Anything with glutamate 2. Aspartate Aspartate, or aspartic acid, acts very similarly to glutamate. Most humans receive aspartate through consuming aspartame , an artificial sweetener often hidden in many processed foods. It has been linked with serious neurological effects such as headaches, sleep disorders, and seizures. Domoic Acid Another non-essential amino acid, domoic acid occurs naturally in shellfish.
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An enormous amount of both clinical and experimental evidence has accumulated over the past decade supporting this basic premise. Yet, the FDA still refuses to recognize the immediate and long term danger to the public caused by the practice of allowing various excitotoxins to be added to the food supply, such as MSG, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, and aspartame NutraSweet and Equal — the blue packets. The amount of these neurotoxins added to our food has increased enormously since their first introduction.
For example, since the amount of MSG added to foods has doubled every decade. By , , metric tons were being added to foods. Over million pounds of aspartame have been consumed in various products since it was first approved. Ironically, these food additives have nothing to do with preserving food or protecting its integrity.
They are all used to alter the taste of food. MSG, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, and natural flavoring are used to enhance the taste of food so that it tastes better. Aspartame is an artificial sweetener. The public must be made aware that these toxins excitotoxins are not present in just a few foods but rather in almost all processed foods. In many cases they are being added in disguised forms, such as natural flavoring, spices, yeast extract, textured protein, soy protein extract, etc.
Experimentally, we know that when subtoxic below toxic levels of excitotoxins are given to animals, they experience full toxicity. Also, liquid forms of excitotoxins, as occurs in soups, gravies and diet soft drinks are more toxic than that added to solid foods. This is because they are more rapidly absorbed and reach higher blood levels.
So, what is an excitotoxin? These are substances, usually amino acids, that react with specialized receptors in the brain in such a way as to lead to destruction of certain types of brain cells. Glutamate is one of the more commonly known excitotoxins. MSG is the sodium salt of glutamate. This amino acid is a normal neurotransmitter in the brain.
In fact, it is the most commonly used neurotransmitter by the brain. When the concentration of this transmitter rises above this level the neurons begin to fire abnormally.
At higher concentrations, the cells undergo a specialized process of cell death. The brain has several elaborate mechanisms to prevent accumulation of MSG in the brain. First is the blood-brain barrier, a system that impedes glutamate entry into the area of the brain cells.
But, this system was intended to protect the brain against occasional elevation of glutamate of a moderate degree, as would be found with un-processed food consumption. It was not designed to eliminate very high concentrations of glutamate and aspartate consumed daily, several times a day, as we see in modern society. Several experiments have demonstrated that under such conditions, glutamate can by-pass this barrier system and enter the brain in toxic concentrations. In fact, there is some evidence that it may actually be concentrated within the brain with prolonged exposures.
There are also several conditions under which the blood-brain barrier BBB is made incompetent. Before birth, the BBB is incompetent and will allow glutamate to enter the brain. It may be that for a considerable period after birth the barrier may also incompletely developed as well.
In fact, as we age the barrier system becomes more porous, allowing excitotoxins in the blood to enter the brain. So there are numerous instances under which excitotoxin food additives can enter and damage the brain.
Finally, recent experiments have shown that glutamate and aspartate as in aspartame can open the barrier itself. Another system used to protect the brain against environmental excitotoxins, is a system within the brain that binds the glutamate molecule called the glutamate transporter and transports it to a special storage cell the astrocyte within a fraction of a second after it is used as a neurotransmitter.
This system can be overwhelmed by high intakes of MSG, aspartame and other food excitotoxins. It is also known that excitotoxins themselves can cause the generation of numerous amounts of free radicals and that during the process of lipid peroxidation oxidation of membrane fats a substance is produced called 4-hydroxynonenal.
This chemical inhibits the glutamate transporter, thus allowing glutamate to accumulate in the brain. Excitotoxins destroy neurons partly by stimulating the generation of large numbers of free radicals. Recently, it has been shown that this occurs not only within the brain, but also within other tissues and organs as well liver and red blood cells.
This could, from all available evidence, increase all sorts of degenerative diseases such as arthritis, coronary heart disease, and atherosclerosis, as well as induce cancer formation. Certainly, we would not want to do something that would significantly increase free radical production in the body.
It should also be appreciated that the effects of excitotoxin food additives generally are not dramatic. Some individuals may be especially sensitive and develop severe symptoms and even sudden death from cardiac irritability, but in most instances the effects are subtle and develop over a long period of time.
It may be that many people with a propensity for developing one of these diseases would never develop a full blown disorder had it not been for their exposure to high levels of food borne excitotoxin additives. Some may have had a very mild form of the disease had it not been for the exposure. But, in fact, that is not what the report said at all. I summarized, in detail, my criticism of this widely reported FDA deception in the revised paperback edition of my book, Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills, by analyzing exactly what the report said, and failed to say.
For example, it never said that MSG did not aggravate neurodegenerative diseases. What they said was, there were no studies indicating such a link. Specifically, that no one has conducted any studies, positive or negative, to see if there is a link. In other words it has not been looked at -.
Unfortunately for the consumer, the corporate food processors not only continue to add MSG to our foods, but they have gone to great lengths to disguise these harmful additives.
For example, they use such names as hydrolyzed vegetable protein, vegetable protein, hydrolyzed plant protein, caseinate, yeast extract, and natural flavoring. We know experimentally, as stated, when these excitotoxin taste enhancers are added together they become much more toxic. In fact, excitotoxins in subtoxic concentrations can be fully toxic to specialized brain cells when used in combination. Frequently, I see processed foods on supermarket shelves, especially frozen or diet food, that contain two, three or even four types of excitotoxins.
