Home Articles Sci-Tech Obesity Secrets? Being Overweight - Because of Fat or Food?

Obesity Secrets? Being Overweight – Because of Fat or Food?

The number of kids affected by obesity has tripled (in US) since 1980, and this can be traced in large part to lack of a healthy diet.

In the rural areas we see that our grand parents who even at this old age eat food filled with what we call in urban terms as fatty food – diet filled with ghee, butter, oils, curd etc and yet these elderly people are healthy, not overweight and are more active than most urban youth. Why?

The reason given is that a lack of physical exercise in the urban youth who spend most of their time in front of computers, play video games instead of physical games and so on. And that in the rural areas, people do a lot of physical activity everyday which burns out all excessive fat, keeping them healthy and fit.


Evolution of Obesity - Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/combinedmedia/3067501298/sizes/z/in/photostream/

Lack of Physical Exercises – Is that the ONLY reason for Obesity?

The commonest form of malnutrition in the western world is obesity. – Mervyn Deitel

Now look at this. We also have a lot of people in the urban areas who do a lot of physical activity, control their dietary intakes, use calorie charts counting each calorie of food they eat, spend a lot of time in gym, jogging, aerobics and fitness camps and yet are unable to shed their extra fat and obesity continues to be a major problem for them. Why?

Definitely it is not the lack of physical exercises alone that is the reason. We even have small kids who at a much younger age become obese. We have small kids who are willing to go out and play for long times just like any other kid, and yet has become obese, and they term such obesity as hereditary. How can it be possible? Humans never had this hereditarily obese population till recent times. What caused the sudden rise? Children who are still in their playful age becoming obese definitely cannot be because of lack of physical exercise, it has something to do with something else, which has nothing to do with physical activities, and it doesnt look to be heredity either.

Then we have those people who are on a calorie diet and do physical activities regularly like physical exercises and workouts in the gym, and yet are struggling to get rid of that extra fat. Why?

Overeating – Does just eating too much of food cause Obesity?

“To say that obesity is caused by merely consuming too many calories is like saying that the only cause of the American Revolution was the Boston Tea Party.” – Adelle Davis

As I pointed it out earlier, there are scores of people on this planet (especially in rural areas, villages and small towns) who eat much more than what a lot of obese people eat, and yet have a non obese morphology and a good body-mass index. They have a lot of ghee, butter, oil in their daily diet. Yes they do a lot of physical activities everyday than most in urban areas, but then at the same time even among those who dont do that kind of physical activities in these rural areas, you still do not find them to be obese! You rarely find any obese kid in Indian villages – Obesity is definitely not a hereditary problem here. How can it be possible that obesity by heredity has become a common phenomenon only in the developed societies?

Scientific Experiments to Study the effects of Obesity on Animals

Animals are rarely obese, and so are humans who are not part of the so called developed societies. Something is definitely wrong in the developed societies which is causing large developments in our bellies or tummies or whatever you call it.

So how do scientists study the effects of obesity or run the trials for anti-obesity drugs etc? Well, one of the favorite experimental animal of humans are rats. Rats are by nature NOT obese, just like any other animal. Scientists have to make them obese first before conducting any obesity related experiments on them. So how do they make rats obese?

They inject a chemical called MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) into these rats which makes them obese. Infact these obese rats have a nick name “MSG treated rats”. Now that you know how scientists create obese rats, let us move on to obese humans.

Not the Food, but what that Food contains is the real reason for common Obesity

Obesity now contributes to the death of more than 360000 Americans a year. The incidence of childhood obesity is now at epidemic levels. Alarm bells are going off all over the place. But our government has done virtually nothing. – Tom Harkin

As mentioned in this article earlier, there are a lot of people in rural India, in the villages, small towns, who consume a lot of food fried in fresh oil, whose daily diet is filled with dairy products like curd, butter, ghee etc, and yet are rarely obese. On the other hand we see that in the urban areas, in the developed societies we have people who eat a lot of the very same products, fried stuff, oily food, etc and are usually obese.

