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Body systems affected by MSG

Updated on January 10, 2017

One of the most widely used preservatives in food toady is MSG. This is the name that you will see in most of the packaging. The initials MSG in food represent Monosodium Glutamate. MSG is widely used in the food industry as a flavour enhancer. In as much as it would seem as an ideal additive in processed foods, just what risks does its consumption pose? Different body systems react differently to ingestion of MSG.


One of the main organs of the body affected is the brain. In its composition, MSG acts on the hypothalamus center in the brain. The hypothalamus is a special region associated with being the main organ controlling the brain’s function. One of these functions is the control of food intake which is guided by the brain, which controls the satiety center. This is the center that takes note of the satiety feeling that we get when consuming food. MSG acts on the hypothalamus by suppressing the feeling of satiety. As a result of the suppression, overeating results, as it takes more food than is required to fill the stomach.

Gamma Amino Butyric Acid (GABA ) is a substance that is active in the body produced through feedback mechanism in the body which follows MSG consumption. The effect of GABA on the body is the production of excess growth hormone that could be detrimental to health. From research the effect of GABA is the stimulation of prolactin which is produced by the pituitary and may cause sterility in females.

MSG has also been attributed with brain cell death. According to studies, Glutamate in the diet overly stimulates nerve cells till they die. As the stimulation is occurring, the covers of the nerve cells referred to as myelin sheaths are destroyed and thus result to their destruction. It is the inability to recreate the myelin sheaths in the nerve cells that characterizes the disease multiple sclerosis. Further, there is strong linkage of low concentration of patients with low interleukin 12, a naturally produced substance by the nerve cells, specifically the oligodendrocytes to be affected by MSG consumption. Higher incidence rates of patients on a regular diet with high MSG levels have been shown to relate to low interleukin 12 levels.


Low levels of interleukin 12 have also been attributed to go hand in hand with higher incidences of allergic responses. Studies performed on animals have shown that the effect of MSG on the immune system may directly lead to the cause of a disease. The most common diabetes type is Type 1 which affects well over 85% of the diabetes sufferers and poses patients at an increased risk of contracting immunity of antibodies to convert Glutamate to Gama Amino Butyric Acid GABA and then to Glutamic Acid Decarboxylase (GAD).

Blood pressure

Another cause that can be directly attributed of MSG in food is blood pressure. Calcium deficiency may result as calcium channels may stay open for extended periods, in effect causing the body’s blood pressure to drop. Glutamate found in MSG is vasoactive thus the reason that headaches are a common side effect felt upon consumption of foods with MSG.


After digestion, Cystine and glutamate compete equally for absorption. The function of Cystine in the production of taurine that makes bile cannot be understated. Bile has the function of digested fat breakdown into absorbable particles. A disruption of the bile creation process would mean that there is a compromise occurring fat breakdown, a scenario that would lead to diarrhoea and gall bladders may occur.

It is important to understand the dire consequences that are seen in the consumption of foods laced with MSG. It is best preferred to avoid MSG in food as the cons outweigh the cons of flavouring food. Use of whole foods should be practised as they may end up being cheaper and safer in the long run.


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