New Delhi: Generally, people with asthma are sensitive to sulfites – a group of food additives - used in a a variety of cooked, processed and baked food. Sodium sulfite, sulfur dioxide, sodium and potassium bisulfite, and sodium and potassium metabisulfite are some examples of sulphites.
Sulfites also occur naturally in a number of foods such as maple syrup, pectin, salmon, dried cod, corn starch, lettuce, tomatoes, soy products, eggs, onions, garlic, chives, leeks and asparagus.
Foods containing high sulfites include – pickled foods, dried fruits, some fruit juices – particularly bottled lemon juice and grape juices, canned seafood soups, wine, molasses, etc.
Sulfites are used foods for various reasons, including -
- Preserve flavour and prevent spoilage
- Inhibit growth of bacteria in fermenting beverages such a swine
- Prevent oxidation and browning of light-colored fruits and vegetables – apples, potatoes
- Conditioning of dough
- Bleach food starches
Sulfites are also added to various drugs to stabilise and maintain the potency of medications.
Besides avoiding foods that contain sulfites, you can ask for other medication that is sulfites free.
Also, watch out for salads served in restaurants as they contain sulfites.
Sulfites, a potential trigger of asthma attacks, have also been associated both with occupational disease and death.
So, if you have asthma or suffered a reaction after taking a food which you think contained sulfites, try avoiding foods, beverages and medications that have sulfites in it. People with sulfite sensitivity should avoid all forms of sulfite.
May is observed as Asthma Awareness Month. So spread the word and share facts with your family, friends and community about the disease and its triggers to prevent further health problems.