HOW SAFE IS MSG?
Written by , Article reviewed and edited by Dr. Fine M.D.
Published on 01 December 2016
How Safe is MSG?
Monosodium Glutamate, commonly abbreviated MSG, is one of the most controversial food-additives around today. Most people know MSG as the chemical that has historically been added to Chinese Restaurants to improve flavor, but it is also found in a variety of other foods. One of the ironies regarding MSG is that its use in Chinese food has declined significantly as a result of bad press, but other restaurants, especially fast food restaurants, have frequently begun to make use of the additive.
What is MSG?
Monodium Glutamate is a food-additive which is popularly used in high-volume meal production in order to boost the flavor profile of many foods. MSG activates the parts of the tongue associated with Umami, which makes foods taste meatier and more savory. Some foods contain some MSG naturally, including cheese and tomatoes. Natural MSG is what gives meats and stews a lot of their mouth feel and flavor. MSG was first isolated in 1908 by a Japanese researcher, and was first used in Eastern cuisine, which is why there is such a strong association between MSG and Chinese food.
Specifically, Monosodium Glutamate is a combination of L-glutamate, an amino acid, and a salt molecule. MSG acts as a preservative as well as a flavor-enhancer, because it stabilizes the Glutamate molecule, preserving its effect on the flavor of the food. MSG can extend the “freshness” of a soup or other food product by a year or more, which makes it very popular in packaged foods.
Unfortunately, as with any additive, MSG is often abused, as it classically has in Chinese Restaurants and other places where food is sold to the public. There is some concern that high levels of Monosodium Glutamate can have unfortunate side-effects.
Of course, much of the concern regarding MSG is anecdotal, and there is a lot of research that needs to be done in order to entirely assess the health impact of Monosodium Glutamate. There have been enough reports to the Food and Drug Administration regarding MSG that the organization recognizes a condition known as MSG Symptom Complex. The following are the symptoms of the condition:
It's important to note that, although MSG Symptom Complex is recognized, there has been no definitive connection made between the condition and the consumption of MSG itself. To date, the FDA considers Monosodium Glutamate as Generally Recognized as Safe, though many health specialists believe that there is sufficient evidence regarding the downside of MSG to warrant patients to minimize their consumption of foods known to contain MSG.
What Potentially Makes MSG Harmful?
Nutrition scientists hypothesize that if MSG does cause health issues, it could be because it leads to an increase in Glutamate in the blood stream. Glutamate, like other Amino Acids, has the ability to pass through the blood-brain barrier and influence neurological activity. It is thought that excess consumption of MSG causes Glutamate levels to increase in the brain. When levels of a particular neurotransmitter elevate to a high level, those normally productive neurotransmitters become Excitotoxins.
Neurotransmitter levels can get so high that they overstimulate neurons designed to interact with the excitotoxin, which can damage or even kill the cells. There is evidence that when Glutamate levels are too high in the brain this impacts the normal function of neurons in such a way that it can lead to the death of neurons. Of course, the main question with regard to MSG's impact on Glutamate Levels and neurological function is: How much MSG is too much? It is possible that most people never consume enough MSG for it to have a major negative impact. It's also possible that certain individuals are more sensitive to the potential negative effects of MSG.
These are factors that we simply don't have enough information to understand, but for patients concerned for their health, it would be a wise choice to limit sources of MSG in the diet. Even if MSG turns out to be relatively benign, MSG tends to be in foods that we should eat sparingly or rarely in the first place.
How to Avoid MSG
Avoiding fast food restaurants will reduce your exposure to MSG. Many casual, family, and fine dining restaurants also have foods that contain MSG. Almost all chain and franchise restaurants have online menus which can show you MSG Levels in their food. Use this data to your advantage. The two types of restaurant that commonly abuse MSG are Fast Food Restaurants and All You Can Eat Buffets.
