Food allergies are a major factor in the bowel condition Crohn's disease, and dietary changes can be as effective as corticosteroids in easing symptoms, according to UK researchers.
A multicentred trial of 136 patients found that 84 per cent who limited their food intake to "elemental diet", were symptom free after two weeks.
Elemental diet (in this case a product called E028, produced by Hospital Supplies in Liverpool, UK) is a formula of nutrients, often used to feed hospitalized patients.
When the patients reintroduced normal foods into their diets, they discovered many intolerances which triggered their bowel symptoms.
The most common allergens were corn (seven patients); wheat, milk, and yeast (six each); egg, potato, rye, tea, coffee (four each); and apples, mushrooms, oats, and chocolate (three each). Some 26 patients were intolerant of more than three foods.
"The process of food testing provides an effective strategy for long term management," the researchers concluded. "The group treated by diet had a significant advantage over those who received steroids in terms of time of relapse."