As we continue on through the holiday season the last thing we really want to think about is what is in the foods that we are eating. After all shouldn’t we eat, drink, and be merry like everyone else?

Just remember that everything has a price, and ultimately we have to decide what price we are willing to pay. There is, in a word, no free lunch.

buffet-974742_640The food industry is full of misleading, deceptive, and downright false labeling practices, making it a buyer beware situation like no other.

The dangers of MSG, a powerful brain toxin, has been making the news for some time now, but what consumers don’t know is that forms of MSG are hidden in many of the foods we eat everyday but we don’t know it because of the tricky labeling practices that are allowed in our food industry.

Take a look at the labels on the foods you are buying.

Some of MSG’s aliases are:

  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  • Soy protein isolate
  • Caseinate
  • Enzymes
  • Carrageenan
  • Whey protein
  • Autolyzed yeast extract

It can also be hidden by calling it spices, or natural flavoring, two ambiguous and rather broad terms which could mean almost anything.

One place you might not expect to find this is in your holiday turkey or ham. Most commercial hams and turkeys contain a 12% vegetable broth, or 10% hydrolyzed vegetable protein. These are code words for glutamate additives.

The purpose of these additives is to boost flavor, but glutamates do much more than simply enhance the flavors of the foods we eat.                                                                    

Young people are especially susceptible to the effects of MSG

cooking-775503_640According to Dr Russell Blaylock, a nationally recognized, and board certified neurosurgeon, health practitioner, author, and lecturer, glutamate plays a major role in how the brain is formed during development. According to research, there is a programmed rise and fall in the brain of the glutamate levels during brain formation which occurs in humans from the time the brain begins to develop until around 27 years of age. This oscillation in the brain glutamate is very critical to its development, and disruption in glutamate levels may have dire consequences.

Okay, that’s a little scary, but if your over 27 then it doesn’t matter all that much right?

Unfortunately no. Glutamate’s dangers to our health and well being do not exist only with brain function.

Glutamate’s cause a reaction within our bodies called excitotocicity.

Excitotoxicity as defined by  http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/ is:

Neurology Neuronal injury caused by excessive release of excitatory neurotransmitters, glutamate and aspartate causing damage to nerve and glial cells, which occurs in divers neurologic diseases that may be acute hypoglycemia, seizures, stroke, trauma, or chronic neurodegenerative diseases such as AIDS, dementia complex, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, and possibly Alzheimer’s disease.

One of the most recent findings is that glutamate receptors (responsible for receiving transmissions to the brain) do not exist only in the brain, but throughout the body in every organ and tissue. This means that eating foods that raise the blood levels of glutamate to high levels can cause major problems over time.

Recent research has discovered that many cancers also contain glutamate receptors, and those with the most receptors had much larger tumors, and a worse prognosis.

I feel I should mention, in addition to MSG, another toxin that should be avoided is the artificial sweetener aspartame. Aspartame has been shown to produce the same brain lesions as MSG, and when these two toxins are combined in the same meal they double the risk of damage to your cells.

So what can we do if we cannot rely on honesty from the food industry in their labeling and advertising?

Try to wean yourself off of processed foods as much as possible, and find a market where you can buy organic or least minimally processed meats.

turkey-218742_640Look for turkey or ham that is fresh or “all natural”, but do not rely on what may be a clever use of words. Check the label and look for a product that contains less than 10% of the additives previously mentioned in this article.

Free range meats are your best choice when you can get them, not only because they do not have added fillers and flavor enhancers, but because these animals were raised on a diet that was healthier for them, and that results in a more nutritious meal for you and your family as well.

If you are concerned that without these additives your turkey may be lacking in flavor or juiciness, use an organic broth to baste the bird at regular intervals.

On a positive note

If you are planning to have turkey for your holiday meal you will be able to enjoy the benefits of the brain-protective amino acid tryptophan.

In years past tryptophan has gotten a bad rap for its tendency to make people feel tired after eating, but this is actually a good side effect as it is increasing levels of serotonin into your brain.

Serotonin is a mood elevating neurotransmitter, and who doesn’t want to have their mood uplifted, especially during the holidays?

Happy Holidays to All!

It is during this special time of the year that we can make memories and show those around us that we love them, and for many of us that is done with offerings of food and time spent together.

So try to make as many of your holiday favorites as you can using whole food ingredients made from scratch. Read your labels and be an informed consumer. Have some treats, but don’t overdo on the sugar, and enjoy this special time with your friends and family.

Chocolate Peppermint Bark

To read more of Denise's articles, click here.

To read more of Denise’s articles, click here.

Prepare a 13 x 9 inch pan, lining it with parchment or waxed paper.       Melt 1 package of dark chocolate and spread into the pan over the paper.  Chill for 30 minutes.

Melt 1 package of white chocolate, stir in 1 tsp of peppermint extract and spread over the layer of dark chocolate.                         

Crush 12 peppermint candies and spread over the top.                                                 

Chill for 30 minutes                                         

Break apart into individual pieces and store in a covered container.

**While the word of wisdom gives us basic guidelines for health, it leaves the interpretation of those guideline up to the individual members. This blog is not intended to replace your medical professional or the divine revelation of the Word of Wisdom, but rather it is practical knowledge that I have accumulated over the years in my own pursuit of a healthier lifestyle which I am passing along in the hopes that it will benefit others.**

About Denise Mastrocola
Denise is a Michigander turned Pennsylvanian, who has been writing stories since Elementary School. Denise won an award at the annual Lansing Youth Talent Show, when she was in 10th grade, for a short story entitled Procrastination is Fatal, but didn’t decide on writing as a career until she was 28 years old. While homeschooling her older children she spent 4 years working through a course from The Institute of Children’s Literature. Through the years Denise’s children have had a variety of health issues, many of which have been linked to various sensitives; having spent more than 20 years researching and trying different things Denise has a boots on the ground view on healthier living. Denise currently writes for 2 blogs and has several books in different stages of completion. She is planning to break ground in e publishing, and hopes to have her first Historical Fantasy book which is set during the renaissance, “Lisa, My Lisa?” ready by the first of the year.

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