In high school, I was one of those people everyone envies for their perfect complexion. It seemed that I could eat whatever I wanted without consequence. As my friends entered puberty and flaws erupted in their complexions, I continued to have beautiful skin. It wasnít until I was almost thirty that I started to have problems. Shortly after the birth of my son, and the personal decision to give up dairy, I began to have "problem" skin.
I had begun making soy milk, tofu and tempeh. These homemade vegan staples were delicious and ravenously consumed by my family. I loved the foods too, but began having problems with dry patches around my nose. It took me almost ten years to figure out that the soy products were the source of my problems.
Then a few years ago we started buying papaya juice, which everyone loved and drank profusely. Shortly after I began drinking the juice, my skin broke out in a rash that looked like spider bites. Once again it took me a long time to figure out I was having an allergic reaction, this time to something that I would never have suspected if I had not read this explanation of one type of "natural flavor" in Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: "Cochineal extract (also known as carmine or carminic acid) is made from the dessicated bodies of female Dactylopius coccus Costa, a small insect harvested mainly in Peru and the Canary Islands. The bug feeds on red cactus berries, and color from the berries accumulates in the females and their unhatched larvae. The insects are collected, dried, and ground into a pigment. It takes about 70,000 of them to produce a pound of carmine, which is used to make processed foods look pink, red, or purple. Dannon strawberry yogurt gets its color from carmine, and so do many frozen fruit bars, candies and fruit filings and Ocean Spray Pink Grapefruit Juice Drink." (Schlosser, p. 128-129)
Read the label on almost any bottled drink and many other foods, including soda, candy, cakes and many prepared foods, and you will see "natural flavors" listed.
In his best selling book, Natural Cures "They" Donít Want You to Know About, Kevin Trudeau states: "The food industry has lobbied Congress to pass legislation allowing chemicals that are not natural at all to be called 'natural flavors.'" He goes on to state that "spices," contrary to the wholesome sound of the word, are not wholesome or healthy. The food industry has lobbied Congress to pass legislation allowing certain unhealthy chemicals to be called spices (Trudeau, p. 203).
I recently stood in a grocery line behind a young man whose skin was inflamed with many bite-like wounds on his face and neck. I saw that almost every thing in his cart contained "natural flavors." The soda, the cereal, the cookies and candy, all contained this ingredient.
The good news is that after a short time away from these toxins, the allergic individual will witness immediate skin improvement. However, the least amount of this toxin can affect the allergic individual. It must all be removed completely from the diet.
Another flavoring that can cause an allergic reaction is "autolyzed yeast extract", "yeast extract" or "hydrolyzed vegetable protein"óthese are all synonyms for MSG (monosodium glutamate). Many people are allergic to MSG.
I suspect that the medical establishment has not yet discovered this connection. I know that the dermatologist I went to had no idea. He prescribed antibiotics and hydrocortisone cream. When that didnít solve the problem he wanted to prescribe something more powerful and dangerous. If your symptoms, like mine, are red itchy spots on your skin that look and feel like insect bites, donít look to the medical establishment to solve this problem. Look at the food you are eating and get "spices" and "natural flavors" out of your diet. Within twenty four hours of removing foods or juices containing "natural flavors" my skin is restored to clarity.
Observation is an important tool for restoring personal health. We donít have to live with many of our health problems, and we donít have to mask our symptoms with antibiotics and cortisone creams. What we must do to achieve a healthy body is be vigilant and observant of the causes and effects of foods in our life. It took me many years to pin down first my allergy to soy, then the "natural flavor" connection to my skin problems, and finally making the connection between disguised sources of MSG and my headaches.
I remember reading the sad tale of a woman who watched her son die from a severe allergic reaction after eating a cookie which contained peanuts. But, just because we are not deathly allergic to a food, does not mean that it isnít causing us harm. Many people are allergic to corn, milk, soy and other common foods as well as non-food additives, but because the effects are so minimal, they aren't motivated to eliminate the offensive ingredient from their diets to improve their lives and health.
One year, while still in college and exploring the Mormon faith, I gave up chocolate and soda for Lent. Instead of the forty day fast that Jesus endured, I thought a forty day fast from my two favorite foods was a great sacrifice. As the forty days came to an end I looked forward with great anticipation the day I could eat chocolate and drink soda again. When the day came, I excitedly took a soda from the vending machine. Instead of the delicious taste I remembered I found the soda to be too fizzy and it didnít even taste good. I liked the chocolate better, but not much. What my Lenten fast had taught me was that many tastes are acquired and foods that you think you crave and love may not be so delicious after all.
In conclusion, this is what I have learned and want to share with you:
- Foods we crave may actually be causing health problems.
- Eliminating food allergens from our diet permit the body to heal.
- The best way to discover foods that are causing health problems is to eliminate the most likely suspects until the health problem goes away, and then gradually reintroduce one item of food at a time until the health problem reappears. Then, once the offensive food or ingredient is discovered, banish that food from your life forever.
- Drink water! Just like the highest paid models, who drink eight glasses of pure water a day to keep their skin hydrated and complexions clear, we each need to drink plenty of pure filtered or distilled water. Tap water contains chlorine and fluoride which are toxic.
For more information, read:
- Natural Cures "They" Donít Want You To Know About by Kevin Trudeau
- Natural Health Natural Medicine by Dr. Andrew Weil
- School of Natural Healing by John Christopher
- Back to Eden by Jethro Kloss
- Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser