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Source: http://www.msgtruth.org/contents.htm

IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR EVERYONE WHO LIVES, EATS AND BREATHS!  Download, save, print, and read later!  This is a MUST to read, know and understand!  No Excuses!  Very Informative Research data on MSG, a very toxic Excito-toxin to the body, nerves and brain–and all for free–for you–and to blast out to your e-mail lists!  Send it far and wide, please!

Why MSGTruth?

www.msgtruth.org

www.msgmyth.com

Food manufacturers are trying to feed you their „facts“…

„facts“ they paid for…

Example:   The International Food Information Council (IFIC) which often reviews new studies about MSG admits in their own website that: „IFIC is supported primarily by the broad-based food, beverage and agricultural industries.“  Industries that rely heavily on the use of MSG.

Example:  The research done which was reported in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 104 (2) 1999 305-310 denouncing the MSG-asthma link reported by the FDA in 1995 was actually supported by a grant from the International Glutamate Technical Committee.

What the FDA actually stated in 1995 about Monosodium Glutamate:

„A 1995 report from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), an independent body of scientists identifies two groups of people who may develop a condition the report refers to as ‚MSG symptom complex.‘ One group is those who may be intolerant to MSG when eaten in a large quantity. The second is a group of people with severe, poorly controlled asthma. These people, in addition to being prone to MSG symptom complex, may suffer temporary worsening of asthmatic symptoms after consuming MSG. The MSG dosage that produced reactions in these people ranged from 0.5 grams to 2.5 grams…

„The agency believes that the report provides the basis to require glutamate labeling. FDA will propose that foods containing significant amounts of free glutamate (not bound in protein along with other amino acids) declare glutamate on the label. This would allow consumers to distinguish between foods with insignificant free glutamate levels and those that might contribute to a reaction…

„Among the report’s key findings:

An unknown percentage of the population may react to MSG and develop MSG symptom complex, a condition characterized by one or more of the following symptoms:

  * burning sensation in the back of the neck, forearms and chest
  * numbness in the back of the neck, radiating to the arms and back
  * tingling, warmth and weakness in the face, temples, upper back, neck and arms
  * facial pressure or tightness
  * chest pain
  * headache
  * nausea
  * rapid heartbeat
  * bronchospasm (difficulty breathing) in MSG-intolerant people with asthma
  * drowsiness
  * weakness.

„In otherwise healthy MSG-intolerant people, the MSG symptom complex tends to occur within one hour after eating 3 grams or more of MSG on an empty stomach or without other food. A typical serving of glutamate-treated food contains less than 0.5 grams of MSG. A reaction is most likely if the MSG is eaten in a large quantity or in a liquid, such as a clear soup.

„Severe, poorly controlled asthma may be a predisposing medical condition for MSG symptom complex…

„The level of vitamin B6 in a person’s body plays a role in glutamate metabolism, and the possible impact of marginal B6 intake should be considered in future research…

„While technically MSG is only one of several forms of free glutamate used in foods, consumers frequently use the term MSG to mean all free glutamate. For this reason, FDA considers foods whose labels say ‚No MSG‘ or ‚No Added MSG‘ to be misleading if the food contains ingredients that are sources of free glutamates, such as hydrolyzed protein…

„In 1993, FDA proposed adding the phrase ‚(contains glutamate)‘ to the common or usual names of certain protein hydrolysates that contain substantial amounts of glutamate. For example, if the proposal were adopted, hydrolyzed soy protein would have to be declared on food labels as ‚hydrolyzed soy protein (contains glutamate).'“ …

§

Unfortunately, for those with asthma, migraine, and atrial fibrillation, MSG as free glutamate remains a hidden food ingredient.  This FDA labeling proposal was killed by a powerful food lobby.

Food For Thought

MSG is a nervous system stimulant.

Recent research at Johns Hopkins directly ties nervous system stimulation to the immune system.

The FDA admits that MSG has been proven to induce asthma attacks in certain individuals.

Asthma deaths have increased with the increased use of MSG in the US food supply.

Childhood allergies have increased with the increased use of MSG in the US food supply.

The EPA has approved a growth-enhancing crop spray for use on fruits and vegetables which contains free L-glutamic acid,
which has the same action on the nervous system as the amino acid glutamate found in MSG.


MSG injected into mice reduces free glutathione levels

Glutathione protects children from mercury poisoning by chelating mercury

Both Mercury and glutamic acid are still found in certain vaccines

Mercury in the environment is increasing due to air pollution

Mercury is suspected of causing autism in children

Autism is still on the rise.


Some autistic children improve on a gluten-free, casein-free diet

Glutamate is found in large amounts in gluten, and casein (wheat and milk proteins)


The tobacco industry used ammonia in cigarettes because it enhances the addictive effects of nicotine.

Ammonia in the blood stream quickly crosses the blood brain barrier.

When ammonia in the bloodstream crosses the blood brain barrier, it is converted into glutamate.


There are glutamate receptors in the pancreas.

Excess Insulin release triggers hunger and can lead to obesity and insulin resistance in lab animals.

Laboratory researchers inject animals with MSG to induce obesity.

Ingested MSG has been shown in human subjects to increase blood levels of free glutamic acid and in turn, insulin.

