Archive for the ‘Food Chemical Intolerance Syndrome’ Category
Using cleaning sprays and air fresheners while doing housework could account for up to one in seven cases of asthma in adults, a study has found.
The modern penchant for using labour-saving cleaning sprays and air fresheners has been found to raise significantly the risk of symptoms.
Just spraying a cleaner once a week can trigger an attack, according to the research. The risk rose the more that the sprays were used.
“Frequent use of household cleaning sprays may be an important risk factor for adult asthma,” said Jan-Paul Zock, of the Municipal Institute of Medical Research, in Barcelona.
“The relative risk rates of developing adult asthma in relation to exposure to cleaning products could account for as much as 15 per cent, or one in seven, of adult asthma cases.”
Furniture sprays, glass-cleaners and air freshener sprays were associated with the highest risk of a person developing asthma after doing the housework. No link was identified between the onset of asthma and the use of cleaning products that were not sprayed.
Cleaning sprays have previously been found to be associated with an increased incidence of asthma among people who clean for a living but it is thought to be the first time the link has been made to everyday use.
Howard Stoate, a GP, MP and chairman of the asthma all-party parliamentary group, said that a link between chemicals and asthma has long been suspected.
He hoped that it might explain why countries such as New Zealand, which have low air pollution levels, have increases in asthma levels.
“There are a lot of gaps in our knowledge about asthma. Anything that fills those has to welcomed. Although asthma is on the increase worldwide no one can say why,” he said.
Asthma UK, a charity dedicated to helping the 5.2 million asthma patients in Britain, said that it was particularly interested in the finding that people without asthma go on to develop it after using the sprays.
“This report … highlights significant findings regarding the link between asthma and the use of spray cleaning products in the home,” Victoria King, of Asthma UK, said. “Although further research is needed, we do already know that air fresheners and bleach trigger symptoms in people who already have asthma.”
The international study involved 3,503 people aged 20 to 44 in ten European countries who used cleaning and air freshener sprays. Their details were first logged, on average, nine years before they were interviewed by the study team.
Two-thirds were women but only 9 per cent were, at the end of the survey period, looking after the home full time.
It was found that 6 per cent of the subjects had developed asthma symptoms and that there was a link between the disease and using sprays in the home at least once a week.
Analysis revealed that using the sprays at least once a week, as 42 per cent of the study group did, increased the risk of asthma symptoms by 30 to 50 per cent.
The study team reported: “Consistently positive associations for most asthma definitions were observed for cleaning sprays in general, and glass-cleaning, furniture and air-refreshing sprays in particular.”
Cleaning sprays and air fresheners contain chemicals such as ammonia, chlorine-releasing agents and sodium hydroxide. Researchers suggested that the chemicals being released into the air in spray form significantly increased their exposure to people.
The results of the study were published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, by the American Thoracic Society. The researchers used data from the European Community Respiratory Health Survey, one of the largest epidemiologic studies of airway disease in the world.
A spokesman for the UK Cleaning Products Industry Association said: “The safety of consumers is the highest priority of our industries and the safety of our products is regularly checked and subject to rigorous controls, as well as stringent European legislation.” Household sprays linked to one in seven cases of asthma
The UK is continuing to make slow but positive progress on banning six of the fifty food additives known to cause negative effects in failsafers.
Artificial food colours are set to be removed from hundreds of products after a team of university researchers warned they were doing as much damage to children’s brains as lead in petrol.
Academics at Southampton University, who carried out an official study into seven additives for the Food Standards Agency (FSA), said children’s intelligence was being significantly damaged by E-numbers. After receiving the advice last month, officials at the FSA have advised their directors to call for the food industry to remove six additives named in the study by the end of next year.
The advice, which will be put before the FSA board next week, would be voluntary. However, manufacturers would be expected by the regulator to remove the additives, replacing them with natural alternatives if possible. Some sweetmakers have unilaterally agreed to remove the suspect colours following the latest scientific evidence.
Researchers have linked E-numbers to behavioural problems since the 1970s but the debate has intensified after the Southampton study, published last September, found that seven additives such as sunset yellow (E110) and tartrazine (E102) were causing temper tantrums among normal children.
The FSA, which funded the £750,000 study, was criticised by health groups for failing to ban the additives after taking the advice of the Committee on Toxicology, which said they had only a moderate effect on some children.
Instead, the FSA said it would work with manufacturers to see if they would remove the additives and awaited an assessment of its research by the European Food Safety Agency (Efsa).
