Even though you do your best to maintain a balanced diet, food intolerances and sensitivities could be putting a wrench in your health plans. Food intolerances can lead to symptoms ranging from disruptions in normal digestion to chronic skin issues, even brain fog! To truly know what foods could be causing annoying symptoms for you, consider an elimination diet.
Your gastrointestinal system, (GI) from your mouth to your colon, is made up of an intricate terrain full of hormones, neurotransmitters, bacteria and enzymes. The foods we eat alter this terrain by activating or deactivating enzymes, promoting or quieting inflammation or by feeding pathogenic or friendly bacteria in the gut to name a few. The GI is where the majority of our immune system is housed, making it the perfect place to boost and elevate our bodies defenses. It all starts with information being given to this network via food as to how our body will react.
If you think of the body as a car and the digestive system as the fuel tank, we would never willingly add cheap inflammatory producing gasoline to the tank. We want clean burning fuel so our car runs efficiently and is less likely to break down. The body needs food just like a car needs gas, just in a more complex way.
Why Try an Elimination Diet?
To treat any disease process in the body you must start with the gut. A health gut equals a healthy body. To be specific, the following are a list of conditions an elimination diet can help to support:
- Seasonal Allergies
- Skin Conditions
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Migraine Headaches
- Attention Deficit Disorder/Behavior Disorders
The Details on the Diet…
Elimination diets as they sound, certain foods are eliminated form the diet for a period of time and can be reintroduced to determine exactly how they affect you. Certain foods are more commonly known to create health issues including the popular gluten free and dairy free varieties.
Typical elimination diets avoid all potentially inflammatory foods including:
- Citrus fruits
- Night Shade Vegetables including tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant
- Gluten/wheat containing foods
- Soy and other legumes
- Meat accept fish and wild game
- Dairy products
- Sauces, food additives and colorings
So now that you know what to avoid, what to eat!
It may seem too overwhelming to cut out all foods recommended in a full elimination diet. This is where food intolerance testing comes in handy. It can be helpful to test for specifics as to which foods could be creating the most inflammation or irritation for your particular system. This helps to provide a “road map” to help determine specifically which foods to eliminate first. However, food intolerance testing is not full proof, there can be false negatives and positives with these tests, but none the less can be very helpful and motivating.
How long is this elimination for?
Elimination diet lengths vary. It is said it takes 3-6 months to quiet inflammatory processes in the digestive system after eating offending foods. If you cannot bear to part from your gluten for that long, even as short of a one month period of time can be enough to find positive benefit.
The proof in the pudding, if you will, comes when you add the food being eliminated back into the diet. It is recommended to keep a journal when you do this to note all potential symptoms that arise once food items are reintroduced. Wait up to 48 hours between new foods being reintroduced as not to have unclear results.
It is important to note that no one diet is best for everyone. Each person has their own unique biochemistry that makes one individual able to digest certain foods over another. Honoring this individuality makes it difficult to subscribe to one diet and expect it to work for you. This is why exploring your own food sensitivities is a great way to determine what food choices are best for you. Food sensitivity sufferers have described elimination diets as a profound dietary experiment, so get experimenting!