Is MSG Truly Unhealthy?
An inquiring mind wants to know what producers put into their food to taste so good. For over 100 years, tasters have been puzzled by glutamic acid’s “fifth flavor,” a common amino acid found in meats and vegetables.
A new study suggests that glutamate may help regulate our satiety levels by slowing down digestion. Glutamate also appears to have some potentially positive health effects as well. It’s all here at Renegade Health!
Glutamate (glutamic acid) is an amino acid in animals tissues and plants (tomatoes or seaweed extract). It can be produced synthetically, but most are derived from the bacterial fermentation of these materials. Some bacteria used are Methylophilus (bacteria found in the gut) and Brevibacterium (found on plants).
The amino acid glutamate is then divided into three categories :
– Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
– Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP)
– Calcium Caseinate (CC).
As food additives, these products are used as flavor enhancers. They also have other functions – they act as antioxidants, antimicrobials, or oxidizing agents. MSG is a sodium salt which makes it very water-soluble and stable. It has been used as a flavor enhancer for over 100 years and was first introduced to the masses through everyday food items such as ramen soup, soy sauce, and many canned foods.
The main controversy surrounding MSG is its side effects. Ever wonder why Chinese food that you’ve had before seems to cause mild but uncomfortable symptoms (burning sensation in the back of your neck, pressure above your eyes, numbness in the face) while other dishes do not?
MSG is used in greater concentrations for items containing it – usually at around 2%, whereas other low-MSG foods contain 0.1%. This might be enough to push some people over their threshold and become sensitive to glutamate or have an “MSG symptom. ”
Are these common side effects linked with the food additive, though? The scientific community appears to be torn on this matter. Some studies conclude that there are no problems associated with it, while others state that it might cause some damage to the nervous system.
There are also quite a few people who believe they have sensitivity to MSG. Scientists used to think glutamate was only present in our taste buds, but today, we know that 80% of the human population has mitochondria that make glutamic acid. Glutamate is also considered a nonessential amino acid, so your body can produce it without having to ingest it – everyone should be okay whether or not they eat MSG.
Interestingly, though, there appear to be some potential benefits associated with this additive, such as its ability to enhance taste and suppress bitterness. Another study suggests it may help slow down digestion and regulate appetite levels. This could mean things like weight loss and preventing obesity, but we’re not quite sure how it would work.
Some studies show that MSG may be toxic for certain people with asthma. It might also cause problems with people diagnosed with PKU or other metabolic disorders such as deafness, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s.
These conditions appear to be linked to a mutation which makes them unable to produce glutamate properly. Cooking food breaks down the chemical, so enjoy your grub raw if you’re concerned about eating MSG! Not everything tastes bland, but unfortunately, we don’t know enough about it yet.
A side effect of MSG:
1. MSG is used in significant quantities to prepare Chinese foods and other Asian dishes, but it’s also used in many European dishes, especially canned vegetables and processed meats.
2. Side effects are not visible immediately after consumption of MSG, but they may appear within half an hour or even hours after ingesting food containing this additive.
3. However, according to some studies, there are no side effects at all associated with MSG intake because this substance does not cause damage to the nervous system nor any other organ system in the human body unless you are allergic to it or suffer from certain metabolic disorders which make you unable to produce glutamate by yourself.
4. According to some scientists, glutamate can be found naturally in your taste buds. In contrast, others argue that glutamate is a nonessential amino acid which means your body can produce it without ingesting it.
5. However, some scientists believe that MSG might cause problems for people diagnosed with asthma or other metabolic disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, or deficiency in vitamin B6.
MSG is an ingredient of many processed foods used worldwide. However, its side effects are still uncertain, even though they appear to be rare and mostly harmless unless you suffer from certain medical conditions (vitamin B6 deficiency).
According to some studies, this additive does not cause any damage to the nervous system of healthy human beings. In contrast, others assert that glutamate found in MSG may play a role in developing Parkinson’s disease due to its ability to damage nerve cells in your brain.
In conclusion, if you are healthy and do not suffer from any metabolic disorders described above, you should be fine if you eat foods containing MSG or ingest MSG as a food additive.