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The Crazy Makers

How Junk Food Is Destroying Our Brains — and Harming Our Children


  • The Top 5 Dangers of Junk Foods
  • The Downside of Pre-Packaged Meals
  • How What We Eat Can “Drive Us Crazy”


Look Inside and Find Out How to

Feel Better Fast, and Help Your Children….

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Breast Feeding and Baby Brain Health

Breast feeding is the absolute best food for baby’s brain. No formulas truly mimic mother’s milk. Soy formulas are the worst choice. Estrogens in soy can deliver the equivalent of 5-6 birth control pills per day.

This has dire implications for little boys. Animal studies show altered function of the sex and thyroid glandular and nervous systems. Normal behavior patterns were affected as well.    – Carol Simontacchi


The Crazy Makers

How the Food Industry Is Destroying Our Brains and Harming Our Children*

*Carol Simontacchi, (2nd Edition) Tarcher/Putnam, Spring 2007 ($14.95).

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Children Brain Dysfunction and Convenience Foods.

We’ve been told over and over that our food choices contribute to degenerative diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

Maybe it’s time that we explore the possibility that these same poor choices are destroying our brains, too…cell by cell.

In The Crazy Makers, her compelling indictment of the food industry, author/nutritionist Carol Simontacchi points out that our brains and those of our children are the end product of what we eat.

The Crazy Makers is the first hard look at what is no less than a national epidemic.

In Nutrition News, editor Siri Khalsa (NN) interviews Carol Simontacchi (CS) about her research.

Ms. Simontacchi is a certified clinical nutritionist and lifestyle educator. Besides The Crazy Makers, she is the author of Your Fat Is Not Your Fault and Weight Success for a Lifetime.

She provides individual weight and health management counseling using the renowned FirstLine Therapy™ program.

You can contact Carol at or

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Children Brain Dysfunction and Convenience Foods:

The Problem

NN: Carol, we are so happy to have you with us once again. When I read The Crazy Makers, I was stunned to learn how completely we Americans have surrendered our health to the convenience of eating manufactured foods.

Advertising sells us on the idea that this food is good for us when the only thing it is really good for is increasing the manufacturers’ bottom lines.

The rise in mental illness, the lowering of test scores, the senseless acts of violence we hear about each day take on new meaning in light of the many convenience foods we eat. They are not only devoid of nutrition but are actually harmful to our health. They deserve the name “junk foods”.

CS: Siri, our babies are restless, our children are unmanageable, our adolescents are suicidal, and we adults are so stressed out we can’t think straight.

Just today, I read again that unrelenting stress is a major cause of cognitive loss during aging, including Alzheimer’s.

Compounding the stress problem, we self-medicate by drinking coffee, which also has harmful effects on the brain, especially in women.

Autism and pervasive developmental disorders have increased in epidemic proportions. We see rising numbers of people struggling with anxiety disorders and depression.

Meanwhile, we are eating nutrient-dead food and feeding it to our children. Foods like infant formula, pizza, packaged entrees, and soft drinks are missing the structural elements needed to maintain brain function and to nurture the developing brains of our babies and children.

Senior citizens are in trouble mentally because they often rely on packaged entrees or fast foods for their daily meals.

The symptoms of many age-related cognitive losses are identical to symptoms of nutrient deficiencies. Only a few of us     associate what we are eating with the effects that our food choices have on our thinking and behavior.

Yes, this is an issue of free choice. However, it is a case of what we don’t know can hurt us.

By educating ourselves about nutrition, we can select our foods out of health concerns, not for convenience or addictions to our “food toys”.


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Children Brain Dysfunction and Convenience Foods:

The Responsible

NN: Carol, isn’t part of the blame on the food manufacturers?

CS: Absolutely! Rather than producing products which mimic nature, that nourish our brains, and that provide the essential building blocks we need – products that might actually deserve the name food – food manufacturers crank out millions of pounds of toxic food artifacts stripped bare of the nutrients that feed our brains.

One example is baby food. Many of our most popular baby foods contain high levels of organophosphate insecticide residues that are toxic to our nervous and  glandular systems.