Glutamate-induced obese animals become resistant to leptin – the substance released by fat cells that scientists hope will cure obesity.

Obesity and Type II Diabetes have increased to epidemic levels in the US in children since the introduction of MSG into the American diet.

Obesity among young people in China is growing at 10% each decade.  http://www.cnn.com/2003/HEALTH/11/02/china.obesity/

Over 85% of people studied with Type I Diabetes have tested positive for antibodies to glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) which is the enzyme responsible for turning excess glutamate into GABA.


The glutamate in MSG has a vasoconstrictive effect.

MSG is added mainly to salty, processed American foods.

Teens in Canada are now suffering from high blood pressure in record numbers.

Hypertension incidence in America is 30% higher now than it was a decade ago.

Some Americans have „salt-sensitive“ hypertension.

High blood pressure is a leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease in the US.

Millions of Americans are taking calcium channel blocking medication to treat high blood pressure.

The Glutamate in MSG acts as a calcium channel opener.


High blood pressure is a risk factor for stroke.

Asians have been using MSG in large amounts since 1908 when it was discovered.

Young adults in Asian countries are now experiencing stroke in record numbers.


A dentist recently discovered that anti-inflammatory topical medicine can alleviate migraine headaches.

He believes inflammation in the mouth above the upper rear molars presses against nerves – causing migraine

MSG induces histamine response

Histamine induces inflammation

MSG is a migraine trigger


The latest drugs to treat Fibromyalgia are anti-epileptic drugs which reduce glutamate levels.

Hospitals warn patients taking anti-seizure medications to avoid MSG.


Stroke victims are now given glutamate blocking drugs

MSG contains glutamate

Late stage Alzheimer’s patients are now showing improvement on the glutamate blocker, memantine

MSG contains glutamate

A.L.S. victims are now being treated with glutamate blocking drugs

MSG contains glutamate

MS victims may soon be treated with glutamate blocking drugs

MSG contains glutamate

Many of the elderly in nursing homes are suffering the effects of stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and A.L.S.

MSG producers are now advocating the use of MSG in nursing homes


Research is underway to investigate glutamate blockers in treating depression.

MSG was only added to the American food supply after World War II and has steadily increased.

Suicide among adolescents and young adults has nearly tripled since 1952.

China now accounts for 42% of the world’s suicides.


The blood brain barrier protects most of the human brain

The hypothalamus of the brain is not protected by the blood brain barrier

The hypothalamus of lab animals was damaged by MSG ingestion

The hypothalamus directs the action of the pituitary gland and entire endocrine system

Many MSG-sensitive individuals have been diagnosed hypothyroid


The hypothalamus regulates body temperature

Many young athletes are exhorted  to use body-building products which contain free glutamate (MSG)

There has been an increase in heat stroke deaths in young athletes

American Restaurant Syndrome?

MSG Symptom Complex

For years MSG Symptom Complex has been known in the US by the misnomer Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.  We do not use that term anywhere on this site, except this page.  The reason is quite simple.  Calling this health problem Chinese Restaurant Syndrome not only does a disservice to Chinese Restaurant owners who do not add MSG, but it also dangerously hides the fact that American processed food is now so loaded with the flavor enhancer Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) as to be the largest source of MSG in the average American diet. Most Americans, when told MSG is harmful respond with „I don’t eat Chinese food, so  I don’t need to worry“.

However, Consider this:

American Diet Syndrome

FRIED CHICKEN – What could be more American than Fried Chicken? KFC chicken actually contains so much MSG that in one country at least, KFC exceeded the legal limit for adding MSG to their chicken.
FLAVORED SNACK CHIPS – Most flavored potato chips and snack chips contain MSG.  Doritos, a very popular food among American teens, has at least four sources of free glutamate – the business end of MSG.
CANNED AND INSTANT SOUP – Lipton, Knorr, Progresso and ramen noodle, and boullion cube manufacturers put MSG in their products.  Products most Americans have been raised on, and not a few American office workers have stashed in their desk for those overtime evenings when a home cooked meal is out of the question, and foods poor college students practically live on.
CANNED TUNA – Most brands of canned tuna in the US have „broth“ added or hydrolyzed vegetable protein added, which can contain up to 20% free glutamate.   Manufacturers add this to hide any off flavors.
FRESH TURKEY – Many „self-basting“ fresh turkeys and chickens sold in US supermarkets have solutions injected into them – solutions that contain free glutamate.
This is only a few of the products that have MSG added to them – products most Americans are unaware have MSG added to them.
Difference Between Chinese and American Restaurants

Chinese food, for the most part consists of fresh vegetables quickly cooked.  MSG is added at the end as a condiment.  It can be NOT added at the consumers request.   Most Chinese Restaurant owners also know what else on the menu contains natural MSG – soy sauce for instance is naturally loaded with free glutamate.  Wait staff at a Chinese restaurant will often steer the MSG sensitive patron away from dishes containing soy sauce as well as MSG. At Asian restaurants, they know what is in the food because they put it there.

