Chemicals in Food - How to Avoid Them?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Posted by Meeta K. Wolff

This Post was contributed by Pintoo from Lazy Weekend

What if someone were to tell you that a chemical added to food could cause brain damage in your children, and that this chemical could effect how your children’s nervous systems formed during development so that in later years they may have learning or emotional difficulties? What if there was scientific evidence that these chemicals could damage a critical part of the brain known to control hormones so that later in life your child might have endocrine problems? How would you feel?

Suppose evidence was presented to you strongly suggesting that the artificial sweetener in your diet soft drink may cause brain tumors to develop, and that the number of brain tumors reported since the wide-spread introduction of this artificial sweetener has risen dramatically? Would that affect your decision to drink these products and especially to allow your children to drink them?

What if you could be shown overwhelming evidence that one of the main ingredients in this sweetener (aspartate) could cause the same brain lesions as MSG? Would that affect your buying decisions?

And finally, what if it could be demonstrated that all of these types of chemicals (called excitotoxins) could possibly aggravate or even precipitate many of the neurodegenerative brain diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, ALS, and Alzheimer’s disease?

Would you be concerned if you knew that these excitotoxin food additives are a particular risk if you have ever had a stroke, brain injury, brain tumor, seizure, or have suffered from hypertension, diabetes, meningitis or viral encephalitis?

I would think that all of us would be more than just concerned to learn that well known powerful brain toxins were added to our food and drink to boost sales. We would be especially upset to learn that these additives have no other purpose than to enhance the taste of food and the sweetness of various diet products.

And I would bet that you would be incredulous to learn that they will not be recognized. In fact, many foods that are labeled “No MSG” not only contain MSG, but also contain other excitotoxins of equal potency.

For thousand of years Japanese cooks have added a special ingredient to their recipes to magnify the desired taste of foods. This ingredient was made from a sea weed known as “sea tangle” or Kombu. Yet it was only in this century that the active chemical of this “taste enhancing” ingredient was isolated. Most of you will immediately recognize the chemical which has this almost magical property-it’s called monosodium glutamate, or MSG.

Shortly after its isolation, the chemists who discovered MSG turned it into a worldwide multi-million dollar industry. At the center of this empire is the Ajinomoto Company which today produces most of the world’s supply of MSG and a related taste-enhancing substance called hydrolyzed vegetable protein, which also contains MSG.

MSG contains glutamate a toxin known to cause damage to the nervous system.

Often food manufacturers will mix MSG with other substances to disguise it, or use substances known to contain high concentrations of glutamate and/or aspartate. For example, the label designation “natural flavoring” may contain anywhere from 20 to 60 percent MSG.

Another substance called hydrolyzed vegetable protein, also referred to as vegetable protein or plant protein, often portrayed as a perfectly safe and “natural” substance, this mixture actually is made from “junk” vegetables that are unfit for sale. They are especially selected so as to have a naturally high content of glutamate. The extraction process of hydrolysis involves boiling these vegetables in a vat of acid. This is followed by a process of neutralization with caustic soda. The resulting product is a brown sludge that collects on the top. This is scraped off and allowed to dry. The end product is a brown powder that is high in three known excitotoxins- glutamate, aspartate, and cystoic acid (which converts in the body to cysteine). It is then added by the food industry to everything from canned tuna to baby food.

So what is it that these “excitotoxins” actually do that is so important to the food manufacturers?

All of these chemicals stimulate the taste cells in the tongue, thereby greatly enhancing the taste of whatever food to which it is added. It is what gives soup the scrumptious taste that we all love so much. Today they are used extensively in sauces, soups, gravy mixes, and especially frozen diet foods.

When neurons are exposed to these substances; they become very excited and fire their impulses very rapidly until they reach a state of extreme exhaustion. Several hours later these neurons suddenly die, as if the cells were excited to death. As a result, neuroscientists have dubbed this class of chemicals “excitotoxins:”

So before your kids get hooked on to those flavored potato chips, (ranch, barbecue, sour cream and onion) or the flavored corn chips in the form of Doritos, Ranchero, jalapeno etc., please make them aware of this toxins, I know small kids won’t understand the seriousness of the issue but try to get them the natural versions of the above stuff. Now Lays, Tostitos and other companies have come up with natural ingredients, which don’t have the above garbage in it.

MSG is not only in the chips, it is also in some crackers that we also love to devour like Cheese Nips and other brand cheese crackers. We are not going to go into lot of details about these chemicals. But please, please as parents you must shop wisely and read each and every ingredient that goes into making all the foods. Use my philosophy, if you can’t understand or pronounce the name of the ingredient, don’t buy it.

I recently discovered that I was buying one of the cookies that said no eggs, but had an ingredient named Albumin, now the technical definition of it is (any of numerous simple heat-coagulable water-soluble proteins that occur in blood plasma or serum, muscle, the whites of eggs, milk, and other animal substances and in many plant tissues and fluids) but in US most of the albumin, and gelatin comes from animal substance) the reason being its cheaper and are by-products of the slaughtered animal bones and carcass.

As all parents know, it is during these formative years that our children crave “junk food” the very type of processed food that contains the highest concentration of excitotoxin taste enhancers and other commercial garbage. It is our duty to make them eat healthy and also make them aware of all these chemicals which are really not necessary into making of such foods.

We will try to explore on this subject some more in next article.

(Excerpts from the book “Excitotoxins” by Russell Blaylock)

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This Post was contributed by Pintoo from Lazy Weekend


Pintoo, this was such an informative post. There are certainly things one overlooks and now I think I for sure will look more carefully when shopping. Thank you for your wonderful contribution.

Meeta K. Wolff said...
April 20, 2007 at 8:48:00 PM GMT+2  

Wow, what an excellent read!

I avoid chemicals in food like the plague... I am forever getting headaches from processed and chemically-laced foods - no wonder! This is why I am very particular about making most of the food my husband and I eat from scratch.

I look forward to reading more in your next article.

Anonymous said...
April 20, 2007 at 9:57:00 PM GMT+2  

very informative post

April 24, 2007 at 6:48:00 PM GMT+2  

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