elimination diet Archives - Lifelab Testing

Eating disorders: The negative effects of an elimination diet

Since the start of the pandemic (Covid-19), we have seen how this challenging time is continually influencing our day-to-day life.  Recently on our previous blog, we have explained how symptoms for covid-19 and allergies can be easily misinterpreted, causing people fear and anxiety. Read more about the difference in symptoms here.

A recent work published on the International Journal of Eating Disorders showed how covid‐19 epidemic significantly impacted on eating disorders, both in terms of post‐traumatic symptomatology and interference with the recovery process(1).

Eating disorders are normally ‘hot topics’, especially for businesses that are working in the sector of health products and alternative tests. We have seen that recently there is also a lot of discussion about how food allergies and intolerances tests can be harmful to people with eating disorders due to the use of restriction diets.

As we are taking this really seriously and we are not afraid to talk about such topics, today we would like to update you on the new research in the field and show you how we are making sure that our tests and our messages are using in the right way to take care of you.

Recent international lab work has demonstrated the risk of developing an eating disorder following the prescription of a diet (which involves the elimination of several foods to reduce dyspeptic symptoms), seems particularly high in adolescents and young women who have a need to feel in control in life (e.g., feeling in control in various aspects life such as school, work, sports or other interests) (2). In this case, the restriction diet is seen as a successful behaviour of control in the context of perceived failure in other areas of life. In addition to that the number of people who call themselves “allergic to food” is on the rise; for the misuse of the term “allergic,” which leads to defining allergic the undesirable effects of drugs, toxic reactions to food, enzymatic deficits (e.g., lactase or sucrase-isomaltose deficiency) and vasomotor reactions to irritants (e.g., citrus or tomato) (3).

This research is showing us that we need to be careful when we are giving people information about the use of allergy and intolerance tests, especially in the case of people with previous eating disorders. Here at Lifelab Testing, we are making sure that our message is loud and clear:

  • Our tests are qualitative tests that can help you understand how your immune system is reacting to foods and environmental allergens. The test results can be considered as a map to take with you into your journey to find a better version of yourself. Before making any changes or take on restrictions it is always better to talk to your medical doctor and consider your medical history. Your doctor will be able to go through the results and combining your medical history, with your symptoms and our test results he will be able to suggest the best treatment.
  • We are helping our customers taking the first step through the consultation of a Nutritional Therapist. The Nutritional Therapist will collect as much information as possible before suggesting if an elimination diet could be used to help to manage some symptoms. The elimination diet is always followed by a reintroduction diet. Reintroducing those triggered foods will help understand how they are impacting your symptom, sometimes a reduction in the intake of foods can improve or eliminate some symptoms; this is the reason why we are never suggesting eliminating any food in your diet for a long period of time unless you suffer from severe reactions. Never take an elimination diet without the consultation of a qualified nutritional therapist or medical doctor. This can be dangerous for your health and your medical history is a big part in the diagnosis. Our job is to give our customers tools to help them put all the pieces together with the supervision of a qualified nutritional therapist or medical doctor.

Please be careful and take care during these challenging times. If you need any further help, please don’t hesitate to contact us or use specialised support out there. Remember we are in it together and we will get through together.

Written and edited by Dr Enzo Fornari PhD, MSc trained as Scientific Researcher in the field of Pharmaceutical Science, Biophysics ”

References:

  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/eat.23368
  2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/eating-disorders-the-facts/202011/false-food-allergy-and-intolerance-in-eating-disorders
  3. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1398-9995.2005.00875.x

Elimination Diets and Food Intolerance Testing

There is some argument surrounding intolerance testing and elimination diets. While many condemn intolerance testing saying that a simple elimination diet is sufficient, others swear by food intolerance testing and its efficacy in dealing with food intolerances. At Lifelab testing, we take a different approach. We say, is it too much to ask for both?

Intolerance testing and elimination diets should go hand-in-hand. Both should be used as tools towards achieving a healthier, symptom-free life. In this article, we’ll cover:

– What an elimination diet is

– Who it is for

– How to do an elimination diet

– Our tips for maximising your elimination diet

– Elimination diets without intolerance testing

– The science behind IgG testing

Let’s dive into what an elimination diet is and why it matters.

What is an Elimination Diet?

An elimination diet is a short-term diet where you restrict the foods you eat, with the intention of alleviating existing food intolerance or allergy symptoms. From there, you can gradually introduce foods back into your diet one-at-a-time, and any subsequent signs of discomfort may help you identify which food you are allergic to.

Elimination diets are used when people suspect that they have a reaction but haven’t been able to identify the root cause of their symptoms. They’re also commonly used following a food intolerance test or allergy test to confirm the exact offending item.

An elimination diet should last for at least 4 weeks to allow time for all eliminated foods to be completely flushed out of your system. After the initial 4-week elimination period, you can begin to reintroduce those foods, one at a time, to determine which foods were the root of your symptoms.

It is not uncommon for the elimination period to be enough for a reaction to dissipate entirely. However, this is not always the case, and you should be cautious when reintroducing items – especially those you suspect you might be allergic to.

