Although neither government health agencies nor food manufacturers will tell you, monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a very unhealthy food additive. In spite of such, it is obsessively used in most processed, frozen and fast foods.
In fact, you will be hard-pressed to not find it in most foods consumed by people both in developed and developing countries.
Why Is MSG Used So Extensively?
Simply put, MSG makes things taste much better. This is of special importance for foods freeze-dried, frozen or packaged in boxes, cans, plastic bags and other synthetic-material containers. Such packaging used to give such foods a funny, unpleasant taste--that is, until MSG came along.
Beyond helping to mask the poor taste of processed/packaged foods, MSG motivates people to want more of foods it is put into--in other words, it has an addictive quality. It can also trigger hunger pains, most notably by fooling the body into not realizing it has had enough.
Beyond this, MSG is relatively cheap to produce and use; it is also easy to push on the masses under the misrepresented idea that it is all "natural."
While glutamic acid (an amino acid) is natural, this powerful neurotransmitter is usually found in very limited small quantities in the brain; it can also be found throughout the body (again in strictly controlled quantities). Glutamic acid naturally found in foods, furthermore, usually comes embedded in proteins, meaning that (as in the case of tomatoes) it comes as a nutritional "package" that includes antioxidants and other naturally-occurring substances that help to nullify the otherwise-free glutamate's toxicity.
Even if glutamic acid is natural, MSG is produced through fermentation that introduces certain contaminants to the glutamate (glutamic acid once separated from its naturally-occuring proteins); beyond that, it's ludicrous for the MSG industry to continue to insist that there is no limit to the amount of glutamate that the human body needs or can safely use, especially the free-standing glutamates synthetically produced in a lab. Furthermore, to denote that there is indeed a difference between naturally-occurring and lab-extracted glutamates, the terms D-glutamate and L-glutamate are sometimes used in lab facilities.
Is Everything Extracted from Natural Foods Automatically Safe to Use or Over-Use?
Actually, the opposite is often the case. Indigenous tribes in South America have been chewing the coca leaves for centuries, or drinking tea made from them. This has been proven to be a harmless practice. When cocaine is synthetically extracted from these otherwise harmless leaves, however, addiction to a powerful stimulant is the result.
The seeds from apples can be toxic yet few people die from eating apples. And there are hundreds of other such examples one can allude to.
Obviously, just because something has been extracted from natural foods doesn't automatically make it safe, especially when tons of scientific evidence is piling up that indicates dangers and toxicity may be involved, as is the case with MSG.
Have MSG Proponents Downplayed the Dangers--if So, How?
There is no question that much of the scientific evidence against MSG has either been suppressed or downplayed for ulterior motives. For one thing, MSG is one of the most profitable products ever created. Annually, for example, we consume about 1.5 million tons of MSG. That's about 3 billion pounds. Even at the low price of $2.50 per pound, that translates to a product that brings in a minimum of $7.5 billion dollars. It's easy to see why some people don't want to consider (even if the evidence is overwhelming) MSG's potential long-term toxicity.
The MSG industry pays many scientists, journalists and health experts to defend MSG, regardless of what they really think about it. If MSG were as safe as they say, wouldn't the millions they spend to suppress or fabricate erroneous pro-MSG facts be better spent funding long-term toxicity studies using humans? Thus far, mostly animal studies have proven MSG's toxicity--but only because better studies have been systematically avoided.
Beyond not funding suitable long-term toxicity studies involving humans, the industry puts out false scientific facts and pays so-called health experts to defend MSG. One classic example, is Alex Renton's "If MSG Is So Bad For You, Why Doesn't Everyone in Asia Have a Headache?" This article has many scientific deficiencies, including its failure to address the hundreds of scientific studies that have proven MSG's harmfulness (albeit mostly to animals). It also fails to address the many valid points made by the book "Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills" by Russell L. Blaylock, MD.
It's articles like this one and the many fallacious, arrogantly presumptuous reports floating on the Internet (like feces in our oceans) that continue to fool the public into thinking that MSG is perfectly all right. They pulled the same stunts with tobacco for years (before the truth was finally publicly revealed). MSG, they say, may just give you a slight headache, be dangerous just to people allergic to it, or only be dangerous to asthmatics. This, however, is one of the biggest mispresentations of something that is much more dangerous than we're being told.
Can We Trust the Many Animal Studies Proving MSG's Toxicity?
For the record, much of our knowledge about toxic things have come from animal studies. Deliberately inflicting toxic things on human, for one thing, would be unethical. Beyond that, the few studies conducted using humans have not been long enough (or designed appropriately) to prove long-term toxicity; while this may not prove the case against MSG, it certainly does not exonerate the product either.
Besides, hundreds of animal studies have proven that MSG can be harmful to several kinds of animals, not just rats and mice. In most cases, such evidence is enough to trigger studies using humans. Why has the FDA and the NIH, though, dragged their feet in ordering and funding such studies? If you think that the food industry hasn't had a hand in that dereliction of duty, you are most probably mistaken.
What Medical Problems or Symptoms Can We Connect to MSG?
While we cannot say for certain that MSG directly brings about the following medical ailments and symptoms, we can say that there is mounting evidence that MSG either exacerbates, contributes to the mechanisms of the disease, or may be a concomitant (if not a direct) factor in the ailment or symptom. If we show that MSG, for example, damages the eyes, causes brain lesions, renders infertility, induces tumors, etc., in animals, that is very strong evidence in suspecting that it may be doing the same thing to humans, especially when you consider that many of the medical problems alluded to below are already out-of-control epidemics for which we presently may have no alternative explanation.
This is especially evident when it comes to obesity. Any competent lab technician will tell you that if you want to fatten animals quickly and persistently, use monosodium glutamate. This has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt and, in spite of the fact that we have an obesity epidemic going on for humans world-wide, some people continue to deny that MSG has anything to do with it!
At any rate, this a short list of the medical problems or symptoms associated with, tied to or possibly brought about (if not just exacerbated) by monosodium glutamate:
Incredibly, this is not a complete list of the medical complications/symptoms that have been connected or suspected of being tied to MSG consumption. As for those unscrupulous people who continue to defend MSG, it should be noted that new scientific discoveries strongly support these toxicity concerns. For example, glutamate receptors have been found to be connected to certain forms of cancer. It has also been found that damaged brain cells release glutamates; in fact, this is an area that calls for intensive studies to determine the connection between glutamates and degereateive brain diseases like Alzheimer's--for, indeed, there appears to be one.
For your part, do your best to avoid MSG. That won't be easy to do when you consider how hard the food industry fights to hide the stuff in our food, resorting to such childish games as re-naming the stuff with dozens of euphemistic terms designed to fool the public. Why, MSG is sprayed on some vegetables and fruits; it has reportedly even been introduced into certain vaccines--why on earth is difficult to fathom.
Beyond avoiding dangerous excitotoxin, you can use the following nutrients and chemicals which, supposedly, can block the effects of excitotoxins (of which there are about 70 according to Dr. Blaylock). These protective substances include:
In addition to this, you can write to government agencies asking that they take a much closer look at MSG and other dangerous excitotoxins. We don't need more discussions but, rather, long-term toxicity studies that use humans as subjects and which are not in any way connected to or funded by the same people who continue to deny MSG's potential harmfulness to human beings.
Copyright, 2015. Fred Fletcher. All rights reserved.