While conceding there was “limited” evidence that the additives caused the children problems, Efsa decided the study was not a good enough reason to change the safe limits of the E-numbers.
Apparently stung by the failure to act, Professor Jim Stevenson, who led the Southampton study, wrote to the FSA demanding immediate action.
His letter dated 20 March is included in the bundle of documents forwarded to the board, which were published yesterday.
In an 18-page rebuttal of criticism of his study, Professor Stevenson and three colleagues wrote: “The position in relation to AFCs [Artificial Food Colours] is analogous to the state of knowledge about lead and IQ that was being evaluated in the early 1980s … Needleman [a researcher] found the difference in IQ between high and low lead groups was 5.5 IQ points … This is very close to the sizes obtained in our study of food additives.”
Politicians finally phased out leaded petrol from all petrol stations in 2000, almost two decades after researchers warned that the toxin was stunting the development of young brains.
Professor Stevenson’s team warned: “We would argue that the findings from our own study and the previous research overviewed by the Efsa would lead to the same conclusion as was reached by Professor Sir Michael Rutter in relation to lead in 1983. Namely that for food colours there is ‘justification for action now’.”
They advised that there be more research on a seventh additive they studied, the preservative sodium benzoate, which stops mould growing in fizzy drinks such as Diet Coke.
The FSA’s board, which meets on Thursday, will make a recommendation to ministers on what to do about additives.
Officials have warned that some products such as mushy peas, tinned strawberries and Battenberg cake might not be able to be reformulated in time and might have to be withdrawn from the shelves.
* A list of more than 900 products containing the additives is published on the Food Commission’s website actiononadditives.com. Food additives ‘could be as damaging as lead in petrol’
I thought something like this might happen with sodium benzoate. Whilst artificial food colourings like tartrazine can be written off as frivolous and unnecessary (being replaced easily with what the industry are eagerly calling ‘natural fruit and vegetable colourings’), benzoates are absolutely everywhere and in everything, so there’s considerable pressure to keep them in the food supply. Not to sound too gloomy, but as soon as benzoate does get removed, it will be replaced by equally nasty ‘natural’ alternatives like the rosemary and oregano oils used ubiquitously by the health/wholefood industry. Just like if they ever remove nitrates, they will get replaced by the ‘natural nitrate free’ alternative – concentrated celery extract – a natural source of nitrates. The only real change is that these ingredients will appear on the food label under the euphemism ‘natural preservatives’.
Until the food standards agency actually recognises and accepts that natural food chemicals like salicylates cause hyperactivity in children too (which will involve dismantling the five-a-day advice and actually making an effort to diagnose and treat affected children properly with diet via local hospitals as they are in Australia), we’ll just be continuing that false belief we middle classes are so eager to indulge – in which ‘natural’ equates with ‘good’ and ‘wholesome’.
Another fantastic news article courtesy of Chris!
Researchers in California are reporting development of a fast, inexpensive test suitable for home use that could help millions of people avoid those ‘out of the blue’ headaches that may follow consumption of certain red wines, cheese, chocolate, and other aged or fermented foods.
The test is designed to detect the presence of so-called biogenic amines, naturally occurring toxins that can trigger a wide range of symptoms in sensitive individuals —from nasty headaches to life-threatening episodes of high-blood pressure.
Existing tests for biogenic amines can take several hours, are cumbersome and require large, expensive instruments found only in laboratories, the researchers say. The new test, based on lab-on-a-chip technology, could produce results within five minutes, they state. It will be described in the Nov. 1 issue of ACS’ Analytical Chemistry, a semi-monthly journal.
“These toxins can be a serious health problem and are more common than people think,” says study leader Richard A. Mathies, Ph.D., a chemist with the University of California, Berkeley. “They are hidden in a wide variety of foods. Having a quick, convenient way to identify them will help consumers avoid them or at least limit their intake.”
Biogenic amines include tyramine, histamine, and phenylethylamine, which have been known to cause nausea, headaches, and respiratory disorders. These toxins can be particularly dangerous in people with reduced monoamine oxidase (MAO) activity or those taking MAO inhibitors, an older class of antidepressant medications, because they can potentially interact and cause dangerously high blood pressure. Having a quick testing kit could ultimately save lives in these individuals, Mathies suggests.
The new technique, called portable microchip capillary electrophoresis, involves labeling the sample with a fluorescent dye, separating the components by applying an electric field on a special microchip, and analyzing the pattern of light produced by the sample upon exposure to a laser beam. In the study, Mathies and colleagues used a prototype device to analyze tyramine and histamine concentrations in a variety of wines (both red and white), beer and sake. They found that the device accurately measured the biogenic amines present in the beverages in less than five minutes.
