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Eating disorders: The negative effects of an elimination diet

Since the start of the pandemic (Covid-19), we have seen how this challenging time is continually influencing our day-to-day life.  Recently on our previous blog, we have explained how symptoms for covid-19 and allergies can be easily misinterpreted, causing people fear and anxiety. Read more about the difference in symptoms here.

A recent work published on the International Journal of Eating Disorders showed how covid‐19 epidemic significantly impacted on eating disorders, both in terms of post‐traumatic symptomatology and interference with the recovery process(1).

Eating disorders are normally ‘hot topics’, especially for businesses that are working in the sector of health products and alternative tests. We have seen that recently there is also a lot of discussion about how food allergies and intolerances tests can be harmful to people with eating disorders due to the use of restriction diets.

As we are taking this really seriously and we are not afraid to talk about such topics, today we would like to update you on the new research in the field and show you how we are making sure that our tests and our messages are using in the right way to take care of you.

Recent international lab work has demonstrated the risk of developing an eating disorder following the prescription of a diet (which involves the elimination of several foods to reduce dyspeptic symptoms), seems particularly high in adolescents and young women who have a need to feel in control in life (e.g., feeling in control in various aspects life such as school, work, sports or other interests) (2). In this case, the restriction diet is seen as a successful behaviour of control in the context of perceived failure in other areas of life. In addition to that the number of people who call themselves “allergic to food” is on the rise; for the misuse of the term “allergic,” which leads to defining allergic the undesirable effects of drugs, toxic reactions to food, enzymatic deficits (e.g., lactase or sucrase-isomaltose deficiency) and vasomotor reactions to irritants (e.g., citrus or tomato) (3).

This research is showing us that we need to be careful when we are giving people information about the use of allergy and intolerance tests, especially in the case of people with previous eating disorders. Here at Lifelab Testing, we are making sure that our message is loud and clear:

  • Our tests are qualitative tests that can help you understand how your immune system is reacting to foods and environmental allergens. The test results can be considered as a map to take with you into your journey to find a better version of yourself. Before making any changes or take on restrictions it is always better to talk to your medical doctor and consider your medical history. Your doctor will be able to go through the results and combining your medical history, with your symptoms and our test results he will be able to suggest the best treatment.
  • We are helping our customers taking the first step through the consultation of a Nutritional Therapist. The Nutritional Therapist will collect as much information as possible before suggesting if an elimination diet could be used to help to manage some symptoms. The elimination diet is always followed by a reintroduction diet. Reintroducing those triggered foods will help understand how they are impacting your symptom, sometimes a reduction in the intake of foods can improve or eliminate some symptoms; this is the reason why we are never suggesting eliminating any food in your diet for a long period of time unless you suffer from severe reactions. Never take an elimination diet without the consultation of a qualified nutritional therapist or medical doctor. This can be dangerous for your health and your medical history is a big part in the diagnosis. Our job is to give our customers tools to help them put all the pieces together with the supervision of a qualified nutritional therapist or medical doctor.

Please be careful and take care during these challenging times. If you need any further help, please don’t hesitate to contact us or use specialised support out there. Remember we are in it together and we will get through together.

Written and edited by Dr Enzo Fornari PhD, MSc trained as Scientific Researcher in the field of Pharmaceutical Science, Biophysics ”

References:

  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/eat.23368
  2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/eating-disorders-the-facts/202011/false-food-allergy-and-intolerance-in-eating-disorders
  3. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1398-9995.2005.00875.x

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