Sunday, October 25, 2009

What's Really in My Food?

Does any one really know what they are eating?  Barely.  Don't be fooled by your eyes, your nose, or the label.  It's the chemicals in your foods that you should concerned about for health and disease.  Why?  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a list of over 2,000 additives, generally recognized as safe (GRAS), and color additives.  Once chemicals are on this list, they are not monitored as closely, because they are by definition regarded as safe.  However, large quantities of anything, even water, can cause disease in humans.  Then there's the group of people with immunologic hypersensitivity to chemicals.  In an earlier blog entry, I reviewed the definition of hypersensitivity as "causing objectively reproducible symptoms or signs, initiated by exposure to a defined stimulus at a dose tolerated by normal subjects."  As an allergist, I see patients who are having symptoms consistent with hypersensitivity to a chemical or compound.  The problems then are trying to identify and confirm which chemicals or compounds are causing the disease.  This is often difficult and frustrating, due to strict limitations in the number of FDA approved tests, lack of understanding, lack of knowledge if the compound is present since the compound may not be listed on the food ingredients.  If a food additivie or other compound is suspected, then often recommend the patient consider eating organically grown foods for at least one month, to see if their immune system can recover.
I hope this helps some patients understand the potential size of the difficulty in identifying which compound in their food may be causing their symptoms.

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