If you’re a health-conscious individual, then chances are you have heard all about Monosodium Glutamate, or MSG. MSG goes by different names such as natural flavors, flavorings, seasonings, malt extract and many more. Even if you’re not aware of it, a lot of the foods you eat could contain MSG. Read on to learn more about this common food ingredient.
What Is MSG?
Next to salt and pepper, MSG is considered to be the most common flavor enhancer in many parts of the world today. Basically, MSG is a type of salt from an amino acid called glutamic acid. One important thing to know about MSG is that it is not a natural substance, meaning it cannot be found in nature. MSG undergoes several process which change its molecular structures as a result. The product of these processes are free glutamates, which can enter your blood stream much faster than regular glutamates found in whole foods.
So why is MSG being added to food products? If you think that MSG is some type of preservative then you’re wrong. MSG actually does not affect the food which it is added to. However, it does affect your body once you consume the foods. MSG basically travels to your brain in order to send messages that what you are eating is delicious. Therefore, you find yourself addicted to a certain food even though it is made from poor products with little nutritional value. Obviously, MSG helps food manufacturers save on the ingredients they use on their products.
MSG and Brain Damage
Neuroscientists consider MSG as “excitotoxin” because of its negative effects on the human brain. Brain cells have barriers which provide protection during chemical exchanges that happen within the brain. When the barriers are successfully regulating these chemical exchanges, the brain and the immune system are able to fight diseases, stress, pollutants and the like. However, when toxic substances invade the brain even in tiny amounts, the brain cells starts to overreact. This overreaction causes exhaustion or death to the cells. MSG is one of these toxic substances. Regular consumption of MSG eventually affects areas of the brain which are responsible for your endocrine system and autonomic nervous system. As a result, you develop cravings for junk foods, you feel frequent hunger pangs and you have difficulty sleeping.
Other Health Effects Of MSG
MSG can have a negative impact on your health. For instance, the cravings that MSG produces in your brain can easily lead to weight gain and eventually obesity. Aside from obesity and brain damage, MSG has also been linked to other health conditions like migraines, headaches, asthma and even Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. If you’re currently pregnant, then you might also want to eliminate MSG from your diet since there is a probability that it can cause birth defects and can hinder the development of the fetus. Studies have shown that sensitivity to MSG may also lead to emotional or neurological disorders such as depression, dyslexia, attention deficit disorder or ADD, cerebral palsy, panic attacks, paranoia and more.