Imagine for a moment you’re a carpenter, framing a house. You’re using a nail gun to attach the two-by-fours that will form the house’s skeleton. But as you work, the trigger on your nail gun gets stuck.
Suddenly, your nail gun won’t stop firing… and nails are flying everywhere. Bang, bang, bang, bang… It’s out of control. But it’s also not designed for rapid-fire operation. The firing mechanism can’t take the stress and your nail gun simply gives out.
Now imagine if that happened to 100 carpenters at the same time. One minute, you’re all putting up a mansion. The next, everyone’s running for cover, the air thick with misfired nails… until every last nail gun finally breaks down.
Sounds a little scary, doesn’t it?
Well, something like that can actually happen inside your brain. Because that’s the effect two common food additives may have on your nerve cells.
You see, certain chemicals tell your nerves when to “fire.” That is, when to send a message. But an overload of these chemicals can act like a stuck trigger on a nail gun… The nerves just keep firing and firing. Sometimes, they go on firing until they break down.
That’s why these chemicals are called “excitotoxins.” And – unfortunately – two of these chemicals are a growing part of the American diet. The chemicals are glutamate and aspartate. And they’re in our diet as monosodium glutamate (MSG) and the sugar substitute aspartame.
Glutamate and aspartate are amino acids – building blocks of protein. And both occur naturally in your body. In fact, it’s quite normal and healthy to have certain levels of these amino acids. But it’s not normal to have them in the amounts that are shoveled into our foods.
I’ve written to you before about MSG – and how it has a lot of hiding places in foods. Many seasonings contain MSG. Anything “autolyzed” or “hydrolyzed” has it, too. Flavorings, guar gum, whey protein… most fast foods, canned and frozen entrees, salad dressings… The list is huge.
And practically anything that’s labeled “reduced calorie” or “diet” these days contains aspartame. So the chances are good that you’re getting far more of these chemicals than you ever should.
Some researchers believe that excitotoxins may be responsible for many of the problems associated with getting older. A lifetime of this nerve damage may lead to a lack of cellular energy, increased free radical damage and even injury to your DNA itself.(1)
According to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine, excitotoxins may also be linked to a number of nerve disorders.(2) And there’s evidence that high levels of glutamate may break down the blood-brain barrier – one of your brain’s primary defenses.(3) So the damage these chemicals can do appears to be extensive.
Avoiding these excitotoxins completely is almost impossible. But you can cut your exposure by eating fresh, natural food whenever possible. I prefer organic produce and naturally raised meats. And if you want a safe sweetener, stevia is an excellent choice. It’s natural, calorie-free and widely available at health food stores.
1. Blaylock, RL. Neurodegeneration and Aging of the Central Nervous System: Prevention and Treatment by Phytochemicals and Metabolic Nutrients. Integrative Medicine, Volume 1, Issue 3, Summer 1999, Pages 117-133.
2. Lipton SA and Rosenberg PA. Excitatory Amino Acids as a Final Common Pathway for Neurologic Disorders. N Engl J Med 1994; 330:613-622March 3, 1994.
3. Sharp CD, et al. Glutamate causes a loss in human cerebral endothelial barrier integrity through activation of NMDA receptor. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 285: H2592-H2598, 2003.
Dr. Woliner is a board certified medical physician and modern day pioneer in the world of alternative men’s health and nutritional science. Using a unique combination of modern “Western” medicine and traditional holistic healing practices, Dr.Woliner has revolutionized men’s health care treatments for many of today’s most common male health concerns – specializing in alternative treatments for Prostate enlargement (BPH) and a myriad of erectile concerns and men’s sexual health issues.
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