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The Glutamate-Aspartate Restricted Diet

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* The Glutamate/Aspartate Restricted Diet (GARD)- This section will be a series of posts that I have placed on applicable sections of a large medical forum known as BrainTalk Communities (found here: http://brain.hastypastry.net/forums/index.php?). This site is an expansive set of forums that cover medical conditions ranging from Alzheimer's to Visual Impairments. I have personally contributed to threads on many of these forums, including those dealing with ADHD, ALS, Celiac Disease, Epilepsy, Chronic Pain, Fibromyalgia, and Child Neurology. The main reason for my involvement in these forums can be found in the content of the following posts. I hope that you get something very special from this section. It is my personal favorite.

 
The Glutamate/Aspartate Restricted Diet
                        (the G.A.R.D.)
                                                     By Dogtor J.
                                                    2004 DogtorJ.com
 
 
 
Post Number One:
 
 
The Glutamate/Aspartate Restricted Diet (GARD)
 
 
Hi Everyone,

This thread is something I prepared for the Epilepsy forum. I have also posted it on 4-5 other applicable forums on BrainTalk (ADHD, child neurology, fibromyalgia), some at the request of their members and others "just because". Why the latter? I believe that this is one of the most important things that I know.

The disappearance of my chronic pain and the dramatic response of epileptic dogs to this diet (the GARD, as it is now being called) are what catapulted me into the Internet consulting business and changed my life forever. Hopefully it is changing other's lives as well. It taught me a VERY important...no CRITICAL...fact, that the food sources (The "bound" forms) of the non-essential, neuroactive amino acids glutamate and aspartate are, in fact, entering the brain and exerting an effect just like the "free" forms of these amino acids do (MSG and aspartame...errrrrrh!). You all must know by now how MSG and aspartame worsen your pain.

And what are these food sources of glutamate and aspartate??? Yep, they are the same guys: gluten grains, dairy, and soy, along with others that I list that will make sense as you read them.

Once again, all of this should make perfect sense. Many of you have seen reductions in pain by avoiding MSG and aspartame so you are primed and ready to take this to a new level and see how the food sources of these same amino acids are loaded with these non-essential neuramines that are driving our nervous systems whacko while providing overloads of estrogens. As estrogens also sensitize the neurons to the action of these amino acids, the neuro/pain part of the spiral is especially easy to see (e.g. PMS, catamenial seizures, post partum depression/anxiety.

Throw in the immunosuppressive effects of these foods and the fact that viruses are critically involved in sooooo many of our conditions (immune-mediated and cancers), and it is very easy to see how the spiral is getting tighter and tighter. These neurological pandemics (e.g. ADHD, depression, fibromyalgia) with which we are faced DO have some very palpable explanations, don't they?

So, I hope that you get something out of this thread. Yes, it is long (surprise, surprise. ) but this is the most important thing I have ever done. This is my last three years of medical research in a nutshell but in a conversational tone. This is what it has been ALL about. So, take your time. There is no law that you have to read it all at one time.

Hope this helps,
John

Post Number Two
 
 
The GARD
 
 
Hi everyone,

I am glad that this topic has generated some interest. Thank you for your encouraging your PMs and Emails. I didn't think that my passion for this subject could get any greater until I read some of your responses and family histories. It is obvious that my medical history is not the only one that cries out "food intolerance" (gluten, casein, soy, corn) as the underlying theme. It is so cool to see many of you understanding how the pathophysiology of the intestinal damage(primarily of the duodenum and jejunum) sets us up for soooo much of what is afflicting us, including the onset of opportunistic infections.

And again, the same foods that are damaging our intestinal lining, compromising our immune systems, and preventing/blocking proper absorption of essentials nutrients are the ones that are providing the staggering amounts of the non-essential amino acids glutamate and aspartate, the parent proteins in MSG and aspartame respectively.

So, for the first time, I have come up with an acronym for the diet. Funny, never saw it before...GARD..the Glutamate/Aspartate Restricted Diet.

