How Processed Food and Glutamates Can Steal Your Health
Since that time, neuroscientists have discovered that glutamate was not just any neurotransmitter, but, in fact, the most abundant neurotransmitter in the brain, accounting for more than 90 percent of the communication in the brain’s cortex and more than 50 percent of all communication in the entire brain. Glutamate receptors play an important role in regulating other neurotransmitters.
Glutamate receptors are now being shown to play a major role in a growing list of neurological and psychiatric disorders, including:
Under normal conditions, glutamate doesn’t damage cells in the brain because they are inside the cells in the brain. Humans have developed protective mechanisms that keep glutamate mostly within the brain cells, and it only damages the brain if it is outside cells where receptors are located. Brain disorders such as stroke, trauma, neurodegenerative diseases (Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s), and heavy metal poisoning result in a loss of brain energy. This means that when these disorders are present even small exposures to dietary excitotoxins can cause brain damage.
Also, as we age, our brain energy decreases and our protective systems begin to falter, so our brains become progressively more inflamed. Together, these factors make us extra sensitive to dietary excitotoxins, and our brains begin to leak glutamate. This is why the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease goes from around 3 percent at 65 to nearly 50 percent at age 80.
Exposure to high levels of glutamate in the diet may also explain the epidemic of obesity among the young and even among older people. MSG additives were introduced to the public on a grand scale via processed foods in 1948. Now they are used everywhere, as almost all processed foods have some form of this additive. Try it…read some labels and you will find this chemical on most processed food products.
Excess dietary glutamate during pregnancy and early childhood can cause a child’s brain wiring to develop abnormally. This can learn to cognitive difficulties as well as behavioral problems such as depression, anxiety, aggressiveness and impulsive violence.
When excitotoxic foods are ingested, they are carried from the gastrointestinal tract to the liver via the portal vein. This makes the liver very susceptible to damage because it is exposed to the highest concentration of glutamate. Studies have shown that dietary MSG raises inflammation, and causes a massive production of free radicals in the liver that can persist for a very long time.
MSG-induced inflammation of the brain’s blood supply opens the blood brain barrier, which is the separation of circulating blood from the brain’s extracellular fluid. When this barrier is opened because of inflammation, there is an influx of glutamate into the brain after each meal.
The best way to protect yourself against glutamate is to avoid additives such as MSG altogether. Exercise also reduces blood glutamate levels, mainly by increasing the use of glutamate for muscle energy production. A number of natural substances found in plant-based diets have been shown to be very protective against glutamine toxicity. These include:
Magnesium Selenium Vitamin B6 (as pyridoxal-5-phosphate) B vitamins Folate Flavonoids (such as curcumin, quercetin, apigenin, ferulic acid, and luteolin) Silymarin Biacalein Grape Seed Extract DHA Vitamin D3 Hawthorn extract
Foods and additives that increase inflammation also will worsen toxicity. Sugars (especially high fructose corn syrup), fluoroaluminum (fluorinated drinking water) and chlorinated water all have this effect.
This report was compiled by L.W. Heinrichs