Your Brain On Tacos…Or MSG

You know I’ve been hearing a lot of advertising lately for Taco Bell, and their new Doritos flavored taco shells. At first thought I think, that sounds yummy. But then I am reminded of the very serious danger lurking in those tacos!



It’s called Monosodium Glutamate. You may (or may not) be surprised that Doritos is full of this substance. Perhaps it is the secret ingredient that keeps you going back for more until your once full bag of Doritos is empty 10 minutes later. If you have a bag around you, check out the label. About mid way down you will find ‘monosodium glutamate.’ At least Doritos calls this out in their labeling. You would be shocked to know all of the names that are used to mask MSG in labeling.

MSG is a flavor enhancer. However, it does not actually have taste. Many people think of it as just salt, but be warned, it is much more dangerous than salt

It is actually a neurotransmitter. An excitotoxin. It overexcites your cells and can cause serious damage to the nervous and cardiovascular system. MSG tricks your tongue into thinking something tastes better than it actually is. It sends a signal to your brain telling you, “this food is good, eat more.” It is actually able to break through the blood brain barrier, and allows the glutamate to get directly into your brain.

I became familiar with the dangers of MSG in November of 2011. I was at work, and it was just after lunch time. I had eaten a chicken ramen-type noodle bowl at my desk. About 35-40 mins. after eating, it suddenly hit me. My heart was pounding, there was a tingling sensation shooting through my body, and I felt like I was going to pass out. It literally felt like there was nothing left up in my head, like my brain was pretty much empty. I could barely think. I had my hands on my head, trying not to faint. My stomach was sick, but I could not even attempt to walk to the restroom. I have never been so scared. I could not figure out what in the world was going on with me.

I was taken to the ER where they ran multiple tests. At the time, they could not find anything. I had a follow-up appointment with a Cardiologist the following week, who also prescribed more tests. Within months, we came to the conclusion of what had happened to me. It was an MSG reaction.

I started noticing I was getting this type of reaction (on a lesser scale) often after eating. I would think, gosh how come when I eat, I get sick. Well it wasn’t the ‘eating,’ it was what I was eating.

Every time I went to a favorite Chinese restaurant, about 15-20 minutes after eating, I would feel very strange. Again, not on the same level as I did the day I was taken to the ER, but same common symptoms; light-headed, dizzy, heart racing, tingling through the body. It dawned on me. I decided to check the ingredients of the noodle bowl I had eaten that day I went to the ER. Sure enough, monosodium glutamate was right near the top. And along with it, there were about 4-5 other “hidden ingredients” which also contained MSG.

I have now learned to watch for these “code words” that always or sometimes contain MSG. It is scary to have to worry so much about what you are eating, but worth it to save your health and possibly life. 

If you would like to learn more about MSG and its dangers, please check out Truth In Labeling.

You may be thinking, “I eat this all the time and have always been fine.” While that may be true, I had never had a reaction or “sensitivity” either prior to that single event.  It hit me out of no where.  The same could happen to you!  Please, just be aware.  And maybe, think twice about picking up those “Doritos Locos Tacos!”


One thought on “Your Brain On Tacos…Or MSG

  1. Good post– I’ve heard of having a severe reaction to MSG! I imagine a lot of processed foods have it and it makes a good argument for avoiding them.

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