Tuesday, May 24, 2011

MSG - Part 2 - Why It Affects You

In giving educational presentations about MSG, I have seen that very few people understand why MSG is harmful. In these presentations, I help people understand how the brain works, and how MSG affects brain function. With this knowledge, people frequently feel more compelled to avoid MSG, and they take actions to protect themselves from MSG's damaging effects.

In this posting, I'll share with you some of what I teach in the MSG presentation. (If you are interested in having me present to your group or organization, please contact me. sandra@MiracleInspirations.com)

If you have not read my posting MSG - Part 1 - It's Everywhere, I recommend it. It helps you know how to identify MSG in packaged foods. http://foodmiracles.blogspot.com/2011/05/msg-part-1-its-everywhere.html

Why is MSG in Our Food?

MSG is a flavor enhancer, meaning it makes foods taste good. Food companies and restaurants want us to buy, eat, and buy, so they add chemicals to make us want more, more, and more. MSG and other food additives contribute to people gaining weight.

How MSG Affects People

MSG is toxic to the body's neurological system, though scientists do not completely understood how it works. Go to the Truth in Labeling site for more details. MSG causes a variety of reactions in people who are sensitive to it. Even if you are not noticeably affected, it is probably safe to assume that it has some impact on you, and that over time, any symptoms could become more significant.

On the Truth in Labeling list of reactions that people have had to MSG are cardiac, circulatory, endocrine, gastrointestinal, muscular, neurological, visual, respiratory, urological, genital, and skin reactions. At this moment, the only body parts that I can think of that aren't on this list are hair and bones. So perhaps your hair and bones are safe from MSG exposure. But then I wouldn't count on that, because if you aren't healthy overall, then your hair and bones won't be either. Your nervous system is important for the functioning of every cell.

Aspartame Too

The artificial sweetener Aspartame (or Nutrasweet) has basically the same effects as MSG/glutamate. And even more negative effects. (Aspartame is believed to contribute to cancer, headaches, diabetes, seizures, and blindness.) Avoid it. Aspartate is primarily used in beverages, sugar replacements, and diet foods. Basically, avoid all of the artificial sweeteners. It's too much to get into here.

Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills

In this book, respected neurosurgeon Russell Blaylock explains how MSG and Aspartame damage the nervous system. Almost literally from the beginning to the end of this book, I was exclaiming in horror with each turn of the page. For many years, I have avoided buying foods that contain MSG, because I had heard and read enough to know that it is harmful. But until I read Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills, I didn't really understand. Well now I know, and it's ever so much worse than I dreamed was possible.

In this blog, I give some brief simplified details about what Blaylock explains in extraordinary depth. Though he conveys a tremendous amount of information, this book is still relatively understandable for the average person to read. He wants everyone to comprehend the importance of this material. I was actually quite surprised at how quickly I finished the book, because it is so easily understood.

Using clearly written text and line drawings, Blaylock first explains how the brain works. He then explains how excitotoxins interfere with the normal functioning of the brain, and how they contribute to the development of degenerative conditions of the brain and spinal cord. Every person can be affected by this, from conception to death.

Why Read the Book?

Alzheimer's Disease
, Parkinson's Disease, and Lou Gehrig's Disease.

That's why. Reading the book will help you avoid having those wonderful conditions to look forward to in your personal future. Do you need another reason? How about protecting the healthy development and future lives of your children and grandchildren.

Eating MSG and Aspartame can kill brain cells. Do you and your children need your brains?

So, here I go. I am vastly simplifying here. Blaylock does a much better job of explaining all this in the book. Before I read the book, I knew none of this.

Why Are MSG and Aspartame So Dangerous?

MSG is a form of glutamate. Aspartame is a form of aspartate. When glutamate and aspartate are added in large quantities to the foods that we eat, the concentrations of these substances can then be dramatically increased in the brain.

Glutamate and Aspartate are amino acids (protein components) that are used as neurotransmitters (communicating molecules) by the brain and to a lesser degree, by the spinal cord. The body's highest concentrations of circulating glutamate are in the brain, because the brain needs it to function. The brain has several mechanisms for very carefully controlling the concentration of circulating glutamate.

What happens in the brain when glutamate is present? To shorten into a few sentences whole sections of the book, glutamate causes nerve cells, or neurons to fire repeatedly. This is part of how the brain develops and functions normally.

