Can certain processed and packaged food cause hay fever / asthma type symptoms? The answer is a big fat YES.
It happened to me.
Starting with a blocked nose which lasted about 2 years. At work, colleagues would ask if I had a cold (I didn’t), as I sounded so nasal all the time. It got worse at times with extreme bouts of hay fever symptoms, scratchy throat, blocked nose and irritability – I now know this was due to the foods and drinks I was consuming at that particular time.
And so began my online research to find the reason and solution for my ongoing congestion. I discovered a preservative added to food products called ‘sulphites’, used to prevent microbial spoilage (keeping food from going bad) and preserving colour and otherwise referred to as:
<< sulphur dioxide (E220), sodium sulphite (E221), sodium bisulphite (E222), sodium metabisulphite (E223), potassium metabisulphite (E224), potassium sulphite (E225) calcium sulphite (E226), calcium bisulphite (E227) and potassium bisulphite (E228) >>
It can cause symptoms in sulphite-sensitive people, in particular asthmatics (which I’m not), such as itchy throat, sneezing, wheezing, fainting, irritable bowel symptoms, headaches, skin rashes, behaviour disturbances and similar.
Sulphites should be clearly labelled and can be found in:
- dried fruit pieces or products**
- frozen chips or any peeled potato product
- barbecue sauce
- desiccated coconut
- red meat (to retain the red colour)
This is not an all-inclusive list.
** (eg. apricots should be darker brown in colour, not bright orange when dried – plus they’re yum in taste!)
Note that sulphites aren’t always labelled depending on the level of sulphite present. As a general rule, it’s best to avoid processed foods in general to minimise sulphite exposure.
Since heavily minimising my sulphite intake, my blocked nose disappeared within weeks, the symptoms were non-existent and I was thrilled I had discovered what was causing my sensitivity. By choosing my food and beverage purchases consciously, I could control the effect sulphites would have on me. Amazing!!!
Be sure to read your labels, it may just save your health.