You can also limit your intake of MSG through conscientious shopping and by avoiding certain processed foods such as canned soup without checking the label first. Other foods that commonly contain Monosodium Glutamate as an ingredient are salad dressings, pasta sauce, barbecue sauce, crunchy snacks, commercial stock, and canned foods.
MSG is often used to create a sensation that the food that you are eating is more filling and more satisfying, in order to mask the fact the food is of lesser quality. These foods are also frequently loaded with high levels of sodium or sugar as well. It's a good idea in general to opt for fresh food over processed food whenever possible, although there are healthy packaged food options increasingly available in grocery stores and supermarkets across the country.
Other Names for MSG
Most restaurants that post their nutrition information online will list MSG honestly as a primary ingredient. Unfortunately, MSG goes by other names that can be misleading, especially in the grocery store. Naturally sourced MSG is often found under the names Sodium Caseinate, Hydrolyzed Plant Protein, or Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein.
Should I Avoid MSG?
The current medical literature shows little evidence that MSG is particularly harmful, but it is frequently an ingredient in foods you should limit your consumption of in the first place, due to high sodium, high sugar levels, or food that is highly processed. The rule of thumb is, if you feel that MSG is impacting your health and wellness, you should limit your exposure, and set up an appointment with a doctor to discuss your symptoms, in order to get to the root of your problem, and to preserve your well-being.
XYLITOL ALTERNATIVE LOW-CALORIE SWEETENER
Written by , Article reviewed and edited by Dr. Fine M.D.
Published on 12 October 2016
Xylitol – Alternative Low-Calorie Sweetener
As we learn more about how bad that simple sugars and simple carbohydrates are for are health, it's important to look into alternative sweeteners in our quest to improve health and safeguard longevity. One particular alternative to sugar that occurs naturally in the environment is known as Xylitol.
What is Xylitol?
Xylitol is an alternative sweetener that is present in many of the foods that we eat, like vegetables and fruits. Xylitol can also be extracted from particular hardwoods, and is used to fortify foods that we eat. In addition to absorbing Xylitol from diet, the human body has the capacity to make a small amount of the sugar alcohol using internal physiological processes.
How Long Has Xylitol Been Used for Food?
Xylitol has been used in foods since that late 19th century. The nutrient was first described in 1891 by a German researcher. Though it was used in a limited manner in the early 20th century, World War II led to a rapid increase in production and distribution of Xylitol, beginning in Finland, as a result of sugar scarcity during wartime. At the time, the Finnish named Xylitol Koivusokeri, which literally means Birch Sugar in English. Though Xylitol can be extracted from a variety of foods and organic products, it was first collected from birch fibers.
After World War II and into the sixties, Xylitol's use as a sweetener expanded quickly into Japan, the Soviet Union, and Europe. Eventually, Xylitol made its way onto American soil, and is widely used today. Xylitol has high marks from the American Dental Association for its impact on dental health, and has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a safe food product.
Where does American Xylitol Come From?
For commercial use, Xylitol generally comes from a few distinct sources, the most common of which are cornhusk, seed husks, cane pulp, and cellulose from trees.
How Do Simple Sugars Compare to Xylitol?
Table sugar and Xylitol are both potent sweeteners, but there are some major differences between the two. For example, Xylitol does not actually belong to the class of compounds known as sugar. In fact, Xylitol is a sugar alcohol. Other sugar alcohols include Erythritol, Maltitol, Mannitol, and Sorbitol. Most of the common sugars have 6-carbon chains, such as Dextrose, Fructose, and Sucrose. Xylitol, on the other hand, is a 5-carbon compound.
Xylitol has some powerful benefits as compared to common table sugar. As you've probably heard in recent months and years, it is becoming increasingly clear that excess sugar consumption has a hugely negative effect upon health, and sugar-alternatives such as Xylitol can replace sugar as a sweetener. Our bodies are designed to absorb simple sugars and carbohydrates rapidly, which leads to a spike in blood sugar and can hinder proper insulin production. In fact, the body can partially absorb Xylitol without Insulin, which further suppresses the need for insulin.
