Finding the headache MSG connection may be the key to ending your pain...
The history of the headache MSG connection: In 1968, several reactions to Chinese food were connected, and researchers started to investigate. No, it wasn't a fear of fortune cookies. The connection was believed to be MSG. However, studies failed to provide convincing, consistent results, and so
MSG is still
used in many, many foods. Health organizations around the world have declared MSG to be "generally safe". But is it?
Even the US FDA had to admit in 1986 that there may be short term problems in some people. As migraine sufferers know, a short term problem every time you eat food containing MSG can really mess up your life!
What is the headache MSG connection? The secret may lie in the way MSG excites neurons in your body. Migraine research is looking more and more at the role chemicals and nerves play in the pain.
Side note: Here's another scary thought. According to Dr Richard Heller and Dr Rachel Heller, writers of
The Carbohydrate Addict's Lifespan Program,
MSG is commonly used to make lab animals fat. If that doesn't make you lose your appetite...
And MSG is no longer just in Chinese restaurants ...
You may be eating large amounts of MSG every day! Many processed, "all natural" and even "fresh" foods may contain MSG. Debbie Anglesey, author of
Battling the MSG Myth,
writes that the amount of MSG added to our processed foods has doubled every 10 years.
Estimates indicate that 6% - 30% of the population may be sensitive to MSG. Although MSG must be listed on the label in many countries when it's added to food, free glutamic acid (often also referred to by consumers as MSG) are hidden.
L-glutamic acid is found naturally in many foods, but it is the other types that migraine sufferers may need to watch for. It has to make us just a little annoyed that those promoting MSG assure us that many foods naturally contain glutamate, but they forget to mention anything about the different types. You could be eating large amounts of a migraine trigger without knowing it.
(Read this article for helpful information about the confusing world of MSG labelling)
So how can I recognize MSG?
It's not easy! If you think the headache MSG connection may be a problem for you, you need to watch labels for items such as:
hydrolized or autolized (anything), malt extract, gelatin, glutamate, yeast extract/food/nutrient, sodium caseinate, textured protein
There are many other items that may contain MSG, such as bullion/broth, seasonings, soup base, candy and gum, marmite, vegemite, and anything that says,"natural flavorings". Even veggies in a salad bar are often treated with MSG! As you can tell, if this is a trigger for you, most food labellers have not made it easy for you to find.
Getting serious about fighting MSG
Because avoiding MSG requires some careful study, many migraine sufferers may be suffering because of lack of knowledge. You may find it helpful to get a good reference on MSG.
In Bad Taste
was written by Dr. George R Schwartz and Kathleen A Schwartz, and has been a very popular guide for 15 years (it has since been revised) for people trying to understand the headache MSG connection.
For another comprehensive guide, check out
Battling the MSG Myth
by Debbie Anglesey. This book also contains a cookbook of over 400 recipes and very practical advice. Debbie also has provided this free
brochure about the headache MSG connection and more
that you can download to learn more (click on the link to view the pdf document, or right click to download link target).
Considering the length of time it often takes for public policy to catch up with the evidence, it probably isn't wise to wait until political agencies decide if MSG is harmful. A healthy diet with less additives isn't going to harm you anyway, is it? And you just might find that the headache MSG connection is what explains your pain.
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