Fedup Newsletters




Newsletter of the Food Intolerance Network of Australia

August 1998


FAILSAFE (formerly the Dietpage) supports families using the low-chemical elimination diet recommended by the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital - free of additives, low in salicylates, amines and flavour enhancers - for health, behaviour and learning problems.




Welcome to the first electronic edition of Failsafe (formerly the DietPage). In this issue we report on the commonly observed link between toddler diarrhoea and apple juice. Doctors are still puzzled about what exactly causes the problem - could we suggest they look at salicylates?

And several readers whose children have behaviour problems and are sensitive to a range of food chemicals have reported dramatic improvements on a gluten-free diet. One boy completed an entire elimination diet with no improvement or reaction to challenges. When he avoided gluten, he improved immensely and reacted to nearly every challenge. Others noticed improvements on the elimination diet, but still 'weren't quite right.' For them, gluten was the missing link. Recent research, see below, has confirmed these observations - that gluten intolerance is more common than previously thought, and frequently undiagnosed.

A diagnostic blood test for gluten intolerance is welcome, but what about a bowel biopsy? My son was the first patient out of 70 at our local hospital to have an adverse reaction to the sedative Hypnovel used during the procedure. The US version of this drug has been associated with 66 deaths, according to investigative writer Beatrice Faust in her book Benzo Junkie. Maybe a gluten challenge while on the elimination diet is safer ...

- Sue Dengate, editor


New research about gluten intolerance


Gluten intolerance (or Coeliac disease) was previously regarded as unusual and glaringly obvious. It is now seen as having a wide range of manifestations and often remaining undiagnosed. The role of gluten intolerance in diarrhoea and abdominal complaints in low key, chronic ill health is increasingly recognised. It has also been associated with a range of neurological dysfunctions, Down's Syndrome, anaemia, impaired female fertility, insulin dependent diabetes mellitus and patchy baldness called alopecia areata. The very latest research suggests gluten intolerance may be involved in autism and possibly schizophrenia (more on this in the next issue).

A blood test called the antiendomysial antibody test can now indicate coeliac disease which can be confirmed by a bowel biopsy. Coeliac sufferers are traditionally small, skinny children with a pot belly but this appearance is not essential. Even overweight or tall adults may be gluten intolerant. The response to a gluten-free diet is dramatic.


Further reading Duggan, J.M., 'Recent developments in our understanding of adult coeliac disease'. Medical Journal of Australia (1997),166; pp312-315 (thanks to dietitian Marion Leggo for sending this article) and McCrone, J. 'Gut reaction - is food to blame for autism?' New Scientist, 20 June 1998, 42-45.


Matthew's story - a parent's perspective


I am the parent of three children, the youngest having been diagnosed in October 1994 as having an autistic spectrum disorder.

Matthew was introduced to the gluten free and dairy free (GFDF) diet in May 1995. It was successful in alleviating his sense of isolation and subsequent social withdrawal, his anxiety, hyperactivity and seemingly senseless repetitive behaviour.

It is no exaggeration for me to describe Matthew pre-diet as being akin to a "demented chimpanzee". Others were much kinder when referring to him as a 'wild animal'. Constant screaming, retracing his steps for hours on end, climbing and hanging from anything and everything, getting stuck in tiny places - his entire body, on a number of occasions, being tightly wedged behind a favoured radiator - eating and smearing his own faeces.

His reaction to pain was to laugh. His moods would swing widely and often - one minute he'd be crying and screaming, the next he'd be laughing hysterically for no apparent reason. In all, he appeared to exist within his own thoughts, showed little or no interest in his environment and would often shun social contact, even with his own family.


Disturbing element

Matthew came to be regarded as a disturbing family element rather than a much-wanted and much-loved child. Every day proved exhausting and relentless and my main priority was to just get through each day whichever way I could. I felt no longer able to care for Matthew and keep him out of danger day after day without going completely mad myself.

My desperation was met with medical support from Dr Mike Cooper, a consultant psychiatrist from the Delancy Hospital in Cheltenham. I was promptly given the gluten-free and dairy-free diet.

Two days into the diet Matthew was a lot calmer and began sleeping through the night. Before the diet he'd sleep on average three to four hours per night and would literally bounce off the walls for the rest of the night. He became more aware of his environment and began to smile at people, something he had not been known to do previously. His anti-social behaviour began to diminish and he became generally more receptive and responsive.