How Do Xylitol and Sugar Compare with Regard to Caloric Intake?
Because of these specific differences in how the body uses and metabolizes Xylitol, an equivalent amount of Xylitol will only lead to the absorption of 60% of the calories as compared to simple sugars. Xylitol passes through most of the digestive system without being metabolized, until it reaches the large intestine, where it is partially digested.
For the same sweetness, it would take 4 calories from sugar, as compared to only 2.4 for Xylitol. In addition to the sensation of sweetness, Xylitol leads to a sensation of cooling, not entirely unlike mint, but not as potent. This sensation occurs because Xylitol is an alcohol, and reacts with chemicals in the saliva, which leads it to absorb heat.
How Can Xylitol Benefit Health and Wellness?
Because of the dietary caloric benefits of Xylitol, there has been a lot of research on the chemical, as it relates to our health. Xylitol is frequently used in sugar-free gum, and has been endorsd by the ADA because of its positive impact on dental health. Studies have shown that brushing twice per day and chewing gum containing Xylitol leads to a major reduction in the formation of cavities.
There are two known means by which Xylitol safeguards oral health. Foods containing simple sugar are bad for our teeth because they encourage the proliferation of bad bacteria which induce an overly acidic environment in the mouth, which is terrible for tooth enamel. Unlike simple sugars, Xylitol does not undergo the process of fermentation. This helps preserve the natural pH of the mouth, which is slightly above 7. The second reason why Xylitol reduces the incidence of cavities is because it encourages the release of saliva, which both preserves the enamel and disperses acids which etch into the enamel.
One drawback of Xylitol and other sugar alcohols is that it can lead to gastrointestinal issues when consumed in excess. This is because Xylitol has laxative effects, resulting from the way that it passes through the digestive system. Because we only partially break down Xylitol, it can lead to diarrhea, flatulence, and bloating. Most people that use Xylitol regularly are able to overcome these laxative effects, and it should be noted that it takes a lot of Xylitol to lead to these issues. Xylitol is quickly becoming favored over other sugar alcohols (especially sorbitol), because it is much less likely to lead to gastrointestinal distress.
Combine Xylitol with Stevia and other Sugar Alternatives to Enhance Health
If you are interested in preserving your oral health and improving your overall wellness, chewing gum with Xylitol as a sweetener is a smart choice. Xylitol is not heavily used in foods and drinks that we eat every day, but Stevia makes a fantastic alternative to table sugar in teas, drinks, and many foods. Take steps to minimize your intake of simple sugars, and focus on getting your carbohydrates from complex such as whole grain rice, whole wheat bread, and vegetables.
HOW TO INCREASE LEAN MUSCLE MASS AND STRENGTH
Written by , Article reviewed and edited by Dr. Fine M.D.
Published on 12 July 2015
How to increase lean muscle mass and strength
Its the question that everyone who works out wants to get a definitive answer to: How to increase lean muscle mass and strength? Yet the answer is a multi-part one, which now contains what could be interpreted as a new twist for those who are not very familiar with the uses of HRT (hormone replacement therapy) using growth hormone therapy to give your results a very powerful boost.
For adults, growth hormone is involved in cellular regeneration throughout the body. This means that your metabolism, energy and stamina are directly related to this hormone. Healthy tissues in the skin, muscles, skeleton, connective tissues and internal organs also depend on you having a healthy growth hormone level.
For the uninitiated, growth hormone therapy consists of using a prescribed program of human growth hormone (HGH) injections to correct a medical diagnosis of growth hormone deficiency. Its first medical use in the US was to treat children whose linear growth was in danger of being stunted by the insufficient supply of growth hormone that their bodies were producing. However, as endocrinologists became aware that growth hormone deficiency could adversely affect the vitality of adults as well, prescribing injectable HGH for adults has become more commonly practiced.
