MSG and Fat Rats and Us
I wasn't born this way.
MSG and Fat Rats and Us
In another hub, “Obesity is Widespread,” I commented on the increase of obesity in the United States for the period of 2007 to 2008: 32.2% for men and 35.5% for women. That started me thinking. Could there be some chemical in our food that could be causing this tremendous obesity epidemic?
So I did a little research. If you read enough scientific and medical journals, there is amazing information to be learned. Did you know that hundreds of reports indicate that scientists all over the world are creating obese rats and mice that they use in diet and diabetes test studies?
Why are they creating fat rats and obese meese? I mean mice. Because there are few types of rats or mice that are naturally obese so scientists have to create them. How do you make a rat fat? How do you create oversize mice? It’s not at all difficult. When these rodents are first born, scientists inject them with a chemical that triples the amount of insulin created by the pancreas. This causes rats and mice to become morbidly obese.
I know you are waiting for me to get to the point. O.K. What is the name of the chemical they use? MSG. Monosodium Glutamate. They have even given a name to the race of fat rodents they have created: “MSG-Treated-Rats.”
Wait a minute, you may be saying. Isn’t MSG in practically everything we eat? Bingo. You just hit the mark. Check out the food in your cupboard, your pantry, your refrigerator. I found MSG in my Campbell’s “mmm, mmm, good” soups, Betty Crocker Hamburger Helper, frozen food dinners, flavored Pringles, Lipton noodles and instant soup mix, Progresso soups, salad dressings, even the low-fat versions, Doritos, Lays flavored potato chips, Planters salted nuts, canned tuna, Boar’s Head cold cuts – almost everything. I threw out my Accent – this seasoning is nearly pure MSG.
You won’t escape MSG if you shop at Whole Foods or the other markets that claim to sell healthy food. Many of the bagged, bottled, frozen and canned foods at Whole Foods contain MSG hidden under another name (see list below). Some of the deli dishes as well as those on the hot bar and the take-out rack also contain hidden MSG.
If MSG isn’t dangerous to our health, why has it been given so many different names?
If it’s safe, why does it wear a disguise on labels?
Many of the foods I discovered that didn’t have MSG on the label had an ingredient instead called Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that HVP as I call it is just another pretty name for – you guessed it – MSG. In fact MSG has a number of aliases.
These are the names for food additives that always contain MSG : Monosodium Glutamate, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein. Hydrolyzed Protein, Hydrolyzed Plant Protein, Plant Protein Extract, Sodium Caseinate, Calcium Caseinate, Yeast Extract, Textured Protein (Including TVP), Autolyzed Yeast, Hydrolyzed Oat Flour, Gelatin, Glutamic acid, Monopotassium glutamate, Yeast food and Yeast Nutrient.
These are the names for food additives that frequently contain MSG: Malt Extract, Malt Flavoring, Broth, Bouillon, Stock, Natural Flavors or Flavoring, Natural Beef or Chicken Flavoring, Seasoning, Barley Malt, Carrageenan, Enzyme-modified substances , Maltodextrin, Pectin, Protein-fortified substances, Soy protein, Soy protein isolate or concentrate, Soy sauce, Soy sauce extract, Vegetable gum, Whey protein and Whey protein isolate or concentrate.
Some MSG History
When Monosodium Glutamate, commonly known as MSG, was first introduced to the public over fifty years ago, it was believed to be a miracle food enhancer. More than just a seasoning like salt and pepper, MSG could actually enhance the flavors of foods. It made processed meats and frozen dinners taste fresher and also smell better; salad dressings more tasty; and canned foods less tinny-tasting.
It wasn't until people started having side effects after eating foods with MSG that some of us began to question whether this miracle flavoring was too good to be true. Today, many more question its safety, even though the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and food manufacturers keep insisting that MSG is safe.
As Americans, we tend to associate MSG with Chinese food. In fact, MSG Symptom Complex, which the FDA identifies as "short-term reactions" to MSG, was for some time referred to in the United States as "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome." But MSG is in many. many more foods than Chinese food, and is listed under many other names. So while many of us are aware that MSG has been linked to some negative side effects, or have even experienced them personally, we believe we are avoiding it in our diets and have been misled.
Here’s the scary part. Food manufacturers, who realize that many people would prefer not to have MSG in their food, have adapted by using so-called "clean labels." These ingredient labels hide MSG under names that we won't recognize, such as hydrolyzed soy protein and the other names previously mentioned.
