Glutamate is either bound or unbound (free). Free-glutamate exists in the processed, chemical form as MSG (monosodium glutamate). But it can also be found naturally in some foods. Glutamate is a nerve stimulant. Too much of it harms everyone. But some people are extra-sensitive to it. They may experience flushing, increased heart rate, headaches, etc, or worse complications. It was not until the late 1940s that chemical MSG entered the American food supply. Since then, it has been linked to seizures, brain lesions, compulsive disorder, obesity, diabetes, anxiety, depression, fibroids, insomnia, migraines, restlessness, autism, irritability, paranoia, vision loss, cancers (Sci Rep. 2015; 5: 8380), IBS, and a host of other problems. Researchers often use MSG to cause the above things in lab animals in order to test various treatments!
There is much money riding on MSG. It stimulates the taste buds, blocks bitterness, and increases sweetness, etc. In other words, it is an easy way to make cheap, and/or unnatural foods taste good. This is profitable for the food industry. Furthermore, the deleterious consequences of MSG bring great profits to the medical and drug industries. And since MSG is linked to infertility, there may be others that want this information to remain hidden or scorned, in order to reduce the population.
Chemical MSG is in restaurant foods, and almost all packaged, processed foods. It is usually hidden behind many names in ingredient labels:
"Free glutamate may be listed as any one of a number of ingredients: Monosodium 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' (i.e. natural vanilla flavor), maltodextrin, citric acid, pectin, milk powder, soy sauce, anything 'protein fortified,' corn starch, corn syrup and modified food starch."
(Amy Nett, MD., "Beyond MSG: Could Hidden Sources of Glutamate Be Harming Your Health?")
Various levels of free glutamate also exist naturally in many foods. Many people will also have to avoid these natural sources in order to experience total healing or relief:
"If you suspect that glutamate may be playing a role in your symptoms, you can try to eliminate any sources with added free glutamate (specifically in processed and packaged foods) and monitor your symptoms. If symptoms persist, then try eliminating sources of natural free glutamate as well...Natural sources of free glutamate...Foods matured, cured, or preserved, such as matured cheeses (Parmesan and Roquefort) and cured meats, Fish sauce, Soy sauce and soy protein, Mushrooms, Ripe tomatoes, Broccoli, Peas, Walnuts, Grape juice, Bone broths and meats cooked for long times (generally using moist cooking methods such as braising), Malted barley used in breads and beer, Wheat gluten..."
(Amy Nett, MD.)
Many people may have a genetic inability to tolerate certain amounts of free glutamate (chemical or natural). It is also true that the modern diet too often lacks the natural antioxidants that help balance glutamate in the body.This article will focus on MSG and free glutamate (naturally found in some foods) and the evidence linking them to infertility.
Notice some alarming studies:
"Monosodium glutamate caused damage to reproductive organs of female Wistar rats. When fed with Carob powder, the damages were less..."
(European Chemical Bulletin 2017(610):456-469, December 2017)
Several antioxidants, etc., that block some harmful effects of MSG/free glutamate have been listed in previous articles (e.g., natural vitamin C, magnesium, grape-seed, etc.). Carob can be added to this list.
What we also see from the above study is that researchers used MSG to damage the reproductive organs of female rats! Some point out that rats are not human (though some mad scientists are trying to mix them). However, other researchers argue that humans are actually more susceptible to the damaging effects of MSG than lab animals.
People can do their own research by personal experimentation. It is also important to know that evidence reveals that MSG consequences are often cumulative:
"Msg is a neurotoxin, potentially toxic to everyone, even to those people who do not respond with adverse reactions such as migraine headache, asthma, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, disorientation, and depression…We know that msg kills brain cells in laboratory animals. We know this from studies where msg was given in food and from studies where msg was given in drinking water. We know that msg causes macular retinal degeneration. In one 2002 study...high dietary intake of sodium glutamate as flavoring (Ajinomoto) caused gross changes in retinal morphology and function...No retinal damage was observed when msg was fed to laboratory animals for a month but as time during which msg was fed to those animals increased to 3 months and 6 months, there was observable damage. We must, therefore, postulate that damage done by repeated exposure to msg is cumulative...We know that learning disabilities and endocrine disorders such as gross obesity and reproductive disorders often follow the death of brain cells in animals."
