Years ago, I read Russell Blaylock’s, “Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills.” You can watch a video here of Dr. Blaylock speaking on Excitotoxins, and a few brief articles on the subject: Review of Excitotoxins and “Excitotoxins and Degenerative Brain Disorders“
Basically Excitotoxins are food additives that kill your brain cells, and these additives are in MANY of the products we eat – especially those chips kids love to eat, all that diet soda everyone gulps down, Chinese food, mexican food (sorry to say, but Taco Bell products are loaded with the stuff 😦 ) and lots of salad dressings, soups and seasonings. Think MSG and Nutrasweet/aspartame.
“There are a growing number of clinicians and basic scientists who are convinced that a group of compounds called excitotoxins play a critical role in the development of several neurological disorders including migraines, seizures, infections, abnormal neural development, certain endocrine disorders, neuropsychiatric disorders, learning disorders in children, AIDS dementia, episodic violence, lyme borreliosis, hepatic encephalopathy, specific types of obesity, and especially the neurodegenerative diseases, such as ALS, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and olivopontocerebellar degeneration.(1)”
Food manufacturers know that consumers are aware of the main names of excitotoxins, chiefly MSG and Aspartame, so they have started ‘re-naming” them. Dr. Blaylock gives us a partial list of the most common names for disguised MSG. Remember also that the powerful excitotoxins, aspartate [in NutraSweet®] and L-cysteine, are frequently added to foods and according to FDA rules require no labeling at all.
Additives that always contain MSG:
- Monosodium Glutamate
- Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein
- Hydrolyzed Protein
- Hydrolyzed Plant Protein
- Plant Protein Extract
- Sodium Caseinate
- Calcium Caseinate
- Yeast Extract
- Textured Protein
- Autolyzed Yeast
- Hydrolyzed Oat Flour
Additives that frequently contain MSG:
- Malt extract
- Malt Flavoring
- Bouillon Broth
- Stock Flavoring
- Natural Flavoring
- Natural Beef or Chicken Flavoring
- Seasoning Spices
Additives that may contain MSG and/or other excitotoxins:
- Carrageeenan Enzymes (Protease enzymes from various sources can release excitotoxin amino acids from food proteins.)
- Soy Protein Concentrate
- Soy Protein Isolate Whey
So what are you to do when you want great taste, but you also want to keep your brain cells?
Although there is probably no way for the average person to avoid all forms of excitotoxins, it is still a good idea to be aware of their existence and try to find healthier choices.
First, check out the Resource Page which lists some helpful products – especially alternatives for Nutrasweet and Splenda.
Here are a few more suggestions:
First, when you are looking for something for your asian dishes, instead of soy sauce, or even Bragg’s liquid aminos (which some health advocates use as an alternative, but Blaylock would say is an excitotoxin) try:
Coconut Secret Raw Coconut Aminos.
I love the flavor of this stuff – and so does Autumn. We make a great asian salad that I am hoping to post soon and it is fabulous! Here is a picture of it:
The cheapest place I have found it is at Vitacost.
Here is a product description:
Secret Organic Raw Coconut Aminos Soy-Free Seasoning Sauce. When the coconut tree is tapped it produces a highly nutrient-rich “sap” that exudes from the coconut blossoms. This sap is raw, very low glycemic, an abundant source of 17 amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and has a nearly neutral pH. A comparison between coconut tree sap and soy, shows that coconut sap contains 2-14 times the amino acid content of soy. Small batches ensure that our organic, low glycemic Coconut Aminos, made from this natural sap, is a raw enzymatically alive product aged and blended with sun dried, mineral-rich sea salt, hand gatheredfrom pristine waters near the southern islands of the Philippine coast. Features: Soy-Free Seasoning Sauce. 65% Less Sodium than Soy Sauce. High Source of Liquid Aminos. 100% Organic. Gluten-Free. Dairy-Free. GMO-Free. Coconut aminos
Most seasoning and salad dressing have some form of msg in them. Following are 3 do-it-yourself spice mixes that, yes they take a few minutes to prepare, but you can enjoy every bite knowing you are not killing anything!
Taco Seasoning Mix
I love the taste of this seasoning – more than any store bought one. I use it on anything “Mexican” – like taco salad – Yum!
(This recipes comes from Set for Life – a cookbook that I have had for many years – it is NOT a keto or low carb resource, but the mixes are good.)
