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Is MSG Bad for Your Health?

By Sara Butler

Monosodium glutamate, also known as MSG, has gotten a bit of a reputation over the last few decades. People see it as a bad-for-you additive to foods that can have a negative impact on your health. But what is MSG and is it really that bad for you? Read on to find out!

MSG Defined

The Food and Drug Administration defines MSG as a derivative of glutamate, an amino acid. Your body actually produces glutamate naturally and you can find it in foods such as cheese and tomatoes, where it's not an additive at all. MSG is created by fermenting starches and it's used as a flavor enhancer in foods. Your body metabolizes glutamate the same, whether it's eaten in a food that it occurs in naturally or is added.

Why MSG Got a Bad Rap

You've probably heard that MSG isn't good for you, but after reading what the FDA has to say about it, you might wonder why it's mired in such controversy. It all started back in the late 1960s when people started experiencing rather unpleasant symptoms after eating in Chinese restaurants that served foods with added MSG. Then, in the 1990s, the FDA studied MSG only to find that some people are actually sensitive to it and can experience side effects such as headaches, numbness, tingling, flushing, and heart palpitations.

What's important to understand is that not all people are sensitive to MSG and it's now not thought to be associated with long-term health risks. In fact, the FDA considers it a safe food additive.

Foods with MSG

There are a lot of foods out there beyond your traditional Chinese takeout that have MSG in them. Many prepackaged foods and snacks such as chips have MSG added in them. If you want to try avoiding it, then you should look on the ingredient list. All manufacturers must list MSG on the nutritional information but be warned that restaurants don't have to abide by any such disclaimer. And there are a lot of chefs out there who love MSG.

Should You Eat MSG?

If you think that you may be someone who is sensitive to MSG because you experience side effects such as dizziness or headaches after you eat it, then by all means -- avoid it. But if you think you should avoid MSG simply because it's not good for you, there's really no proof that is the case. If you curb your consumption of highly processed foods, then you'll naturally curb your food of MSG.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Snellville, Ga.

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