Friday, May 6, 2011

MSG and your health

I have been taking a look at some chemical seasonings that are commonly used in our foods - specifically processed foods -  that have long been  the subject of speculation as to their safety in human consumption.  Sadly,  thousands of person each year suffer from vague discomfort and pain and have spent untold amounts of money trying to get to the root of the problem.

 Let's review one of the suspect chemicals - MSG (monosodium glutamate).

What is MSG?

MSG is a flavor enhancer used in Chinese food, canned vegetables, soups and processed meat.  MSG is one of a long list of chemicals that has been classified as safe by the FDA, but the reports of associated ailments seem to contradict this classification.

MSG is a salt of the amino acid - glutamic acid ( a salt is the chemical name for a molecule held together by opposing charges). Glutamate is one of many amino acids used by the body and linked into chains of protein in the body. Some amino acids serve as neuro transmitters. Glutamate is one. It can stimulate nerve cells to fire. Others, such as tauric and gamma amino butyric acid tells those firing nerves cells to cease. It is a delicate balance, that can be easily disrupted.

The problem arises when people ingest manufactured MSG which contains amino acids that the body is accustomed to using, but also carries an additional amino acid. This seems to upset the delicate balance as the cells continues to fire which can cause damage to the neuron. This can cause debilitating headaches for those who are sensitive. Such people include:

Hypertension sufferers
asthmatics
migraine sufferers
Alzheimer's patients
Diabetics

MSG has been linked to other symptoms such as:

flushing\sweating
facial pressure
palpitations
migraines


For migraine sufferers, headaches can occur anywhere from 24 to 72 hours after ingestion. Sadly,
the numbers of people suffereing from reactions to MSG continues to grow.

The solution

The best way to avoid the suffering is to read the lables carefully. Keep in mind that MSG can be masqueraded under different names such as hydrolyzed vegetable protein and maltodextrin.

Best bet is to probably season and cook your own food since this chemical is everywhere. Take a look at the list:

Seasoned (Barbeque flavor) potato chops, Doritos
Gravoes
Tomato sauce
Packaged soups
Bouillion seasoning cubes
Accent
Seasoned french fries
Sausage

One last thought

Also many people who are sensitve to MSG may also find that sulfites can also trigger the overproduction of glutamic acid and can cause similar  symptoms. Sulfites are also preservatives that are used in foods such as bottled lemon juice, wines,, and salads.

References:

"The dangers of MSG"http://www.msgtruth.com/

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