What is Total Food Allergy/Intolerance?

John Scott explains

Total food allergy/intolerance is a rare and largely unrecognised condition in which most or all normal foods cause an adverse reaction.

The effects of total food/intolerance are devastating and frightening to those affected by it and medical support is minimal at best but, as more cases come to light, a clearer picture of the condition is emerging.

Total food allergy/intolerance appears to develop in those whose health in already compromised by some other illness, such as MS, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME, or multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), or as a direct result of an eosinophilic gastrointestinal disorder (EGID), in which eosinophils - a type of white blood cell - proliferate within the gut.

The reactions experienced by those with total food allergy/intolerance are possibly mostly due to intolerance - i.e. caused by some as yet unidentified mechanism - but some reactions may also be due to a true IgE-mediated allergy. The absence of a positive skin prick test result to a food challenge does not necessarily rule out the possibility of true allergy, because it is possible for allergic reactions to take place in the gut without producing positive skin prick test results, but these reactions can only be revealed by carrying out a COLAP test. As COLAP tests do not appear to be used much, if at all, in the UK, nor food intolerance currently verifiable by any means, and as UK doctors will only accept the existence of a condition which they can validate via clinical tests, recognition and acceptance of total food allergy/intolerance is problematic.

The typical response of doctors, most of whom will rarely, if ever see a case of total food allergy/intolerance, is to attribute any symptoms not verified by clinical tests to psychological causes - either in the patients themselves, in the case of adults, or perhaps in a parent when the patient is a child (fabricated or induced illness (FII)/Munchausen's syndrome by proxy). However, when patients have had a psychological evaluation, this has invariably found no psychological problem.

The onset of total food allergy/intolerance can be rapid, but a creeping progression of symptoms over time appears to be more common. The exact nature of symptoms can vary with different foods and between different people. As ever more foods begin to cause reactions, finding anything to eat that does not cause an adverse effect becomes progressively more difficult and may eventually become impossible.

Although there is no known cure for total food allergy/intolerance at the present time, medicine does have the means to manage this disorder, and thereby to keep people alive, by using special medical feeds and other alternative methods of feeding which were developed to manage a variety of different conditions. However, expertise in using these approaches to treat total food allergy/intolerance is extremely limited.

Semi-elemental feeds have proved to be the best tolerated form of food - better even than fully elemental feeds such as Elemental 028. Best of all are the semi-elemental infant feeds - even for adult sufferers. Prejomin (by Milupa) seems to be the most successful semi-elemental infant feed with adult patients, and Neocate (SHS International) and Nutramigen 1 (Mead Johnson) are possible alternatives. (Nutramigen 2 does not contain sufficient protein for adults.)

Semi-elemental feeds and other feeding options are explained in articles presented in this section of the Foods Matter website, along with personal accounts by some of those who use these alternatives and who, in some cases, have lived on them for many years.

Click here for more articles on total food intolerance

Back to top