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Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Quackery

Oh, no, there’s protein and salt in my food!

It’s been around four years now since I first wrote a post about what I now like to call the “toxins gambit” favored by anti-vaccine loons. This particular gambit consists of finding scary-sounding chemicals in vaccines, such as formaldehyde, and then trying to stoke fear of vaccines based on their presence. This gambit, whether invoked through ignorance (which is common) or disingenuousness (which, I suspect, is even more common) is a blatant appeal to fear of chemicals that depends upon the average person’s ignorance that, for example, formaldehyde is a normal byproduct of metabolism and of the basic concept of dose-response, in which small amounts of many chemicals are harmless. Even physicians are not immune to this sort of ignorance/disingenuousness, as I demonstrated when I took a certain pediatrician to the stars’ children to school when he gave an interview in which he lambasted the presence of formaldehyde in vaccines.

I use formaldehyde as an example because it’s the most obvious and easiest to debunk as a trace ingredient in vaccines used by anti-vaccine activists to instill fear into parents, but the toxins gambit is not limited to vaccines by any means. For instance, I’ve had fun analyzing an attempt to use the toxins gambit in, of all things, shampoo. Then there was McKay Jenkins and his images of us swimming in a sea of “synthetic chemicals.” None of this is to say that chemicals can’t cause health problems or that we should be blithely unconcerned about the ingredients in our vaccines or other products we put into our bodies, but rather the overblown fear mongering that a certain type of person likes to engage in based on ignorance of science and fear of scary-sounding chemical names.

Leave it to our old “friend,” The One Quack To Rule Them All, Mike Adams to take the toxins gambit to a whole new level. This he did yesterday for food in an article entitled What’s really in the food? The A to Z of the food industry’s most evil ingredients.

First off, it’s hard not to note the absolutism beloved by Adams and many other cranks. Look at the title. Does Adams say, “most worrisome,” “most harmful,” or “least healthy”? Of course not. He says “most evil.” It’s almost as though he imputes motive to the food ingredients. Even if he were correct about what he says about the food ingredients he goes on to castigate, it seems rather over-the-top to consider them “evil.” Of course, “over-the-top” is what Mike Adams is about. If he weren’t over the top he wouldn’t be anywhere at all. Even when he attacks a food additive or ingredient that might actually represent a health risk, he takes it to an extreme far beyond what is likely to be justified by science. Amusingly, though, he pulls a classic “toxins gambit” in going after common food ingredients that are not only common but almost certainly harmless. For example:

Autolyzed Proteins – Highly processed form of protein containing free glutamate and used to mimic the taste-enhancer chemical MSG.

Closely related (actually, it’s pretty much the same thing) is:

Yeast Extract – Hidden form of MSG that contains free glutamate and is used in many “natural” food products to claim “No MSG!” Yeast extract contains up to 14% free glutamate. You’ll find it in thousands of grocery store products, from soups to snack chips. I even once spotted it used on fresh meat!

This is just silly. Autolyzed proteins are nothing more than proteins from yeast extracts that have been partially digested by the yeast’s own digestive enzymes start to break down its proteins into amino acids and smaller peptides. The remaining non-protein, non-peptide cell components are then separated from the protein extract. In fact, it’s not a malignant process. It’s not an “evil” process. It’s a natural process. It’s simple chemistry that doesn’t even rely on those “evil,” “toxic” chemicals. All it takes is a bit of saltwater to place the yeast in with a high enough concentration of salt to make the cells shrivel up and lyse, releasing their contents into the solution. The yeast is then heated to complete the breakdown of the yeast cells, and the yeast cell walls are separated.

On the other hand, yeast extract is used to make Vegemite, Marmite, Promite, Oxo, Cenovis, and Vitam-R; so maybe Adams has a point about its being so “evil.” Alright, just kidding (sort of). I’ve never tried Promite, Oxo, Cenovis, or Vitam-R.

As for his obsession with glutamate, get over it. It’s an amino acid. Glutamate is used by the body to make proteins, along with all the other natural amino acids. Moreover, for all the fears of health affects of monosodium glutamate and glutamic acid, an association between glutamate and the symptoms commonly attributed to MSG has never been reproducibly demonstrated under rigorous, controlled conditions. The MSG syndrome appears to be largely a myth in which a wide variety of postprandial symptoms are mistakenly attributed to MSG. Basically, the various forms of protein extract, be they from yeast or other sources that Adams rants about, such as textured vegetable protein, soy protein, and hydrolyzed vegetable protein are just that: protein.

And, of course, beware of that evil homogenized milk:

Homogenized Milk – The fats in the milk are artificially modified to change them into smaller molecules that stay in suspension in the milk liquid (so the milk fat doesn’t separate) (http://www.naturalnews.com/022967_m…). While it makes milk look better on the shelf, it’s also blamed for promoting heart disease and may contribute to milk allergies. Raw milk is healthier, which is why the government had outlawed it (http://www.naturalnews.com/029322_r…).

There is no evidence that raw milk is any healthier than Pasteurized, homogenized milk, but there’s plenty of evidence that it’s far more likely to give you a nasty infection. As Mark Crislip put it, warm liquid filled with protein, fat, and sugars makes an excellent culture medium to grow up a wide variety of bugs, and the proximity of the cow udder to cow pies guarantees that there will be an inoculum of the relevant wee beasties. Yes, I know that raw milk can be consumed safely. The point is that the risk of acquiring a food borne infection is far higher for raw milk. It’s why we Pasteurize milk in the first place.

