A new study, published in the February 2019 issue of European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, has found that monosodium glutamate (MSG) in foods may have a positive effect on cognitive function in people who suffer from dementia.
Researchers at the Tottori University’s School of Health Science in Japan split study participants into two groups, based on whether they consumed MSG. This was a single-blind, placebo-controlled trial involving 159 subjects with dementia who were residing in a hospital or nursing home.
The researchers found that study participants who consumed MSG daily had slight improvements in memory. For example, they were able to recall more words in the tests and found it much easier to tell the time.
The researchers were unable to explain why MSG may have this positive effect on memory, but they mentioned it could be because it improves the absorption of zinc, which could, in turn, repair damaged brain cells. The researchers noted, “Although we cannot make a clear conclusion, taste bud regeneration in response to increased zinc absorption during the MSG intake period might have appeared as a sustained effect even after MSG discontinuation.”
The researchers stated, in conclusion “our results suggest that continued ingestion of MSG has an effect on cognitive function,” noting that subjects in the MSG group exhibited improved cognitive function at a follow-up four weeks after the intervention period.
This study adds to the literature on how various foods may possibly decrease the effects of dementia, but is very preliminary. For example, the researchers noted that future research should attempt to standardize the amount and content of meals. Future studies with regard to the effects of dietary therapy on treating dementia can be expected, and the role of MSG is certain to be explored further.
The full published study can be accessed here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41430-018-0349-x