How Excitotoxins In Our Diets Are Affecting Our Health

Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter produced by the human body and is also a naturally occurring component of many healthy whole foods.  It occurs in protein-containing foods such as cheese, milk, mushrooms, meat, and fish as well as some fruits, nuts, and vegetables. The glutamate from whole foods is slowly assimilated and broken down so that the levels of glutamate in the body are kept low. At normal concentrations, glutamate is vital for metabolism, brain function including learning and memory, and is responsible for sending signals between nerve cells. 

So why should we even be talking about the removal of something from your diet that is healthy and natural?  For the most part we aren’t but the more food is processed, the more likely it will contain synthetic monosodium glutamate  (MSG) and other substances with glutamic acid that enhance flavor. The introduction of these excitotoxins into the American diet is the problem. When you eat the typical American diet which is full of processed foods laden with additives your glutamate consumption skyrockets. Excessive glutamate is excitotoxic* and poses risk to everyone, especially children.  This excess can overly excite brain cells, affect mood, behavior, the gut and more. 

So how do you know which products contain these excitotoxins? We’ve created a comprehensive list you can print and take to the grocery store. The bottom line – if you eat a whole foods diet full of unprocessed fresh foods excess glutamate is typically not a problem. But buyer beware – organic on a label is not enough! Even the supposedly healthy processed organic brands are replete with these excitotoxins. 

*Excitotoxicity is the pathological process by which neurons are damaged and killed by the overactivations of receptors for the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate, such as the NMDA receptor and AMPA receptor.

Remove Excitotoxins from your pantry and fridge!

Print and carry this list with you to the grocery store.  Especially check ingredients of the following:

  • Baby Foods (unfortunately excitotoxins are in most baby foods) 
  • Candies
  • Children’s Snack Foods (even health food brands)
  • Chewing Gums
  • Soft Drinks, Electrolyte Drinks
  • Frozen meals
  • Soups, broths, bouillon 
  • Snack foods – chips, crackers, etc.
  • Sauces
  • Dressings

Healthy Foods with Higher Levels of Naturally Occurring Glutamate 

The levels of glutamate in whole foods vary greatly and do not normally cause issues when eating non-processed foods. The introduction of synthetic flavor enhancers into the American diet have caused many health issues which result in people having to avoid even healthy whole foods with higher levels of glutamate for a time until they heal. These foods in the short list below are an example of foods that can be a problem for anyone prone to migraines, those who have neurological issues, have leaky gut, have behavioral, developmental, or learning disabilities, weight issues, etc.

  • Bone Broth – long cooked bone broth can be an excitotoxic issue especially if you have a very leaky gut – recommend Stock cooked only 1-2 hours which has much lower glutamate levels.
  • Broccoli 
  • Fermented Foods – can be issue if have very leaky gut – avoid initially until heal gut issues
  • Grapes
  • Green Peas 
  • Tomatoes  
  • Walnuts
  • Personal care items with excitotoxins can affect people as well including shampoos with “hydrolyzed,” “amino acids,” and “protein.”

Why Should I Care? I am Healthy

We should all be aware of these excitatory synthetic additives and excess glutamates in our food because they impact people differently depending on their biology and physiology. Just “TossingthisToxin” has completely resolved or improved allergies, autism, asthma, anxiety, obesity, depression, developmental disorders, diabetes, digestive issues, headaches, autoimmune diseases, and more. 

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  1. I am very new to Branch Basics, in fact, I have not even received my first order! (just ordered 2nd time today after watching all of you videos) I am SO impressed!!! I CAN’T wait to receive my products, and the first order won’t be here until Jan. 21st! I was relieved to find that I could order my items separately, since the Starter Kits are back ordered. I know that I paid more to get them this way, but I just couldn’t wait til February to get them.

    Thank you so much for creating these products. I have some health issues myself, and am very excited to find out if some of these issues will dissolve once I do the clean sweep, and start cleaning and doing my laundry with BB. I will definitely share my progress with you!

    Marilee, you ROCK! I thank God for your faithfulness to never give into the “worldly” way of doing things. God has blessed you with the gumption, determination, and resolve to find a better way!

    God Bless,
    Joy Nelson

    1. Hello Lucille. Yes! From our user guide:

      VEGGIE + FRUIT WASH – Fill your sink with water
      and add 1 tablespoon of Branch Basics Concentrate.
      Dump in the fresh produce and let it soak. After about
      5-10 minutes, pull it out and rinse, then let it air dry
      on dish towels. Make sure to pull the produce out
      of the water before you drain the sink so it is not
      re-contaminated by the dirt that has accumulated at
      the bottom. You may also spray the produce with the
      All-Purpose, wait approximately 30 seconds and rinse.

  2. Thank you for sharing your knowledge of healthy living/eating. I have just recently concentrated on ridding our home of harmful chemicals and focusing on healthier eating habits. I have learned so much valuable information from you and am excited to see continued healing by following your advice.
    You’re the best! God Bless

  3. I think it’s very poor nutritional advice to tell anyone suffering with gut issues to cut out bone broth and fermented foods, as those are the two best foods to help HEAL your gut :/

    1. Hello Miranda. We agree that bone broth and fermented foods can be very healing for the gut. But, people with VERY leaky guts many times have issues with long cooked bone broth and fermented foods.

    2. Bone Broth and fermented foods are extremely high in histamine. For many, they are not healing at all but cause more symptoms and impede gut healing. I am in many Autoimmune groups and it’s very common that people trying to heal leaky gut find out they have histamine intolerance the hard way by consuming copious amounts of Bone Broth and ferments. Not all foods deemed healing are right for every person.

  4. How can you tell if the bone broth in question has been long cooked or not? I’m not much of a DIY-er, so I tend to pick up Epic’s Bone Broth (says “Slow Simmered” on the jar…) and Kettle Fire (also mentions slow cooked for 16 hours on their label, so I’m guessing this is problematic). Can you recommend a brand of stock cooked bone broth that is more acceptable?
    Lastly, what is your verdict on Vital Proteins brand of wildly popular Collagen Peptides as well as their Gelatin?
    Thank you, Branch Basics!!

    1. Hello Lauren. Epic’s and Kettle Fire’s Bone Broths are probably long time simmered. Our warning about long-cooked bone broth and fermented foods is for extreme cases of leaky gut. The collagen and gelatin are also examples that for some people it can be beneficial as long as their overall intake of glutamates is low enough. For many people if they are eating a whole food diet and avoiding the top list of synthetic excitotoxins then gelatin, collagen, bone broth, and fermented foods will work. Certainly if someone is trying to heal the gut they should realize that it could be possible that lowering glutamate overall even in whole foods would be helpful.

  5. Please list the specific ingredients to avoid. I don’t know which ingredients are excitatory synthetic additives and excess glutamates. The one you mention is “synthetic MSG”. How would that be specified on a label?


      1. It’s not listed in your list, but what do you think of the very popular Nutritional Yeast flakes a lot of us whole foods-plant-based-no oil eaters have suggested to us for flavor.

        P.S. I just saw Ms. Kennedy on Home and Family Hallmark Show – and I believe I heard Kathie Lee Gifford mention her a couple of years ago as a relative, or friend! Small world.

  6. Thank you so much for all of your incredible info! I have been watching Katherine Reid’s presentations on YouTube and I know she also discusses making sure the excitotoxins are not in soaps, lotions, or toothpaste. I saw that you have a page dedicated to clean products that you recommend. Do you know if these products are free from the excitotoxins? Sorry I am just trying to make sure everything is cleaned up for my son who has sensory issues and a speech delay. Thank you again for all of the information!!


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