Many processed foods contain monosodium glutamate (MSG) and other sources of glutamate — a powerful, taste-enhancing amino acid. When foods taste this good, they activate the pleasure centers in the brain, which are also regulated by glutamate neurotransmission.
This can produce the same powerful addiction impulse as cocaine and other addictive drugs. So, we have a dual force, a sense of hunger and addiction, driving our appetites.
Diets high in carbohydrates and sugar can also counteract depression and sadness, because it increases brain levels of serotonin — a feel-good neurotransmitter. For some, this acts as another factor driving obesity.
Actually, monosodium glutamate is just a sodium salt of glutamic acid (glutamate), an amino acid. It is the glutamate that actually does the damage, not the sodium. But because of the bad name MSG has gotten over the last two decades, food manufacturers don’t want to admit that they are adding it to foods and drinks. So the government allows them to use an ever-growing list of disguised names for glutamate additives.
In fact, they are allowed to even put “contains no MSG” on the label, even though other forms of glutamate are used.
Dr. John Olney, a neuroscientist at Washington University Medical Center, discovered quite accidentally that feeding MSG to mice early in life could result in lifelong obesity that resembled many of the characteristics of human obesity. This obesity was very difficult to correct through diet and exercise.
A study conducted by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) found that babies and small children consumed MSG and other forms of glutamate in concentrations that were producing brain lesions in animals.
It is also known that humans are more sensitive to the toxic effects of dietary glutamate than any other species. And babies are five times more sensitive than adults. Studies have shown that blood levels of glutamate can be 50 times higher than normal in some people after consuming a single dose of MSG.
What’s more, the amount of glutamate food additives has doubled every decade since the early 1950s.
Most junk foods — especially gravies, sauces, processed meats, and chips — contain a number of different glutamate additives. Incredibly, some manufacturers of peanuts are even adding MSG to the salt they use on their product.
Because the majority of glutamate additives are listed under different names, most people won’t recognize the substance even if they see it on the label. Incredibly, the government allows up to 99 percent pure MSG to be added to a food product without it being on the label.
Of particular concern is the huge amount of glutamate additives that have been found in foods eaten by pregnant women. Evidence shows that glutamate affects the unborn child for life, including contributing to higher rates of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, liver damage, and atherosclerosis.
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