Do you suffer from a long term health problem for which a diagnosis has proved impossible or tentative? Do you experience a number of unpleasant symptoms that make your life uncomfortable or unpleasant? Food could be the culprit or rather certain foodstuffs could be causing your problems.
You could be suffering from an allergy or intolerance (see definitions below). One of the best ways to help throw light on the problem AND the solution is an elimination (or exclusion) diet.
Typical health problems caused by foods we are allergic or intolerant of include –
- Rashes or other skin problems
- Gut problems – gas, bloating, pain, constipation
- Emotional/Mental health problems
- Low energy levels
- Joint and muscle pains
How To Do An Elimination Diet
- Make a note of all the unpleasant or uncomfortable symptoms you suffer from.
- Rate each symptom on a scale of 0 to 10 – the higher the number, the more unpleasant the symptom.
- Consult a qualified healthcare professional to ensure you will not put your health at risk by following an elimination diet.
- Completely remove from your diet ONE of the common food groups (see below) that cause reactions for between 2 to 3 weeks.
- Keep a diary – during the elimination phase make a DAILY note or symptoms (again rate them on a 0 to 10 scale).
- If there has been no significant improvement in symptoms over the 2 to 3 week elimination period, another food group can be tested and food eliminated previously slowly reintroduced.
- If you identify harmful foods, try slowly reintroducing the food. If this provokes symptoms you have found your triggers – remove these permanently from your diet.
- Make sure that if you eliminate food groups, you are still getting the necessary vital nutrition these foods provided, from other foods. Consulting a qualified dietician or nutritionist may help.
The Difference Between Allergies and Intolerances
The symptoms of both conditions may be very similar and can even confuse the experts, as both cause unpleasant symptoms and inflammation!
Generally food allergies are triggered by a protein and cause the body’s immune system to over react – with serious systemic symptoms (maybe life threatening).
Food intolerances generally only affect the digestive tract and are less severe than allergies. They are caused by –
1. absence of an enzyme
2. psychological stress
4. Sensitivity to food additives
5. Inflammation of gut when exposed to gluten
Common Foods Causing Allergies
- Milk (and dairy produce) – mainly seen in children
- Tree Nuts
Common Foods Causing Intolerances
- Dairy – usually caused by a sugar called lactose
- Gluten – a protein found in many grains, especially wheat, barley. Gluten intolerance may present as Coeliac Disease or the less severe Non Coeliac Gluten Intolerance.