© Norman Sperling, January 19, 2012
Over the decades, I've suffered from a variety of afflictions. Doctors know how to fix some of them. Others have no known cause (that's called "idiopathic"). Some treatments are expensive, some treatments are ineffective. And some of my ailments and frailments not only have no known cause, they have no known treatment.
I discovered long ago that 2 of my problems trace to conventional foods that are widely regarded as "healthy". I discovered one of those entirely by accident, when the price of that favorite food skyrocketed and I boycotted it for a month ... and felt much better! Trying variations on the theme of that food isolated the components that hurt me. I've never found an antidote, so I strictly avoid the stuff.
I've recently discovered that a newer ailment traces to 2 other very common food chemicals. Eliminating those chemicals enormously reduced my affliction ... and also made a marked improvement in my general "aches and pains" – call it "creakiness" – of advancing age. The affliction I minimized seems quite rare, but the creakiness of old age is famously widespread.
So if you're not in perfect health, I recommend conducting a series of experiments on yourself, by eliminating for 2 weeks all foods that contain a selected ingredient. Pick one of the listed items below (or something else that you suspect might trigger problems), read every label in your food supply, and only eat things without that one ingredient for the next 2 weeks. Keep scrupulous notes. For many, I suspect there will be no health difference, meaning that that's not an ingredient that hurts you. Restore benign ingredients to your diet, and move on to another item for another 2 weeks and see if that makes any difference.
Of the dozen ingredients below, 4 definitely hurt me. I take an antidote for one, and avoid the other 3. I have little idea why those 3 substances hurt me, or why now instead of long ago – perhaps my body chemistry has changed. Figuring that out might enable a smarter response than pure avoidance. I won't bias your experiments by telling you which ingredients hurt me; your body isn't quite the same as mine so that shouldn't be an issue anyway.
salt (reduce to recommended daily dose; don't eliminate, because some is vital)
fructose, or high-fructose corn syrup
sodium nitrate (usually comes with sodium nitrite)
citric acid or a citrate
Note that this experiment should be safe because you're not adding a new chemical, you're subtracting one. You definitely must read every label. Finding alternatives may bring somewhat greater variety in your diet.
If a change makes something happen that feels bad, STOP! Go back to your old ways, and maybe move on to another item on the list (or from your own list).
Results of changes noted, and of no-changes noted, are both valuable. Please let me know.