Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer commonly added to Chinese food, canned vegetables, soups and processed foods. When added to our processed foods, MSG masks off flavors and makes the blandest and cheapest foods taste wonderful.
Glutamic acid is a neurotransmitter that excites our neurons (not just in our tongues). This electrical charging of neurons is what makes foods with added free glutamic acid taste so good. Since free glutamic acid is cheap and since its neurotoxic nerve stimulation enhances so wonderfully the flavor of basically bland and tasteless foods, such as many low-fat and vegetarian foods, manufacturers are eager to go on using it and do not want the public to realize any of the problems.
Unfortunately, MSG can cause problems in many people and has many documented side effects, especially in children. Adverse reactions include: Headache, Flushing, Sweating, Facial pressure or tightness, Numbness, tingling or burning in face, neck and other area, Rapid fluttering heartbeats (heart palpitations), Chest pain, Nausea, Weakness and so on.
Although the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified MSG as a food ingredient that’s “generally recognized as safe,” the use of MSG remains very controversial. For this reason, when MSG is added to food, the FDA requires that it be listed on the label.
How do you spot MSG on food labels? It goes under the food additive code E621. You also need to look out for the following ingredients on products as these ALWAYS contain MSG:
Glutamate, Monosodium glutamate, Monopotassium glutamate, Glutamic acid, Calcium caseinate, Gelatin, Textured protein, Hydrolyzed protein, Yeast extract, Yeast food, Autolyzed yeast, Yeast nutrient.
When you have Chinese (or Asian) food, make sure you ask if MSG is added to your food and request that they remove it.