What would you think about a diet that did not exclude chocolate, coloured lollies, soy sauce, mint, or acidic fruit, as a good first step for food sensitivity symptoms? A group of researchers provide a suggested diet that did not exclude these, after researching the just the food additive benzoate, sulphites, MSG, salicylates and vaso-active amines, each on their own.
Does this matter? Yes it does as this is the latest review of the low chemical diet we use in Australia, when investigating symptoms such as ADHD, eczema, migraine, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and many other symptoms. This review matters because it is written by UK dietitians highly respected in the field of allergy. Much good work on allergy is done in UK where people are instructed in diets after having positive allergy tests. This review showed that these reviewers had not conducted research into the low chemical diet themselves, nor did they report on any clinical research on this diet in UK. In Australia most dietitians who work with allergy are familiar with the low chemical diet, and certainly know the main diet exclusions. However, it is a concern that dietitians in Australia who have little experience in this diet may assume that this research is useful, and even use the diet suggested. Furthermore doctors may consider this review as the latest position statement for the low chemical diet, not recognising the significant flaws in the review approach, and the conclusions.
Perhaps their unfamiliarity with the research in Australia, and with all the early research on diet and ADHD, is why the UK reviewers chose to research the topic in the unexpected way they did.
It is interesting how the scientific world works. One of the lead authors attended the International Congress of Dietetics in Sydney in 2012 where I presented on the “Gaps in the research in diet and ADHD”, while showing that it works well for some. I also had a poster showing a pathway to treatment. The RPAH dietitians also presented.
This review showed that researchers looking at research where one idea is researched, such as do benzoates cause symptoms, or separately, do salicylates cause symptoms, end up with bits of information, but not the complete picture. The research that really matters to doctors and dietitians is the clinical research done in the real world with families like yours. In good clinical research people go on a low chemical diet (limiting additive colours, flavours, preservatives, salicylates, all amines and all glutamates), see some change in symptoms and test all of the excluded chemicals to see which cause reactions. There is much of this research available but these reviewers did not select it. In my Masters research, published in the international book “Food Additives”, of 100% people who reacted to additives 87% reacted to chocolate, 80% to tomato sauce, around 65% to soy sauce, 57% to benzoate in natural lemonade, and 42% reacted to mint. See my Masters Thesis on this site for detail.
For further information you can look at my detailed comment on this research in a more science-y article: “Is the review of low chemical diet useful?”. See http://foodintolerancepro.com/review-chemical-diet-evidence-useful/
I will end this post with the wish I often have for you: that you have the energy to continue to be assertive with professionals, so that eventually they support you in using a diet that may be very useful in your family.