We also know that excitotoxins in a liquid form are much more toxic than solid forms because they are rapidly absorbed and attain high concentration in the blood.
This means that many of the commercial soups, sauces, and gravies containing MSG are very dangerous to nervous system health, and should especially be avoided by those either having one of the above mentioned disorders, or are at a high risk of developing one of them. They should also be avoided by cancer patients and those at high risk for cancer. In the case of ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, we know that consumption of red meats and especially MSG itself, can significantly elevate blood glutamate, much higher than is seen in the normal population.
It must be remembered that it is the glutamate molecule that is toxic in MSG monosodium glutamate. Glutamate is a naturally occurring amino acid found in varying concentrations in many foods.
Defenders of MSG safety allude to this fact in their defense. But, it is free glutamate that is the culprit. Bound glutamate, found naturally in foods, is less dangerous because it is slowly broken down and absorbed by the gut, so that it can be utilized by the tissues, especially muscle, before toxic concentrations can build up. Therefore, a whole tomato is safer than a pureed tomato. The only exception to this, based on present knowledge, is in the case of ALS. Also, in the case of tomatoes, the plant contains several powerful antioxidants known to block glutamate toxicity.
Hydrolyzed vegetable protein should not be confused with hydrolyzed vegetable oil. The oil does not contain appreciable concentration of glutamate, it is an oil. This brown powdery substance is used to enhance the flavor of foods, especially meat dishes, soups, and sauces.
Despite the fact that some health food manufacturers have attempted to sell the idea that this flavor enhancer is " all natural" and "safe" because it is made from vegetables, it is not. It is the same substance added to processed foods. Experimentally, one can produce the same brain lesions using hydrolyzed vegetable protein as by using MSG or aspartate. A growing list of excitotoxins is being discovered, including several that are found naturally. For example, L- cysteine is a very powerful excitotoxin.
Recently, it has been added to certain bread dough and is sold in health food stores as a supplement. Homocysteine, a metabolic derivative, is also an excitotoxin. Interestingly, elevated blood levels of homocysteine has recently been shown to be a major, if not the major, indicator of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Equally interesting, is the finding that elevated levels have also been implicated in neurodevelopmental disorders, especially anencephaly and spinal dysraphism neural tube defects.
It is thought that this is the protective mechanism of action of the prenatal vitamins B12, B6, and folate when used in combination. It remains to be seen if the toxic effect is excitatory or by some other mechanism.
If it is excitatory, then unborn infants would be endangered as well by glutamate, aspartate part of the aspartame molecule , and the other excitotoxins. Interestingly, this is the area found to be affected when Lucas and Newhouse first discovered the excitotoxicity of MSG. One could argue a common intrinsic etiology for central nervous system neuronal damage and retinal ganglion cell damage, but these findings are disconcerting enough to warrant further investigations.
It is this nucleus that is primarily affected in this disorder. Accompanying this, is an accumulation of free iron, which is one of the most powerful free radical generators known. One of the highest concentrations of iron in the body is within the globus pallidus and the substantia nigra.
The neurons within the latter are especially vulnerable to oxidant stress because the oxidant metabolism of the transmitter-dopamine- can proceed to the creation of very powerful free radicals. That is, it can auto-oxidize to peroxide,which is normally detoxified by glutathione. In the presence of high concentrations of free iron, the peroxide is converted into the dangerous and very powerful free radical, hydroxide.
As the hydroxide radical diffuses throughout the cell, destruction of the lipid components of the cell takes place, a process called lipid peroxidation.
It has also been shown that there is dramatic accumulation of aluminum within these granules. Most likely, the aluminum displaces the bound iron, releasing highly reactive free iron. It is known that even low concentrations of aluminum salts can enhance iron-induced lipid peroxidation by almost an order of magnitude. Further, direct infusion of iron into the substantia nigra nucleus in rodents can induce a Parkinsonian syndrome, and a dose related decline in dopamine. It is well known that the complex I enzymes are particularly sensitive to free radical injury.
What if there was scientific evidence that these chemicals could damage a critical part of the brain known to control hormones so that later in life your child might have endocrine problems? How would you feel? We hope that Dr. Babies and growing children are especially vulnerable to damage from synthetic glutamate-containing substances, because their blood-brain barrier is not fully developed. MSG and the other excitotoxins can cause irreparable damage to the hypothalamus and glutamate-dependent nerve cells in several areas of the brain, yet MSG and hydrolyzed protein are routinely added to baby foods and other food items aimed at young children! Diets high in excitotoxins can cause learning disabilities, nervous disorders, seizures and hormonal imbalances in children.
Excitotoxins: The FDA-Approved Way To Damage Your Brain
Finding these ingredients to avoid is sometimes difficult. For example, MSG may not be listed as an ingredient but instead is found in hydrolyzed vegetable protein which is listed and can alter the chemistry of the brain. Studies in experimental animals show that some of the chemicals that are routinely added to processed food can damage the parts of the brain cell called the mitochondria the energy center of the cell and also throw neurotransmitter activity out of balance. Whether this same neurochemical upset occurs in humans is controversial. These additives serve no useful nutritional function, so why take the chance? The rapidly growing brains of children may be even more vulnerable to excitotoxins than adult brains are, and some children may show more dramatic effects than others. Some children, and some adults, experience severe headaches and mood swings following the ingestion of aspartame or MSG, for example.