MSG, also known as monosodium glutamate, is not something that I was ever concerned with living in Canada. It was very easy to avoid. The FDA requires that it is stated on the product label if it is within the food. Also, in Canada I did not have a language barrier holding me back from knowing whether their is MSG added in the food or not.
However, I have come to realize. It is in almost EVERYTHING in Lao cooking. So what is the big deal? I’m sure most of you have heard of MSG before because it made headlines when people were concerned it could have negative effects on our health.
Now you’re probably wondering why I am even concerned about MSG.
First of all, there is not enough research on this man-made ingredient to conclude the long-term and short-term risks of this product. However, there has been plenty of signs and symptoms reported from consumers on MSG sensitivity and side effects. In addition, the FDA is still investigating its effects and require all food companies to list it on the label if it is in their product. This is why I choose to avoid it when possible.
MSG is made from sodium, glutamate and water. It is used in cooking to enhance the flavour. It has the appearance of salt granules. Some reports say that MSG’s flavour enhancing skills have the ability to over-excite our body’s cells to dangerous levels. These types of dangerous levels may kill or damage our body’s cells …leading to and worsening health issues such as, Parkinson’s, Dementia, Alzheimers, etc. (this is not yet researched enough however, it is being studied).
Signs and symptoms reported after MSG consumption:
Headaches, nausea, fatigue, increased heart beat, nausea, vomiting, tingling/burning sensation, flushing of the skin, blurred vision, feeling pressure on the face, chest, back or neck.
I could be overanalyzing… but since I have been living in Laos I have gotten a lot more headaches than usual and tend to feel nauseous sometimes after eating out. When I say MSG is in everything here… I am not lying. For example, sliced mango is served with MSG on the side to dip into?! Crazy.. if you ask me. Why not enjoy mango for its natural flavour?
In Canada, the FDA requires that MSG must be stated on the food product label if it is used. It may be listed as “monosodium glutamate” in the ingredients. You can also look for “No MSG” or “MSG free” on packaging to ensure you are choosing MSG-free foods. It is also very commonly used in Chinese and Asian restaurants in cooking. You can ask for no MSG to avoid this in many places.
See below a picture of sliced mango served with a side of an MSG dip. This is a regular snack served around Laos. Even when you buy mango on the street it comes with a little bag of MSG with it.
Is it really worth it if you can avoid these symptoms and possibly detrimental effects on your body’s cells? No it isn’t. Be an informed consumer. Read the label. Make the wise decision and avoid MSG where you can.
My motivation for this post stems from my Grandpa. He has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and research is key in order to find ways to help slow down the progression of the disease. Research is still ongoing for this disease and no cure as been found. In the meantime, educating myself on the disease and how to tailor his diet to make a strong positive impact and slow the disease progression is the best I can do at this time. Avoiding MSG is just one of the small ways to make a positive change.
xoxo until next time