On the other hand, if the homogenized milk doesn’t get you, maybe the hydrochloride will:

Hydrochloride – When you see anything hydrochloride, such as Pyridoxine Hydrochloride or Thiamin Hydrochloride, those are chemical forms of B vitamins that companies add to their products to be able to claim higher RDA values of vitamins. But these are synthetic, chemical forms of vitamins, not real vitamins from foods or plants. Nutritionally, they are near-useless and may actually be bad for you. Also watch out for niacinamide and cyanocobalamin (synthetic vitamin B-12). (http://www.naturalnews.com/032766_c…)

Adams is obviously not a chemist. (Now there’s an understatement!) First off, there is no evidence that synthetic forms of vitamins are inferior from a nutritional standpoint than “naturally” occurring forms. Second, hydrochloride salts are nothing unusual or dangerous, any more than the chloride salt of sodium, for instance, is dangerous. No doubt the real chemists out there will have more to say about this. Actually, I was a real chemist once; my undergraduate degree was in chemistry, and a B.S. rather than a B.A., to boot. However, that was 27 years ago.

Perhaps my favorite example of Adam’s idiocy is this, which led me to a hearty chuckle when I read it.

Sodium (Salt) – The processed white salt lacking in trace minerals. In the holistic nutrition industry, we call it “death salt” because it promotes disease and death. Real salt, on the other hand, such as “dirty” sea salt or pink Himalayan salt, is loaded with the trace minerals that prevent disease, such as selenium (cancer), chromium (diabetes) and zinc (infectious disease). Much like with bread and sugar, white salt is terrible for your health. And don’t be fooled by claims of “sea salt” in grocery stores. All salt came from the sea if you go far back enough in geologic time, so they can slap the “sea salt” claim on ANY salt!

You can get trace minerals like selenium from lots of sources, including meat, nuts, fish, eggs, and a variety of other foods. You don’t need to have it in your salt. Unless something is added to it, salt is salt. It’s NaCl, and any problem with salt likely comes far more from our consuming too much salt, which can contribute to hypertension in certain populations, than from any lack of trace minerals in the salt that we consume. At its heart, this paragraph is nothing more than a rant against processed foods, pure Luddism, which is something Adams is quite good at it. I will admit, Adams actually does make one good point, and that’s about how food companies try to disguise the amount of sugar in their products by listing different kinds of sugar as separate ingredients, but you know what they say about a stopped clock being right twice a day. Of course, with Adams, it’s more like twice a year by random chance. In any case, Adams advice on healthy eating is far more driven by ideology than science. (I know, big surprise.)

In the end, most of what Adams does here is nothing different from what anti-vaccine activists do when they scream “Toxins!” about vaccines. It’s fear of contamination of their precious bodily fluids. Perhaps I should rename Adams General Jack. T Ripper.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

153 replies on “Oh, no, there’s protein and salt in my food!”

Hell, I’m allergic to every kind of milk except chicken’s milk!

Brits never fall for this one, however….

For sure the chlorine in swimming polls is not usually at harmful concentrations but I, for one, was never able to enjoy my local pool because of something in the water.

Seawater is kinder on my eyes than that highly chlorinated municipal council-pop mixed with urea that we were expected to swim in as kids.

Does anyone else here find that their eyeballs burn up on contact with public swimming pool water?

What happens if someone points out that “real salt” is impure?

I mean, it’s more honest than Adams’ DEATHSALT nonsense.

Another error: he says corn syrup is the same as HFCS. Which it isn’t. Karo and HFCS are not the same. I’ve also seen the canard that corn syrup is “frequently” in infant formula many times (by overzealous breastfeeding advocates who think formula is poison). I’ve checked labels, and standard milk based formulas use lactose. Specialty formulas use sucrose or corn syrup in order to be lactose free. One milk based organic formula was caught using sucrose, but I believe they changed it back when it made the news.

Marmite is my friend’s secret ingredient for vegetarian cooking: a spoonful or so in a pot of soup makes the whole thing much more appealing (to omnivores and vegetarians aside) because it gives it that umame flavoring.

As for homogenized milk, I can buy the other kind. All it means is I have to shake it first. (It’s good, fresh milk from a local farm, pasteurized but not UHT, and I do sometimes buy and shake their chocolate milk, but there’s nothing magic in that.)

I’ve noticed food manufacturers seem to be switching to sea salt, perhaps as a way to divert attention from how much salt they put into various products.

“Raw milk is healthier, which is why the government had outlawed it”

Wow, I’d love to see the smoking-gun evidence to back this statement up!

I’d need convincing that the MSG syndrome is a myth. When I was a kid, my Dad tried to take us to Chinese restaurants a few times, and I’d break out in a cold sweat, my vision would get grainy, I’d get a ringing in my ears, and I’d have to run outside to keep from passing out—and that was just from the fumes, before the food even got there!

In later years, I learned to attribute that to MSG, and fortunately I’ve gotten over it. (I can still tell when they use a lot, though, because it makes me feel bloated.) I’m open to suggestions as to what caused this reaction if it wasn’t MSG—anybody have any ideas? And oh, yeah, Mike Adams is an idiot.

Mike, like many other woo-meisters, has a bizarre obsession with food: the DSM V will feature “Orthorexia” and Mike has already chimed in,” See, people who want to eat correctly as labelled as mentally ill!”( paraphrase). No, I think they’re talking about the *degree* of concern- when your life is taken over by great concern about food, perhaps there is a problem.

