8/5/2021 – MSG

This is a big day because I think I may have discovered something.  But before I talk about what I think is a big deal, I need to talk a little more about those neurons in the brain and what makes them tick.

I had mentioned the excitatory neurons and the inhibitory neurons.  It is time to introduce their names. Glutamate.  What is Glutamate?  Here is a simple description of Glutamate from Dr. Axe:

Glutamate is the most abundant amino acid available in the human diet and also the most concentrated amino acid in the brain. It’s similar to the other 19 amino acids because it’s used to make proteins, facilitate metabolic functions and for energy production. But what makes the glutamate amino acid unique is that it’s considered the primary excitatory neurotransmitter of the human nervous system.

That is a simple explanation of Glutamate.  But did you catch the part about it being responsible for the excitatory neurotransmitter?  Well, of course I did.

From what I have read, Glutamate is required for life and it is in all of our foods.  Well, time to introduce the name of the inhibitory transmitter.  It is called Gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA.  From healthline.com:

Gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a naturally occurring amino acid that works as a neurotransmitter in your brain. Neurotransmitters function as chemical messengers. GABA is considered an inhibitory neurotransmitter because it blocks, or inhibits, certain brain signals and decreases activity in your nervous system.

When GABA attaches to a protein in your brain known as a GABA receptor, it produces a calming effect. This can help with feelings of anxiety, stress, and fear. It may also help to prevent seizures.

GABA’s natural calming effect on the brain has led to countless claims about the use of GABA supplements to reduce stress. Too much stress is linked to poor sleep, a weaker immune system, and a higher risk of depression, among other things.

In addition, people with certain medical conditions may have lower levels of GABA. Some of these conditions include:

Some people with these conditions take GABA supplements to help manage their symptoms. While this makes sense in theory, there hasn’t been much evidence to suggest that GABA supplements can help with these conditions, aside from anxiety.

Well, there you go.  You have the proverbial ying and yang, Glutamate and GABA.  The ironic thing is GABA is created from Glutamate through a process or enzyme called Glutamic Acid Decarboxylase (GAD).

From the glutamate.org website:

The glutamate that naturally occurs in many foods and the glutamate added as monosodium glutamate (MSG) are exactly the same. The body metabolizes all glutamate in the same way, whatever its source. Glutamate is glutamate whether it comes from seasoning (in the form of MSG, ‘salt from seaweed’, mushroom extract, or hydrolysates) or foods such as cheese, tomatoes or mushrooms. Glutamate is important for healthy metabolism, however, most of the dietary glutamate we consume is used as fuel by the cells of the digestive system.

A couple of very important things to highlight from that excerpt.  Glutamate is in much of our food naturally and can be added artificially with MSG.  MSG is added to make foods taste better so you will buy more of it.  It’s all about money.  If you are unaware of MSG, start researching now!

In the last sentence, I would like to suggest a slight modification.  It should read, “Glutamate is important for healthy metabolism, however, most of the dietary glutamate we consume is used as fuel by the cells of the a healthy digestive system.”

Ever heard of “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome”?  Have you ever been to any Asian restaurant and left with heart palpitations, increased blood pressure, and/or headaches?  Or must run home and shit your brains out.  One study concluded that MSG injures brain cells creating inflammation which leads to the headache.

Although they say whether Glutamate comes from natural foods or manufactured MSG, I would argue why would ever want to put something man-made in your body.  I have also read there is a difference between natural occurring glutamate and MSG. 

MSG is considered “free glutamate” vs most naturally occurring glutamate is bound to a protein allowing the body to deal with easier and slower before turning into free glutamate.

We don’t need to ingest glutamate and therefore is considered a non-essential amino acid since the body can create its own supply as needed from other amino acids.

I had heard of MSG but never really thought to much about it until now.  I had no idea what glutamate was and that it was responsible for our neurons firing in the brain.  

When I read the connection between MSG and seizures I ran into the kitchen and grabbed that ranch seasoning salt we have been using so much in our foods that Sarah loves.  Now I know why she loves it.  Yes, the label explicitly had “monosodium glutamate” specified right in front of me!

I felt like I was really onto something now.  I still do today.  I also read that if the amount of MSG is less than 79% the FDA says they don’t have to explicitly specify the MSG on the label.  WTF!  That means since it was specified on the ingredient list it probably mostly MSG.  

Some of the other label ingredients that have MSG in them (less than 79%) are:

  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  • Autolyzed yeast
  • Hydrolyzed yeast
  • Yeast extract
  • Soy extracts
  • Protein isolate

The list goes on and on.  Basically, anything that is processed has a high chance of containing MSG and other crap you should not be putting in your body.  It is best to eat organic, whole foods prepared yourself, so you know exactly what is in your food.


I have never been so excited to make the connection of MSG (glutamate in general) and the possibility to seizures.  We started reading all the labels of food in the pantry and wow. They all contain the code words for hiding MSG.  They know it has a bad rap so they hide in a plethora of different types of labeling names.

Here’s a good one.  Natural Flavoring.  Sounds innocent, right?  Its natural and it’s a flavoring so it should be fine.  Hell no.  They hide the MSG in there and God only knows what else is in there.

A couple other foods we are going to throw out or donate we found in our house.  I actually feel bad donating the food now that I know what’s in them so I’ve actually been throwing out.

Campbells soups, Cheerios, bagged pasta’s, chicken broth, canned vegetables, Progresso soups, Stagg Chili, Prego sauces etc.  The list is endless.

The first goal was very clear; get rid of all processed, canned food from the house.  My second goal was to start understanding what foods are naturally high in glutamate to eliminate all intake of glutamate since the body can make its own when needed.

That’s hard to do because most foods contain some level of natural glutamate.  I searched with “foods highest in glutamate”.  For example, per 100grams, chicken contains 22mg of glutamate, beef 10mg, fish 215mg, egg yolks 46mg, broccoli 176mg, parmesan cheese 1680mg.  As you can see you can’t avoid it completely.

Did you catch the parmesan cheese I just mentioned!  Yes!  1680mg per 3.5 ounces!  So not only were we putting the MSG salt (that is what I’m going to call it now since that’s what it is) on everything we were eating, we were making the keto dishes with heavy whipping cream loaded with parmesan cheese for thickness and flavor.

Here’s another interesting tidbit.  The process of making parmesan cheese creates glutamate and attaches to sodium and water naturally creating monosodium glutamate (MSG).  The theory at this point is Sarah was getting overloaded with free glutamate.

She was also adding parmesan cheese on her salads.  I find it interesting Sarah likes stuff with MSG whether man-made or natural.  Not sure if that means anything at this point.  We were eating healthy, organic, whole foods loaded with MSG by our own doing.

At this point I truly believe the MSG was the catalyst causing the immediate issues with her seizures.  But, let’s be honest, this is not an answer.  Why did this affect her?  Why now?  Why was Sarah having arm tremors back in 2020 when she was on Accutane.  Why does Sarah have issues with Glutamate?  She is not allergic to anything.  We could call it an allergy but that’s too easy.

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About Me

About Me

I’m a dedicated father of two; a son (Ricky) and a daughter (Sarah). They are both in their final years of high school. As a young man I always knew I wanted to have children; it’s so hard to imagine not having children. Once you have children you then know the meaning of the willingness to die without hesitation for them. I’m a type A personality with a bit of OCD built in making the perfect mind to go down any rabbit hole needed to solve a problem. I’ve always told my kids life is nothing more than solving life’s day-to-day problems. I guess that is why I ended up in the IT world. I work on facts and data and then make the best decision at the time and never look back. I get satisfaction from taking the confusion of chaos and turning it into something understandable and beautiful.

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