Glutamate Food List

Good Grief… Glutamates!

Think of your brain as a race car, with neurotransmitters being the gas and brake for the race car. Following so far?

In this scenario, GABA would be your brakes, calming the brain and promoting relaxation. Too much GABA would cause lethargy and fatigue.

Glutamate would be like the gas pedal, acting as your major excitatory neurotransmitter, keeping the brain focused and alert. Too much glutamate/excitation causes anxiety and sleeplessness, among other symptoms, depending on the person. Over time, excessive levels of glutamate cause neurological inflammation and damage.

Keeping glutamate and GABA balanced in the brain can be extremely impactful for a range of neurodegenerative conditions:

  • ALS
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Autism
  • Huntington’s
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s
  • Stroke
  • Those with atrial fibrillation, seizures and panic attacks also seem to benefit from achieving this balance.

Glutamate is a VERY common amino acid found NATURALLY in many foods to varying degrees. Remember, even the human body produces some and uses it to produce body proteins, and neurotransmitters (brain chemicals).  Over-consumption of MSG, glutamic acid, or other forms of glutamate can cause sensitivity in some people. Avoiding it is close to impossible. The key is knowing food sources so you can limit your exposure if needed.

The first step in balancing glutamate and GABA is to avoid foods and nutritional supplements that contain or prompt the body to create glutamate or other excitatory neurochemicals that can enter via the glutamate receptors such as aspartate, aspartame, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine (mostly a problem with children), homocysteine and monosodium glutamate (MSG).  Then, if you feel better when restricting glutamates, it’s best to modify/limit the amount of food sources you consume.

All of these act as neurotoxins when present in excess.

Sources of MSG

  • Hydrolyzed protein or hydrolyzed oat flour
  • Sodium caseinate or calcium caseinate
  • Autolyzed yeast or yeast extract
  • Gelatin
  • Glutamic acid
  • Monosodium glutamate

Excitotoxic Food Ingredients

  • Ajinomoto
  • Autolyzed anything
  • Autolyzed yeast
  • Autolyzed yeast extract
  • Bouillon
  • Broth
  • Calcium caseinate
  • Carrageenan (or vegetable gum)
  • Caseinate
  • Chicken/pork/beef “base”
  • Chicken/pork/beef “flavoring”
  • Disodium caseinate
  • Disodium guanylate
  • Disodium inosinate
  • Dough conditioner(s)
  • Gelatin
  • Glutamate
  • Guar gum
  • Hydrolyzed anything
  • Hydrolyzed oat flour
  • Hydrolyzed plant protein
  • Hydrolyzed protein
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  • Kombu extract
  • Malt extract
  • Malt flavoring(s)
  • Malted anything
  • Malted barely flour
  • Malted barley/barley malt
  • Maltodextrin
  • Meat flavorings (chicken, beef etc.)
  • Monosodium glutamate
  • Natural flavor(s)
  • Natural flavoring(s)
  • Nutrasweet/aspartame
  • Plant protein extract 1-cysteine
  • Seasoned salt
  • Seasoning(s) or spices
  • Smoke flavoring(s)
  • Sodium caseinate
  • Soup base
  • Soy extract
  • Soy protein
  • Soy protein concentrate
  • Soy protein isolate
  • Soy sauce
  • Spice mixes that contain glutamate or MSG as an ingredient
  • Stock
  • Textured protein
  • Vegetable gum
  • Whey protein
  • Whey protein concentrate
  • Whey protein isolate
  • Yeast extract

Foods High in Glutamates:

  • Anything enzyme modified
  • Anything fermented
  • Anything protein fortified
  • Anything ultra-pasteurized
  • Anything vitamin enriched
  • Anything with corn syrup added
  • Anything with milk solids
  • Baked goods from bakeries
  • Barbeque sauce
  • Certain brands of cold cuts/hot dogs
  • Body builder protein mixes
  • Bottled spaghetti sauce
  • Boullion (any kind)
  • Broccoli
  • Canned and smoked tuna, oysters, clams
  • Canned soups (certain brands)
  • Canned refried beans
  • Canned, frozen, or dry entrees and potpies
  • Caramel flavoring/coloring
  • Catsup
  • Cereals
  • Chili sauce
  • Chocolates/Candy bars
  • Citric acid (when processed from corn)
  • Corn
  • Cornstarch
  • Corn chips (certain brands)
  • Dough conditioners
  • Dry milk or whey powder
  • Egg substitutes
  • Flavored chips (certain brands)
  • Flavored teas, sodas
  • Flour
  • Flowing agents
  • Fresh and frozen pizza
  • Fresh produce sprayed with
  • Auxigro—instead choose organically grown produce
  • Fried chicken from fast food sources
  • Frostings and fillings
  • Gelatin
  • Grapes
  • Gravy Master
  • Instant soup mixes/Stocks
  • Kombu extract
  • L-cysteine
  • Low-fat/Diet foods
  • Many salad dressings/Croutons
  • Mayonnaise
  • Molasses
  • Most salty, powdered dry food mixes
  • Mushrooms, especially shiitake and enokitake
  • Mustards
  • Non-dairy creamers
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Peas
  • Pectin
  • Pickles
  • Salted peanuts (certain brands)
  • Potatoes
  • Powdered soup and sauce mixes certain brands)
  • Prawns
  • Processed cheese spread
  • Ramen noodles
  • Restaurant gravy from food service cans
  • Restaurant soups made from food service Soup base
  • Sausages/Processed meats/Cold cuts
  • Seasoned anything
  • Skim, 1%, 2%, non-fat, or dry milk
  • Some bagged salads and vegetables
  • Some peanut butters
  • Some spices
  • Soy sauce
  • Supermarket turkey & chicken (injected)
  • Table salts
  • Tofu and other fermented soy products
  • Tomato sauce/Stewed tomatoes
  • Walnuts
  • Whipped cream topping substitutes
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Xanthan gum/other “gums”

