Once upon a time, it was a pleasure returning home after a hard day’s work to sniff the delicious aroma of food wafting through the house. Today, with both spouses working to make ends meet, fresh home-cooked meals have become a rarity. People prefer buying and stocking their kitchen and refrigerator with pre-cooked and ready-to-eat items. However, have you ever looked closely at the ingredients’ label to see what your pre-cooked food contains?
More often than not, processed foods contain monosodium glutamate, also known as Ajinomoto or just MSG.
What is Ajinomoto?
MSG is a sodium salt of glutamic acid, which occurs naturally. And, it is marketed under the brand name of Ajinomoto. Monosodium glutamate is a food enhancer that was initially used to enhance the taste and flavour of Chinese fast food. However, it has now found its way into all types of processed and pre-cooked foods.
The credit for making Ajinomoto goes to a Japanese firm called Ajinomoto Corp. The firm discovered this food enhancer in 1909. Ever since it has taken the food industry by storm that is always looking for a cheaper alternative to flavour food and make it more appetizing.
Why Do Food Manufacturers Use Ajinomoto?
There are several reasons why food manufacturers include MSG into their food products. Some of them are as follows:
- Cheap: MSG is cheap and by adding it to inferior pre-processed food, manufacturers can make that food taste better. It also reduces the cost of production while boosting profits.
- Pancreas Stimulant: Ajinomoto stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin even when no carbohydrates are present in the body. As a result, your blood sugar levels will drop, causing you to feel hungry. This, in turn, causes you to overeat the product.
- Addictive Nature: There is evidence to show MSG is addictive in nature. It increases your cravings for food that contain Ajinomoto; and when this craving overtakes you, you will consume more of the product, thereby boosting the profits of the processed food manufacturer.
Ajinomoto and Your Health
While the U.S. FDA claims Ajinomoto is generally safe for consumption, there is evidence to show some people could be intolerant to MSG. Some of the reactions you may experience if you consume processed foods containing MSG include:
- Chest pain
- Heart palpitations
- Facial tightness
- Numbness or tingling sensation in the neck, face and other parts of the body
Research has also established a link between certain diseases and Ajinomoto.
- Obesity due to overindulgence
- Food allergies among children
- Hyperactivity in kids
Serious Health Concerns Due to Ajinomoto Consumption
Here are some serious health issues that could develop due to consumption of Ajinomoto or MSG.
Migraines and Headaches: One of the common side effects of Ajinomoto is headaches. However, if you are prone to migraines, your headache could transform into one and cause you a lot of discomfort and pain.
Neurological Problems: When you consume food containing MSG regularly, it could adversely affect your nerves, leading to numbness and tingling sensation in different parts of your body. Neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, have been associated with the consumption of Ajinomoto.
Heart Problems: Eating food with MSG has been linked to cardiac arrest, palpitations and chest pains.
Sterility: Women who consume Ajinomoto risk infertility and sterility. This could pose a huge problem for those women who wish to start a family, but are unable to do so because of what they have been eating.
Ajinomoto also has been linked to other diseases, including Type II diabetes, hormonal imbalance, autism, thyroid problems and elevated blood pressure.
The Bottom Line
Just because you want to enjoy flavorful food, don’t get tempted by processed foods. The health problems that Ajinomoto causes are too grave to risk indulging your taste buds. While there is some scientific evidence to back the ill-effects Ajinomoto has on health, the scientific and food processing community is divided. And, there is an ongoing debate about the pros and cons of Ajinomoto.
There is no doubt Ajinomoto supporters are winning at the moment and that is why this food flavour enhancer has not been banned. But if you are concerned about your health and well-being, it is prudent to avoid all foods that contain Ajinomoto or MSG.