The main sources of these non-essential amino acids are the gluten grains (wheat, barley, rye), cow milk products with casein (especially cheeses), soy, the bean family (navy, black, pinto, garbanzo, lima, lentils), nuts (especially peanuts, cashews, pistachios), seeds (sunflower,pumpkin), and foods with MSG and aspartame. Rice is moderately high, coming in between wheat and corn. Corn is more of an issue in the villous atrophy syndrome than rice and is thereby more of an allergen/immunostimulant. Oats are interesting. They are considered safe by many celiac authorities so their gluten appears to be different, at least less concentrated, than wheat, et al . BUT they are high in glutamate according to food charts that I have.

Peanuts are a MAJOR source of glutamate, which should be no surprise when we see that they are soy's close cousin, another legume. To top that off, most peanut butter is LOADED with hydrogenated oils, as they take the valuable peanut oil out and replace it with hydrogenated oils that are cheaper, give it a smoother texture, and act as "natural" (errrrrh) preservative so that it can stay on your pantry shelf.(I eat only Smucker's Natural. It has to stay in the fridge.)

So, 70% of the calories in the standard American diet (SAD) comes from dairy products and wheat alone. Wow! Think of the pizza, cheeseburgers, mac and cheese, waffles, pancakes, muffins, toast, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with a big glass of milk, cookies and milk, cake and milk, cereal and milk, brownies and milk...you get the idea.

But, for those that have been led to believe that sugar is the root of all evil, we have a slew of sugar-free products with aspartame, including almost every single chewing gum except my favorite...Big Red. That's it. Please read the labels. Then you have almost every single soup containing MSG, most prepared Mexican and Chinese foods with MSG, and 90% of prepared foods with blood brain barrier damaging hydrogenated oils. Starting to see why epilepsy, ADHD, chronic pain, and insomnia are skyrocketing?

The fact that these two amino acids are non-essential should be one clue. Our body can make all it needs of these. What do these two proteins do in our body? Among other things, they are the main neurotransmitters in the brain. Glutamate is essentially what makes the impulse cross the synapse. There is a "nurse cell" known as the glial cell that helps control the level of glutamate at the synapse. When it becomes diseased or dies, the glutamate level can build up and cause major problems, including seizures or the death of the neuron. In ALS, the latter happens. I am convinced that in epilepsy, the former happens. I also contend that the seizure is therapeutic, burning up the glutamate in the brain to prevent this neurotoxin from killing the brain. It is a glutamate cascade that accompanies our death from whatever cause that actually kills the brain.

Blood (serum) glutamate levels are controlled by enzyme systems in the liver and kidneys. This gets complicated so I won't elaborate. But, you can read about this by putting "glutamate, liver" in your search and read to your content or level of understanding. Enzyme systems are essentially a vitamin and protein combination and my original epilepsy (and pain) paper found on my site (
http://dogtorj.tripod.com./id2.html) contends that the malabsorption syndrome created in the gut by the same foods that provide the glutamate/aspartate keeps us from absorbing the vitamins needed to create these vital glutamate-controlling enzymes in the liver. I still believe that is is very likely and a vital component to those with "idiopathic" epilepsy, but I am now studying the vital role of viruses in this process.

I will not get into the viral thing now as we have a "lively" thread going on that topic right now on this forum. A wise person (whom I now respect much more) pointed out that I need to be careful in this area. For one thing, I may be scaring some of you with all of this talk of viruses. Plus, much of this is still "theory", as medical authorities have yet to state definitively which viruses cause what. Please understand: I am not trying to frighten you into trying this diet. I look at the viral connection as being vital to our understanding of what is going wrong and see it as HOPE-giving information. I would rather the "enemy" have a face and know how he got here and what he plans to do than write it all off to "idiopathic" or "bad genes" or worse..."bad luck". I think this should encourage people, especially when they see that there IS somthing that they can do about it rather than take simply take cover-up drugs (or worse...immunosuppressive drugs...errrrh) for the rest of their life. The diet is a huge first step.