Addendum: for additional information of hidden glutamate in foods

169 thoughts on “Glutamate Food List

    • Leaves of Life says:

      Ultimately, just eat a whole foods diet full of fresh foods! For those who are glutamate sensitive, they may need to modify the amounts of foods containing glutamates, but the highest amounts are found in processed foods, foods we should all strive to avoid anyway. 🙂 –Patty

      • Gigi says:

        But fermented foods are good for people too, as many of these listed. It’s all in how you incorporate it. A packaged free diet filled with organic fruits and veggies is an ideal base. If you’re healthy from Whole Foods first, you can consume other goods that benefit you too, but if they don’t, one should be able to feel that and discontinue. Most people don’t connect themselves to their food though. And so many don’t actually eat food.

        • Natalie says:

          We need a limited quantity of glutamate for focus and consentration and for learning new things. The dangerous is exessive glutamate in processed foods and artifitial flavours.

          • Jeff Baird says:

            glutamates are converted to GABA by GAD. for those of us lacking GAD, we do not enjoy this ability. It took me a while to find a source that listed glutamates as high in potatoes and when I eliminated them my symptoms got about 90% better. So NO. we are not all genetically equivalent

      • Cecilia says:

        Right on Patty. I think that’s going to be the easiest way to avoid the majority of them. Natural sources & our body producing them will give us enough fuel for our brains without burning them out. Geez, hardly anyone eats whole foods anymore. This sounds like one of the things fueling disease.

    • Pam says:

      Organic (if you can afford it), fresh foods prepared in your own kitchen, as much as possible. It can be done, and the benefits are incredible. Olive oil (cold pressed, organic), coconut oil, and for high heat, avocado oil (until they screw that up). Most nuts – I make an incredible faux ranch dressing with cashews, lemons, garlic and herbs from my garden. It gets easier as you go along.

    • David Parham says:

      just for perspective – see youtube vid – Dr. Joel D. Wallach | It’s Not What You Eat That Kills You… It’s What You Don’t Eat (23Mar02)

    • Robert G says:

      This is sadly my situation. MSG stuff everywhere now that the militants of FREE MSG are up in arms…

      I can barely eat at restaurants now. Sad. I am a foodie. my sensitivity got very bad.. think of the worse.. yup.

      I have one mutation that makes me at a insane sensitivity.

      I cook at home and I spend hours reading labels of produce to find a hidden MSG under names like yest, yeast extract, natural flavor, ….

      • Jenny says:

        My niece lives with us and is cooking a lot from Alison Roman. It’s so delicious, but I can’t sleep when I eat it. Turns out that any umami flavor is high in glutamate. 🙁

      • Cherilyn Rohrkaste says:

        Hi! You made a comment several months ago that restaurants are out. For the most part, that is an accurate statement. I have found that mom and pop places that make their own hamburgers or salad restaurants are more dependable than the majority of available restaurants. (Many restaurants order pre-made, prepackaged from vendors like Sysco, etc., which puts people like you and I in a tough spot.) This blog has the most extensive list I have run into to date. By sticking with homemade, I know what ingredients are used. I cook nearly everything from scratch these days. I use almond flour and several GF products that are not on the leaves of life list. Luckily, I am a home ec teacher who is quite familiar with recipe development and the use of substitutions, but not everyone is that lucky! Feel free to contact me, if you need a recipe changed to fit the list. Good luck with your health; it isn’t easy!

    • Nadia says:

      Possibly, the best approach to a healthy diet, aimed to achieve optimal health and wellbeing is natural food, meaning natural ingredients to prepare home made meals. In short, avoid processed food containing the listed ingredients. Stay well

    • Robert G says:

      For sure.

      All processed food are out. 99%

      but even stuff like cheeses…

      even sauteed mushrooms! my favorite. HYPER HIGH in Glutamate…

      • Ilsabe Spoelstra says:

        I need help. it looks as if you will be able to give sensible advice. I am dietitian. I need to help a patient with glutamate sensitivity, Already eating organic and real foods. Can you help me with a list of glutamate rich foods I can trust?
        Thank you in advance

      • Carol M says:

        For me it is the enzymes used in cheese processing. I found a raw milk cheddar cheese made without he enzymes. Now I don’t get headaches. Check farm market suppliers or the specialty cheese bin.

    • Pam says:

      I am not the author, but I avoid tuna because of the mercury in it, which is definitely bad for the brain. Concentrations of mercury go up, the bigger the fish is, because the big fish eat the smaller mercury-containing fish. Pectin, if gotten naturally from the fruits you eat, is fine. The processing of pectin for the commercial product leaves something to be desired – sugar beets are almost all GMO in the US, isopropanol alcohol leaves a chemical residue, even when the alcohol is allowed to dry off. I prefer an organic agar, which I order from France.

    • Leaves of Life says:

      MSG is a salt form of glutamic acid, a VERY common amino acid found NATURALLY in many foods to varying degrees. Even the human body produces some and uses it to produce body proteins, and neurotransmitters (brain chemicals).

      Over-consumption of MSG, glutamic acid, or other forms of glutamate can cause sensitivity in some people. Avoiding it is close to impossible. The key is knowing the food sources so you can limit your exposure if needed. -Patty

      • Tyrone says:

        Only self reported cases exist. Blind testing has shown that everyone tested that reported an ”msg allergy” felt no ill effects after eating significant portions of MSG containing foods.
        When they were not aware they were consuming it.

