Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How Much Monosodium Glutamate Did You Have Today?

image by redvisualg, sxc.hu

MSG Is Increasingly Coming Under Scrutiny

It is an established laboratory practice to force-feed or subcutaneously inject Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) to rats when they are to be fattened in order to prepare them to conduct experiments. It has also been known for years that when rats are administered MSG in the early neonatal stage, they go on to develop severe neuro-degeneration in several of their brain regions. Such rats exhibit behavioral abnormalities, stunted growth of the skeleton, propensity to under-eat, concurrently with, of course, high body fat content. They call it the "MSG Obesity Syndrome".

image by juliaf, sxc.hu

Turn around now to look at the dishes laid out on your table. Chances are that, unless they have been prepared at home directly from raw food material, there is a dash of the MSG in every one of the dishes. Where is MSG in our food? That question needs to be changed to "Where isn't MSG in our food?" Ever since this flavor-enhancer was invented, like an invisible, silent dementor it has spread throughout the entire civilized population and entered every one of the foods that we get to eat. So much so, that it is an essential ingredient in pharmacological formulations, and baby foods aren't bereft of it either. Life today without MSG is unimaginable... try tasting any processed food in your favorite restaurant without the additive and you will find it so bland that you will walk out of the restaurant complaining about the joint. After all, MSG provides the fifth taste to our palate - the "Umami" taste, complementing the basic tastes of sour, salty, bitter and sweet that we can so easily relate to.

image by julosstock, sxc.hu

It is an interesting irony that glutamate is the most abundant chemical that drives the entire nervous system, right from the brain and the spinal cord down to the nerves tingling in our finger- and toe-tips. But the body requires only so much of this chemical. At moderate levels, the body has the requisite mechanisms to keep the chemical under control and make effective use of it to keep everything functioning properly. But what happens when you keep gorging on food that contains liberal sprinkling of the additive? The mechanisms break down. And all the disorders we mentioned awhile ago - kick in. If rats get to experience the degeneration - animals whose pathopsychophysiology we study to obtain clues about our own health and well-being - then we too should experience them, right?

image by adris72, sxc.hu

The unexplained headaches, the mysterious pains and cramps in the abdomen, the problems of balance, the disorders of sleep and depression... for which we have tried all sorts of doctors and medications but in vain, might as well have their source in the ubiquitous and innocuous taste-enricher that we took for granted.

image by sufinawaz, sxc.hu

With such a mountain of evidence about the impact Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) has on the brain, one would think that food and drug regulators will look at the additive with askance. The review conducted by an FDA select committee on GRAS substances (SCOGS) has this to say about MSG on their website, and I quote verbatim: "...data showing neuropathological lesions in neonatal animals resulting from subcutaneous or forced oral dosing of MSG has thus far been confirmed only in rodents... There is no evidence in the available information on L-glutamic acid, L-glutamic acid hydrochloride, monosodium L-glutamate, monoammonium L-glutamate, and monopotassium L-glutamate that demonstrates, or suggests reasonable grounds to suspects, a hazard to the public when they are used at levels that are now current and in the manner now practices." The website page was last updated on 10/31/2006.

FDA logo, wiki

To balance things, the association of manufacturers, national marketers and processed food users of Glutamic acid (TGA) expends a lot of effort to present their side of the story. To every one of the findings reported from the laboratory, they have their counterpoint. As a self-developer, you might like to make an informed opinion of which side is right?

image from TGA's website - www.msgfacts.com_*

* image from TGA's website - www.msgfacts.com.

[If you are like the rest of us, chances are that after reading this article, you will silently reaffirm your commitment to stay healthy, click on the cross symbol of the web page, move on to the next, and ... forget all about the commitment! The problem with all of us is that we are creatures of inertia. Unless there is an external force or an uncontrollable circumstance, we continue on our auto-pilot. In this respect, we are very much like the frog who realized only when it was too late that the water it was in was boiling and therefore unlivable! Have you read this parable? Here it is: "The Frog That Found Itself In Boiling Water".]

image by tchor1974, sxc.hu


  1. It is so true. Government and big business do not have our health and wellness as high priority. Cook at home from scratch with the best organic and local foods you can aford. You can control want you put it the dish. When you are used to it, natural really tastes best.

  2. A good rule of thumb is to never eat anything that doesn't naturally perish within a month.