Section 3 of Part 2: Could Glutamic Acid And Aspartic Acid Contribute To Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Or Lou Gehrig’s Disease?

March 11, 2011 · Filed Under ALS 

According to John B. Symes, D.V.M., wheat, dairy, and soy contain high levels of glutamic acid and aspartic acid. High levels of these two non-essential amino acids can over activate the receptors of the nerve cells and lead to excitotoxicity and neurological damage in animals. Dr. Symes’s research suggests that this can lead to nerve and brain impairments which are evident in many neurodegenerative diseases. Possibly, his findings could be applicable to humans.

With Dr. Symes’s theory in mind, further research may find that people with ALS have a sensitivity to the glutamic acid and aspartic acids in certain foods, like wheat, diary and soy. Dr. Symes suggests that the ingestion of foods with high levels may overload the neurological system and have toxic effects. If his theory proves true, I wonder if this could lead to ALS symptoms. This is just one more possibility for people with ALS to consider. 


Keep in mind that this is a hypothetical theory that John B. Smymes has suggested and it should be discussed with your doctor before you make any dietary changes. With this series, I am trying to think outside of the box and present many different ideas for people to think about and discuss with their doctor.

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The rest of Part 2, along with parts, 3, 4, and 5 will follow in the next 2-3 months.

5 Part Series

Part 1 Of 5 Part Series : Could A Gluten Intolerance Cause Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Or Lou Gehrig’s Disease?

Part 2 Of 5 Part ALS Series: How Could A Gluten Intolerance Cause Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Or Lou Gehrig’s Disease? (see 8 sections of Part 2 below)

Section 1 of Part 2: How Could Antibody Reactions Against Transglutaminases Contribute To ALS

Section 2 of Part 2: Could IgA and IgG Mediated reactions To Foods Contribute To ALS Symptoms

Section 3 of Part 2: Could Glutamic Acid And Aspartic Acid Contribute To ALS Symptoms

Section 4 of Part 2: Abnormal Neurological Findings With A Gluten Intolerance

Section 5 of Part 2: Can Nutrient Deficiencies Contribute And How is This Associated With A Gluten intolerance?

Section 6 of Part 2: Are There studies Showing An Association Between Gluten And ALS?

Part 3 Of 5 Part Series: How Could A Gluten Intolerance Cause ALS In Various Age Groups

Part 4 Of 5 Part Series: How could A Lectin Intolerance Contribute To ALS

Part 5 Of 5 Part Series: Some Final Thoughts About ALS And Gluten

If you have difficulty with any of the above links, scroll down the right side of my blog until you find ALS. All of the ALS posts will be found in this category.


1. Hynd MR, Scott HL, Dodd PR. Glutamate-mediated excitotoxicity and neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease. Neurochem Int. 2004 Oct;45(5):583-95.

2. Manev H, Favaron M, Guidotti A, Costa E (July 1989). "Delayed increase of Ca2+ influx elicited by glutamate: role in neuronal death". Mol. Pharmacol. 36 (1): 106–12.

3. Smith QR (April 2000). "Transport of glutamate and other amino acids at the blood-brain barrier". J. Nutr. 130 (4S Suppl): 1016S–22S.

4. Website:

5. Adam Doble. The Role of Excitotoxicity in Neurodegenerative Disease: Implications for Therapy. Pharmacology & Therapeutics Volume 81, Issue 3, March 1999, Pages 163-221

6. Christopher G. Goetz. Excitotoxins and Excitotoxicity. Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center, USA


2 Responses to “Section 3 of Part 2: Could Glutamic Acid And Aspartic Acid Contribute To Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Or Lou Gehrig’s Disease?”

  1. Peter Olins on March 26th, 2011 6:30 am

    I have examined the literature and can find no evidence for the effect of DIETARY glutamic acid and ALS. Indeed, two studies of ALS specifically talk about the lack of differences in the levels in blood plasma or cerebrospinal fluid.

    Glutamate and asparate are very abundant amino acids in a whole host of foods, so it’s not clear why anyone would single out wheat, dairy or soy in particular.
    Please would you provide some rationale for your hypothesis.

    Thanks, Peter.

  2. Shelly on March 29th, 2011 11:45 am

    Hi Peter,

    Thank you for your comment and questions. It is great to have some discussion around this topic:)

    Yes, these two amino acids are abundant in a variety of foods. I think this veterinarian is primarily concerned that certain foods have higher levels of these two amino acids and this may be a concern for some people. I suggest that you visit his site and ask him further questions since he would be best able to answer your questions about his theory.

    I took a look at your two links and I did view these 2 studies previously. If you look at both studies again, one study mentions that plasma glutamate levels do not differ between ALS and controls. However, it mentioned that plasma glutamate levels are significantly increased in ALS with spinal onset. The second study mentioned that there were “significantly higher percentages of plasma glutamine and serine in ALS than in controls”.
    This is quite interesting. Perhaps, the spinal damage is more evident once the plasma glutamate levels reach a level of toxicity. What do you think?

    I’m looking forward to discussing this further with you,


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