The campaign against fast food is not something new or recent. It has been there ever since fast food came into existence. It is a known fact that fast food contains lot of taste enhancers, preservatives, salt and colouring agents. Of all the elements, the Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is the one not to be ignored. The salt form of glutamic acid is only called ‘MSG’ which is constantly debated in terms of its adverse effects.
Origin of MSG
Kikunae Ikeda of Japan was the first person to introduce the white-coloured MSG as a seasoning and flavoring agent. This became popular in Japan because of its cheaper cost. This was named Yumami by the person who found this. The word ‘Yumami’ means ‘tasty’ which was coined by him for the MSG. In lighter vein, Kikunae Ikeda might have shrieked in joy ‘Yumami Yumami’ while introducing this in his country as the popular version ‘Yureka Yureka’ by Archemidis.
MSG – part and parcel of daily food
The target was the housewives of Japan. Their business strategies triggered super sales and automatically, the MSG took the lion’s share of the dining table in almost every household. No wonder did it spread gradually to other countries like Taiwan, China, United States etc. In Taiwan it penetrated into all types of foods that tested the taste buds of the eaters. In other countries, there was some opposition against the MSG.
Slave of the tongue
As the human beings are slaves to their tongues, this MSG is being used as a seasoning agent in many a products. What is unique in MSG is that it will not only make the taste different but also addicts the eaters to look for more and more like alcohol or drug consumption.
MSG is available in the protein content of mushroom, cheese, tomato, soya sauce etc. This is natural. Artificially, it is included in chips sealed in packets, soup, ready-made sambar mix, seasoned meat, instant noodles etc. In fact, all these products taste in a unique manner because of the mixing of MSG in them.
Originally, MSG was used in Chinese food only but later on, people started using it in all products. Surplus consumption of this element leads to headache, heart ailment, itching sensation in the skin etc. Asthma patients will suffer more. It will create nervous problem also. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism declares that the excess consumption of MSG will lead to high BP, diabetics, obesity etc.
Pregnant mothers and children
It is better for the pregnant mothers and children to avoid MSG mixed products. Some people will complain of vomiting and indigestion immediately after in-take of fast food because of MSG. Leptin hormone is the one that will give instructions to the brain to stop taking our food when it is time. But since MSG will down this leptin hormone in our body, the brain will not receive its instructions and hence our consumption of MSG related food will continue to be unabated. Chinese food will trigger vomiting, stomach ache and itching sensation and hence it has got a nickname as ‘Chinese Restaurant Syndrome’. Ideally, it should be called as ‘MSG Syndrome’ since it is now all pervasive.
Anything excessive is harmful
The stand taken by the big food product companies is that the preservatives are used only to a limited extent which is supported by the FDA also. At the same time the quantities added to the eatable items are cumulative in nature. If we continue to take similar items and more quantities of the items thus adulterated, it will certainly be highly harmful to our health. These harmful substances reach our gut without any limit.
It is like asking for little stronger coffee every time. There are people who prefer and ask for MSG mixed Chinese items in the restaurants. MSG substance is liberally available in the stores like any other necessities.
We won’t be surprised if it is made available in ration shops in future. Contrary to the modern practice, what was added to the food items in the olden days was not at all unhealthy. It may be true that that MSG adds more to the taste buds but no one can rule out its negative effects in our body and hence it would be better for us to ensure that this is not given entry into our kitchen.
It is a fact that many of the producers had kept this as a hidden substance but now it is available in the open market. People must note that MSG is capable of causing immediate as well as later adverse effects. Hence, it is better to avoid taking this along with our food. If MSG is eaten separately, one will be able to understand its actual implication. Many companies kept it secret that MSG was the reason for their taste.
MSG – the fifth taste
What is ironical to understand is that some researchers have classified this MSG as the fifth taste but whereas there are already six different tastes as per our traditions such as sweet, sour, salt etc. The staunch believers in our traditions should ideally be surprised at this fifth taste of MSG since they are actually accustomed with the tradition of six tastes in our food. Our traditions mean just and fair in respect of good food for good health. We should not fall such an easy prey to MSG at all.
(This article written in Tamil by Dr V Vikaramkumar MD(S) has been reproduced in English by P.S.Ramamurthy)