Beyond MSG: Could Hidden Sources of Glutamate Be Harming Your Health?

Beyond MSG: Could Hidden Sources of Glutamate Be Harming Your Health?.

MSG. I could literally write a book about this food additive. So I will do my best to give the condensed version of my thoughts and the science about MSG and other sources of glutamate and their impact on our health.

Glutamate is the salt from glutamic acid, which is basically an amino acid. Specifically, it is an “excitatory” amino acid. However, once glutamic acid is converted into glutamate in the body, it acts as a neurotransmitter. So for the purpose of this discussion, glutamate acts as an excitatory neurotransmitter, carrying messages throughout the body from different systems.

In it’s natural state, glutamate can be found in many foods, and is necessary for the body to function. It is most commonly known as MSG, monosodium glutamate. But to be clear, MSG is a man-made food additive made from glutamate, not the naturally occurring amino acid found in real foods.  One of the main things to understand here, is that glutamate found in natural foods is always balanced by other amino acids. So even though it is excitatory, it is always balanced by inhibitory amino acids like glycine or others. But “MSG”, the additive,  is not balanced and therefore is only excitatory. And like the name implies, it “excites” neurons into action.

For many people, MSG gets into the system at a highly concentrated level and can cause the neurons to fire too fast and can trigger inflammation. As a result,  some people may get migraines from this, others may get IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and still others may get arthritic-like symptoms. In cases of people who have any type of neurological disorder, like epilepsy, MSG can trigger seizures. And there are studies to support that a defect in metabolizing glutamate may also contribute to Autism and ADHD.

At the extreme end of glutamate’s detrimental effects are ALS and Huntington’s disease. It appears that in people who develop ALS and Huntington’s, they are not able to clear glutamate well and it stays around too long causing damage to the nervous system, which may be the root cause of the disease.

So like anything, the poison depends on the dose. More specifically, the damage glutamate can cause depends on how well your body can metabolize and clear it. Genetics obviously plays a role in how one metabolizes glutamate. But more evidence is showing that damage to our digestive system and the protective brain barrier are probably the biggest reasons we lose our ability to keep glutamate in check. So, if you are someone like me who developed a sensitivity to glutamate later in life, chances are you did damage to your gut and brain barrier along the way.

There are so many known ways to damage the digestive system and the brain barrier. In general, eating junk food, drinking alcohol, smoking, stress, lack of exercise, exposure to man-made chemicals and illnesses, all cause damage to these systems. So it is easy to assume that most of us do not have optimally functioning guts and brain protective barriers.

Unfortunately, once the damage is done, it is tough to undo. But with some knowledge and lots of effort, it may be possible to restore the gut’s and brain’s protective barriers, and ultimately repair your body’s ability to metabolize glutamate effectively. In my next blog, I will share some of the steps I have learned about and am taking myself to correct this situation.

Posted in enzymes, food intolerance, health, migraines, MSG, neurotransmitters | Tagged , | Leave a comment

ADHD Linked to Prenatal Antidepressant Use

ADHD Linked to Prenatal Antidepressant Use.

Every person I know who has taken antidepressants before or during pregnancy had a child with either ADHD or Autism. Of course I realize this is anecdotal evidence, but studies are now showing this to be the case. And it only makes sense. Everything we ingest while pregnant can affect a developing baby (think smoking, alcohol, coffee, diet).

Antidepressants are now the second most prescribed medication in our country (antibiotics are number 1). We are truly a nation of people who are being drugged into a flatline state. It is amazing to me how quickly and easily we have been conditioned to think we need “medication” for any emotion we feel, or for any time life gets a little difficult.

Of course there are people with inherited mental chemical imbalances that truly may need some form of medication to help with the imbalance. Also there may be times of extreme difficulty, like the loss of a loved one, where temporary use of an antidepressant could be warranted. But for most of us, medication is not only not needed, it often causes more harm than good.

I also contend that most people who are feeling depressed are actually physically depressed, not mentally or emotionally. Many people in our country are so nutrient-deprived from eating the typical American diet of processed food, that they have chemical imbalances that lead to depression.

