MSG also known as MonoSodium Glutamate or under brands like “Ajinomoto” is a flavour enhancer that makes a food taste like there is more than there it actually is. It allows food brands to make cheap savoury mixes taste rich and full. You can find it in instant noodles, snacks, sauce and unfortunately also many products found in households in Asia.
Even though it has been categorised as “generally safe” by the FDA, other reports have shown MSG can have negative effects on our health starting from excessive thirst, making you feel more hungry (and in turn you actually eating more than needed) and also more serious symptoms like a headache, numbness and chest pain.
MSG excites your taste-buds and creates a familiar favoured salty, savoury taste in your mouth. Therefore it can transform a cheap product made with just water and bleached flour noodles, like instant noodles, for example, something quick that may be satisfying your cravings but with little nutritional value.
Unfortunately, our taste buds get used to this over-excitement and the process of returning to natural taste and salt levels is often described as a difficult process by many.
4 Steps You Can Take To Reduce Your Intake Of MSG
- Look at your household kitchen and read the ingredient labels on your food items to see what products have MSG – slowly reduce or directly throw away the items that contain them.
- Start experimenting with good quality salts, fresh herbs and natural alternatives to condiments like local spices to flavour your dishes. Play around with ginger, turmeric, five spice, the options are endless — we’re blessed to live in a region rich with natural flavours.
- Check everything you buy especially soy sauce and instant products to see if MSG is contained. But be aware, sometimes the food industry uses sneaky names such as E numbers, anything including the word 'hydrolysed' and ‘Glutamate’ to hide MSG. To be safe, try to buy organic sauces with ingredients you are familiar with where possible.
- When at a restaurant, ask for your dish without Ajinomoto/MSG or ask your waiter to advise which dishes can be ordered MSG free.