Allergy The Allergy Center

Some Topics

  • Diet Revision as Diagnosis & Treatment

    Proper diet revision should always be carried out when food-related illness is suspected. For thousands of patients we have reviewed over the past 25 years, food allergy or food sensitivity tests have for the most part been an expensive distraction - and worse - misleading, confusing and counter-productive. Dr. J. Gerrard, a prominent Canadian Allergist summarized many years ago, a smart approach to evaluating and treating food allergy:

    "... foods can cause not only classical IgE-mediated allergy but also the irritable bowel syndrome, migraine, arthritis, and disturbances of behavior. The identification or confirmation of IgE-mediated allergy is simple, for it correlates well with skin prick tests and antibody test results. The identification of other adverse reactions to foods is more difficult and is sometimes hampered by preconceived ideas both on the part of the patient and the physician. To solve this problem we admitted patients who might be reacting to foods to a hostel unit where they fasted for four days on spring or filtered water, and then were given single foods one by one so that adverse reactions to them might be recorded by both the patient and the physician. The patients studied had for the most part a combination of symptoms which included nasal stuffiness, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, arthralgias, eczema, and neurological problems such as depression and lassitude. 33 patients were investigated. In 6, symptoms persisted unchanged, the presenting symptoms being headache in 3, neuralgia in 2, and asthma in 1; symptoms cleared completely in 12 and diminished to 50-90% of previous levels in 15. When foods were reintroduced the reactions were unexpected, both by the patient and by the attending physician, for neither knew beforehand that foods, let alone which food, were precipitating symptoms. Had the patient been aware that foods were playing a part in causing his symptoms he would have avoided them. Foods seem to play a part in severe chronic disorders which have no recognized cause. To establish the role of foods in precipitating disorders, we need hospital units where patients can be fasted and then tested individual with foods, with biochemical and immunological studies if required. Investigations such as these are inexpensive and, when foods are implicated, the treatment, food avoidance, is cheap and safe. When food avoidance prevents headaches, the irritable bowel syndrome, arthralgias, and depression, it is more effective and less costly than other treatments and the observation also throws light on the origin of the disorder."

    A trial of diet revision is safe, practical and effective when the illness pattern suggests the diagnosis of food allergy and when the patient believes that food is responsible for causing symptoms. Knicker's advice is worth repeating: "To diagnose adverse reactions to foodstuffs the clinician chiefly need to be satisfied that the ingestion of a food predictably and repeatedly causes disease. It is not necessary to know the precise triggering mechanism or which mediators of inflammation are activated. Such information is difficult to obtain, often requiring considerable laboratory investigation beyond the scope of clinical practice."

    The Alpha Nutrition Program is suggested as both a diagnostic and a treatment procedure. This standardized method of diet revision can be conducted at home and spare the patient the inconvenience and cost of hospitalization or frequent office visits. In the era of cost-containment and increased patient responsibility for self-care, a well-constructed diet revision program empowers the patient to resolve health problems with a minimum of medical interventions.