Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer. MSG can lead to various health problems. Many of you may not know its side effects. It is commonly used in canned food, soup, Chinese food, processed meats, and other Asian cuisines.
However, the safety of this ingredient remains controversial. But, “The Food and Drug Administration” has termed “generally recognized as safe.” And many people have noticed side-effects. It includes nausea and headache after consuming MSG in food.
MSG comes from the amino acid called glutamic acid. It is naturally found in aged parmesan cheese, mushrooms, soy sauce, etc.
MSG in Food and Cooking
MSG is more common than you may think. It is an additive that makes the food tastier. You can find packets of pure MSG in Asian grocery stores. But excess use of MSG can lead to various health problems. Traditionally, it was made by isolating the glutamic acid in seaweed. And then it was used in the Japanese broth Kombu deshi.
MSG is a crystalline powder. It can be sprinkled on stir fry or other food to enhance the taste. MSG is quite often used in restaurants. It is not exclusive to Asian cuisines. You can also find them in the Caribbean or Latin American cuisine as well. Accent flavor enhancers, chicken dishes, hot dogs, pre-made gravies, always have MSG in them. Even popular brands like Doritos and KFC chicken use them.
Side-effects of MSG
MSG has been around for a few decades now. The FDA reports many cases of allergic reactions from food that contained MSG. The reactions are often called the MSG Symptom Complex. Some of the symptoms include:
- Chest pain
- Heart palpitations
- Burning, tingling, or numbness in the neck, face, or other areas.
It is important to know that MSG is also used in the Western diet. But the symptoms are not linked to that of MSG Symptom Complex. A review was published in The Journal of Nutrition in 2000. It was observed that people did not experience any side-effects even after consuming high doses of MSG in a meal.
Important Facts Related to MSG
However, there is one caveat. Consumption of MSG-rich food on an empty stomach, increase the chances of experiencing side-effects. A study was conducted in 2013. In the study, healthy adults consumed 10gms of MSG without food. Almost all of the participants complained of a headache. Some of them experienced increased blood pressure and heart rate for a short period as well.
Ingestion of MSG also reduces Adiponectin. It helps to regulate blood sugar levels and also decreases the metabolism level. The combination can make you gain weight. As a result, it increases your food cravings. Also, chemical Leptin is not recognized by the brain. The chemical messenger delivers the signal to stop eating.
MSG also causes inflammation of blood vessels in the liver. And it destructs red blood cells and the liver cells. In some cases, MSG can lead to various health problems like insulin resistance.
Treatment for MSG Side-effects
You can know which products use MSG by reading the ingredients. Else you can just Google search. People who are sensitive to MSG may experience some side-effects. However, many people call it an allergic reaction. But MSG has not been recognized as an allergen yet.
The first step should be to avoid food items that have preservatives. This includes some famous restaurants and packaged chips, etc. But many restaurants use MSG without making it evident. In that case, you should hydrate yourself to decrease the intensity of MSG.
If you do experience mild symptoms, try peppermint or ginger tea to control nausea. Over-the-counter medicine will be of help for headaches, stomach pain, and nausea. For severe symptoms like facial swelling or palpitations, you could try antihistamine medicines.
Prevention for MSG side-effects
One can protect themself by not consuming food items that have MSG. You can easily avoid chips or fast-food outlets that use them. However, there are many eateries that do not disclose the use of MSG. In that case, it is best to consume less when eating outside. If you are sensitive to MSG, always cross-check with the waiter before you place your order.
Therefore, if you are looking for MSG on packages, you may have to look for other names. MSG has other names as well. Those are modified food starch, hydrolyzed protein, E621, or maltodextrin. Also, avoid natural glutamate if you are sensitive to MSG. You can find them in bone broths, soy protein, mushrooms, tomato juice, cured meats, walnuts, etc.
Whenever we feel sick, we tend to trace back our steps to what we ate last. But, it is not always the cause of sickness. However, be observant of the triggers. If you feel that certain foods or restaurants give you the MSG Symptom Complex, it is best to avoid them.