And that is the last point for this thread. I am NOT advocating that anyone stop their meds. No, NO, NO. I don't do that with my canine patients until I am convinced that the diet has helped. I have them go through a seizure cycle or two before reducing their meds THEN I taper the drugs slowly once I am convinced. Certainly, because of the dramatic results I have seen in dogs that were not yet on meds, I feel like I could stop many epileptic dogs meds right away and be fine in doing so. BUT, I know that some of them have other issues like liver disease, chronic viral encephalitis (distemper virus, etc.), OR cheat on the diet by eating other pet's foods. Compliance is a big issue when you are dealing with pets... and owners that love their pets to death (literally).

This concept has been proven to be effective to me frontwards and backwards many times over the past three years. The rapid response to the diet change (commercial duck and potato diets for the dogs), the complete response in some, and the seizures that consistently occur 6 hours after making a mistake (if they are not on AEDs) have all spoken volumes about this diet..the GARD. (Man, I like that. )

The 6 hour connection is really phenomenal to see. The "free" forms of glutamate and aspartate (MSG/aspartame) hit the brain in about an hour. Heard of the "MSG rush"??? When these levels drop off in another hour or so, we become "HUNGRY" again ("What's up with that Chinese food, anyway?" asks the comedian.). Our brain LOOOOOVES that stuff. See food addiction on my site (
http://dogtorj.tripod.com./id6.html).

The "bound" forms in food (for example, wheat gluten is 25% glutamate by weight) take about 5-6 hours to hit the brain. "Ahhhh....That's why I wake up like a shot at 1-2 AM after eating dinner and dessert at 7-8 PM.!" Yup. Food did this to me for years. The sleep aids helped but not really much. Now I sleep like a baby (which is really a dumb expression isn't it? Who wants to wake up every hour wet and hungry? Haha). I sleep well... we'll leave it at that.

The other proof of the bound forms of these "excitotoxins" (as Dr. Russell Blaylock refers to MSG/aspartame) doing their thing is ADHD and chronic pain (e.g. fibromyalgia). I go into great detail on these pandemic conditions on my site. However, I am now studying the potential viral links in ADHD. The link to EBV (Epstein Barr) has been studied for quite sometime now in fibromyalgia. I believe there could be a guy like that involved in ADHD as well. For current thoughts on this, put "ADHD, virus" in your search.

But to me, epilepsy is the main topic. It has been from the beginning of my work and I have believed that the GARD will help prevent seizures in people as well. It has already. I will send Email and PM testimonials to anyone that is interested. Also, check out the Gluten Sensitivity/Celiac section of BrainTalk for more discussion and testimonials.

I hope this helps,
John

PS. I will follow this post with a chart of foods high and low in glutamate/aspartate.
 
 

Post Number Three
 
 
The List
 
 
Here is the list from my site. It can be found at the end of my original epilepsy paper found here:

http://dogtorj.tripod.com./id2.html


and at the end of my pain paper found here:

http://dogtorj.tripod.com./id3.html.


Here's the list:

Foods rich in glutamate and aspartate:

1) Grains: Wheat, barley, and oats are highest. Corn and rice are lower than the previous three but higher than potatoes.

2) Dairy Products: All Cheeses (cheddar, Swiss, Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, PARMESAN) are very high. Casein is very concentrated in cheese and is 20% glutamic acid by composition.

3) Beans: Soy, Pinto, lima, black, navy, and lentils

4) Seeds: Sunflower, pumpkin, etc.

5) Peanuts: Very high, as are cashews, pistachios, and almonds. I have more detailed charts on the site to show exact values for the various nuts. Everything in moderation applies when eating nuts of any kind. So, I do not recommend you reach for nuts when you are really hungry unless you can stop after a few. Nuts are very good for you..in moderation. For example, seven almonds a day gives you what you need .


