Fedup Newsletters




Newsletter of the Food Intolerance Network of Australia

December 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.





• inflamed bowel and behaviour

• depression

• thiamine deficiency

• additives

• recipes - Melody's chicken, quick lunchbox biscuit

With our move into electronic publishing, the Dietpage has changed its name and is now available free by email. Just send your email address to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

- Sue Dengate, editor

Inflamed bowel and behaviour problems


RLS A possible connection between the measles mumps rubella (MMR) vaccination and autism in 12 children was reported in a February issue of the Lancet, a highly-regarded peer-reviewed British medical journal. A flood of outraged letters to the Lancet pointed out that the association between MMR and autism has not been proved. What has been shown is an association between an inflamed or dysfunctional intestine (characterised by diarrhoea, abdominal pain, bloating and some food intolerance) and behavioural changes in some children.

In the Lancet a month later, British researcher AJ Wakefield and his colleagues provided an update, saying


"We have now investigated 48 children in with developmental disorder in whom the parents said 'my child has a problem with his/her bowels which I believe is related to their autism'. Hitherto this claim had been rejected by health professionals with little or no attempt to investigate the problem. The parents were right. They have helped us to identify a new inflammatory bowel disease that seems to be associated with their children's developmental disorder."


Severe constipation with acquired megarectum was noted in almost all affected children. The behaviour of several of the children improved when their intestinal pathology was treated. Most parents noted behavioural improvement after the bowel preparation for colonoscopy, and improvement which was maintained if recurrent constipation could be prevented.


The same bowel disease in children was linked with non-IgE-mediated food allergy and ADHD, asthma or atopic dermatitis in the July issue of the Lancet by researchers Dr A Sabra and colleagues from Georgetown University Medical Centre in Washington.

Both groups of researchers suggest that increased intestinal permeability allows passage of antigens into the blood.


Further reading: The Lancet: Wakefield AJ and others, 'Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children', Lancet, Feb 28 1998, (351), 637-641, also Lancet March 21, 1998 and Lancet July 18, 1998.


Junk Food causing beri-beri


American children have shown early signs of beri-beri caused by eating vast quantities of junk food, a Melbourne GP registrar has said.

Dr Sanjiva Wijesinha said the disease was caused by a thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency. He said: "Junk foods are high in carbohydrates but have little or no thiamine, so those who live on junk food are prone to develop thiamine deficiency."

Beri-beri was first named in Sri Lanka a century ago for a common Asian disease which caused muscle weakness and pains, poor appetite, tingling of the hands and legs, and inability to sleep, cardiac failure and eventual death.


The disease came from the polishing of rice which the indigenous population lived on. "The milling of rice removes the germinal vitamin-containing layers of the rice seed and hence loses its thiamine content," Dr Wijesinha said. White flour also loses its thiamine in the refining process, although manufacturers now add synthetic vitamin B1 supplements to the milled flour.

Vitamin B1 is an essential coenzyme in the metabolism of carbohydrates. The more carbohydrates you consume, the more vitamin B1 you need to make use of it. The American children recovered from beri-beri after taking supplemental thiamine.


Reference: Australian Doctor, 11/9/98

Note: gluten-free diets can be low in thiamine. It is found in bread (especially wholemeal), legumes, peas, lean meat, wholegrain cereals (including brown rice), chicken and fish.



Readers' comments






Mental agitation and depression are possible reactions to food chemicals. A reader describes his reaction to an amine challenge


"I started the challenges on Friday evening I decided to start with amines because I felt I shouldn't react. How wrong can you get! I am writing this on Sunday morning. I had a violent reaction within a few hours and have never felt so awful in all my life. Here are some of the symptoms:

• depression

• suicidal tendencies (note not just thoughts)

• melancholy

• looking for an argument

• the whole world is against me

• lethargy

• shakes

• pressure on the skull and tingles in the extremities

• feeling of hangover

• inability to focus on thoughts

• ringing in the ears

• inability to sleep

• today again I feel hung over even with Caltrate assistance

Not the best 24 hours but at least I know there is a cause for symptoms that I have experienced in the past. On a positive note it is remarkable that once you know certain food groups cause a problem you don't really miss them!