Lack of physical exercises alone can’t be the differentiator here because as mentioned earlier, children at a very young much before we can blame the lack of exercises for their obesity are becoming obese in the urban societies. And it can’t be heredity either because in that case the ratio should not have been so different between the urban societies and rural societies. How many obese children do you find in rural areas, in villages, small towns etc?

So the real reason should lie in some difference between the diet of rural sections of the society where obesity is not a menace, and the urban sections of the society where obesity is a major issue.

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/brainfag/4159368166/

The difference between the common urban diet (artificial diet) and the common rural diet (natural diet)

The most obvious difference is that in rural areas the food people eat is completely home made, and I call it natural food – no additives, artificial flavors, no preservatives of whatever type and so on.

On the other hand, a lot of those living in urban areas rarely have any time (or even knowledge) to cook and usually go to fast food joints, instant pizza deliveries and so on. Even the ones who cook at home very frequently consume outside food. And as we know these pre-packaged food, with attractive labels like, no need to cook, no need to boil, just heat and eat, etc – they all contain some or the other preservative, artificial flavor, approved chemicals, colors and what not. I call this food artificial food – it is  not prepared the way we prepare the food naturally – in natural preparations at home we dont add preservatives, colors, artificial substances etc.

So it has to be some substance added to this artificial food that is causing obesity. Which one is that?

MSG – The missing link ?

Remember how rats who are naturally not overweight are made obese by injecting MSG into them?

Now here comes the most startling picture. MSG, or Monosodium Glutamate which is used to create obese rats in experiments is found in almost every single packaged and processed food we eat. And it is a part of all these food packages hidden behind more than 25 different names! It is used in almost all the restaurants, fast food joints etc under different names. You cant easily make out the presence of MSG just by reading the list of ingredients because it comes under different names like ‘natural flavouring’, ‘hydrolyzed or textured vegetable protein’, ‘calcium caseinate’, ‘autolyzed yeast extract’, ‘Gelatin’, ‘Accent, ‘Aginomoto, ‘Natural Meat Tenderiser,’ etc.

For more details on the toxins in our food – read the book The Slow Poisoning of America by John Erb.

MSG injected into rats – Obese Rats

MSG ingested by humans – Obese Humans?

Why is MSG used in Packed and Processed Food?

Packed and Processed Food is a business and business thrives on sales – the more the sale, the more profit the business can make. The more people eat, the more the sales of these food items. MSG is to food what nicotine is to cigarettes. It is an addictive and makes you eat more and more. That is the only reason why MSG is used so widely in the food industry.

MSG can be found in coffee shops, in turkeys and chicken to make them plump, in potato chips, canned gravies, salad dressings, frozen food, its everywhere. MSG is also found in food meant to be used as a weight loss diet! So if a person has been eating very little, and is on a packaged or processed weight loss diet and yet is unable to lose weight, then probably the reason behind it is the MSG in that very little food he takes!

(Reference: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/beverley-golden/obesity-msg-and-rats_b_842332.html)

How does MSG cause Obesity?

Biologically what MSG does is to increase the production of insulin. Insulin is a hormone which naturally gets released after we eat food when the blood sugar level increases due to the entry of glucose (obtained from digested food) into the blood stream. Insulin helps in bringing back the blood sugar level to normal limits.

MSG causes a very large insulin release after it is ingested since there are glutamate receptors in the pancreas.  MSG manufacturers claim that ingested MSG does not result in a corresponding increase in blood levels of free glutamic acid, but according to the following research done in Canada, ingested MSG DOES result in higher plasma concentrations of free glutamic acid AND higher insulin levels as well.

MSG is also an excitotoxin – chemicals which excite the brain cells ie neurons to the point of cell damage leading eventually to cell death. MSG affects the hypothalamus region of the brain – which is not protected against harmful toxins by the blood brain barrier. MSG creates a lesion in the hypothalamus that correlates with abnormal development, including obesity, short stature and sexual reproduction problems.

