View Full Version : MSG/Chinese food and insomnia?


roseblood
01-18-09, 07:03 AM
:confused::confused::confused:

I usually go to bed by 11:00pm or earlier because it takes a long time for my mind to give up the fight to keep going and going and going... however tired I am. However it rarely takes more than a few hours once I'm in bed.

Last night I went to a Chinese restaurant near my house which I've never been to before, got home by 11:00pm and for the first and only time I can remember, not only could I not sleep but I didn't feel remotely tired or drowsy even by 2 in the morning. Every other time I've been up after 1:00am I've felt completely knackered. Soon afterwards I felt myself lightly drifting away into a dream state (dreaming is often my first stage of sleep so that's not unusual), strangely aware that I still didn't feel at all like I needed to. At about 5:30am I awoke from a similarly light dream, not feeling any different than when I'd drifted off. I couldn't have had more than 3 and a half hours sleep last night, less than half of what I usually need, and yet I feel completely fine. :confused:

It could be something else I suppose but I find it most likely that it was something I ate last night, as I'd never been there before and haven't had poor sleep hygiene lately. I've eaten at another Chinese restaurant several times and haven't had this response. I regularly have an organic Chinese takeaway and it doesn't do this. I hadn't known until I looked it up this morning that MSG inhibits sleep in some people. Thing is I thought only takeaways usually put MSG in the food, not high quality restaurants, so I didn't think there'd be any in there. Could it be something else, colourings for example? I'm not usually exposed to harmful ingredients so perhaps I'm more sensitive to them now when I am, but I didn't have any other symptoms associated with MSG sensitivity: headaches, dizziness etc. I just sort of feel I've got a super-human ability to not need sleep now, miracle substance really. :D

Has anyone else had similar experiences with MSG products or other things? Do they not affect you at all? Do good restaurants use stuff that could do this? What do you reckon?

Justtess
01-18-09, 09:30 PM
I've heard of some people having sensitivity to MSG. A friend of mine gets very light headed and faint after consuming foods that have MSG and it tends to make me very thirsty.

The trouble with MSG is that it is not only in Chinese food. Many Chicken boullion or canned soup products contain MSG also if you look in the ingredients. It is also called monosodium glutimate.

blueroo
01-19-09, 01:34 PM
How late did you eat? It isn't entirely normal (or healthy) to eat any food within 4 hours of going to bed.

Were you up late thinking about (obsessing over) MSG last night? Could it be that you couldn't sleep because you were doing so? I know that having a topic weigh on my mind before sleep is a good predictor of late nights or insomnia.

roseblood
01-19-09, 01:56 PM
How late did you eat? It isn't entirely normal (or healthy) to eat any food within 4 hours of going to bed.

Were you up late thinking about (obsessing over) MSG last night? Could it be that you couldn't sleep because you were doing so? I know that having a topic weigh on my mind before sleep is a good predictor of late nights or insomnia.

I finished eating at about a quarter past ten. I get sleep paralysis sometimes and eating a heavy meal before bed can trigger it so I found things to do quietly on my bed before thinking about going to sleep. By 12 I thought I really should be tired by now, I always am, and laid down but realised it was going to be no use until I actually got tired. Listening to my iPod late at night makes me feel more tired, or just slightly ill, and that makes it easier to sleep, but all my iPod did for me that night was stop me getting bored (still appreciated). I've eaten more and later than that before without that strange side effect, in fact eating too much makes me sleepier, as it does most people. It didn't occur to me that MSG might be behind it until the next morning, so I wasn't worried about that, although it's true that as the night wore on I became concerned that something might be wrong with me or I might continue to have this problem. Didn't let it upset me though, just figured I'd find out soon enough if it was anything serious or long-term and enjoyed time I had to daydream away in peace. :D

Thought of another possibility last night: we each had the tiniest cup of Chinese tea at the end. My reaction to caffeine is not particularly strong usually though.

INaBOX
01-19-09, 02:18 PM
My son is sensitive to MSG. We avoid it at all costs. He gets very hyper and irritable when he's had it.. temper tantrums galore!! I've never noticed it affecting his sleep though.

MSG is in A LOT of foods. Read the labels. Most canned soups and sauces .. unless it's organic. It's not only used at fast-food joints. We had to stop going to a Japanese sit-in restaurant because they used it. Personally, I get head-aches and nausea. I ate a tube of chips .. gawd, what's it called again?! It comes in a long tube .. anyway. I ate about half of it and vomitted afterwards.