Some manufacturers have also gone so far as to list "No MSG," "No Added MSG," or "No MSG Added" on product labels when MSG is still present, but exists only as a constituent in another ingredient. Where is truth in labeling?
John Erb's Book
How about MSG in restaurants you may be asking?
Some Chinese restaurants, aware of MSG’s negative publicity, put signs in their windows indicating there was no MSG in their food. Start asking at the restaurants you frequent what menu items have MSG. Many employees, even the managers, may state emphatically they do not use MSG. But if you ask for the ingredient list, which they may grudgingly provide, sure enough MSG and Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein will be listed everywhere. Every fast food restaurant like McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's, Taco Bell; even every sit-down casual restaurant like TGIF, Chilis', Applebees, Bennigans, Flannigans and Denny's use MSG in abundance. Kentucky Fried Chicken, unfortunately, seems to be one of the worst offenders: You will find MSG in every chicken dish, salad dressing and gravy. Makes me wonder if that’s their secret spice ingredient.
So why is MSG in so many of the foods we eat?
Is it a preservative or a vitamin? John Erb, the author of The Slow Poisoning of America writes that MSG is added to food for the addictive effect it has on the human body. Remember that – addictive effect. MSG actually addicts us to eating more.
Did you know that many food manufacturers have websites of their own? They explain that MSG “is added to food to make people eat more.” Why is that important? Because, they state, a study of elderly people indicated that people eat more when MSG is added to their food. The Glutamate Association lobby group – yes, MSG has its own lobbyists – say eating more benefits the elderly. But what is it also doing to the rest of us? Especially now that obesity has become an even bigger problem than smoking in America.
No wonder we’ve become a country of overweight citizens. The MSG manufacturers themselves admit that their product addicts people to eating more of it that they would if the MSG was not added. This addictive substance has been scientifically proven to cause obesity. You could call it the nicotine of food.
What about the FDA?
The FDA has set no limits on how much MSG can be added to food. They claim it's safe to eat in any amount. How can they claim it is safe when there are literally hundreds of scientific studies such as these?
1) The monosodium glutamate (MSG) obese rat as a model for the study of exercise in obesity. Gobatto CA, Mello MA, Souza CT, Ribeiro IA. Res Commun Mol Pathol Pharmacol. 2002
2) Obesity induced by neonatal monosodium glutamate treatment in spontaneously hypertensive rats: an animal model of multiple risk factors. Iwase M, Yamamoto M, Iino K, Ichikawa K, Shinohara N, Yoshinari Fujishima
3) Adrenalectomy abolishes the food-induced hypothalamic serotonin release in both normal and monosodium glutamate-obese rats. Guimaraes RB, Telles MM, Coelho VB, Mori RC, Nascimento CM, Ribeiro Brain Res Bull. 2002 Aug
4) Hypothalamic lesion induced by injection of monosodium glutamate in suckling period and subsequent development of obesity. Tanaka K, Shimada M, Nakao K, Kusunoki Exp Neurol. 1978 Oct
Now this is scary. The study I just referred to was performed in 1978. That means the FDA, the medical research community, and food manufacturers have known MSG's side effects for over 32 years.
Do you want to learn more about MSG yourself? Go to the National Library of Medicine on the web and click on PubMed (Medical Publications). Type in the words "MSG Obese" and read a few of the 115 medical studies you will see.
Footnote: A bill called the "Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act" also known as the "Cheeseburger Bill" (since it would protect McDonald’s among others) was passed by the House in 2005. But not the Senate. This bill would ban anyone from suing food manufacturers, sellers and distributors. Even if it turned out that they purposely added an addictive chemical to their foods. Must have been the MSG lobbyists hard at work.
Food producers and restaurants have been addicting us to their products for years, and now we are paying the price. Our children may be cursed with obesity caused by an addictive food additive. Russell Blaylock, M.D. goes even further. He states in his book, ”'Excitotoxins - The Taste That Kills,”' … there is scientific evidence that these chemicals (MSG) could permanently damage a critical part of the brain known to control hormones so that later in life your child might have endocrine problems.”
How does MSG work to create weight gain?
Extensive scientific research studies have shown that the flavor enhancer found in many popular foods known as monosodium glutamate (MSG) causes weight gain and obesity in lab animals by damaging the appetite regulation center in the area of the brain known as the hypothalamus, causing leptin resistence. Leptin is the hormone that controls how much we may feel like eating. The fullness, gratification and satisfaction that come from having eaten is completely lost when MSG is consumed, leading to an urge to eat that never stops. A recent cross-sectional study in China conducted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health supports the conclusion that what was seen in the animal studies (rats and mice) also applies to people.