The highest levels of tyramine were found in red wine, and the highest levels of histidine were found in sake, the researchers note. The beer tested contained only small amounts of these biogenic amines, they say.
“Some foods have more biogenic amines than others, but you can’t tell because they aren’t listed on the food labels,” Mathies says. Even a single glass of wine has been known to trigger elevated blood pressure, heart rate and headaches in some people, he notes. “I think that certain foods, especially wines, should indicate their biogenic amine content.”
Besides beverages, the test can be used for a wide range of food products, including cheese, chocolate, fish and even sauerkraut. In addition to being used by consumers in the home, the device could be used by industry as a quick method to monitor or limit the biogenic amine content of foods and beverages, according to the researchers. It can also be used to screen foods that have been deliberately contaminated, they say.
Mathies envisions that the test will eventually be engineered into a PDA or other handheld device that consumers can use at home or in a restaurant to instantly screen a food or beverage sample for the presence of these toxins. More research is needed before this occurs, he says.
The study was funded, in part, by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The analyzer was originally developed to look for organic molecules, particularly amino acids, on future explorations of Mars. A version of the sensor has been developed for use in the European Space Agency’s 2013 ExoMars mission, Mathies says. New test could help consumers avoid surprise headaches from chocolate, wine
This is great news for amine sufferers! Put me on the waiting list! I can’t think of anything I’d rather have for Christmas! This would take all of the risk out of eating foods like yoghurt and soft cheeses – and perhaps allow me a few indulgences now and then like the occasional piece of chocolate!
This is an interesting essay refuting Amand’s guaifenesin protocol for fibromyalgia. The paper goes into a detailed exploration of the similarities between salicylate intolerance and fibromyalgia, and offers alternative explanations for why the guaifenesin protocol works. It’s not 100% accurate on a few things but still points in the right direction.
One thing I didn’t know is that salicylates block the excretion of uric acid. Might they therefore be responsible for some cases of gout? No wonder I sometimes, rarely, get aches in my toes or finger joints. I suppose throwing folate at this is going to cause more purines to be produced and make the situation worse.
A lot of people don’t realise how important it is to stick to the failsafe rules about shampoos, soaps, cosmetics and makeup. A journalist recently went six weeks without washing or using any chemicals on her skin, and look what happened:
But by the end of the fourth week, something extraordinary happened. Nicky noticed that not only was she physically feeling better than she had done in a long time, her skin had begun to glow.
For years, she has experienced Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), which bizarrely seemed to improve the longer she went without washing. Although there is no medical explanation for this, Nicky is convinced it is to do with a sudden break from the chemicals seeping into her body.
At the same time, a persistent cyst on her eye disappeared — Nicky believes because she stopped irritating it with mascara and eyeliner on a daily basis.
“I went to see Dr Val Curtis from the London School of Hygiene to seek her opinion,” says Nicky. “She told me that while I would eventually lose my teeth if I carried on not cleaning them indefinitely, not wearing make-up could well have helped my cyst.
“She said there was no known link between the use of beauty products and the prevalence of conditions such as IBS. But it is such a modern-day complaint and I believe it’s possible that it is somehow linked to the chemicals in all the products we use.
“Aside from that, the most extraordinary thing was that without a doubt — and despite not having washed my face for a month — my skin looked fresher and brighter than it had for a decade. Six weeks without a wash
The silly comment from the doctor suggesting she would lose her teeth if she doesn’t brush them is hilarious! Presumably that’s why no animals have teeth, and why everyone born before the invention of toothbrushes had no teeth!
Yes there is a medical explanation for this lady’s improvement in her IBS. But you don’t actually need to go without a wash to get the same effect!
Since that grossly misinformed New York Times article last week, everyone appears to have had their brain cells destroyed by the stuff. Eades has written a silly article stating:
This reminds me of an accidental experiment that MD and I performed on a friend who was allegedly allergic to onions, garlic and tomatoes. She said she got headaches, flushing, palpitations, and a host of other symptoms if she had so much as a smidgen of any of these foods. She was a real pain to eat out with because she grilled the waiters on all the ingredients in whatever food she was thinking of getting, telling them that she was ‘deathly allergic.’ Whenever she ate at our house, MD would make our friend’s portion of whatever was cooking without onions, garlic or tomatoes. Once MD mistakenly gave her a dish (I don’t even remember what it was now) that contained finely minced onion. Our friend ate it before MD realized her error. Nothing happened. No headaches, no sweats, no palpitations, nothing. As time went on we would give her garlic and/or onions (it’s hard to hide tomato) without effect. She stayed with us often, so we knew that the effects didn’t show up the next day either. She wasn’t really allergic, she merely thought she was.
