Related Topics: Bioidentical Hormones, Features, General, Nutrition

Why A Supermarket Is A Hormonal Mine Field, Part One

So many things impact our hormones, and a trip to the supermarket can be problematic. There is no food substitute for natural progesterone,but there are plenty of hormone disruptors on the shelves you need to be aware of if you want your hormones to stay in balance.

Dr Jeffrey Dach

Recently, I went shopping with my 11 year old nephew, and was shocked and unprepared for the experience.  Like other kids his age, he preferred diet sodas containing aspartame and brominated vegetable oil (BVO).  He also preferred processed foods high in MSG.

The Problem With Diet Drinks And Aspartame

I found myself protesting his choices, explaining the dangers of food additives, and removing these items from the shopping cart as fast I could.  These food additives are harmful to health, and represent a minefield at the Supermarket waiting for the unsuspecting consumer.

Since the 1981 approval as a food additive, aspartame has the dubious honor of the most complaints reported to the FDA’s Adverse Reaction Monitoring System, accounting for 75 per cent of all complaints. Aspartame is a chemical sweetener in diet sodas such as diet Coke and Diet Pepsi with names such as Nutrasweet, Equal, etc.  Little packets of aspartame are placed on the tables at restaurants for use as a coffee sweetener instead of sugar.

The Cancer and Obesity Links

The Aspartame industry has sponsored 74 aspartame safety studies, all showing Apartame consumption is safe.  When studies are done privately, with no connection to the aspartame industry or the FDA,    89 of 90 aspartame safety studies identified problems with aspartame use. A disturbing 2007 study by Soffritti at the Ramazzini Institute in Italy showed aspartame to be a multipotential carcinogen.

Many people drink diet sodas thinking this will help lose weight.  A recent study shows this is a fallacy, finding a 41% increased risk of being overweight for every can or bottle of diet soft drink consumed daily.   The sweetener aspartame activates receptors in the brain to expect sugar (glucose), when none is forthcoming, the aspartame user merely increases junk food and sugar intake.
Aspartame and MSG: their Links to Fibromyalgia and Neurological Complaints

Forty years ago, my earliest experience with MSG during medical school was a headache after eating at a chinese restaurant.  The MSG causes the Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.  Since my old medical school days, MSG has been added to thousands of products at the supermarket, and virtually all forms of fast food.  Much of this MSG is hidden and does not appear on the label.

MSG stands for mono sodium glutamate. Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain, and upregulation of the Glutamate pathway leads to neuron cell damage and cell death. MSG is associated with lesions in the hypothalamus, directly causes obesity, and a host of somatic and neurological symptoms. Rat studies show that MSG is a direct cause of obesity.  Is our obesity epidemic caused by increased MSG consumption in the population?

A new problem with MSG is that many of the sources are hidden.  In other words, the processed food contains MSG in some form, yet the name MSG does not appear on the label.  MSG is present in in all Fast Foods, including Burger King, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizzas, Wendy’s etc.

Both Aspartame and MSG are excitatory neurotoxins.  When aspartame and MSG are consumed together, as commonly found with fast food and diet sodas in the same meal, there can be a double whammy effect.  A 2001 report describes four patients with fibromyalgia syndrome unresponsive to medical treatment. These four patients noted complete resolution of chronic pain upon removing aspartame and MSG from the diet.

In addition, a lengthy list of medical and neurological symptoms are associated with MSG and aspartame.  One syndrome includes slurred speech which looks like a TIA (transient ischemic attack).  This usually resolves after elimination of MSG and aspartame from the diet.

A 1981 study by Dhindsa showed that MSG administered to lab rats caused marked hypothyroidism with striking histology changes in the thyroid gland.(10)

BVO- Brominated Vegetable Oil

Bromine (BVO) is a toxic substance added to sodas such as Mountain Dew, Gatorade, Powerade, Pineapple and Orange Fanta, Sun Drop, Squirt and Fresca.  Bromine directly competes with Iodine in the body causing thyroid problems and Iodine deficiency states.
BVO has been banned in India.

The FDA is an agency of our government, and like all other agencies, is infiltrated and corrupted by corporate lobbyists.  Rather than an agency for the people, the FDA is an agency of the large corporations that manufacture the food additives. The safety studies are manipulated to get FDA approval. And that’s why the FDA cannot protect the American public from harmful food additives at our supermarket.

In Conclusion- Avoid the Minefield at the Supermarket

We have merely scratched the surface of harmful food additives to avoid at the Supermarket, concentrating on the excitatory neurotoxins Aspartame and MSG. Others, such as Trans Fats, and GMO foods are harmful to our health and should also be avoided.

All these additives are potential hormone disruptors and a healthy hormone balance is essential throughout life to protect against the stress these chemicals place on our system.

Further reading:

Part Two of Dr Dach’s article focusing on soy and its potential problems for women will appear on 19 April.  To read more on his work please visit his website at www.jeffreydach.comand if you have any questions or comments on his articles you can contact him via the website.