(Truth in Labeling, website)
Notice some more infertility studies related to MSG:
"MSG, or monosodium glutamate...has also been blamed for brain, nervous system and reproductive system disorders. Along with its damaging effects on fertility, MSG can also cause irritability, migraines, nausea, and hyperactivity…MSG actually stimulates your pancreas to produce more insulin. Even if the food you eat doesn’t have the carbs in it for the insulin to act upon. Not only does insulin affect your reproductive hormones, it also creates a drop in your blood sugar when it floods your body. A drop in blood sugar and you feel hungry again…Iva Keene, Naturopathic Physician, mentions a study that was published in Neurobehavioral Toxicology back in 1979, showed that MSG reduced pregnancy success. Before 1970, it was routinely added to baby food, until children started developing convulsions and the link was discovered. After 1970, MSG was banned from baby food but conveniently added to many adult foods…Rats fed MSG before attempting to conceive had a decreased conception rate. Male rats fed MSG before mating had less than a 50% success rate (5 out of 13 animals unable to reproduce), whereas male rats not fed MSG had over a 92% success rate (12 of 13 animals were able to produce). In female rats, it seemed to interfere with ova and follicle releases (annovulatory cycles) and overall decreased fertility…"
"Histological Studies of the Effects of Monosodium Glutamate on the Ovaries of Adult Wistar Rats…The histological findings in the treated groups showed evidence of cellular hypertrophy, degenerative and atrophic changes with more severe changes in the group that received 0.08mg/kg of MSG…"
(Ann Med Health Sci Res. 2011 Jan-Jun)
"Monosodium glutamate induced testicular lesions in rats (histological study)…The present study was designed to investigate the effect of MSG on testes of young male Wistar rats…The body weight of rats was significantly increased and mainly histological alterations which included of hyalinematerial in the lumina of the seminiferous tubules and interstitial tissues and exfoliation of spermatocytes and spermatids in treated group. Many cells of the different types of spermatogenesis appeared necrotic with pyknotic nuclei. Dilated congested blood vessels and vacuolar degeneration were also been observed in the cells of seminiferous tubules in the treated group B. MSG may have some deleterious effects on the testes of Wistar rats and by extension may contribute to the causes of male infertility."
(Middle East Fertility Society Journal, Volume 19, Issue 4, December 2014)
"Ingestion of monosodium glutamate (MSG) in adult male rats reduces sperm count, testosterone, and disrupts testicular histology…In MSG fed rats compared to controls: Sperm count was lower in three of four studies, serum testosterone concentration was lower in two of two studies, testicular component weights or size was decreased in two of three studies, and abnormal testicular and sperm histology was observed in five of six studies. Conclusion: Adult intake of MSG can negatively impact sperm count and serum testosterone concentrations as well as testicular morphology and histology in rats."
(Nutrition Bytes, 19(1), 2015)
"Monosodium glutamate can induce the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), oxidative stress and cellular death…Long-term administration of MSG with low dose…led to…significant reduction of sperm viability. High dose administration of MSG for long time…led to significant reduction of all sperm analysis parameters."
(Fertility and Sterility, September 2016, Volume 106, Issue 3)
"In adult female Wistar rats fed by MSG at the doses of 0.04 mg/kg or 0.08 mg/kg on a daily basis the pathological changes have been observed in ovaries...and fallopian tube (Eweka et al. 2010). MSG caused cellular hypertrophy of the theca folliculi, destruction of the basement membrane and stroma cells vacuolations in the ovaries. Degenerative and atrophic processes were observed at both doses with more pronounced changes in the group treated with higher dose (0.08 mg/kg) of MSG...Similarly in fallopian tube, both MSG doses caused distortion of the basement membrane with the separation of the endosalpinx from the myosalpinx...Although these studies have shown the effects of MSG on female reproductive organs in relevant doses after peroral intake, further studies must be done to corroborate these results and to explore the ingested MSG effects also on male sex organs..."
