This particular diet aims to cut out food that your body may not be able to tolerate and has a negative reaction to or food that causes an allergic reaction. The food is then slowly reintroduced to see if there is a reaction. It is specifically used as a diagnostic tool for your doctor to determine what foods you are sensitive or allergic to and could be contributing to physical ailments or allergic reactions. Shakthi Health and Wellness Center does offer the elimination diet during consultations to help you identify if any particular foods could be making you sick. This can be an important step in the process of diagnosing and treating you to get you back to full health.
What Does Food Intolerance Mean?
Food intolerance is when the body is sensitive to certain foods and can have a hard time digesting them. Digestive issues can occur when ingesting these foods and symptoms of a food intolerance can include bloating, excessive gas, nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Food intolerance can also sometimes be confused with a food allergy and this is not the case. A food allergy is a reaction of the immune system and food intolerance is strictly a reaction of the digestive system. A doctor will need to determine if a reaction is a food allergy or food intolerance, as a food allergy can potentially be life-threatening, and food intolerance is not. Food intolerance occurs because the digestive system has difficulty breaking down that particular food and can lead to physical symptoms within hours of eating. For example, many people are lactose intolerant, as it is one of the most common food intolerances, and ingesting any dairy products can cause severe discomfort in the digestive tract or any of the symptoms just listed above.
What Does a Food Allergy Look Like?
As stated, a food allergy is a response that involves the immune system and occurs because the body perceives that particular food as a danger and reacts in order to remove that danger. Unlike food intolerance, a food allergy will cause an almost immediate reaction, and symptoms such as hives, itching, swelling of body parts, shortness of breath, wheezing, or digestive problem (nausea, diarrhea, or abdominal pain) can occur. The most severe reaction is known as anaphylaxis and is life-threatening. When anaphylaxis sets in then people can experience a swollen throat with a tightening of the airways and constricted ability to breathe. Rapid pulse and dizziness or the feeling that you are about to pass out can also happen. One of the most common types of food allergies is an allergy to peanuts and anything containing traces of peanuts.
The Elimination Diet
According to the non-profit, Food Allergy Research & Education, an estimated 32 million people in the United States have a food allergy. The elimination diet is one of the most widely used tools for determining if a person has any food intolerances or food allergies. It is important to note that this diet should be monitored by a doctor to ensure that patients are getting all the nutrients they need and that they are following the diet in a safe, healthy manner. The elimination diet is not a regular diet intended for weight loss. It is specifically used in a medical setting. It is especially important to do this diet under the supervision of a doctor if the patient is being tested for a food allergy, as food allergies are more serious than food intolerances. Usually, though, a doctor will use a skin prick test for food allergies before turning to the elimination diet.
The elimination diet is conducted in two different steps, known as elimination and reintroduction. The entire process will take weeks, typically lasting for six weeks, although everyone is different. During the elimination stage, a specific food or multiple foods that are suspected to be triggering a reaction are removed from a person’s diet for a predetermined time period. This time period is usually about two to three weeks. Some common foods that people are sensitive or allergic to are anything with dairy (cow’s milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, etc.), anything containing gluten (bread, pasta, beer, cereals, baked goods, etc.), nuts (peanuts, almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, pecans, etc.), soy, corn, wheat, eggs, shellfish, coffee, and other types of fish like lobster. Physical symptoms may or may not disappear, indicating whether this was the correct food triggering a person or not.
The next stage, the reintroduction stage, involves slowly adding the eliminated food or group of foods back into the diet to see if a reaction is brought on. If there is no reaction then most likely that food is not the cause of the problem and another food may need to be eliminated and the diet repeated. If there is a reaction then the patient can work towards removing the food or groups of food from their diet long-term, again with the nutritional guidance of their doctor.
While food allergy tests are highly informative, the elimination diet is perceived by some to be the best way to truly determine if a specific food is triggering an allergic reaction or even just a food sensitivity. There are many benefits of completing the elimination diet. Those with irritable bowel syndrome can see a significant reduction in common symptoms on a daily basis and patients with eosinophilic esophagitis, which is an allergy occurring in the esophagus, can have less inflammation and lower their chances of choking. Other conditions, like skin conditions (ex. eczema), can also be improved by eliminating certain foods.
Don’t Forget to Check Us Out
If you are interested in integrative medicine, which combines conventional medicine and holistic therapies, and healthcare that focuses on your individual needs call Shakthi Health and Wellness Center today! Dr. Jyothi Rao is a highly skilled and experienced physician who can effectively evaluate your symptoms and optimize your body’s vitality. Call (301) 703 – 5067 and speak to our concierge staff to schedule your appointment today.