        It’s amazing how far people are willing to carry on with their illusions.

        • SSK says:

          I only recently found out that I have inherited genetic variants that cause me to be unable to break down glutamates at the usual rate. That solves a lot of confusion for me as I would always react to some foods with migraine, sometimes 48 hours after eating the food. I will still react with a migraine even to natural foods (tomatoes, mushrooms) or even when I’m not aware there has been any MSG added in the restuarant food. I think I might be an unwilling MSG detector. I got a migraine headache from eating one organic cherry tomato when I had no idea that tomatoes even had glutamates in them.

        • Julieanne says:

          I have SVT, a heart condition that can accelerate my heart rate up to 200 beats per minute. When I have MSG, ANY amount whether I know it or not, my heart goes off and sometimes takes three or fours hours to slow.

          • Tami says:

            Hi Julieanne, I had SVT too, which was usually triggered by exercise. I’d be on the elliptical and ba-dump! my heart rate would jump to ~220 bpm. Sometimes way too much coffee or a burst of adrenaline would trigger it as well. I never noticed that MSG triggered it, even when I put MSG on my popcorn (yes, I like MSG on popcorn!!!).

            Anyways, as you may know you can get that SVT fixed by having a cardiac ablation. I had it done a couple years ago, and haven’t had an episode since. The procedure wasn’t bad at all, actually it was kind of cool because the technology is amazing! And it’s AWESOME to be free of that annoying racing heart! If you have a chance to have an ablation, go for it. Especially if your episodes last for hours. That sounds really awful!

          • Valerie F. says:

            My husband has the same, getting worse by the day. Any advice for him? Any resource we can turn to? He had 2 ablations but they didn’t touch the msg trigger.

          • A friend says:

            I have the same issue and I have found if I take vitamin B6 before eating something that has glutamate in it my heart is much better. I’ve been on cardiac meds for 20 years until I gave up glutamate and heart issues went away (unless I eat glutamate without b6)

          • A friend says:

            I have the same issue and I have found if I take vitamin B6 before eating something that has glutamate in it my heart is much better. I’ve been on cardiac meds for 20 years until I gave up glutamate and heart issues went away (unless I eat glutamate without b6)

        • Tracy Navar says:

          My guess -Tyrone is motivated to counter the truth in this article- since who would be here, and further, who would comment a few times if they did not want to know more about free glutamate(and specifically, MSG) and it’s effects on the human body? I have seen this so many times. Truth is stated and detractors come. I believe it is called “green scaping” the opposite of grassroots movement (often times a purposeful effort by an industry to create division and increase confusion). I apologize if I am wrong, but this screams “green scaping” to me Tyrone. There are many white papers showing the dangers of MSG, Aspartate, Aspartame etc. Don’t be confused by a random comment from Tyrone:) MSG and its many names “natural flavors” etc are poison to the human body and there is endless lobbying to confuse the public about this danger.

          • SANDRA H TRUITT says:

            Tracy, I agree with you completely. Trolls are pretty much everywhere you go. And the industries you spoke of apparently have no concern about people…only about money. I am withdrawing from the med called Lyrica. It’s not an opioid but it is addictive, altho’ they don’t tell you that. Withdrawal causes or exacerbates the “glutamate storm” that goes on in the brain and body. The suffering is indescribable. (I had been on prescription opioids for about 12 years. Getting off them was not easy…but it was nothing in comparison to getting off Lyrica.). I had gotten off my low glutamate diet…now I’m sorry I did. As of today, I’m determined to be diligent… I desperately need some relief. This is one of the best articles I’ve read on the subject of glutamate and MSG. I have saved it to my homepage so I can refer back to it. It’s not an easy subject…that’s for sure. Sometimes it can be overwhelming. Thanks for your comments.

          • Florence says:

            Hi Sandra, so many meds are addictive but not labeled as such. When tapering one may experience horrific symptoms they never had before the drug. My new Dr just said “don’t believe your Drs”. Go to the forums where patients who have actually taken the drug and not gotten a perk for it share how to taper. Sorry for your suffering. I know as well!

          • Brett Grayson says:

            It’s actually quite the opposite. Because of public concern, there is an enormous body of research from a multitude of public and private sources into both MSG and aspartame, stretching over many decades now. Both have been shown to be safe for human consumption, even in relatively large quantities.

            Interestingly, the MSG scare started in the US in the mid 20th century as part of a racially motivated anti-Chinese movement. From there it quickly switched tracts and latched onto the portion of the health movement that propagates myths that are based on the Naturalistic Fallacy.

            That said, there is a very small percentage of people that truly are “allergic” (not actually an allergy though) to glutamate. These people will react strongly to MSG, but will also react strongly to any potato product, any tomato product, any dairy product, any soy product, or even human breast milk. There is an easy self-test you can administer: if you don’t have an *intense* reaction to tomatoes (you can test yourself with ketchup), you aren’t “allergic” to glutamate. Such people are extremely dietarily limited, because the vast majority of foods contain enough glutamate to trigger them. They can pretty much eat “some vegetables”, and that’s it. This is because glutamate is widely used by living things, and indeed is produced by your own body in significant quantities. Life is hell for people with a glutamate “allergy”, with their own body turned against itself. It’s analogous to (but not the same as) having an autoimmune disease.

          • Kelly says:

            That is exactly what I and my son both have, Brett. We both thankfully have an aversion to ketchup, but tomatoes set us off so badly. Breastmilk, high in glutamate, was something he had to switch off of at only 2 months because his whole body would break out and face flushed. I had similar issues eating any processed food from a very young age. I also have high homocysteine, which is also part of that impaired glutamate metabolization. I have had central lines, neurological damage (dysautonomia), mast cell disorder as a result of not addressing glutamate issues. I’m glad I can help my son, who is also autistic, to prevent further damage.