The Chinese tea might of done it. You may not be sensitive to it but drinking it that late might of affected your system.

roseblood
01-19-09, 03:37 PM
Yeah I know it's in quite a few things. I don't bother reading the labels because pretty much everything is easily available organic here so I just buy that. That way there's just one SA logo to look for instead of all the ingredients.

Maybe it was just the tea, although again, I've had tea at the other place and didn't have that happen.

EYEFORGOT
01-19-09, 04:49 PM
My Mom gets headaches when she eats it. She's pretty sensitive to certain chemicals in food.

We found a chinese restaurant that specifically says "No MSG".

This looked informative, but I am not certain on the accuracy, so take with a grain of salt. ;)

http://www.truthinlabeling.org/hiddensources.html

blueroo
01-20-09, 09:11 PM
My son is sensitive to MSG. We avoid it at all costs. He gets very hyper and irritable when he's had it.. temper tantrums galore!! I've never noticed it affecting his sleep though.

MSG is in A LOT of foods. Read the labels. Most canned soups and sauces .. unless it's organic. It's not only used at fast-food joints. We had to stop going to a Japanese sit-in restaurant because they used it. Personally, I get head-aches and nausea. I ate a tube of chips .. gawd, what's it called again?! It comes in a long tube .. anyway. I ate about half of it and vomitted afterwards.

The Chinese tea might of done it. You may not be sensitive to it but drinking it that late might of affected your system.

Interesting. Does your son also avoid tomatoes, parmesan cheese, peas, mushroom, broccoli, corn, and potatoes?

INaBOX
01-20-09, 09:26 PM
he only avoids foods that are hard (raw vegetables). he'll eat anything if I cook it. im trying to educate him about healthy eating and the importance of reading labels so he's aware what he's putting into his body. of course he's 8 so we're taking baby steps with that. right now, he knows if there's a long list of items listed, it's likely not going to be good for him.

im curious why you asked about those specific items though:
"tomatoes, parmesan cheese, peas, mushroom, broccoli, corn, and potatoes"

blueroo
01-20-09, 09:30 PM
Those are all foods high in glutamate. If he has a sensitivity, those foods should cause the same symptoms as MSG. Do they?

INaBOX
01-20-09, 09:36 PM
well he is sensitive to tomatos and corn. i haven't actually tested cheese but i wouldn't doubt it. broccoli we dont buy and potatoes we're having for dinner tonight LOL but we don't have it very often.

i also think there's a difference between glutamate and msg .. in the sense that one is processed (chemicalized) while the other is natural .. at least that's my understanding.

blueroo
01-20-09, 09:51 PM
well he is sensitive to tomatos and corn. i haven't actually tested cheese but i wouldn't doubt it. broccoli we dont buy and potatoes we're having for dinner tonight LOL but we don't have it very often.

i also think there's a difference between glutamate and msg .. in the sense that one is processed (chemicalized) while the other is natural .. at least that's my understanding.

I think you've been mislead! There's no difference whatsoever. Glutamate is glutamate is glutamate. MSG is just glutamate bound to sodium, and they're broken apart when dissolved. At that point, it's just glutamate. The same amino acid your brain produces every day. Glutamate also binds with proteins, and can be unbound or free.

(Folks seem to forget that all natural things are chemicals, and almost all chemicals are natural. There's no such thing as being chemicalized. :) )

INaBOX
01-20-09, 10:31 PM
Can you explain this to me:
"Manufactured MSG contains over 99.6% of the naturally predominant L-glutamate form, which is a higher proportion of L-glutamate than found in the free glutamate ions of naturally occurring foods."

I've read it several times and can't wrap my brain around it. I probably have been mislead. All I know is that my son is sensitive towards it. I didn't know it was naturally found in fruits/vegetables. It could explain a few things though..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monosodium_glutamate

We just had potatoes and peas for dinner tonight. I'm curious to know how he'll be.

Another question: I don't like the taste of MSG. It makes me queazy. I can never eat a lot of Chinese food if it has MSG and it took me years to realize why. On the flip side, I love potatoes and peas. Why don't I have the same reaction to that?

EDIT: oh, I know a lot of chemicals are natural but I was under the belief that the product changes during the processing.

blueroo
01-20-09, 11:10 PM
Can you explain this to me:
"Manufactured MSG contains over 99.6% of the naturally predominant L-glutamate form, which is a higher proportion of L-glutamate than found in the free glutamate ions of naturally occurring foods."