Mike, and the other idiot I review, portray themselves as educators who *empower* their audience. However, their “informational services” usually amount to fear mongering that renders a sense of helplessness instead. Consider the following: food is regulated by a governmental agency ( which btw you can’t trust), produced by money-grubbing corporations who adulterate it with ((shudder)) *chemicals* and addictive sugars that will make you obese, vegetables and fruits will all become “Frankenfoods”- GMOs, doctors know *nothing* about real nutrition and lie to you, RDs are manipulated by the aforementioned evil government, corporations, doctors- have I left anyone out? Oh, the media- they’re in on the “fix” as well, never reporting the “Truth”.Wouldn’t want to lose all that ad money.

To whom then can the poor afflicted citizen turn? To our publicly-concerned, altruistic nutritionists *cum laude*! Null is liable to go into great detail about how junk and fast foods are killing you slowly, telling his entranced audience that even though they don’t realise it, their arteries are clogging and cells are transforming pre-cancerously *at this very minute*! Fear the food.

Then, they present a plan for optimal eating. Adams doesn’t go all-out vegan and allows raw milk but his diet plan is extremely restrictive: organic, GMO-free, very low fat, a great deal raw ( or cooked at ultra-low temperture to preserve enzymes). Null advocates vegan, organic, low fat, high fibre, similar to Mike on the raw issue- absolutely no gluten or caseine.

Both often hype special magical foods: a particular chemical ( yes) is singled out as life-enhancing or curative- this ingredient is then isolated as sold as the magic elixir of life** derived from vegetables and fruits ( also sold in dried, powder form- see websites). Eating this way would involve complicated preparation, avoidance of most restaurants and supermarkets, as well as the consumption of a myriad of pills and potions daily.( I for one, can’t even begin to contemplate living like this) Becoming an organic farmer and “growing your own” is also an option that both prevaricators claim they do themselves.

All-in-all, it’s a pretty odd way to look at food. Remember though, their world-view is based upon nutrition as cause and cure of nearly all illness, physical and mental.

** and I thought it was gin.

I wonder what Adams would say if someone pointed out that every single food *he* recommends is full of chemicals?

On Mike Adams:

If I were the director of a major pharmaceutical company and had Mike Adams’ conscience, I would be envious of the freedom with which Mike Adams has to operate. Able to spout out any old unsupported claim as if it were settled fact and sell any product desired for almost any medical purpose, without any pesky regulation requiring clinical research, post-licensure monitoring, and supported factual accuracy.

On MSG:

My father has experienced similar reactions as The Reverend Battleaxe. Given the studies posted by Orac, I would also be interested in knowing what might have been the source of his reactions.

My degrees are in Food Science (that’s Food Technology) and – although I don’t work in the industry – I’m still a member of IFT.

Since I enjoy lifting weights, I’m a member of a private bodybuilding forum… so I’ve seen (and debunked) a lot of this nonsense. I’m not a huge fan of highly-processed junk/convenience food products, but that’s because said foods are energy-dense and nutrient-poor… not because the additives used to make them are toxic.

Love the “death salt” bit – evidently Adams fails to realize just how prevalent iodine deficiency is throughout the world. It’s a major public health problem…except in countries where iodized – aka “death salt” – is used.

Oh joy, it’s a DM contamination. How lovely for you, Orac.

@Beamup: NOOOOOOOO!! Not teh ebil chemicals in my food! How can there be chemicals in my organically free range grown rutabegas? I haz a sad now…

(end snark)

I try to eat a balanced, omnivore diet. If I was alone, I’d probably eat more vegetarian than not; I do love meat but am happy to have many meals without meat, just cheese, eggs, dairy. But I really don’t think I would ever go totally vegan full time. For some meals? Sure. Always? No. And I don’t really fear the chemicals.

And tears actually do taste fantastic!

I wonder if it is possible to diagnose some illnesses by tasting or smelling tears?

While we’re at it, what was really going on with Jesus and the Blind man? I don’t believe in miracles or woo healing and I don’t believe that it is nothing more than a story to make Jesus look all magical to the public.

What’s the science here? Which words do I need to google? Where to even start?

@ triskelethecat:

Dawn, I eat what most *normal* folks would consider healthy- no red meat, no fast food, moderately low fat, no coffee ( my caffeine comes from tea), little alcohol, etc. however to the Food Police (i.e. Mikey), I’m sure I would be an example of an unhealthy life style. They’d probably attribute my evil belief system to my diet as well: hey, ” You are what you eat”**, they say.

** One of my most hated quotes.

@Ashtanga London (#1):

Hell, I’m allergic to every kind of milk except chicken’s milk!

Funnily enough, for as long as I can remember, I’ve jokingly called eggnog “chicken milk”. Here in Canada, everything has English and French labeling, and the French side of the cartons always reads “Lait de Poule.” Then again, along similar lines, I often refer to the Yule log as “Christmas mouth.” Not sure why I only seem to do this regarding holiday terms. Maybe I have, as they say, la bouche de Noël.

Last time I looked for information on MSG, I found that there may actually be a genuine sensitivity issue in certain populations. It’s not an allergy, but something else. I don’t remember much from when I looked it up, but contrary to Adams/Null/et al, it isn’t something that afflicts the entirety of the human species (much as the presence of celiac sufferers doesn’t mean we really all need to go gluten-free as they claim).

