The Obstacle

My hubby has been gluten, dairy and yeast free as long as I’ve known him. And much better off for it. I used to lament having to cook two different meals, or the extra spend required to buy organic foods and weirderies (rice milk, almond milk, gluten free breads, sorghum flour, quinoa, etc). I nonetheless ran a kitchen that kept him well fed and happy. Home made gluten free breads, muffins, cakes. The only gluten free bread that was available ten years ago in health food shops (supermarkets? forget it!) was rice bread. Too high GI, no protein. I had to make bread for him, or he was hungry an hour after his rice bread toast! As a result I have come to know gluten free flours very well over the years. Never did I believe – and even less did my hubby! – that I would have to follow in his footsteps.

My body has not found life quite as easy after the births of my children…so

Here we go – A year ago, I changed my own diet to gluten free. I try also to be as dairy free, grain free, yeast free and sugar free as possible. It’s an anti-inflammatory diet, designed to support my autoimmune hypothyroid condition. For three full months I also went without alcohol. I thought if I detoxed and found my feet on a cleaner, more wholesome diet, I would eventually be able to drink wine without feeling drugged, sleepy, cranky and hung over the next day, even after just a small glass.

Six months ago, my 10 year old son also went gluten and dairy free. Within a week, his skin conditions had cleared up, his noisy tummy had settled down completely and he was sleeping better than ever before.

A month ago, a misadventure with MSG at a til-then-favourite local Vietnamese here on Old Street, led me through some research, to an extra diagnosis. My son and I are sensitive to sulfites.

My son and I are sensitive to sulfites.

I’ve been strangely reluctant to believe that synthetic preservatives are a toxin in the food chain affecting many. Til now, that is.

All doubt fled, I am positive that additives and preservatives have a negative impact on many people. I also believe that the figures quoted by governments as to numbers affected by these preservatives are way out. Some reports say 5% of asthmatics and 1% of others may be sulfites sensitive. But they go on to quote responses that are primarily respiratory and anaphylactic, frequently ignoring the kind of symptoms my son and I – and many others – experience. Ours include;

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • palpitations
  • racing heart
  • body fatigue
  • crankiness
  • exhaustion
  • physical collapse
  • inability to sleep (despite feeling shattered)
  • tingling under the eyes
  • puffy eyes, bags under the eyes
  • and in extreme cases of a bad reaction:
  • dizziness
  • shakiness
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • upset tummy
  • crippling tummy cramps.

My son has had behavioural difficulties and been often grumpy and cranky – labelled borderline ADHD – thoughout his life. I can now see a clear correlation between these traits and the consumption of foods containing sulphites and calcium propionate. Since removing foods containing the offending additives from his diet (and adding liquid Vitamin B which is compromised in our bodies by these additives), we have already noticed him more in control of his emotions, smilier, happier, an engaging, fun and balanced contributor to our family life. In the links menu, I will post details about other sites which can provide more information on sulfites.

Some Foods containing sulfites include

  • many non-organic dried fruits especially apricots, currants, raisins, sultanas, dates.
  • all non-organic grapes (sprayed with sulfites in the fields to stave off mold growth)
  • wine (higher amounts in white wine, sweet wines, commercial wines, lower amounts in organic or European wines and dry wines)
  • many non-organic flours and pretty much all commercial bread products.
  • crab, some prawn/shrimps, frozen seafood
  • frozen potato products eg. fries; anything sold in packets that is made from peeled potatoes e.g. instant mash, potato starch
  • most additives made from corn (the husks of which are soaked in sulfuric acid to separate the elements that go to make corn starch, maize starch, dextrose, maltodextrin, glucose syrup, corn syrup, etc – The high levels of sulfites in these ingredients are never marked on the packaging! Beware!) This group includes the glucose drink that all pregnant women are made to drink in the OGTT test (Oral Glucose Tolerance Test). I was sick in bed for two days after this test and no-one could tell me why. Hidden sulphites!

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