Fast Food Linked to Dead Brain Cells, Memory Loss and Brain Tumors



Written by: Sara Wylie

Have you ever wondered just what it is about some foods (diet sodas, fast food, crackers, ramen, etc.) that makes them so ridiculously addicting?

I found out for myself just the other day what the “addictive” factor of some foods is and for some odd reason, it was something I’d never even heard of before…  

It’s because of certain culprits known as excitotoxins.

What Are Excitotoxins?

Excitotoxins are chemicals that over-stimulate or “excite” your neuron receptors. Your neuron receptors are basically the part of your body that are responsible for the communication between all of the cells in your brain.

When these neuron receptors get overwhelmed by excitotoxins, the neurons get sent into “rapid-fire mode” and start moving too fast to the point that they eventually wear out and run themselves to death (literally).   

The rapid fire and death of these neurons can have a significant impact on your body, because most of the neurons that are affected come from you hypothalamus and temporal lobes, the areas of your brain responsible for behavior, emotions, puberty, immunity and sleep cycles.

Why Are Excitotoxins Used?

When it comes to making a financially “successful” food product or restaurant chain, one of the biggest tactics that can either make or break a business is how well it grabs its consumers. That’s where excitotoxins become very valuable and attractive to many businesses because, while excitotoxins do directly impact your neuron receptors, they also have a particularly stimulating effect on your taste buds.

In other words, when there are excitotoxins included in a food, the moment that food makes contact with your tongue and the excitotoxins are set loose, the taste of that food is instantly enhanced, making you want, or even crave for more.

A pretty nasty trick, eh?

Why Excitotoxins Are Sparking Concern

For the most part, food manufacturers will insist that excitotoxins are safe and that there’s no reason to bother about them, but recently research and evidence has come about that has been telling scientists and health specialists otherwise.

For instance, in the Department of Psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine, a study was done to see what effects common excitotoxins (such as glutamate) had on the human brain. It was found that the overconsumption of these chemicals could increase excitotoxicity sensitivity, particularly in younger minds and some significant brain damage to older minds, often leading to memory impairment or even, death.

Certainly not the most redeeming results for the little varmints.

Many other studies were also done by Dr. John Olney, who was a  medical doctor and professor at Washington State University of Medicine.

In one study, Olney tested the safety of certain excitotoxins on both humans and animals. He found that the chemicals actually were a potential threat to young, developing nervous systems and also discovered that, even though the blood brain barrier is there to protect your brain, there are certain regions of the mind that aren’t able to keep the excitotoxin chemicals out, further proving their ability to cause brain damage.

In another study, Olney did some further tests on mice to see just what parts of the brain were at risk of excitotoxin chemicals, focusing mainly on monosodium glutamate (MSG). Injecting the mice with this chemical caused neuronal necrosis in their minds, noticeably in the hypothalamus area. There were also signs of stunted skeletal growth in the mice along with marked obesity and female sterility. He also noted how the endocrine system suffered negative effects as well.

Further tests in Olney’s studies even went on to see if the rising brain tumor rates had any relation to the use of excitotoxins, particularly aspartame. Should it be surprising that there was actually an “exceedingly high incidence” of brain tumors in the rats used for the study?

The list of studies done on excitotoxin chemicals could go on and on, but just these few studies alone show that these commonly used chemicals really are not as safe as they are claimed to be. With the threat of brain damage, hormonal disorders, cell death, behavioral issues, infertility, etc., it’s really time to start rising up against such small, seemingly harmless chemicals and protecting your own mind and overall health.

What Do You Do?

Because excitotoxins are present in many of today’s common foods, the best mode of defense against the overconsumption of them is knowledge – know what the most prevalent excitotoxins are and their many names and what foods contain them. You will then be armed with what you need to start avoiding them.

To help you get started, here is a list of the 6 most dangerous excitotoxins out there that you should start avoiding:

1. MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) – MSG is the salt form of glutamate and is one of the most brain-threatening excitotoxins out there. It has no trouble crossing the blood brain barrier, leaving it to wreak havoc on brain cells and cause cell death. It has also been a known to be a cause of headaches for decades.

Of all the excitotoxins, MSG is also one of the most sneaky. In other words, don’t be fooled if a product says “MSG-Free.” Here are some of the other names MSG is known by:

  • Natural Flavor(s)
  • Flavoring
  • Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein
  • Autolyzed Protein
  • Plant Protein
  • Textured Protein
  • Yeast Extract
  • Nutritional Yeast
  • Carrageenan
  • Anything with Glutamate


2. Aspartame Also known as aspartic acid, this excitotoxin triggers the part within cells (NMDA receptors) that causes cell death. It works very similarly to MSGs and is also a very prevalent sweetener often used in chewing gum, diet soda, etc. This particular excitotoxin has been linked to headaches, sleep disorders and seizures.

3. Domoic Acid This is a non-essential amino acid that occurs naturally in shellfish. Though this excitotoxin is more natural, it’s still been known to cause health problems, such as the development of epilepsy in the elderly.

When eating seafood, be sure to stick to wild-caught options as often as you can and partake in a variety of different fish – salmon, tuna, trout, etc. Eating wild-caught keeps your consumption of omega-3 fatty acids safe and excitotoxin and pollutant-free.

4. L-BOAA Also known as ODAP, this excitotoxin is another naturally occurring chemical found in grass peas and other plants/foods of that nature. This one also works similarly to glutamate and the overconsumption of it has been known to hinder motor function, even leading to paralysis in severe cases.

5. Cysteine Unlike its natural-occurring predecessors, cysteine is actually an excitotoxin that is created by the hydrolysis (chemical breakdown) of human hair and poultry feathers. It is used in a process known as the Maillard reaction to make artificial flavors, particularly for meaty, savory flavors.

Having been known to be a causing factor of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, this particular excitotoxin is unnatural and only gives another significant (and repulsive) reason to avoid artificial flavoring at all costs.

6. Casein This excitotoxin is a highly naturally occurring chemical in cheese. Because a portion of casein is composed of glutamic acid, it’s able to improve and add flavor to anything it’s included in. Most commonly though, it is used to increase protein levels in fitness products.

Excitotoxins – another hindering factor in this trippy battle of finding the most healthy, natural foods in today’s world, as well as another piece of evidence that your personal health is not in the food industry’s best interest. Keep yourself and your family safe by taking this additional step towards health and vitality and avoid these damaging chemicals as often and as avidly as possible.   

Do you know of any tips on how you can successfully keep excitotoxins out of your home and your diet? Feel free to share in the comments below!



Sara Wylie

Sara Wylie

Editorial Intern at
Sara Wylie resides in Utah where she is currently working as an Editorial Intern for while also pursuing a career in writing. She hopes that through her words and fiery passion, she will be able to not only inspire others to seek out and nourish their own passions, but to also help others feel what it’s like to truly be alive.
Sara Wylie


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