Monosodium glutamate (MSG) versus Salt. What is the difference?

Monosodium glutamate why some people might be having negative symtpoms to it?

Glutamic Acid and monosodium glutamate. Is an active neurotransmitter. It is an active neuroexcitatory substance present in the central nervous system of vertebrates. Among the other having the same neurotransmitter activity are aspartic acid and y-amino butyric acid (GABA). In the brain glutamate is the precursor of GABA, a very important inhibitor transmitter. Monosodium glutamate is made from this amino acid and used in many Asian cooking and some Western foods, such as vegetables stock. Some old research on monosodium glutamate injected in animals and humans caused some anatomical lesions in the hypothalamus (the gland that deals with most of our involuntary response). Now there are not many proof on the same effect through dietary consumption alone, apart from the possible allergic reaction to it leading to the so called “Chinese restaurant syndrome”. The symptoms are headache, lightheaded and tightening felling in the face. I have of dietary. I have had these symtpoms once when I went with some friends to a Chinese restaurant few years ago. They had put so much MSG that at the end of the evening I felt a horrible headache but I also felt drunk. My speech was blurring and slow like when you are drunk. I drunk only pure water so I knew I was not drunk. Since then, when I meet up with my Chinese friend I make sure that we ask for no MSG or salt at all. MSG has not been connected with any of the other symtpoms that are usually connected with over consumption of salt, such as high blood pressure and water retention. However, it is better to consume little of the normal sea salt that MSG, as sea salt it is natural while MSG it is made synthetically. Also be aware that studies have not been done on children and toddlers and as they are in the process of building their brains, and neurotransmitters are essential for that, I would be cautions to give foods with MSG in them.

What is the difference between MSG salt?


About 30% of sodium (120mg) is stored in the bones surface. From there it can be released if low serum sodium occurs (mainly when a person sweat excessively such as in a run race, in high heat). The rest of the sodium is places in the extracellular fluid, mainly the plasma, and in nerve and muscle tissue. About 95% of ingested sodium is absorbed, with the remaining 5% excreted in the feces. Excess sodium is eliminated through the kidneys. Most of the sodium is absorbed in the small intestine with the remaining ones through the colon. The amount of sodium that goes into the body in all three parts are based through gradient process. The more sodium the intestine has the more sodium is absorbed through a sodium/potassium pump, combined with the glucose solute in the cell. Potassium is higher in the cells, while sodium is higher extracellular. There is a need of the two electrolytes to be in balance at all time, otherwise the cells die, and the person sufferer major health issues and even death. If there is less sodium in the extracellular space, due to a marathon or an extreme exercise, in the heat, with excessive sweating then potassium will come out of the cells. So, it is essential that if you sweat a lot to drink water as well as having a bit more sea salt into your diet.

How much salt is normal with normal exercise and normal day to day activity. Well we get most of our sodium from our natural food. Any extra salt added in the majority of our foods it is not necessary. As I mentioned above only in running during hot climates, or sweating excessively you need more salt and therefore adding sea salt to your food might be a must. Excessive salt though if you do not need it can lead to possible excretion of extra calcium and therefore lead to osteoporosis. Even though more research need to be done on this point.

Foods that contain too much salt and therefore needs to be rarely eaten are: crisps (MSG also might be added to some snacks, such as prinkles), canned foods, pickled foods, canned meats and soups, condiments and any other processed prepacked foods. Naturally high in salt foods are milk, meats, eggs, most vegetables, and about salt added to the foods and still mineral water equal about 15% of our salt intake. The more processed foods and snacks are eaten the greater the intake of excess salt.

A normal uptake of salt equal to 115 to 375 mg a day of sodium through the diet and the extra added salt, any extra ones would be too much. This equal to about 0.75 to 1 teaspoon of salt a day! I think the Mediterranean diet use about half of a table spoon in the pasta water itself, without considering the amount that they add to the sauces. Even though in the defence of the Mediterranean diet, usually during the summer is very hot and many people sweat a lot, so they might need a bit more salt then. During the winter would be advisable to reduce their salt intake to almost nothing, which knowing my parents and many people in Italy, it is like taking their food away!

Excess salt as mentioned above can increase blood pressure and renal problems, as well as possible osteoporosis and joint pain.

The difference between sea salt normal sodium from natural foods and MSG is that the sodium from foods is part of our electrolytes and every single cell in our body, while MSG it is not part of our natural body and it does affect the nervous system and neurotransmitter functions as well as leading to our major brain gland function which is the hypothalamus.

So, if you eat a lot of pringles or some other crisps, processed meats or take away foods, be aware of what you are doing to your body and therefore the possible damage that you are inflicting little by little to your bones as well as the kidneys.

© Maria Esposito BSc (Hons) Nutritional Therapist – NAET – R-Craniosacral Therapist

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