What You’ll Learn:
- Detoxification cleans out chemicals that stress our body and can cause it to over-react to things like pollen, mold, etc.
- Food additives can be the culprits for stressing our bodies and weakening our immune system lead to illness and allergic reaction
Food additives include:
Food coloring or dyes, and
- Probiotics naturally work with our body to establish a healthy balance of good bacteria in our digestive system
- A happy digestive system = a happy immune system
- 70%-80% of our immune system resides in or around our digestive system
This makes your body less prone to over-react to natural airborne allergens!
I found RELIEF from my seasonal allergies without medication this year… and no one is more surprised at this than I am. When I learned that detoxifying my body and adding probiotics could help keep it from over-reacting to airborne allergens – and more importantly, the “WHY” behind it – it made total sense, and I finally had a good enough reason to motivate myself to try it.
Detoxification Strengthens the Immune System and is the First Step to Reducing Allergies
I didn’t know the chemicals I was eating in my food – called “additives” – were stressing out my body and causing it to over-react to airborne allergens like pollen. I also didn’t know that because our bodies don’t know what to do with the harmful chemicals and toxins they are exposed to, they will store them in our cells and tissue. My attention was piqued when I learned that detoxifying or “cleansing” myself from harmful chemicals stored in my body could actually strengthen my immune system and therefore decrease my body’s over-reaction to harmless things such as, in my case, pollen.
“Top 10 Reasons to Detox (When You Do It Right)” briefly lists 9 more health benefits from detoxifying your body and was a quick n’ easy article I LOVED reading. Click here and you’ll see what I mean!:
One more thing that’s good to know before we move on: Because there are numerous ways we can detoxify our bodies from harmful additives as well as environmental pollutants, pesticides, heavy metals, etc., we recommend consulting with your health care professional to assist you so that you can do what’s best for you and YOUR body.
So, if food additives can be at the root of allergies, just what exactly are additives?
What is a Food Additive?
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation, New England Chapter:
“Substances added to foods and beverages are called food additives. Thousands of food additives exist, and they may be manmade chemicals or natural substances. Common food additives include:
- Vitamins and Minerals
- Things which add texture or make foods less acidic
Many of us can be vitamin and mineral deficient, so adding vitamins and minerals to our food can be good for our health. However, flavorings or “flavor enhancers”, colorings or dyes, and preservatives may cause havoc on our bodies because – particularly if they are manmade chemicals rather than natural – our bodies do not know what they are and can negatively react to them.
So… what are flavor enhancers? What are color additives? What is a food preservative? What foods typically have these additives? And how can we recognize them on our food labels?
MSG – The Most Common Flavor Enhancer
MSG is one of the most common flavor enhancers added to food. “MSG” is the acronym for Monosodium Glutamate or glutamic acid. A lot of processed foods contain MSG. Read the ingredients on your food labels. You’ll be surprised how many times you’ll find MSG listed as an ingredient! MSG can trigger negative reactions in our bodies such as, for example, migraines. [link to our “15 Triggers for Migraines” article?]
What foods have MSG in them?What foods typically have MSG as an ingredient? Check out the list below. (This isn’t a complete list, but it’s a start!)
- Highly processed, flavorful (salty) snack-food
Non-Organic Vegetable broth
Bouillon cubes (chicken or beef)* All chicken broth has naturally occurring glutamate even if MSG isn’t added
Broth-based soups (chicken noodle, vegetable soups)
Cream of _____ soups (mushroom, chicken, celery, etc.)
Instant soup mixes
- Convenience Foods
Salad Dressings (You could be making your own, anyway!)
Now that we’ve learned an example of a flavor enhancer as a food additive, what about color additives or food dyes?
What are Color Additives?
What exactly are color additives? The Food and Drug Administration defines a color additive as:
“…any substance that imparts color to a food, drug, cosmetic, or to the human body. Color additives include both synthetic substances and substances derived from natural sources. Color additives may be used in food to enhance natural colors, add color to colorless and ‘fun’ foods such as cake decorations, and help identify flavors (such as purple for grape flavor or yellow for lemon). Color additives are sometimes called food dyes.”
What are Some Food Color Additives?
5 examples of food color additives are:
- Yellow 6 Lake
- Blue 2 Lake
- Yellow 5
- Blue 2
- Red 40
I found these 5 listed on the ingredient label of one of my most treasured treats – solid milk chocolate mini eggs enclosed in a pastel-colored candy shell. Yes, believe it or not, even though Easter has long since passed, I still have a bag because I keep it stashed in a certain “safe place” just for ME that only I know about. (Can you relate?!)
As you start reading the ingredients on your food labels, you’ll be surprised to see how often you’ll find food dye even in the most unlikely foods. For example, my 12 year old daughter and I read the ingredients on the label of a prepared chocolate cake that we bought at the store because it looked so good! We discovered it had blue food dye in it! Why???? Because blue food dye made it look more “rich & chocolatey” = exactly why we bought it!
If you would like a list of FDA-approved (and FDA-banned) food color additives, here is the link:
What is a Food Preservative?