          • Rachel says:

            What are you able to eat. I have mast cell issues and peas broccoli and potatoes are things that don’t give me nmuch of a reaction

        • Lisa says:

          Ignorant comment. It’s true there is no MSG allergy, this is a discussion of sensitivity of excess glutamate born from Neurotransmitter imbalance. An inability in some people to convert glutamate to GABA. If you are one of these people you absolutely must keep glutamate in check and it is necessary to go to extremes. A glutamate storm is not an illusion. It is real and terrifying and can cause a lot of damage. PROPER medical tests prove this condition. But true, it’s not an allergy, but that doesn’t mean the condition does not exist.

        • Barbara says:

          Not illusions for some people. I had headaches for years. Even had a brain scan. Nothing worked untl I stopped eating Doritos. Later in life i would get heart palpitations if I wasn’t careful. Now it’s tinnitus. Don’t judge. It might eventually happen to you!

        • Rebecca L Danis says:

          This is not true. I get bad migraines and herpes outbreaks from any level of glutamate (even if the food just touched my tongue and I immediately spit it out) and I started having the bad migraines and herpes outbreaks before I ever knew about glutamate sensitivity and I would seemingly get bad migraines out of the blue. And then later through food elimination, I realized it was due to glutamate exposure and when I looked back at some of the awful migraines I had, it was because I had had a food high in MSG.
          I most definitely will know. I was told once at a restaurant that all foods had no MSG and it turns out they did because I got severely ill afterward and was not expecting to. But the only time I get a bad migraine with a big herpes outbreak on my thigh is when I am exposed to glutamate.
          So it is incorrect when you say that people only get symptoms when they know, because for a long time, I did’t know what was causing my migraines. Now I do, and as long as I stay away from glutamate I have had no more migraines at all (i have to stay away from tomatoes too because tomatoes are too high in glutamate for me to eat and I will get sick if I have them too.)

          • Sue Ann says:

            I find it very interesting that you talk about Herpes outbreaks associated with glutamate. I’ve been taking a lysine supplement daily for over 20 years to prevent cold sores. Never had one when I’m doing that but the 2 times I’ve stopped jut to test it, sure enough, a cold sore. I got this tip from a woman who had food allergies and couldn’t eat fruit and she could eat a little if she took lysine. I have never had any allergies.

            I have never gotten headaches until about 30 years ago when I would get a mild headache a few hours after I ate lunch at a certain Chinese restaurant. I started avoiding MSG and have never had another headache.

            Now, 30 years later I found out that i’m sensitive to Nutritional yeast! I had no idea that it contained a lot of glutamate. It’s a common ingredient in many WFPB recipes of people I trusted. It wasn’t until 2 days after I ate it that I woke up with extreme vertigo. Three days later I had it again. I had eaten some leftovers. I suspected it was the NY since I had never experienced any dizzyness before but it was hard to verify since there is such a delayed reaction and there is too much sales of NY on line to get to the truth. I’m grateful for this site and a couple of others and for all who have posted their experiences. Sorry for those whse problems are so much worse than mine.

        • Robert G says:


          Until you shit violently in your pants in the company parking lot talking with your manager.

          Statements like yours are almost as idiotic and ignorant and fanatic make us go backwards. truly spoken by a bigot I
          am sure. I hope you also believe cancer only affects the same people who live with delusions… so you can reduce your carbon foot print soon I hope. LEave room for progress… LOL.

        • Sharon says:

          The reason they did not react is due to the absence of build up. My family are intollerant to dairy, we can have some here and now without affect, but if we have some every day for a week or so, it starts to build up in our systems and then we start to react to even small amounts from then on. then we have to go cold turkey from all dairy to clear out our systems. I wonder whether this study accounted for the build up.

        • Carol M says:

          Sorry Tyrone, I can be caught unaware and the darn stuff will knock me out for a 3 hour nap. Super annoying when I miss an ingredient.

        • Walt says:

          When I eat MSG in the form of autolyzed yeast extract I begin to itch so badly that I scratch myself almost to the point of bleeding. I also wheeze and get a burning in my lungs. This is not a figment of my imagination my friend!

        • Jeremy says:

          Sure, Tyrone – an entire industry took years if flak from the general population and risked losing $$$ (individuals with virtually NO power and nothing to gain or lose) Like ALWAYS – The result of that potential loss was very expensive “studies” that the people at risk can’t afford to do nor verify accuracy. It’s not 1950, more people are waking up to the potential (even frequent) evil associated big && companies, industries, our govt and their tendancie to lie, decieve and if harm innocents, if the stakes are high enough. Our govt allows “natural flavors” on ingredient lists, they chose the definition and it’s not hard to figure out why. The FDA, almost by design, keeps us JUST safe enough to stay living a reasonable life when they absolutely have the power to do more and they don’t… Because too many of us value “money” over living a good life (or don’t know the difference)

        • Susan Neuhoff says:

          You are an IDIOT….nothing more. My son seizes with MSG and many other…so called FILLERS, I would list them but they have name changes so frequently that I cannot. America is poisoning the population. You dont believe this? Why do you care so much? If this does not pertain to you, why are you on this site?

        • antione says:

          Glutamine per se is required by the brain. TOO MUCH is bad. It’s science, and there are numerous studies that show that. In our fast food/convenience food culture, it is very easy to consume more than the brain needs, and problems can ensue. You need’nt be sensitive t suffer ill effects of too much glutamine.

