Food additives are a common part of our food products. One of the most common food additive is monosodium glutamate. We commonly call it as Ajinomoto. Ajinomoto actually is a brand name while the compound is known as MSG. Various studies have been conducted to see how MSG or ajinomoto affects our body, but a lot of conflicting debates have risen.
The most common debate is about MSG or ajinomoto and Chinese restaurant syndrome. Many have experienced various symptoms such as headaches, chest pain, sweating, flushing while some even develop breathing problems, swelling of the throat etc. Now you know why you get the stuffy, icky feeling after eating out regularly.
Where is MSG commonly added?
- Added in soups, broths,stocks, sauces, canned foods, chips and in almost all processed food etc
- Used widely in Chinese and other Asian cuisines.
I remember a client asking me whether MSG can cause weight gain. Hmmm, MSG or ajinomoto can make food tasty and tasty food can make you eat more. Of course, this is not a practicle answer and it does not make you gain weight. But most of the cooks add it to make the food to enhance flavour. Tastemaker powders are used by almost all restaurants and these powders contain MSG or ajinomoto as it enhances the flavour. This shows whenever we need soul food, we call for a chinese takeout and they do tantalize our tastebuds. This can be the same case as in Instant Noodles such as Maggi, which we reach out while we are hungry.
MSG has been linked to obesity, degenerative disease such as Alzheimers, tumours, headaches, allergies, asthma etc. Contrary to popular belief, MSG or ajinomoto is not high in sodium content. MSG only contains 1/3 the amount of sodium as table salt. But when used with table salt it can increase the sodium content of the food.
The bottom line is to play safe and avoid MSG while cooking and to check labels for “No added MSG“. If you are eating out in Asian restaurants, request them not to add it in the food.
Nutrition for children is a very important aspect as we are looking at the development and growth of children. A well balanced diet should have all the required nutrients in right proportions.A parent will always have in his/her mind that their child should be eating healthy.
Now how can you as a parent plan your child’s diet?
These are the following major nutrients that you need to include in the diet-
- Carbohydrates– They are very important as they provide the major source of energy as calories. Foods from this group provide starch or complex carbohydrates for energy and also provide vitamins, minerals and mainly fiber. Include whole grain cereals like brown rice, whole wheat products, oats, ragi, jowar, bajra etc. Idli, dosa, chapatti, poha, upma, mueseli etc should be included in your child’s diet. Avoid refined cereals like cornflakes and other breakfast cereals which contain high sugar content and bad for the teeth and also for weight control.
- Proteins– Proteins are the building blocks of our body. Hence a child will need enough protien for rapid growth. Protien is also needed for good hair, skin, nails etc. Majorly, good quality protien comes from milk and milk products like yogurt, buttermilk, cheese and cottage cheese or paneer and also from fish, chicken, eggs etc. Include atleast one serving from fish, eggs, lean meats etc and 2-3 servings from milk and milk products. Cheese can be a whole snack by it self rather than in a burger or on a pizza. Protiens also come from vegetarian sources such as nuts and seeds, beans and legumes. These are the protein sources high in fiber and also in various vitamins and minerals. Including a protien source in every meal is very important. Avoid high fat milk sources such as ice cream, pastries as they are high in fat and sugar.
- Vitamins and minerals(Fruits and vegetables)- The fruits and vegetable food group is very essential as they are the richest sources of vitamins and minerals. They provide major vitamins such as Vitamin A,C and K and also minerals such as calcium, potassium, sodium etc which are all required various organ functions and also for teeth and bone health.A variety in the diet provides a variety of this group. The major minerals needed at this phase are calcium, iron etc and vitamins such as Vitamin A for eye sight, growth, Vitamin C for immunity, Vitamin D for healthy bones and Vitamin E for brain development etc. They also provide fiber, serve as healthy snacks and improve the immunity by ten fold. Include this food group in every meal for better health.
- Fats– Good fats are very essential for the child for both energy levels as well as for brain development. Fat content should come from good fats such as oils, seeds and nuts. Saturated fat which come from whole milk products, cheese should be given in limited quantities. Fats such as hydrogenated fats coming from all confectionery items such as biscuits, cakes and also the hydrogenated fats from chips and french fries are not good fats.
- Water– Water is the elixir of life. A child should be well hydrated always. You should encourage your child to drink enough water during the day, especially after rigorous play.
Try to cut down sugar, excess of salt, junk food such as maggi noodles, chips, soft drinks etc. More information on junk food will be posted in the coming week.
If this simple fundamentals of a diet are followed, then your child is on the path to better health.