When and how to start an elimination diet?

We are going to show you what an elimination diet consists of and how it can be implemented to detect intolerances to food groups or nutrients. You will also know its risks.

Last update: May 23, 2022

The elimination diet kicks off to detect food intolerances. There are a series of tests on the market that promise to analyze the existence of these disorders, but the truth is that they are not reliable.

They have no evidence to back them up. For this reason, on many occasions there is no choice but to remove a certain food from the guideline to see if there is an improvement.

Before starting, it should be noted that there are food intolerances that are transient. This means that the body loses the ability to digest or absorb a certain nutrient for a certain time. A specific modification or intervention can even be carried out to improve the symptoms and speed up the process.

How does an elimination diet work?

When we talk about an elimination diet we are referring to a very restrictive plan that is neither sustainable nor healthy in the medium term. It must be put into practice for a period not exceeding 3 weeks.

Otherwise, severe nutritional deficits could be experienced. Some of these could condition the correct supply of oxygen through the blood, as is the case with anemia. This is evidenced by research published in the journal The Medical Clinics of North America.

The first thing to do on the elimination diet is avoid food groups that may be responsible for causing intolerances. These include citrus fruits, nuts, legumes, foods with gluten, dairy, eggs and spices. For two weeks, a pattern based on fruit, non-solanaceous vegetables, wheat and rice will be consolidated.

This part is the most complicated. In fact, We are talking about a plan that involves an insufficient protein intake, which can condition the state of lean mass. According to a study published in the journal Annals of Nutrition & Metabolismit is necessary to consume at least 0.8 grams of protein per kilo of body weight per day for the body to function properly.

After two weeks, suspect food groups are introduced one by one and attention is paid to symptoms. Intestinal disturbances, headaches or even dermatitis may manifest.

Nuts are part of those foods that are restricted in this plan, at least for 2 weeks.


Is it safe to do an elimination diet?

The elimination diet is applied when there are intestinal-type problems and the origin is unknown. It is assumed that the cause is a food, or a group of them, in the worst case.

Therefore, the goal is to detect it in order to suppress it. However, the application of this method carries its risks, as we have mentioned. The insufficient supply of nutrients will cause inefficiencies in the physiological mechanisms.

Keep in mind that many of the intestinal symptoms are caused by problems in the microbiota. For this reason, it may be an alternative to try to improve its composition, instead of undergoing different types of eating plans that can harm health. A suitable procedure would be supplementation with probiotics.

According to a study published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, these microorganisms could help reduce the symptoms of lactose intolerance, among others. In fact, many of the digestive and intestinal problems are conditioned by dysbiosis. To do this, a direct intervention would have to be carried out to restore balance internally.



Irritable colon and intolerances

Before concluding, it is important to note that many of the digestive problems can be caused by the genesis of inflammatory pathologies intestinal type. An example is irritable bowel syndrome.

It can lead to the appearance of intolerances later, but the cause would really be this autoimmune disease. Therefore, the solution would not lie in the total restriction of food groups, but in an approach that reduces inflammatory levels.

Now, much is still unknown about these health problems. They are considered chronic and do not have a cure.

Can only be managed through nutrition, being also positive the administration of probiotics. Even in some situations it would be enough to limit the intake of fiber to experience improvements.

More and more is known about the microbiota, so many treatments aim to modify it to reduce digestive symptoms.

Beware of the elimination diet

The elimination diet is very restrictive in essential nutrients, so not sustainable in the medium term. It is an approach that can help to locate an intolerance, but it does not have to suppose the solution to the problem either.

Before starting an approach of this type, it is advisable to visit a specialist. There are other alternatives that can be put in place to rule out pathologies.

Good eating habits are capable of correcting problems. It is good to ensure the presence of fermented foods in the pattern on a regular basis and ensure a consumption of at least 25 grams of fiber each day.