MSG…(Monosodium Glutamate) Is it contributing to obesity?

Will it make me obese and cause any adverse effects to my body?

I have been asked on a few occasions lately whether MSG contributes to obesity. This interest stems of late, and is due to an article that appeared in the media that quoted that Lab rats were fed MSG to fatter them for use in experiments. So if you look this up on the internet you will see a certain amount of information condemning its use in our food. None of these articles however have been at this stage linked to any real studies just hear say and antidote information which is always a danger. MSG is the sodium salt of glutamic acid. It is a natural occurring non essential amino acid. MSG is used by food companies as a food additive/enhancer and is widely used in many of our foods. A Japanese Professor Kikunae Ikeda from the Tokyo University isolated glutamic acid as a new taste substance in 1908 from seaweed by aqueous extraction and crystallization. MSG can be used to reduce salt intake which predisposes people to hypertension, heart diseases and stroke. The taste of low-salt foods improves with MSG. This additive has been now used for over 100 years. At the moment, national and international bodies have considered MSG as safe. There have been some double-blind placebo controlled studies done and clinical trials failed to demonstrate the relationship between MSG Symptom complex and the consumption of MSG in individuals that believed they react adversely to MSG. In another study performed by Tarasoff and Kelly (1993) 71 fasting participants were given 5 g of MSG and then administered a standard breakfast. There was only one reaction, and it was to the placebo participant in a self-identified MSG sensitive individual.In a different study done by Geha et al. (2000), they tested the reaction of 130 subjects that reported sensitivity to MSG. Multiple DBPC trials were performed and only subjects with at least two symptoms proceeded. Only 2 people out of the whole study responded in all four challenges. Because of this low prevalence, the researchers concluded that the response to MSG was not reproducible. Other studies that have looked into whether MSG causes obesity have also not been conclusive. Current evidence which makes the link between MSG with Asthma is also not conclusive. Since glutamates are important neurotransmitters in the human brain where they play a key role in learning and memory there is ongoing investigations and studies by some neurologists that believe there are side-effects of MSG in food, but again there is no real conclusive studies drawing any connections with MSG and neurotransmitters in our brains. In saying all this more DBPC trials need to take place to satisfy the public. For some people ingesting MSG there may be an intolerance or reaction that will affect a few much like those who may be allergic to nuts or prawns. Those who know me and read these blogs will know I am a keen advocate for avoiding processed foods and all preservatives and additives and eat as natural as possible. Stay tuned as I will write on any new investigations and proper controlled studies if and when they may appear.

By: John Hart

Master’s In Education” (Disability/Rehab) Newcastle University Australia

“Grad Cert Education” Newcastle University Australia

“Diploma Fitness/Recreation”

“Diploma of Sport and Recreation”

“Cert 4 Personal Training”

“Level 1 Strength and Conditioning Coach”

Member of ASCA (Australian Strength and Conditioning Association)

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