The Elimination Diet

It seems like we cannot escape talk of “Elimination Diets” lately. So what’s the deal with them? Who needs them and what exactly are you supposed to eliminate?

Elimination diets are recommended for people trying to determine if something they are eating may be causing a so-called “leaky gut”. According to Amie Valpone, HHC, AADP, the Editor-in-Chief of, “toxins, stress, infections, poor diet and eating processed foods can lead to a leaky gut, a condition in which cells in the gut react to foods, chemicals and toxins in such a way that cause the bonds in our intestinal lining to break apart. When this happens, particles of food slide into your bloodstream, triggering an immune response, causing food sensitivities and inflammation.”

According to Amy Myers, MD, a renowned leader in Functional Medicine and New York Times Bestselling author of The Autoimmune Solution, the 9 signs you may have a leaky gut include:

1. Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

2. Seasonal allergies or asthma.

3. Hormonal imbalances such as PMS or PCOS.

4. Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, psoriasis, or celiac disease.

5. Diagnosis of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia.

6. Mood and mind issues such as depression, anxiety, ADD or ADHD.

7. Skin issues such as acne, rosacea, or eczema.

8. Diagnosis of candida overgrowth.

9. Food allergies or food intolerance.

Dr. Myers recommends that if you are suffering from any of the symptoms outlined above, you should try an elimination diet to remove “the bad” and replace with “the good”.

Now, before we continue to talk about the possible benefits of an elimination diet, we want to make it clear that a so-called “leaky gut” is an unproven theory purposed and supported largely by nutritionists and practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine. According to, a health website in the UK:

…some scientists and skeptics believe that people who promote “leaky gut syndrome” are either misguided and read too much into the theory, or are deliberately misleading the public to make money from the “treatments” they sell. The sorts of products sold online include diet books, nutritional supplements (containing probiotics, for example), gluten-free foods and other special diets, such as low sugar or anti fungal diets. These have not been proven to be beneficial for many of the conditions they are claimed to help.Some websites even promote various nutritional “treatments” for autism, despite conflicting evidence. A 2006 review explored the potential effect of manipulating the diet of people with autism, concluding that the dietary treatments were “cumbersome” and not proven to be effective. Generally, eliminating foods from the diet is not a good idea unless it’s strictly necessary (for example, if you have coeliac disease), as it can lead to nutritional deficiencies. 

So, now that you know this, PLEASE DO NOT TRY ANY SORT OF ELIMINATION DIETING WITHOUT CONSULTING YOUR DOCTOR. When it comes to nutrition, the studies are flawed. Health and wellness is a multi-billion dollar business so there will always be tons of bad eggs out there trying to convince you that you NEED them to help cure what ails you. even the MD’s quoted in this blog are making a living by selling books and services related to the need for an elimination diet.

That being said, removing processed food and identifying food sensitives may help you feel better…so if you are suffering from any of the symptoms listed above, it might be worth committing to an elimination diet (under the guidance of a medical doctor) to figure out what is causing your discomfort.

According to Robin Berzin, MD, at, the basic elimination diet is as simple as this:

No gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, fast food, or alcohol for 23 days.

Why 23 Days?

Antibodies, which are the proteins that your immune system makes when it reacts to foods, take around 21 to 23 days to turn over, so if you don’t quit things to which you’re sensitive for at least that time, you won’t get the full effect of eliminating them.

Why Booze?

Eliminating alcohol is partly for the detox factor. But alcohol also has a lot of sugar that helps things like yeast and harmful bacteria in your gut thrive. So when you eliminate alcohol, you may feel better in a few weeks, not just because of the absence of the sleep disruption and a depressant in your life, but because you’ve actually changed the flora in your gut that are critical to keeping you healthy!

Your diet should consist of:

  • 30% “clean” protein, i.e. organic, hormone-free, grass-fed, happy, lean beef, chicken, and wild fish and shellfish
  • 70% vegetables, legumes (think beans and lentils), nuts, seeds, seaweeds, and gluten-free grains like quinoa

On day 24, pick one thing you eliminated—like gluten, OR dairy, OR eggs—but not more than one, and eat it.

See how you feel over the next 48 hours. If you have no reaction after two days, eat that same food again, and for a second time, notice how you feel. From there, it’s up to you whether or not to re-incorporate that food into your diet on a regular basis.

Once you’ve made a call on the first food you reintroduce, pick another one and follow the same steps.

Now that you have all of the information, you should decide for yourself if an elimination diet is something worth investigating further.

Have any of our FIT readers tried an elimination diet before? How did you feel? Was it helpful? Let us know! We can’t wait to hear from you!



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