Tuesday, July 23, 2013

What is the Failsafe Diet?

I currently owe my life to this diet. Seriously. I've tried just about every diet there is out there, and not one of them made a difference. In fact, most of them made me exponentially worse! About 2 months ago, I was starving and wasting away. I was unable to put one thing in my mouth without some sort of horrific full body meltdown. It was then that I stumbled upon the Failsafe diet and decided to give it a go, being that I didn't have much left to lose.

So you might be wondering what the Failsafe diet is....

The FAILSAFE diet is a diet designed to be free of additives, low in salicylates, amines and flavor enhancers. It's pretty much the blandest of the bland diets. I never said it was fun, but IT WORKS. 
 Sue Dengate came up with the term "Failsafe" to describe  the low-chemical exclusion diet formulated by allergists at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Australia. It is designed to treat sensitivities to specific natural and man-made flavouring, colouring and preservative chemicals found in foods.
Sensitivities to food chemicals (IGG reactions) are pharmacological and dose-related (like the side effects of drugs), rather than immune-mediated (IGE) like allergies. This is why skin prick tests are usually useless for people who are experiencing these intolerances. The reactions can be immediate or delayed, which is why they are so tricky to detect. Believe me, it took me YEARS to figure out what I was reacting to! Meanwhile after undergoing extensive allergy testing, I had not one IGE type allergy, yet my body was responding to foods and certain personal care products as if I did. 
 Different people have dramatically different tolerance levels to salicylates, amines, glutamates, sulphites, food colourings and other additives, and sensitivity symptoms (intolerances), occur when a person’s tolerance levels are exceeded. Think of it like a bucket. If your bucket fills faster than your body can empty it, you get a reaction. 
Reactions can vary from person to person. Some people don;t even notice reactions, while others can get some digestive discomfort and mild itching. Then there are those like myself so are lucky enough to be "super responders", where even a morsel of the offending chemical can cause a full on melt down. 
The symptoms caused by food chemicals appear to be allergy-like which can make determining their true cause very confusing. Despite food chemical intolerance being more common than true allergy, a lack of knowledge about this syndrome means that the symptoms are rarely understood properly by the layperson or the medical practitioner. There are specific metabolic reasons for these symptoms.
To add insult to injury, the list of symptoms will make your head spin. Food chemical intolerances have the capacity to affect just about every single system in the human body, and at times, several at once. 
There is a good amount of research out there that is now linking certain "mystery illnesses" to food chemicals, as in the case of Fibromyalgia and salicylates, and histamine intolerance with eczema, anxiety, IBS and a myriad of other mental illnesses. These chemicals have also been closely tied into Chronic Fatigue and Adrenal Fatigue syndromes. 
The failsafe diet excludes strong tasting and smelling foods and environmental chemicals, in particular:
  1. About fifty additives including colours (like tartrazine, sunset yellow), flavours, preservatives and antioxidants (sulphites, nitrates, benzoates, sorbates, parabens).
  2. Salicylates (aspirin) and polyphenols (natural flavours, colours and preservatives) found in a wide range of fruits and vegetables as well as in man-made NSAIDs and COX II inhibitors.
  3. Neurotransmitters: free glutamates (MSG) and amines (histamine, serotonin, dopamine, phenylethylamine, tyramine and others) in aged proteins and fermented foods like cheese, game and hung meat.
  4. Environmental chemicals and strong smells like perfumes, most commercial cosmetics, scented and coloured toiletries and especially mint and menthol products.
  5. Some pharmaceutical drugs, including aspirin, all NSAIDS including ibuprofen, and the methyl-salicylates found in decongestants and anti-inflammatory creams.
It is an elimination designed to detox the body of various chemicals and then challenge it with small amounts to determine what you are sensitive to. 

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