It may sound unbelievable, but there are some ingredients found in everyday foods and drinks which can directly interfere and cause harm to our bodies. These substances are called neurotoxins, because they are toxic to the nervous system. They are also called excitotoxins, because they overstimulate brain cells to the point of cell death.
Read on to discover what these are, and how they are commonly found in foods we eat everyday. Once you realize the harm they cause, you will definitely want to avoid them- I know I do.
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
One of the most common neurotoxins found in food is monosodium glutamate (MSG). This is a form of glutamic acid that occurs naturally in food and is also made by the body by breaking down another amino acid, glutamine.
MSG (or the E-number E621) is used as a flavor enhancer in a wide variety of savory foods like crisps, sauces, salad dressings, fast foods, instant meals like noodles and soups, and stock cubes. It is sometimes labeled as yeast extract, autolyzed yeast or hydrolyzed protein, but these are all the same thing- monosodium glutamate in disguise!
Research has found that excessive amounts of this flavor enhancer can cause excessive brain excitation which can lead to brain cell death. It has also been linked to playing a part in neuro-degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s. Other studies show that an excess of MSG can cause reactions such as: d
- difficulty in concentration;
- extreme mood swings;
Aspartame, or aspartic acid, is the name for commercial artificial sweeteners such as NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful and others. Nearly all diet sodas contain aspartame. This excitotoxin appears to cause slow, silent damage to health that accumulates over the years, through long-term use.
Aspartic acid is an amino acid. However, when it is ingested in its free form (unbound to proteins), like it is in soft drinks and sweeteners, it takes the amino acids out of their natural form, which leads to its adverse effects. Aspartame causes significant rises in the levels of aspartate and glutamate in the blood, leading to a high level of those neurotransmitters in certain areas of the brain. Aspartame is significantly more toxic because it is in liquid form, so it is absorbed into the bloodstream much quicker.
Neurotoxins Kill Brain Cells
Both aspartate and glutamate act as neurotransmitters in the brain- they do this by aiding the transmission of information from neuron to neuron. Too much aspartate or glutamate in the brain can kill cells by triggering excessive amounts of free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules responsible for aging, tissue damage, and possibly some diseases.
The damage that can be caused by excessive aspartate and glutamate is why they are referred to as “excitotoxins”. They “excite” or stimulate the neural cells to death.
Avoiding these substances is especially important for children because the blood brain barrier (BBB), which normally protects the brain from excess toxins is not fully developed during childhood.
The worst thing is that the effect of these toxins is gradual, so a large majority of brain cells can be destroyed before any symptoms of a chronic illness are even noticed.
Some of the many chronic illnesses and short-term effects associated with exposure to these excitotoxins include:
- Neurological disorders (Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, memory loss depression)
- Hormonal imbalances and endocrine disorders
So it’s a no-brainer! Stay away from any food and drink that contains these harmful brain-destroying toxins.
Remember, manufacturers sometimes try to hide them in foods by labeling MSG as spices, yeast extract, or flavorings, and aspartame is commonly found in diet or sugar-free drinks.