The Dangers of MSG – Your Brain and Your Body
More than half a century after MSG’s adverse health effects were first recorded, 4 in 10 Americans are still avoiding the ingredient. In this article, I’m going to address how MSG is scientifically proven to have adverse effects on the body and brain, especially in migraineurs who are hypersensitive to chemicals, herbs, and spices.
The Science of Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
I’ll start with the obvious issue with MSG, the ingredients. MSG occurs naturally in foods, which is vital to consider when you’re creating a diet plan. A Japanese professor in the early 1900s found, the flavor in seaweed broth heightened the flavors of other foods, making them more savory. However, mass production made a few changes to how the crystallized version of MSG we know today is made.
No longer is MSG extracted from a single ingredient – seaweed broth. Now, MSG is made from fermented starch and sugar – usually beets and corn. Corn was never supposed to be ingested by humans. It’s closer to a grass than a vegetable fit for human consumption. Further, sugar beets are sugar. When sugar beets are not available, manufacturers use cane sugar or molasses. All those ingredients should frighten a migraineur, who is well versed in how sugar and starches wage war on their bodies.
Observational research and consumer reports list cringe-worthy symptoms from MSG like:
- Flushing and sweating
- Muscle aches
- Tingling and numbing in the legs
- Rapid or fluttering heart rate (some have reported fearing a heart attack)
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Chest pain
- Facial pressure
Even with those complaints, some “scientists” are still claiming that since the research doesn’t reflect the charges, these claims are false, and we’re all just crazy, prejudiced sheep. Rather than try to understand why some people insist on telling us we’re wrong about our health, we must do what’s best for ourselves. If you believe MSG is causing pain, do what you can to avoid it, no matter what “they” say.
It’s also important to note, MSG has over 100 different names. There are also over 40 different products that contain MSG as part of its chemical make up.
Names of ingredients that always contain MSG
Glutamic acid (E 620) *2
Glutamate (E 620)
Monosodium glutamate (E 621)
Monopotassium glutamate (E 622)
Calcium glutamate (E 623)
Monoammonium glutamate (E 624)
Magnesium glutamate (E 625)
Any “hydrolyzed protein”
Calcium caseinate, Sodium caseinate
Yeast extract, Torula yeast
Yeast food, Yeast nutrient
Whey protein concentrate
Whey protein isolate
Soy protein concentrate
Soy protein isolate
Anything “protein fortified”
Soy sauce extract
Anything “enzyme modified”
Anything containing “enzymes”
A full list of these names can be found here.
How MSG Affects the Brain and Body
There seems to be a direct line of danger in MSG for migraineurs who are struggling to figure out trigger foods, with the most common triggers being primary ingredients in the manufacturing of monosodium glutamate.
A study in 2016 found higher levels of concentrated MSG affected more women than men in number, frequency, and severity of headaches. If we take what we know about beets, sugar, and starches like corn, we can see the link to MSG and adverse migrainous reactions. The available research tells us that high levels of concentrated MSG are likely the cause of the participants’ increased pain and symptoms. With the average American taking in an average of 0.55-0.58 grams per day, headaches and other symptoms showed up in females with highly concentrated doses at 3 grams.
I think you should avoid added MSG at all costs, but most especially if you’re a female migraineur. You are at a higher risk of suffering MSG-related symptoms. Also, keep an eye out for hidden sugars, and be sure to pay close attention to how your body is responding to different foods.
Remember, “you are what you eat.” That’s as true now as it was when it was first coined in 1826. A mind is a powerful tool. If you believe you’re sensitive to an ingredient, you’re probably right. No test, journalist, doctor, or scientist can take that away from you. Listen to your gut, literally. If you need sound medical advice regarding your migraine treatment, don’t hesitate to reach out. I work with people all over the world!