In 1908 chemist Ikeda Kikunae isolated an ingredient in sea kelp that gave flavor to konbu dashi, a Japanese broth. He turned it into a powdered additive called monosodium glutamate (MSG).
The Suzuki Chemical Company began marketing it in 1909 under the brand name Ajinomoto, meaning "essence of taste." For decades, it has been considered a natural flavor-enhancer.
More recently, it's been tagged for triggering headaches and other unsettling symptoms. And these days there's debate about whether this additive, which is also found naturally in foods such as aged cheeses and soy sauce, is either umami (savory) or unwelcome.
According to a new study by researchers from American University, Michigan University, and Meru University of Science and Technology in Kenya, even when MSG doesn't cause that classic cascade of symptoms, glutamate may fuel chronic pain.
Eliminating it from your diet may do more to ease your discomfort than taking acetaminophen.
Unfortunately, taking glutamate out of your diet isn't as simple as avoiding MSG, which appears on labels as monosodium glutamate. Glutamate comes with a variety of names when used as an additive:
• Autolyzed yeast, yeast food/nutrient
• Autolyzed plant protein
• Hydrolyzed protein/fat/oat flour
• Hydrolyzed protein, protein-fortified, or enzyme-modified
• Soy protein isolate/protein concentrate
• Whey protein/isolate/concentrate
• Sodium caseinate/calcium caseinate
Because chronic pain can be hard to vanquish without dependence on over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers that can trigger side effects and addiction, it makes sense to give a glutamate-free diet a chance to help you ease your pain.
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