There are possible health hazards associated with consuming MSG or monosodium glutamate. This article will give you more information on side effects of MSG in children and adults.
A naturally found additive, monosodium glutamate or MSG is used in a variety of foods, specially Chinese food, for flavoring. It is a sodium salt of glutamic acid and is used to add the fifth taste known as the umami taste. This flavor is found in tomatoes which is believed to activate the umami taste buds in human beings.
An Overview of Monosodium Glutamate
It was first discovered by the Ajinomoto Corp. in Japan and today, it is widely recognized as ajinomoto, a food additive. Although used in a variety of foodstuff, specially canned foodstuff, ajinomoto is extensively used in Chinese and Japanese food. This additive is made by the fermentation of sugar and starch.
As it a naturally found, it is inexpensive and is used in several foods. Secondly, there are no restrictions on its usage, but, it is mandatory for manufacturers to label it on food products. Foods that may contain MSG are fried chicken, salad dressings, canned soups, gravies and other processed and canned foods. Soy sauce that is used extensively in Chinese cuisine also contains this additive. There is a lot of controversy related to health concerns and dangers related to this food additive.
In the year 1968, some people reported to have experienced side effects on consuming Chinese food. This gave rise to a condition known as Chinese restaurant syndrome. It is a collection of symptoms that one observes within a few hours on eating Chinese food. There have been wide speculations that these symptoms are actually the effects caused due to monosodium glutamate. However, this is not proven yet, and a controversy looms over the case. The following are the potential side effects that are believed to be associated with MSG:
- Chest pain
- Numbness or burning sensation in the mouth
- Rapid Heartbeat
- Facial tightness
- Skin rash
In some cases, people experience severe side effects like the following:
- Rise or drop in the blood pressure
- Joint pain or stiffness
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of balance
In children, it is also believed to trigger off asthma attacks. Therefore, it is advisable for asthmatics to stay refrain from consuming foods containing MSG in excess. Secondly, the glutamic acid is a neurotransmitter that excites taste related neurons in the nervous system. However, sometimes, they can even excite other neurons resulting in neurological problems like mental confusion, mood swings, and migraine in people.
Monosodium Glutamate and Obesity
When a research was conducted on rats, it was found that MSG increased the appetite of rats and contributed in obesity. In human beings, as mentioned above, it excites certain neurons to the extent of cell damage, which can consequently result in abnormal development and obesity. One of the most extensively consumed products, potato and tortilla chips, may contain this additive, which is hazardous to health and can even lead to obesity.
Lastly, it needs to be mentioned that not all symptoms are always observed in people. Some people may not even experience a single side effect on consuming MSG. However, as there can be potential long-term health concerns related to monosodium glutamate, it is advisable to check ingredients of food products and avoid it as much as possible. Take care!
Disclaimer: This article is meany only to provide information. In case any discomfort persists on consuming any food product, you should consult the doctor.