The FAILSAFE diet is a diet designed to be free of additives, low in salicylates, amines and flavour enhancers. It is Sue Dengate‘s term for 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 are pharmacological and dose-related (like the side effects of drugs), rather than immune-mediated like allergies. 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.
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.
The failsafe diet excludes strong tasting and smelling foods and environmental chemicals, in particular:
- About fifty additives including colours (like tartrazine, sunset yellow), flavours, preservatives and antioxidants (sulphites, nitrates, benzoates, sorbates, parabens).
- 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.
- 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.
- Environmental chemicals and strong smells like perfumes, most commercial cosmetics, scented and coloured toiletries and especially mint and menthol products.
- Some pharmaceutical drugs, including aspirin, all NSAIDS including ibuprofen, and the methyl-salicylates found in decongestants and anti-inflammatory creams.