Food allergies are real and can even be fatal. But more often than not, I suspect they are like that of our friend. Some folks are convinced – for whatever reason – that they are allergic to certain foods. If they eat these foods, and they know it, they have problems. If they don’t know it, they do fine. I suspect this is the case with most MSG reactions. Savory monosodium glutamate
Oh, of course! That’s why we’re all sick. IT’S IN OUR HEADS.
Obviously, being such an ‘expert’ on the subject, Eades doesn’t even know the difference between a food allergy and a food chemical intolerance. There’s no such thing as being “allergic” to MSG. MSG reactions are chemically mediated.
The poor woman described above was having a food chemical reaction – which is dose related. A “little bit” of onion, garlic, or tomato is very different from a big bit of onion, garlic, or tomato. She didn’t understand this, neither did the Eades family, who subjected her to a rather cruel and unpleasant experiment to ‘prove’ she wasn’t allergic to these foods.
If Eades had done the slightest bit of research, he would know that experiments designed to assess reactions to MSG come out differently depending on whether they have been sponsored by the Ajinomoto Corporation or not. For every independent study that points to a negative reaction associated with MSG, Ajinomoto finance a study that mysteriously shows no reaction or a positive reaction to MSG.
There was one particularly infamous study done a while back in which MSG reactions were assessed when participants were under the illusion that they were testing a new diet drink. The study was huge, so it is seen as “the definitive” answer to the MSG question. The placebo given was aspartame. Something to which failsafers know they react to in a very similar way to MSG. Every time the media get into the MSG debate, this obviously broken study is trotted out as ‘proof’ that people do not react to MSG, and that only “one in a thousand” people might react to it. I hate to break it to you folks, but scientists are very crafty people!
Let me tell you about my reactions to MSG:
There was one incident back when I used to eat processed foods when we heated a can of French onion soup for our starter on Christmas day. Clear soup is notorious for causing MSG reactions, because the MSG is absorbed very quickly, and is especially effective if not given with other amino acids. Within five minutes of having a bowl of this soup, my head was buzzing and rushing and I felt like there was no gravity. I got up and started pacing around the flat, and I couldn’t stay still. I had to go out onto my balcony and gasp for air. I felt hungry, I felt shaky, and I had lost the ability to think properly, I couldn’t speak. It spoilt my Christmas. I couldn’t enjoy my dinner, and I was agitated, spaced out and withdrawn for several hours. I had no idea at the time what had caused this horrible reaction, I thought perhaps I was ‘hypoglycaemic’ and hadn’t eaten enough that day.
Then there was the interesting coincidence with my Deep Vein Thrombosis. It just so happens that I had been put on the third generation pill about nine months before I got my blood clot. But it was in the two weeks prior to me finding myself in hospital, that my company had moved offices out of town, and in the absence of decent food, I had started taking instant MSG’d noodles to work with me every day for lunch. No wonder I was stressed and irritable. It’s not such a far out coincidence, since glutamate is heavily involved in the clotting cascade and a known association has been found with blood clots and strokes.
Then there was the visit to the Oriental restaurant when we lived in Nice. Myself and my partner chose clear crab soup for starter. Again, five or ten minutes after we had eaten it, we both began to get weird symptoms. My legs felt heavy and dead. My heart was pounding through my chest. My face went numb. I couldn’t concentrate on any of the conversation, my head was buzzing and dizzy, and I became really, really depressed and withdrawn and spacey and almost wanted to cry. My partner complained of the exact same symptoms. If I was “one in a thousand” people who had genuine reactions to MSG, then my partner made us two in two thousand! I mean, statistically that isn’t possible. At the time I was totally ignorant of the effects of MSG. All I had heard about it was it “could cause heart attacks” and was in Chinese and Indian food.
I went home and when I had recovered the next day typed my symptoms into a search engine. What I got back was MSG. MSG caused all the symptoms we had both had. This was a complete revelation to me. You see, this reaction came from nowhere, and I was not expecting it. Obviously I was not ‘convinced’ that MSG was going to cause me any problems, since I was in total ignorance of the symptoms. My partner and I both experienced them separately without knowing what they were. They were not psychological!
