What if you may be allergic to a particular food but don’t know which one? There must be a reason for your digestion problems and skin breakouts. Why not consider an elimination diet to put your system back on track?
To begin an elimination diet, you’ll remove different foods that could be the culprit of your allergic reactions and digestive issues. Then one at a time, you’ll bring the foods back into your diet to pinpoint the things that give you problems. It can be one specific item, or it can be a whole food group.
An article published by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America states that at least 32 million Americans battle food allergies. Approximately 26 million are adults, and 5.6 million are children. According to the article, the most common allergens are milk, eggs, shellfish, soy, peanuts, wheat, tree nuts, and fish, ranging from mild to severe.
How Does the Food Elimination Diet Work?
When you ingest a food that you’re allergic to, your immune system reacts by producing proteins called antibodies. Your body’s response to the antibodies is often a rash, hives, or digestive upsets. An elimination diet usually lasts between three to six weeks because it takes about 21 days for any antibodies to be out of your system.
At first, you eliminate a designated food and notice any reduction or relief of any allergic reactions. It will probably take about three weeks to see a difference. Then, you gradually introduce the same food to see if your immune system overreacts again. This process of elimination can help you identify those food sensitivities.
What Are Common Signs of Food Allergies?
It’s frustrating when you’re following a healthy diet and still have health problems you can’t fix. If so, trying this specialized diet could help you find if a food allergen is to blame. Often, you can have a food sensitivity that doesn’t show up on a standard allergy test.
When you’re allergic to a particular food protein, your immune system will overreact and register positive on a medical test. However, you could be sensitive, and you’ll still have symptoms without a positive test result. They can range from skin issues, breathing difficulties and even digestive problems.
You may regain better health when you identify a food allergen and remove it from your diet. Did you know that an unidentified allergy or sensitivity to food causes chronic inflammatory reactions in your body? Left unchanged, this may increase your chances for developing serious health issues, such as:
- Migraines and other headaches
- Joint and muscle pain
- Chronic fatigue
- Depression and Anxiety
- Nutrition deficiencies
- Skin issues like hives, acne, and eczema
- Hardening of the arteries
- Kidney issues
- Gallbladder problems
- Learning Disabilities
- Neurological disorders
- Autoimmune disorders, like lupus
- Adrenal fatigue
- Sleep disturbances and Insomnia
Types of Elimination Diets
Since food allergies may vary according to allergen and intensity, the elimination diet has three levels. Choose the one that best fits your needs:
1. Simple Elimination
If your symptoms are less severe, eliminating one trigger food may be more manageable. According to an article published by FAACT, the triggers for most adults with allergies are fruits and vegetables, dairy, eggs, and wheat. Try to eliminate one of these food groups and see the results.
2. Moderate Elimination
Instead of just skipping one food group, this level eliminates several at one time. You may consider moderate elimination if your allergic symptoms are more complicated. These are the everyday foods that cause the most triggers and the most common foods that people eliminate at this level:
- Caffeinated foods, like coffee, soda, tea, and chocolate
- Dairy products
- Certain fruits and veggies
- All fats
- Nuts and Legumes
- Foods with yeast
- Gluten (wheat)
3. Strict Elimination
At this level, you’ll only eat or drink what’s on the list. Since such a restriction isn’t healthy, it should never be followed for longer than three weeks. You may notice some surprising triggers include the following:
- Meat: lamb and chicken
- Vegetables: Beets, asparagus, lettuce, carrots, sweet potatoes
- Fruit: Apples, apple juice, apricots, cranberries, peaches, pears, pineapple
- Grains: Rice, rice cakes, rice cereal
- Sweeteners: Beet or cane sugar, honey
- Fats: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Safflower oil
- Flavorings: Salt and white vinegar
Regardless of which test diet you choose, you will gradually re-introduce each food to see if it causes a reaction. Start with small portions in case your response is severe. It’s also essential to stay hydrated with plenty of water.
Benefits of an Elimination Diet
Are you tired of being sick without knowing the reason? If medical tests don’t reveal any other physical cause, you may be allergic to a food or food group. Here are some benefits of an elimination diet to consider:
1. Reveal Unknown Food Allergens
You may be having health issues and not realize that a portion of food could be doing it to you. Some of your favorite foods may be making you sick, and you never knew it. Once you’ve identified your food allergens, you can create healthy meal plans without them.
2. Relieve Skin Issues
Remember how aggravating it was to deal with acne as a teenager? It can be even more frustrating to have it as an adult. Did you know that an allergy could cause your adult breakouts to food?
These hidden culprits may also be the reason that you are experiencing itchy dermatitis or eczema. It’s especially tell-tale when traditional treatments aren’t helping. The results of this trial diet may be clearer skin, fewer breakouts, and minor itching.
3. Relieve Migraines
Comparing them to headaches is like comparing a hydrogen bomb to a firecracker for those who struggle with migraines. Migraines can be a chronic issue that can be completely debilitating. Did you know that food allergens can cause migraines?
A study published by Headache Journal included twenty-one participants who had issues with migraines. After they eliminated certain foods during a test diet, most participants saw a reduction in their migraines. It demonstrated a positive effect on their well-being too.
Some people have regular headaches when they consume trigger foods. If you have chronic headaches, a food allergen may be the reason. This specialized diet may help identify your triggers, so you’ll have fewer headaches.
4. Help Treat Learning Disorders
Medical researchers aren’t entirely sure what causes certain learning disorders such as ADHD or autism. However, they have found links between these disorders and being allergic to a food. According to an article published by Reports of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, food allergens may play a role in developing these disorders.
Although food elimination hasn’t proven to cure ADHD or autism, it may help ease some symptoms. Foods high in sugar are notorious for increasing ADHD symptoms, so eliminating sugar has been successful for many folks.
5. Reduce IBS Symptoms
When you have gut issues like IBS, it affects your whole life. The price for enjoying delicious meals is often pain, bloating, and chronic diarrhea. Can eliminating certain foods from your diet minimize these exhausting symptoms?
A study published by the Journal of American College of Nutrition discusses promising results. Dr. Jeanne Drisko et al. found that IBS patients who tried a controlled elimination diet and added probiotics had fewer symptoms. The results were confirmed for 100 percent of the 20 patients, according to the study.
6. Help Leaky Gut Syndrome
Leaky Gut Syndrome is a painful disorder that is an apt description of its symptoms. If you’ve been diagnosed with LGS, contents in your digestion system seep through tiny holes and can make your entire body sick. LGS is often responsible for chronic inflammation and other autoimmune issues.
Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis are typical results from LGS. It also makes it difficult for your body to absorb certain vital nutrients. Wheat allergies also called gluten intolerance, and other food allergens may be the cause.
Even if you can’t cure the disease by eliminating trigger foods, you may ease some of its symptoms. You may have fewer bouts of diarrhea and other painful gastrointestinal issues. Fewer symptoms can mean an improvement in your lifestyle.
Final Thoughts on the Elimination Diet Benefits
While you may lose some weight during a diet of elimination of allergens, it’s not safe for the long term. After you’ve discovered your trigger foods, you may need a registered dietician to help you develop a new diet.
Remember that everyone is different, and your results won’t be typical. If you feel dizzy or overly weak, you may be eliminating too much too quickly. You should start the reintroduction phase and see how you feel.
Undiscovered food allergens can affect your health and entire well-being. When you try eliminating foods to find triggers, your whole life can improve. Skipping a food or food group is worth it when you have fewer health issues and a better outlook.