E621 (Monosodium Glutamate): Effects on Gastrointestinal Organs

In recent years, E621, better known as Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), has become a prevalent ingredient in many processed foods. However, there is growing concern surrounding its potential health implications, particularly on the gastrointestinal organs. This article aims to delve into the existing literature on the topic.

Key PointsExplanation
What Is E621?E621, or monosodium glutamate (MSG), is a commonly used flavor enhancer in many processed foods.
Effects of E621 on the GI TractE621 can have negative impacts on feeding behavior, adiposity, gastrointestinal motility, and cardiovascular function, especially when taken in large amounts.
Role of the GI TractThe gastrointestinal tract is fundamental in our digestion, nutrients absorption, waste elimination, housing beneficial gut bacteria, and immune system function.
Impact of Food AdditivesSome food additives could negatively impact our GI tract, by potentially aggravating nonspecific inflammatory bowel diseases and impacting the mucosal barrier.
Awareness is KeyWith the potential harm E621 and other food additives can bring to our GI tract, it’s crucial to be aware of the additives present in our food to help manage and maintain our health.

What is E621?

E621 or Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer widely used in the food industry. It’s found in anything from chips to canned vegetables, soups, processed meats, and many other foods we eat daily. The average daily human consumption of E621 in industrialized European countries is estimated to be 0.3 to 1.0 g, with a maximum level of 1.5 g.

Here’s a list pointing out some food items with high amounts of MSG:

  • Cheese
  • Soy sauce
  • Stock cubes
  • Sausages
  • Seasonings
  • Snack foods

Effects of E621 on the Gastrointestinal Organs

E621 can have varied effects on the body, particularly if consumed in high amounts. There are reports of discomfort in the gastrointestinal tract due to high doses of MSG.

Several studies have been conducted over time to understand the impact of E621 on different organs and systems in the human body. Here are some notable findings based on chronic dietary exposure to E621 on healthy adult rats.

Feeding behaviorIncreased calorie intake and influence on appetite control centers
AdiposityIncrement of abdominal fat and weight gain due to fat accumulation
Gastrointestinal motilitySlowing down of digestive processes and irregular bowel movements
Cardiovascular functionIncrease in blood pressure & potential risk for cardiovascular diseases

The Role of the Gastrointestinal Tract in the Human Body

The gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) is a complex system that plays a critical part in our overall health[6]. It acts as a processing plant, transforming food into nutrients for the bodily systems to absorb, and waste material to be excreted.

Gastrointestinal homeostasis, which refers to the balance and stability in the gut, is vital for maintaining this functionality.

Aiding in this process are the intestinal macrophages, key cells that regulate gastrointestinal physiology by managing the immune response, promoting tissue repair, and removing harmful substances[3].

To appreciate the effects of E621, it’s crucial to understand how important the GI tract is to our health:

  • Digests and breaks down food
  • Absorbs nutrients and water
  • Eliminates waste products
  • Houses beneficial gut bacteria
  • Plays an important role in immune system function

The Impact of Food Additives on the Gastrointestinal Tract

Food additives are substances added to food to improve flavor, texture, or prolong shelf life. However, some of these additives may impact our health negatively, particularly the gastrointestinal tract.

Here are some instances of food additives causing disruption in the GI tract:

  1. Nonspecific inflammatory bowel diseases: Certain food additives might aggravate nonspecific inflammatory bowel diseases.
  2. Influence on mucosal barrier: Hypotheses have posited food additives such as emulsifiers impact the mucosal barrier, which is critical for maintaining gut health.


In conclusion, while E621 adds flavor to our food, its potential side effects, particularly on our gastrointestinal tract, cannot be overlooked. It’s important to be aware of the additives present in our food and their potential impacts on our health – and this includes E621.

In the next part of this series, we’ll delve deeper into healthier alternatives to E621 and other food additives, providing tactics and strategies for maintaining a healthier diet in a processed-food world.


  • 21 C.F.R. 182.1(a) Substances that are generally recognized as safe
  • Bellisle, F. Effects of monosodium glutamate on human food palatability. Annals of the New York Academy of Science, 855: 438-441, 1998
  • Ball, P., Woodward, D., Beard, T., Schoobridge, A., and Ferrier, M. Calcium diglutamate improves taste characteristics of lower-salt soup. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 56, 519-523, 2002
  • Raiten DJ, Talbot JM, Fisher KD (1996). “Executive Summary from the Report: Analysis of Adverse Reactions to Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)”. Journal of Nutrition. 125 (6): 2891Sā€“2906S
  • Freeman, Matthew (2006). “Reconsidering the effects of monosodium glutamate: A literature review”. Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. 18 (10): 482ā€“86