(Monosodium Glutamate Toxic Effects and Their Implications for Human Intake: A Review)
"The Effect of Monosodium Glutamate on Mice ovaries and the possible protective role of Vitamin C…Monosodium Glutamate, commonly used food additives that produce oxidative stress causing pathogenesis in several tissues and play a role in anovulatory infertility…MSG causes oxidative stress affecting ovarian tissue particularly the growing follicles, maturation of follicles, and decreased ovulation. Vitamin C is an effective antioxidant agent reducing the oxidative stress effect of MSG."
(Annals of Applied Bio-Sciences , AABS;2(4):2015)
"Effect of monosodium glutamate on the fallopian tubes of adult albino rats and the possible protective role of vitamin C: a histological and immunohistochemical study…The fallopian tubes of rats from the MSG-treated group showed some cellular hypertrophy of the columnar epithelium and distortion of the basement membrane. There were degenerative changes observed in some parts. Exfoliated cells in the lumen and marked vacuolations in the stromal cells were seen. There was a significant increase in the area percentage of collagen fibers and a significant increase in the optical density of inducible nitric oxide synthase reaction in the treated group compared with the control group. In the vitamin C-supplemented group, there was improvement in the histological and immunohistochemical changes. Conclusion: Administration of MSG induces a degenerative effect on the fallopian tubes of adult rats, confirmed through the histological and immunohistochemical changes. However, vitamin C can improve these induced changes through its antioxidant effects."
(Egyptian Journal of Histology: March 2015 )
"The investigation proceeded for about two months and the animal comprised of 80 male Wistar rats…The MSG treated rats caused significant diminish in testes weights and spermatozoa numbers, testosterone and Luteinizing (LH) but improvements in animals co-treated with GSE [grape seed extract] where significant incremented was reported…The results have clearly shown that GSE performs a very important defensive role during spermatogenesis and has the ability to act as a chemo-suppressive factor against MSG effects."
(Eman Abdulqader Al-Shahari and Attalla Farag El-kott, 2019. "Potential Effect of Grape Seeds Extract Against Monosodium Glutamate Induced Infertility in Rats." International Journal of Pharmacology, 15: 287-294.)
FREE GLUTAMATE LEVELS IN NATURAL SOURCES
Notice the levels of free glutamate (not bound glutamate) in various, natural "foods" (mg/100g):
Cow's milk: 2
Red grapes: 5
Potato (cooked): 180
Cheddar cheese (aged 8 months): 182
Grape juice: 258
Fresh tomato juice: 260
Ham: 337 (cured)
Green tea: 450
Gouda cheese: 460
Shiitake (dried): 1060
Soy sauce: 1264
Parmesan cheese: 1680
Several of the "high level" items above should be avoided for additional reasons. They are not healthy or intended by God as food. Others, that are healthy, may have to be avoided, or eaten in small amounts, with sufficient antioxidants.
In some cases, there may be high levels of antioxidants already in some of the above foods that may block the free glutamate. Garlic is moderate in free glutamate, especially when we consider it is used as a spice. However, it has amazing healing properties that may help neutralize any bad effects of free glutamate:
"Effect of Garlic Extracts on Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) Induced Fibroid in Wistar Rats...treatment with garlic…extracts near-completely abrogated/mitigated any effects that have been induced by the MSG alone. It appears that Garlic extracts acted to remove catabolic wastes from the pelvic cavity and from uterine and ovarian tissue, thereby accelerating metabolism and lymph drainage; promoted the sloughing-off tissues…It also appears that garlic extracts stimulated the secretion of gonadotrophins and ovarian hormones and inhibited proliferation of cancer cells at the levels of the pituitary gland;...The results of this study may offer the possibility of treating women with fibroids for extended periods of time without the need for surgery."
(Pakistan Journal of Nutrition 8 (7): 970-976, 2009)
WHAT ABOUT BONE BROTH?
For those seeking to increase fertility, and avoid seizures, anxiety, migraines, etc., the controversial issue of bone broth needs to be examined. There are two reasons many natural health researchers are warning against bone broth. First, there is the amount of lead and other heavy metals that can be seethed out of the bones. It appears that heavy metals that cannot be pushed out of the animal are stored in the bones as a self-defense mechanism. The second problem is the amount of free glutamate in bone broth that increases the longer the broth is cooked.
