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The dirty secret of MSG

The dirty secret of MSG – Great Eastern Life

While eating healthy and exercising do play a part in maintaining weight, it's not the full story.

Many people eat unhealthy foods, but never gain weight, whereas others can't seem to control their desire to eat. Your appetite is controlled by hormones, namely leptin. This crucial hormone signals your brain (hypothalamus, to be precise) that allows you to control your eating. If for any reason the hypothalamus cannot respond to the leptin, your appetite control is non-existent.

Reports as far back as 1978 show that flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate (MSG), MSG causes disturbance or lesions in the hypothalamus, causing subsequent obesity. In other words, this is a mind altering substance! MSG damages your cells, preventing them from receiving leptin, increasing your appetite.

This is not the only issue with MSG. When your cells do not respond to leptin, the body produces even more leptin to turn off your appetite. This creates a vicious cycle of increased leptin, but poor cellular response. This overproduction of leptin can over stimulate your stress response, and induce insulin resistance which again leads to weight gain, blood sugar imbalances and even cause the silent killer, hypertension.

If MSG is so dangerous, and you have kids and adults eating it, why not get rid of it altogether?

Food companies are looking for profit, and if MSG increases your appetite, you'll need to buy more food. More food simply means more money. Why get rid of something that works on profit margins?

Since many people are getting aware of MSG, food companies are relabeling their ingredient list so it is not noticeable to the layman. The FDA does not have any regulations on this. So a food company can hide it by listing other foods that have MSG in them, under the names:

Autolyzed yeast, barley malt, broth, bouillon, calcium caseinate, carrageen, flavouring, natural flavouring, gelatin, hydrolysed oat flour, hydrolysed vegetable protein, pectin, plant protein extract, soy protein, soy sauce, textured protein, whey protein, yeast extract, yeast food.

There are over 40 ingredients that can contain MSG. Not all these ingredients contain MSG all the time, so the best way to avoid MSG is to look for products that state "MSG- free."

Other pointers to be aware of in case you don't have access to ingredient lists:

  • Be aware of very salty foods
  • Foods that make you suddenly tired afterwards
  • Most processed foods contain MSG in some form
  • Buy foods with a short ingredient list, and ingredients you can pronounce!
  • Remove waxes from fruits (some waxes contain MSG!)
  • Check your cosmetics and personal care products, as yes, they too contain MSG!
  • Check your medications and supplements to make sure they are MSG free as well
  • Read the ingredient list for all products, even if they are from a health food store

Written by Sheeba Majmudar, Nutritionist at Verita Advanced Wellness © 2012 Verita Advanced Wellness. This article has been published with the permission and courtesy of Verita Advanced Wellness, a partner of Great Eastern Live Great Programme.

Neuron, August 1999. Exp Neurol, 1978, October; J pediatr Endocrinol Metab, 2003 Sep; 16 (7): 965-8;Eur J Clin Nutr, 2006 January; 60(1): 25-31; J perinat Med, 2003;31(6): 489-95

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