According to the Environmental Working Group, a watchdog environmental organization, nine out of ten children under five are exposed to thirteen different neurotoxic insecticides in their baby foods.

NN: That’s terrible. No wonder prepared foods can inflict permanent structural and functional damage to the brain.

CS: Surprisingly, Siri, one of these substances is the flavor enhancer MSG.

On the FDA’s safe food list for the general population, and found in numerous convenience foods, MSG has the potential for inflicting permanent damage on growing brains and nervous systems.

For this reason, it is prohibited to add it to baby foods.1 Unnatural substances such as MSG leave us less able to cope with stress and more susceptible to mental illness. MSG is often disguised on ingredients lists under the pseudonyms of autolyzed yeast or Torula yeast.

Another problem is inflammation. The American diet of processed grains, sugars, soft drinks, and large amounts of red meat is pro-inflammatory.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are anti-inflammatory, but we do not eat much of those foods. Inflammation is directly linked to every mental and learning disorder, including autism and Alzheimer’s Disease.


Children Brain Dysfunction and Convenience Foods:

The Responsible


1 FYI: Baby food makers replaced MSG with other flavor enhancers which are equally as dangerous but not prohibited.​


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Children Brain Dysfunction and Convenience Foods:

American Food Culture

NN: Throughout The Crazy Makers, you compare the “American food culture” with the “traditional” diet, lamenting that, as a nation, we have lost a fundamental value: Ensuring the quality of our food supply.

CS: In our quest for convenience, we have almost completely lost sight of what constitutes a normal meal.

Healthy meals contain brilliantly colored, deliciously flavored fresh fruits and vegetables, rich brown grains, wholesome milk and butter, lean game meats, and plump fish from lively rivers and the deep blue seas. As a fundamentally holistic experience, eating can nourish us body, mind, and spirit.

Compare that with the food we usually eat. Pre-packaged meals are deficient in the healthy fats that feed and construct the brain.

They contain very little in the way of vitamins and minerals. Plus, they are loaded with sodium [salt]. Excess sodium can lead to restlessness, lethargy, irritability, panic attacks, and even long-term neurological damage.

The products we eat may be colorful and flavorful, but not from natural goodness.

The colors and flavors come from dyes [e.g., Red No. 40] and unpronounceable chemicals [methyl delta-ionone].

In addition, many real foods such as chicken and beef are laced with hormones that wreak havoc with our own hormonal systems.

Artificial flavors compromise our taste buds so that we come to prefer them. But, they don’t provide the materials we need to build and maintain our brains.​


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Children Brain Dysfunction and Convenience Foods:

Your Brain Your Choice

NN: And what brains, Carol! Designed to last a lifetime, all 10 trillion neurons deserve our care.

CS: Siri, even the most sophisticated computer system on earth pales in comparison with the simplest human brain. However, our brains are being systematically starved.

The brain is the body’s hungriest organ. During periods of malnutrition, it is fed preferentially  (at the expense of other organs).

I think of our heads as a large soup bowl. The “dumpling” in the soup bowl is the physical brain, and is constructed from fats, proteins, carbohydrates, water, vitamins, and minerals.

The “broth,” the fluid in which the brain sits, is just as important as the physical brain.

It is comprised of enzymes, hormones, proteins, neurotransmitters, vitamins, and minerals.

All of these must come from the diet. So it is reasonable to assume that if we want healthy brains, our diets must provide the building blocks. Otherwise, the brain cannot remodel itself.

More worrisome is that in the case of babies or infants in the fetal stage, there may be no appropriate material for building in the first place.

During this developmental stage, large amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids need to be embedded into brain tissue.

After birth until about two years of age, the requirements for fatty acids remain high. At this point, brain growth is essentially complete. However, the adolescent brain is still laying down myelin tissue. 2

In actuality, brain development continues throughout our entire life in one sense or another.



Children Brain Dysfunction and Convenience Foods:

Your Brain, Your Choice


2 The myelin sheath protects the nerves and facilitates the transmission of nerve impulses. Loss of myelin is the cause of MS, multiple sclerosis.