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Mother and Baby Mom and Baby Community | 3:46 pm, May 14th, 2013

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John E. Garst, Ph.D. (Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Nutrition) | 8:13 pm, April 12th, 2013

These safety claims against aspartame are completely wrong. Over 90 regulatory authorities worldwide have examined aspartame and over twenty+ years found no safety problems when used as directed. But if you don’t believe them, believe these facts.

Aspartame is degraded in the GI tract to its three constituents, phenylalanine, aspartate and methanol. Phenylalanine and aspartate are found in greater concentrations in normal foods, like milk and meat. Wurtman completely refuted his own earlier, but widely cited allegation, that phenylalanine or aspartame caused any problem with their conclusion: “Large daily doses of aspartame had no effect on neuropsychologic, neurophysiologic, or behavioral functioning in healthy young adults,”

Only methanol amongst aspartame degradation products presents any risk to normal people and, since all risk is dose-dependent, at the concentrations involved, methanol presents no risk. Methanol is oxidized to formaldehyde and formate–both are chemically directly converted by the (tetrahydro)folate vitamin system into very valuable methyl groups. These substances and the methyl groups produced detoxify really toxic homocysteine (see Wikipedia) and protect DNA (by converting uracil to thymine). For more on this cycle see the figure at the top of p 3000 here,

To reiterate the point that formate and formaldehyde pose little risk at the doses involved, note that these substances are [quoting another] “produced in the body during the endogenous demethylation of many compounds, including many foods [fruit juices] and drugs. For example, the demethylation of the caffeine found in one cup of coffee produces 30 mg of formaldehyde (Imbus, 1988). Formaldehyde is essential in one-carbon pool intermediary metabolism. The metabolite of formaldehyde, formic acid, is a substrate for purine nucleotide synthesis (Sheehan and Tully, 1983). It can be calculated that more than 50,000 mg [that’s 50 g] of formaldehyde is produced and metabolized in an adult human body daily and that an adult human liver will metabolize 22 mg of formaldehyde per minute (Clary and Sullivan, 1999). Consequently, it is quite clear that the formaldehyde from aspartame provides a trivial contribution to total formaldehyde exposure and metabolism in the body” (p 18 in and refs from

Clearly any issue with aspartame is a purely PERSONAL issue. ALL these can be explained by PERSONAL matters like folate deficiency and corollary issues (both known and some likely yet unknown) like genetic folate enzyme issues (polymorphisms, Wikipedia: methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase), B12 deficiency (often vegetarian-related), (genetic) methionine synthase enzyme issues, and/or (genetic) homocysteine accrual. Folate, B12, and homocysteine are all functionally interrelated (see the metabolism of folic acid All involve not just the normal, natural recycling of otherwise essential formaldehyde and formate produced from methanol into methyl groups, but the availability of these methyl groups regulate vital-to-life (DNA) itself. Ethanol (primarily through its antagonist metabolite acetaldehyde) is also known inhibitor of these vital folate reactions. So in these borderline cases of aspartame sensitivity, alcohol consumption may be a prime factor explaining any increased sensitivity to aspartame as well. Realize ethanol, not methanol, is the cause of fetal alcohol syndrome, and ethanol is a documented factor in facilitating many cancer types, for example for example, and this popular press story:

Critics suggest aspartame causes about every ill effect known to man claiming some 92+ symptoms. Analysis of these, however, directly links every issue to the above described personal issues. In what I have written above I note that various folate, B12 and related issues better explain any problems with aspartame. This year’s Norwegian autism study,, only confirms the current importance of the deficiency issue, but those results may also reflect the fact that most of Europe still has not mandated folate fortification. This isn’t particularly surprising both in view of methanol’s requirement for folate for metabolism, but also because folate uptake into brain has been linked to childhood autism,

Consider aspartame’s most widely reported issue, migraine headaches. Migraines have been linked directly to the MTHFR C677T folate polymorphism ( and Both papers report complete resolution of these migraines with added folate alone. These investigations revealed that more than the normal daily recommended amounts are needed (>=2 mg), but in these papers increased folate doses ALONE solved the migraine problem [and aspartame was not even involved]. That alone suggests a human sub-population that is even more deficient in folate for which resolution of their symptoms requires even more folate. And that is confirmed by science; up to 40% of some populations have these genetic folate polymorphisms that require even more folate, but most don’t even know it. For more read

And by the way the Soffritti studies and those suggesting a safety issue with aspartame are complete garbage disregarded by all risk analysis experts. Consider the Soffritti study; their rats were dosed with aspartame for about 3 years. But their rats were folate deficient before the study, were made more folate deficient during the study by improper design and used a rat breed known to be folate deficient by one year of age in a completely independent study by Ghandour et al, .

John E. Garst, Ph.D. (Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Nutrition)

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