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Sulfites are commonly used in the processing and storage of several foods and drinks. They were finally banned for use on produce in 1986. At that time the FDA also required other beverages containing sulfites, such as wine, beer and dried fruit to have warning labels.
Sulfites are sulfur-based preservatives that are used to prevent or reduce discoloration of light-colored fruits and vegetables, prevent black spots on shrimp and lobster, inhibit the growth of microorganisms in fermented foods such as wine, condition dough, and maintain the stability and potency of certain medications. Sulfites can also be used to bleach food starches, to prevent rust and scale in boiler water that is used to steam food and even in the production of cellophane for food packaging.
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Antibody: A type of serum protein (globulin) synthesized by white blood cells of the lymphoid type in response to an antigenic (foreign substance) stimulus. Antibodies are complex substances formed to neutralize or destroy these antigens in the blood. Antibody activity normally fights infection but can be damaging in allergies and a group of diseases that are called autoimmune diseases.
Asthma: A lung disorder marked by attacks of breathing difficulty, wheezing, coughing, and thick mucus coming from the lungs. The episodes may be triggered by breathing foreign substances (allergens) or pollutants, infection, vigorous exercise, or emotional stress.
Bronchospasm: Sudden involuntary contraction of the smooth muscles surrounding the bronchial tubes.
Cofactor: A substance that acts with another substance to bring about certain effects, often a coenzyme.
Enzymes: Specific protein catalysts produced by the cells that are crucial in chemical reactions and in building up or synthesizing most compounds in the body. Each enzyme performs a specific function without itself being consumed. For example, the digestive enzyme amylase acts on carbohydrates in foods to break them down.
FDA: The (American) Food and Drug Administration. It is the official government agency that is responsible for ensuring that what we put into our bodies - particularly food and drugs - is safe and effective.
Lactase: An enzyme that aids the body in converting lactose to glucose and galactose. It is also necessary for digestion of milk and milk products.
Metabolism: The chemical processes of living cells in which energy is produced in order to replace and repair tissues and maintain a healthy body. Responsible for the production of energy, biosynthesis of important substances, and degradation of various compounds.
Molybdenum: An essential trace element. It helps regulate iron stores in the body and is a key component of at least three enzymes: xanthine oxidase, aldehyde oxidase and sulfite oxidase. These enzymes are involved with carbohydrate metabolism, fat oxidation and urine metabolism. The average adult has about 9mg of molybdenum concentrated mostly in the liver, kidney, adrenal glands, bones and skin. Molybdenum deficiencies are associated with esophageal cancer, sexual impotency and tooth decay.
Potassium: A mineral that serves as an electrolyte and is involved in the balance of fluid within the body. Our bodies contain more than twice as much potassium as sodium (typically 9oz versus 4oz). About 98% of total body potassium is inside our cells. Potassium is the principal cation (positive ion) of the fluid within cells and is important in controlling the activity of the heart, muscles, nervous system and just about every cell in the body. Potassium regulates the water balance and acid-base balance in the blood and tissues. Evidence is showing that potassium is also involved in bone calcification. Potassium is a cofactor in many reactions, especially those involving energy production and muscle building.
Rhinitis: Inflammation of the nasal mucous membrane.
Sodium: An essential mineral that our bodies regulate and conserve. Excess sodium retention increases the fluid volume (edema) and low sodium leads to less fluid and relative dehydration. The adult body averages a total content of over 100 grams of sodium, of which a surprising one-third is in bone. A small amount of sodium does get into cell interiors, but this represents only about ten percent of the body content. The remaining 57 percent or so of the body sodium content is in the fluid immediately surrounding the cells, where it is the major cation (positive ion). The role of sodium in the extracellular fluid is maintaining osmotic equilibrium (the proper difference in ions dissolved in the fluids inside and outside the cell) and extracellular fluid volume. Sodium is also involved in nerve impulse transmission, muscle tone and nutrient transport. All of these functions are interrelated with potassium.
Sulfite Sensitivity: A person can develop sulfite sensitivity (allergy) at any point in their life but the cause is often unknown. Sulfites are sulfur-based compounds that are added by food manufacturers and restaurants for many purposes such as reducing discoloration of light-colored fruits and vegetables; preventing black spots on seafood; inhibiting the growth of microorganisms in fermented foods such as wine; conditioning dough; maintaining the stability and potency of certain medications. The most common symptom is difficulty in breathing. Sulfites give off the gas sulfur dioxide, which can cause irritation in the lungs and cause a severe asthma attack for those who suffer from asthma. Responses vary; sulfites can also cause chest tightness, nausea, hives, or even anaphylactic shock.