Most American restaurants today purchase their foods from large US food companies that have what are called  „Food Service“ divisions.  In American restaurants, most wait staff and often the cooks don’t know what is in the food, because the soup base probably came from a can, those cute little jalapeno poppers came from a brightly colored bag in the freezer, and very little is actually „fresh“.   And, unfortunately, most American food scientists use the fact that soy sauce, and hydrolyzed vegetable protein naturally contains free glutamate to give their free glutamate containing products what is called „a clean label“.  So even cooks and wait staff don’t even know what they are reading on the labels.  The people who create the foods supplied to American restaurants have absolutely no compunction about hoping you don’t know that MSG is in your food when you are consciously trying to avoid it.
Who Started It?

The truth is, the country where MSG was first isolated (in 1908) and used was Japan.   A Japanese company called Ajinomoto – only recently found guilty of price-fixing MSG on the world market, is today the prime maker of MSG.  Japan is also where taurine and CoQ10 are now used to treat heart disease, and ginger and taurine-rich sushi are eaten alongside MSG sprinkled food.  These foods have protective effects against an MSG reaction.  However, even the Japanese have found recently that MSG fed to mice can lead to blindness.  The Japanese are concerned about the health affects of MSG.   Should we not be also?
Then Why Chinese Restaurant Syndrome?

The reason MSG may have been associated with Chinese food, and not Japanese food, may be the protective effects of raw fish and fresh ginger in Japanese cuisine mentioned above, but also that taurine is found mostly in animal products, and that Chinese food is often low in meat.  Also, taurine is destroyed by high heat, and foods are often cooked at high temperatures in Chinese stir frying.

It is interesting to note the joke that after eating MSG in foods at a Chinese restaurant „you are hungry an hour later“, may have some merit.  The glutamate in MSG acts as an insulin trigger.  This will definitely give you a hunger response about an hour and a half later.  This fact has not been lost on American food manufacturers.  They know the value of an addictive food ingredient. If they keep you hungry for more, they have succeeded.
MSG-free Tips on Eating at Asian Restaurants

We don’t want to discourage anyone from the pleasures of eating Asian cuisine.  MSG is actually easier to avoid in an Asian restaurant, than in an American one.

  * Ask for NO MSG in your food.
  * Avoid soy sauce

 

  * Avoid soups, and sauces
  * Instead of a sushi roll ask for sashimi – no seaweed
  * NO SEA TANGLE, NO FISH EXTRACT, NO SEAFOOD EXTRACT – these can make an MSG sensitive person very ill.
  * Make sure no MSG or seafood extracts were added to the rice if you order Chirashi
  * Use vinegar and wasabi instead of soy sauce to dip your sashimi
  * Think fresh – ask for a quick MSG-free stir fry of fresh vegetables, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, unmarinated meat, plain noodles, fresh ginger, plain sesame oil.
  * Avoid dishes that look too mixed together and marinated.
  * Avoid saki – sometimes MSG is added to warmed saki to remove the bitterness. In fact, go easy on alcohol altogether – your liver is needed in good condition if you should have an MSG reaction
  * Avoid those little crunchy appetizers – they often contain MSG.

 

  * Green tea is a good idea to drink with your meal.

 

  * Avoid sauces and dishes like Egg Foo Yung which consist of sauces likely to contain MSG
  * At Dim Sum restaurants, avoid the sauces they deliver on the side, and choose foods not sauced already.
  * Most Asian restaurants serve very simple desserts which often consist of fresh fruit – usually oranges.  It is a good idea to eat this, as Vitamin C helps mitigate any MSG reaction.
  * Korean food is interesting as there are safer dishes like those served in very hot bowls, where rice, raw vegetables, and raw egg are added to the bowl, and it cooks right in front of you at the table.  Sauce is suppied on the side, but you don’t need to use it.

 

  * In Korean restaurants steer clear of the Kim Chee, the red pickled cabbage – it often contains MSG.

 

  * Try Thai food – there are many soy-free choices – it has fresh bright flavors – but also ask for NO MSG.  Thai sauces which are creamy are usually made from coconut milk, an interesting flavor.

 

  * Vietnamese food – vietnamese food is also interesting to try, in some dishes, star anise gives this cuisine the exotic flavor of licorice.  Again, ask for NO MSG.

 

  * Do not drink any aspartame diet drinks with your meal.  Aspartame is just as bad for you as MSG. Aspartame and MSG have a synergistic effect.

 

  So – basic rules of thumb:
* Always ask for NO MSG
* NO TANGLE, FISH, OR SEAFOOD EXTRACT
* Think fresh – avoid marinaded foods
* No dipping sauce
* Eat your fruit, drink your green tea, eat fresh ginger
* No soy sauce, limit alcohol, avoid diet drinks- especially with aspartame

What exactly is MSG? 

MSG, or Monosodium Glutamate is a salt of the amino acid – Glutamic Acid (glutamate).  A salt is the chemical name for a molecule held together by opposite charges.   Basically one (mono) sodium atom is „stuck“ to the amino acid glutamate.

What is an amino acid?

Amino acids are often called the building blocks of life because it takes many of them linked together in a chain to create a protein.  DNA tells the body how to make the chain and in what order the amino acids must line up.  Some amino acids must be eaten because the body cannot make them (essential), some the body can make (non-essential), and yet others are able to be made during some times, but not others (conditionally essential).  The life processes are all dependent on proteins which play critical roles in the body as structure, messengers, enzymes, and hormones.

