Can’t I have just a little?

How much free glutamic acid, FGA, is a problem is unfortunately something that I can’t answer, even with all of the reading I’ve done. There are three areas, and I feel you will have to decide for yourself on each.

First is the most acute reaction — the signs you see when you eat something, usually within 2-24 hours. Some people have no acute reaction, and others only have an acute reactions to concentrated forms. Some people react to almost all processed ingredients and even tiny amounts of FGA.  Alex, my teen, is toward the latter end of the spectrum. He will react within two hours to many forms, including MSG, yeast extracts, maltodextrin, and carrageenen. His acute reaction is depression, anxiety, and mood instability.

Second is the chronic sensitivity — the subtle energy and behavioral effects that aren’t due to a single exposure, but to accumulation of glutamate from various foods. For Alex this manifests as fatigue and low-level constant overwhelm (even without much glutamate he has chronic fatigue syndrome, but this makes it much worse).  Since he is a teen who won’t eat many foods, we still don’t know the extent of this, because we haven’t ever gotten out every single speck of added glutamate.

Third, the big unknown, is the lifetime health effects associated with free glutamates.   Here’s an article,, which says, “There are a growing number of clinicians and basic scientists who are convinced that a group of compounds called excitotoxins play a critical role in the development of several neurological disorders including migraines, seizures, infections, abnormal neural development, certain endocrine disorders, neuropsychiatric disorders, learning disorders in children, AIDS dementia, episodic violence, lyme borreliosis, hepatic encephalopathy, specific types of obesity, and especially the neurodegenerative diseases, such as ALS, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and olivopontocerebellar degeneration.”

As I said, I don’t know what the answer is. From a practical standpoint, we avoid practically all of the ingredients that create an acute reaction, and waffle on the ingredients that contribute to a chronic reaction. I try hard not to bring them into the house (even malted barley flour), but when eating outside the house, we sometimes do compromise, and sometimes we pay the price.  On the other hand, with a teenager, it’s a balance that has to be practiced now.


  1. Cat L:

    We have seen great changes in our son in the first 3 weeks, and even more in 6 weeks!! the first thing we noticed at 3 weeks what that our son who normally took up to 2 hours to fall asleep was on his way to dream land in 15-20 minutes after crawling under the covers! This told us we were on the right track and continued our strict diet. We are almost to the point of trying to test some items, but as my son, who is 9, knows it can come with a price. He is satisfied with the results and might be willing to stick to what we know is safe!
    thank you for all the wonderful information and links and support!www.

  2. Lisa S:

    I’m so glad it’s helping, Cat. That’s wonderful that he is seeing enough differences to be on board.

Leave a comment