About two weeks later I realised I was having a similar depressive reaction to the diet coke I had started drinking on the way home from my evening jog along the promenade. I was amazed to discover that aspartame was known to cause similar reactions to MSG, and that its effects were worse if it was consumed after exercise! When I stopped the diet coke, I stopped getting depressed.
It was at this point in my life that I went from doing just Atkins with all the Atkins junk food that is allowed (which I detested anyway), and underwent my wholefoods/Weston A. Price Foundation conversion. I made a resolution never to eat anything that came in a package, or was complicated enough to have a list of ingredients on the back. It’s just a shame that when I started eating liver and kidneys due to WAPF’s promotion of these foods, that I started getting mysterious headaches and rashes from the amines!
Since I have been on failsafe I have realised that the tiny amounts of free glutamate in some natural foods are enough to raise my insulin levels, give me carbohydrate cravings, and make me hungry again after eating. It’s no wonder Atkins stopped working for me: I’m currently on very, very fresh meat, I’m even eating sushi rice, and I’m losing weight.
Who needs crack when chocolate is freely available?
I’ve mentioned before how I’ve come to realise I have unpleasant reactions to chocolate, and how other failsafers have also reported extreme reactions, including wild bouts of paranoia. I’ve always been a chocolate addict, and even on a strict low-carb diet, a meal didn’t feel “complete” without a small piece of very strong dark chocolate at the end. I always blamed this on carbohydrate cravings, but I realised when I tried to replace chocolate with other foods – like dates – that I would still crave chocolate when the sweet cravings were satisfied. The problem was the chemistry of chocolate, which is high in a raft of amines and other neurotransmitters like endorphins.
Amines are something in particular that I associate with being put in what I can only describe as a “black mood”, like a seething thundercloud. I hate everyone and everything, I’m disgusted by the selfishness and idiocy of humanity (normally the selfishness and idiocy of humanity does not bother me particularly, LOL), and I want to be as far away from all other human beings as possible.
Chocolate in particular, not only puts me in a “black mood”, it also makes me fairly paranoid. Some people experience the feeling that they are being victimised. I don’t (I already know they’re out to get me, LOL), instead I’m paranoid about things like dying in car accidents or leaving the gas on. Chocolate is particularly high in dopamine, and I’m aware that too much dopamine in the limbic system and not enough in the cortex creates an imbalance that produces suspicion, paranoia and inhibits social interaction. Something else I tend to get with chocolate consumption and amines (and I have this in common with side effects experienced by Seroxat/Paxil and Prozac users, so is possibly serotonin related) is that I’ll flash on violent scenarios or morbid fantasies in which I die. Fortunately I’m a very level-headed person and have trained myself to put such images straight out of my mind.
In real life I’ve heard many tales of women who have chocolate addictions who get such powerful chocolate cravings that they have to drop everything that they are doing and go out (or more often, their boyfriend is hassled into going out) to buy chocolate from the local newsagent. One friend of mine swears she cannot go a single day without a bar of chocolate. She’s a Muslim and observes fasting during Ramadan – every day she would count down the seconds until the sunset fell and would rush to the office snack machine to buy a big Mars bar.
This is from the latest failsafe newsletter:
The biggest shock for me however, was when I recently discovered I was a food reactor!! I was a junk food addict and would eat about 5kg of chocolate a week. I can’t believe now I had so many symptoms, and I never even put them together as symptoms, let alone found the source of the problem! I was getting migraines, I constantly had a headache behind my eyes, I felt very faint and disoriented, had stomach pains that felt like needles – usually after eating lollies, and I was always bloated – something which really upset me.
The weirdest thing to attribute to food however was my extreme ‘fear of the dark’ as I called it. I would be terribly scared of the dark, I would think that my mind thought it could see little people and things out of the corner of my eye, even though I knew they weren’t there, I would open my eyes every 10 seconds while trying to get to sleep, just to check if there were monsters or robbers there, and every time I closed my eyes all I could picture in my head was horrible things that would scare me. I was a bit worried I was starting to go crazy, then I stopped eating chocolate and didn’t even notice all these symptoms disappeared.