Elly nails it, in my opinion — the problem with processed foods isn’t that they’re processed or have additives, generally. It’s that they’re very energy-dense, which makes it easy to eat too much of them. Likewise, Adams thinks the problem with DEATHSALT! is that it lacks trace minerals; but the real problem is that we eat too much of it. Which means that if one follows his logic, we need to be getting our trace minerals from salt and thus eating EVEN MORE OF IT. Is he prepared to shoulder the blame for promoting heart disease in this way? (Gee, let me guess — not prepared? Yeah, probably.)

Far more than salt, msg or any other non-toxin he lies about, Mike Adams is a severe danger health.

Hmmm, selenium is toxic, chromium leads to cancer and DNA damage and zinc is also toxic and corrosive – according to a simplistic reading of their wikipedia pages. Why is Adams promoting salt products that contain these dangerous chemicals whilst demonising the product that doesn’t contain them? Is he crazy?!?!

I think my favorite was that Splenda contains a chlorine atom. Oh the horror! We are obviously all doomed. Chlorine is teh ebil. That’s why people immediately die when they accidentally swallow pool water. Oh. Wait. Never mind.
Also, Mike Adams must have a very bitter diet. Since sugar, aspartame, sucralose, and all forms of corn syrup are off the table, does he ever eat anything sweet? Fruit will only sweeten other foods to a certain extent. It just seems sad to me.

Homogenized Milk – The fats in the milk are artificially modified to change them into smaller molecules that stay in suspension in the milk liquid (so the milk fat doesn’t separate) (http://www.naturalnews.com/022967_m…). While it makes milk look better on the shelf, it’s also blamed for promoting heart disease and may contribute to milk allergies. Raw milk is healthier, which is why the government had outlawed it (http://www.naturalnews.com/029322_r…).

Criminy, the dumb bugger can’t even get a simple mechanical process that breaks up fat gloBules, not molecules, right.

OTOH, when a crank makes such a basic error about simle science or technology that even a layman like myself can easily spot it, it does serve a sorta-useful purpose. It’s like a flashing neon sign saying “THIS GUY DOESN’T KNOW WHAT HE’S TALKING ABOUT AND IS JUST MAKING SHIT UP!”

Raw milk is healthier, which is why the government had outlawed it

Because everyone knows it is in the government’s best interest to kill off taxpayers.

@Blair:

Admittedly, I can’t speak for Adams on this point, since I do my best not to read his scribblings. But there are a range of “natural” sweeteners out there (assuming that anything purified and packaged could be said to be “natural”) that are generally acceptable to the “health-as-religion” types. For example, stevia,* lo han and xylitol/erythritol are popular low/no-cal choices; likewise, (raw) honey, maple syrup and agave syrup appeal to the earthier types.

*but probably not the rebaudioside A sweeteners like Truvia or PureVia, since these are made by Cargill and PepsiCo, who are, of course, part of the “Big Food” cabal trying to poison us all for profit (sarcasm intended).

Anybody who advocates wasting agave syrup as a sweetener instead of letting it ferment is a heretic!

@Shay

Hmmm! That also explains the Congressional Raw Milk Bar that only congresscritters can buy from…

One of our local dairies sells pasteurized non-homogenized milk (no raw milk here), which I bought for a while in the nice glass bottles (just like yesteryear). Sadly, it spoiled very quickly – I wonder why that was? Anyway, I was soon back to the regular stuff.

So a lot of plants concentrate sugar in their tissues…but beets and corn are Teh Eebul! Agave is all right…what about sugar cane, if you leave enough wood fiber in the sugar to be suitably chewy?

Marmite is GOOD. Phrases such as “Much like with” are EVIL!

And homogenisation? According to the UK’s Dairy Council it’s basically milk that’s been forced through a filter to make the fat globules smaller. Nothing chemical about it, despite what that bampot Adams implies.

Actually, I think homogenisation of bottled milk is EVIL, but only because bluetits can no longer profit from this http://www.culture24.org.uk/asset_arena/3/45/15543/v0_master.jpg on my doorstep of a cold winter’s morn. I like bluetits.

Don’t forget to add Bovril to the yeastie goodness products. It used to have random beef parts in it until the whole mad cow thing happened.

I wonder if anyone using the “toxins gambit” have used/would fall for the following argument:

Plastics, as we all know, are all around us in modern life, and a whole branch of chemistry, called “polymer chemistry” (polymer being the “scientific” name for plastics) has sprung up to synthesize new plastics and come up with new uses for existing ones.

Processed food, it turns out, is loaded with polymers. One packaged food item I bought the other day is almost 100% polymers of different kinds. Some polymers found in foods, like polygalacturonic acid, are believed to pass through the body without being absorbed, but others, like amylose (a polymer made from the chemical (2R,3S,4R,5R)-2,3,4,5,6-pentahydroxyhexanal) are readily broken down and absorbed by the body and are known to have health effects.

Another common polymer found in processed foods break down in the body to form a large collection of different acids, such as phenylalanine (found in Nutrasweet), glutamic acid (similar to MSG), and other similar acids, all of which are easily absorbed by your intestines into your bloodstream where they travel all over your body, affecting every major bodily system, including your brain.

…I could go on, but I think the idea has been communicated. Of course, polygalacturonic acid is pectin, a naturally occurring dietary fiber, and amylose, aka “starch”, is a glucose polymer. Proteins break down into amino acids, which are used by the body to build more proteins, etc. But rewritten in the language of the anti-toxin, anti-chemical brigade can sound horrifying.

