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Thread: Is MSG bad for you?

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    Elder Contributor Underseer's Avatar
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    Is MSG bad for you?


    (View video on YouTube)

    A long time ago, people who tried Chinese food came down with a mysterious ailment that was dubbed "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome" that included a scary list of symptoms. This was said to be caused by monosodium glutemate, and so to this day, people think that MSG is bad for you despite the fact that there has never been a scientific study proving that Chinese Restaurant Syndrome is a real disease, much less than that it is caused by MSG.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anthony Bourdain
    “You know what causes Chinese Restaurant Syndrome? Racism.”
    Mind you, the sodium ions in MSG can cause the same problems as the sodium ions in table salt, but other than that it's just a sodium ion bonded to glutamic acid.

    If MSG caused brain damage as the racists imagine, then China and Japan would be among the dumbest nations on the planet right now.

    Part of the problem is the "liberal" mainstream media, which was happy to exploit racist fears about Asian people in the 1970s to push stories about MSG being bad for you and citing research that turned out to be flawed, but after decades of subsequent research showed the flaws in the original research, the media was suddenly not as interested in reporting the retractions because not-racism doesn't sell as many news stories as racism.

    The kicker is that those who complain about MSG never seem to complain about MSG in Western ingredients or dishes. It just becomes a problem when it's in Asian food.

    To any conservatives or libertarians reading this, I apologize for saying that racism is a bad thing, and I hope your feelings were not hurt by my words. I only complain about racist things because I am a sinister Social Justice Warrior out to attack your freedom to not be criticized.

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    Formerly Joedad
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    MSG is not food, which is why I don't eat it. It's in a few things I eat occasionally, but those things it mentioned in the first minutes of the video are all things I do not eat.

    I was never aware of its association with racism.

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    My Brane Hertz spikepipsqueak's Avatar
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    I often can't understand how you make unrelated topics into questions of racism, Underseer.

    In some people, glutamates interfere with nerve impulse transmission. It can play havoc in those people. That happens whatever food it is delivered in, but probably happened more when Asian restaurants became popular in the West.

    MSG is not typically used in home cooking in English speaking countries whereas some Chinese friends of mine do add tasting powder to home cooked meals.

    The people who react also have to avoid potato chips and other foods that aren't related to Asian culture, including KFC.
    My Brane Hertz

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    Contributor repoman's Avatar
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    So, on a basic level is this a "dose makes the poison" issue?

    There is free glutamic acid and glutamate (proton is gone) in a lot of savory food that give the sense of umami.

    There is also a lot of glutamate in protein powder - often 20% of the amino acid by weight.

    But, would not the glutamate have to get into the blood in significant quantities and then get past the blood brain barrier and then show it would do something? This should be eminently testable, so easy as to be trivial.

    Is the "theory" that MSG (if it gets into the brain) is a long term brain stressor that would lead to something that would look like standard aging, but push it up by a decade or more earlier?

    Now, the fact that MSG directly stimulates the tongue's umami sensors may in itself do some rewiring of taste, sort of like artificial sweeteners push our taste buds and appetite in a bad direction. It does not have to actually get past the blood brain barrier.

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    Member Peez's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spikepipsqueak View Post
    I often can't understand how you make unrelated topics into questions of racism, Underseer.

    In some people, glutamates interfere with nerve impulse transmission. It can play havoc in those people. That happens whatever food it is delivered in, but probably happened more when Asian restaurants became popular in the West.

    MSG is not typically used in home cooking in English speaking countries whereas some Chinese friends of mine do add tasting powder to home cooked meals.

    The people who react also have to avoid potato chips and other foods that aren't related to Asian culture, including KFC.
    Interestingly, according to my (admittedly meager) searches, the idea of a "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome" was generated by a Chinese immigrant to the USA. Many people I know are suspicious of any artificial (and many natural) additive, regardless of cultural associations. There are plenty of people out there with racist attitudes, to lesser and greater degrees, but there does not seem to be anything necessarily racist about a mistrust of MSG.

    Peez

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    Elder Contributor Underseer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly View Post
    MSG is not food, which is why I don't eat it. It's in a few things I eat occasionally, but those things it mentioned in the first minutes of the video are all things I do not eat.

    I was never aware of its association with racism.
    Not food?

    Do you also not eat salt, sugar, or any other seasonings in your food?

    If you don't get some sodium, you die.

    Cutting out all glutamic acid would probably not be very good for you either.

    Be more specific about what you mean by "not food"?

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Peez View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by spikepipsqueak View Post
    I often can't understand how you make unrelated topics into questions of racism, Underseer.

