name is monosodium glutamate, but it’s usually abbreviated MSG. It’s used as a flavor enhancer and considered a salt within the amino acid-glutamic acid family. Together in this state it is a glutamate. So basically, it’s a single sodium atom (that’s where the mono comes from) attached to the amino acid glutamate. Hence its name monosodium glutamate.
It sounds pretty benign when you look at it this way. I mean glutamate is just one of the many amino acids used by the body and is linked into chains with other amino acids to provide the tissue building blocks called proteins. But that’s where the similarities end because some amino acids are free to float around by themselves instead of constantly being attached to the other amino acids. That’s important to understand because of what I’m going to tell you next. You see glutamate is a neurotransmitter. In other words one of its functions is to carry nerve impulses throughout the body. Glutamate triggers nerve cells to fire while other amino acids like taurine or gamma butyric acid tell the nerves to stop firing.
Our Creator developed a delicate balance of these amino acids to keep our body functioning in the amazing way it does. But balance is the key here, because too much of a neurotransmitter can overstimulate the nerves causing a tingling sensation up and down the spine. It also affects the brain and causes headaches and migraines. More yet can kill nerve cells due to the overstimulation of them. Glutamate is naturally found in tomatoes, parmesan cheese, potatoes, mushrooms, and other nightshade vegetables. Imagine what a diet high in MSG and nightshade foods might do over time to your perception of pain?
So, not only is MSG found in the nightshades; foods known to lead some people into a leaky gut, but, MSG is also a known neurotoxin. That means it is a toxic substance that inhibits, damages or destroys the tissues of the nervous system, especially neurons, the conducting cells of your body's central nervous system. And it is liberally added to a slew of processed foods, meats and restaurant meals for flavoring. Beginning to see the problem?
From headaches to chest pain, there is a long list of MSG side effects. But one of the most serious health risks linked to consumption of MSG is damage to the liver. Many health experts characterize MSG as being worse for the human body than nicotine or alcohol. Glutamate is also found in high levels within the brains of stroke victims. This popular little flavor enhancer is frequently added to food but actually has very little flavor itself. It works by tricking the human taste buds with a little known basic taste known as umami.
Umami is the taste of glutamate, making foods containing MSG taste better, more robust and more appealing. The FDA classified MSG as “generally safe” back in 1959! Obviously they just took the manufacturers money to their own bank and failed to do the appropriate tests to determine whether MSG would be safe or not. Fortunately they have since classified MSG as having some short term symptoms, which they call “MSG Symptom Complex”. They still fail miserably to acknowledge the long term effects of MSG. The World Health Organization has also classified MSG as generally safe. But one must ask oneself just how a product having so many side effects could even logically be considered safe?
Of course we could ask why the continent of Asia does not have a constant headache and then use that “evidence” to debunk the idea that MSG is dangerous. But there again the research as to its alleged safety pails in light of the damage that it causes. In truth only a few people experience migraines and headaches from MSG, but once in the body it begins to slowly destroy other organs such as the eyes, the liver, the brain, the list is long, the research field large, and the end result undeniable. MSG will eventually harm you.
As mentioned, there are plenty of medical experts out there that point out that MSG can overexcite cells to the point of causing damage or death, along with varying degrees of brain damage. Research results also show it potentially contributes to such disabilities as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease when a leaky gut is present.
In his book “Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills.” Author Dr. Russell Blaylock, a board-certified neurosurgeon cautions that research has even shown that glutamate receptors can form in the heart’s electrical conduction system and the heart muscle. This can be particularly risky for athletes, who often have low stores of magnesium, making them more susceptible to MSG-induced cardiac arrhythmias and even death.
Here’s the rub (pun intended). You cannot always determine whether a food you are consuming has had MSG added or not since many food manufacturers have removed MSG from their labels, and are not required to list ingredients containing glutamic acid thanks to the FDA and their obvious bias against protecting the American public. But, certain food ingredients can be counted on to contain MSG, such as hydrolyzed protein and gelatin. Other foods, such as soy sauce and malt extract, are highly likely to contain it. Rather than trying to identify whether MSG is found in your food, avoid processed foods as much as possible to safeguard against MSG side effects. Instead, opt for whole, fresh foods to avoid being harmed, and take a vitamin C supplement to protect yourself from oxidative stress – caused by MSG.
That’s right, with all the known vitamin C health benefits, it should come as no surprise that vitamin C supplements are also believed to lessen MSG side effects, including liver injury. Research has shown vitamin C to be a good antioxidant, with the ability to clean up free radicals produced in the body. Keep in mind that vitamin C is not as effective as the more powerful antioxidants, yet with its ability to scavenge superoxide, hydrogen peroxide and hydroxyl radicals it becomes a great supplement to add to your vitamin cabinet. One study, published in Toxicology found less liver damage to lead poisoned livers. Another study in the Turkish Journal of Gastroenterology found vitamin C and E to effectively treat fatty liver.
It is believed that vitamin C works to reverse the impact of MSG on the liver by causing a significant drop in unhealthy growth cells and reducing mutations of tumor suppressor genes. It also has a protective effect on the liver.