I've read it several times and can't wrap my brain around it. I probably have been mislead. All I know is that my son is sensitive towards it. I didn't know it was naturally found in fruits/vegetables. It could explain a few things though..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monosodium_glutamate

We just had potatoes and peas for dinner tonight. I'm curious to know how he'll be.

Another question: I don't like the taste of MSG. It makes me queazy. I can never eat a lot of Chinese food if it has MSG and it took me years to realize why. On the flip side, I love potatoes and peas. Why don't I have the same reaction to that?

EDIT: oh, I know a lot of chemicals are natural but I was under the belief that the product changes during the processing.

L-glutamate is the form that enhances flavor. It is just a stereo image of the D-glutamate. That quote simply means that MSG prepared for food has a higher L-glutamate content, which makes sense since we want it to enhance flavor.

MSG has no taste by itself. It only enhances other flavors. I'm not sure what you think you're tasting when you eat foods with MSG, but it isn't MSG. It's the other foods. This is why mushrooms are so great for burgers, and tomatoes are so good for sauces. The glutamate in the mushrooms enhances the flavor of the burger meat. The glutamate in the tomato enhances the flavor of the sauce's other ingredients. And then we put glutamate rich parmesan on top which further enhances the flavor!

Processing has been spun to be a "bad" thing. Many folks would like you to think "processing" is unnatural, or somehow changes natural things into unnatural things. But the truth is, we've been processing foods since we became farmers. Fermenting beers and wines, molding cheeses, drying fruits and vegetables, canning, baking, boiling, broiling, pickling, salting, brining, and just about everything else we do in the kitchen are all food "processing". Home Cooking is just applied chemistry. Almost all of the "Processing" done at food manufacturers are the same exact things, scaled up for efficiency. Sometimes manufacturers take shortcuts, mix and match, and even cobble "flavorings" together, but they're generally all the same processes. The label of "Processed" applies to so many things that it may as well apply to nothing at all! Unless you're only eating raw foods, everything is processed.

The biggest problem people seem to have with so-called "processed" foods are the use of non-trivial preservatives. That generally means anything that isn't salted, brined, candied, or the like. Very few people want to only eat "naturally" preserved foods. A diet of salted, dried, brined, pickled, and jerkyed foods gets a little boring after a while. With MSG, the biggest complaint (aside from the claims of health problems that never seem to reoccur when a double blind placebo study comes around) seems to be that manufacturers are somehow "cheating" by using MSG. Adding a flavor enhancer is somehow cheating us out of "real" flavor. Ridiculous! Flavor is flavor! But that's how things go.

roseblood
01-21-09, 09:08 AM
Processing has been spun to be a "bad" thing. Many folks would like you to think "processing" is unnatural, or somehow changes natural things into unnatural things. But the truth is, we've been processing foods since we became farmers. Fermenting beers and wines, molding cheeses, drying fruits and vegetables, canning, baking, boiling, broiling, pickling, salting, brining, and just about everything else we do in the kitchen are all food "processing".
Yes, and incidentally every one of those processes causes the food to lose nutritional value to a greater or lesser extent.
Canned fruit doesn't grow on trees and cows don't lactate cheese so I'm not sure by what definition you're asserting those aren't 'unnatural things'. ;) However it's immaterial as something being unnatural is not a good reason to avoid it anyway; that philosophy taken to its logical conclusion would lead to some absurd lifestyle choices. But something being harmful is certainly a good reason to avoid it, natural or not.

Those are all foods high in glutamate. If he has a sensitivity, those foods should cause the same symptoms as MSG. Do they?
Those are hardly the same as having an entire meal at a restaurant in which everything on the menu has had enough MSG added that there is a marked difference in taste. I'd be interested in exactly how the amounts compare, as if they were similar fresh brocolli and peas would have as much flavour to the average child as a Chinese takeaway or a bag of Doritoes does. Perhaps 'high' as in 'high relative to other fresh foods'.

Iron and vitamin A are not only present in the environment but essential to human survival, and yet just a couple of doses over the recommended daily allowance can be fatal, especially to a child. Adding artificial sources of these nutrients to a child's diet e.g. via supplements, is recommended only when a deficiency has been identified (note the parallel: I very much doubt Inabox's son is deficient in glutamate) and taking just several times more than is strictly needed can cause mild to serious side effects (how many times more MSG could Inabox's son potentially consume per meal/snack than humans evolved consuming; is that not worth considering?).

