Gone are the days when mothers cooked food at home and eating out was rare. In those times, the yummy and healthy paratha, idli, dosa and sambar and all the other homely foods were the only thing you would think about. Then came into vogue pizza, wafers and noodle. Ready-to-cook and instant foods are readily available everywhere, even at home.
Maggi noodle has been a popular food item in our menu until we heard the news of serious health hazards about it. What makes most of these instant food items tastier is one of its key ingredients – monosodium glutamate (MSG), commonly known as Ajinomoto. Ajinomoto is one of the main ingredients of many Chinese food items. However, most people do not know its side effects. Children and pregnant women are more vulnerable to it. The people are now literate enough about this. Though most of them are aware of the ingredients and the nutritional content of the item, they ignore something like MSG, a slow killer.
MSG is the worst ingredient present in almost all instant food items. Ajinomoto, produced by a Japanese firm named Ajinomoto Corp., is a food-flavour enhancer. Its main ingredient is monosodium glutamate, which enhances the flavour of the food. This ingredient is increasingly found in many packed foods. Previously, only Chinese food contained Ajinomoto, but now it has moved from Chinese restaurants to our kitchen shelves. The noodle, wafers and the one-minute soup packet are all slow killers. All these food items contain MSG.
Why is MSG harmful?
When you eat items containing MSG or glutamic acid, the glutamate levels in the blood increases by about 8-10 times. Normally, this level should be very low in the blood. This excess level causes severe effects. Ajinomoto is an excitatory neurotransmitter that over-stimulates the nerve cells. Excess
intake of this ingredient upsets the balance of the neurotransmitter. This imbalance leads to an unhealthy body and adverse consequences.
Many people are aware of this harm, but still they use it because it enhances food’s taste so that people have a tendency to have more of it. It is a kind of addiction. MSG is cheap and readily available in the market. MSG stimulates your pancreas, which then releases more insulin even when your sugar level is fine. This excess insulin causes a drop in the sugar level, making you feel hungry and thereby leading to overeating.
Ajinomoto is addictive. If you eat items containing Ajinomoto once, you tend to get into the habit of eating that particular food item on a regular basis.
Common side effects
MSG is a slow killer and its adverse health effects are quite mild at first. However, with passage of time, the adverse health effects become severe. Following are some of the side effects of MSG:
• Headaches: Headaches are a common side effect of MSG, but this is only a small issue. The headaches can develop into migraine that can cause severe problems. Besides terrible headache, this can become a repetitive feature.
• Affects nerves: Nerves are affected because of repeated consumption of MSG. Health effects of Ajinomoto go on to cause numbness and tingling or burning sensations in the face and neck. People often feel drowsiness and weakness, too. Neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, and multiple sclerosis are also associated with Ajinomoto.
• Problems to heart: The heart does not go untouched. Consumption of Ajinomoto can result in fluttering heartbeats, chest pain, and cardiac arrest.
• Very bad for women and infant: Sterility in women has been linked to the consumption of Ajinomoto. A pregnant woman should avoid foods containing MSG. Also, all food items containing MSG carry a warning that they are unsuitable for infants. A warning of this nature would not be issued without any reason.
• Other problems: Some other adverse health effects of Ajinomoto include high blood pressure, excess sweating, abdominal problems, thyroid dysfunctions, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, asthma, hormonal imbalance, autism, nausea and weakness, food allergies, and retina damage. This ingredient can also be a reason for cancer.
Items containing MSG
• Ready-to-eat food packets
• Dehydrated soup packets
• Dehydrated gravy packets
• Instant noodle and cup noodle
• Preserved fish
• All kinds of sausages
• Tomato ketchup
• Potato wafers
• Soya sauce
• All canned and preserved foods
• All fast-food items, especially Chinese
These food items should be completely avoided; if you don’t, you are risking your life to an ingredient that will kill you slowly. Go for food items made at home, basically organic and unprocessed food. It is not that you should not eat these items, but make them at home without using the dangerous MSG.
Life is too short to pay such high price for satisfying the taste buds. The adverse health effects of Ajinomoto are being discussed the world over. However, no clear judgement has come in this regard. The Ajinomoto industry is huge, and, if this industry were to be hit, there would be countless
restaurants and food chains that might suffer. Some of the noted food giants rely on MSG for enhancing flavours. Though the verdict is not clear yet, the fact that so much of discussion over MSG is going on cannot be ignored•