Glutamate No Health Risk?

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Chinese restaurant syndrome: facts or fiction

The health effects of glutamate are still controversial. While some claim that the so-called flavor enhancers pose no health risk, people with a glutamate intolerance complain about significant impairments after consuming glutamate.

In a current study, Asian scientists have not found any negative effects of glutamate and refer the so-called "Chinese restaurant syndrome", which was first discussed in 1968, to the realm of legends. According to the current Asian study, glutamate did not have any adverse effects on the health of the study participants. A hardly understandable statement for those affected by glutamate intolerance, they are convinced that the taste enhancers regularly lead to symptoms such as headaches, reddening of the skin, muscle problems, palpitations, nausea and vomiting.

Chinarestaurant syndrome first described in 1968 The first scientific study on the potential health effects of glutamate was conducted in 1968 by Dr. Robert Ho Man Kwok presented in the New England Journal of Medicine. The doctor reported visitors to Chinese restaurants who had a crimson face after eating and suffered from neck sweat, headaches and nausea until vomiting. Dr. According to Robert Ho Man Kwok, it seemed clear that the negative health effects were caused by the glutamate in the food. However, the following studies have so far found no clear connection between the so-called "Chinese restaurant syndrome" and the glutamate content of the food. For example, the latest studies by Asian researchers have shown no evidence of possible health threats from glutamate. Glutamates are the esters and salts of glutamic acid, which are naturally found in numerous foods. For example, all protein foods contain glutamate. Cheese and meat contain a particularly large amount of natural glutamate, but fish, whole wheat or corn flour, rice, peas and tomatoes also contain glutamate. According to the scientists, even glutamate is contained in breast milk. In the food industry, glutamate is used primarily in the form of monosodium glutamate as a flavor enhancer, often to give a little taste to otherwise tasteless ready-to-eat meals. The glutamates used are metabolized in the human body in the same way as the naturally occurring glutamic acids.

Naturally, glutamate is contained in numerous foods. The German Nutrition Society (DGE) also stated in a recent article to "Welt Online" that "glutamate is found naturally in almost all foods" and we "about the food with normal mixed foods every day about eight to twelve grams of glutamate ”. Glutamate not only enhances the taste of the food itself and stimulates the formation of saliva, but is also necessary for basic functions of the human organism. In this way, glutamate is the most important excitatory neurotransmitter (messenger substance) in the central nervous system. The supposedly disease-causing glutamate is crucial for the transmission and processing of information in the brain, especially in the flow of information via the olfactory and taste nerves to the amygdala. According to the experts, glutamate also takes on important tasks in cell division, for example in the area of ​​the intestinal mucosa. While, according to some scientists, the central importance of glutamate as a messenger suggests that the symptoms of the "Chinese restaurant syndrome" could be caused by the taste enhancers, others see the natural occurrence of glutamate in the human organism as an argument against the negative health effects of Flavor enhancer.

Food intolerance instead of glutamate intolerance Cause of the complaints As part of a comprehensive study, Asian scientists have once again examined the health effects of glutamate. The researchers were unable to establish any connection between glutamate intake and health impairments. Although some of the study participants actually suffered from physical complaints after eating the Asian dishes, these were not due to the glutamate but to the intolerance to other ingredients such as shrimp, peanuts, fish and soy sauce or special herbs. The health complaints also occurred primarily in European and American study participants, which indicates that they are not used to typical Chinese food and therefore their ingredients are less tolerated. According to the Asian researchers, the "Chinese restaurant syndrome" is more due to general food intolerance than to the high glutamate content. When it comes to susceptibility to fish and soy sauce, however, it should be mentioned that these ingredients, which are often used in Asian dishes, contain a significantly higher proportion of glutamate. Fish sauce is traditionally made from anchovies and other small fish, with amino acids, peptides, flavors and natural glutamate that give the sauce its flavor during the 18-month fermentation. In Asian cuisine, sauces are often used to flavor the dishes instead of salt. In Japan there is even a separate word for the taste of the glutamate it contains: “umami” - which, along with sweet, sour, salty and bitter, indicates one of the basic flavors.

The current study cannot conclusively clarify whether glutamate is generally without health risks for the human organism or whether some people may have so-called glutamate intolerance. However, the Asian researchers assume that the health complaints are usually caused by other ingredients in the food and not by the taste enhancers. (fp)

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  1. Shaktibar

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  2. Ceolfrith

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  3. Kazilabar

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