You need to stress to people contemplating the diet that their taste buds will change while on the diet, and that food which they simply couldn't live without will not be as appealing after four weeks.

The food that they can't do without is most likely to be very high in a chemical to which they will react in a challenge, eg my favourite food list: matured cheese, cola drinks, bananas, fish, citrus fruits, tomato, chocolate, sultanas, sultana bran cereal, canned tuna and salmon, cordials, gravy and almonds."





"Can you publish a list of which additives cause specific problems?"


In Australia there are approximately 350 permitted food additives. While most are harmless, about 60 of these additives have been associated with adverse reactions. Effects are related to dose. Some people will react to even a tiny amount. Nearly anyone will react if the dose is high enough. Most likely to be affected are:

• children

• women of child-bearing age

• the elderly

• people with cognitive developmental disorders

As additives in our foods increase, more people will be affected. Most reactions are delayed and are therefore difficult to identify.

Before approval, these additives are tested only for their cancer-causing potential, not for their effects on health, behaviour or learning ability.


Typical reactions include:


• skin (itchy skin rashes)


• airways (asthma, stuffy or runny nose, frequent ear infections)


• gut (colic, reflux, bloating, stomach discomfort, cramps, diarrhoea, constipation, sneaky poos)


• neurobehavioural (headache, migraine, tinnitis, epilepsy, lethargy, impairment of attention, memory or concentration, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, restless legs, sleep disorders, irritability, restlessness and hyperactivity).


These additives can cause problems


• artificial colours 102, 107, 110, 122-129, 133, 142, 151, 155 plus 160(b) annatto natural colour



• sorbic acids 200 - 203 in processed fruit, vegetables, drinks


• benzoic acids 210 - 213 in soft drinks, cordials, juice drinks

• sulphites 220 - 228 in drinks, wine, beer, bread, meat, processed foods, fruit/salad bars


• nitrates & nitrites 249 - 252 in processed meats like ham


• propionic acids 280 - 283 in bread, crumpets, buns


• antioxidants 310 - 321 in margarine, oil, chips, fries


• flavour enhancers 620 - 635, HVP in tasty foods (621 is MSG)


• added flavours in many processed foods


Any of these additives can cause any of the above reactions in a sensitive individual.

Some commonly noted reactions are:

• bread preservative (282) and irritability or mental fog

• flavour enhancer (635) and skin rashes

• colours and irritability, restlessness, sleep disturbance

• sulphites and asthma

• nitrates and stomach ache

Naturally occurring food chemicals of similar molecular size can cause the same problems.


Cooks' corner



Melody's chicken


• 8 skinless chicken drumsticks

• 4 shallots or leeks, chopped

• home-made chicken stock

• 3 large chokoes peeled and chopped, or green beans


• ¼ tsp citric acid in 25 ml water

• garlic and salt to taste

Saute chicken drumsticks and shallots in canola oil, cover with homemade chicken stock and summer. When cooked through add 1 tbspn golden syrup and a cup or more of water. Add chokoes or beans. Put lid on and simmer until chokoes are cooked through, al dente not soggy. Add citric acid mix. Just before serving, add garlic and salt. Serve with rice, spoon over juice. - Kate Geyle



Quick lunchbox biscuit


• 2 arrowroot biscuits

• one marshmallow

• white icing

Place marshmallow on 1 biscuit and microwave for about 10 sec (keep an eye on it though). Place other arrowroot on top, squashing marshmallow between the two. Ice top biscuit with white icing. I sometimes put a face on in carob. My daughter is happy to have one of these at morning recess when all the other kids have cream biscuits. - Janelle Spicer




This newsletter is available free by email from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by mail for $10 per year from PO Box 85 Parap NT 0804. Thanks to Margie Turner, Ashley, Kerry, Gwen Higgins, Deborah Halliwell and readers for reports.

Further reading: The Simplified Elimination Diet available from dietitians, Fed Up by Sue Dengate Random House 1998 and Friendly Food, by Swain and others, Murdoch Books, 1991, both from bookstores.

© Sue Dengate, Joanne van Os (rats), 1998