All of the glutamate that the brains needs can be obtained through the consumption of normal, whole-food proteins.

When MSG is consumed in foods, the amount of glutamate circulating in the blood stream and in the brain can be very dramatically increased. Even small fluctuations in the concentration can disrupt brain function. With sufficient duration and/or concentration of glutamate in the brain, the neurons die. Basically, the neurons are excited to death. That is why glutamate is called an excitotoxin.

Not all neurons use glutamate as neurotransmitters. It is primarily glutamate-using neurons that die as a result of excessive excitotoxin exposure. Non-glutamate neurons will survive even when glutamate neurons right next to them have died.

Aspartate is an excitotoxin that affects the same neurons in the brain as glutamate, so for the sake of simplicity, I mention only glutamate.

The Brain's Protection Mechanisms

Because the concentration of circulating glutamate is so critical for normal brain function, the brain has several ways in which it keeps this concentration under control.

This is the brain's first level of defense, keeping out most of the glutamate that is circulating in the blood from food sources. However, numerous conditions can make the blood brain barrier ineffective in performing this protective function. That makes these conditions risk factors for increased susceptibility to excitotoxin damage.

Risk Factors for Increased Excitotoxin Exposure and Damage:
- Head impacts
- Strokes
- Hypertension
- Brain tumors
- Infections
- Increased core body temperature and Fevers


There are a couple of pumping systems in the brain that protect against excitotoxin damage. One pumps out excess glutamate. The other would require too much explanation to go into here.

An important piece of information about these pumps is that they require a lot of energy. Energy in the body primarily comes from glucose. When glucose is low, then energy is low.

When energy is low, the pumps stop working. This results in increased glutamate concentrations and increased damage to neurons. Therefore anything that results in low glucose levels is a risk factor.

Risk Factors for Increased Excitotoxin Exposure and Damage:
- Hypoglycemia
- Anything that increases your usage of energy, thereby depleting the supply of glucose
- - Injury. The body consumes a lot of energy in repairing the damage.
- - Illness. The same as above.
- - Excitotoxin exposure. This makes the pumps work, using up a lot of energy.
- - Exercise. Exercise is healthy, but it does deplete energy reserves. When you consume foods and drinks during or after exercise, any excitotoxins in them will be more likely to enter your brain and damage neurons. Do your sports drinks contain aspartame or MSG??

Babies and Children

The developing brains of children require glutamate. Many neurons require glutamate to function and to build new nerve connections. I won't go into all of the details here. It is this section of Blaylock's book that I found most horrifying, because of the devastating impact that excitotoxins have on neural development. Until the late 1960's MSG was added in large amounts to baby foods. And when pregnant mothers consume food and drink containing glutamate and aspartate, it goes to the baby.

Suffice it to say that for an assortment of reasons, babies, both in utero and after birth, and children are more susceptible to damage to their developing brains than are adults.

Depending on when the exposure occurs, glutamate and aspartate can severely impair the development of the endocrine system. The endocrine system controls all of the body's functions, so when its formation is impacted, a whole host of malfunctions can occur, including but not limited to delayed development, learning disorders, autism, and psychological conditions.

Does it make sense that if something kills brain cells, you don't give it to babies and children, with their developing brains?

Avoid MSG and Aspartame (Nutrasweet) if you are pregnant. (Since other artificial sweeteners are also suspected of having negative impacts, consider avoiding them too.)

Avoid giving glutamate and aspartate containing foods and drinks to children, INCLUDING TEENS.
Unfortunately, many packaged foods, including baby foods, are likely to contain hidden forms of MSG. For more information about this, read my posting MSG - Part 1 - It's Everywhere.

Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Lou Gehrig's Diseases
and other Degenerative Neurological Conditions

Excitotoxins are not the sole factor that results in individuals developing these conditions. But excitotoxins are significant contributors. Depending on each individual person's particular genetic makeup, lifestyle and diet, incidence of injury, and state of health, the likelihood of developing these conditions varies. These conditions are different in how they manifest physically because they each have specific areas of the brain or spinal cord where nerve degeneration has occurred.

In all of these conditions, the neurons that are affected use glutamate as a neurotransmitter.

80-90% of neurons have to die before the individual will experience symptoms of disease.

So by the time you have a diagnosable condition, the degeneration of neurons has been occurring for many years, perhaps even beginning in utero and in childhood.