6) Diet drinks: Primary source of aspartate (aspartame)

7) Prepared foods, soups: 70% of prepared foods and many soups have MSG

8) Meats: Note- All meats are naturally rich in glutamate and aspartate. Lamb (and eggs) are the lowest, while rabbit and turkey are the highest.

However, I believe that the amount in a normal serving of meat should not be enough to cause problems. I think that it is all of the other "unnatural" sources when combined with the meats that are causing the main problems in dogs. However, in the worst epileptic people, I could believe that eating a large amount of meat (like a 14oz New York strip) could create a problem, especially when you consider the following.

One of my newest concerns is the presence of glutamate in the flesh of grain-fed animals, especially chickens, turkeys, and cattle. This is s topic of discussion on the celiac forums and we are now believing that this is a real concern and could explain why some celiacs are not responding to elimination diets. Catfish are also grain fed.

But, the fact is that 60-70% of the American Diet is wheat and dairy (with heavy emphasis on cheese). This combined with the amount of artificial sweeteners being consumed and the addition of SOY has led this country into an epidemic of pain syndromes, including fibromyalgia. Epilepsy is definitely on the rise in pets and the combination of wheat and soy in pet foods is playing a huge role. I am seeing first time epileptic dogs within three weeks of starting such diets.



Foods lower in glutamate and aspartate:

1) Fruits, berries

2) Vegetables

3) Potatoes

4) Lamb and eggs are relatively low (compared to beef, chicken, turkey)

5) Tree nuts (e.g. pecans, walnuts, macadamias) NOTE: These are relatively low when compared to peanuts and cashews. I have more detailed charts on the site to show exact values. Again, everything in moderation applies when eating nuts of any kind. I do not recommend you reach for nuts when you are really hungry unless you can stop after a few. Nuts are very good for you..in moderation. 7 almonds a day gives you what you need .


So, the GARD should be mostly lean meats, vegetables, fruits/berries, limited nuts, potatoes, and eggs while also limiting known allergens. My site discusses primary versus secondary food allergens. The good news is that if we stay off the primary ones long enough (dairy, wheat/gluten grains, soy, corn) we may be able to eat the secondary ones again.

Remember: Like sufferers of the many conditions that afflict us, epileptics are obviously on a spectrum of affliction. Spending time on this forum has made this painfully clear, especially after reading about the worst cases. My heart goes out to you all. That being said, I feel certain that, as in the pets, there will be those that will respond to minimal changes in diet and those that will require Herculean efforts in the elimination of the foods above. Also keep in mind that I have had pets that were seizure-free on these duck and potato diets for 6-12 months but that had a seizure within 6 hours of making a mistake (e.g. stealing a waffle). But, I do feel certain that as they (and people) get farther down the road, they will become more resilient to mistakes. This is in part due to the elimination of the casomorphins and gliadomorphins (from casein and gluten) that take up to a year to be eliminated from the brain. Again, this is explained on my site.

Please feel free to Email me through my site with any questions.

John

PS. I will also post a chart for you to see which foods are rich in ESTROGENS. You will see an interesting pattern. Most of you know that estrogens are "inflammatory" and sensitize neurons to glutamate (catamenial seizures, PMS). Progesterones are your friend. They are calming, anti-inflammatory (stronger in some regards than cortisone), and they can help suppress seizures. Too bad there are not dietary sources of these, right? Yes, that is one of the other problems. These same foods are RICH is estrogen but low in progesterone. Balance is everything, isn't it?
 
 

Now, for the GOOD news:

On these dietary restrictions, I just want to make one thing very clear. We are restricting the level of glutamate and aspartate in the diet because the neurons of the brain (and their associated supportive cells called glial cells, or astrocytes) are diseased and cannot handle the high levels of this non-essential, neurostimulating amino acid in our typical diet. By eating what has become the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.), we are absolutely bombarding our brain with these “excitotoxins” in the form of grains, dairy, soy, and the rest.

