An elimination diet involves identifying and removing food from your diet plan that your body can’t tolerate. The elimination diet runs in two phases:
- The elimination (avoidance) phase
- The reintroduction (challenge) phase
In this post, we will discuss about the benefits of practicing an elimination diet and the risks associated with it. Also, get a brief on what to eat and what must be avoided during an elimination diet.
Benefits of an Elimination Diet
An elimination diet has many benefits associated with it:
1. Beneficial for People with Eosinophilic Esophagitis
Eosinophilic esophagitis (EE) is an allergic inflammatory disease and requires ongoing monitoring and management. This chronic disease triggers inflammation of the esophagus (the tube that carries food from mouth to stomach). The high volume of eosinophils (type of white blood cell) may cause injury or inflammation to the esophagus.
People suffering from Eosinophilic esophagitis find it hard to swallow dry and dense foods. Abdominal or chest pain, Nausea, and Vomiting are few other symptoms. The risk of Choking becomes high in such a health condition.
Studies have shown practicing an elimination diet has a positive effect on health. Chances of improving symptoms of EE are high. Practicing Elimination Diet therapy in this condition will help remove suspected or known food triggers.
2. May Help Reduce Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that happens due to severe infection, changes in gut microbes, abnormalities in the nerves in your digestive system, or muscle contractions in the intestine. This chronic disorder affects the large intestine.
The best method to treat this condition is managing your diet plan, lifestyle, and stress issues. Cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, constipation are some common signs and symptoms of IBS.
Studies have shown that eliminating trigger foods from your diet can reduce the symptoms of IBS. It is common in people under age 50. A low-FODMAPs diet, a type of elimination diet, has shown positive results with Irritable bowel syndrome patients.
3. May Help Reduce Symptoms of ADHD
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a mental disorder of children. Inattentiveness, mood swings, low frustration tolerance, Trouble coping with stress are common symptoms of ADHD. The cause of the behavioral disorder is still unclear. But studies have shown changes in diet and lifestyle may help reduce the symptoms of ADHD.
Eliminating certain foods and additives has helped patients reduce ADHD symptoms. However, talk to your doctor before applying elimination diet therapy on children as it may affect their nutrition level.
4. May Improve Skin Conditions Like Eczema
Eczema (a skin condition) may trigger due to fragrance, detergents, stress, unhealthy eating, or certain foods that our body cannot tolerate. If after eating a triggering food you notice patches of itchiness, inflammation, swelling, or cracked skin – it is a sign. The symptoms may appear a few hours or days later.
Try elimination diet therapy to identify the triggering food and cut it out from your diet list. This technique may help reduce the symptoms of eczema. Researches have shown a positive effect after practicing an elimination diet in such a skin condition.
5. Reduce Chronic Migraines
A large population suffers from chronic migraines. The reason behind such a health condition is still unclear. Research and studies have shown inflammation may cause a trigger.
Throbbing pain in the head, Nausea, Dizziness, Sensitivity to light, sound, smells are common signs of migraine.
Practicing an elimination diet may help remove foods responsible for creating inflammation and reduce chronic migraines. The process may take a long period, but the results are positive.
Risks of an Elimination Diet
An elimination diet is one of the best ways to figure out which food suits your body and does not cause any health problems. They also come with certain risks.
Make sure to try an elimination diet for a short period only, around 4-8 weeks. Stretching the diet therapy for a long duration may lead to nutritional deficiency or health problems in some cases.
Elimination Diet Therapy involves the removal of few food groups from your diet plan. Trying an elimination diet can affect your nutrition level when conducted for a long duration.
Most importantly, children and people with known or suspected allergies must not follow an elimination diet without consulting a doctor. Practice this therapy under the supervision of a doctor as it can affect the growth of your child.
Further, during the second phase of the elimination diet, i.e., reintroducing food – children may get prone to severe reactions, such as anaphylaxis. Such reactions happen as the body gets extra sensitive after eliminating from the diet.
What Can You Eat on an Elimination Diet?
An elimination diet restricts the consumption of few food items, yet there are a variety of natural foods that can keep you fit and healthy.
Here is the list of foods you can eat on an elimination diet:
- Fruits: Any fruit, except citrus fruits.
- Vegetables: All Green or Non- Green Vegetables, except nightshades.
- Grains: Rice and Buckwheat.
- Meat and fish
- Dairy Products: Coconut Milk and Unsweetened Rice Milk.
- Water and herbal teas.
- Black pepper, Spices (except cayenne pepper and paprika).
- Apple cider vinegar.
- Cold-pressed olive oil, flaxseed oil, and coconut oil.
Add delicious flavor to your dishes even during this restrictive phase of the elimination diet.
What to Avoid Eating on an Elimination Diet?
Foods that one must remove or avoid during the elimination phase:
– Citrus fruits: Oranges and Grapefruits.
– Nightshade vegetables: Tomatoes, peppers, white potatoes, cayenne pepper, and paprika.
– Remove Nuts and seeds from your diet chart.
– Eliminate beans, lentils, peas, and soy-based products.
– Avoid gluten-containing foods, wheat, barley, corn, oats, and bread.
– Avoid processed meats, beef, chicken, pork, eggs, and shellfish.
– Eliminate all dairy products.
– Eliminate alcohol, coffee, black tea, soda.
– Avoid sauces, relish, and mustard.
– Avoid sugar-containing foods, such as honey, corn syrup, desserts, and chocolate.
If you notice other food items trigger allergy or show reactions, it is better to eliminate them from your diet.
Before Adding or eliminating any food item to your diet plan, visit a naturopath doctor or join a counseling session for supervision and guidance. Elimination of such high nutritional food items from each group can cause nutritional deficiency. In short, as the nutrition level in your body becomes less, one might be prone to serious health problems. Thus, try an elimination diet under the supervision of experts only.