What is the Elimination Diet?
The Elimination Diet is considered the “gold standard” when it comes to helping you determine what food intolerance’s, if any, may be the cause to various health conditions. Certain foods thought to be good for your health, can actually be the root cause of your ailment. Conditions like leaky gut, small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), gut dysbiosis, GI issues, and even autoimmune conditions can all be triggered by the foods that you eat.
The good news is that there is a specific protocol, that can help you determine what foods are causing flare ups, or outright gut issue and autoimmunity.
The Elimination Diet: The Process
It first starts with a “reset” phase, which is typically 3 to 4 weeks long. This timing will absolutely differ between individuals. Some people have better gut health than others, health concerns and conditions are different from individual to individual and we are all unique in our own ways. Some individuals have shown improvements after just 10 days on this protocol, and others need up to 30 days to start seeing and feeling a difference. In the more severe instances, as much 8 weeks is necessary to completely rid your body of these “trigger” foods and there toxins.
After symptoms have subsided, you then enter the “re-introduction” phase. At this point, you will begin reintroducing the identified “trigger” foods, one by one to determine if they are tolerable. You want to do this one food at a time, so that you can determine if you were in fact intolerant to it. Once a food is reintroduced, you want to go 3-4 days to asses how your body reacts and how you feel. If there is a reaction, STOP consuming that food immediately, take 2-3 days to reset and begin reintroducing other foods again. It is a good idea to keep a food journal so that you can record how you are feeling when introducing these foods back into your diet.
During the “reset” phase, it is not unusual to feel worse for a few days or week. This is said to be the “die-off” or detoxification phase, where your body brings these toxins “surface” level to push them out (I’ll be doing a liver detox 101 post later). Side effects can be things such as nausea, constipation and headaches. Its important that you stay hydrated during both phases to mitigate some of the side effects. There is also nutritional supplementation support that can help alleviate some of the side effects, such as magnesium and sea salt.
What To Eliminate?
Determining what foods to eliminate will depend on your specific condition. What your current health status is or diagnosis will also play a major factor. Anyone who wants to do an elimination diet protocol, should first speak with their primary care physician. If you have specific question or would like to go deeper into each food category, then please feel free to reach out to me for support.
If you have digestive issues, eliminate:
- Refined Vegetable Oils
- Processed Foods
More severe conditions/symptoms or suspected leaky gut, eliminate:
- All foods mentioned above, plus caffeine & alcohol
Suspected or small intestine bacteria overgrowth, eliminate:
- All foods mentioned above, plus starches and FODMAPs
People with Autoimmune conditions:
- All of the above foods mentioned, plus “nightshades” and nuts and seeds
What are FODMAPs:
Short chain carbohydrates that are easily fermented in your gut. FODMAPs is short for “fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols”. These are shown to be problematic for people whose gut health is compromised. See below for where you can find these.
- Fructose: A simple sugar found in many fruits and vegetables that also makes up the structure of table sugar and most added sugars.
- Lactose: A carbohydrate found in dairy products.
- Fructans: Found in many foods, including grains like wheat, spelt, rye and barley.
- Galactans: Found in large amounts in legumes.
- Polyols: Sugar alcohols like xylitol, sorbitol, maltitol and mannitol. They are found in some fruits and vegetables and often used as sweeteners
What are Nightshades?
Nightshades are a category or family of vegetables that are shown to trigger or even cause autoimmunity and digestive conditions in some people. If you gut health is in anyway already compromised, then you may be affected by nightshades. There are specific compound known as “solanine”, “capsaicin”, and “nicotine” found in these vegetables that are toxic to human consumption. This topic is extremely lengthy, so for the purpose of this post I’ll simply list the food categories which are considered “nightshades”. For more information, please reach out to me! Below are the veggie groups under the nightshade category:
An elimination diet can be an extremely effect tool when used properly. The wonderful world of nutrition is a complex one to say the least. One day meat is bad for you, the next day its good. One moment plants are the holy grail of health, and now there are a group of them trying to poison us so we would stop eating them. It’s important to find out what works for you, because no two people are the same.If you generally get discomfort after a meal, that is probably a sign that you ate something you shouldn’t have. If you feel bloated most of the time, or especially after you eat, that is your body sending you signals that something is wrong.
If you would like help navigating an elimination diet protocol, please reach out to me. I can help you formulate the best eating plan that works for your body, and that help you to feel optimal.
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