Elimination Diets Must Follow Intolerance Testing Anyway

Intolerance testing alone will only tell you which foods your blood has responded too. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that all of those foods are the root cause of your symptoms.

In order to get the benefits from food intolerance testing, you need to commence an elimination diet. But, how so?

Who is an Elimination Diet for?

An elimination diet is ideal for anyone regularly experiencing digestive symptoms such as bloating, constipation, abdominal cramping, or gas. It may also be useful if you are suffering from brain fog, regular headaches, or constant fatigue. These are all common symptoms of food intolerance or allergy and may be alleviated through an elimination diet.

Research indicates that an elimination diet guided by an IgG intolerance test or IgE allergy test can help with symptoms of other conditions such as Ulcerative Colitis and IBS. This is promising, as approximately 80% of IBS patients report that a specific food item triggers their symptoms. A 2013 study found that an elimination diet based on the results of an intolerance test may significantly reduce symptoms in IBS patients who also experienced migraines¹.

This positively impacted their quality of life. A separate 2018 study looked into the effects of intolerance test guided elimination diets in patients with Ulcerative Colitis as well. The study had both an intervention group (who commenced the elimination diet) and a control group (who did not alter their diet).

Reported symptoms lowered significantly within the intervention group compared to the control. With this, they concluded that the elimination diet had helped to reduce the severity of the patient’s symptoms²[. As more research is conducted, it’s becoming apparent that food intolerances play a part in various health conditions. And simply avoiding certain foods could be all it takes for many of us to live without these uncomfortable symptoms.

How to Do an Elimination Diet?

Follow these simple steps to make a start on your dieting.

1. Maintain a Food Diary

‘What gets measured, gets managed.’ So, it’s paramount that you keep track of the foods you eat during both the elimination period and the reintroduction stage. This will be invaluable in determining which foods cause symptoms and to what degree. It’s particularly important when reintroducing items back into your diet.

2. Begin Symptom Monitoring

Ideally, your food diary will also have a ‘symptoms’ section for you to monitor how each food item affects your body. This will help you spot any patterns in symptoms or lack thereof. It will also keep you motivated in moments of weakness when an old craving strikes or you’re offered something containing one of your known problem foods.

It’s helpful to give your symptoms a severity level, to both monitor your progress and determine which foods you may want to continue avoiding indefinitely. Just list the symptoms you notice, note the severity of those symptoms and list the foods you recently consumed, which may be the cause.

3. Start Replacing Nutrients

Before beginning an elimination diet, it’s recommended that you consider the foods that you’ll be avoiding, and the nutrients that these foods are rich in. You should make you aren’t removing any single primary source of nutrients without planning a replacement. For example, if you’re eliminating fish, then it’s important to make sure you still get plenty of omega 3, 6 & 9 fatty acids. While most experts would recommend that you get all of your vitamins and minerals from food sources, rather than supplements, there are times when supplementation may be necessary.

4. Explore Intolerance Testing and Allergy Testing

We recommend that your elimination diet is guided by the results from an IgG intolerance test and/or IgE allergy test, rather than your own gut instincts. Using appropriate test results to inform your elimination diet means you won’t be needlessly restricting your diet (and, as a result, risking vitamin deficiency). It’s also a much more efficient path to becoming symptom-free.

Our Tips Around Completing an Elimination Diet Successfully

Beyond the steps we’ve outlined, consider these tips to maximise the effectiveness of your diet.

Go Cold Turkey with Potentially Problematic Foods

You should start your elimination diet by removing all of those foods highlighted in your test results from your diet. Don’t try removing one item at a time, as that’s what the reintroduction stage afterwards is for. This is the most effective way to conduct the diet and will help you become symptom-free much sooner compared to eliminating the foods one at a time.

Reintroduce Food Strategically

After the 4-week elimination period, you can begin to reintroduce those foods that you removed. Remember that intolerance symptoms can appear anywhere from a few hours to two days after consuming a problem food, so we recommend reintroducing one item at a time, every couple of days. This is the point when monitoring your food intake and symptoms is most important. Be sure to track your meals and make a note of any symptoms you experience.

Start with Small Amounts of Each Food Item, Instead of Going All-in Right Away.

Food intolerances are a digestive issue, so the more you eat of a food that you have an intolerance to, the worse your symptoms can be. If you removed almonds from your diet, for example, have a handful of them at most – preferably less – and see how your body responds to them.

This is where you’ll be able to pinpoint the foods that have causing the most issues for you, and learn what your body can and can’t deal with. You may discover that your body can tolerate certain foods only in small quantities, which can help you avoid symptoms in the future.

Like we said before, the most effective way to conduct an elimination diet is following a food intolerance test. It’ll help you save time and alleviate your intolerance symptoms as quickly as possible.

Can I Do Elimination Diet Without the Intolerance Test?

A lone elimination diet leaves you constantly guessing which foods are causing your symptoms and needlessly lengthens the whole process. It makes you suffer intolerance symptoms for longer than necessary while you keep adding foods to the ‘avoid’ list, hoping to find relief. Because of all this guesswork, the reintroduction period is also much longer than it would be had you followed the guidance of an intolerance test.