1/3 cup dry minced onion
2 Teaspoons salt
2 Tablespoons Chili poder
2 Tablespoon Paprika (I use about 1 ½ T.)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cumin (I use a bit less)
½ teaspoon oregano
2 Tablespoons Flour (I use almond flour)
A bit of sweetener if desired, ( I use a pinch of stevia, a little truvia, thm sweet blend or you could use sugar, if diet always)
Mix ingredients, I mix them in a blender, and place in a container and store in a cool dry place.
2-3 tablespoons equal 1 package seasoning mix.
Salad Dressing Mix
This past year, a friend of mine (Thanks, Susan!), gave me salad dressing mixes for my birthday and I have thoroughly enjoyed them.
Ranch Dressing Mix
5 Tablespoons dried minced onions
7 teaspoon parsley flakes
4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Mix together and store in an air tight container.
For Salad Dressing: Mix 2 Tablespoons dry mix with:
1 cup mayonnaise and
1 cup buttermilk or sour cream.
For dip: Mix 2 Tablespoons dry mix with 2 cups sour cream or kreme fresh.
Mix up a few hours before serving, so the flavors all blend nicely.
I have used lowfat or regular fat yogurt to sub for some of the mayo and sour cream as well just experiment and come up with some thing that works for your diet needs.
Italian Dressing Mix
1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 Tablespoons minced onion
2 teaspoon oregano
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried celery flakes (optional)
Shake ingredients together and store in a jar.
Her directions are to mix 2 Tablespoon of the spices with:
¼ vinegar – Red Wine or apple cider
½ cup oil – I use olive oil, but you could use coconut oil. Remember that if you use NON virgin coconut oil, you will not have the coconut taste.
2 teaspoons water.
I think 2 Tablespoons is a bit too much so I only use 1 – again, just experiment to see what you like!
As far as broth goes, nothing beats homemade bone broths and they are so amazingly good for your health! Bone broths are worthy of a post of their own, so hopefully I will get to that soon. The main point here that I would like to make is that almost all bouillon cubes and soup mixes have msg in them- it is just such a bummer! Here are a few broth powder recipes you can try:
(This Is from Miserly Meals by Jonni McCoy)
1 Cup Nutritional Yeast*
3T. onion powder
1 T. garlic powder
1 T. salt 1 tsp. celery seed
2 T. Italian seasoning
2 T. dried parsely
1/ tsp pepper
1 tsp. marjoram
1 tsp. tarragon
1 tsp. paprika
Place all ingredients in a blender, cover and blend for 3-4 seconds. Store in an airtight jar for up to 6 months (I put mine in the fridge for a longer shelf life.
To use; Add 1 Tablespoon to a cup of hot water for a cup of soup, or stock.
Conversion note: Two teaspoons of this recipe plus 1/2 teaspoon of salt is the equivalent to 1 bouillon cube.
*(Nutritonal yeast, also know as brewers yeast, is a nutritional product eaten for its high content of B vitamins, amino acids and protein. It is not to be confused or used in the same way as baking yeast)
Onion Soup Mix #1
(Again from Miserly Meals)
2 1/4 cups dried minced onion
1 Cup broth powder (See above recipe)
1/4 cup onion powder
3/4 tsp. celery seed
3/4 teaspoon sugar – sub out for stevia or sweetener of choice
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and store- or put in a large mason jar and shake up.
To use this recipe where a 1.25 ounce envelope of purchased onion soup mix is required, use 1/3 up of this mix
Onion Soup Mix recipe #2
I haven’t tried this recipe yet but I have a friend who recommended it and it is a bit quicker to throw it together:
2/3 cup dried, minced onion
3 teaspoons parsley flakes
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 -2 teaspoons turmeric( You may want to omit this as turmeric can be really strong in flavor – although it is great for reducing inflammation.)
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sucanat (or sugar if you prefer)
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
Mix all ingredients in a jar, then give the jar a good shake. I’d recommend shaking the jar to mix the ingredients well before each use.
Use 2-4 Tablespoons Onion Soup Mix in a recipe in place of 1 packet of onion soup mix. Store this in a dry, cool place.
One other product I would like to mention is Beanitos. When we were able to lower Autumn’s ratio, we could add a few of these chips in. (You would probably not be able to include these on a higher ratio) I have contacted the company personally and they have assured me they do not use any type of msg or yeast extract at all. These are a great replacement for Doritos!