But, it is the fact that the brain is unhealthy that explains why we are seeing the syndromes such as epilepsy, ADHD, insomnia, fibromyalgia, and various neurodegenerative diseases. I need to reemphasize this point for a number of reasons but mainly to establish why a person would develop one of these conditions and another not while eating the same foods. There must be something that distinguishes that person from the other…and there is…there always is. These things are covered elsewhere on the Website, but this might be a good time to check out my newest section, Viruses-Friend or Foe?

Here’s the point: When we are in the throws of one of the excitotoxin-related disorders, we need to reduce our consumption of the foods rich in these amino acids as much as possible. Doing so places a big Band-Aid on the situation and yields notable and often remarkable results in a short period of time. Dogs have stopped seizing in 24 hours. I felt noticeably better in four days. My fibromyalgia was improved in less than a week and gone in a month.

The phenomenal thing is that the long-term recovery also comes from the same diet. The principle reason this disease-producing cycle was set into motion to begin with was the damage effects of the “big 4” (gluten, casein, soy, and corn) on the intestinal villi and their ability to absorb vital nutrients. This combined with the showering of the body with exctotoxins, allergens, lectins, estrogens, and other substances from these same foods sets us up for the disease states that follow. Once the immune system starts to suffer from the same process, we are pretty much done.

The good news (yes, there is some good news) is that once we are off the “big 4” long enough, the process does reverse. Imagine the benefits of your body properly absorbing the calcium, iron, iodine, B complex, vitamin C, and trace minerals it so desperately needs. Imagine a brain, liver, and entire body that is getting what it needs to repair and thrive and in an environment free of the top four human, dog, and cat food allergens (cow milk, wheat, soy, and corn), which are also providing major quantities of allergens, damaging lectins, estrogens, depressants (casomorphins/gliadomorphins), and excitotoxins. Do you think you might just start feeling better??? (Smile)

But there’s more good news (and this is the main reason for placing this information here on this page). Once you have recovered…your brain, liver, and immune system are back to normal or close to it…then you can go back to eating some of those sources of glutamate and aspartate that are not one of the “big 4”. Again, the reason for the more severe restriction of these other foods was to place a Band-Aid on the situation- to provide relief for your ailing brain and liver (which regulates the glutamate in the bloodstream) by reducing the load of these potentially harmful neuroactive amino acids on these unhealthy organs. Once the nervous system and liver have recovered, most of us can go back to eating the nuts, seeds, beans, and meats that we were limiting in the beginning.

Just remember- "Everything in moderation". Some individuals will recover to such a degree that they could go back to eating all of the peanuts, lima beans, and steak they want without experiencing a seizure, pain episode, or bad night's sleep. BUT, most will fall into a category somewhere in between this level of recovery and where they were to start with, depending on several secondary factors, such how much we cheat with the "big 4", our age, local pollution, and more. And after all, loading up on peanuts is not good for anyone. (All you need is about 6 peanuts or almonds to get all that you need from them for the day. BUT, who does that???) Similarly, we do not need the cowboy-sized serving of steak they throw at us at your favorite restaurant. (I have to keep telling myself that.)

So, please do not think that I am saying you cannot eat any of the foods on the glutamate-rich list ever again. The formal name of the diet is the glutamate-aspartate restricted diet. That is a relative term, with some individuals requiring a more severe restriction than others. But when it comes to the "big 4", I use the term elimination. If you are gluten, casein, soy, and/or corn intolerant, elimination is the key to your optimal recovery. These are the guys that set us up for all of this mess. That is why I now "lovingly" call them the four horsemen of the apocalypse. The effects they can have on man and animals is potentially catastrophic and hopefully the reader now has a much better idea of why I have dedicated my life to this mission.

I hope this helps. And as always, if you need to contact me about this vital topic, please Email me at dogtorj@bellsouth.net

Dogtor J.

 
 
Addendum
 
Here is a great site for looking up the nutritional profiles of food, including their glutamate and aspartate content.
 