It’s far quicker to start off with a solid base of foods highlighted through testing than to hope you can accurately tell which foods aren’t agreeing with you.

IgG Food Intolerance Testing is Scientifically Backed

Unlike a simple elimination diet, IgG testing is medically proven and has various studies supporting its efficacy in reducing symptoms. More research is always being conducted on IgG food intolerances and indicating how people with various conditions can benefit from the tests. So far there are studies looking into IBS, Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis and even depression in relation to food intolerances.

There’s no argument here, the elimination diet is a key part of overcoming your food intolerances and getting back to a symptoms-free life. It should be considered one of the vital tools in finally leaving those intolerance symptoms in the dust. Purchase the Complete Intolerance Test today to discover what’s causing you issues, or fill in our Find My Test quiz to find out what test is best suited to you.

References

[1] Aydinlar, E.I., Dikmen, P.Y., Tiftikci, A., Saruc, M., Aksu, M., Gunsoy, H.G. and Tozun, N. (2013). IgG-based elimination diet in migraine plus irritable bowel syndrome. Headache, [online] 53(3), pp.514–25. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23216231 [Accessed 10 Mar. 2020].

[2] Jian, L., Anqi, H., Gang, L., Litian, W., Yanyan, X., Mengdi, W. and Tong, L. (2018). Food Exclusion Based on IgG Antibodies Alleviates Symptoms in Ulcerative Colitis: A Prospective Study. Inflammatory bowel diseases, [online] 24(9), pp.1918–1925. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29788288 [Accessed 10 Mar. 2020].

Can an Elimination Diet Cause Nausea?

Elimination diets aren’t a walk in the park, especially if one of the foods you’re eliminating is something you were previously eating daily. But they’re a pretty important step following a food intolerance test.

The good news is that an elimination diet doesn’t cause nausea in and of itself. But it could indirectly be causing you nausea. There are a few ways this can happen. Let’s explore them.

Missing Essential Nutrients in Your Diet

A nutrient deficiency could cause your nausea. Beginning an elimination diet without making sure you replace the vitamins and minerals that are in the food you’re scrapping can cause various adverse reactions in your body.

Nausea is a common symptom of vitamin B12, magnesium and vitamin D deficiencies. You can essentially become deficient in these nutrients if you’ve suddenly excluded the only primary source of it from your diet. We recommend looking at the nutrients stored in the foods you’ve eliminated and seek to substitute them with foods of a similar vitamin and mineral contents.

Caffeine Withdrawal

If you’ve abruptly withdrawn from drinking coffee or consuming caffeine as part of your elimination diet, it could be a withdrawal symptom.

As caffeine is quite an addictive substance, many people can experience withdrawal effects if they suddenly stop consuming it. Symptoms include irritability, nausea, fatigue, low energy and poor concentration.

Experts recommend that those who experience these symptoms wean themselves off of caffeine, instead of quitting cold turkey. Try cutting down one cup at a time. Weakening your coffee could also help to reduce your intake. 

You’re Genuinely Under the Weather

It could just be that you’re under the weather with a cold, or feeling run down. Stress, smoking, drinking alcohol and several other factors can all contribute to lowering your immune system and make you more susceptible to catching a travelling cold.

Diabetes and other immune system disorders can also severely impact your immune system. It may just be a coincidence that feeling unwell has followed you starting an elimination diet.

Don’t let this tempt you to break your elimination diet streak. You’re much better off following through, provided you maintain nutrient balance than going back to experiencing daily frustrations and symptoms of which you can’t narrow down the cause.

To make your elimination diet even more effective, consider getting an intolerance test, to indicate which foods you’re intolerant to so that you only eliminate what’s necessary.

Ensuring you will succeed with your elimination diet

If you are only just starting out on your elimination diet after you have discovered that you have a range of intolerances and allergies, then you might find that the start is quite tough. On Day two, it starts to feel real! So we thought we should share some top secrets on how you can make the most of your food intolerance discoveries. Allergy testing and intolerance testing can be tough, but it can also be extremely beneficial, make sure you find out how below:

1) Find the support you need after intolerance testing

Make sure you get a good support group around you, and lean on them for support and advice if you feel yourself slipping. Similar to if you were doing a juice cleanse, an elimination diet requires a lot of willpower. After your intolerance testing, a support network is a MUST have.

2) Preparation is Key

You MUST prepare for your elimination diet. If you do need to eliminate certain foods because of your symptoms, then you can clear the cupboards beforehand. That means if you have an item that you are intolerant to, then you can remove it from your kitchen and you won’t be tempted to tuck into any foods. Intolerance testing will help you to feel much better and revolutionise your diet!

3) Track your foods

Write it down. This means writing down each individual food that you are eating and tracking your symptoms. A tracking food diary is so important as you can monitor your symptoms, and this is how intolerance testing can help you.

4) The removal of your foods

Whenever you have your results delivered to you, you learn which foods you need to remove from your diet. If you follow these steps, then this will only make it easier for you to avoid any stressful symptoms.

For more information on intolerance testing, please log on to www.lifelabtesting.com and see what test would be right for you. It could be that you need an allergy test!