It wasn’t until I splurged on a whole chocolate cake over two nights that I discovered what had caused these problems. After eating the cake I was completely on edge. I couldn’t sit down for ten seconds without turning around to make sure there were no monsters or robbers behind me. Eventually I had to sit with my back to the wall so I wouldn’t think there were things behind me. That was the last time I ate chocolate, and the thought of ever eating it again scares me! – by email.  ‘Fear of the dark’ really a food reaction (August 2006)
Wow. Five kilograms of chocolate a week. That’s quite an achievement. In this case, a food chemical addiction was the primary problem, and the calorie consumption was a secondary, inevitable aspect. I don’t believe people naturally overconsume food, I believe they do it when what they are eating is giving them cravings.
I cannot count on both hands the number of people I know in real life, and have met online, who I would like to send these extracts from Sue Dengate’s “Fed Up with ADHD”.
One new friend kept telling me about her nephew who was on a diet low in salicylates. I had never heard of salicylates. In retrospect I can see she was observing my child’s behaviour and trying to get the message across. I was totally unreceptive. When my friend told me that most fruits contain salicylates I was horrified. Life without fruit was unimaginable. “I’m glad we don’t have to worry about that,” I told her. P17
During this holiday we began a blitz on saying “please” and “thank you”. It would take us about three years of persistent effort to get Rebecca to say these reliably. Arran learned in about three weeks. This summarises for me the size of the problem we were up against. Expecting Rebecca to acquire common social skills through observation was unrealistic, including basic skills such as washing of hands and waiting in turn. I estimated that if I needed to remind Arran about something several hundred times, for Rebecca it would take several thousand times. This represented a drastic increase in parenting workload which could have been avoided. She learned eventually, but why bother? It would have been easier to change what she ate. P21
I thought if my children were affected by food additives, I would notice an obvious reaction, but the truth is, parents usually don’t. The effects just seemed to be part of their normal behaviour. When I removed food colours and some preservatives from Arran’s diet he started sleeping through the night straight away, although he still had diarrhoea.
From The Medical Journals
‘The younger children had constant crying, tantrums, irritability, restlessness and severe sleep disturbance, and were described as “disruptive”, “easily distracted and excited”, “high as a kite” and “out of control”. Their parents were exhausted through lack of sleep and the constant demands of their children, who were unable to be comforted or controlled. THe older children were described as “irritable”, “aimlessly active”, “lacking self-control”, “whiney and unhappy”, and “like a bear with a sore head”.’
Rowe KS and Rowe KJ, “Synthetic food coloring and behavior”, J Pediatrics 1994;125:691-698
In retrospect, I wish the dietitian had explained more to me about the effects of food intolerance and how to use the RPAH elimination diet, in case avoiding additives wasn’t enough. Unlike the other health professionals I saw, she had all the information I needed. She just didn’t give it to me. It didn’t occur to me that Arran’s health problems and Rebecca’s behaviour problems could have the same cause so I didn’t talk about Rebecca and I don’t think the dietitian realised just how bad our situation was. P27
One weekend we went to visit some good friends in a nearby city and I noticed that their five-year-old son, whom I normally regarded as rather demanding, was unusually agreeable. For morning tea there was a pink iced bun, which my children were not allowed to eat. I watched their son eat the pink icing and right under my eyes, he became restless and demanding.
“When we came in he was behaving very well, but I’ve noticed he’s changed since we had morning tea. Do you think he could have the same problem was Rebecca?” I asked his mother.
My friend was remarkably receptive. “I’ve been wondering about that,” she admitted, and described how the preschool teacher had referred him to the school nurse for an assessment. The nurse had commented, “He doesn’t concentrate very well, does he?” It was true. He wasn’t concentrating, and couldn’t finish the test, despite excellent concentration at home.
By the end of our visit my friend had bought a copy of Dr Feingold’s classic book, which is still a good read despite the outdated diet. Her son was already on the diet although he was not a hyperactive child. In many ways he was the opposite of Rebecca – a sendentary, good sleeper who was reading fluently before he entered preschool. But his messy handwriting, poor social skills, intermittent concentration problems and inappropriate temper outbursts improved on the diet. “He seems to be most affected by salicylates, just as the book says,” his mother commented.
“Thank goodness that’s not a problem for us,” I answered. “I’d hate to have to cut out fruit, although I have noticed that Rebecca gets aggressive if she eats a lot of almonds, so I suppose that’s salicylates. I think she has a mild intolerance.” How I wish I had paid more attention. Dietary management so far had improved all of Rebecca’s behaviours except sleeping. Here was someone telling me the answer to our problems but I still wasn’t listening.
Like most people, I didn’t want to hear about salicylates. I still thought that if your child was sensitive to certain foods, then you would see an obvious reaction soon after eating. I couldn’t understand that when children eat food chemicals many times a day, as with salicylates, the result is good days and bad days which come and go for no obvious reason. The concept of trying an elimination diet in which all additives and salicylate-containing foods are avoided, then reintroduced one group at a time, was still far beyond me. PP32-33
Rebecca had so many problems that I decided it was time for us to take diet seriously. The dietitian was not helpful. “I don’t believe the Feingold diet works,” she said, “and it’s not my job to help hyperactive children.” She persuaded me not to try the elimination diet which I had requested. “It’s very difficult, and you’ve done most of it already.” If only I could have talked to a sympathetic dietitian at this stage. I was finally ready to hear what they had to say, and it would have saved us years of anguish. [...]
[After being given advice to increase vegetables and fruit] I thought that I was feeding my children good food but the dietitian could hardly have given me less helpful advice. I had decided we didn’t have to worry about salicylates. I couldn’t have been more wrong. We embarked on a two-year period of even worse sleeping problems than we had already encountered.
Researchers comment that mothers rarely see a correspondence between food and behaviour. It was true. I did not relate Rebecca’s increasing inability to go to sleep at night and worsening problems in other areas to the “healthier” diet we were eating. PP49-50
Reye’s syndrome is the reason that junior aspirin was withdrawn from the market in the UK some years ago now. Take a look at the symptoms:
- Recurrent vomiting
- Personality changes
- Progressive mental changes
- Loss of consciousness
- Brain swelling
- Liver dysfunction
- Enlarged liver
- Reye’s Syndrome from WrongDiagnosis.com
If you are food chemical intolerant you will probably recognise most of these symptoms and associate them with salicylates, i.e. aspirin.
These are extracts from Sue Dengate’s “Fed Up with ADHD”
One morning we all arranged to go on a long bushwalk. After a short distance Rebecca stopped. “I’m too tired,” she said and lay down on the track.
“Nonsense. A child of that age should be able to walk this distance,” said our friend. She clearly thought we were being too easy on Rebecca. I had noticed food would get her moving and I gave her some dried fruit. After another ten minutes she was up again but quite white-faced and shaky. Howard helped her back to camp.
Episodes like this were to occur sporadically, usually associated with exercise. A friend suggested hypoglycemia and the symptoms did seem to fit. I talked to our doctor, who described hypoglycemia as an American fad and reassured me that Rebecca did not have diabetes. We adopted the principles of the diet anyway, feeding Rebecca every couple of hours, especially on waking and before going to sleep and avoiding refined foods and sugar. This seemed to help and so we embarked on what turned out to be the wrong track for the next six years. PP36-37
Suddenly Rebecca said “I’m tired” and lay down. She was panicky and uncoordinated and we had to almost carry her down the steep, slippery path. When we reached the tent she lay unmoving, refusing to eat. I forced her to drink some juice and soon she got up and started playing as if nothing had happened.
Episodes like this always seemed to happen when we were staying in a cabin and I remember over the week Rebecca had been eating a lot of bread and marmalade. When she suddenly said “I’m tired” I decided to see if she would sleep it off. I left her lying on her bed in the twilight.
About an hour later, expecting her to be asleep, I found her crouched under a bench in the now dark room. She did not seem to recognise me, was incapable of speech and appeared terrified. I led her gently to the kitchen and stuck a spoonful of sugar in her mouth. In a few minutes she was back to normal.
I tried to find out how to prevent these alarming episodes. The doctor I talked to said, “She’s probably got hypoglycemia, but she’s too young to have a glucose tolerance test.” He also suggested that her night waking with panic may be due to hypoglycemia and that we might have to wake Rebecca and feed her in the middle of the night.
We took his advice on feeding her before sleeping. If she spent several hours trying to fall asleep, as usual, then she ate some more supper. This did reduce the night panic and if she woke eating helped her to get back to sleep.
I thought I could see a pattern. The episodes usually occurred when we were out of our regular routine and they seemed to be associated with exercise. If Rebecca ever mentioned she was hungry I learned to feed her immediately, as the feeling quickly passed. This lack of self-awareness characterised both Howard and Rebecca.
Arran frequently complained “I’m hungry”, but food could be delayed without any ill effects. Rebecca rarely complained of hunger. I was more likely to observe, “You are getting grumpy. I think you need to eat.” She would often deny this and have to be cajoled into eating, but improved quickly after eating. If Rebecca actually said she was hungry I regarded this as a red alert situation and fed her immediately. Five minutes delay was too long. The feeling would have passed, soon becoming “I’m tired”, refusal to eat, and lying down. Sometimes there was another stage, “I want some sugar,” before the tiredness.
Many years later I would find the explanation. Salicylates can impair production of glucose in the body while increasing glucose utilisation. This causes an imbalance, resulting in salicylate-induced hypoglycemia. Rebecca’s problems while on holidays or bushwalking were related to our higher consumption of salicylate-containing foods such as dried fruit. The effect was worsened by exercise, which increases the body’s need for glucose. PP56-57
We were still worried about Rebecca’s lack of energy during exercise. When I explained the symptoms in detail to our pediatrician, he agreed to have her tested for hypoglycemia and booked her into hospital.
Rebecca spent twenty-four hours in hospital on a water-only diet, having regular blood tests to see if her blood sugar level changed. It didn’t. The hospital doctor was contemptuous. She thought that ADHD was overdiagnosed, that Rebecca’s problems were due to poor parenting and that food intolerance was “clutching at straws” but we noticed a remarkable change.
From a rude and angry start, Rebecca progressively became more polite and cooperative, sweet-natured and clear-thinking. That evening she was fun to be with and played the best game of checkers ever. We thought she was lovely. “That is how I want my daughter,” I joked to our pediatrician on our follow-up visit. “We’ve discovered the right diet for her. Water only!”
I was surprised to find he took me seriously. Hadn’t he ever believed me before?
“Perhaps the hypoglycemic symptoms are being triggered by a food sensitivity,” he suggested. The upshot was that he arranged a case conference with a new dietitian. PP107-108
For nearly six years we had been convinced that Rebecca reacted to sugar and had avoided it in our diet. Refined white sugar is permitted on the elimination diet – as part of a balanced diet – and the children were now eating sugar to compensate for the restrictions on fruit sugar.
I had to admit Rebecca did not seem to be affected, but when she had a big reaction five hours after eating a lemonade icy pole, I blamed sugar. To confirm this, we did a challenge with ten sugar cubes. No reaction. Still unconvinced, we tried again with twenty sugar cubes. Still no reaction. I had to accept that Rebecca did not react to sugar and that I had been wrong for all those years. Lemonade icy-poles contain small amounts of salicylates. I had finally seen for myself that Rebecca’s hypoglycemic symptoms had been related to salicylates not sugar.
In the years that followed, I came to understand salicylate-induced hypoglycemia. When Rebecca avoids salicylates, she can eat sugar with no problems. If Rebecca eats too many salicylates, especially while exercising, under stress or skipping some meals, she suffers a hypoglycemic episode and improves instantly with a spoonful of sugar. I would prefer my daughter to be able to eat fruit rather than sugar. But that’s not the way it is. PP114-115
I regained my carbohydrate tolerance after going on failsafe for a few weeks. I was curious because I knew that I definitely experienced reactions to carbohydrate before going on the diet. I mentioned at the time that I came across numerous studies in Medline/Pubmed (too many to list!) confirming that salicylates induce hypoglycaemia by stimulating insulin release.
When I was worst affected, at a time in my life when I was eating additives and salicylates, and before I had started low-carbing, my symptoms could be equally as bad as those listed above. I could not skip meals without very unpleasant consequences. I was regularly shaky, snappy, and even violent, and several times came close to fainting when food was not available.
In my case I managed to control my hypoglycaemic symptoms with a very strict carbohydrate-controlled diet. Friends and family could be intolerant and dismissive of my need for this (comments ranged from “yeah, yeah”, to “I think if you try to do any diet when you go out you are going to fail,” to “can’t you just try to fit in for tonight?” to all kinds of mocking and dismissive comments about what a “dangerous” diet Atkins is). Unfortunately I did not allow myself to become hypoglycaemic often enough to prove the reaction to them.
It is such a relief to know that salicylates are the cause of the hypoglycaemia I was experiencing. I had been afraid that I was damaged in some way, perhaps for the rest of my life. Ironically, though Atkins relieved my symptoms, the huge emphasis on eating “wonderful, healthy” vegetables on the Atkins diet also kept me sick.
FYI, I still keep my carbs between 40-70 grams per day, because I’ve no desire to get fat in a hurry. It’s just that I eat more milk, biscuits and bread these days.
…At this point several people will write to me to tell me “you are damaged if you can’t eat fruit and vegetables” – and I will be forced to look up the quote from the study where 60% of ordinary children experienced behavioural improvements after beginning a partial elimination diet.