Sunday, September 16, 2018

MSG and unbound glutamic acid

I have been researching MSG and unbound glutamic acid for some time now.  I can tell you with certainty that they MSG effect is indeed true.  Glutamic acid may be an amino acid that our body needs, but in the unbound state it's not useful to the body.  Unbound glutamic acid can act as MSG in the body as it can cause headaches, nausea, diarrhea, intestinal distress, body aches, overwhelming sleepiness, fatigue, confusion, full body shaking, buzzing of the nervous system and so much more.  The symptoms described are all the ones I experience.  Some of happen independently of one another, but others come as a group of symptoms, all at the same time.

One of my favorite days of the week was Tuesday because we went out to lunch with a group of friends. It started slowly, just a few times each month, but a few hours after eating lunch I starting getting sick.  I couldn't pinpoint what was causing the illness because the symptoms were never the exact same, but it absolutely had to do with food, it was the only thing that was different.  The symptoms could come about as quickly as an hour or even 24 hours later. Dr. Google is a helpful tool, but looking for something unknown can lead a researcher down some crazy paths, but as I researched I was discovering that MSG was probably the issue.

The tater tot incident really woke my husband and I up and made us realize that this wasn't going to go away.  I had a book and I was writing down everything that I ate and I hadn't had any trouble with fries.  When I saw tater tots on the menu at this burger place I ordered them, I was kind of excited - little crispy potato bites.  I hadn't had any of those in years.  It never occurred to me that they might cause an issue. I was so very wrong.  Within an hour, I had severe cramping and diarrhea.  The diarrhea lasted several hours.  Everything I had eaten had liquefied and anything in my intestinal system prior had also liquefied.  It was awful. I swear, I was dying.

I knew, from past experiences with MSG, that this was an extreme reaction, but it was most definitely MSG.  I have since learned that I should look up the ingredients in foods, if possible, before I eat them, instead of after.  When looking up "tater tots MSG" I discovered that there probably isn't a tater tot out there that isn't loaded with the stuff.  Ignorance isn't bliss. 

I started my in-depth research on MSG and what I read was not easy to hear.  Some websites say that MSG is perfectly fine and my reaction to it was not typical.  Other blog sites, web pages and studies say that MSG and unbound glutamic acid are terribly harmful and that what I experienced was the end point for my body.  My nervous system had been dealing with MSG and unbound glutamic acid for so long... drip, drip, drip ...that my body could no longer contain the overflow.  It doesn't mean that everything I ate had been laced with the stuff, but that for me, I had reached my toxic amount.  MSG and unbound glutamic acid consistently lined up with what I was going through.

For years, a decade or more even, I had taken packaged foods out of my diet.  Or so I thought.  I didn't buy frozen dinners, vegetables with any kind of sauce added, no frozen anything but pie crusts and the occasional box of ice cream.  My food pantry was stocked full of real food -- kind of.  I had Uncle Ben's long grain and wild rice, for my most favorite rice salad, I had a few cans of soup for when either of us were sick and needed something quick -- I bought low sodium soup and the best brand I could find.  I had a box or two of Triscuits and Wheat Thins, graham crackers and a whole host of pasta sauces, pasta and Asian specialty sauces.  We had tortilla chips and potato chips, mostly plain, but Steve liked trying the new flavors so we had a few of those.  Candy, I had candy, too.  Steve and I love chocolate and we had chocolate kisses in every flavor, M&Ms, Trader Joe Chocolate bars and melting chocolate for Christmas candy making.

Once I started reading about MSG and the ingredients in food that sound like food but are really unbound glutamic acid I realized that my pantry was full of food I couldn't eat.  We are still culling food.  Steve is able to eat the food I'm not, but he really doesn't want to eat all that processed food either. So we are in a bit of a quandary at times. 

