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Pregnancy can bring about a lot of weird cravings. If you are pregnant, there will be days when you will be tempted to eat just about anything, but you also know that not everything that tastes delicious is healthy. You will have to be careful with regards to your food choices. If you relish eating Chinese food, you will think twice before eating it as it contains certain ingredients such as Ajinomoto (MSG), which may not be exactly good for your baby’s health (and for your health too). Ajinomoto is widely used as a flavouring agent, most popularly in Chinese cuisine. And while it improves the flavour of the food, it can have some side effects when consumed during pregnancy.
What Is Ajinomoto or MSG?
Ajinomoto is not actually an ingredient. Ajinomoto Corp. is the name of a Japanese organisation that produces an original product, MSG or Monosodium Glutamate. The use of MSG is controversial as doctors suggest that long-term consumption can lead to health problems. Others argue that as our bodies produce glutamate naturally, it is safe for consumption. If you are pregnant, we suggest that you avoid eating foods with Ajinomoto in them or speak to your nutritionist before making them a part of your diet.
Use of Ajinomoto as a Food Additive in the Food Industry
As the food industry needs to use a large amount of every ingredient, the use of a cheaper and more flavourful ingredient like MSG to enhance the taste of the food seems only logical. MSG is also used in the food industry as it makes one feel more hungry. MSG stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin, causing sugar levels to drop. This makes an individual more hungry and prone to overeating.
Is It Safe to Consume Ajinomoto During Pregnancy?
Pregnant women should avoid consuming foods with Ajinomoto in them as it can be harmful to the baby’s health. If consumed in large amounts, it can result in a breakdown of the placental barrier, which can disrupt the food supply to the baby and expose him to all kinds of germs and diseases and to any acidic food that is present in the stomach.
Side Effects of Consuming Ajinomoto During Pregnancy
Consuming foods containing Ajinomoto can be harmful to a pregnant lady, especially if they are consumed in large amounts. Mentioned below are some side effects of MSG on pregnancy:
- Placental Damage: Too much MSG can damage the placenta and endanger the baby by exposing him to germs and free glutamate, which can get into the brain cells and induce them.
- Headaches: Headaches usually lead to migraines which cause vision changes and sensitivity to sound and light.
- Sleeplessness: MSG can also trigger insomnia by stimulating the brain cells, and keeping you up at night.
- Over Stimulated Nerves: MSG causes an imbalance in the neurotransmitters by inducing the nerves.
- Heart Issues: Eating foods with MSG in them can lead to fluttering heartbeats, chest pain, and cardiac arrest.
- Nausea: If MSG is consumed when immunity levels are low, it may lead to nausea.
- Obesity: As MSG stimulates the pancreas, it is said to be one of the causes of obesity.
- Other Health Effects: When MSG is broken down in our bodies, it is converted to GABA, which has a tranquillizing effect. There are also other side effects such as numbness, weakness, thyroid issues and more.
Arguments in Favour of Ajinomoto
There are some studies that were conducted on rats that have linked MSG to defects in the placenta, but the same is not seen in monkeys, a species closer to humans. MSG can cause serious harm if it is consumed in large quantities.
Arguments Against the Use of MSG
There are arguments saying that when MSG is made unnaturally, it is made from fermenting sugar which is not good for health. Another reason why caution must be taken when consuming MSG is that it has potential side effects such as heart problems, nausea, headaches, placental damage, and more. Hence, it is best to avoid eating foods with MSG in them.
How to Identify Foods That Contain Ajinomoto
Most processed foods contain MSG and the use of MSG is also common in restaurants. Most fermented foods contain MSG. One good example is soy sauce. So read the labels carefully if you are considering purchasing processed, canned or packaged foods. It is most likely that these items contain MSG in some form unless it specifically says ‘MSG-Free’. MSG is commonly found in flavourings, colourings, stocks, broths, seasonings and more. So during pregnancy, these products are best avoided.
While you are most likely going to experience cravings for foods that contain MSG in some form or the other, it is best to avoid them during pregnancy. Your body will go through a lot of hormonal changes and react differently to things and foods then it normally would, so don’t take chances. Consult your doctor about the foods you want to eat during pregnancy to ensure that you are not sensitive to them. Discuss your diet plan with your nutritionist and doctor, and eat healthy. And have a healthy pregnancy!