Hmmm, selenium is toxic, chromium leads to cancer and DNA damage and zinc is also toxic and corrosive – according to a simplistic reading of their wikipedia pages.

Shoot, don’t even try looking at the MSDS for these things. Yowza!

Remember, chromium was the toxin that was the basis for Erin Brockovitch’s campaign. Mike should have testified for the chemical company.

On another point:

Autolyzed Proteins – Highly processed form of protein containing free glutamate and used to mimic the taste-enhancer chemical MSG.

Being a mass spectrometrist, I recognize the existence of monopolar ionic substances in the gas-phase, but my general impression is that under equilibrium conditions, all solution-phase ions are associated by an appropriate counter-charge (Hence, MSG contains cationic sodium to balance the anionic glutamate). So I wonder, what is he talking when he talks of “free glutamate”? To me, “free glutamate” implies no counter ion, which is not reasonable.

@ AL:

The ‘chlorine’ smell is actually the combined chloramines which are produced when the free chlorine oxidizes organic material. Generally a sign of an UNDERchlorinated pool, because it indicates that the chlorine concentration isn’t enough to keep up with the sanitation load being placed on it.

But skin irritation and eye discomfort generally have nothing to do with chlorine and are instead due to unbalanced pH.

I think Elly is going to fit in here, very well. I look forward to more comments from them.

I’ve missed jsp, though.

It also looks like McMegan hearts Mike Adams, I’ve never figured out her obsessions with “pink Himalayan salt” before.

Mmm, chemicals. Tasty, tasty chemicals.

My problem with MSG is directly related to its method of action — it ramps up your sense of smell, and I’m already a hypersmeller, so if I ingest too much MSG, I wind up getting a scent-induced migraine from the first vaguely unpleasant- and/or strong-smelling thing I encounter afterward.

I’m still wondering why everyone other than me thinks umami is delicious and I think it tastes like crotch sweat, or something else similarly murky and pheromone-laden.

Those “evil chlorides” are necessarily chlorides. The stable form of, for example, Vitamin B1 is as a dissociated salt in an aqueous system. Here’s a picture from wikipedia.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f0/Thiamin.svg

See the plus sign? That’s where the nitrogen has formed a fourth bond so as to create a conjugated system, making the compound overall more stable. But … at such a cost. That poor, noble nitrogen, sacrificing its own happiness for the good of the whole. snrk

Okay, they’re not necessarily [i]chlorides[/i], but they are salts, and chloride is darn common.

@anarchic teapot (#27):

bluetits can no longer profit from this […] on my doorstep of a cold winter’s morn. I like bluetits.

Haven’t seen any bluetits around here in Ontario during winter. Probably because everybody’s dressing warmly…

Just a couple things I had to touch on that when I heard them repeated I was so shocked with *you really believe that* that I was rendered speechless.

A few months ago, a ‘friend’ on my Facebook, posted an anti-vaccine article listing the harmful ingredients in vaccines and urging people to not vaccinate until the government and pharma companies removed these chemicals from the vaccines. Of course formaldehyde was mentioned (to which i countered, our bodies produce formaldehyde naturally, it isn’t harmful unless it’s in large quantities, which of course was ignored) and of course my all-time favorite, vaccines containing antifreeze. Really… She honestly believed pharma companies go to their local auto store and buy antifreeze by the gallons and add them to their vats of vaccine mixtures. WTF?!? When I asked her for citation, once I got over the speechlessness, she linked to an article that was clearly anti-vaccine and was ranting about antifreeze in vaccines. I used Google and after a few minutes searching was able to find a real site that explained while antifreeze and vaccines has a few ingredients in common, one is not the same as the other. It went on to describe what these commonalities were and of course how they were NOT harmful to be put in vaccines. When I linked this article to her, she again ignored it and used the *i feel so sorry for you* gambit on me that I was so naive and gullible that I allowed pharma and government to brain wash me and not be able to think for myself. Yeah, I’m the one that’s brain washed. I should have figured I’d heard a lot of quackery from her, she is an EFT practitioner who tried to convince me I needed to become one too, not because it’s so great and beneficial, but because I can charge $200 per session and people will actually pay that. Granted the money she said she makes by peddling her woo was appealing, but I had to stop and ask myself, if this isn’t something I believe in, do I really want to take money from people to promote it? Hell no! How could I live with myself if I did that?

My biggest pet peeve about nutritionists seems to be how so many of them are touting fat as the bad guy, along with all the chemicals that are put into food. So many promote low fat, or even as fat free as possible, diets to maintain health. Do they honestly not realize how many systems in our body are made from fat and require regular consumption of fat in order to function properly? Why our immune system is made of fat, our brains are made of fat, lack of fat can lead to immune system dysfunction and depression and inability for form rational thoughts! Which might explain why all these people believe the things they believe, they can’t think straight because they stopped ingesting fat! Fat is the best source of fuel for our bodies to maintain energy. It provides insulation against extreme temperatures to a degree (not like it does for whales or other sea mammals). It keeps us from looking like just the muscles and skeleton that is under our skin, it fills us out and makes us look normal. Of course there are good fats and bad fats and consuming too much can be harmful, but we need some in our diet in order to function. As for the vegan lifestyle, without complete protein, how will our bodies properly repair damage done by just ever day living, let alone strenuous situations where strain or injuries occur. Without protein, we can’t build and repair ourselves. Why is that so hard to believe? Say all you want about chemical additives, but leave my steak alone!