Proteins are globular and clumpy because the amino acid chains fold in on themselves.  This is how the immune system recognizes proteins.  They are large compared to single amino acids, and they are uniquely shaped.   The immune system does not recognize tiny MSG as an allergen.  However, trouble can begin because the body can attack the larger enzymes like GAD, responsible for turning excess MSG into GABA.

What is an enzyme?

Enzymes are simply proteins with interesting day jobs. Enzymes help make things happen by helping to create other proteins and by helping break them down too.   Enzymes are not straight chains, they are globular and clumpy, because they are folded into intricate shapes like other proteins.  It is these shapes that help them create and break down other proteins and compounds.

What is a hormone?

Hormones are extremely potent protein based messengers that travel around the body connecting the lines of communication between glands of the endocrine system.  These glands direct important functions like metabolism, growth, and sexual development.  It has been found lately that smaller amounts of hormones are more effective than larger amounts because the body has feedback mechanisms that don’t take kindly to overdoses of hormone.  Things shut down because it is considered a trouble signal if there is too much hormone present.  By affecting the part of the brain – the hypothalamus,  that controls the master gland of the body – the pituitary, MSG may affect hormone production in the body.

Glutamate –  Protein Building Block  and   Excitatory Neurotransmitter….

Glutamate is just one of many amino acids used by the body and linked into the chains of protein in the body.  However some amino acids are free to float around by themselves as well as being found linked into proteins because they serve vital functions – some are neurotransmitters which carry nerve cell impulses throughout the body.  Amino acid neurotransmitters are like chemical messengers carrying news from nerve cell to nerve cell.   Some amino acid neurotransmitters like glutamate trigger nerve cells to fire, others like taurine and gamma amino butyric acid tell those firing nerve cells to cease firing.  It is a delicate balance.  An important balance.  Researchers are finding out just what happens when that balance tips.  In patients who suffer a stroke, for example, an excess of glutamate in the brain causes the nerve cells to die from overstimulation.  Glutamate blocking drugs are being used to prevent some of this damage.

For more info on neurotransmitters see:

http://www.unifr.ch/biochem/DREYER/Neurotransmitters/glutamate.htm

http://artsandscience.concordia.ca/psychology/psyc358/Lectures/transmit2.htm
How does the body usually deal with excess amino acids?

Most amino acids if not used right away, are not stored as amino acids.   The body has elaborate means of changing extra amino acids into other amino acids, and removing nitrogen and changing amino acids into fuel to be stored.  There are processes such as  „transamination“ and „deamination“ which occur mostly in the liver.   In patients with compromised livers, however, they may have trouble transaminating cysteine, for example, into taurine, the amino acid that acts counter to glutamate.  Also, an excess of the amino acid aspartate (found in Nutrasweet) may result in excess glutamate, since the body can convert aspartate directly to glutamate.  Aspartate and glutamate affect some of the same receptors.    In a different example, there is an enzyme that the body uses to convert excess glutamate into another neurotransmitter called GABA.  In many patients with Type II Diabetes, their bodies view the enzyme responsible for turning MSG into GABA as an enemy and create antibodies to attack it so that it cannot do its job.   This is a problem.  The body is compromised in its job of getting rid of excess glutamate.  It again is a question of balance, and what tips it.

Is manufactured MSG a problem?

According to some MSG opponents the glutamate added to foods is „bad“ and the natural glutamate in our bodies is „good“.  MSG sellers argue that MSG is exactly like the glutamate in the human body, therefore it must always be „good“.  It is not so simple.  There are contaminants in processed MSG.  An anology that can be used is that there are right-handed amino acids and left handed ones.  They are like mirror images of each other.   Processed MSG contains not only the kind of amino acids the body is used to handling, but mirror image ones too.  This may cause problems because it is like putting the wrong glove on your hand.  It’s not quite the same.  We don’t exactly know what problems this may cause.  On the other hand (so to speak) the fact that glutamate the body is used to handling is also in MSG may present a problem because an excess of naturally occurring glutamate is well known by neuroscientists to be a problem in many disease states.  Natural glutamate can cause problems we already know about.  The reason food processors „free“ glutamate from its bound form, is that it acts as a neurotransmitter in its free form.  The food industry’s claim that free glutamate is as harmless as bound glutamate is disingenuous at best.  If it was exactly the same, they wouldn’t need to hydrolyse vegetable protein (split the amino acids apart).

Why do food companies add  MSG to foods?

There are several reasons:

  MSG acts as a drug like caffeine.   It affects the body by stimulating the nerve cells in your tongue.  It is not a „meat tenderizer“.  It is not a „preservative“.  It barely has a taste of its own.  The food industry is trying to confuse the issue by focusing on the „fifth“ taste sense they call umami.  However, the truth is, they are using the very same neurotransmitter that your brain uses.  It directly affects processes in your body.  It changes your perception of taste by altering you.
  MSG stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin.  The food industry has found their own „anti-appetite suppressant“.  It’s a convenient way to keep consumers coming back for more.   The blood sugar drops because of the insulin flood.  And you are hungry an hour later.  Sound familiar?
  The body changes excess glutamate to GABA.   GABA may be addictive.  It is calming and affects the same receptors in the brain as valium.
  Cost.  The illusion created by adding MSG to a food product enables the food processor to add LESS real food.  The consumer perceives the product – say chicken soup – to have more chicken in it than is actually there.  Example:  A well-known brand of dehydrated chicken noodle soup.  Is that chicken in there, or a piece of confetti?

