When and why should we do an elimination diet?

Intolerance and sensitivity to various foods is very common at this time. In fact, it is estimated that between 2 and 20% of people around the world can suffer from food intolerance.

The elimination diet is the mechanism to identify short-term food intolerances and allergies. For example, eliminating certain foods known for their uncomfortable symptoms and reintroducing them at a later time to analyze their causes is an alternative that can be very helpful in improving health.

By eliminating foods that are believed that the body cannot tolerate properly and then reincorporate them over time, it can relieve symptoms such as bloating, gas , diarrhea, constipation and nausea.

Know when to follow an elimination diet in order to stop the bad symptoms by eating foods that you think are few tolerable and feel better every day.

Definitive guide to elimination diet

1.How does the elimination diet work?

This diet has two phases, elimination and reintroduction.

1.1 Phase of elimination

It involves eliminating for 2 to 3 weeks those foods that you suspect trigger in uncomfortable symptoms. Some of the most common include nuts, corn, soybeans, dairy products, citrus fruits, soy vegetables, wheat, eggs, seafood and those that contain gluten .

If the symptoms continue after removing the food for 2 to 3 weeks, it is best to notify your doctor.

1.2 Reintroduction phase

It consists of slowly introducing the eliminated foods in the diet. Each group of foods must be incorporated individually, during 2 to 3 days, while you identify the symptoms.

Some of the symptoms to consider are:

  • Eruptions and changes in the skin.
  • Pain in the joints.
  • Headaches or migraines.
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty to sleep.
  • Changes in breathing
  • Swelling
  • Stomach pain or cramps.
  • Changes in bowel habits.

If you do not experience symptoms during the period when you reintroduce food, you can move on to the next food group. However, if you experience any negative symptoms such as those mentioned above, then you have successfully identified the food and you must remove it from the diet. This identification process can last around 5 to 6 weeks.

2.What foods should you remove in the elimination diet?

The best elimination diets are the most restrictive. The more foods you remove during the elimination phase, the more likely you are to discover which foods cause uncomfortable symptoms. Those that are most eliminated are the following:

  • Citrus fruits, like oranges and grapefruit.
  • Vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, aubergine, white potatoes and paprika.
  • Nuts and seeds.
  • Legumes, such as beans, lentils, peas and soy-based products.
  • Starch foods such as wheat, barley, corn, spelled, rye, oats and bread, as well as any other food containing gluten.
  • Meat and fish, especially processed and seafood.
  • Dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream.
  • Fats such as margarine, hydrogenated oils, mayonnaise and spreads.
  • Drinks such as alcohol, coffee, black tea, soda and other sources of caffeine.
  • Spices and condiments.
  • Sugar and sweets
  • If there are other foods that are not on the list and that make you feel uncomfortable you can also consider eliminating them during the diet.

3.What are the foods that can be consumed in the elimination diet?

There is enough variety to make healthy and delicious meals. Some foods you can eat include the following:

  • Fruits, except citrus fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Rice
  • Meat and fish, like turkey and cold water fish like salmon.
  • Dairy substitutes.
  • Fats such as cold pressed olive oil, flaxseed oil and coconut oil.
  • Spices such as black pepper and apple cider vinegar.

To stay motivated during this restrictive phase, try to design new recipes and experiment with herbs and spices to add delicious flavor to your dishes.

4.What are the benefits of an elimination diet?

The elimination diet helps you discover which foods cause uncomfortable symptoms so you can eliminate them from your diet. However, this diet has other benefits:

4.1 Reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome is a very common disorder that affects 10 to 15% of people around the world. Many people find that an elimination diet improves symptoms such as bloating, stomach cramps and gas.

A study in 150 people with this syndrome who followed an elimination diet reduced the symptoms by 10%.

4.2 Help for people with eosinophilic esophagitis

The eosinophilic esophagitis is a chronic condition where allergies produce inflammation of the esophagus. People with this condition have difficulty swallowing dry and dense foods, increasing their risk of suffocation.

Several investigations have shown that the elimination diet is effective to improve the symptoms associated with this disease.

4.3 Diminish the symptoms of attention deficit disorder

This disorder affects 3-5% of all children and adults. Science has shown that this diet can reduce the symptoms that this disorder causes. But, children should not follow an elimination diet unless supervised by a health professional.

However, an elimination diet restricts essential nutrients for growing children, and the long-term limitation could affect the child’s normal growth.

4.4 Improves skin conditions

It can also support a range of skin conditions such as red, itchy, cracked and inflamed skin. Although the causes of eczema are several, it has been reported that certain foods can worsen the symptoms.

In a study of 15 participants with eczema, it was found that an elimination diet reduced symptoms and helped identify the trigger foods.

4.5 Reduces chronic migraine

About 2 to 3 million people in the United States suffer from chronic migraine. The causes are not yet clear, but it has been shown that inflammation could be an influencing factor.

That is why, several studies claim that following an elimination diet can reduce migraines.

5.Are there risks to follow an elimination diet?

Even though elimination diets are a great way to discover which foods cause problems, it could also lead to some risks.

To begin with, it should only be followed for a short period of time, or between 4 to 8 weeks. Further, it could cause nutrient deficiencies.

Related Wiki Link: Benefits & Side Effects Of Elimination Diet

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