    • Leaves of Life says:

      They are foods that are high in glutamate. Most people are tolerant of glutamate, but for those who aren’t, this list helps them identify foods that may need to be consumed in moderation. -Patty

    • Leaves of Life says:

      No, the enriched foods are what this is referencing. Foods are only enriched if they are first refined, so this goes back to an earlier question…just avoid refined foods, favoring instead a diet of whole foods, and most people are fine. This list is for those who need to identify glutamate sources so they can limit intake. -Patty

  1. Denise says:

    I buy plain Ramen noodles, ingredients say rice and millet, I had no idea these were bad. Anyone know why? 🙂

  2. Tim says:

    Why are fermented foods on the list? Are homemade fermented vegetables included in this category, and if so why?

    • Donna says:

      Great blog! Thanks for taking the time to do this. I had the same question about fermented foods as Tim. Would homemade fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, rejuvelac, almond cheese, etc., be damaging to the nerves as well?

      • Leaves of Life says:

        Glutamate is a VERY common amino acid found NATURALLY in many foods in varying amounts. Even the human body produces some and uses it to produce body proteins, and neurotransmitters (brain chemicals).

        Over-consumption of MSG, glutamic acid, or other forms of glutamate can cause sensitivity in some people. Avoiding it is close to impossible. The key is knowing the food sources so you can limit your exposure if needed. Fermented foods have many health benefits, so unless you don’t tolerate them, I would incorporate them regularly!

        • Araceli says:

          indeed this is very helpful…We are starting our 7 year old in a glutamate reduce diet. He has ASD. He does need Probiotics though… Do comercial probiotics (BIO-Kult) also contain glutamate?

          • Leaves of Life says:

            There ARE some probiotics that produce amines and glutamate. I am not certain which ones, but you can read about it here:

            In my searching, I didn’t see any mention of soil-based probiotics producing glutamate. Also, you may find that once other high glutamate foods are out, some probiotics are tolerable. Often it’s about weighing risks to benefits and looking at total body load. I hope the diet is helpful! -Patty

          • Brett Grayson says:

            As someone with Autism, I’m curious what you think a low glutamate diet is going to do for your son?

            Autism is the result of permanent brain damage, usually genetic, but sometimes from other causal factors. If the damage is localized to one of several particular regions of the brain that deal with certain types of pattern recognition, then a person will have a set of symptoms that we associate as “being autistic”. (If other parts are damaged they may be “slow” or a sociopath instead, among the many other possibilities.) The type and level of autism you have is down to the particulars of which specific areas are damaged, how damaged they are, and which other areas are still functional that might be able to make up for some of the deficit. If only one area is damaged you end up with Sheldon Cooper or Elon Musk. Not actually autistic, but… weird and socially awkward. I call this “engineering brain”, because stereotypical engineers have this type of brain damage (certainly not all them do though). If multiple interlinked areas are damaged in specific ways, you get autism. The more severe and widespread the damage to those areas, the worse the autism.

            Having autism means that some of your brain’s automated pattern recognition systems don’t work, or don’t work properly. In my case, much of the world was “white noise” when I was young. I remember seeing things, hearing things, and understanding certain things, but I was unable to create a coherent picture of the world. Too much of it was just random noise to me, and my brain couldn’t automatically categorize and analyze that data, unlike a normal person.

            How do you think a low glutamate diet is going to fix that in your son? That’s just… so silly. Accept what he is, help him as best you can, and love him if you can. If he’s high functioning enough to be able to speak and interact, then have him see a psychologist. They won’t be able to fix his brain damage of course, but they can help him do what those of us who are functional did: learn to manually conduct – with your conscious mind – the same pattern recognition that a normal person does automatically. After you spend enough years doing it manually, you eventually just run those pattern recognition algorithms as a software layer in your conscious mind. You’re still not normal, and all that extra “calculation weight” on your conscious mind slows your reactions a little bit, but you become functional enough to get by. And that’s nice:).

          • Wendy says:

            Brett, The brain changes in autism are not permanent! Many kids have recovered once their biomedical imbalances (immune, detox, gut, neurotransmitters). You can see the work of Amy Yasko, PhD to learn more about the glutamate/autism connection. Functional medicine doctors are improving the lives of autistic people every day. MAPS doctors specialize in autism.

    • Leaves of Life says:

      Homemade and store-bought fermented foods are naturally high in glutamate. For most, the health benefits of these food would far outweigh the risks. This list is to make people aware of the sources of glutamate in the diet so they can limit exposure if necessary. -Patty

    • Malauna Mstree says:

      Pure hell if I squeeze fresh juice and it ferments even in refrigerator. Fermented foods are extremely high in pure glutamic acid. No fermented anything. Not even enzymes which are made through fermentation. I’m wondering why entire nightshade family is not listed? Peppers are high in glutamate naturally as is tobacco.

  3. Tim says:

    Why are fermented foods on the list? Are homemade fermented vegetables included in this category, and if so why? Thank you

    • Bob says:

      I have the same question. Fermented food at home is supposed to be so good for our biome, full of friendly bacteria from our home environment. What’s the problem with such food?

      • Leaves of Life says:

        MSG is a VERY common amino acid found NATURALLY in many foods to varying degrees. Even the human body produces some and uses it to produce body proteins, and neurotransmitters (brain chemicals).

        Over-consumption of MSG, glutamic acid, or other forms of glutamate can cause sensitivity in some people. Avoiding it is close to impossible. The key is knowing the food sources so you can limit your exposure if needed. Fermented foods have many health benefits, so unless you don’t tolerate them, I would incorporate them regularly!