According to Dr. Russell L. Blaylock, author of the book Excitotoxins,

One can only wonder if the large number of people having difficulty with obesity in the United States is related to early exposure to food additive excitotoxins, since this obesity is one of the most consistent features of the syndrome. One characteristic of the obesity induced by excitotoxins is that it doesn’t appear to depend on food intake. This could explain why some people cannot diet away their obesity

Now one can see why getting rid of obesity is so difficult – it is not as simple as the formula commonly used to fight obesity – calories in, calories out

And here is more about the impact of Excitotoxins on our health.

Excitotoxicity may be involved in spinal cord injury, stroke, traumatic brain injury and neurodegenerative diseases of the central nervous system (CNS) such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease, alcoholism or alcohol withdrawal and Huntington’s disease. Other common conditions that cause excessive glutamate concentrations around neurons are hypoglycemia and status epilepticus. – References

How to Protect Children (and yourself) from Obesity

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/joe_13/188297063/sizes/z/in/photostream/

This might be the first generation where kids are dying at a younger age than their parents and it’s related primarily to the obesity problem. – Judy Davis

If you care about your child’s health, then stop feeding them with any kind of packaged or processed or junk food. If you care about your own health, the same rule applies again. The more you eat home made naturally prepared food – free of any flavors, preservatives, additives – the more healthy you stay. Remember that most obese children are also becoming victims of Type II diabetes at a very early age, and this is a very very serious health concern.

Particularly disturbing is the later obesity after MSG exposure during the neonatal and infant period even after only a short or limited exposure.
In Bad Taste by George R Schwartz MD, page 22


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Gurudev is the developer of Gurunudi AI Platform. This is his official website where he pens his thoughts on a wide range of topics, answers queries, shares resources and tools developed by him.


  1. Kids who live on chips and biscuits and ice creams and packaged food are generally obese. Kids who live on home made food are generally healthy.  The same applies to adults as well.

  2. The food industry uses MSG because it acts as a a flavor enhancer and is also very cheap. So it can be used to make even lower quality foods taste great. If the food they package is really healthy and of good taste, why do they need to use MSG in the first place?

    Since MSG has infamous reputation, the food industry has given it new names and forms like autolyzed yeast, yeast extract, maltodextrin, hydrolyzed protein, sodium caseinate, mono-potassium glutamate, textured protein, etc.

  3. The plain truth on the face is food companies wouldn’t use MSG if it didn’t help them to get people consume and eat more of their products.

    So the question is not whether MSG makes you eat more or not, it obviously does make you eat more because that is why the food companies are using it. So if  it makes you eat more, then obviously it is an addiction, and obviously has all the potential to make you obese. Those who argue about whether MSG contributes to obesity or not are really unable to see this plain truth of its importance in packaged food processing industry which profits on just one thing “eat more and more”.

    So the real question is what other health impact does MSG have other than making us eat more and there by being one of the prime reasons for increasing obesity.  See this http://msgtruth.org/foodfor.htm

  4. what you call to be crude GM modification is the natural way of how genes get modified in the nature and that is how nature evolves. But hand picking one gene or a few genes and injecting from one species to other is neither crude nor natural and which is why GM food is dangerous.

    Genes are not isolated factories which work independently of each other. The crude modification happens in nature too where nature picks the best that survives. And nature does that when there is a NEED. But by doing artificial selective modifications to fulfill our greed we are not only going against nature, but are promoting artificially created species over naturally existing species.If GM food is so good then why are they banned in so many developed countries in Europe, why is it mandatory in those countries to level GM food specifically?

  5. Whoever talks about MSG being naturally available in the natural food we eat is either unaware of the truth or is trying to hide the facts. Iron is naturally available in many of the food we eat, does that mean one can swallow an iron nail?

