Vibrant Living Newsletter
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MSG & Fast Food MSG: Slow Poison?
by Shay Arave

I received this interesting writeup from a friend of mine, as it made its rounds via email. I felt it was important enough to post here on my website.

Although glutamates (the overall classification of substances within which MSG belongs) are present naturally in many foods (notably tomatoes, parmesan cheese, other dairy products, peas, corn and potatoes), it is the secondary effect of artificially adding this flavor-enhancing material to commercially pedalled foods in order to stimulate the consumer to eat more that is the bottom line issue. Doping food with MSG directly influences behaviors in consumers and is a direct cause of obesity--eating too much! It is a health hazard from that viewpoint, and in my opinion should be addressed not so much as a specific, direct poison itself, but as a behavior modification tool that adversely affects national public health. MSG should be banned on that basis.

Here's the article:

This is NOT politically motivated and is quite long, but even if you only read a part of it, it may make quite a difference to the way you look at different foods. It sure opened my eyes and hopefully I can be a bit more pro-active about the way I choose what I eat in the future.

I wondered if there could be an actual chemical causing the massive obesity epidemic, so did a friend of mine, John Erb. He was a research assistant at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, and spent years working for the government. He made an amazing discovery while going through scientific journals for a book he was writing called "The Slow Poisoning of America." In hundreds of studies around the world, scientists were creating obese mice and rats to use in diet or diabetes test studies. No strain of rat or mice is naturally obese, so the scientists have to create them. They make these morbidly obese creatures by injecting them with MSG when they are first born. The MSG triples the amount of insulin the pancreas creates; causing rats (and humans?) to become obese. They even have a title for the fat rodents they create: "MSG-Treated Rats."

I was shocked too. I went to my kitchen, checking the cupboards and the fridge. MSG was in everything! The Campbell's soups, the Hostess Doritos, the Lays flavoured potato chips, Top Ramen, Betty Crocker Hamburger Helper, Heinz canned gravy, Swanson frozen prepared meals, Kraft salad dressings--especially the "healthy low fat" ones. The items that didn't have MSG marked on the product label had something called "Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein," which is just another name for Monosodium Glutamate. It was shocking to see just how many of the foods we feed our children everyday are filled with this stuff. They hide MSG under many different names in order to fool those who carefully read the ingredient list, so they don't catch on. (Other names for MSG: "Accent," "Aginomoto," "Natural Meat Tenderizer," etc.)...And it didn't stop there.

When our family went out to eat, we started asking at the restaurants what menu items had MSG. Many employees, even the managers, swore they didn't use MSG. But when we asked for the ingredient list, which they grudgingly provided, sure enough MSG and Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein were everywhere. Burger King, McDonald's, Wendy's, Taco Bell, every restaurant, even the sit down ones like TGIF, Chilis', Applebee's and Denny's use MSG in abundance. Kentucky Fried Chicken seemed to be the WORST offender: MSG was in every chicken dish, salad dressing and gravy. No wonder I loved to eat that coating on the skin--their secret spice was MSG!

So why is MSG in so may of the foods we eat? Is it a preservative or a vitamin?? Not according to my friend John. In the book he wrote, an expose of the food additive industry called "The Slow Poisoning of America," he said that MSG is added to food for the addictive effect it has on the human body. Even the propaganda website sponsored by the food manufacturers lobby group supporting MSG explains that the reason they add it to food is to make people eat more. A study of the elderly showed that people eat more of the foods to which it is added. The Glutamate Association lobby group says eating more benefits the elderly, but what does it do to the rest of us? "Betcha can't eat just one," takes on a whole new meaning where MSG is concerned! And we wonder why the nation is overweight? The MSG manufacturers themselves admit that it addicts people to their products. It makes people choose their product over others, and makes people eat more of it than they would if MSG wasn't added.

Not only is MSG scientifically proven to cause obesity, it is an addictive substance! Since its introduction into the American food supply fifty years ago, MSG has been added in larger and larger doses to the pre-packaged meals, soups, snacks and fast foods we are tempted to eat everyday. The FDA has set no limits on how much of it can be added to food. They claim it's safe to eat in any amount. How can they claim it's safe when there are hundreds of scientific studies with titles like these? "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.

"Adrenalectomy abolishes the food-induced hypothalamic serotonin release in both normal and monosodium glutamate-obese rats". Guimaraes RB, Telles MM, Coelho VB, Mori C, Nascimento CM, Ribeiro Brain Res Bull. 2002 Aug.

"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 Hypertens Res. 1998 Mar.

"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.

Yes, that last study was not a typo, it WAS written in 1978. Both the medical research community" and "food manufacturers" have known about MSG's side effects for decades! Many more studies mentioned in John Erb's book link MSG to Diabetes, Migraines and headaches, Autism, ADHD and even Alzheimer's. But what can we do to stop the food manufacturers from dumping fattening and addictive MSG into our food supply and causing the obesity epidemic we now see?

