The dangers of putting monosodium glutamate (MSG) in foods can range from minor, temporary annoyances to long term disease and death. It most commonly causes headaches, diarrhea, and discomfort in the mouth and face area. MSG in foods can also cause more serious reactions such as seizures, severe allergies, and even degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Some of the minor annoyances that can arise from putting MSG in foods include headaches — including migraines, nausea, and diarrhea. Consumption of MSG can cause flushing in the face and sweating. The seasoning may also cause a tingling sensation, burning, or numbness in the mouth area.
Consumption of MSG in foods can bring on seizures, asthma attacks, and allergic reactions that range from mild to fatal. Some people who eat MSG may notice tightness and pressure in the facial muscles. Chest pain, shortness of breath, and confusion are other possible immediate effects.
There are many more serious long term affects that can result from putting MSG in foods. It can have a severe effect on the mind, including causing Alzheimer’s disease, brain damage, brain edema, and memory loss. The heart can also be affected, from fluttering heartbeats and heart disease to damaged blood vessels which can result in a heart attack. MSG is also believed to contribute to cancer and type 2 diabetes.
Many other wide-ranging problems can arise from consuming food flavored with MSG. Women who eat MSG may suffer fertility problems or fetal damage if they are pregnant. It can also cause weight gain in both men and women by weakening the center of the brain that regulates appetite suppression. Excess weight gained from consumption of MSG is extremely difficult to lose because it affects eating behavior at its source. MSG has even been linked to speech problems such as stuttering.
MSG is hidden in several processed foods under a variety of names. Some of the most common terms used are hydrolyzed vegetable protein, calcium caseinate, yeast extract, and textured protein. Even products with ingredients labeled as having natural flavors or flavoring can contain MSG.
Types of foods that often contain MSG include canned and instant soup mixes, frozen dinners, and several kinds of snack foods such as flavored potato chips. It can also be found in bouillon, broth, and a wide array of seasonings and spices. MSG is also extremely common in fast food. The best way to avoid the risks associated with MSG in food is to avoid processed meals and consume primarily whole, fresh foods.