Functional Medicine Elimination Diet
Are certain foods causing or worsening your symptoms? In this article, we’ll review uses, benefits, and recipes for a functional medicine elimination diet.
What is an Elimination Diet?
An elimination diet is a short-term diet aimed to identify food sensitivities. Unlike food allergies, food sensitivities often develop over time and may cause a wide variety of symptoms such as:
- abdominal pain or bloating
- constipation or diarrhea
- acid reflux
- acne or eczema
- chronic fatigue
- brain fog
- joint pain
An elimination diet removes common foods that may cause or worsen symptoms for a specific period of time, usually about three weeks. Common food sensitivities removed during an elimination diet may include: gluten, dairy, corn, soy, and eggs. Other ingredients like artificial colors, sweeteners, and preservatives are also often removed.
After this time, you will gradually reintroduce common trigger foods one at a time while monitoring for symptoms. The food reintroduction process may take a few weeks, but it will help identify your specific food triggers.
Please ask your healthcare provider before starting an elimination diet, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, and/or have a history of an eating disorder.
Benefits of an Elimination Diet
Beyond the previously stated benefit of identifying food sensitivities that may cause or worsen various symptoms, our functional medicine elimination diet also has other benefits as well.
Food sensitivities can cause low-grade inflammation in the gut. When the integrity of the gut lining is compromised through dysbiosis, inflammation, or infection, larger food proteins or harmful bacteria may enter into the cells of the intestines. In lay terms, this is known as a “leaky gut.” Unfortunately, leaky gut may be associated with numerous health conditions like Hashimoto’s autoimmune thyroid disease, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), irritable bowel syndrome, and more (1, 2, 3). Removing food sensitivities decreases inflammation and begins to heal the gut lining to reduce leaky gut.
Promotes Body Awareness
Your busy life may leave you feeling out of tune with your body. Most times, people do not recognize how different foods affect them. In fact, some individuals do not realize how awful they felt until the food sensitivities are eliminated from their diet. During the reintroduction phase of our elimination diet, you will monitor and track your body’s reaction to various foods to determine your individual response. This often leads to a greater intuitive understanding of how your body feels after different foods, meals, and even time of the month.
Research has shown benefits in using an elimination diet for various conditions like migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, skin disorders, and more. However, the best part of an elimination diet is that you are the judge of your own health and progress. Monitoring your symptoms before, during, and after your elimination diet is important in providing both objective and subjective information for yourself and (if applicable) your healthcare provider.
Nourishes the Body
A properly planned elimination diet will not only remove food triggers but also provide a variety of colorful, diverse, and anti-inflammatory foods to nourish the body. Our Root Elimination Diet Food Plan includes recipes to balance your blood sugar, colorful phytonutrients to reduce inflammation, and fiber to promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria. You will find the most benefit when following an elimination diet that uses food as medicine to nourish your body from the inside out.
Elimination Diet Recipes
Your elimination diet does not have to be boring and bland. In fact, including a variety of “allowed” foods, flavors, spices, and herbs not only increases compliance and enjoyment but also provides nourishing ingredients for your body. Here is an idea of what a typical day looks like following our functional medicine elimination diet:
Breakfast: veggie hash with chicken sausage OR overnight oats with mixed berries and nuts
Lunch: southwest mason jar salad OR tuna salad over leafy greens with almond flour crackers
Dinner: egg roll in a bowl
Snacks: based on your hunger between meals, plantain chips and guacamole, blueberries and almonds
An elimination diet helps to identify your specific food triggers over a period of a few weeks. During this time, you may notice less digestive symptoms, clearer skin, more energy, increased body awareness, and many more individualized benefits. Our Root Elimination Diet Food Plan provides food lists, recipes, tips, and step-by-step instructions on how to follow the phases of a functional medicine elimination diet.
Looking for a Personalized Approach?
Our signature functional medicine program is our "Get to the Root" program where you work with both a doctor and dietitian over 3 months. We dig deep for root causes behind your symptoms and include important lab testing.Learn More
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IBS and PCOS
An estimated 30 to 40 percent of women with PCOS also have IBS (2, 3). IBS is more common in PCOS than the general population because these two conditions share one major root cause: dysbiosis.