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The Truth About MSG

If you’ve ever eaten out at a Chinese restaurant, chances are you’ve experienced the taste of MSG. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer commonly used in Asian cuisine. But what is MSG, and is it bad for you? This article will discuss everything you need to know about MSG. We’ll talk about what it is, where it’s found, and whether or not it’s harmful to your health. So instead of listening to all the hype, get the truth about MSG and make an informed decision for yourself.

The Truth About MSG


MSG, or monosodium glutamate, is a common food additive that enhances the flavor. It is derived from glutamic acid, a naturally occurring amino acid in many foods, including meat, seafood, vegetables, and dairy products. MSG provides an umami flavor when used in food, often described as “savory” or “meaty.” While MSG has been used for centuries in Asian cuisine, it only became widely used in the West after World War II.

Today, MSG can be found in a wide variety of foods, from salad dressings and soups to processed meats and snack foods. So even if you think you’re avoiding MSG, there’s a good chance you’re consuming it regularly.

How MSG Is Created


Most MSG is produced through fermentation using sugar beets, sugar cane, or tapioca starch. The starch is broken down into glucose, fermented by bacteria. This bacteria produces glutamic acid, the main ingredient in MSG. The glutamic acid is then purified and crystallized to create MSG.

While MSG occurs naturally in some foods, the vast majority of MSG used in the food industry is artificially produced. However, there is no evidence that artificial MSG is any less safe than natural MSG.

The Different Uses For MSG


MSG is commonly used as a flavor enhancer in Chinese, Japanese, and other Asian cuisines. It can be added to soups, sauces, marinades, and stir-fries to enhance their flavor. MSG is also often used as a table condiment in Chinese restaurants. In addition, MSG is commonly used in processed foods, such as canned soups, salad dressings, chips, and frozen meals in the United States.

It is also often added to grilled meats and seafood to enhance flavor. However, you can also use MSG as a seasoning in your home cooking. Just be sure to use it sparingly, as too much MSG can make food taste overly salty or bitter.

How To Identify Foods With MSG


If you are concerned about MSG, there are a few things you can do to avoid it. First, check food labels carefully. MSG must be listed as an ingredient if it is present in the food. Secondly, be aware that MSG often goes by other names, such as hydrolyzed vegetable protein or autolyzed yeast extract.

Finally, ask your server whether the dish contains MSG when dining out. Taking these precautions can help avoid the potential side effects of this common food additive.

The Potential Side Effects Of MSG


While more research is needed, some studies have suggested that MSG may be linked to specific health problems; this section will take a look at some of the most common of these issues so that you can get a better understanding of the potential risks involved.


While it is considered safe by most regulatory bodies, some people claim that MSG can cause headaches and other adverse reactions. The purported link between MSG and headaches is not well understood, but it is thought that MSG may trigger the release of certain neurotransmitters that can lead to headaches.

The exact mechanism is unknown, but sensitive individuals may be more susceptible to the effects of MSG. Therefore, if you believe that you may be sensitive to MSG, it is best to avoid foods that contain it.

Burning Sensation

Have you ever eaten something that made your mouth feel warm and tingly? If so, you may have experienced the effects of MSG. This burning effect is caused by activating nerve endings that are sensitive to heat. When these nerve endings are stimulated, they send signals to the brain that are interpreted as pain. In some people, this response is more pronounced than in others.

As a result, they may experience a more intense burning sensation after eating foods that contain MSG. While the sensation is usually not harmful, it can be unpleasant for some people. If you find that MSG makes your mouth uncomfortable, you can try avoiding foods containing it or using other flavor enhancers instead.


Another common side effect people have reported after consuming MSG is nausea. MSG can cause the body to release histamines, leading to symptoms like headache, flushing, sweating, and dizziness. It can also cause the stomach to produce more acid than usual, leading to an upset stomach and nausea.

In severe cases, MSG can also trigger an allergic reaction. And while these reactions are rare, they can be serious. Therefore, if you experience severe side effects after eating MSG, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.


Though the exact mechanism is not fully understood, it is thought that MSG may cause fatigue by interfering with the body’s ability to metabolize adenosine. Adenosine is a nucleoside that plays an important role in energy production, and it is thought that disruptions to its metabolism can lead to feelings of fatigue.

In addition, MSG may also trigger the release of certain hormones that can promote fatigue. As a result, it is best to avoid foods containing MSG if you feel it is adversely affecting your energy levels.

The Upside Of MSG


Now that you know about some potential problems MSG can cause, it is important to look at some of the upsides of this flavor additive. Studies have shown that MSG can help to improve cognitive function and memory. It has also been shown to boost metabolism and reduce appetite.

Additionally, MSG can help to enhance the flavor of certain foods. This makes it a valuable tool for chefs who want to create delicious and nutritious meals. Unless you are sensitive to it, there is no reason to avoid MSG. It may even provide some health benefits.

So What Is The Truth About MSG?

So now you know the truth about MSG! While it can cause some minor side effects in some people, it is generally considered safe. Additionally, it may even have some health benefits. So if you enjoy the flavor of foods containing MSG, you do not need to avoid them. However, if you are sensitive to MSG, you should avoid foods containing it. And just like with any food, it is always best to consume MSG in moderation.