Murray and Pizzorno, Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, comment that the frequency of this disease is increasing.


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Children Brain Dysfunction and Convenience Foods:

Healthy Fats

NN: Carol, you talk a lot about healthy fats.

CS: I am a huge fan of healthy dietary fat. As you know, Siri, about eighty percent of the dry weight of the brain is saturated and unsaturated fats.

Fatty acids embedded in the brain’s protein matrix act as receptors for incoming nutrients and hormones.

Besides their electrical activity, they provide strength, flexibility, and insulation. One example is the myelin sheath I mentioned earlier. This material contains a blend of no less than nine fatty acid complexes. These include cholesterol and phosphatidylserine.

The brain needs fatty acids from fish and flax [omega 3] and from seeds and nuts [omega 6].

Most of the fats used to prepare convenience foods are processed vegetable oils which have been saturated with hydrogen to guarantee shelf life and maintain stability under long hours of sustained heat for frying.

These are the infamous trans-fats. They are harmful to the heart, and have been implicated in hardening of the arteries. The only thing they build is your waistline.

There is good evidence that these highly processed oils incite inflammation. Inflammation is one of the major factors in most brain and/or neurological disorders.

For example, inflammation is a major cause of Alzheimer’s. Although not trans-fats, corn oil and other processed oils are also pro-inflammatory.


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Children Brain Dysfunction and Convenience Foods:

Impacts & Irony

NN: Unfortunately, as you document in The Crazy Makers, regardless of age or income, the level of nutrition of most Americans is appalling.

CS: Let’s take a look at some statistics.

First of all, more than 70 billion meals are currently eaten away from home each year.

The majority of these are purchased at fast food franchises. Even though some fast food restaurants advertise “healthy options,”

I have not seen really good food in any of them. In fact, McDonald’s franchises have been allowed to open inside hospitals.

More ironically, people tend to believe that these McDonalds offer healthier foods than those outside the hospital.

The myth that a fast food chain offers healthy foods is just that: a myth.​


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Children Brain Dysfunction and Convenience Foods:


NN: Carol, this fast food culture is truly a pathological, isn’t it?

CS: Yes. It’s really a deplorable situation. And, this kind of eating has been encouraged by our elementary and high school administrators.

On school grounds across America, millions of dollars are spent annually on vending machine sales, bringing huge dollars into school coffers. Some schools, however, are catching a vision of something better for their students. Some schools have banned the vending machines and we honor their efforts.

NN: Yes. Both parents and savvy high school students can encourage schools in their sphere of influence to offer healthy food options.

CS: Siri, I have collected hundreds of food diaries from clients of all ages. It isn’t uncommon for me to see a seven day food diary containing twenty-one meals with almost no vegetables, no fruit, no protein, and no water.

NN: Oh my gosh! Carol, that means no vitamins, no minerals, no antioxidants, and nothing to maintain the body’s structure. Essentially, those folks are living on grease and simple carbohydrates.

CS: Siri, what your nieces have reported to you about their schoolmates eating bags of chips and drinking sodas for lunch is the sad truth.

The average teenager guzzles twice as much soda as milk. Boys frequently drink over 42 ounces daily. [Equal to 39 teaspoons of sugar, nearly a cup.]

Worse, young adults (ages 20-30) drink nearly three times that much. As the editors of Nutrition Action HealthLetter have said, “We’re drowning in liquid candy.”

A high sugar diet can lead to hyperactivity, depression, fatigue, inability to concentrate, and more.

Typically, this type of diet is grossly inadequate in most vitamins and minerals. In particular, the B complex vitamins are needed to metabolize the sugar.

Symptoms of B complex deficiency include fatigue, confusion, indigestion, anorexia, lethargy, memory loss, skin eruptions, anemia, muscular weakness, depression, and disorientation.

And something else, very little meat in the diet indicates the low protein levels. Protein is extremely important.3

In addition, meat is an important source of iron, especially when so few fresh foods are eaten. Iron is the essential component of our red blood cells.

