Sunday, April 26, 2009

MSG by any other name is still an excitotoxin

If you know me, you surely know I have suffered from migraines for awhile now. I had great success in reducing them through immunotherapy and learned a lot about foods and chemicals that are known to trigger headaches. One that usually gets me is MSG. In the latest Organic Consumers Association enewsletter, there was an article about avoiding MSG that caught my eye. I thought it was "bad" but not really toxic.

In fact, I appear to be wrong. Here's what they say:

"Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is one of the most common and hazardous food additives on the market. MSG is reportedly more toxic than alcohol, tobacco and many drugs. MSG is an excitotoxin, so it tricks your brain into wanting to eat more and more foods containing the ingredient, even if you are already full. Side effects of MSG include: obesity, eye damage, headaches, depression, fatigue and disorientation. Food manufacturers know that health-conscious consumers try to avoid MSG, so it is oftentimes not listed in a product's ingredients."
Bastards! If I have one pet peeve about food it's that labeling is too loosely regulated. Consumers should have all the tools at hand to determine what's in the food they are putting into their bodies and their children's. Isn't this simple, people? Geez.

Anyway, they went on to list all ingredients that *always* contain MSG:
  • Autolyzed Yeast
  • Calcium Caseinate
  • Gelatin Glutamate
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Hydrolyzed Protein
  • Monopotassium Glutamate
  • Monosodium Glutamate
  • Sodium Caseinate
  • Textured Protein
  • Yeast Extract
  • Yeast Food
  • Yeast Nutrient
Now you know. Make yourself a tiny little printout of this and put it in your wallet so when you're at the grocery store, you can use it as a reference. Yes, we are getting older. These are the things we have to do when our memories start going. :)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

20 Best Brain Foods

I caught this great article in EcoSalon, which is VivaTerra's blog, and thought I'd summarize for those of you who don't feel like reading it. For the rest of you, I'm linking to the article. Most of these are obvious, but some are worth reading more about, getting the caveats and finding out whether or not organic is worth it. (Free Trade is always worth it!)

Read up, eat up and brain up, my friends:
1. Avocado
2. Blueberries
3. Wild Alaskan Salmon
4. Nuts
5. Seeds
6. Coffee
7. Oatmeal
8. Beans
9. Pomegranate
10. Brown Rice
11. Tea
12. Chocolate
13. Oysters
14. Olive Oil
15. Tuna
16. Garlic
17. Eggs
18. Green leafy vegetables
19. Tomatoes
20. Cacao nibs

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Nonstick chemical = infertility? YIKES!

I'm sure by now you've heard that nonstick pans can emit a harmful chemical when heated at a high temperature. I know it's been implicated in killing pet birds and I got rid of all but one of my nonstick pans years ago (need one for eggs; just can't make them in stainless!).

Dupont, which manufactures Teflon, has stopped using the offending perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), however, they are still in use, only being phased out by 2015. A study was conducted in Denmark recently -- funded by 3M, interestingly -- that concluded that commonly found levels of PFCs can result in higher rates of infertility in women. Scary, but really, not that surprising. These chemicals are known to be hormone disruptors, after all.

The lesson to take away from this is simple: Just stay away from things that repel water, grease, wrinkles, etc. This is the PFC family's claim to fame. That means avoid wrinkle-resistant clothing, fast food (they coat the packaging with PFCs so it doesn't get greasy looking), Scotchgard, stain-resistant fabrics, carpets, etc. and obviously, nonstick pans. The solution to the latter is a nice sturdy Lodge pan that only gets better over time.