    The concentration of MSG in artificial foods to make people eat more is way beyond its concentration levels in natural food. 
    In contrast to the low concentrations of glutamate (mixed with other natural food chemicals) found in many healthy traditional foods, MSG is pure concentrated glutamate in a new chemical packaging. No matter what name MSG goes under—and it has pseudonyms aplenty, designed to fool health-conscious consumers—it’s still an artificial additive made with toxic chemicals to artificially boost the glutamate content in food.Read more details here

  6. I strongly disagree that its only about calorie burning. If it were as simple as that, then the solution shouldn’t have been so complex. I agree that some people who are on normal home made diet and have put up excess weight can get rid of it by exercising, provided their overweight is not because of the nature of their body. So genetics is one more (but minor) reason. But these are NOT the ONLY two reasons.

    Okie, now suppose all these packaged foods were prepared just like normal home made diet, without using all these additive stuff, would that make them still unhealthy? Probably a thorough research needs to be done on this. Because, I also see scores of people who eat out everyday, who again do little physical work and yet are not overweight, because the place where these people eat out is at “Messes” where they prepare food the natural way, just like we prepare at our homes.

    MSG may not be the ONLY problem, but to say it is NOT a problem is as baseless. Here are some personal experiences I found on the net

    In the western nations obesity is a huge problem, and it wasnt one a century or two ago. In developing countries, people have started developing tummies along with the introduction of these packed food selling giants.

  7. Dear Harry,

    I have a request to make. Can you please reduce the technical terms in your comments if possible? Please dont mistake me, but your comments look more like a textbook and many readers would skip them as the terms will bounce off their heads :)

    Once I asked my physics professor to refer me some very good book which will make me understand the complex mathematics of General Theory of Relativity in simple english so that I could “feel” what the math means. My Prof. promised to get back to me the next day. The next day he said he could not find any book on the core mathematics of General Relativity, though he did find many on the concepts of General Relativity. Instead he referred to me a blog article which explained the core mathematics of General relativity in simple terms. And that is how I ended up on this blog. Below is the link to that article


  8. Ok, tell me what percentage of obese people are obese because of their genetics?

    We are looking at the larger issue here. Even cancer can be caused by heredity. But that is not the reason for most of the cancer cases. One of the biggest contributor to cancer is tobacco consumption. Heredity amounts to just 5-10% of cancer cases.

    Nicotine is an addictive in Cigarettes which makes one smoke more. But that is not the one which causes cancer. It is the Tar in the cigarette smoke which primarily causes the cancer. But will anybody smoke cigarettes if it didnt have nicotine? No. This is how MSG is related to obesity, just like how Nicotine is related to cancer. It is not MSG that directly causes the obesity, but IT IS the MSG which makes one eat more calories by making the food appear more tasty, and the sad part is, as you said the artificial food containing this MSG is a high calorie, high carbo food.

    What is the ratio of obese people in urban and rural population? Were all the ancestors of obese people in urban India obese, ie did they INHERIT obesity?

    The answer is a clear no. Obestiy does occur genetically too, BUT that is NOT the cause for majority of the obese problems. Else the distribution would have been even in urban and rual population and most importantly it would not have been a RECENT phenomenon.

    Vitamin A is essential for us, is required for a healthy eyesight and it occurs naturally in the food we eat. Now what would happen if all the packaged food was loaded with Vitamin A? Overdose of Vitamin A can blur the same eyesight, make one severely ill and probably even kill, like in the case of Xavier Mertz.

    So to load something in packaged food on the pretext of it already appears naturally is no good reason to endorse it. Why on earth are the companies mixing MSG in the food we eat? As you accepted in your comment, it is because it makes food TASTY. And the more TASTY the food is, the more people eat it. And the more they eat it, the more calories they consume, and that in itself will lead to obesity. Isn’t it? Its not as if the companies are doing us some charity by including MSG in their products. They are doing business, and want to sell more, and they can sell more if people eat more, and people eat more if it has MSG. Isnt this a fact?

