Could Preservatives, Additives, Pesticides, Hormones, and Other Harmful Chemicals in Foods be the Cause of Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE)?
September16, 2022 UPDATE: The answer to the question above is YES! I'm happy to share that creating my own diet and eliminating preservatives, additives, food coloring, hormones, pesticides, and insecticides, and eating only cage-free, free-range, and grass-fed foods healed my eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE). After 15 weeks on my diet, my recent endoscopy and biopsies results show I have ZERO eosinophils. I have healed my EoE. I will continue this diet and continue to eliminate chemicals that are harmful and the cause of my EoE. Food is not the cause of my EoE. What's in the foods - harmful chemicals - is the cause. Read below how I did it, and watch my video.
In my previous post, When Nothing Else Worked, The Elemental Diet Healed My Eosinophilic Esophagitis, I shared my success with Vivonex, a smelly, awful tasting liquid elemental diet made of proteins, fats, and carbs broken down into amino acids, short-chain triglycerides and short-chain maltodextrins combined with vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes.
Vivonex was my only nutrition for seven weeks. While the elemental diet has a 95% success rate, only 20% of patients prescribed the elemental diet will stick to it. Understandably, because of its taste, cost, and lifestyle changes, 80% of patients do not comply.
I complied but didn't need to make any lifestyle changes, and it paid off. The biopsies results of my endoscopy in April revealed great news. My eosinophils count (white blood cells) of over 100 was reduced to ZERO eosinophils and my esophagus was no longer inflamed. I no longer had EoE (eosinophilic esophagitis).
Then I began the first phase of food reintroduction beginning with fruits and vegetables only. As always, I had no problem eating tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, spinach, mushrooms, red, yellow, and orange peppers, yellow and green squash, spaghetti squash, acorn squash, avocado, eggplant, red and yellow onions, garlic, romaine lettuce, and cilantro sautéed in olive oil.
I ate bananas, oranges, apples, grapes, strawberries, pineapples, and blueberries. I added Vivonex only to my fruit smoothies, and mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes.
But I never imagined the results of my biopsies after my endoscopy six weeks later in June after ingesting only fruits/vegetables. My eosinophils shot up from zero to 70 in my esophagus (proximal/mid) and from zero to 50 in my esophagus (distal). How could this be? How can all these fruits and vegetables elevate my eosinophils? What do all these fruits and vegetables have in common? I began to research the ingredients in fruits and vegetables.
I learned that the delicious dishes my husband Jon made with the store-bought potatoes, squashes, mushrooms, spinach, and eggplant, and the bananas, grapes, and strawberries I snacked on, are known to contain pesticides, insecticides, and/or are known to be GMO (genetically modified organism).
I found an article about the "dirty dozen" of fruits and vegetables that contain the most pesticides and insecticides. Strawberries, grapes, bananas, potatoes, and spinach are high on the list. I ate potatoes, grapes, and spinach everyday for six weeks. I also found an article listing15 fruits and vegetables that are low in pesticides.
I thought I was eating healthy fruits and vegetables. I was wrong. Instead, they damaged my esophagus and elevated my eosinophils. I thought I was eating healthy bananas, oranges, apples, blueberries, strawberries, pineapples, and grapes. Grapes contain sulfa dioxide. Considered a safe preservative, nonetheless, some people have a sensitivity to sulfa dioxide. Conventional bananas are sprayed with synthetic fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides. Potatoes contain pesticides and are genetically modified but there is no GMO label requirement. Squash, eggplant, bananas, strawberries, and apples are also genetically modified.
I took my research one step further. I researched ingredients in meat--pork and beef, and in poultry-- chicken, and in fish. Unhealthy ingredients in these foods include preservatives, additives, food coloring, hormones, and antibiotics. Here are the preservatives in processed meats. Here are the additives, preservatives, and food coloring in seafood.
Before I was on the Vivonex elemental diet, I was on the 6-food elimination diet for six weeks. A biopsy later revealed elevated eosinophils. The elimination diet did not work. I discovered that eliminating soy, dairy, fish, nuts, wheat, and eggs was not the cause of my increased eosinophils. Was the cause what I was allowed to eat: meat, chicken, fruits, vegetables, and other foods like Pepsi, corn, and apple sauce?
And what do these foods share? That's right. Preservatives, additives, hormones, food coloring, antibiotics, pesticides, and insecticides. I also think eating soy, dairy, nuts, wheat, and eggs that contain these chemicals are also the cause of my EoE.
And why did the elemental diet heal my my eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) and eliminate my over 100 eosinophil count to ZERO? That's right. The elemental diet does not contain preservatives, additives, hormones, food coloring, hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, and insecticides.
Now I am in charge of my esophagus and not my GI. I'm taking my eosinophils by the horn. I've started to test my theory that my eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), my high eosinophil count, and my food impaction episodes have always been caused by preservatives, additives, food coloring, hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, and insecticides in the foods I've been eating all these years. These chemicals have never been eliminated from my medically prescribed diets and treatment.
