You are in your full-blown pregnancy period and you are craving for Chinese food. The only reason you are holding back is that because you know Chinese food is has an ingredient called Ajinomoto, known as MSG in medical terms. You have heard that too much of it is bad for your heart and you are scared if it is safe for your baby too. So, what is the truth? Is it really that harmful?
Well the medical fraternity is divided over the answer. Some say it is dangerous and should be avoided at any cost, especially if you are pregnant, keeping in mind the health of the baby in the womb while others say that it has been time and again tested by medical units and has been declared safe.
We will learn about both the sides of the arguments. First of all, let us understand what is MSG?
- What is Ajinomoto Or MSG?
- Why Does Food Industry Use Ajinomoto?
- MSG During Pregnancy
- Effects Ajinomoto On Pregnancy
- Arguments In Favor Of MSG
- Arguments Against The Use Of Ajinomoto
- Is It Safe To Have Ajinomoto in Pregnancy?
What is Ajinomoto Or MSG?
MSG is monosodium glutamate, the main ingredient in Ajinomoto; a common food additive used extensively in Chinese dishes. A Japanese firm named Ajinomoto Corp. produces the food enhancer Ajinomoto. It is called the glutamate and is the salt form of the non-essential glutamic acid. It is important to know here that our body also produces this salt naturally. The problem comes when it is produced in the stores unnaturally and we take it in excessive quantities.
Why Does Food Industry Use Ajinomoto?
MSG or ajinomoto is used by the food industry as it enhances food taste, making you want to eat more. It is most commonly added as a food additive and a flavoring agent and added in soups, stocks, sauces, canned foods, and in almost all processed food etc.
- MSG comes cheap in forms of food flavors and colors
- MSG stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin, which causes a drop in the sugar level, thus, making an individual more hungry and craving for food which ultimately leads to obesity and overeating
- When it is broken down in our body, it is converted to GABA, which has a tranquilizing effect
- Also known as the Nicotine of food, MSG is addictive too
MSG During Pregnancy
- You body undergoes a lot of changes both hormonal and physical while you are pregnant. It is not unlikely that you may crave for food which has high content of MSG. What you can do is to ask the staff of the restaurant directly them if they use MSG in their food and if yes, then ask them not to add it in your plate. If you are allergic to MSG then make sure you avoid it during pregnancy
- Excessive intake of MSG breaks down the placental barrier and disrupts food supply to the baby, which in turn affects the baby. It is the placental layer which keeps the baby protected from the acidic food in your stomach, if it is broken down your baby is exposed everything in your blood. If there are germs and diseases, the layer won’t be able to filter it before it reaches the baby
Effects Ajinomoto On Pregnancy
MSG or ajinomoto has long been a controversial subject of debate, though no definitive outcomes have yet been reached. Some studies on rats have linked MSG to placental defects, but no adverse effects have yet been established on monkeys. It is also said that to cause harm to the baby, ajinomoto would have to be consumed in very large quantities. However, ajinomoto over stimulates the nerve cells and when taken in excess it upsets the balance of the neurotransmitter. This can have consequences on the health and the body, and though it is believed that for noticeable effects, the ingredient will have to be consumed in large quantities, yet, many pregnant women choose to stay away from MSG when pregnant.
Arguments In Favor Of MSG
- It is a natural ingredient and is found in many natural fruits and vegetables
- Human body also produces it naturally
- Even breast milk has glutamate
Arguments Against The Use Of Ajinomoto
Those who are against the notion, this is what they reason out as to support their belief of ‘why to avoid msg in pregnancy’:
- When made unnaturally outside the body, MSG is made from fermenting sugar, which is not good for health
- It brings on headaches, sweating, numbness or tightness in the face, increases palpitations, chest pain and also nausea
MSG has been approved by FDA, and it has been put in the list of GRAS substance (Generally recognized as safe). However, many people do have adverse reaction to MSG and hence if you are sensitive to it, you must completely avoid it when pregnant.
Is It Safe To Have Ajinomoto in Pregnancy?
So what is the final verdict? Does ajinomoto effect in pregnancy or not? The answer is, if you have even an iota of doubt about the effect of MSG, then it is better to exercise caution especially when you are eating Chinese food. Avoid ajinomoto in Chinese food during pregnancy. You can also check food labels for other products which may contain MSG.
As MSG can have effect of breaking down the placental wall, you will not want that at all. Your baby needs the best of nutrients to grow healthily inside the womb. This means that it can affect the baby’s hormonal as well as biological development.
In conclusion, we will advice that you consult your doctor about the particular food items you are taking and especially before trying food with MSG. It can be that you are not sensitive to MSG and in that case, consuming it should not be a problem. But because pregnancy reacts differently to everything, taking your doctor’s advice would just be the best thing!
So, ultimately it is important to be aware of both the sides of the argument to take the best decision for yourself.