    So the question here is not about whether MSG DIRECTLY causes obestiy. The question is companies manufacture high carb food and load it with MSG to make people eat more – which is NOT HEALTHY. And this is what causes Obesity in such people.

    Ok, a more simple question. Now suppose all companies are prohibited from artificially including MSG in their food products, do you agree that it will bring down the number of obese people? If food doesnt taste good, obviously there wont be over eaters, and hence less chance of obesity. Isn’t it? So MSG is the culprit, isn’t it?

    Just because something is naturally occuring doesnt make it good if consumed artificially. What matters is what is the natural dose, and how much you get it when consumed artificially.

    As you said, Obesity boils down to how much you consume and how much you burn. Right? So MSG makes you consume more, and hence has a direct role in obesity. Even if one is in rural area and starts eating these MSG containing package food, there are all chances that you get obese, except that the threshold increases because in rural areas people tend to be physically more active and hence burn more calories.

    I have been to a lot of rural areas including my native places, and obesity there is a rare exception not a rule. Exceptions occur in all instances, the focus here is on the general trend. I live in an urban area, and consume a lot of thick milk, curd, butter, ghee etc, but I am NOT obese, have a good BMI, and I believe it is because I never eat packaged food or outside food, except for some very very rare visits to a hotel.

    • Firstly, you need to look beyond your mendelian view of genetics. Mendel’s postulates are what is taught in highschool and you land up believing that that is the only way in which genetics works. In REALITY, what Mendel described is only true for a handful of genes.  Diseases like cancer, obesity, diabetes, hypertension and a HUGE number of diseases which you probably never have even heard of have a genetic basis but are not inherited like how Mendel described it. For these diseases, the epidemiological profile is one of multifactorial web of causation. The ancestors of many of the obese did not have to be obese for them to have genes PREDISPOSING them to obesity, to be present. The genes are there and have been passed on from generation to generation. It is when they encounter the right environmental and lifestyle conditions that they start manifesting themselves. So yes, they DID INHERIT obesity, but not how you can imagine it. Only a small percentage of genes for obesity are inherited in Mendelian patterns. The rest (majority) are non-mendelian. Patterns of heredity in cancer are slightly different from these. And yes, cancer is ENTIRELY a genetic disease, inherited or not.

