You can probably feel your mouth watering thinking about a nice takeaway after work. But do you ever experience any form of upset tummy afterwards?
It is probably unfair to isolate these two types of examples, and we really should include most ready-made meals and anything such as pre-packaged or processed single items before they reach the supermarket shelves for sale.
It is not just these types of meals, but it is in fact antagonists of the particular ingredients that can cause food sensitivity or reaction in some people. We all enjoy a takeaway every so often, but most of these meals will contain MSG (monosodium glutamate) used regularly to enhance the flavour of many meals. It is found naturally in many protein foods, including meats, seafood, dairy, eggs and even plant-based food items. It is not highly dangerous but could cause you a food reaction.
There is no real need to add any further flavour enhancement, that isn’t naturally produced. Food intolerances and sensitivities are more common than food allergies, according to the British Allergy Foundation. Neither involves the immune system per see.
What Can You Eat?
You can eat a variety of foods, but at some stage after a reaction, you will want to know what has triggered it. So, if you ate eggs for breakfast, a ham sandwich at lunchtime and then grabbed a portion of sweet and sour chicken on the way home and ended up with an upset tummy, you would probably want to know which one of those caused it.
It is possible to keep a food diary or try eliminating certain foods then re-introducing them, but this is a relatively slow process that could take over several weeks. It would certainly be easier and more comprehensive to take a Food Reaction Test involving a combination of an allergy test and an intolerance test to ascertain what is causing the problem. Later in the article, we list some groups of foods that may cause the human body some problems with MSG. This is why we recommend advanced food intolerance tests to keep your body safe and healthy.
Chinese food has been widely publicised for containing this flavour-enhancing ingredient and as such, has been given a bad rap. Many Chinese restaurants now clearly indicate if a dish qualifies as ‘no MSG added’ on their menus and advertisements. Authentic dishes will never have added MSG, this is often used purely to please the English palate.
Examples of foods that contain MSG
Studies show that around 37% of people consuming MSG can experience a reaction even after 10 minutes and it can last over 2 hours. Here are some examples, some of which you may find surprising
Dried soup mixes, canned soups, pot noodles and some soup seasonings such as a bouillon will contain MSG, so it is important, with all pre-made ingredients or meals, to check what is contained in each by reading the labelling.
Many snacks will include MSG in their manufacturing process, particularly items such as corn chips, potato chips and crisps, mini flavoured snack biscuits.
SPICE BLENDS AND SEASONINGS
If you like using rubs or seasonings for meals such as tacos, fajitas and stir fries, you would be likely to encounter a flavour enhancer. Salad dressings, mayonnaise and ketchups may also be culprits.
Sausages, ham, chorizo, salamis, hot dogs – you name it.
Pizzas, pies, pasties, sausage rolls etc. are likely to contain a flavour enhancer, usually MSG.
This is not forgetting takeaway or fast-food dishes – as you can see, there is a huge selection of foodstuffs that have an amount of this ingredient to upset your tummy.
According to the British Allergy Association, food sensitivity or reaction and intolerance are more common than food allergies. Whilst not by any means life-threatening, the illness can be socially annoying, cause pain, be debilitating for some time and leave you wondering what on earth you ate for this to happen.
In a nutshell, it boils down to your digestive tract reacting to certain foods and not digesting them properly. This can be any type of food, apart from the ones mentioned. You can even be sensitive to items such as onions, broccoli and Brussels sprouts! Whilst some ‘ad-ins’ such as food additives or preservatives and even colour enhancers are known as causes, at the end of the day, it is your particular digestive system, so testing for food intolerances and allergies will probably be the right route.
Medically reviewed by Sian Baker, Dip ION mBANT mCNHC – Written by Beth Giddings (BSc)
Updated on 1st December 2021