Orac wrote “Salt… which can contribute to hypertension in certain populations…”

I seem to recall a recent article in JAMA that implied that while salt regulation was necessary in people who already had hypertension, there was no evidence that a salt-restricted diet in any way retarded the development of hypertension in those who had it. Fatal and Nonfatal Outcomes, Incidence of Hypertension, and Blood Pressure Changes in Relation to Urinary Sodium Excretion.

Anyway, I have a variety of salts in my house because I’m a foodie, and yes, I can taste the difference between Utah, Alaska, Japanese North Sea, and Vesuvian salts. I doubt any of these have contributed to my health or well-being. (Well, okay, Vesuvian truffle salt is amazing and make me happy sprinkled on eggs, but that’s not what Adams is talking about…)

@The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge

Those symptoms (ear ringing, grainy vision, sweating) are classing symptoms of a panic attack, triggered by the smell of Chinese food (probably though conditioning).

It’s possible that, in the past, you had a legitimate sensitivity or allergy to something in the Chinese food, that later resulted in this conditioned response to the smell of it. I can see how such a reaction could be helpful from an evolutionary perspective (leading to the avoidance of harmful foods.)

@ Jcs:

I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear: those reactions were from when I was a child and had no expectations about Chinese restaurants because I’d never been in one before, and I’d never experienced symptoms like this before from any other cause. As an adult, I tried it out to see if I still reacted the same way, and even though I had my teeth clenched expecting the worst, it didn’t happen. I think the conditioning theory would require the reverse history. As it is now, I’d kill myself before I gave up Chinese food!

To be fair, there are “no MSG” Chinese restaurants, but they seem to have declared war on color and flavor as well.

Yes, Adams is that stupid. or that big of a charlatan.
Or possibly some combination of the two.

For all of you with MSG anecdotes:

Moreover, for all the fears of health affects of monosodium glutamate and glutamic acid, an association between glutamate and the symptoms commonly attributed to MSG has never been reproducibly demonstrated under rigorous, controlled conditions.

There, ORAC said it. Therefore what you experienced couldn’t possibly be caused or related to MSG consumption. Since he hasn’t experienced it himself and his bible scrolls (Mainstream accepted status quo peer review) don’t say it then it must not exist or it’s “highly unlikely” not to exist.

It’s a just form of psychosis much like the parents of vaccine injury have experienced. You probably just heard something about neurological side effects along the way somewhere and it’s buried in your subconscious. Now stop this silly nonsense or you will be forced to hand in your SBM membership card. You will be excommunicated. Is it really worth it?

The thing that I’ve never seen any kind of explanation for is why, if MSG causes all these symptoms, naturally glutamate-rich foods don’t do the same (e.g. mushrooms, tomatoes).

The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge – out of curiosity, how did you come to associate your symptoms with MSG?

It’s difficult to get enough essential fatty acids from a vegan diet. Walnuts or Hemp seed. Choice is yours.

I like Eggs 🙂

The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge – out of curiosity, how did you come to associate your symptoms with MSG?

Oh, just popular articles from the ’70s about “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” that seemed to describe my experience pretty well. Like I said, I’m open to alternatives. I kind of assume it had to be an allergy of some type, because people frequently get over allergies, like I did here.

Beamup — the explanation I heard, if I’m remembering it correctly, was that it genuinely behaves in a different way in the body when prepared as it is in chinese restarants. It wasn’t the glutamate precisely. I don’t remember the details, much less whether or not it was a reasonably legitimate site. This was several years ago. It was enough to make me temper my skepticism of the “MSG sensitivity” claim, though not enough to make me ignore my skepticism altogether.

Yes, I love that little “It’s healthy, so the government has outlawed it” bit. It just shows what kind of mindset you live in when one naturally (heh) follows the other.

How can we trust Mike Adams, though? He’s made of chemicals! Many of which are known toxins!

“You are what you eat”**, they say. ** One of my most hated quotes.

I give it a pass because I heard one gentleman gracefully reply with exactly that phrase when someone called him a pussy.

Sorry Beamup, did you mean my PH or the pool’s PH?

The pool’s. (The human body’s pH does not vary in any meaningful way.) Ideally a pool will be at 7.5 (not coincidentally, tears are also about 7.5), and 7.2-7.8 is the typically cited acceptable range.

It’s interesting that while Mike Adams is on the warpath about glutamate, salt and other horrible nasties in our food, he has been rather curiously silent about a danger constantly being harped on by alties – the presence of magnesium stearate in many vitamin and other supplement pills.

Do an online search and you’ll find loads of alarmist nonsense about how mag. stearate (used as an anti-clumping/lubricating agent in pill manufacture) causes dire health problems. Yet Mike Adams doesn’t seem worried (from a 2009 NaturalNews article):

“It’s worth mentioning, by the way, that I personally still take many supplements made with natural binders. New Chapter products are a good example of that: I’m not concerned about a little silica or corn starch. I don’t mind flow agents if they’re natural and the body can recognize them as food. There are lots of high-quality supplements available today that still use small amounts of stearates, silica or other such ingredients.” (bolding added)

The above appears in an Adams article hawking a particular line of supplements that supposedly is free of excipients and fillers. According to one “natural products” advocate however, NaturalNews has endorsed other lines of supplements that do contain such additives, including mag. stearate. She is not at all happy with Mikey.

Is it possible that Mike’s outrage over these matters can be tempered by how it affects his bottom line? 🙂

@ The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge:

I knew a gentleman, as a matter of fact, my very own dear, sainted** mentor, who was very afraid of MSG. He thoroughly instructed Chinese waiters about the necessity of leaving it out of his food. It had something to do with bad headaches. Not the sort of fellow prone to un-scientific speculation- quite the reverse actually.