Here are a couple of tips to help if you are feeling depressed, or blue more than normal and for no real reason:

-make sure you are eating a nutrient-dense diet: greens, fruits, good proteins and healthy fats (fats play a huge role in balancing brain chemistry, so skip the low-fat diet)

-take a good Vitamin D3 supplement (1,000 iu’s, twice a day)

- for temporary depression, or to help bring you out of a funk, try St. John’s Wort (ladies going through menopause, it also helps with hot flashes), try it for a few weeks then wean off and take a break for a few weeks

- exercise, any form of exercise can help alleviate some depression

If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, try to avoid taking antidepressants, and look for more natural alternatives.

 

Posted in antidepressants, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Four Ways Industrial Ag is Destroying the Soil—and Your Health

Four Ways Industrial Ag is Destroying the Soil—and Your Health.

Modern farming is depleting the soil of it’s nutrients, resulting in less nutrients in our food, resulting in less nutrients in our bodies, resulting in more health problems. This is the main reason most people in the field of nutrition (who stay current on food science) recommend supplements and usually buy organic.

Unfortunately, supplements may not be enough of the good stuff and may be too much of the bad stuff. Nobody really knows for sure. But for now I have decided to take a multi-mineral every day to help replace some of the minerals that are lacking in my diet, even thought my diet is pretty healthy. I also take a few vitamins regularly, mostly Vitamin D3 and E (with tocopherols and tocotrienols, the complete E). If I am catching a cold, I will take 500 mgs of a good Vitamin C with flavonoids, and maybe some extra zinc.

Aside from vitamins and minerals, I also believe in supplementing with a probiotic and prebiotic. For those of you who don’t know what these are, a probiotic is a supplement of billions of “good” bacteria that promote a healthy gastrointestinal system. And a prebiotic is the “food” these good bacteria ingest to survive and proliferate.

The study of probiotics and the human biome (the trillions of bacteria that inhabit the body and are intertwined with every body system) is exploding with great new information. It appears that we are made of bacteria more than anything else. We have more bacteria than actual cells. And these bacterium need to be kept in balance and in large enough consistent amounts for us to stay healthy.

Since the beginning of life, we maintained a healthy biome by eating foods that were fermented , a natural process which produces lots of great bacteria for us. We also spent much of our time outside, and worked in the fields of dirt where bacteria thrive and got on us and in us.

But in the recent, oh say 50 years or so, a lot of things have changed so that we don’t get as much of these good “bugs”as we used to- and our health is definitely showing it. We over-farm the same plots of land, which as this article points out, depletes the ground of minerals and causes our food to have lower vitamin and mineral content. We use lots of things that kill too much bacteria, like antibiotics and antibacterial soap ( I would also assert that certain immunizations may a play a role in this too). We eat too much processed or pasteurized food that doesn’t contain any of these natural bacterium. We don’t breastfeed our babies as much or for as long as we used to, which is an important source of bacteria. We smoke, we drink alcohol, we take medications that strip our guts of bacteria and damage the lining of the intestinal tract. We are barraged by 100′s of thousands of new man-made chemicals that also either kill the bacteria or damage our detoxification systems. And we live in temperature-controlled, bleach-cleaned houses that are too sterile for anything to survive- including us.

Whether we like it or not, we need to get dirty again. And we need to nourish our soils in order to nourish ourselves. So get back outside and let your kids get dirty,  get rid of your antibacterial soaps and ask your grandmother for her favorite canning recipes. And support your local farmers and organic farmers who work hard to replace the nutrients in their dirt. It may cost a little more to buy that organic or pesticide-free produce, but it is definitely less than what you will pay down the road to the oncologist or heart surgeon. Mother earth and your gut will be eternally grateful.

Posted in depleted soils, organic, probiotics | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Sugar implicated in cardiovascular disease risk independent of weight gain

Sugar implicated in cardiovascular disease risk independent of weight gain.

Another strike against sugar. Specifically HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) seems to play a role in raising blood pressure and contributing to hardening of the arteries.

A few natural steps you can take to lower your blood pressure are:

- take a good multi-mineral supplement (potassium, magnesium, calcium)

- add Vitamin D3 to help with the absorption of the minerals (D3 only, not D2), 1,000-2,000 iu’s daily

- drink natural dark grape juice (no added sugars), just 1 cup a day (similar action to wine)

- eat more fish (wild caught is best)

- avoid MSG and nitrates, these additives are much more concentrated than table salt and are often the real culprit to raising blood pressure

- avoid HFCS and any artificial sweeteners (stick to table sugar, honey and real maple syrup, in moderation)

If your blood pressure is not that high, try these natural steps before taking any blood pressure medications. BP medications can carry very harmful side effects, so it is best to avoid them if possible.