In regard to lead, etc., in bone broth, on one hand, we must be aware that many will try to undermine healing foods. On the other hand, even animals raised organically today are often exposed to toxic heavy metals through pastures, water, or even feed. As the earth continues to be destroyed by toxins and chemicals, many things that were once safe, and even wholesome, can become dangerous. This can be hard to accept.
The controversial study that stirred the pot, is below:
"The risk of lead contamination in bone broth diets...bones are known to sequester the heavy metal lead, contamination with which is widespread throughout the modern environment. Such sequestered lead can then be mobilised from the bones. We therefore hypothesised that bone broth might carry a risk of being contaminated with lead…A small, blinded, controlled study of lead concentrations in three different types of organic chicken broth showed that such broths do indeed contain several times the lead concentration of the water with which the broth is made. In particular, broth made from skin and cartilage taken off the bone once the chicken had been cooked with the bones in situ, and chicken-bone broth, were both found to have markedly high lead concentrations, of 9.5 and 7.01 μg L(-1), respectively (compared with a control value for tap water treated in the same way of 0.89 μg L(-1)). In view of the dangers of lead consumption to the human body, we recommend that doctors and nutritionists take the risk of lead contamination into consideration when advising patients about bone broth diets…"
(Med Hypotheses. 2013 Apr;80(4):389-90. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2012.12.026. Epub 2013 Jan 31.)
Certainly, the issue of lead is very serious for people trying to increase fertility, or avoid neurological afflictions. The second health concern related to bone broth is its high amount of glutamate:
"Bone Broth simmers at a low temperature for many hours, long enough to allow the connective tissues to dissolve and the minerals to be drawn into the broth…The result of such long cook times is a tremendous amount of glutamic acid. And that's the dark side of Bone Broth."
"In my recent presentation about Asian bone broths at the annual Nutritional Therapy Association conference in Portland, Oregon, I started out by discussing this little known health issue…I took that info from a study performed by Kim Schuette, Certified Nutritionist, of Biodynamic Wellness...Schuette hired a lab to test the amino acid content in both a short-cooked and a long-cooked organic chicken broth…Glutamates come from glutamine, the second most abundant amino acid in bone broth according to Kim Schuette's lab test…The primary culprit is of course, monosodium glutamate (MSG), a synthetic form of glutamate and an excitotoxin that is known to overly stimulate nerve cells and cause neurological issues, among other health problems. But synthetic glutamates exist in myriad forms in hundreds of processed foods beyond just MSG such as yeast extract, hydrolyzed protein, natural flavors and other types of flavorings. These chemicals all give processed foods a meaty taste. They are prevalent in all commercial canned broths and soups including most organic ones too…Unfortunately, glutamates exist naturally in healthy foods too…After I gave my presentation, someone came up to me and said, 'You know I've never understood why after I drank bone broth I'd get migraines. I think I understand now.' As a Nutritional Therapist, I've seen this in many clients as well…"
(Craig Fear, FearlessEating.net)
Even some "Nourishing Traditions" writers note that bone broth can be a problem - at least for certain people:
"Homemade broth does not contain MSG but it does contain abundant levels of glutamine...some people, particularly autistic children and other people with major health challenges, are extremely sensitive to glutamine. These people need to begin their healing journey with a short-cooked broth...."
(Kaayla T. Daniel PhD, NourishingBroth.com)
"The oft-heard claim that a cup of good bone broth has as much calcium as a cup of milk appears to have no basis in fact…Clearly, we cannot depend on the broth itself to provide us with the calcium we need to handle possible lead toxicity…Those suffering from autism, allergies and other health challenges invariably have compromised gastrointestinal integrity. Furthermore, Dr. Russell Blaylock has pointed out that lead will magnify any excitotoxity caused by the glutamic acid in broth…This last provides an explanation for why some MSG-sensitive people have a problem handling broth..."
(Kaayla T. Daniel PhD)
If one's goal is to increase fertility, lose weight, or avoid seizures, anxiety, migraines, etc., then abstaining from all MSG would be one of the first places to begin. However, avoiding free glutamate in natural sources may also be necessary or helpful to achieving the above goals. After a period of time, natural foods with moderate levels of free glutamate may be added back into the diet, in a limited, careful fashion, utilizing sufficient antioxidants.
May we experiment wisely, and pay close attention to our bodies. And may God bless you!