Mar 192012

I recently came across a blog post by a woman who after moving to Australia became suddenly very allergic to certain food additives. Being that these ingredients are in many packaged and processed foods, even some labeled as healthy, she suffered from a severe rash for over a year before pinpointing the cause of her illness. By changing her diet and eliminating these chemicals, she is now able to live a healthy happy and wonderful life, free of illness. Do you have unexplained skin issues? If the doctors don’t know what it is, there is a good chance it’s something in your food.

man in white lab coat shrugging

Doctors can’t figure everything out.

Jennifer Thompson, whose story I referenced above had seen numerous doctors. They did all sorts of tests, and ruled out any food allergies in her case. Nonetheless, they could not heal her and did not know what to try other than giving her some antihistamines to make breathing easier during flare-ups. Doctors generally have a specific set of tests and procedures to follow, and they don’t include reactions to things like MSG or GMO’s. They may be able to tell you that you’re celiac or lactose intolerant, but don’t be fooled into thinking that they have all the answers. Jennifer eventually used an elimination diet to find the cause of her ailment.

What is an elimination diet?

Essentially you eliminate most everything from your diet, apart from a few whole foods like fruits and vegetables. As your symptoms decrease, you gradually you add in foods, one at a time and keep a close watch on your body to see how it reacts to the new foods.

What was the cause of Jennifer’s skin rash?

The rash, which is now commonly known as Ribo-rash was caused from ribonucleotides in the diet. I’ll refer to them as ribo’s from now on to save some space. Ribo’s are often added to foods that have MSG (mono-sodium glutamate) or MSG-like compounds (glutamates). We all know MSG is a popular flavor enhancer with some serious negative side effects. Some people are severely affected, while others claim they don’t notice any immediate effects.

packets of soy sauce with a chinese food menu

Why do they mix ribonucleotides with MSG?

It has a synergistic effect on MSG’s effects. Adding a small amount of ribo to MSG will increase its taste enhancing effect up to 10 fold. So it’s cost effective to add it to foods. Some foods have natural glutamates (like meat extracts), so adding a small amount of ribo has a big effect on the flavor, even without extra MSG.

What effect do ribonucleotides have on the body?

Obviously it’s going to be different for everyone, just like it is with MSG. In Jennifer’s case she had a severe allergic reaction. There are also many testimonials on her site from people suffering similar reactions. Ribo’s increase the uric acid levels in the body, so in addition to a rash they could also cause a flair up of gout, and cases of asthma have also been reported. Most people who suffer these symptoms used to be able to tolerate these foods and the onset of their susceptibility is quite sudden. Of course there are many more people that eat these foods quite often and report no ill-effects whatsoever.

woman with migrane headache

Why are some people unaffected?

Of course every body is different, and each will react in it’s own way to different stimuli. When it comes to subtle effects, like headaches from MSG, consider that some people are also more in tune with their bodies than other people. Before I started eating what I now consider healthy and doing regular cleansing, I didn’t notice any difference between eating an occasional Arby’s burger and fries or making myself something healthy at home. Since I’ve become vegetarian and cleansed my body, I can now pinpoint when I’ve eaten something that does not agree with me. If I eat cheese or ice cream, I feel heavy and sometimes bloated. If I eat bread or cooked rice I get quite tired and lethargic. I would never have noticed these symptoms if I hadn’t first eliminated them from my diet, cleansed and then added them back in. When you are in tune with your body, you can listen better when it tells you what it likes and does not like.

What foods contain ribonucleotides?

The short answer is: many! Most foods that use glutamates as flavor enhancers will have ribo’s as well. Products that are labeled as low sodium are prime examples of ribo’s at work. Packaged products that you may think are healthy, like gluten-free products may in fact contain this chemical.

What to look for on the label:

The two compounds we are looking out for are Disodium Inosine-5′-monophosphate and Disodium-5′-guanosine monophosphate . You usually won’t find these long scientific names on the label of food products though. Look for:

  • GMP
  • Guanylate monophosphate
  • Guanosine monophosphate
  • Guanylic acid
  • Disodium inosinate
  • disodium salt (or disodium salt hydrate)
  • IMP
  • Inosinic acid
  • E 627, E 631 or E 635

In addition to these Ribo’s, also look out for MSG and it’s derivatives, hidden under the names:

  • Glutamic acid
  • Anything ending in glutamate
  • Yeast extract
  • Any hydrolyzed protein (or anything hydrolyzed)
  • Calcium or sodium caseinate
  • Yeast food/nutrient
  • Autolyzed yeast
  • Textured protein
  • Soy protein (or isolate/concentrate)
  • Whey protein (or isolate/concentrate)
  • Natural flavor
  • Etc. (there are a lot of ways that manufacturers try to hide glutamates)

How to cure Ribo-rash?

If you’ve come down with a strange condition, first you must remove the chemicals that are causing the reaction from your diet. Stop consuming them immediately. Adopt a whole food lifestyle, and learn some new recipes to make whole foods taste good. If you wish, you can systematically try your old foods to find out which ones were the culprits.

Whole foods, fruits and vegetables

Forget about ever eating those foods those foods that caused your illness again. Why would you want to when you know your body is rejecting them for a reason? It’s trying to tell you something. Always listen to your body. Once you have quit those foods, you may need to cleanse your body to get them out completely. Some people may heal on their own over time. It took Jennifer a few months before her rash completely disappeared. Whatever your situation is now, take comfort in knowing that you can be cured. On top of that, you can do it easily on your own, let thy food by thy medicine!

Jennifer’s Story
Wikipedia on Ribonucleotides
Foods with flavor enhancers

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