When I took my one of my friends to visit a doctor seeking for a treatment against her feeling of fatigue, headache and laziness, I came to know a strange kind of medical condition. We both were surprised to know that she was having ‘Chinese Restaurant Syndrome’. When we asked the doctor to describe this medical terminology, he explained that the condition is greeted when someone eats foods containing flavor-enhancing compounds i.e. MSG (Mono Sodium Glutamate), most commonly known as Ajinomoto. Since then, she has not eaten a single packet of packaged noodles.
The doctor investigated the history of her food consumption for the past 5 years and found that she had been eating packaged noodles for all these years. Her daily consumption of packaged noodles was not her choice but a compulsion. She, along with many college goers might have the same story where they have to eat packaged noodles during their lunch before nobody would eat home cooked food at 6 o’clock in the morning before going to college. Not only among the college goers but also among school students of all levels take packets of noodles for their lunch due to its availability, attractiveness, tastiness and easiness to eat. Yes, this is a food to eat but is not good for health in future.
Packaged noodles, potato chips and different beverages easily available in the market work as catalyst to invite disease like diabetes, brain hemorrhage, cancer and heart related diseases. Similarly, it invites constipation and oral diseases. Researchers have proved that these kinds of food categorized as ‘junk foods’ have adverse effect on adults’ bones. A study by Paul Johnson and Paul Kenny at the Scripps Research Institute in 2008 suggested that junk food consumption alters brain activity in a manner similar to addictive drugs like cocaine or heroin.
In Nepal, such conditions are growing day by day. The ingredients of such foods contain huge amount of fat, sugar and salt. It contains chemicals that will sweeten the food but on the other hand, harms the body functions. Mono Sodium Glutamate can be taken as an example and in 1972, Michael Jacobson termed this as ‘Junk food’. Junk food is a derisive slang term for food that is of little nutritional value and often high in fat, sugar, salt, and calories. The definition is just like a derisive slang term for people who have less discipline and worthy of being discarded and we call them ‘Junky’. Easily available food items such as packaged noodles, candy, biscuit, confectioneries, carbonated beverages, samosa, chat, pizza, hamburger all are categorized under junk foods.
Junk contain excessive quantity of oil and sugar that body cannot digest and as a result, sediments in the form of fats. As a result, a person starts to get fat. The obesity invites other health diseases like high blood pressure, brain hemorrhage, diabetes and cancer. Especially among the children in urban areas, obesity is the major problem and in the future, there will be higher probability of getting non communicable diseases. Among the obese children, there will be higher deficiency of protein and vitamin. Due to this, their muscles get weakened and the level of hemoglobin will be less and as a result, the immunity power gets decreases. Such condition is favorable for diseases and the individual have to rely on medicines most of the time to fight against such diseases. In Nepal too, children have started to have high blood pressure.
Salty junk foods invite high blood pressure and oral cavities. Since junk food lack fiber, a child who eats junk food most of the time is highly prone to constipation. It results in obstructed defecation and unwanted materials inside the intestines get glued that triggers the probability of cancer. The WHO (World Health Organization) recommends that 19% of cancer related to intestine is caused by constipation.
It is not upon us to stop the global market of junk foods but by being selective towards food that we take every day, we can save ourselves from these medical conditions. It is a must to discourage our children, brothers, sisters and others not to go for junk foods most of the time. But selecting fruits and home cooked food items will be highly beneficial.