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Author Topic: Tackling the myths/truths of MSG and aspartame  (Read 4197 times)

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Organishe

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Tackling the myths/truths of MSG and aspartame
« on: May 21, 2006, 09:39:18 PM »

After seeing the thread about benzene in sodas due to decarboxylation of benzoate, I was curious what people thought about the negative effects of MSG and phenylalanine/aspartame.  I have heard many things such as increased levels of  these compounds in the bloodstream can have bad effects, and at the same time I've heard that it is entirely innocuous. So, what do you biochemists/chemists/biologists/random people have to say about this?  To give the thread some direction, I'll say that you should keep these questions in mind:

Do any of these two substances, which are very common in many foods, pose a health risk to an average consumer of them?

If you believe one or both are a health risk, to what extent?

An example link that I can make fun of: http://www.nomsg.com/

A quote from the above link:
"MSG actually tricks your brain into thinking the food you are eating tastes good."  To me, this seems a bit...well...off the mark.

If anyone has relevant inks of a scientific nature regarding the subject , I would greatly appreciate seeing them  :)



My opinion, based on the reading and studying I have done, is that none of the 2 aforementioned substance pose any harm in the amounts in which they will typically be ingested.  Of course, taking enough of anything will have a negative effect, but I think that short of eating the substance pure, you would have a difficult time reaching a harmful/lethal dose. 

Ok sorry I have to make fun of one more site: http://www.msgmyth.com/

apparently ingesting any MSG at all can cause 32 (count them! 32!) distinct symptoms from sleep disorders to fatigue to Alzheimer's, MS, fibromyalgia, and parkinson's! Man, this stuff gets around!

Discuss!  ;D

(edited once for stupid spelling mistakes, once to modify a tad of content which I messed up a bit (late here))
« Last Edit: May 21, 2006, 09:54:24 PM by Organishe »
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AWK

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Re: Tackling the myths/truths of MSG and aspartame
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2006, 10:58:03 PM »

More important is , what percent of peoples suffer from these symptoms. May be common salt and sugar cause more dangerous symptoms then above compounds.
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constant thinker

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Re: Tackling the myths/truths of MSG and aspartame
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2006, 12:33:40 PM »

Sounds like the first website is taking things context that others have said. Sounds more like things are being blown out of proportion. Same as with genetic engineering.

If you don't tell anyone about something done to their food for god knows how long and they consume it for years with no problems. Then suddenly word gets out and everyone freaks out.

" Many foods, such as soybeans and tomatoes, contain naturally high levels of free glutamate"
Since when has the tomato hurt anyone? The only difference that I know of between MSG and regular Glutamate is the Na in place of an H atom. I personally would prefer food with less additives, preservatives, and salt. I only really like the vitamin additives to a degree.

The symptoms from the second website sound like stress and smoking related.

*Sigh* If someone can proove to me scientifically with SCIENTIFICALLY TESTED facts, includeing data and all references, that either of these are dangerous, then I'll gladly join the anti-msg/anti-aspartame movements. For now I'm not really worried.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2006, 10:12:41 AM by constant thinker »
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FeLiXe

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Re: Tackling the myths/truths of MSG and aspartame
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2006, 03:48:37 AM »

my opinion about MSG is that restaurants that use it can make low quality food taste good. Therefore you don't know what you are eating. I don't know if it hast negative effects. but why add something to food that has no positive effect.
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Dude

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Re: Tackling the myths/truths of MSG and aspartame
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2006, 06:40:58 AM »

My hope is that aspartame is "safer" than saccharin. The ban that was placed on saccharin (and enabled aspartame to become mainstream) was criticized (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saccharin) even in scientific journals.   
Another question you might want to ask is what percentage of people experience an allergic reaction with MSG or aspartame.  This might lead to more zealous opponents to certain chemicals. 

It is pretty hard to get strong scientific data when it comes to toxicology.  Most public health studies are riddled with uncontrollable variables and rely heavily upon statistics to derive meaningful conclusions.  Most casual observers would see the two sets of data and draw the conclusion that there is no correlation with an illness.  Statistically, however, it might be very clear cut.  I don't know the exact numbers, but even something clearly defined as unhealthful like smoking cigarettes probably affects less than 10 % of the sample population within 25 years.   
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lemonoman

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Re: Tackling the myths/truths of MSG and aspartame
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2006, 11:36:30 AM »

...The only difference that I know of between MSG and regular Glutamate is the Na in place of an H atom...

hehehe...I hate to play Devil's Advocate, but that seems like a really odd thing to be said by a chemist...

If that reasoning is valid...then I'll start putting HCl on my food instead of NaCl ;)
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Will

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Re: Tackling the myths/truths of MSG and aspartame
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2006, 12:49:18 PM »

...The only difference that I know of between MSG and regular Glutamate is the Na in place of an H atom...

hehehe...I hate to play Devil's Advocate, but that seems like a really odd thing to be said by a chemist...

If that reasoning is valid...then I'll start putting HCl on my food instead of NaCl ;)

I was originally going to write:
Quote from: me
In this case its a little different though- say tartaric acid had absolutely no negative side effects (excluding acidity), then its OK to assume that monosodium tartrate has not got any negative side effects (I think!- I'm no biologist!).
but...
I found this: http://www.inchem.org/documents/jecfa/jecmono/v12je03.htm and vaguely read through it and got the feeling I'm wrong to assume the above. The effects of the sodium salts might have been caused by the extra sodium though... ???
So my position lies between lemonoman's and constant thinker's, although I still think the use of MSG is fine. I bet all those people that whine about MSG drink ethanol every now and then, or smoke, or do something else that they should be more worried about than MSG (not to say that people shouldn't be worried about the small problems of life, its just that MSG is such a minor thing its probably more harmful for your body to worry and stress about it than to get on in life and eat food with MSG).
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constant thinker

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Re: Tackling the myths/truths of MSG and aspartame
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2006, 10:12:27 AM »

Good point lemonoman.

I'm not a chemist yet though, so it's not an odd thing to say.  ;)  I'm still in high school, so I have no degree in chemistry. Sarcasm aside though, I sometimes forget that the changing of one atom can cause huge differences in a molecule, so I was a bit naive when I said that or just forgetful.
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