** and yes, I’m an atheist describing someone as “sainted”; “saint” is an idealisation of an extraordinary, benevolent person- apropo in this case.

@beamup

The thing that I’ve never seen any kind of explanation for is why, if MSG causes all these symptoms, naturally glutamate-rich foods don’t do the same (e.g. mushrooms, tomatoes)

Well duh! They’re natural. Anyway, it’s teh Sodium. That stuff burns, ya know? Even in water!

It’s interesting that while Mike Adams is on the warpath about glutamate, salt and other horrible nasties in our food, he has been rather curiously silent about a danger constantly being harped on by alties – the presence of magnesium stearate in many vitamin and supplement pills.

Do an online search and you’ll find loads of alarmist nonsense about how mag. stearate (used as an anti-clumping/lubricating agent in pill manufacture) causes dire health problems. Yet Mike Adams doesn’t seem worried (from a 2009 NaturalNews article):

“It’s worth mentioning, by the way, that I personally still take many supplements made with natural binders. New Chapter products are a good example of that: I’m not concerned about a little silica or corn starch. I don’t mind flow agents if they’re natural and the body can recognize them as food. There are lots of high-quality supplements available today that still use small amounts of stearates, silica or other such ingredients.” (bolding added)

The above appears in an Adams article hawking a particular line of supplements that supposedly is free of excipients and fillers. According to one “natural products” advocate however, NaturalNews has endorsed other lines of supplements that do contain such additives, including mag. stearate. She is not at all happy with Mikey.

ht_tp://nha-health-insights.blogspot.com/2010/06/natural-news-article-tweaks-me.html

Is it possible that Mike’s outrage over these matters can be tempered by how they affect his bottom line? 🙂

If Mike Adams wants to eat a “chemical-free” diet, I’d strongly encourage him to do so. I suspect that we’d be seeing a lot less of him in a matter of months.

At my university, the safety committee years ago decreed that the only way I could enjoy my “cuppa” in the lab was to have a designated “chemical-free” zone. My reply that it wouldn’t be safe to consume beverages in a high vacuum was apparently not understood. Bowing to the irresistible powers of administration, I created a small area in the lab and marked it with the required “chemical-free zone” signs. I also added my own “extremely low atmospheric pressure when in operation: pressure suit required” sign.

One small point: most food preparations of “autolyzed protein” are either soy-based (“vegetable protein”) or casein-based. Another source is from whey, although this has moved from a waste product to a resource now that so many people have been conned into buying it at “health food” stores.

Yeast extract is also high in protein, but is isn’t hydrolysed and it also contains high levels of nucleic acids (DNA and RNA).

Prometheus

“You are what you eat” is a complete bastardization of the original phrase. Brillat-Savarin actually said “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.” He was talking about the politics of food in France prior to the Revolution, where royalty ate one way, nobility ate another, religious orders a third and the peasantry ate whatever was left. It had nothing to do with herbicides, pesticides or chemicals!

I love Brillat-Savarin cheese, which is gooey and smelly and just all around slighty disgusting but delicious. He also helped develop the strain of bacteria that is still used to make it.

Blair @19 wrote,

I think my favorite was that Splenda contains a chlorine atom. Oh the horror! We are obviously all doomed.

During my freshmen year of college, my girlfriend at the time took a nutrition class, and the teacher was actually spouting off this line. She showed the class what the splenda molecule looked like, pointed out the chlorine atom, and patiently waited for all the “ooh, that’s bad…” to go around the room. My gf was absolutely shocked that someone teaching a college class would be so stupid, but being the shy girl that she was, she didn’t say anything.

According to the UK’s Dairy Council it’s basically milk that’s been forced through a filter to make the fat globules smaller. Nothing chemical about it, despite what that bampot Adams implies.

Once you accept the homeopathists’ claim that shaking water in the right way causes subtle physical / chemical changes to the water molecules so they remember the other molecules in the solution, it makes perfect sense to talk about shaking or filtering milk as a ‘chemical’ process.

why, if MSG causes all these symptoms, naturally glutamate-rich foods don’t do the same (e.g. mushrooms, tomatoes)

Note that all the glutamate-rich foods — mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, anchovies, salami, aged cheese — also make good pizza toppings. Which is not to say that I’m going to make a marmite pizza.

Wikipedia cites some MSG-sensitivity research for interested parties to pursue. It also informs us that breast milk is glutamate-rich: “Humans’ first encounter with umami is often breast milk.” So Mike is denouncing breast-feeding?

@Battleaxe:
“I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear: those reactions were from when I was a child and had no expectations about Chinese restaurants”

My son is 6. Earlier today his entire tensed up and his face looked puckered when I told him that we only had pear slices as a snack. He’s going though a “no new foods” phase; 6 months ago he ate Peking Duck at a real Chinese restaurant, and happily tried to mix and match pancakes and duck parts to make it taste great.

Point is, kids can have some really strong food related reactions, so I wouldn’t assume you were free of those necessarily.

Love the “death salt” bit – evidently Adams fails to realize just how prevalent iodine deficiency is throughout the world. It’s a major public health problem…except in countries where iodized – aka “death salt” – is used.

I recall one MDC mommy finally realizing that there might be a problem with “real salt” fanaticism when she managed to give her kid a goiter.