If you are one of the few who can still believe that MSG is good for us, and you don't believe what John Erb has to say, see for yourself. Go to the National Library of Medicine. Type in the words "MSG Obese" and read a few of the 115 medical studies that appear. We the public, do not want to be rats in one giant experiment and we do not approve of food that makes us into a nation of obese, lethargic, addicted sheep, feeding the food industry's bottom line, while waiting for the heart transplant, diabetic induced amputation, blindness or other obesity induced, life threatening disorders. With your help we can put an end to this poison.

(End of article)

Supersize Under current FDA regulations, when MSG is added to a food, it must be identified as "monosodium glutamate" in the label's ingredient list. Each ingredient used to make a food must be declared by its name in this list. So your first defense is to be aware of the ingredients in the prepared foods you eat. According to the FDA, this is especially true if you suffer from asthma, hypertension, or heart arrhythmias.

So-called frivolous lawsuits have been widely covered by the media where fast food customers sue the the fast food company for causing their obesity. In light of this MSG information, they have as much right to sue as do nicotine-addicted smokers, or even bars who over-serve, which is illegal in most states.

The "Cheeseburger Bill" was passed in March, 2006, that prohibits consumers for suing fast food companies for their health problems, which also means no one can sue a fast food company for serving unhealthy food.

Additionally, new legislation has passed creating an even bigger boon for big-factory food, the National Uniformity for Foods Act, a measure that kills or cancels significant parts of 200 food-safety laws in 50 states. The ill-advised idea being that all State-sanctioned food safety measures must MATCH federal guidelines. This means that any food safety legislation that goes beyond federal standards is now null and void. Now, the States can petition to have their laws reinstated, but that could take years, and cost money. Read what the president of the Sierra Club, Carl Pope, has to say about it in his article written with "Trial Lawyer of the Year," Al Meyerhoff, for the L.A. Times. >>> STORY

All this factory-food rigamarole becomes a moot point among all of us who take the initial time and focus to evaluate our feeding choices, and make the minor lifestyle changes required to take charge of our own nutrition. Increase organic raw food intake, generally eat lower on the food chain, restrict average calorie intake, avoid pre-prepared foods; and, if you're in a situation where these behaviors are just impractical, ask about a restaurant's ingredient list, and above all, read the labels.

Courtesy of Mike Adams, Health Ranger

Library stacks Another current way food processors are adding glutamate to their products is in the form of autolyzed yeast (sometimes called yeast extract). This substance is less expensive than hydrolyzed protein and has been advertised as a replacement for MSG and hydrolyzed protein. Its MSG content is usually 10% to 20% MSG, but may occasionally be higher. In one chemical company's brochure promoting the use of autolyzed yeast, it was emphasized that when using this substance in meat and poultry products, it can be labeled either as "natural flavoring" or "flavoring." --George R Schwartz MD, In Bad Taste the MSG Syndrome, Health Press, 1998, Page 34

Many "healthy" and vegetarian foods contain MSG in the form of yeast extract. The use of MSG has increased dramatically over the years and has spread to soups, sauces, and salad dressings in restaurants; many canned, frozen, and prepared foods found in local supermarkets; and even cheese, ice cream, cookies, and candy. One form of MSG is autolyzed yeast, which can appear on food product labels as "yeast extract." Other sources of "hidden" MSG include hydrolyzed milk proteins, which may be labeled "sodium caseinate," "calcium caseinate," or "casein." --Phyllis A Balch, Prescription For Dietary Wellness Penguin Books, 2003, Page 201

MSG may be hidden in calcium and sodium caseinate, gelatin, flavors, seasonings, autolyzed yeast extract, and modified food starch, textured and hydrolyzed proteins, hidden in over 40 food additives. --Joseph B. Marion, Anti-Aging Manual, Information Pioneers, 1999, Page 60

Cheese, smoked fish, yogurt, and yeast extracts contain an ingredient known as tyramine, which has been known to increase susceptibility to migraines. Sodium nitrate, common in cold cuts and frankfurters, is yet another cause. -- Gary Null, The Complete Encyclopedia Of Natural Healing: A comprehensive A-Z listing of common and chronic illnesses and their proven natural treatments, Kensington Publishing Corporation, 2001, Page 204

Most processed foods contain excitotoxins, especially any type of commercial taste or flavor enhancer, such as hydrolyzed vegetable protein; soy protein extract; yeast extract; beef stock; commercial soups, sauces, and gravies; caseinate; and aspartame. These excitotoxins may simply be labeled as "natural" flavorings. All processed foods should be avoided by persons with Parkinson's disease. --Life Extension Foundation, Disease Prevention And Treatment