  4. Zamira Ensor says:

    Great list. My 5 year old has Autism and we’ve had to cut out natural foods which contain msg too. That’s tomatoes, brocoli, grapes, green peas etc. If he has any of those, the aggressive behavior and meltdowns come back. We’ve been meltdown free for 6 months since removing msg/free glutamates from our diet. I no longer suffer from join pain either.

    • Jenifer says:

      Hi Zamira, do you have a specific cookbook or forum that shares recipes. My son is 11 and I would like to try a no dairy, no gluten and low glutamate foods

  5. Allison McHugh says:

    I love this list thank you! I have a question though, how do you get your daily calcium requirement? I find I react to most things containing calcium & especially to calcium suppliments.
    Thanks & cheers

    • Leaves of Life says:

      I would need to gather more information about you specifcally to determine alternate forms of calcium. Personally, I have an unusual genetic variant (present in about 1 in 100,000 people) that makes it very difficult for me to tolerate much supplemental calcium. I find I am more tolerant if I add in extra magnesium when I take it. I’m not sure if that could be helpful to you. -Patty

      • lisa says:

        hi, can you please tell me which varient it is that is the calcium problem for you?!!
        I think I may have same problem. I get terrible bone pain and muscle spasms when I eat dairy

        • Leaves of Life says:

          Mine is a calcium channel error. I did genetic testing through Courtagen to discover this. What has resolved this issue for me is taking about twice as much magnesium glycinate as i do calcium (in mgs). I’ve also discovered this particular genetic issue can increase sensitivity to EMF exposure. Hope this is helpful!

          • Mark Boulton says:

            You can try oven cooking eggshells, then when cool grind then in a food processor (put a wet tea towel over the lid). (If ink stamped boil then oven cook to remove ink). Store it in the freezer, put a pinch in your food every now and then. The calcium form is Calcium Carbonate, better to eat with acidic food, as is alkaline, can make you burp a little bit. So a little often better than big doses. But no surprise ingredients like Sulphites, or gelatine or amino acids.

    • Birgit says:

      Most people take Calcium Citrate. That’s the issue . .Citrate. Alot of the calciums and magnesiums today are sold with some kind of acid like citrate or glycine etc. I use straight powdered Calcium Carbonate, no issues. Taste like nothing and is very creamy.

  6. Rebecca says:

    I am obviously affected by glutamates, but nowhere do I see onion in this list. Onion is the worst culprit for me, it creates the same reactions as the other things on the list but apparently doesn’t have glutamate in it? Can you clear that one up? Thanks

  7. Mel says:

    Gelatin? Might as well include meat too, since protein is just a bunch of amino acids (including glutamic acid). This list is asinine.

    • Leaves of Life says:

      Liz, please read some of the other comments…many people have found benefit from this information. It’s not necessary for most people to avoid glutamates. I’m curious what brought you to the site. -Patty

  8. Anna says:

    I appreciate this list so much! My dr just kept giving me anti anxiety meds which weren’t helping me. I’ve been off these foods for nearly three weeks and my anxiety is completely gone, migraines are greatly decreased and I can sleep at night again! No more insomnia! Thank you so much! Only folks with serious health problems can really understand how food is the base of everything!

      • Anna says:

        My husband and I started using bone broth protein powder believing it to be very healthy and beneficial but I ended up back in the hospital with my heart racing something terrible again and they never find anything! My anxiety skyrocketed and I was having horrible panic attacks and depression. My dr gave me more anti anxiety meds and I won’t take them. So I researched possible side affects of the bone broth and found out if you have a brain injury or condition you can have glutamate sensitivity. I found this list and realized I eat a lot of broth, tomato sauce, broccoli, and other “healthy” foods on the list and immediately went off all of it. I feel sooooo much better and even told my dr today about it. She seemed to feel silly for not catching on to this one herself!

    • Roxanna says:

      Hi Anna,
      Would you be able to share what you HAVE been eating as I find that when I take out all of the items listed as having glutamate I dont have much food/nutrition left. I already do not eat processed or enriched foods. I eat all whole foods but still find the restrictions hard and I dont want to end up undernourished. Thank you so much!

  9. Kaye says:

    I had insomnia and brain fog for months and stopped adding gelatin to my morning smoothy (was taking it for joint pain) I couldnt believe it would be the culprit…but have found im sleeping well again soon as i stopped taking it. Ive always known that flavouring, store sauces and soy sauce effect the quality of my sleep, but i hadnt considered the other foods. Im also sensitive to b vitamins and spirulina. Thanks for the list, will help balance how much glutamate im consuming in a day.

  10. Ruairi says:

    Hello, interesting article, however I have a question.

    If somebody thinks that they may have excess glutamate ,(but they don’t), and they reduce their intake of glutamic acid drastically, could this mean that they actually reduce their GABA level as glutamic acid is used to produce GABA?

    I am not very knowledgeable about this subject so I apologize if what I said is incorrect.

    Kind regards,

    • Leaves of Life says:

      That’s a great question. What I have found over the years is that patients will NOT continue a restricted diet for any length of time if they don’t see a benefit to it. Most patients who find our website have already determined they have a glutamate sensitivity and are looking for some guidance on what foods to avoid. I am not aware of anyone reading the article and then deciding to start the diet. I hope this helps answer your question. -Patty

  11. Michele says:

    Thank you for the list. I’m wondering if reducing glutamate will help with OCD and fibromyalgia. I know after consuming MSG last year I had an ocular migraine. are coconut and olive oil ok? I’m concerned about losing weight.