There are several recognized causes for developing a low growth hormone (GH) level, including being injured or acquiring a disease that diminishes pituitary function. Today, many adult patients receive treatment from doctors who have measured their levels, analyzed their symptoms, and diagnosed them with having adult-onset growth hormone deficiency. Many of these patients also want to know how to increase lean muscle mass and strength, since their symptoms typically cause troubles in all areas of their life.
If Losing Lean Muscle Mass and Strength Makes You Feel Old, Youre Going to Feel That Much Younger When You Get It Back.
Working out does make most people feel much younger and more vital; it also makes them feel much prouder of the way their bodies look. So far, so good right? What about when people sometimes go to extremes in their quest to improve muscle mass and physical strength? Does using growth hormone represent a dangerous or reckless choice?
Not if you have been diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency by a doctor. This is currently the only legally acceptable reason and means for any adult living in the US to obtain a prescription for using HGH injections. If you have normal, healthy levels, then taking this medication could be potentially dangerous and definitely of no benefit to your workout routine.
However, if an adult has noticed a reduction in their lean muscle mass; has experienced a decrease in stamina and strength; is chronically lacking in energy; and is very possibly experiencing some of the other feeling old symptoms that are frequently associated with GH deficiency, then there is a good chance that they have developed this disorder. In this case, not only will growth hormone therapy answer their question about how to increase lean muscle mass and strength, it will answer it very emphatically. People on this program often report feeling many years younger within a relatively short period of time. They often appear more youthful, too. This is the kind of transformation that HGH is known for providing to hormone deficient adults.
Enhance Your Muscle Building Capacity in Several Key Ways
Growth hormone plays a key role in building lean muscle mass by helping the body process amino acids, which as you probably already know are essential building blocks for muscle tissue. Using growth hormone therapy allows your body to build lean muscle mass faster and easier because its protein synthesis becomes more efficient and so do your workouts.
This is just the beginning of how restoring a low GH supply can enhance the results of your workouts. By improving your bodys energy usage during exercise, your excess body fat melts at an exciting rate and is replaced by leaner and more sculpted muscle tissue; it also helps to protect your muscles from injury. Should muscle damage occur, using GH therapy promotes faster healing.
Unless you are still in your early to mid-twenties, you have probably noticed that it takes more effort to get the same results from your workouts as you get older. When you know how to increase lean muscle mass and strength through the use of growth hormone therapy, your workouts will have more of that old effectiveness.
You get a huge edge when using medication that has been prescribed for you and is being properly monitored by a specialist. Your workouts become living examples of your bodys renewed peak efficiency and when you find yourself living with this much energy day to day, everything seems to be possible just as it did back in your younger days.
Working Out Makes You Feel Good; Working Out with Growth Hormone Therapy Makes You Feel Even Better!
When adults are using growth hormone replacement therapy, they generally feel better about everything. In the same way that exercise releases feel-good endorphins, GH therapy provides adults with a sense of overall wellness that permeates throughout their body.
This sense of exhilaration extends to your workouts because you will be amazed at how much faster you are able to get the results you want. It extends into other areas of your life:
- Your mind becomes clearer and more focused, making it much easier to stay on top of your work and family responsibilities; and
- your libido becomes recharged and ready for action; and
- any issues that youve been experiencing with your moods are resolved and replaced by a state emotional wellbeing; and
- Youll start sleeping better, too, which brings another wide range of benefits.
It might start out that you only want to know how to increase muscle mass and strength, but the more you learn about human growth hormone therapy the better it will sound and why wouldnt it? If an easy to treat hormone deficiency is responsible for not only making your workouts less productive, but making your entire life less productive, you can do something about it. Talk to a hormone replacement specialist about whether you qualify for growth hormone replacement therapy; a simple blood test usually reveals all the answers you need.
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If your doctor only prescribes testosterone by itself, you will
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