Research shows that iron deficiency is directly associated with aggressive behavior in young men. To prove the point, iron deficiency is nearly twice as      prevalent in adolescents who are in jail as among their non-incarcerated peers.



Children Brain Dysfunction and Convenience Foods:



3 Regarding protein, Carol writes that the average woman requires 45-85 grams of protein per day. More, if she is active, under considerable stress, or pregnant.

A man requires 55-95 grams, and, again, more with physical activity or major stress.

Children’s protein requirements are based on body size. In any case, protein sources need to be complete, containing all the essential amino acids.

Two examples are tryptophan and tyrosine. Tryptophan is converted to serotonin, the feel good neurotransmitter enhanced by antidepressants.

Tyrosine is converted to thyroid hormone and to dopamine, another “happy” neurotransmitter.



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Children Brain Dysfunction and Convenience Foods:

Mental Breakdown

NN: And, it doesn’t stop there, does it?

CS: No. A typical adult lunch of a bagel with cream cheese and a diet soda is a meal so stripped of nutrition that laboratory rats have perished on it.

NN: Carol, no wonder you say, “Our food is driving us crazy.”

CS: The evidence has convinced me, Siri. Millions of people can’t get themselves together.

Random acts of violence are so commonplace that the term “going postal” has become idiomatic. One researcher remarked, “Thinking is as biological as digestion.” This implies that a disturbance in the capacity to think is directly related to a defect in the diet.

However, we don’t link the junk food we put in our bodies every day with the depression, anger, odd behavior, and heartbreaking assortment of mental illnesses that beset us.

NN: One sign is that mental illnesses previously associated with adults are increasing among both adults and children.

CS: Yes, and medications that were once used for adults are now being used for younger and younger children.

Adequate testing for safety has not been done. A growing body of literature shows that antidepressants increase suicidal behaviors in teenagers and children.

This fact was denied by pharmaceutical companies for years but the evidence is now beyond controversy.

Siri, you have said that as a nation, we are spoiling our seed corn. You are right. Our children are paying a high price for our infatuation with fast and junk foods.

NN: Carol, thank you so much for the opportunity to bring this information to the attention of caring individuals everywhere. I am grateful to the health food retailers and subscribers who are helping to spread your message.



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Carol’s Daily Supplement Recommendations

The answer to the undernourished brain is to give it the nutrients it needs. In her practice, Carol has developed a basic nutrition program for revitalizing your diet and your life.

Carol introduces supplements before making changes in her clients’ eating habits. This very good idea works because the more nutritionally needy we are, the quicker the right nutrients will improve the way we think and feel.

Everyone needs to take a daily multivitamin-mineral that provides an adequate amount of all essential micro-nutrients.

It should contain more than the RDA/RDI amounts of nutrients. (These are just a starting point.) In addition to the multi-, every day take:

  • Vitamin B complex: amounts up to 100 mg/mcg
  • Vitamin C: up to 1000 mg
  • Vitamin E: 400 IU
  • Magnesium citrate or chelate: up to 500 mg (less if diarrhea occurs)
  • Zinc picolinate or chelate: up to 50 mg
  • Salmon oil: 3-5 grams [as EPA]
  • Flax oil: 1-3 grams
  • DHA: 100 mg
  • Manganese chelate: 3 mg (only if recommended by a nutritionally-oriented health practitioner)

For premature senility or memory loss, take phosphatidylserine, 300 mg and phosphatidylcholine, 500 mg.


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Carol’s 5 Major Points


  1. Because of “food manufacturing” practices which began over 100 years ago, most Americans eat a diet largely comprised of “pseudo-foods”. These substances look, taste, and feel like real food but do not provide adequate nutrition
  2. There is a direct correlation between these dietary changes and the serious erosion in the mental health of both children and adults.
  3. Although the connection between food and mood is being made, people (especially children and senior citizens) are still consuming a brain-depleting diet.
  4. Even a so-called “healthy” diet may not provide the structural components the brain needs.
  5. Rather than continuing to blame parents and/or society-at-large for brain dysfunction and emotional disorders, consider instead that the source is the current lack of nutritional support to the brain.