Did you know that widespread chronic pain is associated with higher levels of glutamate from the diet??
- Glutamate are excitatory neurotransmitters and found in receptors all along the pain pathway, including the peripheral nervous system (PNS), the spinal column, and pain processing areas of the brain.
- Glutamate plays a critical role in normal pain transmission and abnormal pain sensitization.
- Central sensitization is the proposed mechanism for widespread chronic pain.
- Central sensitization is driven by changes in glutamatergic neurotransmission within the spine (as well as changes in other neuropeptides, such as substance P) which impacts the magnitude and frequency of pain signals sent to the brain
If you are in chronic pain, it might make sense to try a low glutamate diet, in fact a recent publication in the Journal of Nutrients showed that a low glutamate diet had very good outcomes on reducing chronic pain in 40 gulf war syndrome patients.1
To limit glutamate, you need to limit food with MSG.
Anyone heard of MSG?
Monosodium glutamate, or MSG, is the sodium salt of glutamate. When MSG is added to foods, it provides a similar flavoring function as the glutamate that occurs naturally in food. MSG consists of nothing more than water, sodium and glutamate.
The easiest way to limit MSG is to read the nutrition labels. To find look after the supplements facts box, in the paragraph of other ingredients. (Ideal foods- a few ingredients)
MSG is most commonly found in:
- Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
- Autolyzed yeast
- Hydrolyzed yeast
- Yeast extract
- Soy extracts
You will find these flavor enhancers most often in sauces, soups, gravies, salad dressings, snack foods, and ready-meals.
Other culprits of MSG are the following:
- Soy Sauces
- Tomato Sauce
- Canned Foods
- Aged Cheeses
- “Natural Flavors”
Did you know one of the worst types of “natural flavors” on the market are naturally-occurring glutamate by-products—which is just another way of saying MSG. These chemical by-products are excitotoxins, a type of harmful chemical that cause excessive pain and fatigue, which people with chronic pain should try to avoid!
As always, the best advice is to stay educated and to use commonsense. If an ingredient list says “natural flavor” look for an alternative and/or call the manufacturer to inquire, or better yet just stick to whole fresh foods from transparent companies you trust.
- Holton, Kathleen et al. “The Low Glutamate Diet Significantly Improves Pain and Other Symptoms in Veterans with Gulf War Illness.” Current Developments in Nutrition vol. 4,Suppl 2 1211. 29 May. 2020, doi:10.1093/cdn/nzaa057_027