And of course finding healthy ways to alleviate stress like meditation, yoga, and exercise will also help keep blood pressure at a healthier level.

Posted in blood pressure, health | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Is Soy a Foe to Women With Breast Cancer?: MedlinePlus

Is Soy a Foe to Women With Breast Cancer?: MedlinePlus.

This is another study showing evidence that soy may fuel breast cancer. At closer examination, the study used a pretty concentrated soy supplement. I have read several studies and articles on this topic, and to me it seems that eating natural, fermented soy is probably safe, and in fact may be protective. The reason fermented soy may be better is because the fermentation process lowers certain chemicals in soy that have a negative affect on digestion.

But taking soy supplements, and ingesting soy isolates, is probably getting too much of a concentrated version of soy. Just like everything else in life, natural is better.

Posted in cancer, enzymes | Tagged | Leave a comment

Junk sleep: When sleep and technology don’t mix – CNN.com

Junk sleep: When sleep and technology don’t mix – CNN.com.

I have been warning my husband and son about this for awhile now. They both are on their computers too long and too close to bed time (admittedly I am too many times).

Almost everyone I know says they either don’t sleep well, or have trouble staying asleep all night. Good sleep hygiene is also important; avoiding caffeine late in the day, no TV or electronics in the bedroom and of course a healthy diet.

We are now surrounded by EMF’s (electromagnetic fields) in our homes, cars and jobs, and this constant bombardment interferes with our bodies electrical system. So it is important to find ways to lessen the burden.

Posted in sleep | Tagged | Leave a comment

Supporting Evidence for Aspartame-Alzheimer’s Link Emerges

Supporting Evidence for Aspartame-Alzheimer’s Link Emerges.

Another study showing evidence of the dangers of artificial sweeteners.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

6 Best Anti-Aging Longevity Herbs | Be Well Buzz

6 Best Anti-Aging Longevity Herbs | Be Well Buzz.

The term “anti-aging” sounds like science fiction. In fact I think it isn’t the best term for what this branch of medicine is trying to promote. Anti-aging science is really more about how to age well.

This article reviews 6 different herbs that have been studied to show they may be effective in helping the body deal with stress or the effects of stress.

Herbs are natures medicine. Many of our current prescription drugs are derived from herbs, or other plants. However, herbs are milder than prescription drugs and therefore can often help without all the negative side-effects.

If you decide to try any of these, please research them to see if they interact with any medicines you are currently taking. And while herbs are gentler on our body, they can still be powerful and should be used as recommended and with caution.

 

Posted in anti-aging, herbs, integrative health | Leave a comment

Now Here’s A Good Reason To Cross Sodas Off My Grocery List. Forever.

Now Here’s A Good Reason To Cross Sodas Off My Grocery List. Forever..

Although this video may seem a little over the top, I think it is a beautiful depiction of what soda is doing to this and future generations. And as a side note, I believe that soda wasn’t as harmful until we replaced sugar with high fructose corn syrup. I think all sugary beverages are bad for our health (cavities, obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease), but drinks sweetened with HFCS contain so much more concentrated, and unnatural levels of sweetener, that our bodies can’t even handle what most people would say is “moderation”. Soda is the modern day cigarette.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fibromyalgia: Its Not All in Your Head – Its in Your Hands!

Fibromyalgia: Its Not All in Your Head – Its in Your Hands!.

I read this article with such hope and anticipation, but unfortunately ended up feeling disappointed. This seems like more of a symptom rather than a cause of the disease. If it is a cause, why didn’t they discuss how it began? Are people with FMS born with this problem? If so, why don’t most of us get symptoms until we are older? I still believe FMS is a neuro-endo-immune disorder, affecting much of the autonomic nervous system, which could cause this and all the other symptoms experienced with FMS. Before I give this possible theory any credence I would need to learn how and why some of us developed this condition. I appreciate all studies in this field, but this one doesn’t really provide many answers. I hope there is more to come…

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment