40 years ago a team at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Sydney, began to investigate the role of food chemicals for hives/urticaria and while doing so noticed a wider effect of the chemicals on other symptoms such as diarrhoea, stomach cramps, wind, bloating, nausea, mouth ulcers, headaches, migraines, mood, behaviour and asthma to name some.
You are advised to see a Specialist doctor initially to ensure there is no underlying disease that can be treated. If this has been ruled out, an investigation to find possible dietary triggers for your symptoms could be undertaken.
Chemical substances within the foods we eat are thought to irritate your nerve endings which in turn triggers symptoms (in some people) if too much is eaten. An elimination diet is an investigative protocol that you follow to try to identify the substances which trigger your symptoms. Wheat, other grains, soy or dairy products are often investigated along with the food chemicals. The chemicals include food additives like flavouring agents, preservatives or colours which manufacturers generally add to foods, or they may be chemicals like salicylates, amines or glutamates, which occur naturally in fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses etc from our fresh foods.
Foods containing these chemicals are removed from the diet for several weeks with the expectation that the symptoms will improve. If the symptoms do not improve the procedure is stopped. If symptoms improve, foods containing each chemical or substance removed will be eaten to see if you react to it. When the procedure is complete you can add back foods which do not contain the chemical or substance to which you reacted. Finally, you will be guided to build up the foods which do contain the chemicals you reacted to. You need to find how much you can tolerate of these foods to give your diet more variety.
The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Elimination Diet procedure and challenge protocol booklets are used to investigate these issues. The booklets provide advice for different levels of restriction. A consultation is required to determine what may be best for you. The elimination and challenge procedure will help find out your food triggers while maintaining a balanced diet. Your end diet limits (not totally avoids) the foods containing the substances to which you reacted.
Food Chemical Elimintaion Diet Overlap with FODMAPs
It is of course impossible to alter the chemical content of the diet without affecting the fermentable sugar content and vice versa……..you can’t alter the fermentable sugar foods without also decreasing and changing the natural and added food chemical load. It may be possible that combined theories work best in some people.