What exactly is MSG?

MSG, or Monosodium Glutamate is a salt of the amino acid – Glutamic Acid (glutamate).  A salt is the chemical name for a molecule held together by opposite charges.   Basically one (mono) sodium atom is „stuck“ to the amino acid glutamate.

What is an amino acid?

Amino acids are often called the building blocks of life because it takes many of them linked together in a chain to create a protein.  DNA tells the body how to make the chain and in what order the amino acids must line up.  Some amino acids must be eaten because the body cannot make them (essential), some the body can make (non-essential), and yet others are able to be made during some times, but not others (conditionally essential).  The life processes are all dependent on proteins which play critical roles in the body as structure, messengers, enzymes, and hormones.

Proteins are globular and clumpy because the amino acid chains fold in on themselves.  This is how the immune system recognizes proteins.  They are large compared to single amino acids, and they are uniquely shaped.   The immune system does not recognize tiny MSG as an allergen.  However, trouble can begin because the body can attack the larger enzymes like GAD, responsible for turning excess MSG into GABA.

What is an enzyme?

Enzymes are simply proteins with interesting day jobs. Enzymes help make things happen by helping to create other proteins and by helping break them down too.   Enzymes are not straight chains, they are globular and clumpy, because they are folded into intricate shapes like other proteins.  It is these shapes that help them create and break down other proteins and compounds.

What is a hormone?

Hormones are extremely potent protein based messengers that travel around the body connecting the lines of communication between glands of the endocrine system.  These glands direct important functions like metabolism, growth, and sexual development.  It has been found lately that smaller amounts of hormones are more effective than larger amounts because the body has feedback mechanisms that don’t take kindly to overdoses of hormone.  Things shut down because it is considered a trouble signal if there is too much hormone present.  By affecting the part of the brain – the hypothalamus,  that controls the master gland of the body – the pituitary, MSG may affect hormone production in the body.

Glutamate –  Protein Building Block  and   Excitatory Neurotransmitter….

Glutamate is just one of many amino acids used by the body and linked into the chains of protein in the body.  However some amino acids are free to float around by themselves as well as being found linked into proteins because they serve vital functions – some are neurotransmitters which carry nerve cell impulses throughout the body.  Amino acid neurotransmitters are like chemical messengers carrying news from nerve cell to nerve cell.   Some amino acid neurotransmitters like glutamate trigger nerve cells to fire, others like taurine and gamma amino butyric acid tell those firing nerve cells to cease firing.  It is a delicate balance.  An important balance.  Researchers are finding out just what happens when that balance tips.  In patients who suffer a stroke, for example, an excess of glutamate in the brain causes the nerve cells to die from overstimulation.  Glutamate blocking drugs are being used to prevent some of this damage.

For more info on neurotransmitters see:

http://www.unifr.ch/biochem/DREYER/Neurotransmitters/glutamate.htm

http://artsandscience.concordia.ca/psychology/psyc358/Lectures/transmit2.htm

How does the body usually deal with excess amino acids?

Most amino acids if not used right away, are not stored as amino acids.   The body has elaborate means of changing extra amino acids into other amino acids, and removing nitrogen and changing amino acids into fuel to be stored.  There are processes such as  „transamination“ and „deamination“ which occur mostly in the liver.   In patients with compromised livers, however, they may have trouble transaminating cysteine, for example, into taurine, the amino acid that acts counter to glutamate.  Also, an excess of the amino acid aspartate (found in Nutrasweet) may result in excess glutamate, since the body can convert aspartate directly to glutamate.  Aspartate and glutamate affect some of the same receptors.    In a different example, there is an enzyme that the body uses to convert excess glutamate into another neurotransmitter called GABA.  In many patients with Type II Diabetes, their bodies view the enzyme responsible for turning MSG into GABA as an enemy and create antibodies to attack it so that it cannot do its job.   This is a problem.  The body is compromised in its job of getting rid of excess glutamate.  It again is a question of balance, and what tips it.

Is manufactured MSG a problem?

According to some MSG opponents the glutamate added to foods is „bad“ and the natural glutamate in our bodies is „good“.  MSG sellers argue that MSG is exactly like the glutamate in the human body, therefore it must always be „good“.  It is not so simple.  There are contaminants in processed MSG.  An anology that can be used is that there are right-handed amino acids and left handed ones.  They are like mirror images of each other.   Processed MSG contains not only the kind of amino acids the body is used to handling, but mirror image ones too.  This may cause problems because it is like putting the wrong glove on your hand.  It’s not quite the same.  We don’t exactly know what problems this may cause.  On the other hand (so to speak) the fact that glutamate the body is used to handling is also in MSG may present a problem because an excess of naturally occurring glutamate is well known by neuroscientists to be a problem in many disease states.  Natural glutamate can cause problems we already know about.  The reason food processors „free“ glutamate from its bound form, is that it acts as a neurotransmitter in its free form.  The food industry’s claim that free glutamate is as harmless as bound glutamate is disingenuous at best.  If it was exactly the same, they wouldn’t need to hydrolyse vegetable protein (split the amino acids apart).