Eating products in which free glutamate is added for flavour or has been created during processing is no more the same as eating a portion of peas than having a normal diet consisting of iron is the same as taking iron pills (even at recommended and medically prescribed doses, pure iron supplements cause side effects such as black stools; failing to accurately monitor your dosage can be fatal). You're wise to monitor any artificial intake of substances, whether prescribed or commercial, essential or non-essential, and to look out for side effects resulting from toxic amounts.

INaBOX
01-21-09, 08:15 PM
If glutamate occurs naturally in our bodies, is it safe to assume my son would either a) produces too much of it that anything consumed would cause a reaction; or b) lacks an enzyme that helps break it down or digest it orally?

Also, it's not the natural form found in our bodies/food that's the problem. It's the "pure synthetic crystalline MSG" that is. "Synthetic" as in, produced chemically.

Another thought, MSG comes in different forms: as a yeast or milk proteins. Since my son is also sensitive to cow's milk, would it make sense he'd be sensitive to the MSG containing milk proteins?

Also, MSG sensitivity is related to a toxic substance rather than an allergic reaction. I was reading an article today (which is where I'm getting this info from) and here are some of the MSG side-effects:

"migraine headaches; rapid heart beat; burning sensation in the back of the neck, forearms, and chest; numbness in the back of the neck radiating to the arms and back; tingling, warmth, and weakness in the face, temples, upper back, neck, and arms; seizures; weakness; dizziness, panic attacks, or anxiety; nausea; diarrhea; mood changes; sleep problems; skin flushing; excessive sweating; chest pain; facial pressure; and hyperactivity."

The bolded are ones I've noticed my son experiencing. I experience the nausea and headaches. I've never made a connection to the other symptoms because I wasn't aware of it so I couldn't tell you if they've been present or not.

Would you say people could experience these exact same symptoms from eating cheese, milk, meat, peas, tomatoes, and mushrooms? I know my son gets quite hyper and moody from drinking milk. I haven't been able to pin-point the others but I've never tested them (aside from tomatoes).

I just read that the level of vit B6 in a person's body may play a role in glutamate metabolism. So would my son benefit from taking this med along with his multi-vits?

[source of this info: Threats to Health: When Food, Water, Air, and Earth Get Scary] i photocopied some pages and didnt get the author's name or title of the book.

roseblood
01-22-09, 05:59 AM
If glutamate occurs naturally in our bodies, is it safe to assume my son would either a) produces too much of it that anything consumed would cause a reaction; or b) lacks an enzyme that helps break it down or digest it orally?
D-glutamate doesn't occur naturally in the body. Free L-glutamate does when proteins are broken down but it wouldn't naturally be directly consumed in addition to the amount we create from protein. So it could simply be that he's consuming too much of it, rather than there being something unusual about his metabolism, but who knows.

Another thought, MSG comes in different forms: as a yeast or milk proteins. Since my son is also sensitive to cow's milk, would it make sense he'd be sensitive to the MSG containing milk proteins?
Sorry, I'm not sure what you mean.

Would you say people could experience these exact same symptoms from eating cheese, milk, meat, peas, tomatoes, and mushrooms? I know my son gets quite hyper and moody from drinking milk. I haven't been able to pin-point the others but I've never tested them (aside from tomatoes).
Largely unprocessed, not-over-cooked foods (which don't include pasturised milk or parmesan cheese, so you could get more of a reaction there) contain bound glutamate, and the L isomer instead of the D hence you wouldn't expect to get the same reaction. Also, the presence of other substances e.g. vitamin C can mitigate the effects of free glutamate.

I just read that the level of vit B6 in a person's body may play a role in glutamate metabolism. So would my son benefit from taking this med along with his multi-vits?
I haven't heard of studies into that but it couldn't hurt to try. Excessive B6 from supplements is unlikely and the B vitamins can help with mood and anxiety problems anyway.

roseblood
03-25-09, 06:28 AM
Glutamate levels are higher in ADHD brains:

neurotransmitter.net (http://209.85.229.132/search?q=cache:oZRII3Tj0kcJ:www.neurotransmitter.n et/adhdglutamate.html+adhd+glutamate&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk)

reesah
03-25-09, 07:12 AM
my fella and I had a large meal of chinese food saturday and all night we both were tossing and turning and having nightmares. I blame the MSG because it always makes me a little antsy after I eat it.

I am not sure why but this thread explained it a little I think