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Allergies to Nitrates (251) in meat products

Nitrates (251) can produce allergic symptoms within minutes of ingestion in people with chemical sensitivities. Symptoms include gastrointestinal ailments, skin irritations such as hives, swelling and redness, fatigue and headache, congestion and asthma complications.

Nitrates are used in the manufacturing and curing of processed meat products for the following outcomes:

  1. To give cured meat such as ham, bacon, and hot dogs their pink color.
  2. To prevent the growth of bacteria such as Botulism.
  3. To extend shelf life.
  4. To provide a distinctive cured flavor.

Processed meats such as hams, bacon, hotdogs, fish products and particularly any processed meat that is pink or red in colour, will all contain nitrates. When eaten, a chemical reaction in the stomach can alter their chemical composition and make them difficult to digest.

Nitrates also occur naturally in many vegetables and research has generally concluded they are safe to digest at reasonable levels. Research also suggests that Vitamin C and vitamin D help the body in processing nitrates (both naturally occurring vitamins in many vegetables), so it may be worth supplementing the diet with these vitamin when eating nitrate-processed meat. However, for someone with chemical sensitivities in general, bad food additives such as nitrates may be best avoided.

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Lindy Schneider is a writer and researcher with a keen interest in health, wellbeing and natural childcare. She is an advocator of a chemical-free lifestyle in the best interests of her family, the community and a sustainable world. She lives in the Yarra Valley with her partner and two young children.

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