HFE Magazine

January 16, 2013

Excitotoxins

Filed under: Diet,Family,Immune Health,Weight Loss — Gail @ 5:54 am

Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kill, a book by Dr. Russell Blaylock

Book Summary by Ruth Ann Spooner

You’ve probably never heard of “excitotoxins,” but chances are that you’re familiar with MSG, Aspartame, NutraSweet and Equal, and other low-calorie sweeteners. They come in the little packets you find in restaurants, but major food companies also add low-calorie sweeteners to diet soft drinks, low-fat foods, and virtually every processed food ranging from broth to frozen dinners to cereals.

These sweeteners enhance the taste of any food, making even the most bland food taste incredibly flavorful and yummy. But what you do not know is that these low-calorie sweeteners are, in fact, excitotoxins. And they are deadly.

Basically, excitotoxins (low-calorie sweeteners, remember) are a group of amino acids—including aspartate, glutamate, cysotic acid, and the more widely known MSG—that cause neurons in the brain to become overexcited and start firing their impulses very rapidly until they die from over-exhaustion. Many research studies have found that exposure to even one dose of excitotoxins led to irrecoverable brain damage from increased levels of free radicals, lesions, swelling, and, in the cases of babies, miswired neuron pathways.

Babies and young children, with their still-developing brains, are especially vulnerable to the damaging effects of excitotoxins from the aspertate, glutamate, and MSG in foods. Exposure can lead to their brains becoming wired incorrectly as it develops, leading to a host of problems as they grow older. Adults also show damage in their brains, but in nearly all cases, the damage does not manifest itself until much later—years, or even decades later.

Because of reluctance on the part of the food industry, their lobbyist groups, and the government, more research still needs to be done, but current findings indicate a strong likelihood that excitotoxins could play a role in the onset of diseases like Alzheimer’s, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s, and other nervous system diseases. That’s right: the low-calorie sweetener in your diet soda and the taste enhancer in your canned soup is slowly damaging your brain by “exciting the cells to death” and may be setting you up for the onset of a nervous system disease. Scientists are also exploring the link between excitotoxins and strokes, seizures, migraines, dementia, attention deficit disorder, autism, among other brain-health issues.

Since the discovery of MSG and other taste enhancers in the 1930’s and 1940’s, the amount of excitotoxins in foods has doubled every decade until only fairly recently, when the FDA finally expressed concern about MSG. Consumers started getting concerned about the amount of MSG in foods, which led to certain foods being advertised as “MSG-free.” However, the FDA regulations on excitotoxins is so loose that the food industry can add MSG or other excitotoxins under misleading labels like “spices,” “natural flavoring,” or “plant proteins.” These so-called MSG-free foods actually still do contain dangerous amounts of excitotoxins.

Some examples of foods that contain MSG, aspertate, glutamate, and/or other excitotoxins:

  • Some baby foods
  • Soups and broths
  • Snack foods (i.e. chips, crackers, etc.)
  • Sauces
  • Frozen meals (even the low-fat variety)
  • Yogurts

The best defense against excitotoxins is to avoid them altogether. READ the labels on what you buy, and don’t be tricked by vague terms like “flavoring” or “hydrolyzed plant protein.”

You can also boost your body’s ability to fight the damages from free radicals and excitotoxins by taking Vitamins E and C, as well as a combination of antioxidant vitamins and minerals. Omega-3 fatty acids (available in fish oil capsules) have also been found to be a powerful ally for maintaining mental and physical health.

For more exhaustive information about excitotoxins and their destructive effects on the body, or for a detailed list of foods that contain MSG and the misleading labels for these foods, see Dr. Russell Blaylock’s book “Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills.”

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