Someone said to me the other day that he longed for the kind of life people where leading last century, no cars, no telephones, no rush, no stress. I thought about that statement and, being a woman, the domestic chores appeared in my imagination. Imagine not having a washing machine, an electric iron, a toaster, blender, kettle, food processor, refrigerator etc….!!! Imagine having to bake your bread every day, churn your own butter and getting daily food supplies since there are no refrigerators. But… like every thing in life, there are prices to pay for all that convenience. One such price is the amount of chemicals we ingest with our foods on a daily basis. Lets talk about…. FOOD ADDITIVES Food additives are used to preserve, thus extending the shelf life of a product ( and increasing profit ) A good example is white flour. By removing the germ from the wheat and bleaching the flour for "whiteness", thus by removing the life from the grain, no insect will be attracted to it and provided it is kept dry, flour can be kept on the supermarket shelf for months. Oil for instance is heated several times in order to remove what makes it go rancid, to give it a clear, transparent color and to remove any trace of it's original taste. We do have the convenience of "running salt" on our tables, even in rainy weather. We do have spreads for our sandwiches, which don't taste rancid after a couple of days and we do want the conveniences of having "out of season" products. All this is fine and good but there is a price to pay. Feeling lethargic, tired, irritable, constipated or literally sick plagues more and more people, including children. The symptoms are not enough to visit the Doctor, yet we know that something is not right. Could it be that we are reacting to some of the food additives that we are ingesting daily? Let's analyze a few of the most commonly used ones. SULPUR DIOXIDE; one of the oldest food additives known to man, the Romans, Ancient Greeks and Egyptians used it as a preservative for wines. It is used to inhibit browning, in soft drinks, dried fruit, wine, beer, etc… Asthmatic people develop a tight chest, which can lead to an acute Asthma attack. The effects worsen as more preservatives are ingested. Other symptoms are coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, tingling sensations especially at the back of the throat and stomach irritation. Reactions occur immediately or within 30 minutes after ingestion of Sulphates or Sulphur dioxide. CARBON DIOXIDE; Is a natural gas in the air but produced by fermentation, or the action of acid on a carbonate. It is used as a coolant, packaging gas and aerator. Some carbonates in the stomach increase the secretion of gastric acid and promote absorbtion of liquid by the mucus membrane, increasing the effect of alcohol. You will find carbon dioxide in products such as fizzy drinks, apple, grape blackcurrant juices, cream packaged under pressure, wine. SODIUM BENZOATE; This preservative is widely used to preserve fruit juices and fruit products. Reactions are similar to those from sulphites. It affects mainly asthmatics, with adults being more prone to reactions than children.It is one of the additives which the Hyperactive Children Support Group has added to its exclusion list. SODIUM NITRATE; These are predominantly used in the meat industry as a preservative. Nitrates are converted to nitrites in the stomach, which may cause de-oxygenation of the blood, as a result they are banned from baby foods. Research has shown that they may react with amines in foods to form nitrosamines, which may cause cancer of the stomach. Nitrites may also cause skin rashes, intestinal disorders, headaches, difficulty in breathing, pallor and low blood pressure. TARTRAZINE; Is used to add color to food and is widely used in many foods and drinks. Tartrazine is suspected to cause behavioral problems in sensitive children (such as hyperactivity.) It is known to affect asthmatics and people sensitive to aspirin. Other adverse reactions in sensitive people include itching, runny nose, blurred vision, and purple patches on the skin. MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE (MSG); Is a sodium salt of glumatic acid. It is used to enhance the flavor of foods by making our taste buds (on the tongue) swell and so making them highly sensitive to flavors. MSG is found in highly seasoned foods, sauces, crisps and most convenience foods. Symptoms of MSG intolerance include headaches, chest tightness, nausea, sweating, heart palpitations, thirst, fainting and dizziness. POTASSIUM BROMATE (PB); Used as an oxidizing agent and flour improver. PB accelerates the bread making process and enhances the baking properties, texture and volume as well as keeping qualities of baked flour products. In toxicological studies PB was found to be carcinogenic in rodents. A suitable substitute for PB was developed by combining ascorbic acid and various enzymes and emulsifiers. NOTE; extracts from an article written in1994 I do not know if all the bakeries are using the safe flour improver. Please check the label. LACTIC ACID; Naturally occurring substance found in sour milk. To produce lactic acid commercially, carbohydrates such as whey, cornstarch, potatoes, or molasses are heated at high temperatures and fermented by bacteria. Lactic acid is used as a preservative and anti-oxidant in products such as margarines, carbonated drinks, confectionary, salad dressings, cheese spreads etc... Lactic acid could cause problems in very small babies who may not be able to metabolize it. No known toxicological problems with adults. Mind boggling isn't it? Next week we will enumerate some of the more safe type of additives.