Is MSG Bad For You? What is MSG and Should You Avoid It? (Monosodium Glutamate)

Is MSG Bad For You? What is MSG and Should You Avoid It? (Monosodium Glutamate)

August 1, 2019 100 By William Morgan


As we know it now, MSG, short for monosodium
glutamate, is a world-wide popular food additive
that has been deemed unhealthy and dangerous
for your health. So dangerous that petitions
have rise in multiple countries, to put an
end to its use in our foods. Along with that,
we even see restaurants or food products advertising
that their food is “healthier” because it
has no added MSG. And there are even people
that are attempting to blame MSG for causing
OBESITY. Quite significant if true.
So what’s the exact deal with MSG, and should
we really be afraid of it?
Again, MSG acts as flavor enhancer. In fact,
its main use is to enhance the savory and
meaty taste known as Umami. The flavor comes
from the glutamate in MSG, and all types of
food high in glutamate, such as tomatoes,
chicken, soy, and mushrooms, share the same
unique Umami flavor. As this flavor became
more and more popular, MSG’s popularity rose
as well.
But just as anything that becomes popular,
it also becomes highly scrutinized. In the
case of MSG, self-reported symptoms of headaches,
fatigue, muscle tightness, and cramping began
to develop. These symptoms derived after eating
Chinese food. And fittingly, it was coined
the “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.” Since many
Chinese meals contain high amounts of MSG,
people quickly blamed MSG for causing these
symptoms.
Then, finally, when studies began to surface
about MSG and its side effects, these symptoms,
in fact were found to be connected. But, there
was a catch. A lot of the early MSG research
ran double-blinded studies, however, since
MSG has a rather unique flavoring, it was
very possible that the subjects were able
to easily identify the MSG flavor, which invalidates
the blind factor of the study. When a study
had MSG consumed in pill form, thus removing
the flavor, both MSG and a placebo had roughly
the same effect. But there are still correlations
that MSG might induce some sort of negative
effect on the body, and consumption should
be monitored if you’re sensitive to it. Just
like if you’re sensitive to caffine, you simply
don’t want to drink too much of it. Generally,
however, the effects aren’t really significant.
Another claim of avoiding MSG is because MSG
increase glutamate plasma levels within the
body. Since studies have linked neurological
disorders from mice that were injected with
glutamate or even MSG directly, the fear-mongering
claimed that eating MSG causes disease such
as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. But,
of course, there’s a catch. These studies
inject MSG directly into the… brain of these
rats… yea… Oral ingestion of MSG does
increase glutamate levels, but never has it
shown to cause neurological disorders.
In terms of obesity, which seems to always
come up when some food is claimed to be “bad,”
there simply isn’t many studies to support
this. Some do link MSG in possibly increasing
calorie intake due to influences in hunger,
but other studies shows the opposite where
MSG might actually make you less hungry. So
the real understanding is up in the air, and
to say that it does drive more appetite and
hunger which can lead to overeating and ultimately
obesity, is just making a claim with very
little substance, or flavor, in this case.
So all in all, MSG is roughly okay to consume
in moderate doses. But if you do feel like
you fall under the category of getting headaches
or not feeling well after eating MSG, placebo
or not, just don’t eat it. But to ban it,
just, as far as the research shows, doesn’t
make sense.
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