MSG and Weight Gain
It has been demonstrated in lab tests since the 1970’s, that MSG causes obesity in animals. It has always been our belief that MSG and its hidden sources, are responsible for the explosion of weight gain and obesity in this nation. Our children eat foods high in glutamate all day long, from hot dogs to chips and soft drinks. Why do we wonder that we have epidemics of not only obesity, but ADD and Autism in our children? People turn to diet foods, supplements, and protein drinks, also high in MSG and glutamate rich additives, in often futile attempts to lose weight. MSG is a proven endocrine disruptor, interfering with normal hormone release and uptake. When our thyroid, pituitary, hypothalamus, and pancreas are compromised by this powerful excitatory neurotransmitter, the effects on our health are devastating for millions. The obesity/glutamate connection is further discussed in our book, Battling the MSG Myth.
Read Dr. Mercola’s comments, sent to us in June 201l, about this connection at the following link:
The following was sent to us by Emma Rogers:
Leptin, Ghrelin, and Monosodium Glutamate - Why MSG May Be Making You Fat
It’s fairly widely accepted that the size of your waistline is related to the amount of calories you take in. Obviously your body will experience more positive health benefits overall if those calories come from healthy foods – but, whether what you eat is healthy or unhealthy – if you manage your calorie intake, you’ll also manage your weight. Weight loss is calories in vs calories out – simple as that. Isn’t it? Well, when it comes to monosodium glutamate, perhaps not. A study at the University of North Carolina found that “people who eat more MSG are more likely to be overweight or obese” - no matter how many calories they consumed overall. While the correlation was fairly modest in those who ate moderate amounts of MSG, researchers were quick to point out that even a modest correlation spells potential disaster for Americans, because we consume MSG in such vast quantities. “Everybody eats it”, it is “one of the world’s most widely used food additives”. Essentially, this implies that everyone consuming processed foods with additives is at risk of having their weight-loss goals frustrated and succumbing to obesity, no matter how strict their calorie goals.
Leptin and the Metabolism
There are various theories as to why this occurs. Most popular among them relate to the operation of the hormone leptin, and MSG’s interaction with that hormone in the brain. Leptin is a recently discovered hormone which is unlocking great swathes of previously unknown information about how our body regulates appetite and metabolism. It has only really been known about for the last decade or so, and much of its operation remains mysterious but, essentially, leptin is responsible for controlling energy intake and expenditure through calorie consumption and metabolization. Rockefeller University describe it as a hormone designed to “maintain homeostatic fat mass”. It is released by fat cells, and “acts on the brain to regulate food intake and energy expenditure”. A simple yet effective system – if left to its own devices.
The Disruptive Effects of MSG
Enter MSG. Although how and why it does so is not quite understood yet, what is very clear is that monosodium glutamate interferes with leptin and the way it communicates with the body. Ke Ha MD, who ran the UNC study into MSG and obesity, notes that “MSG intake was positively related to serum leptin concentrations” - meaning, in a nutshell, that those who consumed more MSG made more leptin yet experienced no corresponding drop in appetite. Ha theorizes that MSG causes the body to become resistant to leptin – which would explain the curious weight gain in dieters who eat MSG. The leptin resistance would cause the body to metabolize calories ineffectively (if at all), leading to weight gain even in those on strict calorie controlled diets. However, leptin resistance caused by MSG has more sinister implications for those not on diets. An inability to recognize or process leptin results in an inability to recognize when one needs no more food, and often results in continued and compulsive eating. Eating is addictive – of course it is, we need to do it to survive – which is why the body has such a powerful regulatory system in place to prevent us from eating ourselves to death. With that system interrupted by MSG, it is little wonder that so many of us are obese.
There is another neurological effect associated with MSG, however, which renders it all the worse for those trying to lose weight. It’s all to do with compounds known as ‘excitotoxins’, which are strongly associated with MSG. The American Nutritional Association, in a complex piece of research, has warned of the dangers of excitotoxins released when MSG is consumed. Broken down into its basics, the research makes it clear that excitotoxins are neurologically damaging. While the brain actively uses glutamate in order to function properly, an excess of monosodium glutamate and its inherent excitotoxins has an almost corrosive effect on the brain. The brain can usually limit the amount of glutamate interacting with neurons quite effectively – but our modern diet is so crammed with monosodium glutamate that it frequently gets overloaded. When that happens, bad things follow. The American Nutritional Association warn of “the continual exposure of…neurons to the excitatory glutamate, injuring them”. The specific neurons injured often relate to leptin receptors, but also to ghrelin receptors. Ghrelin is a vital hormone which makes us crave high-calorie foods when in need of energy. Incorrectly stimulated and corroded by excitotoxins, ghrelin receptors will order the body to consume fatty, sugary foods even when it does not need to – in short, inducing cravings. It’s an addictive process, which can lead to all sorts of physical and psychological problems. Prevalent among these are eating disorders. Those who have been on an MSG-inspired eating binge are frequently overcome with guilt once the brain has recovered, and take damaging steps to ‘purge’ themselves of what they have eaten. This sort of behavior repeated over time leads to Bulimia Nervosa. Those who do not develop bulimia can quickly become addicted to eating, leading to obesity and all the legion of problems that come with it. The worst of it is that such problems and additive addictions are incredibly hard to overcome. Psychguides describe eating disorders as “among the most dangerous and difficult addiction issues people face”, because there is no escaping from food. More importantly, until awareness is raised and measures taken, there seems to be no escaping from monosodium glutamate.
Trust Science, Not Business
Monosodium glutamate is unregulated, with the FDA stating that it is “generally recognized as safe”. The FDA are somewhat evasive, however, on the subject of scientific trials into the harmful effects of the substance, and seem eager to point out that “MSG occurs naturally in many foods”. It makes no mention at all of various scientific trials which have produced, among other things, evidence that MSG causes “severe morphologic damage” to the retinas of chick embryos. While one does not wish to begin circulating conspiracy theories, the theoretically impartial FDA has in the past proved itself susceptible to pressure from both politicians and businesses. Monosodium glutamate is big business. Its addictive nature means that people crave it, meaning that it sells through the roof, meaning that there is a lot of money behind MSG, and a lot of money riding upon it. Money talks, and what it is perhaps saying is: ‘MSG is safe, keep eating it!’ It is important that we listen to the dietary science, and not to the seductions of the processed food industry.