Under the Hood

Does MSG Have Negative Effect On Brain Health?

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a widely used food additive, especially in Asia. With its added flavor, some people claim that it also has unwanted effects when consumed for a long time. 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers MSG as safe for consumption. That means the product passed testing for negative effects on human health. 

However, there have been reports from consumers saying that they experienced headaches or migraine attacks after eating foods with MSG. Monosodium glutamate is commonly used in soups and processed foods like chips, seasoning blends, frozen meals and instant noodles.

People also claimed they had sensitivities to MSG. Other reported bad effects of MSG are muscle tightness, tingling, numbness, weakness and flushing, according to Healthline.

But these are only reported by consumers. There is no evidence supporting claims that MSG has side effects after regular consumption, particularly headaches. 

One study showed that MSG is unlikely to harm brain health. Researchers said the food additive appeared unable to travel beyond the blood-brain barrier.

Another review of studies in 2016 found that the effects of MSG consumption do not lead to headaches. The findings were backed by the International Headache Society (IHS), which removed MSG from the list of products that could cause headaches.

Other Side Effects Of MSG

However, headache is not the only health problem linked by consumers to MSG. Some studies suggested that the food additive could contribute to weight gain, hunger and the risk of having chronic conditions like heart disease, stroke and diabetes. 

But a review of 40 studies found that many of the past efforts that looked into the side effects of MSG were poorly designed. It suggested that more larger studies are required to understand how the product directly causes changes in the body. 

However, it is important to know that MSG is present in many foods that have been associated with serious health problems, such as heart disease and obesity. It is commonly added to fast food, frozen meals, processed meat, chips and other snack foods.

High consumption of those foods can be harmful. It is better to follow a healthy diet with more fruits and vegetables to stay healthy.

MSG Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is commonly used in soups and processed foods like chips, seasoning blends, frozen meals and instant noodles. Richard Masoner/flickr

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