The Elimination Diet: Learn How Food Affects Your Health
Understanding the best approach for many modern health concerns can be difficult with all the competing information floating about. We all have very individualized needs to be addressed and mainstream information also fails to accommodate that. The Elimination Diet is a great first step to better understanding how different foods impact health and well-being. Learning a few basic concepts of how this diet operates will help shed light on many health-related concerns.
Food Affects Health
What you eat affects how you feel emotionally, physically, and mentally. This statement carries such weight that it should be considered by everyone. Food is the most basic source of energy and building materials that our bodies use to carry out day-to-day tasks such as breathing, walking, thinking, and repairing tissue. If your body is deprived of the essential nutrients needed to complete these fundamental tasks—your health will suffer. Before we go any further let’s take a moment to recognize just how incredible the human body is. Our bodies are able to take all sorts of abuse, be exposed to all sorts of dangerous chemicals, and can wipe out the majority of harmful bacteria and viruses. As time goes on these battles begin to take their toll. Effects from inflammatory responses cause tissue damages that compound into further oxidative stress which can effectively begin a vicious cycle many never escape. There are many tools available to help us better understand the dynamics of health in the modern world. The Elimination Diet is one of the most renowned for two reasons; it’s easy and it’s free.
Understanding the Basics
The Elimination Diet works to help identify reactions our bodies have to certain types of foods. This may be related to allergies, low energy levels, hypertension or even lowered sex drive. There is no blanket statement to describe how any single food might affect every individual. The power of the elimination diet is its ability to provide personalized feedback to help guide dietary decisions. The elimination diet consists of two basic steps; eliminating a large amount of food types and then reintroducing them one by one to assess their individual impact. This is essentially all there is to the elimination diet, but it’s important to understand each step in further detail to ensure you’re being as effective as possible.
Stage One: Elimination of Trouble Foods
This stage is designed to eliminate major types of foods that are known to possibly cause issues of food intolerance, common allergens, and those foods often related to such responses as inflammation. The basic foods one should remove from daily meals are wheat, gluten, nightshades, dairy, sugar, alcohol, fermented foods like kraut, citrus fruits, nuts, and all processed foods. These foods are the most-common culprits among food related issues. By eliminating these from your diet it is possible to glimpse what one’s life might be like should the majority of food-related health concerns disappear. These foods should all be eliminated for a period of 4 weeks—the amount of time Science currently recognizes to be the period in which all remnants of foods are certain to have been removed. After a period of 4 weeks one can begin to reintroduce them, one by one, to gauge the effect on health.
Stage Two: Reintroduction of Foods
There is no particular order in which foods have to be reintroduced but there should only be a single food reintroduced at a time. If multiple foods are reintroduced simultaneously it is impossible to determine which effects, if any, are in response to a particular one. As a general rule, the best place to start is by reintroducing whichever food you are craving the most. This is typically dairy, wheat, or sugar—the foods with the most impact on individual health. In many cases the foods being craved the most are likely to be those with the most systemic impact on one’s health. A food should only be reintroduced for a single meal. After reintroduction, the elimination diet should be resumed for 3 days to assure the complete effects of that food have subsided. After the 3 day period, the next food can be reintroduced. This process should be repeated until all foods that are desired to be tested have been checked. After all foods have been assessed for potential health impact one can then resume whatever diet one chooses.
Elimination Diet Tips
During the elimination diet your body will be undergoing some dramatic changes. Before you begin you should consult with a licensed health professional to understand what implications these types of changes might have on you. Removing large amounts of nutrition from one’s diet can have impact on medications and other aspects of healthcare. The removal of these foods will also likely cause you to experience a sort of withdrawal, similar to that seen in cases of addiction. In a very real sense, our bodies are addicted to different types of foods to varying degrees. For example; sugar is one of the most addictive substances on Earth and removing all supplemental sugar and sweeteners from your diet can cause very noticeable withdrawal symptoms. Sometimes starting the elimination diet for a few days to better understand how your body will react can help better manage expectations before the full diet is implemented. Talking to your friends and family for support can be of great benefit as well. The act of being accountable to others can have powerful impacts on the success of individual endeavors such as diet and exercise programs.
The elimination diet is a powerful tool of personal healthcare that can help uncover the complex dynamics of how food affects your health. This diet is designed to help understand the impact of different foods through use during a short period of time. This diet shouldn’t be implemented for long periods of time without careful consultation with a licensed nutritional expert. Removing such large portions of nutrition from one’s diet can easily cause vitamin and mineral deficiencies to develop if not properly addressed. Overall, the elimination diet is a powerful way to take your health into your own hands and can help better understand the root causes of many chronic health conditions.