Why do food companies add  MSG to foods?

There are several reasons:

  1. MSG acts as a drug like caffeine.   It affects the body by stimulating the nerve cells in your tongue.  It is not a „meat tenderizer“.  It is not a „preservative“.  It barely has a taste of its own.  The food industry is trying to confuse the issue by focusing on the „fifth“ taste sense they call umami.  However, the truth is, they are using the very same neurotransmitter that your brain uses.  It directly affects processes in your body.  It changes your perception of taste by altering you.
  2. MSG stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin.  The food industry has found their own „anti-appetite suppressant“.  It’s a convenient way to keep consumers coming back for more.   The blood sugar drops because of the insulin flood.  And you are hungry an hour later.  Sound familiar?
  3. The body changes excess glutamate to GABA.   GABA may be addictive.  It is calming and affects the same receptors in the brain as valium.
  4. Cost.  The illusion created by adding MSG to a food product enables the food processor to add LESS real food.  The consumer perceives the product – say chicken soup – to have more chicken in it than is actually there.  Example:  A well-known brand of dehydrated chicken noodle soup.  Is that chicken in there, or a piece of confetti?

 

MSG affects nearly everyone in some way because free glutamic acid – the business end of MSG and the amino acid that increases in blood concentration when MSG is eaten, is used throughout the body as a chemical messenger and neurotransmitter.  However, some people are more sensitive to excess amounts of free glutamic acid in the body than the average person, who may not even notice symptoms of excess free glutamic acid until after many years of MSG ingestion.  We think of these persons as „canaries in the coal mine“.  They are more at risk of damage from eating MSG than the rest of us – but it is simply a matter of degree.  The following are possible reasons for this increased MSG sensitivity:

  Alcohol use which may cause:

  * Increased sensitivity of NMDA receptors
  * Vitamin B6 deficiency
  * Compromised liver

 

  Compromised liver, (which handles transamination of amino acids) due to:

  * Taurine deficiency
  * Vitamin B6 deficiency
  * Transamination difficulty due to errors of metabolism
  * Physical damage

  * Physical Injury (car accident, etc.)
  * Cirrhosis
  * Vitamin A toxicity –
Note: Accutane (isotretinoin) drug to treat acne side effects are similar to Vitamin A Toxicity.  Unfortunately, teen boys most likely to use Accutane are most likely to be eating too much MSG.

 

 

  * CoQ10 Deficiency caused by lack of other vitamins (like Vitamin B6) the body needs to manufacture CoQ10.   If CoQ10 is deficient, nerve cells in the brain and elsewhere may not have the ability to withstand the overstimulation caused by excess glutamate.
  * Epilepsy – MSG can induce seizures
  * Fibromyalgia – increased nervous system sensitivity
  * Hypoglycemia which causes a defiency of fuel to protect the blood/brain barrier
  * Magnesium Deficiency – Magnesium is used by the nervous system to close calcium channels.  MSG is a calcium channel opener.
  * Parkinson’s Disease – some medications used to treat this disease are affected by Vitamin B6, which may lead a patient to limit B6 intake – thus putting them at risk.  Also Parkinson’s patients take dopamine agonists to increase dopamine levels in the brain.  MSG lowers dopamine levels – counteracting the medication.
  * Pre-existing allergies which cause:

  * Sensitization of the nervous system due to Nerve Growth Factor (see recent John’s Hopkin’s study on asthma and the nervous system)
  * Leaky blood vessels – edema associated with inflammation response.

 

  * Type I Diabetes – 85% of those with Type I Diabetes were found to have antibodies against the enzyme that turns excess glutamate into GABA.
  * Vitamin B 6 deficiency caused by poor nutrition, alcohol use, or limiting this vitamin due to food/drug interactions.
  * Vitamin B12 deficiency – Vitamin B12 protects against glutamate neurotoxicity.

 

What Makes Me MSG Sensitive?

 MSG affects nearly everyone in some way because free glutamic acid – the business end of MSG and the amino acid that increases in blood concentration when MSG is eaten, is used throughout the body as a chemical messenger and neurotransmitter.  However, some people are more sensitive to excess amounts of free glutamic acid in the body than the average person, who may not even notice symptoms of excess free glutamic acid until after many years of MSG ingestion.  We think of these persons as „canaries in the coal mine“.  They are more at risk of damage from eating MSG than the rest of us – but it is simply a matter of degree.  The following are possible reasons for this increased MSG sensitivity:

 

Body Systems Affected by MSG

 

  1. Allergic response – MSG is not a true allergen but may directly affect immune response by stimulating the nervous system. May affect eosinophil (white blood cell) levels.  Also – Over 85% of individuals with Type 1 Diabetes have antibodies to the enzyme the body uses to turn Glutamate into GABA – glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD).  Their immune system attacks the means by which glutamate is metabolized, even though it does not attack glutamate itself.  Because of their immune response to GAD, Type 1 diabetics are at risk of having an excess of glutamate in their systems already.
  2. Blood Pressure – may create taurine deficiency – calcium channels stay open – causing high blood pressure and counteracting calcium channel blocking medication.
  3. Blood vessels – Glutamate is vasoactive – it changes the diameter of the blood vessels – one reason why it may cause headaches.

