Defining an Elimination Diet

An elimination diet is also referred to as an oligoantigenic diet or an exclusion diet. It’s a temporary eating plan that excludes specific foods suspected to cause certain digestive reactions, allergies or physiological mechanisms like toxins. These foods are eliminated from your diet for a period ranging from 2 weeks to 2 months during which it is established whether the symptoms or reactions reduce. The eliminated foods are then reintroduced one at a time to determine which ones are well-tolerated and those that are not.

Why an Elimination Diet?

An exclusion diet may be medically recommended or a person may choose to try it for several reasons. A health professional may recommend an exclusion diet occasionally, to relieve disease symptoms being experienced. The diet can be used as a diagnostic tool, to determine if your patient’s symptoms are diet related or as treatment, by removing certain foods from your diet.

This diet helps to pinpoint specifically which foods cause health-related issues such as food intolerances and food allergies. Commonly, you can apply the diet when you experience persistent symptoms but are unable to identify their cause. In the diet, you can eliminate common foods such as milk or non-nutritive substances like artificial food colorings.

An elimination diet is based on trial and error to diagnose what the source of your problem is. The diet relies on a challenge-dechallenge-rechallenge approach which involves the removal of food from your diet and then a gradual reintroduction to check if the symptoms resurface. This particular approach is useful if you have vague or intermittent symptoms.

Several mechanisms can cause undesirable food reactions. It is essential to correctly identify your specific type of reaction because sometimes different approaches may be required to manage them. Instances when an elimination diet can be considered involve the occurrence of symptoms such as persistent constipation, bloating, acne, persistent diarrhea, and eczema.

4 Types of IBS Diet

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common uncomfortable disorder affecting the large intestine (colon). The exact disease cause is unknown, but it is characterized by pronounced changes in bowel movements. Typical IBS symptoms include constipation, bloating, diarrhea, abdominal pain, gas and cramps. Since it’s a chronic disease, it requires long-term management using diet, medication and lifestyle changes. The following diets are used to manage IBS.

1. Low-Fibre Diet

Altering levels of fibre in the diet can help manage IBS symptoms. Increasing levels of fibre are intolerable in IBS patients with diarrhea and gas symptoms because they worsen them.  A low fibre diet for IBS involves a careful selection of soluble fibre available in oatmeal and produce like carrots and apples. Soluble fibre slows down digestion by dissolving in water.

2. Elimination Diet

According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, removing chocolate, coffee, nuts and insoluble fibre helps manage IBS. The elimination diet for IBS includes avoiding specific foods for a period of time and monitoring to see the effect on IBS symptoms. Any food considered a suspect should be temporarily eliminated and its effect on IBS symptoms noted. There are numerous elimination diet recipes available online.

3. Low-Fat Diet

Such an IBS diet plan comprises majorly of low-fat foods. Since high-fat foods are low in fiber, they tend to worsen IBS symptoms especially constipation.  Fatty foods may be more problematic if you suffer from mixed IBS, characterized by a combination of diarrhea and constipation. A low-fat diet is not only heart-friendly but also improves bowel symptoms.

4. Gluten-Free Diet

A protein, Gluten is found in grain products like bread. It can cause intestinal damage to patients who are intolerant or highly sensitive to it resulting in IBS. A gluten-free diet can help to reduce symptoms. Gluten-free versions of food products such as bread are also available in stores as an option.

What Is The FODMAP Diet?

FODMAP is an acronym that stands for fermentable, oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. The FODMAP diet is a specialized type of elimination diet that is applied in the management of IBS. Researchers at Monash University developed the low FODMAP diet and proved that it improves IBS symptoms. They have an app available to guide you on the FODMAP diet plan.

FODMAPS are short chain carbohydrates, which if poorly digested ferment in your larger intestines lower area. This causes water retention and leads to production of hydrogen, methane, carbon dioxide gas resulting in bloating, pain and other IBS symptoms.

A low FODMAP diet can be used to manage health conditions such as IBS, functional gastrointestinal disorder, fibromyalgia and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. Common FODMAPS found in foods include; Lactose in dairy, galactans found in legumes, fructose found in fruits and vegetables. Polyols include sugar alcohols found in chewing gum and artificial sweeteners.

Carefully reading labels for the ingredient list can help you identify added FODMAP ingredients including honey, high fructose corn syrup, and inulin.

How the FODMAP Diet Works

When you begin the FODMAP diet plan, you enter the elimination phase. In it, you are advised to either exclude all FODMAPs or strictly limit them from your diet for 3-8 weeks depending on your response. You can use a period shorter than 3 weeks if you have gone through hydrogen breath testing to isolate the most problematic FODMAPs.

The next phase is the rechallenge or reintroduction plan. In this stage, each FODMAP is reintroduced at a time and monitored to identify which one triggers symptoms. Once trigger FODMAPs are identified, it is easy to know what you can or cannot tolerate.

It’s essential to note that a low FODMAP diet is meant to be temporary because it is very restrictive on common foods. The point is that excluding all FODMAPs at once has a much greater and consistent effect than restricting one. It offers your gut time to heal and gut bacteria an opportunity to rectify any imbalances.

An elimination diet can help you manage numerous health conditions in addition to IBS. Elimination diet recipes are accessible at the click of a button and can help you narrow down further to FODMAPs diet recipes. Since these diets are scientifically proven, if your symptoms are not clearing, why not take a chance with them?

References

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elimination_diet
  2. https://draxe.com/elimination-diet/
  3. http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/ibs-diet

Author: Self Healing Institute

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