@ Gopiballava:

Except I’d start to pass out before the food got there. I never got to eat the food, or even see it. And I was looking forward to it, because I’d had frozen Chinese-esque-ish-type stuff before with no problems.

Blue Tits learned to drink the cream from the milk bottles during the war, they would peck a hole in the cardboard closure, and drink.
My understanding of MSG, is that when the stomach acid hits it it becomes glutamic acid, one of the commonest amino-acids in proteins.

I’m embarrassed to admit I have a bag of sea salt with a rather…special marketing blurb on the back. I bought it because it was the only large piece salt with iodine listed:
“Millions of years ago, the salt in this pouch was part of a pristine sea…
Long before the earth knew pollutants of any kind, a huge, ancient…”
“At some pint during the earth’s Jurassic era, a range of volcanos erupted around the ancient sea bed, sealing the salt with layers of thick volcanic ash, protecting these precious deposits against the pollution that man would eventually introduce into the environment.”

Their web site is http://www.realsalt.com and they respond on their blog to people asking if their salt causes water retention, high blood pressure, etc with, to paraphrase, “We don’t want to disagree with your doctor, but hundreds of our customers have written us and said our Real Salt(tm) is the only salt that doesn’t cause them those problems”

I wonder what results Mike Adams would run up if he was assessed for social dominance orientation.

Certainly he seems quite willing to stoke the fears and phobias of his audience, against their own interests, to line his pockets and build up his influence & standing.

@Venna.

Not all plant sources are incomplete.

Hemp is complete.

Thanks, Orac! Good post.

@The Very Reverend Battleaxe:

I did some reading on this for a YouTube video on MSG… Double-blind challenges with MSG in “susceptible people” rarely produce a consistent reaction. I would offer that this suggests that there must be at least SOME psychology to this, although exactly what I cannot say.

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2000 Nov;106(5):973-80.
“Multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multiple-challenge evaluation of reported reactions to monosodium glutamate.”

My own guess is that Chinese food is exceptionally salty, and that the feeling is similar to dehydration caused by excess alcohol consumption. Since, presumably, a Chinese or Thai person who was sensitive to MSG would have a lot of trouble, it appears to only affect “Westerners”.

I can personally offer my own anecdote of getting that unpleasant feeling/headache after eating too many salty pumpkin seeds on long drives.

It’s also possible that some spice (not MSG) used in commercial Chinese cooking is adulterated with something that is forcing your liver to do some detoxifying. Possibly one of those evil chemicals that Mike Adams courageously battles with his Sword of Truth ™.

I was once annoyed enough by claims about the healthy minerals in sea salt to find out the actual amounts involved. Compared to a Big Mac (other burgers are available), light gray Celtic sea salt (LGCSS) is greatly inferior as a source of minerals like magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron, copper and manganese. In fact you would have to consume 2 full teaspoons of LGCSS to get as much magnesium as there is in a Big Mac (44mg), and this would still be only a tenth of the RDA.

Other minerals are present at even lower levels. Just to demonstrate what a feeble source of minerals LGCSS is, here are the number of teaspoons of LGCSS you would have to consume to get the same amount of the mineral as a Big Mac (clearly consuming this much salt would not be a good idea, and could make you very ill or even kill you, and a Big Mac does not provide the RDA of any of these minerals).

Magnesium 2 teaspoons LGCSS = 1 Big Mac
Potassium 37 teaspoons
Calcium 42 teaspoons
Iron 8 teaspoons
Zinc 35 teaspoons
Copper 2.5 teaspoons
Manganese 5.5 teaspoons

LGCSS also contains small amounts of aluminum, fluoride, strontium and bromide. Aren’t these scary toxins? I couldn’t find any reports of detectable levels of selenium in sea salt.

You would have to be bat-guano crazy to rely on sea salt as a source of minerals. To prove it here is an analysis that proves that bat guano is more nutritious than both Celtic sea salt and Big Macs. I’m not sure about glutamate/umami.
http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/273/1585/439/T2.expansion.html

Other sources can be provided on request, I haven’t linked to avoid moderation.

#7 and others vis MSG

It may have been hot peppers cooked in hot oil. The smoke from them can cause difficulty breathing (tightness in the chest), sweating, and headaches.

@Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
#24

Would that also apply to people who eat grapes rather than let them become wine? Or people who eat potatoes rather than letting them become vodka, as the Flying Spaghetti Monster intended?

@Venna
#37

As for the vegan lifestyle, without complete protein, how will our bodies properly repair damage done by just ever day living, let alone strenuous situations where strain or injuries occur. Without protein, we can’t build and repair ourselves.

Can’t humans construct complete proteins from complementary plant sources such as beans and rice?

Autolyzed Proteins – Highly processed form of protein containing free glutamate and used to mimic the taste-enhancer chemical MSG.

I volunteer to consume the champagne that Mike’s readers are unable to drink because of the yeast-autolysis products that give it the additional flavours.

@ c0nc0rdance: The sodium excess would explain my mentor’s worries and relief when eating food sans MSG ( see mine @ 48). Neither of us really ate until evening- 8 pm or later : probably the food with MSG had much more sodium, so eliminating it cut down the sodium and his headaches. btw- we consumed a lot of Chinese food for 2 thin people.

Oh, those were the days! ( sobs)

Colin,

Complete proteins, yes, with a bit of care. Strict vegans need vitamin B-12 supplementation (and I seem to recall that in cultures where vegans don’t get vitamins in capsules, they’re getting it from bacteria in unfiltered water).

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