A Doctor’s Plea
What if I told you there were common FDA-approved ingredients that increase symptoms of fatigue, brain fog, dementia, digestive distress, Multiple Sclerosis, brain tumors, and diabetes? Look around. Do you ever wonder why so many people – perhaps yourself included – suffer from difficulty losing weight, dizziness, erratic mood swings, muscle aches, migraine headaches, and other bizarre symptoms?
After you review this information for yourself, I urge you to share this article with friends and family. What you will learn here could help a loved one.
What is Aspartame?
The artificial sweetener, aspartame (also called NutraSweet® or Equal®) is a low-calorie additive that is common in diet sodas, energy drinks, sugar-free candies, sugar-free gum, and even some medicines. Aspartame is 200 times sweeter than table sugar and tricks your taste buds into thinking you are eating real sugar.
What is MSG?
MSG stands for monosodium glutamate. It is a flavor enhancer that many people think of as being only in Chinese food. However, MSG is actually very common. It’s found in: soups, sauces, seasonings, processed meats, potato chips, fast food, and other snacks. MSG gives food a savory flavor (called umami), activates pleasure centers in your brain, overrides your sense of satiety (feeling full), and makes you want more of that food.
How are MSG and Aspartame related?
If you’re sensitive to one, you’re generally sensitive to both food additives. This is because aspartic acid (from aspartame) and glutamic acid (from MSG) can both stimulate a receptor in the brain called the NMDA receptor (n methyl d aspartate). Chronic overstimulation of the NMDA receptor over time is neurotoxic! As Dr. Russell Blaylock explains in his book, Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills , aspartame and MSG excite brain cells to the point that they die.
The Harmful Effects of Aspartame and MSG
Unfortunately, just because a food is approved by the FDA does not mean it is safe to consume. Aspartame and MSG are approved as food ingredients by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and categorized as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS). This single claim that aspartame and MSG are “safe” has led people to consume these ingredients freely. The public is blissfully unaware of the additives’ side effects. If you’re interested, research the relationship between aspartame and the FDA. It is controversial to say the least.
How do Aspartame and MSG Harm the Body?
Dr. David Ludwig is an endocrinologist and professor of nutrition at Harvard Medical School. In an interview with the reputable news source, Vice, he explains how aspartame and MSG work: “‘Artificial sweeteners bind the sweet taste receptor hundreds of thousands of times more potently than sugar itself.’” Think about that. These ingredients react in a way that’s hundreds of thousands of times different than the way nature intended.
Think about it! We preach, at the Care Group, that you should eat nutrient dense whole foods. Usually, food additives do nothing to promote your health.
Given the excitotoxic properties of aspartame and MSG, it should come as no surprise that some people report bizarre symptoms after eating these ingredients. Despite sweeping safety claims from regulatory agencies, my clinical experience as well as studies published in peer-reviewed journals suggest otherwise.
Even the FDA itself points to evidence that MSG is harmful. The FDA website cites an independent scientific review reporting that high consumption of MSG in sensitive individuals may trigger headaches, numbness, flushing, tingling, heart palpitations, and drowsiness. MSG has also been shown in placebo-controlled trials to trigger asthma attacks as well as headache, jaw pain, and temporary rise high blood pressure.
In the case of aspartame, it is often recommended as a sugar substitute for patients with diabetes or at risk of diabetes. Yet, a study of nearly 7,000 people in the United States found that consumption of diet soda increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 67%. Aspartame has been reported to trigger symptoms that mimic fibromyalgia and has been linked to mood, memory, and behavioral problems . A 2014 review of the scientific literature concluded that aspartame has carcinogenic (cancer-causing) potential and should be considered an “urgent matter of public health.”
Remember, if you’re sensitive to aspartic acid, you’re going to be sensitive to glutamic acid as well. Aspartame is a little easier to avoid because it is usually on the label, whereas MSG can be found in a lot of food additives. Download our guide to review common names for MSG and which sweeteners have aspartame.
