Have you ever wondered what the ingredient “natural flavoring” is? I see it all of the time listed on various food items. So I decided to do a little research. YUCK! What I found out is that foods that contain the ingredient “natural flavoring” may contain GMO-laden additives, disease-causing MSG, and even meat products when they are actually labelled “vegan.” Way to go, FDA!
More disturbing than that, I learned about a thing called excitotoxins. I had never heard this word before even though these chemicals are found in almost all processed foods. And I wanted to share this because I’m appalled, saddened, and disgusted by what the food industry is getting away with.
Excitotoxins are a class of chemicals that overstimulate neuron receptors. Neuron receptors allow the brain cells to communicate with each other. When exposed to these excitotoxins, the neurons go into over-drive, become exhausted, and eventually die. It’s noted that this effect is most noted in the hypothalamus and temporal lobe which are parts of the brain that deal with our ability to control emotions and behavior, sleep cycles, onset of puberty, and immune response.
Excitotoxins have the ability to excite our taste buds as well. So, the food industry has decided to add some of these amazingly unhealthy chemicals into our foods to make them irresistible to us. Ever wonder why you can’t just eat one chip? Or one cookie? That’s excitotoxins. Scientist have devised a way to “trick” your mind into wanting more and more with these chemical excitotoxins. Basically, these food additives that often masquerade as “natural flavors” are literally over-exciting your taste buds and cells until they either die or are permanently injured. And when consumed in excess, excitotoxins can cause nerve disorders resulting in debilitating conditions like strokes, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. Excitotoxins have been linked to obesity, migraines, fatigue and depression, abnormal learning, addictive behaviors, behavioral and emotional issues and even endocrine systems problems in children.
And the effect of excitotoxins is cumulative. The more different kinds of excitotoxins that you consume, the worse the side effects are. And since almost all processed foods have at least one excitotoxin, many having 2 or 3, this is a BIG problem, especially for children and the elderly.
The most common excitotoxins are aspartame (an artificial sweetener) and monosodium glutamate (commonly known as MSG). These common ingredients in processed foods and restaurant meals can wreck havoc on your health.
What I didn’t know is that when a food product is 99 percent pure MSG it is called “monosodium glutamate” by the FDA and must be labeled as such. But when a food product contains less than 99 percent MSG, the FDA doesn’t require that the MSG be identified. It often appears on labels under various disguised forms. Check out this disturbing list of suspect ingredients:
- Ingredients that may contain 30 to 60 percent MSG: hydrolyzed vegetable protein; hydrolyzed protein; hydrolyzed plant protein; plant protein extract; sodium caseinate; calcium caseinate; yeast extract; textured protein; autolyzed yeast; hydrolyzed oat flour.
- Ingredients that may contain 12 to 40 percent MSG: malt extract; malt flavoring; bouillon; broth; stock; natural flavoring; natural beef or chicken flavoring; seasoning; spices.
- Ingredients that may contain some MSG: carrageenan; enzymes; soy protein concentrate; soy protein isolate; whey protein concentrate; some soymilk.
In his book, Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills, Russell L. Blaylock, MD compiled this list of additives that may contain MSG:
Additives that always contain MSG:
- Monosodium Glutamate
- Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein
- Hydrolyzed Protein
- Hydrolyzed Plant Protein
- Plant Protein Extract
- Sodium Caseinate
- Calcium Caseinate
- Yeast Extract
- Textured Protein
- Autolyzed Yeast
- Hydrolyzed Oat Flour
Additives that frequently contain MSG:
- Malt extract
- Malt Flavoring
- Bouillon Broth
- Stock Flavoring
- Natural Flavoring
- Natural Beef or Chicken Flavoring
- Seasoning Spices
Additives that may contain MSG and/or other excitotoxins:
- Carrageenan Enzymes (Protease enzymes from various sources can release excitotoxin amino acids from food proteins.)
- Soy Protein Concentrate
- Soy Protein Isolate Whey
- Protein Concentrate.
Aspatame, the second most common excitotoxin is a easier to identify. It come under the brand names NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, and Equal-Measure. Common example include most diet soft drinks, sugar free gums, children’s’ medications, and thousands of other products claiming to be ‘low calorie’, ‘diet’, or ‘sugar free’.Aspartame accounts for over 75 percent of the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA .
There are over 90 different adverse symptoms listed for aspartame. A few include: headache, migraines, seizures, insomnia, vertigo, memory loss, weight gain, heart palpitations, and irritability. One study found that that the methanol in aspartame appears to attach to the DNA of cells after it is metabolized to formaldehyde, and is not only very difficult to remove, but results in numerous DNA deletion injuries. This could increase cancer risk as well as risk of other degenerative diseases, such as lupus, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Read more HERE about the dangers of aspartame.
Symptoms of MSG Exposure
George R. Schwartz, MD, author of In Bad Taste: The MSG Syndrome, believes there are three general categories of symptoms that result from MSG consumption:
- Asthma, shortness of breath
- Running nose
- Jaw tightness
- Rapid heartbeat
- Chest tightening
- Diarrhea, stomach cramps
Central (Brain) Symptoms
How to Avoid Excitotoxins in Your Diet
- Since excitotoxins are found in most processed foods, eliminating processed foods would be your first step in avoiding these harmful chemicals. Stick with REAL, unprocessed, whole foods. Look for foods with little or no packaging. Fill your plates and bellies with fresh fruits and vegetable, pastured and humanely-raised meats, and good, quality RAW dairy product. If you choose to eat grains, take the time to properly prepare them.
- When reading labels, look for terms such as hydrolyzed yeast, autolyzed vegetable protein, soy protein isolate, soy protein concentrate, whey protein, spices, enzymes, stock, broth, carrageenan, and even the term “natural flavors.” Any of these terms can (and usually do) mean that the product contains MSG. Also, if the food is a “diet” food, look for aspartame in the ingredient list.
- Eat out less. Know that it is nearly impossible to avoid excitotoxins when dining out. Be aware that Oriental restaurants are notorious for having MSG-laden foods. In Thai restaurants, know that the fish sauce likely has MSG in it.
- Take magnesium supplements. Low magnesium dramatically increases MSG toxicity. THIS is the brand that I currently take. I also take baths with magnesium bath salts. Some folks prefer magnesium lotion since it is easily absorbed through the skin.
- Search out stores that do not allow these dangerous additives on their shelves. Mainstream grocery stores are loaded with processed foods that will only make you sick in the long run. Better yet, shop at your local food co-ops, farmer’s markets, and small, independent farms.
As Joel Salatin says,
“You think organic food is expensive? Have you priced cancer lately?”
It’s up to us as the consumers to vote with our money. There is no price tag for good health. Your nervous system controls EVERYTHING in your body, so having a diet free of toxins that can cause nerve damage is essential to good health and longevity. And the FDA and food industry are doing us a great disservice by secretly feeding us these poisonous chemicals just to make a buck. Shame on you.