My New Plan of Action
My new self-imposed plan of action involves the elimination of harmful ingredients from my new limited diet, a diet I've created for myself. Like the elemental diet, the elimination of harmful chemicals and ingredients in foods, requires commitment, discipline, vigilance, and higher costs at the check out. My 10-step plan is already in action.
1. Read all food labels and do not purchase and eat foods that contain preservatives, etc..
2. Purchase and eat only free-range eggs, free-range grass-fed chicken, pork, and beef that do
not contain hormones, antibiotics, preservative, etc.
3. Purchase and eat only wild-caught fish, and not farm-raised fish. I only eat salmon, cod, and
4. Purchase and eat only beans that contain only water, or organic beans. And yes, we don't always know for sure that a product is authentically organic. But as long as the label contains no chemicals, I will purchase it. The can on the left contains chemicals. The can of organic
beans on the left contains only beans, water, and salt.
5. For vegetables, I eat only cabbage because it is a low-pesticide vegetable that contains
natural compounds that protect against insects. I'm also growing my own cabbage. For fruits,
I eat only avocados, pineapple, and watermelon because they are also a low-pesticide food.
Watermelon has a thick rind which makes it harder for pesticides/insecticides to seep in.
6. Because it's summer and summer is not summer without ice cream, I have started to make homemade organic vanilla ice cream. This is my only form of dairy. Here's the recipe I found
online. It's so easy to make and it tastes so, so, delicious.
7. I continue to purée these foods and to drink Vivonex with these foods.
8. I will continue to eat only these "clean" foods. I began eating these foods at
the start of June.
9. Just as I made no lifestyle changes with the elemental diet, on this diet I continue to train for
a 12-hour ultramarathon run in August and a 24-hr ultramarathon on Labor Day weekend
with these foods, and Vivonex for hydration.
10. My doctor knows my plan of action. He supports it. I told him I will schedule an
endoscopy after my 24-hour ultramarathon. On Labor Day weekend last year, I
suffered a terrifying food impaction episode after a piece of pork got lodged in my
esophagus. It landed me in the OR for an emergency endoscopy. The following week, I
suffered another episode but with a piece of chicken and another trip to the ER, where after a
few hours, the impaction resolved itself.
My primary aim is to prevent food impaction episodes. I have not had one since I began pureeing my foods in September 2021 and while on the elemental diet. I will continue with both. If in the process of eliminating preservatives and other harmful chemicals from my diet, and my next endoscopy shows reduced to zero eosinophils, then my theory and plan of action will have succeeded, and I will have crossed the finish line.
While I am not aware of any clinical trial for adults with EoE that eliminates preservatives, etc. from foods, I came across a clinical trial - Food Additive Removal Diet for Pediatric Eosinophilic Esophagitis - taking place at Nemours Children's Clinic in the Philadelphia area. My understanding is that in this study, dairy and food additives are eliminated simultaneously.
It's no mystery why the elemental diet healed my EoE. It contains no preservatives, additives, food coloring, hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, and insecticides. It's evident to me that that the ingredients in our foods, and not the foods themselves, are the cause of my EoE, my elevated eosinophils, and my food impaction episodes which have occurred with only chicken and pork beginning in 1996.
The majority of people have no issue with EoE, food impactions, or drug allergies. While preservatives, additives, etc. are added to foods to increase their shelf life. and hormones and food coloring are added to meats and poultry to plump them up and make them look more appetizing and appealing, they are harmful for many consumers and create health problems.
PPIs (proton-pump inhibitors), which are not FDA-approved to treat EoE but continue to be prescribed and seem to work for some patients, have not worked for me. In fact, Prilosec depleted my body of vitamin B12. I have eleven drug allergies and drug interactions ranging from itching and hives to incapacitating Cipro toxicity, to blood curdling screams when I felt I was burning alive after being injected with Lasix, to life-threatening anaphylactic shock from CT scan contrast dye. My research of these eleven drugs indicates that they all contain preservatives, additives, and chemicals.
My husband and I have been growing our vegetables for five years now. Hopefully, they have been safe for me to eat. Here are some of the vegetables we harvested last spring, summer, and fall. We also grow sunflowers in our vegetable garden.
Every person suffering with EoE has a different experience, story, and is on a unique personal and exhausting journey. The medical community, including my GI, does not have the answers. But I think I might be on to something with my plan of action. We'll see. Stay tuned for an update.
I've also shared my journey and what I've learned as an EoE patient in Patient Worthy.
In another Patient Worthy post, I share foods that you can make and a recipe for organic bread. Enjoy!
I am the author of Come What May, I Want to Run: A Memoir of the Saving Grace of Ultrarunning in Overwhelming Times. You can order the book here from from the publisher, Amazon, Bookshop, or Barnes & Noble.
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