  12. Lawn says:

    I’m one of those sensitive ones. Symptoms of dementia, muscle clenching, then weakness and extreme fatigue. Eating a free-form glutamate diet is not easy, but my symptoms didn’t give me much choice. What I can say is that things like walnuts and grapes have natural L-glutamate, not the free form version and have never given me a problem. I can handle some fermented things, like soy sauce in moderation. It’s only the lab produced version that causes a severe reaction for me. I make a lot of Asian stir-fly foods (homemade sauces) and slow cooker dishes like corn beef and cabbage, roasted chicken…whole foods. It’s better to focus on what you can eat and not what you can’t.

  13. Michelle Madsen says:

    NAC and taurine both scavenge glutamate and prevent or lessen binding to the NMDA receptor. NAC also provides cysteine which is the rate limiting step for glutathione synthesis. If you have brain glutamate issues you probably have coincident low glutathione in brain because the glutamate excitotoxicity causes ROS and uses up your antioxidants. Taurine calms microglia and prevents or lessens their activation which is part of the glutamate cascade of problems. Also mind your B vitamins. B6 especially the P5P form of it is essential to the function of the GAD enzyme which converts glutamate to GABA. The B’s work synergistically. So get a good active B complex like Thorne.

  14. Chuck says:

    I do a considerable amount of low-slow smoking of meats at 225-250 degrees (i.e. pork shoulder, brisket, turkey etc.) Does this type of well-controlled low-slow smoking in an electric smoker increase the free glutamate levels of the meat?

    • Leaves of Life says:

      Often what tomato sauce brings is the acidity. I’ve sometimes been lacking tomatoes when I really wanted them for a recipe and have simply substituted something else that adds acidity. Lemons and limes work nicely here. Unfortunately, for a highly tomato-based recipe, there just isn’t anything like tomatoes!

    • Sara says:

      The content of free glutamate is different for different types of rice. I remember reading a study that mentioned free glutamate content in basmati rice being much higher than normal rice… and from personal experience, since I make my own gluten free bread from rice flower, I’ve found that some variations of rice flower give me symptoms of too much glutamate intake as well as rice flowers that contain rice bran… I’m guessing that these symptoms either come from excess glutamate in the specific rice type itself or either from there being an amount of rice bran in the flower

  15. Roxanna says:

    How about white rice? Can I eat it or does it have high free glutamate? I eat it daily (as is common in my culture), Thank you

  16. Roxanna says:

    Also, how can I get a comprehensive list of high and low glutamate natural foods? I already do not eat processed food but am realizing that many things with higher free glutamate, like walnuts and tomatoes, I do eat a lot of. Thank you!

  17. Roxanna says:

    Also, I know that they say probiotics are important to gut and overall health. But it says not to eat fermented foods and these foods are highest in probiotics (like yogurt). What suggestions do you have, thank you so much

    • CJ Hinke says:

      I live in Thailand, Roxanna. Rice bran oil is pretty good; we avoid soy oil & palm oil. You might consider, simply for health (not considering glutamates) switching to brown rice. Lots of possibilities with a rice cooker! We add a handful of red rice to every pot.

  18. Jeroen says:

    What about too little glutmate. I had my amino’s tested. My L-Glutamine was average and my GABA too. But my glutamate was very low; 1 on a scale from 1-10.

    I have OCD. Low glutamate plays a role in schizophrenia and can lead to psychiatric illness.

  19. Jeroen says:

    What about too little glutmate. I had my amino’s tested. My L-Glutamine was average and my GABA too. But my glutamate was very low; 1 on a scale from 1-10. I have OCD.

  20. Leaves of Life says:

    Glutamate is important as an excitatory neurotransmitter. A deficiency will usually result in poor focus and brain/body fatigue. A deficiency is unusual. The first thing I would try to determine is if there was sufficient intake and proper digestion of protein, since all amino acids come from protein. -Patty

  21. Kasia says:

    I’ve become very sensitive in pregnancy. I had trouble with glutamates in my last two pregnancies but there was not enough information online about it. Third time round there is so much, and it’s coincided with pretty serious sleeping issues with my 4 year old son. I’ve taken the high glutamate foods out of my families diet, even though we ate a mostly Whole Foods diet, and my son has been sleeping well for the past week!!! I’m so thankful for articles like this and people who comment, because my son was suffering from something diet related, and I had no idea.

  22. Bel says:

    My son, 6 has just been advised to remove glutamate from his diet. Can anyone recommend a place to access recipes.
    We eat very clean anyway and am struggling to find meal plans / school ideas.

  23. Bel says:

    My son, 6 has just been advised to remove glutamate from his diet. Can anyone recommend a place to access recipes.
    We eat very clean anyway and am struggling to find meal plans / school ideas.
    Thanks in advance

  24. Maggie says:

    I’m 70, and have suffered from OCD since childhood, I guess it’s pervasive development disorder, and both my children have forms of it also. I take 1 mg Xanax at night to help me sleep, Im afraid to take medications because of side effects and afraid of supplements because I don’t trust their purity. I’m so tired of suffering and can’t afford 100% organic.

    • Erica says:

      Gaba is great for anxiety… benzo are so horrible I am getting off of mine. They make glutamate cause the most anxiety for benzo people!!! Gaba will calm you, cramp bark is good for relaxing tense muscles which also helps me calm down. Just my experience !!! Wish you the best!

    • CJ Hinke says:

      Me, too, Maggie! I got second time stupid with Xanax for sleep. It’s not effective for me anymore & I’m afraid to wean without medical support. Old age, eh!

  25. Cindy says:

    My glutamate levels are on 38!!! I am terrible scared . They said this can turn into a neurodegenerative disease. I am only 31. please help! I dont know where to go from here. This. Thia number can’t keep increasing if I dont want my neurons to be affected. I am getting depressed! Please can you offer any guidance?

