Tag Archives: Monosodium glutamate

Foods That Chronic Pain Sufferers Should Avoid

is a pervasive issue and fibromyalgia is a very common form. It is a chronic condition whose symptoms include muscle and tissue pain, fatigue, depression, and sleep disturbances.
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Recent data suggests that central sensitization, in which neurons in your spinal cord become sensitized by inflammation or cell damage, may be involved in the way fibromyalgia sufferers process pain.

Certain chemicals in the foods you eat may trigger the release of neurotransmitters that heighten this sensitivity.

Although there have been only a handful of studies on diet and fibromyalgia, the following eating rules can’t hurt, and may help, when dealing with chronic pain.

Limit Sugar as Much as Possible. Increased insulin levels will typically dramatically worsen pain. So you will want to limit all sugars and this would typically include fresh fruit juices. Whole fresh fruit is the preferred method for consuming fruit products.

If you are overweight, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, you will also want to limit grains as much as possible as they are metabolized very similarly to sugars. This would also include organic unprocessed grains. Wheat and gluten grains are the top ones to avoid.

Eat fresh foods. Eating a diet of fresh foods, devoid of preservatives and additives, may ease symptoms triggered by coexisting conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

It’s also a good idea to buy organic food when possible, as it’s best to avoid pesticides and chemicals. However, fresh is best. So if you have to choose between local, fresh, non-organic and organic but wilting – go with fresh, and clean properly.

Avoid caffeine. Fibromyalgia is believed to be linked to an imbalance of brain chemicals that control mood, and it is often linked with inadequate sleep and fatigue. The temptation is to artificially and temporarily eliminate feelings of fatigue with stimulants like caffeine, but this approach does more harm than good in the long run. Though caffeine provides an initial boost of energy, it is no substitute for sleep, and is likely to keep you awake.

Try avoiding nightshade vegetables. Nightshade vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant may trigger arthritis and pain conditions in some people.

Be Careful with Your Fats. Animal based omega-3 fats like DHA and EPA have been touted as a heart-healthy food, and they may help with pain, as well. They can help reduce inflammation and improve brain function. At the same time, you want to eliminate all trans fat and fried foods, as these will promote inflammation.

Use yeast sparingly. Consuming yeast may also contribute to the growth of yeast fungus, which can contribute to pain.

Avoid pasteurized dairy. Many fibromyalgia sufferers have trouble digesting milk and dairy products. However, many find that raw dairy products, especially from grass fed organic sources, are well tolerated.

Cut down on carbs. About 90 percent of fibromyalgia patients have low adrenal functioning, which affects metabolism of carbohydrates and may lead to hypoglycemia.

Avoid aspartame. The artificial sweetener found in some diet sodas and many sugar-free sweets is part of a chemical group called excitotoxins, which activate neurons that can increase your sensitivity to pain.

Avoid additives. Food additives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) often cause trouble for pain patients. MSG is an excitatory neurotransmitter that may stimulate pain receptors; glutamate levels in spinal fluid have been shown to correlate with pain levels in fibromyalgia patients.

Stay away from junk food. Limit or eliminate fast food, candy, and vending-machine products. In addition to contributing to weight gain and the development of unhealthy eating habits, these diet-wreckers may also irritate your muscles, disrupt your sleep, and compromise your immune system.

Resources:
Health.com 2008
Health.com 2007
National Fibromyalgia Association

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Food Additives to Remove From Your Diet

Many food additives have been studied and linked to various diseases. Becoming informed about the additives in everyday food items can make for an easier shopping experience and healthier food for everyone.

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Here’s a list of some of the most medically questionable and harmful additives in everyday foods:

1.Sodium nitrite
2.BHA & BHT
3.Propyl gallate
4.Monosodium glutamate
5.Trans fats
6.Aspartame
7.Acesulfame-K
8.Food colorings (Blue, Red, Green, Yellow)
9.Olestra
10.Potassium bromate
11.White sugar
12.Sodium chloride (salt)
Since some of these may not be familiar to you, sodium nitrite is a preservative added most commonly to bacon, ham, hot dogs, sandwich meats, and smoked fish. BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are other preservatives added to foods like cereal, gum, potato chips, and vegetable oils. Propyl gallate is found in meats, chicken soup base, and gum. All of these preservatives have been linked to cancer.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) can cause migraines and other adverse effects. Trans fats are being eliminated from most foods, as the studies linking them to heart disease, strokes, and kidney problems are widely accepted.

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener found in products like NutraSweet and Equal as well as diet foods and soft drinks. And acesulfame-K is a newer sweetener used in soft drinks and some baked goods.

Many food colorings have been banned by the FDA, but some can still be found in foods that require a particular color. Olestra was common for a time in potato chips as an additive that prevented fat from being absorbed in your digestive system. Food colorings have been tied to cancer and Olestra also blocks vitamins from being processed.

Potassium bromate is sometimes added to white flour, breads, and rolls to increase the volume of the products, but it has cancer-causing properties that have prompted some states in America to actually require a label to that effect.

Finally, white sugar and sodium chloride (salt) can be dangerous if not kept to a minimum.

Source: Health News June 29, 2009

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New Chemical Alternative to MSG That is Coming Soon

For anyone who’s ever wanted the savory taste of meats and cheeses without actually having to eat them, chemists have identified molecular mechanisms underlying the sensation of umami, also known as the fifth taste.

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The historically unappreciated taste is produced by two interacting sets of molecules, each of which is needed to trigger cellular receptors on your tongue’s surface.

“This opens the door to designing better, more potent and more selective umami enhancers,” said Xiaodong Li, a chemist at San Diego-based food-additive company Senomyx.

Four other basic tastes — bitter, sweet, salty and sour — were identified 2,400 years ago by the Greek philosopher Democritus, and became central to the western gastronomic canon.

In the late 19th century, French chef and veal-stock inventor Auguste Escoffier suggested that a fifth taste was responsible for his mouth-watering brew. Though Escoffier’s dishes were popular, his theories were dismissed until 1908, when Japanese chemist Kikunae Ikeda showed that an amino acid called glutamate underlies the taste of a hearty variety of seaweed soup.

In honor of Ikeda, the taste was dubbed umami, the Japanese word for delicious. It took another 80 years for umami to be recognized by science as comparable to the other four tastes.

In the meantime, monosodium glutamate became wildly popular as a flavor enhancer. But MSG can cause headaches and dizziness, and has been tenuously linked to long-term neurological disorders.

“The only way to have a substitute is to find the molecular target of glutamate. If we figure that out, then we can screen for agents that are not glutamate but could mimic it,” said Johns Hopkins University neuroscientist Solomon Snyder, who was not involved in the new study.

Li’s team have taken human kidney cells and added the genes for receptors linked to umami taste. Receptors form on the cells’ surface, geometrically resembling the mouth of a Venus flytrap. When glutamate is caught on a receptor’s lips and a molecule called ribonucleotide lodged in its throat, the receptor snaps shut.

“The configuration of the receptor changes, sending a signal down into the cell,” said Li. In their engineered and disconnected cells the signal quickly fizzled — but in a tongue surface cell, said Li, “Your brain gets a signal: Something tastes good that is in my mouth.”
Sources:

WIRED December 22, 2008
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences December 22, 2008

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