Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Interstitial Cystitis: Is MSG Hiding in Your Food?

Monosodium glutamate, or MSG as it is commonly called, is a food additive used around the world. MSG is a sodium based salt of the molecule glutamate which is used to "enhance the flavor" of a variety of manufactured products. People can even buy the product Accent or similar seasonings which can be used on food prepared at home. The flavor sensation that MSG imparts is described as umami, or a slightly metallic flavor that can take the place of some salt (sodium chloride) since sodium that is combined with glutamate provides a similar burst of flavor with less sodium. MSG is often found in snack foods, condiments, gravy and gravy mixes, sauces, ramen and other Asian foods, soups, stocks, as well as bouillon cubes and granules. Although MSG is considered safe in general, many people react negatively to MSG including migraine sufferers, some with gastrointestinal problems, and interstitial cystitis/painful bladder patients. Because of these reactions, many manufacturers in previous years had reduced the use of MSG in their products, even promoting MSG-free foods for people who want to avoid it. Lately, however, there is a renewed interest in promoting umami flavors in foods and the use of such products in the marketplace is on the rise again.

Most IC patients know that they should avoid monosodium glutamate/MSG, but often they do not know that MSG can be "hidden" in an ingredient list or that there are other, similar ingredients that manufacturers can use that may be just as bad for a painful bladder. Have you ever heard of "disodium glutamate??" How about "potassium glutamate?"  In order to fully avoid the effects of consuming MSG, you need to really read your labels. 

Here are some things to look for:
  • MSG
  • MSG Monohydrate
  • Sodium Glutamate Monohydrate
  • Monosodium Glutamate
  • Disodium Glutamate
  • Sodium 2-Aminopentanedioate
  • Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP)
  • Textured Protein
  • Monopotassium Glutamate Monohydrate
  • Monosodium Salt
  • Hydrolyzed Plant Protein (HPP)
  • Yeast Extract
  • Glutamate or Glutamic Acid
  • L-Glutamic Acid Monohydrate
  • Autolyzed Plant Protein
  • Yeast Food or Nutrient (not just plain yeast)
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Sodium Caseinate
  • Autolyzed Yeast
  • Vegetable Protein Extract
Do you read labels when you shop? It may take some time at first, but don't worry! Eventually you will re-learn what foods you can stock in your pantry and refrigerator that are bladder-friendly!

MSG Chicken Stock            

Author, Speaker, Patient Advocate

Helping Yourself Is the First Step to Getting Well

For step by step guidance for creating your own personal interstitial cystitis meal plan, see: Confident Choices®: Customizing the Interstitial Cystitis Diet.

For some basic, family-style, IC bladder-friendly recipes, see: Confident Choices®: A Cookbook for Interstitial Cystitis and Overactive Bladder


  1. Julie I had not idea all of these other ingredients were to be avoided for ICer's
    I can't thank u enough. knowledge is certainly power!

  2. This is a great list! I am slowly becoming more and more disciplined when shopping.

  3. What can IC patients eat? They is some harmful ingredient in most food.

    1. Hi Anonymous, I was devastated when I was diagnosed with IC, in March, 2014, after finding out how crazy the IC diet is! It was freezing cold here; but, I couldn't touch any can of Campbell's Soup, due to them ALL having MSG! I wanted to literally "throw a few cans" of that soup across the grocery store! BUT, those of us who have been diagnosed with IC Do have choices! See
      for helpful information. I started by (& still do eat) eating a Lot of: soda crackers, Nitrate & Nitrite Free Meat (which cost nearly double the price of "normal" meat), [BUT, thankfully several meat companies have started selling Nitrates/Nitrite Free Deli Meats!],[Many local Farmer's Markets have vendors who do so, as well!], Old Fashioned Oatmeal with brown sugar, eggs, peanut butter, potatoes, home popped popcorn, celery,canned/fresh/frozen carrots, broccoli, pears, blueberries, cucumbers, honey roasted peanuts, home-made breads (with my bread machine), & drank water, milk, & Caffeine-Free Peppermint, Chamomile Teas. And, I figured out that placing Soft Peppermint Candy Puffs into water tastes quite good, too!

    2. I also purchased Confident Choices: A Cookbook for IC and OAB (Confident Choices for Interstitial Cystitis) Spiral-bound – 2008; by Julie Beyer, MA/RD for more information and recipes that are IC Friendly! I would recommend this book to anyone who has been diagnosed with IC!

  4. In trying to learn about chronic tendonitis, I came across some studies that show there is too much glutamate in them. So having IC, I looked up high glutamate food. It is in a lot of stuff, even gelatin. Has anyone gone on a low glutamate diet for IC?