    • Anne says:

      Where or how did you get your levels checked? I’ve had extensive testing and naturopath told me I need to reduce my glutamates and increase lithium and tryptophan and glutathione but I didn’t actually get tested? Please direct.

  26. Erin says:

    I’ve got celiac disease and need to avoid glutamate (cause anxiety). I have trouble finding any good to eat that doesn’t make me sick! Even tuna and makeral have glutamate!!! ?

  27. Marci Hansen says:

    My neurologist suggested I give up glutamates because I was getting 15 – 30 migraines per month. Upon dropping free glutamates in 4 weeks I’ve had 7 migraines, a huge reduction for me.
    Thank you for this list.
    I’ve been missing chewing sugarless gum. I’m wondering if Xylitol is ok.

  28. George says:

    “Glutamate is a VERY common amino acid found NATURALLY in many foods to varying degrees”

    You should start with noting that glutamate IS NOT an amino acid. That would be glutamine, note the “amine” part. Glutamate is an organic acid, which CAN enzymatically be converted to glutamine. But just eating it doesn’t suddenly overwhelm a system with glutamine.
    That’s not how biochemistry works

    • julie olson says:

      Hi Abo,
      Thanks for sharing your search engine for ingredients with free glutamate. I entered coffee and nothing happened, but I thought coffee had glutamate or am I not using it correctly?

  29. Matt Wyman says:

    Ultimately – the common Glutamates that I find to be the trouble makers are Corn, Nuts (especially Peanuts and Walnuts) and Raw Sugar. They all contain a fungus that lives within these plants and produces an excitotoxin (Glutamate) which causes the over excitation of neurons and leads to neural death.

  30. Jude says:

    TY for all the info. I am here for my kids. Just to be clear, with those of you with too much glutamate in system; does this produce anxiety, panic attacks, depression? Does it produce a racing mind or the lack of ability to settle down or be more or less? We’re talking about kids now over 18 but the struggles, they’ve gone through. I myself eat a WFPB diet so I’m good but I know some or all of their problems are nutrition based and I don’t want to see them needing pharmas and become addicted if not necessary. TY

  31. Angela says:

    Watch unblind my mind on YouTube. It explains free glutamate vs. bound glutamate. Msg and the other names allowed for it are free and in excess. Natural founds have glutamate bound with proteins in much smaller amounts.

  32. Jenny says:

    I’ve read that if you accidentally eat a food high in glutamate you can take GABA or maybe taurine to help counteract the effects. Has anyone tried that?

    My glutamate sensitivity manifests in insomnia. I’m thinking I may need to get tough and just not eat the delicious meals my niece cooks. What am I going to eat instead? I’m not sure. Rice and sauteed cabbage?

  33. Polly Hussain says:

    Can anyone give a simple list of what whole foods can be eaten in a Low Glutamate diet. Particularly what’s good for breakfast, are there any cereals? Which grains are safe? What milk is safe? Don’t say avoid processed or MSG. I got that part. ; )

  34. Birgit says:

    Most people take Calcium Citrate. That’s the issue . .Citrate. Alot of the calciums and magnesiums today are sold with some kind of acid like citrate or glycine etc. I use straight powdered Calcium Carbonate, no issues. Taste like nothing and is very creamy.

  35. Paula Mulhall says:

    I was having seizures from glutamate. I was on the floor screaming. It got worse over time to the point no ER would even treat me or know how to treat me! I went down to 99 lbs before I diagonosed myself and found a neurologist who was familiar w/the condition: abdominal epilepsy. I’ve been on Topomax for 2 years. It works on the neurotransmitter level to stop the brain from misfiring. It has worked! I am free of seizures and can eat anything again. I am, however, avoiding all foods w/MSG. It is a killer on so many levels.

  36. Sylvia says:

    I am having the most horrible almost back-to-back migraines with aura. They are affecting other areas of the way my body works too, and to some extent, cognition, Not just a headache The headache is the least part of it.
    I eat almost all whole foods, home cooked, simple cooked, no addtions or sauces etc.
    No fast food, restaurant food, junk foods, packaged or processed, with the exception of a store bought artisan seed wholegrain bread (in-store bakery)
    Looks like I can’t have peas, broccoli, potatoes or grapes any more. Those are all in my fridge right now. Because of problems in gut owing to the migraine I have had to cut out so many beloved veggies already. Probably can’t have my toast either….
    First it was the IBS diet, now it’s this. Sad. I love food too. Always used to be able to eat anything.

  37. Katie says:

    This is a fantastic article, I have glutamate sensitivity.
    With the discussion about GABA, I’m wondering if it’s suggesting of taking GABA can help counter balance th issue?
    I’ve had a urine test which unfortunately shows most amino acids blexcept GABA, it does however show I have high taurine and then explains that high taurine has a strong effect on GABA.
    Also I will try b6 like some of the comments suggest.

  38. V says:

    Btw the cure to this is vitamin B6. 50 mg a day for two weeks is said to improve it, I use a bee patch after eating when I’m feeling the effects of glutamate and it helps but regular intake of B6 will help there are very few studies on it but I have read a couple

  39. V says:

    the reason is because B6 is a cofactor in the breakdown of glutamate. For some of us who can’t process glutamate I have a hypotheses that we have a functional b6 deficency, i say fubctional because even if your blood levels are not low for some reason we need more to break down glutamate

  40. Dmytro says:

    Glutamate and glutamic acid are two different chemical compounds with different effect, please don’t confuse them. Glutamate is a salt of glutamic acid. It’s not an aminoacid itself. The article is full of inaccuracies

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