Illuminating Elimination Diets: Controversies Regarding Dietary Treatment of Eosinophilic Esophagitis

Dig Dis Sci. 2019 Jun;64(6):1401-1408. doi: 10.1007/s10620-019-05602-w.


Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is an immune-mediated disease triggered by food antigens for which dietary elimination treatment can induce and sustain histologic remission. Our review aims to describe the state of the art regarding dietary treatment of EoE, highlighting a number of areas of controversy related to dietary therapy in EoE, including novel modalities for determining food triggers, making the empiric dietary elimination process more efficient, issues of cross-contamination and "dosing" of how much food to avoid or add back, costs and effects on quality of life, long-term efficacy, and the risk of developing immediate IgE-type reactions after initial dietary elimination. Elemental formulas, empiric elimination diets, and targeted allergy test-directed elimination diets are well-described treatments for EoE. Although elemental diets are most efficacious, their clinical use is limited by cost and the palatability of an exclusively liquid diet. While empiric elimination is less effective than elemental formula-based diets, they are more easily implemented and often sustainable. Since the comparative effectiveness of elimination diets with proton-pump inhibitors and swallowed topical steroids remains unknown, there are multiple areas to address with future research.

Keywords: Allergy; Diet; Eosinophilic esophagitis; Food elimination; Treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / adverse effects*
  • Allergens / immunology
  • Animals
  • Cross Reactions
  • Eosinophilic Esophagitis / diet therapy*
  • Eosinophilic Esophagitis / immunology
  • Food Hypersensitivity / diet therapy*
  • Food Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Allergens