Mind Over Sports


Posted on: January 19, 2012

I read in today’s newspaper that New York Giants Quarterback Eli Manning missed part of Wednesday’s practice session with an illness that coach Tom Coughlin called “a stomach bug, hopefully a 24-hour deal.” Though it’s possible Eli has some kind of flu bug, it’s also possible that he is allergic to MSG (monosodium glutamate) and doesn’t even realize it. There was a long period in my life when I was suffering from a similar illness off and on and my friends had told me that it was “nerves” but it was only by chance I figured out that I was allergic to MSG. (A rocket scientist I’m not) ☺

There are many cases on file where high profile athletes (including Tiger Woods) suddenly came down with a “flu like symptom” and never realized the cause. In Tiger’s case he was dating his future wife, Elin Nordegren (now his ex-wife) and while living in Florida one day he became so ill that he vomited on the golf course and Elin was taken to the hospital. Later, it was revealed that she had fixed Tiger a meal of noodles and I wouldn’t be surprised if she used Accent to flavor it. Accent, in its original form, is almost entirely MSG, which is why in the last few years Accent has put out a companion product which is clearly marked on the label “No MSG.”

For those of you reading this who are not familiar with MSG, it’s a flavor enhancer and food preservative used by many restaurants and home chefs. The National Food & Drug Administration requires labeling on products containing MSG sold in supermarkets and other retail outlets, but there is no labeling requirement at restaurants since laws affecting restaurants are generally state imposed.

Most people know that MSG is often found in food served in oriental restaurants, but few are aware it is also used in food preparation in other types of restaurants as well. For example, lettuce for salads found on salad bars is sometimes submerged in a MSG solution to keep it from turning brown. MSG can also be found in gravies on steaks as a flavor enhancer, in soups and many other non-Asian foods.

The symptoms for having an allergic reaction to MSG are similar to those of being diagnosed as having the “stomach flu” or “flu-like symptoms” or migraine headaches. And it’s important to remember that if you should feel yourself having a migraine-type reaction to MSG, do not put a cold compress on your forehead. The reason for this is that when you have MSG in your system the capillaries in your brain become contracted, causing severe headaches and nausea. It’s important to expand them in order to increase the blood flow and the best way to do that is by taking a hot shower or placing a warm compress on the top of your head and on your forehead.

Some of the research has also found that pregnant women should be especially cautious since it’s possible that MSG can have a damaging effect on the fetus.


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