Arizona Advanced Medicine Clinic

MSG - Monosodium Glutamate - and Colon Cancer Stem Cells

An article published in the journal Nature reports that intestinal stem cell activity is regulated by Calcium signaling.[1] Dietary l-glutamate stimulates intestinal stem cell division and growth by causing sustained high levels of calcium within the intestinal stem cells.

How are we exposed to glutamate? MSG, monosodium glutamate, is used to enhance flavor in almost all manufactured foods – snacks like potato chips or corn chips, spaghetti sauce, fast foods like burgers, “soy” sauce.

If we live on a diet of restaurant meals, fast foods, pre-cooked and manufactured snack foods – pretty much anything that comes in a box or a can – we are exposed to huge amounts of MSG in every bite.

it is no wonder that the incidence of intestinal distress is rising, and that colon cancer is becoming epidemic in the Western world.

Of course natural foods also contain glutamate – it is the most common amino acid in dairy products, animal proteins, wheat and oats. But the levels in natural foods are far lower than those in manufactured foods.

You may read that MSG is produced by a natural fermentation process. A website called “Food Insight” promotes the use of MSG, stating that glutamate has never been shown to produce symptoms in anyone.[2] Those who suffer from “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” – of which there is an excellent description on MedlinePlus[3] - would likely disagree.

Glutamate is called by many names. Here is a list of some of the hidden sources of glutamate: monopotassium glutamate, yeast extract, anything “hydrolyzed” such as hydrolyzed protein, calcium caseinate, autolyzed yeast, textured protein, gelatin, soy protein (including isolate and concentrate), whey protein (including isolate and concentrate), carrageenan, bouillon and broth, stock, and “flavors” or “flavoring”, maltodextrin, citric acid, pectin, milk powder, soy sauce, anything “protein fortified,” corn starch, corn syrup and modified food starch.[4] Some will only trigger reactions in very sensitive people, but all have significant amounts of free glutamate.

Avoiding MSG is pretty easy, you just have to read ingredients – or, easier yet, do not buy anything pre-packaged.

  • Eat those foods you have prepared yourself
  • If you purchase food in a box or can, check the list of ingredients before you buy.
  • Do not buy anything that lists any form of glutamate in the ingredients

Stick with that which grows in or walks on the ground, flies through the air or swims in the oceans, and you will avoid added sources of glutamate. Your gut will feel better, and so will your brain. You will learn to enjoy the taste of real food, your gut will quiet down, and you will avoid exposure to a major cause of colon cancer.


[1] Deng H, Gerencser AA, Jasper H. Signal integration by Ca(2+) regulates intestinal stem-cell activity. Nature. 2015 Dec 10;528(7581):212-7. doi: 10.1038/nature16170.

[3] https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001126.htm Downloaded 12/20/2015

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