 

  4. Brain – during periods of hypoglycemia where low blood glucose levels leave the brain with low defenses, or allergy response where the blood vessels become „leaky“, MSG may cross the blood brain barrier and damage brain cells by excitatory neurotoxicity. By affecting the pancreas and creating a situation of hypoglycemia, MSG may bring down the brain’s barriers, carrying it’s own key, in a sense, to get to the brain.
  5. Digestive system – may create taurine deficiency due to its effect on cysteine. Cysteine competes with glutamate for uptake.  Unfortunately, cysteine is used to make taurine, and taurine is used to make bile.  Bile, which is made by the liver and stored in the gall bladder is used to break up fats into managable pieces for digestion.  If bile formation is compromised – diarrhea and „gall bladder attacks“ may occur.
  6. Endocrine System – GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) is created by feedback mechanism from MSG. GABA may be addictive. Related to the date-rape drug GBH. GABA stimulates the pituitary to produce growth hormone.  Research has shown that MSG can also overstimulate prolactin production by the pituitary and cause sterility in female animals.  Nearly half of all pituitary tumors are prolactin secreting.
  7. Hearing The hair cells of the ear use glutamate as a neurotransmitter.  Over-stimulation of these cells by glutamate can result in ringing in the ears.  Glutamate opens calcium channels.
  8. Heart Rate – May create taurine deficiency – (taurine regulates heartbeat) causing irregular or racing heartbeat.

 

  9. Hypoglycemia – MSG’s stimulation of pancreas decreases blood glucose, making hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) worse.
  10. Hypothalamus – part of the brain most susceptible to attack because it is the „sensor“ of the brain, out in the open so to speak, not protected by the blood brain barrier because it needs to monitor levels of hormones in the blood. This part of the brain directs the action of the pituitary gland which directs the action of the entire endocrine system. Many MSG sensitive persons become diagnosed with thyroid disfunction and are put on synthetic hormone due to hypothyroidism. This would suggest that the hypothalamus may be compromised and unable to effectively direct the pituitary gland and consequently the thyroid. The hypothalamus also regulates hunger, and body temperature.  The hypothalamus is also responsible for rage and panic as well…
  11. Lungs Asthma – due to MSG’s stimulatory effect on the nervous system (See Johns Hopkins research) would explain why asthma is induced in some by MSG.

 

  Nervous system – MSG stimulates nerves in tongue and elsewhere directly (that’s why they use it). Glutamate in excess can overstimulate nerve cells until they die.

 

  * Pancreas – glutamate stimulates the pancreas and may cause Type II diabetes, obesity, and insulin resistance.  In individuals with Type 1 diabetes, it may cause an excess of glutamate since 85% of those with Type 1 diabetes have antibodies which attack GAD – the enzyme responsible for converting glutamate into GABA.
  * Thyroid function – See Hypothalamus above
  * Vision – There are glutamate receptors in the retina.  Laboratory studies on animals have shown the retina to be damaged by MSG.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  ADD/ADHD
  Disease States Affected by MSG
   
  Addiction
  Alcoholism
  Allergy
  A.L.S.
  Alzheimer’s Disease
  Asthma
  Atrial Fibrillation
  Autism
  Diabetes
  Depression
  Dizziness
  Epilepsy
  Fibromyalgia
  Heat Stroke
  High Blood Pressure
  Hypothyroidism
  Hypoglycemia
  IBS
  Inflammation
  Migraine
  Multiple Sclerosis
  Obesity
  Pituitary tumors
  Rage/Panic Disorder
  Rosacea
  Sleep Disorders

 

  Tinnitus
  Vision Problems

 

Disease Statistics

If one was to conclude that MSG excacerbates or causes certain diseases based on their connection to glutamate in the body, one would also expect:

  1. The incidence of those diseases to increase with the dramatic increase in the consumption of MSG.
  2. An additional rise associated with the approval and increased use of aspartame (especially since the early 1990’s when the patent expired), which the human body can easily convert to glutamate, and which acts on many of the same receptors (NMDA, etc…)

That being said, there is actually a dramatic correlation.   Consider:

ADHD

According to the following link, there has been a 500% increase in the number of prescriptions written for ADHD since 1991:

http://www.education-world.com/a_issues/issues148a.shtml

ALS

In Britain A.L.S. deaths were 4 times higher in the year 2000 than in 1952, with a dramatic increase just in last decade. See the chart on this next link:

http://www.vs.gov.bc.ca/stats/quarter/q2_01/xl/chart1.xls

Asthma

According to Scientific American,  June 2000,  pg 30 „Asthma Worldwide“, asthma was rare in 1900.  Now it is considered epidemic.  It kills 5,000 Americans yearly, and 180,000 wordwide according to to the World Health Organization.  Asthma is now the most common childhood chronic disease…

The rise in asthma was 42% in the US from 1982 – 1992.   The death rate rose 40% from 1982-1991.

