Thursday, November 15, 2007

MSG, Toxin in Our Food

It is crucial today for us to live as natural as possible for human than ever. Human being in dire need of LOHAS (lifestyle of health and sustainability). Many unnatural or processed substances are comprised in our foods. We are exposed to those substances with unknown and proven effects. All of opinions are debatable, but we may take a glimpse into the proven quality of natural, healthy lifestyle.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) was invented as a food ingredient in 1908 in Japan, by Kikunae Ikeda. After that he formed a company, Ajinomoto, to manufacture MSG commercially. Lastly, this food additive appeared in the United States at the late 1940s, after the Second World War. It had been said during the war that Japanese soldiers' food provisions tasted better than US soldiers'. The difference was believed to be MSG. Nowadays, MSG or its reactive component, "processed free glutamic acid," is found in many processed foods in many countries.

In the beginning, people didn’t know what the effect of MSG to human health. In 1957, Lucas and Newhouse found that normal neonatal mice suffered acute degenerative lesions when MSG was administered. In 1968, the New England Journal of Medicine published a Letter to the Editor in which Ho Man Kwok, MD, asked why he suffered reactions shortly after eating in some Chinese restaurants, though he never experienced such reactions when he lived in China. The journal titled the letter "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome," and researchers suggest that Dr. Kwok's problem was intolerance to MSG.

People differ in their tolerances to MSG, but typically always suffer similar reactions each time they ingest amounts of MSG that exceed their tolerances. Neuroscientists believe that the young and the elderly are most at risk from MSG. In the young, the blood-brain barrier is not fully developed, exposing the brain to increased levels of MSG that has entered the bloodstream. The elderly risk blood-brain damaged by aging, by disease processes, or by injury, including hypertension, diabetes, hypoglycemia, and stroke. MSG has now been implicated in some neurodegenerative diseases, including ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis and Huntington's disease.

In reality, the natural glutamic acid found in food does not cause problems, but the synthetic free glutamic acid formed in industry is a toxin. In addition, when MSG is formed using hydrochloric acid the final product includes carcinogens. This is one indication for us that natural foods is always better to eat.

An FDA-sponsored study dated July 1992 concluded that "...it is prudent to avoid the use of dietary supplements of L-glutamic acid by pregnant women, infants, children, women of childbearing age and individuals with affective disorders." (MSG is called glutamic acid when used in supplements.) After that, the industry stopped the practice. However, several years later, hydrolyzed proteins were introduced. Hydrolyzed proteins always contain MSG.

Based on those considerations, it is strongly recommended that you do your best to eliminate MSG from your diet, and that means avoiding all processed foods, having natural meals on your dining table, living with LOHAS.

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