People get excited about food. And people get especially excited (even defensive and agitated) when we start talking about what’s in their food. At least that is what I experienced from my last post, MSG by Any Other Name. Perhaps it is because they are unknowingly consuming hidden neurotoxins or excitotoxins in the form of monosodium glutamate (MSG) and MSG-related additives. So, let me clear some things up by providing definitions and scientific evidence about what MSG is, exactly, and why it is so bad for us.
What has caused much of the debate about MSG’s safety is that it is a naturally occurring substance. MSG is a sodium salt of the amino acid called glutamic acid, and a form of glutamate. Glutamate is naturally found in foods such as vegetables, milk, meat, cheese and mushrooms and when natural form it is not harmful. Some people are extremely sensitive to it and some are not at all. However, the problem comes in when MSG is manufactured. MSG is mass produced by the fermentation of starch from plants like sugar beets, sugar cane and molasses. So what’s the big deal?
The manufacturing and fermenting process is where the bad nasties come in. Manufactured MSG is in a class of chemicals called excitotoxins. These chemicals jazz up or “excite” nerve cells (neurons) throughout the body until they die. If lower amounts or concentrations are consumed, these excitotoxins fizzle out the connections, or synapses, between the neurons. In his book, Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills, Retired neurosurgeon Russell Blaylock, MD claimed that excitotoxins are a major cause of degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, ALS and MS. Additionally, excitotoxins like MSG interact with other excitotoxins like aspartame, mercury, and aluminum to increase their toxicity.
John Erb, a research assistant at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, linked MSG consumption to obesity in his book, The Slow Poisoning of America, in 2006. But shockingly, the evidence had been coming through in studies since 1978 where MSG injections were shown to cause obesity in rats. 1978! Where was the FDA back then?
Additionally, a recent study at UNC Chapel Hill has linked MSG (and it’s derivatives) to obesity. According to the study: People who use monosodium glutamate, or MSG, as a flavor enhancer in their food are more likely than people who don’t use it to be overweight or obese even though they have the same amount of physical activity and total calorie intake.
If you are still a non-believer that MSG is bad for us, you can draw your own conclusions by checking out the National Library of Medicine at: http://www.pubmed.com and key in “MSG Obese.”
For further reading about what’s in our food, check out: Get Your Gen Mo Out of My Food Yo.
Next up in MSG by Any Other Name: Part III: Why is there MSG in our food and what is the FDA is doing about it?
Read Part One:
Other posts by Amy Considine: