Mind Over Sports

Tiger Woods: Did He Have MSG Food Poisoning?

Posted on: December 14, 2006

tiger-erin-woodsIn March of 2003, Tiger Woods won the Bay Hill Invitational in Orlando, Florida, even though he came down with what was diagnosed as a bad case of the stomach flu. Saturday night after a pasta dinner prepared by his wife Elin (who was then his girlfriend). It was reported that she collapsed outside the clubhouse from food poisoning and dehydration and spent the night in the hospital.

These types of diagnosis (stomach flu and food poisoning) are very common when the actual problem could have been that she used MSG (monosodium glutamate) as a flavor enhancer on the pasta. This is often found in such products as Accent. (The manufacturers of Accent have become so sensitive to this issue that they now offer their product two ways: One is their regular formula which is almost entirely MSG, the other clearly states on the label: No MSG.)

There have been many cases of athletes reporting to be suffering from food poisoning, stomach flu, flu-like symptoms or migraine headaches just before competing in their sport when the actual diagnosis could well have been MSG. MSG is a flavor enhancer and food preservative used by many restaurants and home chefs. The National Food & Drug Division requires labeling on products containing MSG, but there is no labeling required at restaurants since laws affecting restaurants are generally state imposed.

Most people know that MSG is often found in food served in Asian restaurants, but few realize it is also used in food preparation in other types of restaurants as well: in salad bars as a preservative (the lettuce is often soaked in an MSG solution to keep it from turning brown), on steaks as a flavor enhancer, in sauces, in soups, and many other foods.

As an athlete, you need to be careful what you eat the night before competing. If you dine out, ask your server if the restaurant uses MSG in any of the foods you’re ordering.

Here is a list of just a few of the athletes who, in the past, reported being ill: David Toms and David Duval, Professional Golfers; Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Laker; J.D. Drew, former St. Louis Cardinal; Drew Gooden, former Kansas University Jayhawk; Rob Johnson, former Buffalo Bills Quarterback; even entertainer Mariah Carey.

One has to wonder if the Chinese concern about the food poisoning of athletes who will be participating in the 2008 Beijing Games is really food poisoning at all but rather the use of MSG in the foods they prepare?

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