    In some people, glutamates interfere with nerve impulse transmission. It can play havoc in those people. That happens whatever food it is delivered in, but probably happened more when Asian restaurants became popular in the West.

    MSG is not typically used in home cooking in English speaking countries whereas some Chinese friends of mine do add tasting powder to home cooked meals.

    The people who react also have to avoid potato chips and other foods that aren't related to Asian culture, including KFC.
    Interestingly, according to my (admittedly meager) searches, the idea of a "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome" was generated by a Chinese immigrant to the USA. Many people I know are suspicious of any artificial (and many natural) additive, regardless of cultural associations. There are plenty of people out there with racist attitudes, to lesser and greater degrees, but there does not seem to be anything necessarily racist about a mistrust of MSG.

    Peez
    That doesn't change the fact that this is clearly racist, as evidenced by the fact that no one ever complains about MSG if it's in Western food.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by spikepipsqueak View Post
    I often can't understand how you make unrelated topics into questions of racism, Underseer.

    In some people, glutamates interfere with nerve impulse transmission. It can play havoc in those people. That happens whatever food it is delivered in, but probably happened more when Asian restaurants became popular in the West.

    MSG is not typically used in home cooking in English speaking countries whereas some Chinese friends of mine do add tasting powder to home cooked meals.

    The people who react also have to avoid potato chips and other foods that aren't related to Asian culture, including KFC.
    Watch the video. It's racism. I'm sorry if complaining about racism offends you.

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    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Underseer View Post

    Not food?

    Do you also not eat salt, sugar, or any other seasonings in your food?

    If you don't get some sodium, you die.

    Cutting out all glutamic acid would probably not be very good for you either.

    Be more specific about what you mean by "not food"?
    Glutamate is synthesized by the human body, so a healthy person can survive without eating it - but it would require an unusual diet very low in protein in order to do so.

    I know a few people who 'know' that MSG gives them headaches. But oddly, that only happens when they eat food that they suspect contains MSG - if they eat something with MSG that they didn't realize contained it, they are fine, and if they eat food that probably doesn't contain it, but that they imagine probably does (typically Asian take-away) then they get a headache.

    Food intolerances are real, devastating and very, very rare. The vast majority of people who avoid MSG, Gluten, or other additives and ingredients are victims of self hypnosis. Their symptoms may be real, but the causes are psychological.

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    Contributor repoman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Underseer View Post

    Not food?

    Do you also not eat salt, sugar, or any other seasonings in your food?

    If you don't get some sodium, you die.

    Cutting out all glutamic acid would probably not be very good for you either.

    Be more specific about what you mean by "not food"?
    Glutamate is synthesized by the human body, so a healthy person can survive without eating it - but it would require an unusual diet very low in protein in order to do so.

    I know a few people who 'know' that MSG gives them headaches. But oddly, that only happens when they eat food that they suspect contains MSG - if they eat something with MSG that they didn't realize contained it, they are fine, and if they eat food that probably doesn't contain it, but that they imagine probably does (typically Asian take-away) then they get a headache.

    Food intolerances are real, devastating and very, very rare. The vast majority of people who avoid MSG, Gluten, or other additives and ingredients are victims of self hypnosis. Their symptoms may be real, but the causes are psychological.
    Ironically, a lot of the new chemically synthesized or concentrated ingredients like the "gums" and carrageenan that are used to give texture instead of flour, dairy and eggs seem to be dangerous for long term consumption.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5389019/

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    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly View Post
    MSG is not food, which is why I don't eat it. It's in a few things I eat occasionally, but those things it mentioned in the first minutes of the video are all things I do not eat.

    I was never aware of its association with racism.
    Of course it's a food, as much as salt or sugar or whatever.

  10. Top | #10
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    When Chinese restaurants used to put a lot of MSG in their food, it usually gave me a headache. There is no definitive research to support the idea that MSG causes any type of permanent damage, but it does give a lot of people headaches, or a few other side effects. None of the Asian restaurants that I've eaten at in recent years use MSG in the food anymore, so I have no idea why MSG is an issue now. It might just be the overload of sodium that gave some of us headaches. I don't use salt in my cooking or on my food, so maybe people like me just can't tolerate large amounts of sodium.

    Anyway, I read a lot of medical sites before I posted this and they all said that there are a lot of people that have mild side effects from eating foods seasoned with MSG. I remember when it was a big thing for the menus in Asian restaurants to say, "no MSG added." That was a long time ago, so I didn't know anyone still used it. I can't tolerate a lot of other seasonings that are commonly used in Indian and/or Mexican food, but I don't think that makes me racist. It just means that I'm not able to tolerate certain spices and seasonings, so I avoid them as much as possible.

    But seriously, do American restaurants still use MSG in the food?

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