I have learned that the way a food is prepared can also cause me to have toxic MSG symptoms.  I had a pot roast that I cut in half and froze.  One day I made one half of the pot roast and was in very good, no problems at all.  A few weeks later I made the other half, almost identical to the way I made it before.  The first time I made the pot roast I used the slow cooker and put it on low for about 6 hours.  The roast was very nice, but not as tender as I had hoped.  The second time I used the slow cooker but turned it up to high and cooked for about 8 hours.  The roast was absolutely tender, fall apart glorious and I was ill within a few hours.  It turns out that the glutamic acid that is naturally in the meat will stay bound to the protein when the temperature stays below 300 degrees.  When I turned the crock pot up to high, the temperature rose to 350 or more and that glutamic acid released itself from the protein, essentially making it a free radical.  The now unbound glutamic acid gives that salty, rich flavor which chefs like to call umami flavor.  That flavor is undeniably good, no wonder why it is sought after.   Unfortunately the unbound glutamic acid excites the cells in the stomach and digestive tract and can cause a myriad of MSG symptoms.

For me, the excited cells cause a buzz through out my entire nervous system.  My husband can feel it when he touches me.  The buzz is exhausting, my head is so fuzzy that I can hardly put an entire sentence together, my balance is compromised and I can hardly keep my head up.  Sometimes if I push myself and say, do dishes or make a meal, the buzzing becomes visible and my entire body starts shaking uncontrollably.  The only thing I can do is go to bed and sleep.  The buzzing lasts for 12 hours all the way up to 36 hours for me.  When it's over, I pop up like nothing happened - except I missed a day. 

There are many lists out there that have the hidden names for MSG and free glutamic acid (which I call unbound glutamic acid) and the list below is one of them.  They hardly differ, so I have offered up one that I found at Truth in Labeling.  Personally, I don't seem to react to the last group for Highly Sensitive people, but I avoid those ingredients as much as possible anyway because now that I am no longer ingesting MSG, my sensitivities have increased when exposed.  I like to keep that exposure limited.

Group 1
Names of ingredients that always contain processed free glutamic acid:

Glutamic Acid (E 620)
Glutamate (E 620)
Monosodium Glutamate (E 621)
Monopotassium Glutamate (E 622)
Calcium Glutamate (E 623)
Monoammonium Glutamate (E 624)
Magnesium Glutamate (E 625)
Natrium Glutamate
Yeast Extract
Anything “hydrolyzed”
Any “hydrolyzed protein”
Calcium Caseinate
Sodium Caseinate
Yeast Food
Yeast Nutrient
Autolyzed Yeast
Textured Protein
Soy Protein
Soy Protein Concentrate
Soy Protein Isolate
Whey Protein
Whey Protein Concentrate
Whey Protein Isolate
Anything “…protein”
Balsamic Vinegar

Group 2
Names of ingredients that often contain or produce processed free glutamic acid:

Carrageenan (E 407)
Bouillon and broth
Any “flavors” or “flavoring”
Citric acid, Citrate (E 330)
Anything “ultra-pasteurized”
Barley malt
Pectin (E 440)
Anything “enzyme modified”
Anything containing “enzymes”
Malt extract
Soy sauce
Soy sauce extract
Anything “protein fortified”
Anything “fermented”

Group 3
The following are ingredients suspected of containing or creating sufficient processed free glutamic acid to serve as MSG-reaction triggers in HIGHLY SENSITIVE people:

Corn starch
Corn syrup
Modified food starch
Lipolyzed butter fat
Rice syrup
Brown rice syrup
Milk powder
Reduced fat milk (skim; 1%; 2%)
Most things labeled “Low Fat” or “No Fat”
Anything labeled “Enriched”
Anything labeled “Vitamin Enriched”

I will be writing more on this subject, as this is my new lifestyle and I'm positive that I am not alone in this.  Getting to a place where I wasn't sick 5 days out of 7 is incredible.  I am now averaging 5 days a month or less of sick days.  I can see a future ahead of me. 

Thank you,