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MSG Is Hiding Under Different Names, Even In Your Favorite ‘All-Natural’ Foods

MSG Is Hiding Under Different Names
Graphic – herbs-info.com – MSG Image © shutterstock (under license)

One of the most controversial ingredients in food production is MSG – short for monosodium glutamate. MSG is a popular ingredient in Chinese cuisine and food preservation. If it’s in a can and meant to last or keep for a long time, it most likely has MSG. Despite the controversy on the safety of MSG, the US Food and Drug Administration remains firm on its stand: MSG is safe. However, the reality is this: MSG isn’t safe, and while a majority of the population may not be affected by its side effects, a percentage of the population can experience adverse reactions to this preservative. [1]

What is MSG?

MSG is a sodium salt of the amino acid, glutamic acid. The FDA state that glutamic acid is “naturally present in our bodies, and in many foods and food additives”. While glutamic acid is indeed naturally occurring, can one of the reasons why it is found in the body be because we eat too much food with food additives? [1]

Because there are studies that are inconclusive, the FDA has declared MSG “generally recognized as safe” or GRAS, even if a percentage of people show sensitivity to the additive. Simply put, the FDA has allowed this ingredient to be present in most foods in the market because only a small percentage of people show sensitivity or allergic reactions to it. Proven allergens like nuts need to be printed on the food label for safety purposes but no such law or rule exists for MSG. However there are other health issues with MSG.

What Science Actually Says

In 2015, a study published in October by Sharma, focused on how MSG causes oxidative kidney damage. The article reported that there have been various studies on animals that suggest that a diet high in MSG could cause kidney damage, specifically renal toxicity, through oxidative stress, or the presence of free radicals in the bloodstream. [2]

Another study in the same year, published in November by Prastiwi, Djunaidi, and Partadiredja found that high doses of MSG causes deficits on motor coordination by affecting the Purkinje cells, which are found in the brain. The researchers concluded that MSG reduced the number of brain cells, which in turn affected motor coordination. [3]

These are only two of the countless studies that mention that MSG intake can irreversibly damage our body. But because there are studies that prove otherwise, the FDA is firm in its stand of MSG’s “safety”.

Hiding in Plain Sight

According to the Mayo Clinic, the FDA has received many reports from people who displayed sensitivity to MSG. These allergic reactions called the MSG symptom complex are characterized by headaches, flushing, sweating, facial pressure or tightness, numbness in the face, neck, and other areas, heart palpitations, chest pain, nausea, and weakness. The Mayo Clinic advises people who experience these symptoms to avoid food containing MSG but how can you if food companies aren’t required to declare the presence of MSG in their products? [4]

Because of the rising popularity of maintaining a “fit and healthy lifestyle”, many food manufacturers or distributors are being forced to hide MSG under different names like glutamic acid, glutamate, calcium glutamate, and so on and so forth. So how can you avoid this ingredient if it’s hidden under a different name? And if there are no repercussions when companies do so?

Here are some of the names you will find on food labels that are the same as MSG:

According to the National Institutes of Health Open Chemistry Database [5]
– Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
– MSG monohydrate
– L-glutamic acid monosodium salt monohydrate
– Sodium glutamate
– Monosodium l-glutamate monohydrate
– Sodium l-glutamate
– Sodium glutamate monohydrate
– Monosodium glutamate monohydrate
– Glutamic acid, monosodium salt, monohydrate
– L-2-aminopentanedioic acid
– L-glutamic acid and Monosodium salt
– Sodium L-glutamate hydrate

According to the FDA, MSG naturally occurs in the following ingredients: [1]
– hydrolyzed vegetable protein
– autolyzed yeast
– hydrolyzed yeast
– yeast extract
– soy extracts
– protein isolate

Other popular names for MSG
– “Vetsin”
– “Ajinomoto”
– “Umami”

Going Natural

If you really want to avoid MSG, the best way is to go all natural. That means buying fresh meat, poultry, and produce and cooking and making your own food. This way you have complete control over what you eat and what goes in your body—plus you can control how to flavor your food according to your own personal taste. Not only is this healthier, it can even cut down on costs if you know you to efficiently portion the meals you cook. Of course, cooking and preparation does take up a lot of time, but remember, ultimately your health is more important than the extra hour you spend in the kitchen cooking.

References:

[1] US Food and Drug Administration. Questions and Answers on Monosodium glutmate. https://www.fda.gov/food/ingredientspackaginglabeling/foodadditivesingredients/ucm328728.htm

[2] Sharma, A. (2015). Monosodium glutamate-induced oxidative kidney damage and possible mechanisms: a mini-review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26493866

[3] Prastiwi, D., Djunaidi, A., & Partadiredja, G. (2015). High dosage of monosodium glutamate causes deficits of the motor coordination and the number of cerebellar Purkinje cells of rats. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25697849

[4] Mayo Clinic. What is MSG? Is it bad for you? https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/monosodium-glutamate/faq-20058196

[5] National Institutes of Health. Open Chemistry Database. MSG. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/23689119

Broccoli Extract Shows Promise For Type 2 Diabetes

Broccoli Extract Shows Promise For Type 2 Diabetes
Graphic – herbs-info.com Image sources – see foot of article

Type 2 Diabetes is a global epidemic affecting over 422 million people worldwide. With numerous complications ranging from blindness, kidney failure, stroke, and amputations, it is more than a blood sugar problem. [1] Given such grave implications, the search for a more effective, safe, and affordable treatment has never been more in need of urgency.

