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Obesity and MSG

2011 January 19
by camillaellis

Obesity is now a pandemic, it is estimated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that by 2015 approximately 2.3 billion adults worldwide will be overweight and 700 million will be obese (1).  Now in the UK one quarter of adults are obese and one third of all adults are predicted to be obese by 2012 (2).  So why the prevalence in obesity and why is it still on the rise?

Research has shown that a peptide within your gut (GLP-1) sends a signal to the brain to tell you your full and stop eating.  The area in the brain is within the hypothalamus called the acruate nucleus (ARC) and a substance known as Monosodium Glutamate, commonly known as MSG, causes extensive damage to the arcuate nucleus as well as to parts of the sensory circumventricular organs.  Therefore, eating products that contain MSG damages an area of your brain so you don’t get the message that your full and you should stop eating.

MSG is a food enhancer so that your food tastes better; it is mostly in Chinese food, sauces, crisps such as Pringles and Doritos.  Look for it on the labels as E621.

It is also known as ‘Ajinomoto, Vetsin, Accent and Tasting Powder’.

MSG is used in most fast-food chains and in many foods, particularly processed foods.  Such as:

  • Stock cubes
  • Sauces such as barbecue sauce and salad dressings
  • Canned, frozen, dried prepared food
  • Snack foods such as flavoured potato chips or tortilla chips
  • Seasoning mixtures

MSG can be associated with migraine headaches, food allergies, obesity, and hyperactivity in children.

Some labeling such as ‘No MSG’ or ‘No Added MSG’ is misleading because the product can contain sources of free glutamate.  Glutamic acid that is a part of MSG can also be found in other additives, such as, ‘hydrolyzed vegetable proteins’, ‘autoyzed yeast’, ‘hydrolyzed yeast’, ‘yeast extract’, ‘soy extracts’ and ‘protein isolate’.  Food additives ‘disodium inosinate’ and ‘disodium guanylate’, and used in synergy with MSG-containing ingredients.

Whether or not MSG effects your health is still under discussion, however I have found it to be a major contributor to my clients ill health within clinic, my advice avoid MSG and its cousins at all costs.  For more information on toxicity’s check out my book, ‘What’s Your Poison?’.

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  1. WHO (2008) Obesity
  2. Zaninotto P, Head J, Stamatakis E, Wardle H, Mindell J (2009) Trends in obesity among adults in England from 1993 to 2004 by age and social class and projections of prevalence to 2012. J Epidemiol Community Health 63: 140-146
  3. Tang-Christensen M, Vrang N, Larsen P.J, (1998) Glucagon-Like Peptide 1(7-36) amide’s central inhibition of feeding and peripheral inhibition of drinking are abolished by neonatal Monosodium Glutamate treatment. Diabetes 47: 530-537.

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