A preservative is a chemical used to preserve the quality of food to make it last longer – to “preserve” the food from spoiling sooner than it normally would without it. Our ancestors used to preserve food by pickling it with vinegar (pickled beets), salting it (bacon, salt pork), smoking it in a smoke house (ham), drying it (jerky, fish, or fruit), freezing it on ice (seal meat), fermenting it (wine, sauerkraut, yogurt) vacuum sealing by boiling it in sealed jars (peaches, pears, green beans) or adding sugar (jam and jelly) to whatever “it” is. We still use these methods today to preserve food.
We also use chemicals today such as:
- Nitrates and Nitrites – These prevent botulism infection, as well as give food color and enhance flavor. Nitrates and Nitrites are commonly found in processed meats such as salami, bologna, hot dogs, bacon, lunch meats, etc.
- BHT & BHA (Butylated Hydroxytoluene & Butylated Hydroxyanisole – Try saying those four words fast!) – Typically added to grain products such as bread, donuts, pastries, bagels, and breakfast cereal to preserve color, odor, and flavor.
- Benzoates – Found in cereal, cake, candy, salad dressing, oil, margarine, and dry yeast.
- Sulfites – Keep food from turning brown when exposed to air. Sulfites can be found in dried fruit, maraschino cherries, jam & jelly, white grape juice, frozen potatoes, and fresh shrimp.
- Parabens – Preserve both food and medication (shampoo and sunscreen, too!). Check the label for ingredients that have the words “propyl-”, “methyl-”, “ethyl-”, and “butyl-” in them. These are parabens.
Once I learned what was causing my allergies…
*Why food additives can trigger allergies,
*What food additives are,
*How we can recognize them on our food labels, and
*We can detoxify our bodies to remove these chemicals stored in our cells and tissues
…these are the three key things I changed this year to almost eliminate my seasonal allergies without medication:
1st: A few months before allergy season, I weened myself off foods with additives (flavor enhancers, food dyes, and preservatives) until I was eating “clean”. Real, whole food packed with nutrients my body was craving replaced the refined carbohydrates and sweet stuff loaded with sugar that I used to crave that was typically packed with additives!
2nd: I cut back on my sugar intake. It was actually a lot easier than I had thought. Why? When I stopped eating food with additives, I stopped eating the extra sugar so often included in those additive-laden foods.
3rd: A week before allergy season, I decided to forgo all extra sugar and cut back on dairy while I was at it. (In the process, I have actually become hooked on almond milk!) One day, I even fasted for a few meals just to give my digestive system a break and help me start fresh the next day with better food choices. Just so you know, I’m a foodie. So cutting out certain foods – and especially fasting – is one of the absolute hardest things for me to do! But I was committed.
What Are the Benefits of Probiotics?
In addition, I did one more thing: I started taking probiotics to help further clean out my digestive system from all the previous “crud” I had ingested over the years. Probiotics are the good bacteria that everyone has in their digestive system. The good bacteria keep the bad bacteria from taking over and weakening our body’s digestive system – yes, it sounds gross but we have bad bacteria inside us, too. (Keep reading to learn how many pounds of bacteria we have in us. Yes, pounds!)
70%-80% of our immune system resides in or around our digestive system.
Because 70-80% of our immune system resides in or around our digestive system, a weakened digestive system also weakens our immune system making it tend to over-react to natural airborne allergens. Source: “Allergy and the gastrointestinal system” from US National Library of Medicine.
Regarding probiotics, this is what The Institute of Health Sciences says:
“Over the past 30 years, science has come to a better understanding of bacteria, the effects on the gastro-intestinal (GI) tract, and immune systems. As a result, the use of probiotics has become more widely accepted and practiced than ever before. About 80% of your immune system lives in your gastrointestinal tract and probiotics can help. Approximately 500 different species of bacteria live inside you. The weight of these bacteria is about two to three pounds. Some of these bacteria are referred to as “good”, but others do not provide any benefit. The ideal balance between them is 85% good, 15% “other”. This ratio between the “good” bacteria and the other bacteria becomes one of the critical factors determining your optimal health.”
In summary, I ate food without additives, I detoxified my body, and I added probiotics, too, to see if it would help keep my body from over-reacting to airborne allergens. And so far (drumroll, please!) 3 weeks into my allergy season, I have had to take my allergy meds only once. ONLY 1 time! On occasion, I have sneezed. One morning, I had to blow my nose a few times. But this is NOTHING compared to what I have had to endure for years ever since I was a 6th grader having to stock up on allergy medicine, tissues, eye drops, and mentally bracing myself for enduring the season. Allergies have been part of my life that I’ve reluctantly accepted year after year saying as my mantra, “It is what it is.”
So for me have virtually zero allergy symptoms this allergy season and be medicine-free is a BIG deal. I just needed to learn these two principles:
#1: A chemically-congested body is more prone to allergies because it’s stressed and therefore can over-react to natural airborne allergens… in my case, pollen.
#2: An unhappy immune system is also prone to over-react to allergens. If our digestive system is not happy, our immune system isn’t happy, either.
So there you go! See what happens when YOU detoxify your body, avoid food with additives, and add in daily probiotics.
The reward of being medicine-free has been well worth it for me this allergy season!
(And Bonus! I’ve even dropped some unwanted pounds along the way J)