Our current food supply contains many neurotoxic compounds (neurotoxins) that “damage, destroy, or impair the functioning of the central and/or peripheral nervous system” and slowly erode our health.
These nerve toxins, immunotoxins, and neurochemical and hormone disruptors harm or damage nervous systems neurons in the brains and body communication centers.
These neurotoxins are commonly found in processed and ultra-processed foods, including those packaged, chipped, or crisped, due to the chemicals added during processing or those leaching into the foods from plastic and other packaging. A synergy of harm occurs when these chemicals are combined from multiple sources.
Many children today eat half their calories as processed items from packages, boxes, plastic bottles and other ‘fast food.’ They may look and taste appetizing, but they contain chemicals that addict both your taste buds and brain to crave more, leading to an epidemic of obesity and ill health. These products contain little nutrition, and their neurotoxins often trigger immune responses that lead to repair deficit known also as inflammation.
These toxins act in the body as anti-nutrients, so we need to take action to restore and maintain optimal health. First, we need to avoid these chemicals as much as possible by choosing whole and healthy options rather than processed and ultra-processed “foods.” Next, we need to combat the antinutrients we encounter by adding more antioxidants, minerals, and cofactors to our diets.
Let’s look more closely at the effects of these neurotoxins on our bodies, and specifically which chemicals to avoid.
Many additives, preservatives, taste modifiers, and colorants can adversely affect our health, with specific symptoms dependent ion toxin type as well as amount and frequency of exposure. The effects can be acute or chronic.
Acute exposure to neurotoxins can cause the rapid onset of symptoms, such as:
- Headache and dizziness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fatigue, muscle weakness
- Twitching or spasms
- Loss of consciousness
- Respiratory distress
- Cardiac arrest
Chronic neurotoxin exposure can be more challenging to recognize, as symptoms are more subtle. They are similar to the acute symptoms but in milder forms:
- Chronic headaches and fatigue
- Memory problems or cognitive impairment
- Mood changes including depression or anxiety
- Difficulty concentrating or focusing
- Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
- Vision or hearing problems
- Breathing problems including asthma or bronchitis
Neurotoxins in Food and How to Avoid Them
This artificial sweetener is commonly used as a sugar substitute in various foods and beverages labeled “sugar-free” or “diet.” You may also be familiar with aspartame in the Equal®, NutraSweet®, or Sugar Twin® packets found on many restaurant tables. In the body, aspartame breaks down to methanol and phenylalanine, and is associated with all the chronic symptoms noted above. Aspartame can also trigger or worsen symptoms associated with diabetes, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.
Start with the labels. To avoid artificial sweeteners in your diet, avoid products with “aspartame,” and aspartame-containing products such as “Canderel®” and “Hermesetas Gold.” “Neotame” is chemically derived from aspartame, so should also be avoided. Other chemically-derived artificial sweeteners such as sucralose (Splenda®) and acesulfame potassium (AceK, Sunett® or Sweet One®) should also be avoided. You are sweet enough as you are. No need for added sugar nor artificial sweeteners. Natural sweetness comes from berries, whole fruit, and savory herbs.
- MSG (monosodium glutamate)
MSG is an excitoneurotoxin that is commonly used as a flavor enhancer in processed foods. MSG is made from sodium and glutamate, an important brain neurotransmitter. MSG may be listed as monosodium glutamate, but it can also be hidden and not specifically listed, so read labels carefully. “Hydrolyzed proteins” may contain MSG as a byproduct of the hydrolyzation process. Soy milk is naturally high in glutamate and often has hydrolyzed vegetable protein added to it. Kombu, miso, and soy sauces all contain MSG. You can choose organic or biodynamic herbs and spices to flavor your food. Experimenting with different combinations can be fun. Lastly, be cautious when eating out; inquire if MSG is used in the restaurant.
Popcorn is one of America’s favorite low-calorie, high-fiber snacks. Artificial butter flavor, diacetyl, is a nasty neurotoxin. Diacetyl is linked to serious respiratory issues that cause inflammation and obstruction in the lungs’ small airways, leading to bronchitis with coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Diacetyl crosses the blood-brain barrier, adds to oxidative stress, and damages DNA. Check the labels if you’re purchasing microwavable or pre-popped popcorn. Several brands are available that don’t have diacetyl. While diacetyl free brands such as Quinn, Boom Chicka Pop, and Lesser Evil are better, we recommend oil-free organic popcorn. Air-popped homemade popcorn is delicious, healthy, and fun.