Obviously it is much more complex than this. Multiple chapters in Russell Blaylock's book are dedicated to addressing these conditions.

Protecting Yourself

Does it make sense to minimize your exposure to MSG and Aspartame, knowing that they can kill brain cells? Stop eating excitotoxins now, and you can slow or prevent future degeneration. However this is not always possible. Personally, I do still occasionally eat in restaurants, and I do consume some packaged foods.

Next, I'll discuss how to avoid excitotoxins, followed by other actions you can take to protect yourself when you do consume them.
Eat Whole Fresh Foods!

Of course, making your own food from fresh whole ingredients is always best! But when that isn't a viable option, it's valuable to know how to make intelligent choices.

Avoiding Excitotoxins

Some food ingredients contain both glutamate and aspartate, and potentially other excitotoxins. As a general rule, Aspartame is primarily contained in beverages, sugar replacements, and diet foods. And MSG/glutamate/glutamic acid is in just about everything else. So if you 1) avoid the types of foods and beverages that tend to contain Aspartame, and 2) avoid anything that you suspect contains MSG, you will be pretty safe. It is difficult to completely avoid added excitotoxins if you 1) eat any packaged foods, and if you 2) eat in restaurants.

If you minimize your excitotoxin intake, your body's natural protection mechanisms may be able to take care of the rest, minimizing future damage. If you want to take additional protective measures, including those mentioned below, then you will do even better.

If you have not read my posting MSG - Part 1 - It's Everywhere, I recommend it. It helps you know how to identify MSG in packaged foods. http://foodmiracles.blogspot.com/2011/05/msg-part-1-its-everywhere.html

Protective Actions

As mentioned above, when your body's energy supplies become depleted, you are more susceptible to excitotoxin damage. So when you are low in blood sugar, be particularly vigilant in avoiding excitotoxins.

Some foods and nutritional supplements offer nutrients that help your brain protect itself. I won't go into further details of how they are protective here.

Magnesium and antioxidants help your brain protect itself. So eat foods rich in magnesium and antioxidants, and take supplements. If you want more information about how important magnesium is to health, go to Magnesium is Critical. http://foodmiracles.blogspot.com/2011/06/magnesium-is-critical.html

Educational Presentation About MSG

I give presentations about this and other food- and health-related topics. Feedback that I've received indicates that people take home information that positively impacts their food purchasing patterns. If you are interested in scheduling a presentation for a group, please contact me. sandra@MiracleInspirations.com

Protect Your Brain Function!

Sandra Lynn Lee
Certified Practitioner - The Emotion Code/The Body Code
Certified Healing Codes Practitioner
Miracle Inspirations
Everything in this newsletter is the opinion of the author and is provided for informational and educational purposes only. When information is drawn from outside sources, both credit and access to the source are given, when available.
Copyright 2011 Miracle Inspirations. All rights reserved.


Nelda said...

I am highly allergic to MSG. I have been close to death consuming it. I have had to call 911 several times when I have eaten something with MSG in it. My body rejects it violently. I attacks my digestive system. I have severe stomach cramps, vomiting, and my blood pressure drops dangerously low. The last time I had an attack I was in a food court in a mall and my blood pressure dropped to 29 on the bottom. I had eaten a Chick-filet sandwich. I later found out that MSG is the second ingredient in it. They called 911 and I had to stay in the hospital several days. I am so afraid of it and I almost have a fear of eating food now.Nelda Webb

Scott & Bernadette Jones said...

My seven year old has also has a severe allergic reactions to this toxin, MSG. For years he has been suffering from Night Terrors, headaches and sometime vomiting. We have visited a number of specialist without success. Until recent, when eating KFC chicken we awoke with large red welts covering his body and face. It is now everytime he touches any food with traces of MSG the same results occur. It has been a struggle for us to read every label, sometimes we get it wrong and sometimes we get it right. We try to minimise these effects by home cooking most of our dishes and we have built a loyal repor with a takeaway shop that we can trust to cook certain foods. His night terrors and headaches have now minimised because of the actions taken. We are very upset that Government bodies have allowed the processing of foods to have this toxin in it at the risk of our childrens health. For most of us do not know what we are consuming because a lack of visible signs. We have blessed to find out after these many years what our son's suffering was associated with this toxin. Now the whole family is being protected! Please make changes to protect your health.