Surprisingly, the search for the latest development in diabetes treatments may find its answer within the humble vegetable, the broccoli.

In a human trial study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, researchers discovered that concentrated broccoli sprout extract may help patients with type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar levels. For 12 weeks, 97 type-2 diabetic participants were given broccoli sprout extracts and then monitored for changes in blood glucose levels. After the specified period, it was clear to the researchers that the extract was exerting a favorable effect. The obese participants showed a 10 percent decrease in fasting blood sugar levels compared to the control group. The exact reason why it seems to work better for those patients who are obese is not yet clear. Although 10 percent may seem like a small reduction, it is a significant improvement considering the fact that for every 1 percent decrease reduces the risk of eye, nerve, and kidney damage by 40 percent. [2]

The researchers attributed this effect to a compound found in broccoli called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane had already been found to exert a hypoglycemic effect in animal models by blocking liver cells from producing glucose. This, in theory, explains the observed effect in the human study. [3]

Despite these promising results, researchers are quick to point out that the research work has a long way to go. The test subject is small and the trial period is short. Still, they remain optimistic and are looking forward to doing more tests. But that needn’t stop you: Broccoli, noted for numerous other health benefits, is a wonderful addition to the diet. Steam lightly with a small amount of butter and you have an excellent, nutritious side dish that may also have remarkable healing qualities.

References:

[1] Diabetes http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs312/en/

[2] Diabetes HbA1c https://www.hrsa.gov/quality/toolbox/measures/diabetes/

[3] Sulforaphane reduces hepatic glucose production and improves glucose control in patients with type 2 diabetes (2017) http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/9/394/eaah4477

Infographic photo sources:

Pixabay.com (PD)

Olive Oil Nutrient Found To HALT Brain Cancer Cells In Their Tracks

Olive Oil Nutrient Found To HALT Brain Cancer Cells In Their Tracks
Graphic – herbs-info.com Image sources – see foot of article

The Mediterranean diet has long been regarded one of the healthiest ways of eating, especially with regard to heart problems and cancer. Typically made up of plant-based foods, fish, whole grains, the Mediterranean diet is more famously known for its liberal use of olive oil and tomatoes.

Researchers now believe that one of the principal keys to the diet’s benefit lies in its replacement of less-healthy fats with the healthy fats found in olive oil. Olive oil is naturally rich in Vitamin K, E and omega fatty acids 3 and 6. This combination of nutrients is believed to be the reason why the Mediterranean diet appears so capable of safeguarding heart health and affording longevity to a person. [1]

But the effects of olive oil go well beyond its heart protective properties. In a fascinating series of recent studies, researchers have discovered that olive oil is also a good for your brain. A study undertaken by the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University (LKSOM) of Philadelphia, USA has found that extra-virgin olive oil can help preserve memory function and even fight against Alzheimer’s. [2]

Alzheimer’s disease is a condition characterized by cognitive decline and memory impaired caused by the build-up of amyloid plaques in the brain. These plaques destroy the delicate structure of the brain, causing deleterious effects on a person’s cognitive functions, notably their ability to retain and recall information. In the study, researchers were to discover that olive oil is capable of trigger the brain’s defense mechanism against amyloid plaques. This defense mechanism is called autophagy. With the presence of olive oil in the diet, the occurrence of autophagy increases, which breaks down and clears out “debris” in the brain. With the debris out of the way, brain function is spared and may work optimally.

Another benefit of adding olive oil to your diet is the anti-cancer properties that researchers have noted. Considering the fact that certain types of brain cancer have some of the poorest prognoses around, every single step you can take to prevent them is most welcome. [3] A study from the University of Edinburgh has determined that oleic acid, the primary ingredient in olive oil, is capable of stopping cancer-causing genes from functioning within brain cells. Oleic acid prevents the protein known as MS12 from decreasing the levels of an anticancer molecule called mIR-7. When there is enough mIR-7 in the brain, the likelihood of developing brain tumors is drastically decreased. [4]

Although cancer is a multifactorial disease and there is no one direct way of surely preventing it, incorporating high-quality olive oil in your diet would definitely seem to be a decision that’s a step towards the right direction.

References:

[1] If olive oil is high in fat, why is it considered healthy? http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/food-and-nutrition/faq-20058439

[2] Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Preserves Memory and Protects Brain Against Alzheimer’s Disease, New Research at Temple Shows http://www.templehealth.org/News/Extra-VirginOliveOilPreservesMemoryandProtectsBrainAgainstAlzheimersDiseaseNewResearchatTempleShows

[3] Survival Rates for Selected Adult Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors https://www.cancer.org/cancer/brain-spinal-cord-tumors-adults/detection-diagnosis-staging/survival-rates.html

[4] Oleic Acid Induces MiR-7 Processing through Remodeling of Pri-MiR-7/Protein Complex (2017) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022283617301997a

Infographic photo sources:

Pixabay.com (PD)