The Care Group’s Clinical Experience
In 33 years of private practice, I have guided hundreds of patients to eliminate MSG and aspartame from their diets. Almost daily, our practice sees a patient who claims “I got my life back” after eliminating aspartame and MSG. Here is another example of a patient whose life was changed after removing MSG and aspartame from his diet:
How to Avoid Aspartame and MSG
The best way to stay away from toxic food additives is to focus on a diet full of nutrient dense “whole foods.” Avoid pre-packaged and processed foods. If you’re still concerned with how to eliminate MSG and aspartame, download our guide below or come see us. You can schedule an appointment at 303.343.3121.
If you found this article interesting, please forward it to a friend. We are on a healing mission.
Related Published Research:
Allen DH, Delohery J, Baker G. Monosodium L-glutamate-induced asthma. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1987;80 (4):530-537.
Chattopadhyay S, Raychaudhuri U, Chakraborty R. Artificial sweeteners – a review. J Food Sci Technol. 2014;51 (4):611-621.
Choudhary AK, Lee YY. Neurophysiological symptoms and aspartame: What is the connection. Nutr Neurosci. 2017:1-11.
Choudhary AK, Pretorius E. Revisiting the safety of aspartame. Nutr Rev. 2017;75 (9):718-730.
Ciappuccini R, Ansemant T, Maillefert JF, Tavernier C, Ornetti P. Aspartame-induced fibromyalgia, an unusual but curable cause of chronic pain. Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2010;28 (6 Suppl 63):S131-3.
Lindseth GN, Coolahan SE, Petros TV, Lindseth PD. Neurobehavioral effects of aspartame consumption. Res Nurs Health. 2014;37 (3):185-193.
Maluly HDB, Arisseto-Bragotto AP, Reyes FGR. Monosodium glutamate as a tool to reduce sodium in foodstuffs: Technological and safety aspects. Food Sci Nutr. 2017;5 (6):1039-1048.
Nettleton JA, Lutsey PL, Wang Y, Lima JA, Michos ED, Jacobs DR. Diet soda intake and risk of incident metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Diabetes Care. 2009;32 (4):688-694.
Olney JW. Excitotoxins in foods. Neurotoxicology. 1994;15 (3):535-544.
Shimada A, Cairns BE, Vad N et al. Headache and mechanical sensitization of human pericranial muscles after repeated intake of monosodium glutamate (MSG). J Headache Pain. 2013;14 2.
Soffritti M, Padovani M, Tibaldi E, Falcioni L, Manservisi F, Belpoggi F. The carcinogenic effects of aspartame: The urgent need for regulatory re-evaluation. Am J Ind Med. 2014;57 (4):383-397.
Stegink LD, Filer LJ, Baker GL. Plasma amino acid concentrations in normal adults ingesting aspartame and monosodium L-glutamate as part of a soup/beverage meal. Metabolism. 1987;36 (11):1073-1079.
Van den Eeden SK, Koepsell TD, Longstreth WT, van Belle G, Daling JR, McKnight B. Aspartame ingestion and headaches: a randomized crossover trial. Neurology. 1994;44 (10):1787-1793.
Walton RG, Hudak R, Green-Waite RJ. Adverse reactions to aspartame: double-blind challenge in patients from a vulnerable population. Biol Psychiatry. 1993;34 (1-2):13-17.
Questions and Answers on Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). Food and Drug Administratin (FDA) Web site.https://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/FoodAdditivesIngredients/ucm328728.htm. Updated November 19, 2012. Accessed April 6, 2018.
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About The Care Group: We promote optimal wellness by providing an individualized, functional medicine approach to address root causes rather than simply treating symptoms. We help patients with a wide range of issues including autoimmune/ inflammatory disease, digestive disorders, hormone imbalances, and mood disorders. To learn more about our practice, click here.
About the Author: Dr. Gerard Guillory, MD is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and has published two books on Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). In 1985, he opened The Care Group, PC. Today, his clinic is a Primary Care facility that is a hybrid of functional and traditional medicine treating patients with digestive disorders, autoimmune disease, and other conditions. You can learn more about Dr. Guillory here.