Saturday, October 15, 2011

The MSG Conundrum part 6

Could there be another reason for these reactions other than MSG?

Some researchers suggest these reactions have to do with other things in the food such as shellfish, peanuts and other foods common to allergies. Sometimes ingredients are hidden in dishes that the diner is unaware of such as shrimp paste or fish sauce.

Hypersensitivity to acetylsalicylic acid is a condition which has symptoms similar to CRS such as: headaches, change in skin color, itching, skin rash, swelling of hands, feet, face and stomach pain. Coincidentally, one report stated the author of that paper in 1968 that started this whole scare suffered from this same condition.

Salicylates are chemicals found naturally in plants and are a major ingredient in aspirin and other pain relieving medications. They are also found in many food items (that are often used in Chinese cooking) such as fruits, vegetables, dry spices, powders, sauces, vinegar, soy sauces, coffee, peanuts, gelatin and are also found in health and beauty products.

Aspartame reaction has symptoms that are similar to that of a reaction to MSG. Aspartame is, like MSG, an excitotoxin and is the artificial sweetener used in diet soda, also known as Nutrasweet.

Reactions to Chinese tea and Muscarine poisoning share similar symptoms and can include: irregular heart beat, dizziness, vomiting, headache and bronchoconstriction-which can lead to asthma attacks (the last symptom is limited to Muscarine poisoning).

Plasma sodium levels found to be increased after a chinese meal and the high sodium content of Chinese restaurants was suggested as the cause in one report.

Histamine intoxication symptoms are similar to allergic reactions such as: swelling, rashes, hives, asthma-like symptoms-such as difficulty breathing and smooth muscle contractions.

One report stated that when the histamine content of ingredients used in Chinese cooking was measured, it was found some Chinese meals could contain levels of histamine close to the toxic threshold established by the FDA for histamine in foods.

Some of the foods containing histamine are: tofu, alcoholic beverages, avocadoes, dried fruits, eggplant, fermented foods, mushrooms, processed meats, sardines, yogurt, spinach, tomatoes, vinegar or vinegar-containing foods such as chili sauce and pickled vegetables.

Could it be a MSG allergy? No. For anything to be classified as an allergen, the food must contain protein. While glutamate is an amino acid that can be found in protein, the glutamate in MSG is a "free" glutamate and cannot be a protein. O n average 3%-5% of the population suffers from food allergies.

So why don't people have a reaction to glutamate or suffer from CRS after they eat spaghetti bolognaise, pepperoni pizza, or a cheeseburger? Could it be mass psychosis-you suffer the symptoms you've been told to worry about?

While there is much debate on MSG and its affects on the human body, one piece of information is consistent and that is how the body handles glutamate. The human body does not differentiate between glutamate found naturally in foods and glutamate found in MSG.

Actually, there is one health benefit to MSG: if you replace salt with MSG in your recipes, you will reduce your sodium intake by 30% without sacrificing flavor.

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