      Coming to MSG. Firstly, I’d like to point out that I have mentioned earlier that the dose of MSG you would get from additives is much much less than what you normally get from consuming a bowl of daal or a leg of meat or a glass of milk. What you fail to realize in the role of MSG here is that it is NOT an addictive substance. Your body needs sodium so you have a taste for salt. Your body needs carbohydrates so you have a taste for sweet. Your body needs protein, so you have a taste for glutamic acid/MSG which is abundant in proteins that we consume. The problem here is that MSG satiates your craving for protein when spiked in carb loaded food. The culprit again is not MSG. It is faulty meal planning – lack of balancing meals with adequate amount of fibres, fruits, vegetables and protein sources against a high dose of fats and carbs.Satiates = antonym of craving.MSG is very abundant in nature. You could probably ‘overdose’ it by eating an entire plate of tandoori chicken rather than from a few bags of potato crisps.On your simple question – MSG helps to reduce the amount of salt used in cooking/manufacturing. Without MSG, potato chip manufacturers and processsed food manufacturers will use more salt to balance out the effect. People will still consume it and will still get obese unless good meal planning is introduced to them as a good practice. Tomatoes contain among the highest proportion of MSG in naturally occuring foods (after all your sources of protein). It doesn’t cause you to become obese. Au contraire. So, it is meal planning, good dietary habits and adequate exercise which can prevent obesity. And if obesity is secondary to a primary disease, treatment of the primary disease. Abolishing MSG is a knee jerk reaction. How will you decrease the MSG in your home cooked daal or your delicious bowl of tamatar ka raita?Comparing MSG to nicotine is like comparing apples and oranges. Nicotine IS a psychoactive substance. MSG is NOT. Nicotine shows patterns of addiction and also has withdrawal patterns. MSG has neither of these. One can get addicted to food. Here again, it is food in toto, not MSG alone, which is addictive. These addicts will consume food even if it has no MSG – natural or artificial.Hypervitaminosis A and MSG toxicity?! Ha Ha! Hypervitaminosis A is a result of the fact that vitamin A is only required by the body in small quantities and so it is very easy to overdose it. Plus, it is stored by the body so it can accumulate over time. Amino acids (like MSG) on the other hand, are required by the body in Large quantities which firstly makes it difficult to overdose on it. Secondly, amino acids are not stored in the body. When in excess, the liver simply metabolizes it and converts it to fat and carbohydrate and excretes the nitrogen in urine. Do you know that a large percentage of the amino acids are metabolized to alpha-keto-glutaric acid which in turn accepts nitrogen from the degradation of other amino acids to become glutamic acid? Do you know that even glucose and fatty acids are metabolized to produce alpha-keto-glutaric acid which in the anabolic phase is converted into glutamic acid/MSG? Comparing hypervitaminosis A and MSG toxicity is just plain absurd. Again, apples to oranges.A much more dangerous food additive is sucrose (table sugar) and high fructose corn syrup because these contain a high amount of fructose which bypasses the checkpoints in the glycolytic pathway and rapidly produces a huge amount of acetyl CoA which saturates the Krebs’ cycle pathway and hence the acetyl CoA is diverted towards fatty acid and cholesterol production – obesity/DM/Atherosclerosis/HTN/CAD. Does soft drinks ring a bell? Does that extra helping of Gulabjamun ring a bell? Does sugar in your glass of ‘healthy’ fruit juice ring a bell? In rural areas, they use jaggery and honey more often than table sugar – less fructose, more oligosaccharides for imparting sweetness.

      • Right, so even if we assume that it is Genetics, even in this case again it is the environment which is causing these genes to get exposed. So the solution lies in reverting back to the original environment, which is NOT eating these “tasty” junk.

        See there is no need to reduce MSG in home cooked food, for the simple reason, as you yourself said most of the home food are high-protein food, while the packaged food available outside are high carbo food. It is the high carbo which is causing the calorie increase right?

        Ok, tell me, are you saying that it is OK to eat all these junk food? I will give you another personal experience. During the initial days of my job after graduation, a couple of years back, I had started having both lunch and dinner at the office because of lengthy work hours, never used to take lunch box from home. Since the office food was not that tasty, I started substituting it with all this packaged food. Within a year I had become overweight. And when it started getting worse, only then I realized that it was my food, and after that started taking lunch box for noon lunch, and started having dinner after coming back home. And slowly but definitely steadily came down to my normal weight. And ever since have remained so. And throughout this time, from my initial employment days till today my physical activity has remained the same. I have never gone for any gyms, workouts, as I believe it is a waste of time. My physical activities are a part and parcel of my daily normal routines.

        I gave the example of Vitamin A just to emphasize that even the essential nutrients for our body become toxic if taken in excess. The threshold might be higher for MSG, but in excess even the nectar of immortality becomes toxic.

        Yes Sugar is another major contributor too. Infact I am a strong opponent of soft drinks too. It is another total junk that we consume by paying so much money. One or two tender coconuts would serve the body best.