- Toxic minerals: Mercury, cadmium, arsenic, lead, and nickel
These toxic, naturally occurring, minerals can cause developmental issues, peripheral neuropathy, and cognitive decline, among other neurological effects. They can get into our food supply through industrial and agricultural processing, water contamination, bioaccumulation in plants and animals, and in final food processing.
While eating fish can be a part of a healthy, balanced diet, too many fish are high in mercury and other toxic minerals. The most toxic are those higher on the food chain such as swordfish, king mackerel, shark, and tuna. Choose lower-mercury fish such as salmon, trout, and sardines. Remove skin and fat from all fish, as mercury tends to accumulate in fatty tissue. Although farmed fish may have lower mercury levels, we recommend avoiding them completely, as they are more likely to have parasites and diseases, and are thus fed antibiotics, along with an unnatural diet of corn, soy, and vegetable oils.
The other toxic minerals can be found in pesticide residues on non-organic produce, in animal fats, unsafe cookware, and in the variety of chemical additives in processed foods. That is one of the reasons we always recommend choosing organic produce and safer cookware and avoiding processed and ultra-processed foods.
Biodetoxification is required to help remove the toxic minerals that do make their way into your body. This includes GGOBE (garlic, ginger, onions, broccoli sprouts, and eggs), nature’s ascorbate, PERQUE Potent C Guard™, PERQUE Mg Plus Guard™ and PERQUE Choline Citrate™, along with the products discussed in the “Detoxify your Body” section below.
Exposure to aluminum can occur through foods such as baking powder, commercial pickled vegetables, canned goods, processed cheese, and consumer products. Aluminum interferes with various cellular processes and causes oxidative stress, inflammation, and damage to nerve cells. It has been linked to several neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and ALS.
You can greatly reduce exposure by using traditional cookware (rather than aluminum-clad pans), and avoiding antacids, baking powder, and the many cosmetics and personal care products that often contain aluminum. Switch out cosmetics and personal care products including antiperspirants, deodorants, and mouth care for aluminum-free alternatives.
An increasingly common GMO biocide that is known to harm people is now found in most commercial grains, cow dairy, meat and poultry. It’s the most widely used herbicide in the world and can persist in the environment for months. In the body, it has a toxic effect on neurotransmission and can lead to neuronal death through a variety of processes. At levels below those set by regulatory agencies, glyphosate has been shown to alter both the structure and function of the nervous systems of humans and other animals. It also depletes magnesium and interferes with essential amino acid production which most people need more to meet their metabolic needs. Thus there is a greater need to supplement magnesium as a result.
Detoxify your Body
Sometimes the body’s detoxification systems can get overwhelmed, and simply avoiding the bad and eating more of the good is not enough. The PERQUE® Detox Program can help to strengthen the organs involved in detoxification, including the liver, lungs, kidneys, skin, and lymphatic system. Getting plenty of water and moving the body through exercise are two additional steps you can take to support detoxification.
The PERQUE Detox program includes four products that work together synergistically to provide natural, multi-system detoxification:
PERQUE Detox IN Guard™ contains a unique blend of sulfur amino acids, lipotropic factors and minerals that support all of the body’s detoxification pathways (Phases I, II and III).
PERQUE Liva Guard Forté™ is a liver-protecting formula that combines five carotenoids, pure silymarin (milk thistle), vitamin E, CoQ10, methionine and glutathione.
PERQUE Potent C Guard™ buffered l-ascorbate powder helps strengthen, repair and energize the immune system while mobilizing and removing harmful toxins from the body.
PERQUE EPA/DHA Guard™ contains Omega 3 fatty acids, which are extremely helpful in improving antioxidant absorption, dissolving fat soluble toxins and repairing cell membrane fluidity.
For more tips and tricks on a full detoxification program, consider reading or reviewing “Start the Year with a Detox Plan,” in our blog. It suggests other foods and drinks to avoid, as well as some additional lifestyle tips to avoid inflammation and enhance repair. Watch Dr. Jaffe’s webinar on “Functional Detoxification” for an even deeper dive. LRA by ELISA/ACT® testing can help you identify additional compounds to avoid if your immune system reacts to them.
Renew Your Brain and Body
It is vital to understand neurotoxins’ effects on the brain and body and learn how to avoid them. By making conscious choices about the foods and beverages we consume we can minimize our exposure to these harmful substances and promote better brain and body functions. Personalized testing and lifestyle plans promote health and prevent illness are required to thrive in the 21st century. Choosing organic or biodynamic; locally grown or home grown can greatly improve your health and reduce your risks.
Books and Resources by Dr. Russell Jaffe & others:
Did you enjoy this post? We post new content regularly! Click here to see our latest blog posts.