Salicylates and Phenols / Feingold Diet

Feingold Diet / Phenols
The Feingold Diet removes phenols and salicylates. Artificial ingredients such as artificial coloring, artificial flavoring, aspartame (Nutrasweet), and artificial preservatives such as BHA, BHT, TBHQ are made from a petroleum base and are strong phenols. Salicylates are naturally occurring phenols in plants – particularly in many fruits such as apples and grapes.

For some children, their bodies have difficulty processing phenols. Build up of phenols in the system can affect behavior and the body's physical condition. This was first discovered by Dr. Ben Feingold, when he noticed that these phenols created hyperactivity in some children. Phenols can have negative effect on the brain when our chemistry can't processes these phenols and they build up in the body. Although phenols and salicylates do occur naturally in healthy foods, children who are sensitive to these chemicals can have significant reactions.

Many children with autism, ADHD and other neurological and immune system disorders commonly have faulty sulfation systems and cannot process phenols and salicylates well.  Common physical signs of phenol sensitivity in children include dark circles under eyes, red cheeks/ears, ear infections, asthma, sinus problems, diarrhea, hyperactivity, impulsivity, aggression, headache, head banging/self-injury, impatience, short attention span, difficulty falling asleep, night walking for several hours, inappropriate laughter, hives, stomach aches, bed wetting and day wetting, dyslexia, sensitivity to noise/lights/touch, speech difficulties, tics and some forms of seizures.

When implementing the Feingold Diet, people avoid phenols and salicylates that are not tolerated – typically determined through food trial/testing. These substances and foods may include: FD & C colors, artificial flavors, preservatives, vanillin, aspirin, almonds, peanuts, oranges, apples, apricots, all berries, cherries, chili powder, cider and cider vinegar, cocoa, cloves, coffee, cucumbers, pickles, currants, red grapes, raisins, plums, prunes tangerines, tea, tomatoes, wine and wine vinegar and oil of wintergreen.

Feingold Association of the United States reports that 70 out of 100 people using this diet can expect good results, although their studies used only approximations of the diet. Member of their surveys have indicated that the diet success rate is just above 90%. A qualified nutritionist can help a parent implement this diet and suggest supplements and substances that add sulfate to aid sulfation and enzymes to help break down remaining phenols.  Some children may need to keep phenols very low, while others may only need to reduce phenols by avoiding the high phenol foods such as apples and grapes.

We avoid strawberries but will re-introduce them this summer with berries from our strawberry patch.  We eat plenty of other fruits including pineapple, mango, bananas, watermelon, kiwi, and golden delicious apples and they are all well tolerated.
I just read this from We deal with many of the issues listed but I wasn't aware of speech problems.   Now that I think about it, it all makes sense.


  1. It must be challenging having to keep track of what kinds of food to avoid.

  2. It is. But so much more at school. Preservatives and artificials are rampant in the lunch service. I'm hopeful this will change. Peer pressure is very big. We deal with it every day. Some days are more successful than others. When I was first learning about diet therapy I researched everything I could find. I still read a lot and am learning everyday.


mom said, you can talk back