What are excitotoxins? The word excitotoxin is derived from two words, excite and toxin. A ‘toxin’ is a poison. So excitotoxin is a poison that excites any brain cell it encounters until it dies. These substances are usually amino acids – sounds rather natural and harmless but when these react with specialized receptors in the brain in such a way as to lead to destruction of certain types of brain cells.
Do you really need excitotoxins in foods? No! They are all used to alter the taste of food. MSG or sodium salt of glutamate, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, and natural flavoring are used to enhance the taste of food so that it tastes better. Aspartame is an artificial sweetener – more popularly recognized by its trade names Nutrasweet and Equal.
Why are they toxic? This amino acid is a normal neurotransmitter in the brain. In fact, it is the most commonly used neurotransmitter by the brain. Defenders of MSG and aspartame use, usually say: How could a substance that is used normally by the brain cause harm? This is because, glutamate, as a neurotransmitter, exists in the extracellular fluid only in very, very small concentrations – no more than 8 to 12uM. When the concentration of this transmitter rises above this level the neurons begin to fire abnormally. At higher concentrations, the cells undergo a specialized process of delayed cell death known as excitotoxicity, that is, they are excited to death.
It should also be appreciated that the effects of excitotoxin food additives generally are not dramatic. Some individuals may be especially sensitive and develop severe symptoms and even sudden death from cardiac irritability, but in most instances the effects are subtle and develop over a long period of time. A survey conducted in 1976 found that 25 percent of the public had adverse reactions after having eaten at a Chinese restaurant. This became known as the Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.
Why Are Exitotoxins – often called “flavor enhancers” – Added ton Food? There is only one answer to that question – Money. If you think a food tastes particularly good, you will tend to eat more of it, right? MSG makes food taste shockingly better than it would without it is why it is added to substandard, cheap foods. All processed children’s foods have excitotoxins among the ingredients.
Hidden Excitotoxins in Foods: Excitotoxins are not present in just a few foods, but rather in almost all processed foods. In many cases they are being added in disguised forms, such as natural flavoring, spices, yeast extract, textured protein, soy protein extract, etc. Also, liquid forms of excitotoxins, as occurs in soups, gravies and diet soft drinks are more toxic than that added to solid foods. This is because they are more rapidly absorbed and reach higher blood levels.
If These are Toxic, Why Are Allowed in Foods? Dr. George Schwartz in the foreword of the book wrote: “Our watchdogs have become industry pussy cats and the “research” supposedly demonstrating safety is deeply flawed.”