Various and sometimes even conflicting research can be seen in relation to MSG, or Monosodium Glutamate. MSG is a salt of the amino acid--Glutamic Acid (glutamate). It is also an excitotoxin, along with Aspartame; these excitotoxins excite the nervous system and brain cells to the point of deterioration. Naturally produced by the body, MSG is considered good by some and bad by others; the distinction lies in its origin. Let's first look at the composition of MSG.
Glutamate is one of many amino acids used by the body and linked into the chains of protein in the body. In a simple explanation, some amino acids float freely by themselves and link into proteins to serve important functions; such as being a neurotransmitter which carries nerve cell impulses through the body. Further, some amino acid neurotransmitters like glutamate trigger nerve cells to fire, while others such as taurine and gamma amino butyric acid tell the firing cells to cease firing. This balance, affected directly by glutamate levels, is very delicate. Opponents to MSG argue that glutamate added to foods is bad. Proponents would say otherwise, arguing that MSG is exactly like the glutamate in the human body, and is therefore good. Problems lie in both the amount of MSG ingested, which affects balance levels, and whether the MSG was processed where it may contain contaminants. If processed MSG was the same as the natural glutamate produced by the body, there would be no need to split the amino acids apart to form "free" glutamate; a process known as "hydrolysing
Talk of MSG's origination and effects on the body tie into the use of MSG. This product is not a preservative; rather, it makes the body think that a certain food is high in protein and nutritious. Thus, the MSG can change your body's perception of both taste and nutritious content. One affect of MSG on the body is its ability to stimulate the pancreas, which produces insulin. Insulin breaks down carbohydrates in food; when insulin is produced without carbs to break down, your blood sugar drops and your appetite, reacting to that drop, increases. If you follow the conclusion that MSG exacerbates or certain diseases, reduce your consumption to decrease your chance of disease. Lori Granich, registered dietitian with Franciscan St. Margaret Health, says "it's a controversial topic, but the USDA
says that MSG is safe for human consumption. There's no real evidence of the harmful effects in moderation."