The whole country is talking about the ban on Maggi, the instant noodles for containing more MSG than the permissible limits. While bachelors seem to be not so happy about this, we, mothers see it an Eye-opener. I stopped buying Maggi long time ago, after I noticed that ‘No MSG’ in several packs, just thinking MSG is something ‘not good’. After this ban, I hear ‘high MSG, organic damage, nervous disorders, hormonal issues’ all these scary terms together, I just wanted to know, what on earth is this MSG? I did a little research and trust me, the whole concept is not as simple as it spells and on top of that, this horrible MSG is found in almost all the packaged foods your kids love.
Here I bring you what I found.
What is MSG:
Monosodium glutamate (MSG, also known as sodium glutamate) is the sodium salt of glutamic acid, one of the most abundant naturally-occurring non-essential amino acids.[Manuf. 1] MSG is found in tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, potatoes, mushrooms, and other vegetables and fruits.
Monosodium Glutamate is a salt of the amino acid – Glutamic Acid (glutamate). Basically one (mono) sodium atom is “stuck” to the amino acid glutamate.
So, what is ‘Non-essential amino acid’?
Amino acids are often called the building blocks of life because it takes many of them linked together in a chain to create a protein. Some amino acids must be eaten because the body cannot make them (essential), some the body can make (non-essential). The life processes are all dependent on proteins which play critical roles in the body as structure, messengers, enzymes, and hormones.
So, what’s the big deal? It just seems to be something we already have in our body? Why shouldn’t I consume it?
Glutamate is just one of many amino acids used by the body and linked into the chains of protein in the body. However some amino acids are found linked into proteins because they serve vital functions. Some are neurotransmitters which carry nerve cell impulses throughout the body. Amino acid neurotransmitters are like chemical messengers carrying news from nerve cell to nerve cell. They control the hormones and maintain the balance of nervous system, a delicate balance actually.
Okay, but glutamates are present in natural vegetables too, you said?
The naturally occurring glutamates in food aren’t dangerous, processed free glutamic acids like MSG are.
Processed MSG contains not only the kind of amino acids the body is used to handling, but mirror image ones too. We don’t exactly know what problems this may cause. The glutamate the body is used to handling is also in MSG. This may present a problem because an excess of naturally occurring glutamate is well known by neuroscientists to be a problem in many disease states.
So, what may happen?
Some people report immediate effects on consuming MSG like headache, weakness in muscles, burning sensation and skin related allergies. Even if you don’t experience any of these, it doesn’t mean that you are not affected. Experts say, the sensitivity to MSG builds up in our bodies until we reach a threshold.
Not only do they cause brain damage and lead to nervous disorders, but they also cause radical hormone fluctuations. Mice injected with MSG become rapidly obese, inactive, and have other hormonal issues.
Pregnant woman should always stay away from high MSG foods, since it poses twice the time risk to your developing baby. It can affect the brain formation. This can later result in abnormal learning, emotional difficulties and other effects in her development.
Seems to be dangerous than you thought?
Okay, I pick that ‘No MSG’ pack next time. Problem solved?
No. They still pack MSG secretly, but just in another name. It looks like there are more than 80 hidden sources of MSG, which are all approved. Some common hidden sources of MSG are,
- Monopotassium glutamate
- Gultamic acid
- Autolyzed yeast extract
- Sodium caseinate
- E621 (E620 -625)
- Ajinomoto, Ac’cent
- Gourmet powder
The actual list is too big to cross check with your favorite food’s label. Also that around 60% of products you get from your supermarket are in list. Chinese restaurants and those fast food centres pack MSG in almost everything they offer.
Why do they add MSG?
MSG is used as a taste enhancer, to give a meaty savory flavor to the food.
The illusion created by adding MSG to a food product enables the food processor to add less real food. Consider a chicken soup. With MSG, it can make an illusion to have more chicken than it actually has. This way, the food processor can put less or no chicken in it, just a kind of business tactics.
And, the permissible limit for MSG is 0.01ppm.
What am I going to do?
Well, You can’t control what they pack, what they serve or what they ban. But you can always control what you eat. That’s what I am going to do. It’s always better to stay away from processed foods. I just tell this to myself often, ‘Whatever packed is not good’. It may feel like we are stopping our children from all those childhood fun, but for a good reason of course. Unless the food is cooked by me in my kitchen, I can’t say it is good for my children.
So mommies, I just shared my little analysis and opinions on this. Share your thoughts also here. After all, our motive is simple. We want our children to eat healthy and grow healthy.
Happy mommying!!! Take care!!!