We all have heard about the Keto diet, raw food diet, low-carb diet, paleo diet, and ultra-low-fat diet. But have you ever heard about the elimination diet?
The elimination diet is a short-term diet plan closely supervised by healthcare professionals. It helps in the identification of foods that cause allergic and sensitivity reactions in a person. An elimination diet involves excluding all potentially allergy-inducing food from the person's diet and then reintroducing one item at a time to identify the one causing problems.
Do you want to learn more about elimination diets, types of elimination diets, and their health benefits? Then let’s find out what Jeevam Health professionals have to say about it.
Elimination diet and leaky gut
In leaky gut syndrome, the intestinal barrier becomes more porous. It allows undigested food particles, bacteria, and toxins to enter the bloodstream. It agitates the immune system and causes inflammation.
Food allergies can make the intestinal wall more permeable and lead to the leaky gut syndrome.
But a leaky gut can also increase the development of food sensitivities. You may experience different signs of allergy like hives, rashes, swelling, and difficulty in breathing. In such scenarios, an elimination diet can come to your rescue.
What is an elimination diet?
Food sensitivities and intolerances are pretty common. As per studies, around 2–10% of people may struggle with food intolerance globally. An elimination diet involves excluding potentially problematic foods or food group(s) from your diet for a set period and reintroducing these foods, one at a time, while testing for symptoms.
An elimination diet helps individuals recognize foods that cause distress or manifestation of an allergic reaction. This diet has helped thousands with sensitive guts.
The primary stage of an elimination diet continues for five to six weeks and acts as a gold standard for specifying food sensitivities, intolerances, and food allergies through diet.
However, if you suspect that you have a food allergy, don't start an elimination diet immediately. It is always necessary to test your food allergies, learn about food sensitivities and take medical advice before you start an elimination diet.
How does an elimination diet work?
An elimination diet has two phases-
In the elimination phase, suspect foods are removed from the diet for around 2–3 weeks. This phase should alleviate all your gut-related allergy and sensitivity symptoms completely.
After that, with the guidance of your functional medicine doctor and dietitian, you slowly start adding eliminated foods back into your diet in the reintroduction phase. Adding each food one at a time will help you identify the food that is causing the unpleasant symptoms.
The reintroduction stage will help you and your doctor identify the trigger foods and permanently exclude them from your diet.
What are the types of elimination diets?
Five popular elimination diets are used widely:
- Elimination diet
- Low-FODMAP diet
- Gluten-free diet
- GAPS diet
- Specific Carbohydrate diet
A basic elimination diet is an effective method to identify food allergies and sensitivities. It removes several possible allergens from the diet and identifies which foods are causing issues such as bloating, indigestion, inflammation and even migraines. It is a brilliant way to reduce inflammation due to hypothyroidism (Hashimoto's thyroiditis).
The low-FODMAP diet is superbly effective in relieving irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). People suffering from IBS should avoid high-FODMAP food, such as wheat, onion, legumes and pulses, sweeteners, dairy, rye, and garlic. As per studies, following a diet containing low FODMAP foods may lessen symptoms of IBS and other gastrointestinal disorders.
In this diet plan, you have to remove certain foods from your diet that have gluten. Gluten is a naturally occurring protein that one can find in barley, wheat or wheat products, rye, triticale, and seitan (vegan meat substitute). When on a gluten-free diet, you should remember that gluten is also present in food additives, salad dressings, and many sauces, so keep your eye on labels before eating them.
GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) diet focuses on gut lining healing. This diet plan has two phases; an introduction diet and a complete GAPS regimen. People with severe digestive issues like IBS, chronic diarrhoea, Crohn's disease, gastritis, and ulcerative colitis benefit from this diet.
Specific Carbohydrate diet
This diet plan eliminates most carbohydrates and restricts grain products as well as other products with lactose and sucrose. The primary purpose of this diet is to maintain intestinal health. This diet is recommended for people suffering from chronic intestinal distress.
What are the health benefits of an elimination diet?
Relieves the Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
An elimination diet can help to reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. It targets food you are sensitive or allergic to and eliminates them from your diet. Studies say that people who follow the diet strictly reduce IBS symptoms by up to 25 to 28%. Depending on your food allergy panel and sensitivities, you may have to eliminate dairy, gluten, fried foods, beans, legumes, caffeinated drinks, processed foods, sugar-free sweeteners, chocolate, alcohol, garlic, and onion from your diet.
Improves Eosinophilic Esophagitis symptoms
An elimination diet improves Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EE) symptoms. It is a chronic condition of inflammation of the oesophagus. The tube does not contract adequately and can get narrowed. The person feels hardship engulfing dry and viscous foods and increases their chance of choking. A study conducted on 146 Eosinophilic Esophagitis patients showed that 73 patients (50% of participants) experienced reduced EE symptoms via an elimination diet.
Makes your skin healthier
People with stubborn skin issues like redness, itchiness and acne can get help from an elimination diet. The right diet improves skin texture and makes skin radiant. Remember, fresh vegetables and fruits are more affordable than beauty serums. It cleans your system from the inside out, and your skin starts glowing naturally from the outside.
Did you know? An elimination diet can help reduce eczema symptoms and identify trigger foods that worsen the dryness, itchiness and inflammation of one’s skin.
Eases Chronic Migraine
Studies show that around 213 million people suffer from migraine and 374 million people have tension-type headaches. The main cause of migraine is ambiguous. But the study says that inflammation can be the trigger point behind chronic migraines. An elimination diet withdraws the foods that may induce inflammation. It can help reduce the chronic migraine condition gradually.
Summing it up
An elimination diet helps identify the foods that are not good for your body. Since each of us has different immune systems and allergy profiles, no two elimination diets are identical. A good and effective elimination diet demands the attention of a functional health doctor and dietician. They will work together to tailor a diet that identifies the food that’s harming your health.
It’s important to remember that elimination diets are not for everyone, especially kids. Kids should not follow any elimination diet without the recommendation of a medical adviser.
An elimination diet can be the answer to several chronic gut issues and allergies. However, healthcare advisers do not recommend it for prolonged periods because it can cause nutritional deficiency. If you have to remain on an elimination diet for longer than 2 weeks, you should prioritize nutritional profile tests. Supplements can make up for any vitamin and mineral deficiencies due to your elimination diet.
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