What is MSG?

MSG or Monosodium Glutamate has been the center of attention for medical scientists all over the world. Some argue for the potential health benefits that can be obtained from this item. While on the other hand, some scientists suggest otherwise. They believe that MSG may not be as healthy as people think it to be. As a result, advising on cutting down a substantial portion from the diet.

Proponents of MSG have argued that it can heal a number of medical conditions including asthma, headaches. It is also believed that people suffering from impaired cognition can have a surprising healing effect through its use.

The Top Health Journal in this article will highlight some of the potential benefits and consequences of using Monosodium Glutamate. Regardless, it is still advised to seek a nutrition’s advice before taking any monumental step. Before proceeding towards any discussion, it is important to know what really is MSG?

What is MSG?

Glutamic acid is classified as one major component of amino acid. It is the type that is naturally found in great amount.  Although categorized as non-essential, the body is able to produce glutamate from the protein food items we consume. It helps in sustaining various bodily functions and is nearly found in all food items.

The physical appearance of MSG is a white powder like substance with crystal particles. The underlying chemistry behind it is the chemical bonding of sodium and glutamate. For the body, it is easy to synthesize MSG. Unlike other amino acids, it is not contained within the big protein molecule structures.

Umami & MSG

Generally speaking, a normal human being has four main basic tastes. That includes salty, bitter, sweet and sour. However, people might not know about the fifth taste element that of umami. The umami flavour in food is particularly enhanced with the use of MSG. For this reason, this substance has become of a considerable importance in the Asian countries. The East Asian regions like Japan use about 1.5 grams of MSG daily. In comparison, West (USA) consumes only 0.5 grams on a daily average basis.

What does this tell about the difference between Asian and Western Countries? We will soon discover the answer to this question!

Is MSG Harmful?

Glutamate has a potential neurotransmission function. Known as the excitatory transmitter, it is responsible for exciting the nerve cells to sustain their function. However, at times MSG leads to an excessive secretion of glutamate.  This then results in an unnecessary stimulation of these cells which can hinder the proper functioning.

A study conducted in the 1970s and further validated in 1996 by Dr Russel Blaylock show some harmful consequences of MSG. It was found out that a higher intake of the substance can cause substantial harm to the brain. The 1970 study concluded the evidence through an experiment on mice. The mice were known to suffer from neurological disorder post injection of glutamate. This led the scientists to believe that the disadvantages of this item may be a cause for concern. Some members of the medical science community also believe that nerve cells can be destroyed through the higher intake of glutamate.

Since MSG can enhance glutamate level in the bloodstream, blindly consuming the substance should be stopped. Yet, there has been a widespread consensus that normal amount may not be a reason for a serious alert. A more thorough research is still required to have a solid conclusion. For the time being, it is always recommended to seek a professional nutritionist advise.

Being Sensitive to MSG

In addition, there have been reported instances where a person develops a strong sensitivity to MSG. This in turn results in the person experiencing strong side effects. Chinese Restaurant Syndrome is one of the major consequences of higher MSG intake. With a rather strange name, the condition is also referred to as MSG symptom complex. The reason for its peculiar name is that the symptoms of the conditions are linked with consumption of Chinese food. Food (typically Chinese) known to contain a considerable dose of MSG can lead to the expression of certain symptoms. That include headaches, stomach pain, acid reflux, sweating and skin rashes.

Around 40% of the people reported having faced the consequences when ingested MSG greater than 3 grams. The reasons attributed for such occurrence are mentioned as follows.

  • MSG is absorbed quickly by the bloodstream.
  • It impairs the function of the brain and the neurological system.
  • It destroys the nerve cells or leads to swelling.

There have also been cases, where MSG was known to trigger the symptoms of asthma.

MSG & Obesity.

One other argument presented against the intake of MSG is its relationship with increasing obesity. A major chunk of the medical community believes that it can lead to quick weight gain if consumed daily in greater amounts. Although no particular amount has been specified, it is believed that dose anywhere around 2 grams can be harmful.

Various studies were conducted to test for the hypothesis in the Asian Countries. Thailand, Vietnam and China were taken as case in point. These countries are known to have a population that consumes MSG somewhere between 1.5 to 2 grams daily.

The findings revealed that yes there remains a positive link with weight gain. On several instances, people were known to have increased their weight by about 8%. Furthermore, a major chunk of the population was also known to suffer from other metabolic conditions. Glutamate was believed to cause an increase in blood pressure and intensify headaches. More research is however still needed to augment the conclusion. Yet, the major consensus is that minor dosage will unlikely be of any considerable harm.

MSG can Decrease Calorie Intake.

Often when the food appears to be tasty, people will resort to bulge eating. They will tend to consume larger amounts, unaware of the consequences. On the flip side, there is an interesting side to consider. Would you like to satiate yourself with tasty food yet stopping from excessive eating ? MSG does exactly that.

It is able to enhance the umami flavour adding to the taste value of the food. At the same time, food with MSG will satiate a person even when eaten in smaller amounts. It is able to stimulate the receptors found on the tongue thereby regulating the appetite. In addition, chemical compounds contained in MSG can also aid in the digestive process.

Asians will often add MSG in their food to make it taste better and decrease calorie intake. Soup, in particular, are sometimes found to be loaded with this substance. As a result, with a smaller portion of the food item, a person is able to satiate him/herself. This reduces the total calorie intake and prevents the person from bulge eating. Collectively, this can help in fighting weight gain or obesity.





Areeba Hussain

Areeba is an independent medical and healthcare writer. For the last three years, she is writing for Tophealthjournal. Her prime areas of interest are diseases, medicine, treatments, and alternative therapies. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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