Until recently, it was thought that the most powerful regulator of addictions was the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine strongly controls motivation and desire by operating a specific set of neurons deep in the brain (called the nucleus accumbens and ventral tegmental area) that are, in turn, connected to the brain’s prefrontal lobes.
Cocaine, for example, causes a powerful release of dopamine in these special brain nuclei.
Yet studies have shown that it is glutamate receptors and elevated levels of glutamate in the brain that causes the addiction, especially the return to addiction.
If elevations in brain glutamate levels, especially in the prefrontal lobes, are associated with addiction and the return to addiction, one would assume that high levels of dietary glutamate, such as MSG, might worsen addiction. Prolonged exposure to dietary glutamate can raise levels in the brain. For more information on the damage food additives can do to your body, read my newsletter "Food Additives: What You Eat Can Kill You."
Americans eat a wide assortment of processed foods containing large amounts of glutamate additives. Even the fluoride in drinking water significantly increases the level of glutamate in the brain because fluoride avidly binds to glutamate, dramatically increasing absorption.
Studies have found that N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) could reestablish normal levels of glutamate in these brain pathways and reduce addiction and cravings. For more information on the role of food additives in addiction, read my special report "Addiction: Diet's Hidden Role in Obsessive Disorders."
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