 
Simply click on the food you are inquiring about, then scroll down toward the bottom of the page until you see the chart in the Nutritional Profile section. There is a click-on link after that chart (just above the References section) that reads "In Depth Nutritional Profile for (chosen food)" .  Click on that link and then just scroll done to the aspartate and glutamate listings. Make note of the serving size at the top of the chart so that you'll be making an accurate comparison.  You will quickly see the huge difference between the glutamate/aspartate content of healthy fruits/vegetables versus items such soy, wheat, barley, and the bean family (with the exception of green beans).
 

 
 
 

Post Number Four
 
Estrogens in Food
 
Now, here is the Website showing the foods high in estrogens and those that block estrogen. These should be considered in formulating the ultimate diet for the epileptic, I would think, as we know that estrogens are inflammatory and sensitive neurons to the action of glutamate (e'g catamenial seizures, PMS).

Here's the site:

http://www.holisticonline.com/Remed....htm#containing


Here's the chart:

Foods Containing Natural Estrogens

Note: Those is bold are also RICH in glutamate.

Alfalfa
Animal flesh
Anise seed
Apples
Baker's yeast
Barley
Beets
Carrots
Cherries
Chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
Clover
Cowpeas (black- eyed peas)
Cucumbers
Dairy Foods
Dates
Eggs
Eggplant
Fennel
Flaxseeds
Garlic
Hops
Licorice
Oats
Olive oil
Olives
Papaya
Parsley
Peas
Peppers
Plums
Pomegranates
Potatoes
Pumpkin
Red beans
Red clover
Rhubarb
Rice (relatively high)
Sage
Sesame seeds
Soybean sprouts
Soybeans
Split peas
Sunflower seeds
Tomatoes
Wheat
Yams


Estrogen Inhibiting Foods

If you are suffering from breast cancer, PMS, fibroids, ovarian cysts, and other situations that estrogen might exacerbate, the following estrogen inhibiting foods might be of interest to you.

Berries
Broccoli
Buckwheat
Cabbage
Citrus Foods
Corn
Figs
Fruits (except apples, cherries, dates, pomegranates)
Grapes
Green beans
Melons
Millet
Onions
Pears
Pineapples
Squashes
Tapioca
White rice
White flour   Now, this is really cool! Why would wheat be on the list of estrogens rich in estrogens but white flour would be on the list of estrogen blocking foods? Doesn't make sense right? Actually, it DOES and illustrates a VERY important point. What do you get when you add water to white flour? Glue/ paste, right? What have I been saying about gluten again...it is "glue" and it does coat and stick to the villi of the duodenum. In this case, it coats the villi and blocks the absorption of the ESTROGENS in the food. Now, how cool is that?

When I saw this site a couple of years ago, I had another "revelation". Even the bad things have a purpose. In this case, the "glues" in the bad foods (gluten grains, dairy, and soy) don't just block the absorption of essential nutrients (and drugs). They also help block the bad things in these trouble foods, like the estrogens and goitrogens....antinutrients, like those found in soy. (Errrrrh.)

Whodathunkit? Yin and yang even apply to food.

Again, I hope this helps,
John
 
 Dogtor J.
2004 DogtorJ.com

I hope you enjoyed your time here and got something important from your stay. It is my goal to help all of mankind navigate through the jungle of medical information now available on the Internet and find the truth about the origins of what we call "disease" as well as discover the natural solutions for these conditions.
 
We do have our health's destiny in our own hands more than we've ever imagined, certainly more than most have ever been told. Think naturally and the answer will come.
 
Dogtor J
 
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I used to have a nice little form in this space that would allow readers to send me a quick comment or testimonial. Unfortunately, as the Interent goes, I started getting 50-100 junk emails through this form and had to remove it. 
 
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This is taking place for a number of reasons, the most of important of which will be revealed in the upcoming months. Yes, the book is finally in the works but there will be a major awareness project to go along with it.
 
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