There are many myths about MSG or Monosodium Glutamate and the effect it can have on your health. Anecdotal evidence indicates that it can trigger headaches in some people. It’s also been connected to other health concerns, including sweating, nausea, numbness, and chest pain. As a result, many have opted to eliminate it from their diets. Below we’re going to explore MSG and how to identify it in your food.
Understanding MSG, And Separating Fact From Fiction
Monosodium glutamate is also known as glutamic acid. Glutamic acid is regularly naturally produced in the body. MSG is commonly produced in the body when digesting various substances. Among these can be found autolyzed yeast, which is found in processed meats and soups. This substance is prevalent in vegetarian meats as a flavor enhancer. MSG in its most basic form can be found listed under multiple names, including:
- Glutamic acid
- Calcium glutamate
- Magnesium glutamate
- Disodium guanylate
- Disodium inosinate
- Disodium 5-ribonucleotide
- Magnesium glutamate
All of the above substances are MSG, though the list is not comprehensive.
The History of MSG In Food
Monosodium glutamate is not a recent addition to the human diet. It was first discovered in 1908 through the efforts of Dr. Kikunae Ikeda. Dr. Ikeda was a biochemist working in Japan working on isolating the flavor of kombu. This edible seaweed was an essential part of Japanese soups. He ultimately isolated MSG as the source of the flavor the seaweed imparted. From there, it has become a common ingredient in a broad range of products. Processed foods, in particular, commonly make use of it.
The origin of the ailment, once known as “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome,” stems from one letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine. In this letter, a doctor reported a set of symptoms that are familiar today. “Weakness, radiating pain in the arms, and heart palpitations” quickly became the symptoms associated with “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.” The earliest studies failed to follow proper scientific protocol and interpreted the data to meet the expected results.
It’s important to understand that ongoing research has been unable to tie consumption of MSG to health concerns consistently. While reports continue to come in, they are unable to be replicated under strict scientific research conditions. Regardless, many people report that they have MSG sensitivity. Addressing this concern by eliminating MSG from your diet has no adverse consequences. The above information will help you make informed decisions when making dietary choices.
Learn More About Creating a Healthy Diet
If you believe that you may have an MSG sensitivity, it can help speak to a nutritionist. Being aware of the contents of your food is an essential step in taking control of your symptoms. Those who suffer from MSG sensitivity can have difficulty finding foods that are safe for them to consume. Working with a nutritionist and learning to recognize foods that have MSG in them are the best steps to control your symptoms.