Is MSG bad for you? Everything you need to know

MSG is common additive in food to enhance the flavours.

MSG is common additive in food to enhance the flavours. Photo: Getty

The issue of MSG is highly prevalent in the natural health community.

It is known as monosodium glutamate and is a common additive in food to enhance and intensify flavours.

According to Healthline, it is “derived from the amino acid glutamate, which is one of the most abundant amino acids in nature.”

“Glutamate is one of the non-essential amino acids, meaning that the human body is able to produce it and serves various functions in the human body. ”

What is MSG made from?

MSG is naturally found in all different foods including tomatoes and cheese. It is produced by the fermentation of starch, sugar beets, sugarcane and molasses. This fermentation process is similar to the one that produces yoghurt, vinegar and wine.

Is MSG bad for your health?

This idea first came to light in the late 60s when Dr Ho Man Kwok published a letter about the negative side effects. It was published in the New England Journal of Medicine and reported that it caused nausea, headaches, weakness and palpitations in the human body.

However the peak body for food safety in Australia, Food Standards Australian and New Zealand (FSANZ), said that MSG is “generally recognised as safe”.

“Although many people identify themselves as sensitive to MSG, in studies with such individuals given MSG or a placebo, scientists have not been able to consistently trigger reactions,” FSANZ states.

Is it cancerous ?

While there is no scientific proof, Dr Russel Blaylock, a researcher and retired neurosurgeon, states in his book Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills “excess consumption of glutamate promotes cancer growth”.

What foods have MSG in them?

MSG is present in many fast-food products. It can also be found in flavoured chips and crackers, canned soups, instant noodles, soup and dip mixes, seasoning salt, bouillon cubes, salad dressings, gravy mixes or pre-made gravies, cold cuts and hot dogs.

In Australia, foods that contain it are showed on the ingredient panel of the packaging. It does occur naturally in ingredients such as hydrolysed vegetable protein, autolyzed and hydrolyzed yeast, yeast extract, soy extracts and protein isolate.

MSG can be found in numerous processed foods including instant noodles.

MSG can be found in numerous processed foods including instant noodles. Photo: Getty

What are the side effects of eating it?

The side effects vary from person to person but some people have a sensitivity to it in large quantities while other people are fully allergic to it. The US Food and Drug Administration states that a large quantity is anything exceeding three grams of MSG less than a teaspoonful.

The side effects include headaches, nausea, dizziness, rapid or irregular heartbeat, flushing or excessive sweating, skin rash, numbness, intense thirst, lethargy or sleepiness, ringing ears or tingling in the mouth.

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