How many brain cells could you spare? If you knew you were doing something likely to cause irreparable brain damage, would you continue doing it? Many people do harmful things because they don’t have the information needed to make better choices. As a Certified Wellness Doctor, I’m dedicated to helping my patients improve and save their health – including saving every one of their brain cells!
My latest research on food additives makes me passionate about pursuing our rights as consumers to full disclosure regarding food ingredients. We’re already at the mercy of well managed ad campaigns, chemists employed by food manufacturers, and our pocketbooks. Let’s not make it any harder by being prey to cover-ups. I believe the more you learn about food additives manufactured solely to make processed foods tickle your taste buds, you’ll understand why you should avoid them, why you’ll want to tell your friends about them, and why you’ll be vehemently opposed to them in foods targeted for children and babies.
Do you remember getting headaches after eating Chinese food? Suspecting the source was MSG, you probably figured it was just a necessary evil when eating with chopsticks. Perhaps you remember other times you experienced similar kinds of headaches, fuzzy thinking, or an irregular heartbeat after eating. It’s unlikely that you associated it with your meal, but food additives were probably to blame.
Since MSG was discovered in Japan in 1908 and brought to America in 1948, the use of MSG in foods has doubled in every decade since. These dangerous food additives are in virtually every processed food including frozen dinners, cereals, soups and broths, snack foods, sauces, canned foods, yogurts, and some baby foods. This is especially upsetting since infants and young children are even more vulnerable to the damaging effects of food additives, and exposure can lead to their brains being wired incorrectly and a host of future problems (blog.healthfoodemporium.com). In adults, it usually takes longer for permanent damage to manifest, but is this something you want to experience in your golden years?
Research is showing how free glutamic acid (a processed form of monosodium glutamate) in food additives may be responsible for the rise in nervous system diseases, irrecoverable brain damage, and increased levels of free radicals. Referred to as excitotoxins, they have been linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and ALS. They’ve also been cited as major culprits in such neurological disorders as migraines, autism, allergies, and particular disorders of the endocrine system, certain types of obesity, infections, and abnormal development of the nervous system (www.wellspere.com).
Neurosurgeon Russell L. Blaylock, M.D., explains in great detail how these food additives literally stimulate neurons to death, and cause brain damage of varying degrees. When the concentrations of the neurotransmitters found normally in the brain and spinal cord (glutamate and aspartate) rise above a critical level they can become deadly toxins to the neurons containing glutamate receptors and to the nerve cells connected to these neurons. When these neurons become extremely excited, they can cause the cells to degenerate and die (Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills, 1997). Pick up a copy of this fascinating book if you have the chance.
The natural form of MSG had been used in East Asian countries for thousands of years – derived from a sea weed known as “sea tangle” or Kombu. After shrewd chemists discovered how to isolate the active chemical from this natural substance, a multimillion dollar industry was born. Because these additives have the ability to excite taste buds –just like they excite the neurons in the brain, they were popular and lucrative. Food manufacturers produced inexpensive foods that made people want to eat more of them, without really knowing why. Remember the ad “I bet you can’t eat just one?”
As the use of MSG and other additives increased, researchers began discovering some the dangers. In 1957, two ophthalmologists found that MSG destroyed nerve cells in the retinas of mice. When Dr. John W. Olnay repeated the experiment, he found that the MSG was toxic not only to the retina but also to the hypothalamus after just a single dose. When he took this information to the FDA, they refused to take action. When he took it to a Congressional committee, food manufacturers agreed to remove it from baby foods. But instead of just removing the MSG, they replaced it with a substance known as hydrolyzed vegetable protein containing three known excitotoxins, making it even more dangerous (Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills, 1997). Excitotoxins are still added today in the form of caseinate, beef or chicken broth, or flavoring.
The worst part is that many additives aren’t required to be listed at all since they are only used in processing, not actual ingredients. Many others are hidden in names that sound confusing. For example, doesn’t eating “textured protein” sound like a way to get more protein? Does eating “magnesium glutamate” or “calcium caseinate” sound like another way to get minerals? Don’t be fooled! There are over 40 different ingredients that contain the processed free glutamic acid reported to cause uncomfortable and/or dangerous reactions (www.truthinlabeling.org). In order to avoid food additives, look for a list of ingredients that contain processed free glutamic acid.
Other dangerous excitotoxins include Nutrasweet, aspartame, autolyzed yeast, L-cysteine, hydrolyzed protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, natural flavorings, spices, textured vegetable proteins, soy protein, soy sauce, gelatin, and any form of caseinate. Whey protein concentrate or protein isolate used by athletes and body builders may contain MSG if hydrolyzed milk proteins are used. Although carrageenan is made from a type of seaweed, it may contain MSG depending on its manufacturer.
What can you do to help offset the damage? Ginko Baloba, magnesium, selenium, zinc, Omega 3’s, and Red Clover can provide some natural protection (www.naturalnews.com). Dr. Blaylock recommends Milk Thistle, Curcumin, Taurine, and vitamins B1, B6, C and E to help detoxify from excitotoxins. While these things may be helpful, your awareness and avoidance of known toxins are your best protection. The most exciting tastes in the world aren’t worth the price of compromising your brain, or losing any of your precious brain cells!
Dr. William H. Karl, D.C