Any reaction to MSG is a reaction to free glutamic acid that occurs as a result of processing and manufacture. People who are sensitive to MSG do not react to protein or whole, unfermented and unprocessed food (like the aforementioned meat, veggies and fruits). The reason? The glutamate must go through a long and complicated process of digestion and chemical breakdown in our bodies before becoming free glutamic acid. When you eat an unseasoned steak, or a raw peach, there is no sudden influx of free glutamic acid to bombard your body (unlike when you eat soy sauce).
Our bodies are systems of systems.
If one of these systems is operating under par, another one will pick up the slack. But sometime, somewhere, something gives in. Enter disease. Fortunately for us our brains have safety measures to prevent themselves from being excited to death by glutamate and other excitotoxins. But only to a point.
Although there seem to be no acute effects on mental capacity immediately after ingesting significant amounts of MSG, studies do suggest that there are long term effects. Eventually our neurons will make up for the ones killed off by excitotoxins and our bodies will start to react. Children and babies, due to their still-developing nervous systems, are more vulnerable to the effects of excitotoxins than adults are.
We all probably know someone who has had some reaction after eating a large dose of MSG – my dad had to have his stomach pumped after eating it once. Thankfully, reactions aren’t always that severe, but common ones do include migraines, upset stomach, fuzzy thinking, diarrhea, heart irregularities, asthma, depression and mood swings. Obesity is also strongly linked to MSG, because it harms your endocrine system which in turn disrupts your appetite control, causing you to continue to eat even though you are physically full.
Some scientist pose that excessive consumption of excitotoxins may also be involved in strokes and other neurodegenerative diseases of the central nervous system like multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and even alcoholism or alcohol withdrawal.
Knowing that some people are getting wise to this, our wonderful food industry does not want to scare us away by telling us that our foods contain MSG. What they also don’t want us to think is that our food is devoid of flavor (because, of course, less ingredients must mean less flavor, right?). To deal with this “problem”, the FDA renames and carefully rewords MSG so that it doesn’t sound like what it really is. In fact, many foods that are labeled, “No MSG” not only contain some form of MSG, but also other excitotoxins that are equally as dangerous.
In the next post I will go over the main aliases MSG hides behind in our foods. Come back later and check it out! Just to whet your appetite (haha) see how many sources of MSG you think are hidden in this wonderfully tempting Double Fudge Brownie ice cream.
INGREDIENTS: skim milk, sugar, chocolate brownie pieces (sugar, wheat flour, soybean oil, eggs, cocoa processed with alkali, corn syrup, water, natural flavor, salt, soy lecithin, xanthan gum), fudge swirl (sugar, skim milk, corn syrup, water, cream, cocoa processed with alkali, palm oil, bitter chocolate, modified tapioca starch, potassium sorbate, sodium alginate, citric acid), cream, corn syrup, cocoa processed with alkali, whey protein, maltodextrin, Propylene Glycol Monostearate, guar gum, natural flavor, xanthan gum, carrageenan, vitamin A palmitate
(I can count at least six. . . . wait, make that seven.)
Check out MSG’D!! Parts 1, 2, 4 & 5 if you haven’t read them yet. . . .
Want to know more about MSG?
Check out the rest of the series:
Part 1: A Little History and Some Scientific Studies
Part 2: Excitotoxins and the FDA
Part 3: Reactions (you’re here now)
Part 4: Aliases and Misc. Uses
Part 5: What Do I Eat Now?