        But that does not absolve other food of their role. No all junk foods contain sugar, nor are all junk foods only potato chips :)

        • Like I said, even in criticism of my own personal experience – anecdotal evidence has no significance in population effects because they are insignificant statistically.
          I am an opponent of junk food myself. I always enjoy well cooked food, whether at home or at a fine dining restaurant. However, the reason why I criticized you is because you are falsely implicating MSG.
          1. It is an unfounded claim.
          2. It sends out the wrong message that as long as junk is without MSG it is fine. It is not. There is an equal amount of MSG free junk which is causing obesity among urban gujjus. No MSG but they still eat high calorie junk with little exercise, inadequate protein and no fibre. Kicking out MSG won’t solve it. Introducing healthy dietary habits, however, will.
          Having said that, if one has no option but junk food (like I once did) exercise is a MUST to counterbalance its calories.
          I reiterate my stand on healthy eating – balance is the key. You can occasionally relish junk but you have to balance it. Even unbalanced home cooked whole foods can get you obese. Fibre is one very important part of a healthy diet which, among other important functions, aides in calorie restriction. That is one thing which you never get in junk food but you do, in home cooked food. That could be an explanation for your loss of weight when switching over to home cooked food.
          I digress – 
          Gym and other work outs are not a waste of time, I can assure you of that. If you are a farmer lugging it out in the fields the whole day – you don’t need to go to the gym or need any special workout. But if you are an office goer with no other activity – then I would recommend it. Simply walking is not a solution.
          A common misconception is, “I am normal weight, therefore I am healthy”. Another misconception is that exercise is solely about weight loss and its maintainence. Exercise has implications which go far beyond just maintaining your weight. A good cardio programme increases your cardiac work capacity, trains your body to use oxygen more efficiently and your heart also learns to pump blood more efficiently. Your lung volume expands. These are very important in maintaining optimum health. These come in handy when you reach old age where a good lung volume and an efficient heart are an asset in maintaining longevity – incidence of cardiac failure and pneumonia rise exponentially once you hit 60. This benefit has been demonstrated to be separate from just having a normal weight and body composition.
          Another misconception is regarding weight training – it is only for vain people or body builders. Not quite. benefits of weight lifting (when done properly) are stronger bones, stronger supporting tissues and functional strength (if done correctly). These are helpful in daily life for common everyday activities. It also helps reduce injuries and is especially useful in old age when the bone mineral density begins to drop – higher bone density due to lifelong exercise implies osteoporosis manifests later and is milder. Of course consulting a medical professional regarding your fitness to undergo weight training is advised and a knowledgeable trainer is a must to prevent exercise related injuries.
          Women are not excluded from weight training because they are at the most risk of osteoporosis and you can’t bulk up with weight training. It is difficult enough for males (with their ample testosterone – provided they are not steroid users) leave alone for females. One doesn’t have to go overboard with lifting weights, just enough to stress your muscles, bones and ligaments a bit.

          • I agree, junk food with or without MSG is equally bad. The point I was trying to make was that, MSG increases the chances of obesity by making one eat even more by adding the “taste” factor. It is in my opinion akin to eating while watching Television where one neither enjoys the food nor notices when the stomach gets full and ends up eating more without appropriate sense of “feel good” factor of eating.

            True, exercise is a must for a healthy life. What I meant was I dont spend time explicitly on gyms or such workouts. Instead I make it a part of my everyday physical activities like playing tennis for more than an hour, go on regular treks walking and climbing long distances, never use elevators unless and until carrying real heavy weight, have brisk early morning walk in the open.

            Because I feel that what is equally important along with physical activities is to ensure that the air you breathe in during that peak time be as fresh and clean as possible. Hence treks and brisk walks. I believe that is more useful than exercising inside a room. Also all these activities like treks, playing etc are more pleasant for the mind and more enjoyable as well unlike workouts inside a gym. Earlier used to do a lot of gardening too, now no space for that.

      • Also what you said about Jaggery and Honey is correct. In my native they use Jaggery even for coffee, which I think is a very healthy practice. One needs to avoid sugar as much as possible.