A different little boy


Today, Matthew is a very different little boy: he is very affectionate, happy and sociable. He will initiate play with familiar adults and clearly enjoys the company of other children. He has recently developed an interest in his twin brother, Tom, who in turn regards Matthew's attention seeking antics and bizarre sense of fun as extremely entertaining.

Although his self help skills are not developed, Matthew is showing consistent learning potential with the benefit of one to one care and hand over hand application at his new school which he has recently joined as a term boarder.

Eye contact is intense and he is now very observant of everyone and everything around him.

Matthew is still very much a handful, however, it is now possible to gain his attention and redirect his energies constructively, without first having to spend time and effort trying to catch him. It is still necessary to keep one step ahead of Matthew, although he is able to be disciplined now and responds well.

I have great difficulty in citing any disadvantages of the GFDF diet. Matthew took to the change in food readily and I must admit it's a joy to feed Matt, as he loves his food so much. Prior to the diet Matt had always been hungry, ate non-stop and was always weak and vomiting. These days he's very physically fit and robust.

I feel the great success of the GFDF diet for Matthew has been to promote a sense of physical and emotional well being. I am in no doubt that the cumulative effect of the diet over the past two and a half years have been instrumental in his increased awareness of himself and his environment. - Leanne Neale


Reprinted from the Allergy Induced Autism newsletter no 20, winter 1997, page 2, available from AIA, 3 Palmera Avenue, Calcot, Reading, Berkshire RG31 7DZ. Many thanks to Leanne Neale for sharing her story with us.


Effects of apple juice


Children who drink lots of apple juice often get diarrhoea, but paediatricians are not sure why. At first they suspected the problem was poor absorption of the fruit sugar, fructose. Dutch researchers now suggest that other carbohydrates may be at fault, especially from the skin of mushed up apples. A commentary in Paediatric Notes complained: 'Doesn't anyone drink plain water or has the public become addicted to all these other substances because water supplies have deteriorated in taste? Or are the present drinking habits determined 'solely by (Madison Avenue) advertising?'


From: Health Reader Aug 96, p9




We found two brands of frankfurters (Watsonia and Chapman's) which contain colours, 120 and 160b annatto, not listed on the label. See last month's DietPage.


Skin rashes


Please let us know of any skin rashes (including dramatic whole-body urticaria) which occur up to 30 hours after eating some instant noodles, party pies and flavoured chips. We suspect a possible connection with a new additive (code 635). Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The shopping news -how schools can help


Thanks to The Essington School in Darwin for failsafe options at the coming fete (Saturday 22nd August, 4-7 pm): failsafe sausages on preservative-free bread, bottled water, and white fairy-floss.


Cook's Corner


The owner of a popular curry house in Sydney says the secret of a good curry is plenty of onions, salt and oil. We can do that (well ... try leeks instead of onions!).


Indian-style lamb

with leeks and potatoes

800g diced lamb

1 tsp finely crushed garlic

125 ml canola oil

1 tbs sugar

500g leeks, cut crosswise into fine rings

500g potatoes, peeled and quartered

1½-2 tsp salt

Put lamb in a bowl. Add garlic, mix well, cover and set aside for 2-3 hours. Heat the oil in a wide, heavy-based pan over a medium-high flame until smoking hot. Scatter in the sugar and immediately add the leeks. Stir and fry the leeks until they are a rich brownish colour. Add the meat. Stir and fry the meat for about 10 minutes or until it browns lightly. Now put in the potatoes. Stir and fry them for about 5 minutes. Add the salt and 300 ml water. Bring to the boil, cover, lower the heat and simmer for about 1 hour or until lamb is tender. Stir gently once or twice during cooking. Serve with steamed rice, plain (not spicy or pepper) pappadums, pear chutney (from Friendly Food) and green beans. Serves 6.



Gluten-free sweet slice
½ cup rice malt

2 dsp maple syrup

2 cups puffed rice

Combine rice malt and maple syrup in a large microwave container suitable for slices. Cook on HI for 1 minute, stir, then cook again for 2 minutes. Stir in puffed rice and press down firmly. Cook a further 2 minutes, remove from microwave, press firmly down and cut into slices. Or you can roll into balls. Sweet and crunchy. -Gwen Sculley


Further reading: Fed Up by Sue Dengate, Random House, 1998Friendly Food by Royal Prince Hospital Allergy Unit, Murdoch Books, 1991


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