Atrial Fibrillation

Mortality rates for atrial fibrillation have almost doubled in England and Wales since 1993 according to this link:

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/pdfdir/hsq0201.pdf

Autism

Autism increase is possibly linked to MMR vaccines (which can contain free glutamate as gelatin) according to these articles based on autism rates in Scotland climbing 18% in just one year.  Note also that dramatic increases are also being found in the US as well as Britain, with a particularly large jump just in the last decade:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/2224126.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/2232111.stm

http://www.sundayherald.com/21347

http://www.vaccinationnews.com/DailyNews/March2002/ExpertSaysMMRWillBeProved.htm

Depression

In Canada from 1995- 2000 visits to doctors for depression rose 36% in just 6 years.  Also, since 1996 prescriptions to treat depression increased 63%.

China, a large consumer of MSG,  accounts for 42% of all suicides in the world:

According to the following link suicides have increased – especially in the age groups of those who consume large amounts of MSG in fast foods:

Note:  „Persons under age 25 accounted for 15% of all suicides in 1998. From 1952-1995, the incidence of suicide among adolescents and young adults nearly tripled. From 1980-1997, the rate of suicide among persons aged 15-19 years increased by 11% and among persons aged 10-14 years by 109%. From 1980-1996, the rate increased 105% for African-American males aged 15-19.

http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/factsheets/suifacts.htm

Type I Diabetes

Over 80% of people studied with Type 1 diabetes have antibodies against glutamic acid debarboxylase (GAD) .  GAD is the enzyme the body uses to turn glutamic acid, (glutamate) into gamma amino butyric acid (GABA).   The theory is that the cells of the pancreas and consequently, the body’s ability to produce insulin, are attacked by the immune system because GAD is found on the outside of pancreatic cells.  The body starts attacking GAD but in the process may destroy pancreatic cells as well.

Type II Diabetes

According to WebMD, „There has been a 10-fold increase in the number of children with Type 2 diabetes during the past five years.“   (Italics ours.)  And over 85% of these children are also obese.

High Blood Pressure

According to ABCNews August 24, 2004:
„Nearly a third of American adults have high blood pressure … Just over a decade ago, closer to one in four Americans had high blood pressure, and two decades ago the rate actually was declining. … About 65 million American adults now have high blood pressure 30 percent more than the 50 million who did in the previous decade, according to a report published Monday in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association.“

Heat Stroke

Experts state that athlete heat stroke deaths are rising:

A study from the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research indicates that just five players died from heat between 1931-1959. From 1960-2000, the number jumped to 103, including 18 in the past six years

Migraine

In the US there has been a 60% increase in chronic migraine headaches from 1980 – 1989 according to this link:

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00001982.htm

Myopia

The rise in myopia in Asian populations is causing much concern according to the following links:

50% of teenagers in China today are nearsighted compared to 15% in the 1970’s:

http://www.chinatoday.com/data/data.htm

Myopia increase in Singapore:

http://www1.moe.edu.sg/speeches/2001/sp24082001.htm

Higher rates of myopia in Asians:

http://www.health.gov/healthypeople/Document/HTML/Volume2/28Vision.htm

Obesity

According to recent research published in the Dec. 12 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association,  „From 1986 to 1998, the number of non-Hispanic white children who were overweight doubled from 6% to 12%. The research suggests that roughly one in five African-American and Hispanic children are overweight — a startling 120% increase during the 12-year study period.“  (Italics ours.)

And, according to the following link, obesity among young people in China is growing at 10% each decade.  The Chinese consume large amounts of MSG and do not consume as many other foods that may counteract it, as the Japanese do (taurine-containing raw fish, and meat).

http://www.cnn.com/2003/HEALTH/11/02/china.obesity/

In Spain, researchers have found that MSG, when given to mice increased their appetite 40%.

http://www.euroresidentes.com/Blogs/2005/12/scientists-in-spain-link-additive-to.htm

Tinnitus

According to the following link: „Dr. Allen states that between 1971 and 1990 the incidence of hearing problems increased by 26 percent among persons aged 45 to 64, and by 17 percent among those aged 18 to 44.“

http://www.drkoop.com/news/focus/august/hearing1.html

CONCLUSION

Asian cuisine should be treasured and enjoyed for the fresh vegetables, and fresh fish it contains.  MSG is considered an avoidable condiment in Asian cooking, not the main attraction. In fact, our favorite restaurants to eat at are Asian because most foods are served with sauces on the side and many restaurants now offer NO MSG in anything.  So, if you skip the soy sauce and talk to the staff ahead of time about your concerns, you can usually have a wonderful, fresh meal, without getting ill.  In American Restaurants often MSG is added because the other ingredients may be inferior or already processed, or out of a can, or not as fresh as you’d like.   Often, if the restaurant is a chain, like McDonalds, or KFC, the food is often precooked or prepared at a different location first.  (Recently, McDonalds admitted that its french fries are precooked elsewhere with a „seasoning“ .)  Because of this MSG Symptom Complex could just as easily be called American Diet Syndrome.

Unfortunately, Americans are not looking for MSG in the most important place they should be: American food.  That is why we DON’T call MSG Symptom Complex – Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.  

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