    • Also, When I was a medical trainee in a semi-urban area, I used to eat heavy calorie laden food including icecreams, potato crisps, MSG laden soups and eating out in the dhaba across the highway right in front of my college, was quite frequent. I had no options because of scarcity of palatable food and lack of time to cook my own. I used to exercise regularly and had to walk QUITE A LOT because I didn’t have a car or bike and distances were large but transportation was scarce. My BMI (not a very good indicator of obesity) was perfect, my WHR was perfect, my lipid profile and blood work were perfect and so was my skin fold thickness (the best measures of obesity) was perfect.
      When I finished my training and came back to an urban area and was preparing for my Post graduate entrance exams, my resistance training routine remained the same, my diet switched to virtually no packaged food (i.e no added MSG) and became home cooked food. My walking reduced drastically because of better transportation – within 3 months I had become overweight BMI wise and my skinfold thichness and whr had increased too. I Just reduced my overall calorie consumption, added a bit of walking/running to my daily routine (not as much as before) and increased my protein intake. I was back in shape within the next 3 months.
      This, like yours, is merely anecdotal evidence and is statistically insignificant by itself. I, however have a sound explanation for what happened and added MSG had nothing to do with it. I was fine both with or without consumption of added MSG.
      MSG figures virtually no where in any credible medical literature today except in biochemistry, physiology and pharmacology textbooks where it is quite clearly a very normal component of food, our body and a very important molecule in our biological pathways of carbohydrate, protein, nucleic acid and ammonia metabolism. It is also a very important neurotransmitter and a very abundant molecule in nature and our body (unlike vitamins).

  9. Wonderful article Gurudev.  Yes our diet is the main worry these days.  A low cost healthy food consisting of lots of fresh green vegetables is missing from our dining table and may be some of the vegetable may go out of use in urban areas in near future.  Processing industries have made the food worst.  People pay more and eat lavish but they forget that it is poor in nutrition and contaminated with chemicals.  The oil we eat today is not natural as it contains hexane in traces as it is extracted through solvent extraction technology.  Expelled oil is out of market.  Then we refined oil which is worst if you go through the process of refining.  We have salt in the name of free flow which is nothing but only sodium chloride and is missing from other salts.  Everything ready made is in worst kind of oil, treated with artificial flavours, colours, preservatives and emulsifiers to make them attractive.  We increase shelf life by treating with preservatives????  Its a natural competition in this world for food.  If bacteria is not getting attracted to it it is naturally not good to eat.  We are making it non edible then add colours and flavours to make our senses attracted and indulged in such kind of bad food.          

    • “If bacteria is not getting attracted to it it is naturally not good to eat”
      Excellent point Nitin, what a food it can be which even bacteria doesnt wants to touch :)

      Multi national companies are all set to take over even the naturally available fruits and vegetables and to patent them by modifying genes here and there. My fear is in the future will we even get seeds/stems of natural fruits and vegetables, even if we want to? What on earth are we creating on earth. Human greed is reaching its maximum.

  10. isn’t MSG a carcinogen also?
    another dangerous artificial food is aspartame(artificial sugar/sweetener). if people want to reduce their sugar intake, they must reduce their coffee/tea/sweet intakes, not go in for aspartame

    • Yes, the moment a food item has “artificial” prefix to an ingredient in it, it is not to be considered a food at all, because by nature all food is supposed to be natural.

      What many companies also do is, instead of saying “artificial” they say “nature identical”, so one needs to be beware of that as well.

  11. Very good article and thanks for making us know about MSG. But I disagree on the following point made by you:
    “Obesity now contributes to the death of more than 360000 Americans a year.”
    Really, Gurudev? 360,000(360 thousand) people die, that too in a year in America alone????????? oh, comeon Gurudev, this stat must be wrong. Please correct it.

    • That particular figure about annual obesity related deaths in US was given by a US senator (Tom Harkin) while addressing the American College of Preventative Medicine, and has also been published on the US senate website :)
      See the Press Release on US senate website at http://harkin.senate.gov/press/release.cfm?i=232597Infact Obesity is the second largest preventable killer in US today only after Smoking, and estimates suggest that it will soon overtake smoking to become the number one cause of deaths which could have been prevented.


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