In general, they are only used for a short period and should be done under medical supervision. An elimination diet can have both benefits and drawbacks.
This article will explain the reasons for elimination diets as well as the methods and different types. It also considers the advantages and disadvantages.
What is the purpose of an elimination diet?
The majority of the world’s population suffers from food sensitivity or intolerance. An elimination diet is a method of attempting to identify the food items that are causing the symptoms. Dieticians and allergy specialists use diets to help people eliminate foods that may cause uncomfortable symptoms or allergic reactions from their diet.
What is the process of an elimination diet?
An elimination diet works by removing several foods that have been linked to symptoms. A person will then gradually reintroduce foods to determine which food or foods are exacerbating their symptoms. If a food causes unwanted symptoms, the person will be aware of it and avoid it.
The Scientific Basis for the Elimination Diet
Immunoglobulin E-mediated reactions are what doctors refer to when severe allergies cause anaphylactic reactions (a severe and life-threatening allergic reaction). These are frequently immediate allergic reactions, such as a child having difficulty breathing due to throat swelling after eating peanut butter.
Other food allergies, on the other hand, do not cause the classic allergic reaction symptoms. Doctors frequently refer to these as “non-IgE-mediated” reactions that impact a person’s health. The following are some of the symptoms associated with non-IgE-mediated responses:
- joint pain
- problems sleeping
- severe abdominal pain
- feeding problems
A doctor may recommend an elimination diet if a person has these or other symptoms that are not related to another medical condition.
A doctor may also recommend an elimination diet to help manage the symptoms of a medical condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome.
What foods are commonly avoided on an elimination diet?
Elimination diets frequently involve eliminating the most commonly allergenic foods. According to a World Allergy Organization Journal article, cow’s milk, eggs, soybeans, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, or shellfish are examples.
The majority of elimination diets have a four-part structure. These are some examples:
Preparation: For one to two weeks, a person keeps a journal of the foods they eat and any symptoms they experience. They discuss it with a doctor to identify potential food sources for elimination. This stage also entails determining the best time to begin the diet.
Trying to avoid: During the second stage, a person will refrain from eating any of the foods on their list for two to four weeks. They will carefully read food labels to ensure that no hidden sources are present in their diet.
Difficult: If a person’s symptoms have improved after eliminating several foods, they enter this phase. They should be symptom-free for at least five days before starting. Every two to three days, they will reintroduce a new food into their diet and assess whether or not they have symptoms.
Maintenance: During this phase, a person determines which foods (if any) they should avoid. They will consult with a doctor or a dietitian to determine how to supplement their diet to prevent nutritional deficiencies.
Depending on the results, an elimination diet can take anywhere from four to eight weeks to complete. Not everyone experiences improvements in their medical conditions as a result of elimination diets.