Study finds using MSG can make you fat
The study that was reported in the August 2008 edition of the journal, Obesity, examined the association between MSG intake and weight gain in humans. Researchers conducted a cross-sectional study involving 752 healthy Chinese people ages 40-59. These people were randomly sampled from three rural villages in north and south China. 48% were women. Most of the participants prepared their foods at home, without the use of commercially processed foods. For the study, they were told to add quantified amounts of MSG when preparing their foods.
The scientists found that MSG consumption was positively related to increases in body mass index. Weight gain was significantly greater in MSG users than in non-users
Dr. Blalock's Book
MSG is an excitotoxin that acts on your brain.
MSG is a food additive that supercharges the taste of food, but not in the way you would think. MSG operates on your brain, fooling it into thinking food tastes really great. It is an excitotoxin in the brain, meaning that it over stimulates the brain causing the production of excessive amounts of dopamine. This creates a drug-like rush that provides a brief sensation of well being. It is highly addictive, causing you to keep coming back for more and you end up overeating. In the process brain cells may be destroyed.
Because MSG damages the brain and alters the ability of the brain to respond to the signal from the hormone, leptin, that satiety or the feeling of being full has occurred, it is a prime culprit in the epidemic of obesity that has everyone scratching their heads as to cause.
Natural is not the same as safe.
By FDA definition, processed free glutamic acid (MSG) is "naturally occurring," because the basic ingredient is found in nature. "Naturally occurring" does not mean that a food additive is being used in its natural state. "Naturally occurring" only means that the food additive began with something found in nature. By FDA definition, the ingredient "monosodium glutamate" is natural. So is hydrochloric acid. So is arsenic. "Natural" is not the same as safe!
There appear to be a number of bold faced lies used by the glutamate industry in defending its contention that exposure to free glutamic acid found in processed food does not cause adverse reactions including obesity, hives, asthma, seizures, and migraine headache; could not possibly cause brain damage, learning disorders, or endocrine disturbances; and could not possibly be relevant to diverse diseases of the central nervous system such as addiction, stroke, epilepsy, schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, and degenerative disorders such as ALS, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease. Central to their argument is the lie that the processed free glutamic acid used in processed food is identical to the glutamic acid found in unprocessed, unadulterated food and in the human body. It is not.
Avoid MSG whenever possible.
When you become aware of the danger to your health and well being from the use of MSG, you no longer want to purchase and eat products that contain it. The producers of processed foods know that we don’t want to consume MSG but are unwilling to remove it from their products. Because without it, we would not want to buy said products unless the quality was greatly improved, a process which would raise the cost of production.
The best way to avoid MSG is to buy whole foods and prepare them at home. Limit the number of processed foods you eat overall and you'll inevitably reduce your chances of ingesting MSG, too.
The next best thing is to become expert at reading labels in order to know the various disguises under which MSG is found. There are a few packaged prepared items at traditional grocery stores and health food stores that do not contain MSG.
When you avoid MSG and adjust to the delicious taste of food as it was meant to be experienced, you will be shocked when you go to a restaurant and taste food loaded with MSG again. You will know instantly because the flavor is so intense it is almost uncomfortable, and you suddenly want to just keep eating and eating.
Red Clover / MSG study
Sometimes you just can’t avoid eating food that contains MSG. Eating at a restaurant with friends, an invitation to the boss’ house for dinner, the need to stop for fast food while on a trip and many other situations may occur where exposure to MSG is inevitable. A recent study found that pre-treating yourself with a supplement of red clover before you dine can nullify the potential for damage from MSG. In the June 5, 2008 edition of Phytomedicine, researchers report finding that the natural mixture of phytoestrogenic isoflavones found in red clover can protect the brain from MSG toxicity
One of corporate America’s best friends, the FDA, has said for many years that consumption of MSG is safe, and has condoned its use as an additive flavor enhancer in countless processed and branded food products. As obesity has reached epidemic proportions in American society, the FDA has purposefully ignored the steady stream of research showing its obesity producing effects.
The only way to fight back is to reduce and eliminate whenever possible your consumption of MSG-laden foods. If the FDA won’t be convinced, the food manufacturers and processors will as they see the effect on their bottom line.
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© Copyright BJ Rakow, Ph.D. 2012. All rights reserved. Author, "Much of What You Know about Job Search Just Ain't So." An enlightening book about job search with the facts about interviewing, negotiating, networking, and creating a powerful resume.
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