By Dr. Melina Roberts, Advanced Naturopathic Medical Clinic
MSG (monosodium glutamate or sodium glutamate) is the sodium salt of glutamic acid. It is used in the food industry as a flavor enhancer. It has very little taste itself, but it affects our taste and has the ability to make our foods taste better.
MSG is a stable isolate and does not decompose at high temperatures. Though MSG originates from natural substances, the processing of it creates a man-made additive.
It is added to restaurant food, commonly associated with Chinese food, as well as thousands of other foods including canned soups, crackers, meats, salad dressings, baby food and infant formula.
Dr. Russell Blaylock, a board-certified neurosurgeon and author of “Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills” explains that MSG is an excitotoxin, meaning that it overexcites cells leading to damage or death of cells. Glutamate, the amino acid, is a neurotransmitter that works as a nerve impulse transmitter in the brain as well as other parts of the body. When MSG is consumed, our glutamate receptors can become overstimulated and can cause damage to nerve cells or heart cells and so on.
Short-term symptoms of MSG include: numbness, tingling, burning sensation, chest pain, difficulty breathing, headaches, nausea, rapid heartbeat, drowsiness or weakness.
When reading labels, the following contain MSG: glutamate, glutamic acid, monosodium glutamate, monopotassium glutamate, calcium caseinate, sodium caseinate, autolysed yeast, textured protein, yeast nutrient, , yeast extract, gelatin, hydrolyzed protein, yeast food or natural flavor.
MSG is a challenging additive to avoid and takes effort to read labels, plan and prepare foods, but eating foods that are MSG-free will help to decrease your total body burden of toxins and allow your body to function better. Choosing fresh, whole foods will help you avoid MSG.