What Is An Elimination Diet Plan?

An elimination diet plan is a program that removes suspect foods from a persons meal plan in an attempt to discover which food or food groups an individual may have a sensitivity to.

Up to Seventy five percent of the population may have an intolerance to a food that is otherwise considered safe for human consumption. These food sensitivities may cause nothing more than a mild case of gastrointestinal discomfort to the sufferer but they can also be severe enough to cause harm to one or more of the body's organs.

In some cases the body's reaction to a food sensitivity can cause the development of an immune system response that is so severe it results in the formation of a chronic inflammatory based illness. It is suspected that some types of autoimmune illness ie: Rheumatoid Arthritis may occur because the body's immune system is rebelling against an allergy or intolerance. 

There are many types of health problems which can occur when someone is suffering from an intolerance to the foods they consume. Some food reactions are mild but others can have a lifetime of health consequences attached to them. Studies have found that when an offending food is discovered and removed from a persons diet that the person suffering from this severe food intolerance can become well again. An elimination diet is simply a program used as a means of determining which foods an individual may be sensitive to.

So which foods do people generally suffer an intolerance to most often? Dairy products are the number one offending item for food sensitivities. A dairy sensitivity or lactose intolerance affects approximately three out of every four people. 
Other common foods that people often suffer an intolerance to are fructose, yeast, gluten or wheat, seafood, nut products, nightshade plants, coffee or other caffeinated products, and foods containing pesticides or preservatives.

Allergic reactions which are a much severer reaction occur in approximately one percent of the population. Milk, egg, peanut, tree nut, fish, shell fish, soy and wheat account for ninety percent of all food allergy symptoms. 

Most of us do not realize exactly how many people are affected by a food intolerance, sensitivity, or allergy. Health issues occurring from common food products affects quite a large portion of the population. Symptoms may include rashes, difficulty breathing or cough, fatigue, headache or migraine, flushing, swelling, as well as gastro intestinal difficulties such as gas, diarrhea, bloating, nausea and abdominal pain. The only true way to discover if your symptoms are caused by a food intolerance or allergy is to undergo allergy tests or to participate in an elimination diet program.

Just as the name implies on an elimination diet you eliminate specific foods from your diet and then wait to see if there is a resulting improvement in your health. Generally all high risk foods are removed from your diet for a period of anywhere from one week to six weeks. It is recommended that the suspect foods be removed for at least a four week period.

For an accurate determining of the exact items causing the health allergy, high risk food groups are then reintroduced one product at a time every five to seven days. The recommended time frames in the elimination diet plan allow a sufficient period for the offending product to be completely removed from the individuals system and time for the reintroduced food to produce a reaction (if there is going to be one) after this food is returned to the diet.

High risk foods that you should remove from your diet plan would include all dairy products, red meat, eggs, peas, beans, corn and corn based products, wheat based products, coffee, regular and herbal teas, all processed foods, citrus fruits, bananas, as well as nightshade plants such as potatoes, tomatoes and bell peppers. 
Yes, I know this sounds like just about everything that a person might have in their cupboard for them to eat, but don't worry there are still a few foods left that are generally safe to eat.

The foods that you choose to eliminate from your diet will be high risk foods and food groups that are specific to you and your lifestyle. Just keep in mind that the more foods that you eliminate from your diet then the better your likelihood is of discovering the food item (or food items) that may be causing your current health issue.

Foods that are usually well tolerated and therefor generally safe to continue eating throughout the elimination diet are rice, oats, sweet potatoes, and most fruits and vegetables (other than those that are within the nightshade family of plants).

It is important to keep in mind that many people are sensitive to more than just one food or food group. So sometimes the elimination diet must be repeated several times in order to remove all of the offending foods. Individuals with autoimmune illness or gastrointestinal issues can be more prone to food sensitives.

Note: Work in partnership with your doctor with any health concerns you have. Never undergo any drastic diet change without first consulting with your medical doctor. Always thoroughly research any treatment methods or alternative therapies that you are considering before you introduce them into your treatment program.