The elimination-challenge diet is considered the gold standard for identifying possible food sensitivities and intolerance. Although it can take some effort and planning, it is usually a win-win for both the patient and the doctor. Here is what me and my colleagues from Emerson Ecologist are saying:
Uncover sneaky food allergies
It’s very common to experience ongoing digestive problems even when eating an overall healthy diet. Why? Because all it takes is one or two unidentified food allergens to make a big impact.
For example, 52 patients with Eosinophilic esophagitis — an esophageal disorder predominantly triggered by food allergies — underwent an elimination diet as part of a 2014 study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Seventy percent of patients experienced remission!
The patients had no idea that they were allergic to such foods, so they didn’t respond to past treatment methods until the allergens were identified. They only finally experienced improvements and relief when specific allergens were removed long-term.
Helps Reduce IBS Symptoms
When 20 patients with irritable bowel syndrome underwent elimination diets as part of a 2006 study conducted by University of Kansas Medical Center, 100 percent of patients experienced significant improvements!
After six months of being on the elimination diets and taking probiotics, patients were reassessed – and every single one reported improvements in bowel movements and control over IBS symptoms.
Useful for Healing Leaky Gut Syndrome
In many cases leaky gut syndrome is the underlying cause of allergic reactions, autoimmune disease, and body-wide inflammation. Leaky gut occurs when the lining of the digestive tract develops tiny holes that allow specific substances to pass through into the bloodstream, damaging your system.
Leaky gut is a major contributor to autoimmune diseases like Chron’s and ulcerative colitis. Development of leaky gut can also cause malabsorption of vital minerals and nutrients – including zinc, iron, and vitamin B12. It’s believed that leaky gut is commonly caused by gluten intolerance but can also result from a range of other food allergies and sensitives, too.
Heals Skin Irritations Like Eczema and Acne
Strong evidence exists that skin conditions like eczema and acne are related to undiagnosed food allergies.
Nuts, tomatoes, milk, eggs, and cereal grains are the most common allergens, but I have seen people reacting to all sorts of things.
Working on the gut health is the first step I take with all my patients and for many patients the benefits are unmatched.
Helps Prevent or Treat Learning Disorders like ADHD and Autism
Common food allergens, such as gluten and pasteurized dairy products, may increase the risk of developing ADHD and autism because proteins from these foods can cause intestinal permeability. This occurs when substances leak through the gut and then recirculate within the bloodstream, sometimes acting in the brain like an opioid drug. Once substances make it to the bloodstream, they meet large numbers of immune cells that trigger inflammation.
High intake of sugar also worsens ADHD symptoms, same for additives and preservatives. All of these will be removed during an elimination diet which explains why many people feel better immediately.
Combats Migraine Headaches
Elimination diets are an effective and inexpensive therapeutic strategy for patients who suffer from frequent migraine headaches.
Following the elimination diet, patients report significant differences in the number of migraine attacks they experienced monthly, the duration of attacks and the level of pain intensity.
Promotes detoxification of the body
When we remove the inflammatory and offending foods our body will be allowed to deal more effectively with the existent toxins. I always encourage people to stay hydrated, use saunas if possible or even dry skin brushing to enhance this natural detoxification process.
This might not be the initial goal, but I have seen it happen repeatedly and can’t tell you how happy everybody is at the end. How do I explain this? Well, think for a minute here: you remove the triggers, you cool the inflammation, you make sure your body has healthy food and enough water…Makes sense, right?
This diet can be empowering and motivating but it must be done right. There are some tips and tricks, however, to increase patient success so seek help. We would be happy to guide you through the process!
Dana Neacsu, MD