10 Compelling Reasons To Try An Elimination Diet
William Cole, DC, a functional medicine practitioner, is an expert at identifying the underlying factors of chronic conditions and offering natural, holistic approaches to optimal health. This week, we're thrilled to share his series on the elimination diet and how it can improve your overall well-being. To learn more, check out his new course, The Elimination Diet: A 60-Day Protocol to Uncover Food Intolerances, Heal the Gut, and Feel Amazing.
Paleo, vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, macrobiotic, vegetarian, pescatarian, ketogenic, Mediterranean ... it can be overwhelming trying to find the right way to eat. And with all the contradicting information online, it can make us feel anxious or apathetic about doing anything at all.
So what do I recommend? In all my years as a functional medicine practitioner, I've never seen anything do as much for people's health as the elimination diet.
In functional medicine, the elimination diet is seen as the gold standard for creating a sustainable food-as-medicine plan for life. The diet involves removing specific foods that are most likely to cause you problems for a few weeks, and focusing instead on eating real, nutritious foods. Not only will you help heal your body, but you'll realize what foods are contributing to health issues.
I've done this protocol myself and saw amazing results in my own health. I discovered increased energy, better digestion, deeper sleep, clearer skin, and I finally felt like myself again.
If you're considering doing the elimination diet for yourself, here are 10 benefits you should know about:
1. Calm inflammation.
Many chronic health problems, from weight gain to fatigue, involve one commonality: inflammation.
So if you want to be your healthiest, you need to manage inflammation. An elimination diet, by taking out triggering foods, gives your body a chance to calm inflammation in your body.
2. Boost your energy.
Do you have trouble waking up in the morning, feel tired during the day, or get that energy crash in the afternoon?
By removing the most common foods that irritate the body for at least 60 days, you'll give your brain and energy levels a chance to work at optimal capacity. Think of it as a spa day for your insides.
3. Pinpoint your food intolerances.
Do you notice you don't feel as well when you eat certain foods? Maybe you're bloated or fatigued after a meal, or you have brain fog after eating out but don't know what caused it.
With the elimination diet, there's no more second-guessing about which foods make you feel lousy. During the reintroduction phase, you'll bring back the foods you eliminated one by one, so you notice exactly what foods don't agree with your system.
4. Find out the foods that work for your body.
In addition to finding out which foods don't serve you, you'll also discover which ones make you feel great. That's because during the elimination diet you'll be focusing on the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. And who doesn't want to feel great?
5. Create a food plan that works just for you.
We are all beautifully different. What foods work best for me may not be right for you. In fact, I've seen the healthiest foods heal some people and cause issues in others!
The elimination diet allows you to know definitively which foods work for your body and which foods do not. You'll be able to design a food-as-medicine plan fit just for you.
6. Start healing your gut.
"All disease begins in the gut," Hippocrates, the father of medicine, said thousands of years ago. Today, science is catching up, with research now suggesting that the majority of chronic health problems have at least a gut component to them.
One of the top benefits of the elimination diet is starting the gut-healing process. By removing the top gut damagers and focusing on gut-healing foods, you'll begin the process of reversing underlying gut problems like leaky gut syndrome.
7. Boost your immune system.
During the elimination diet, you'll remove the top foods that can flare up your immune system. This helps strengthen your system, which is essential, whether you find yourself often getting run down with colds or you're struggling with autoimmune problems.
8. Decrease intake of processed foods.
We all know we shouldn't be eating processed junk foods, which are devoid of nutrients and feed health problems of all kinds.
An elimination diet is your chance to jump-start clean eating. It's a clear, easy plan to help you focus on real, healing foods.
9. Give your body some TLC.
The elimination diet has nothing to do with "dieting." Dieting is a dead, unsustainable relationship with food. Instead of punishing your body with yet another diet, focus on healing your body with your meals.
Eliminating foods that often cause people problems is not meant to prevent you from eating delicious foods. It's designed to identify which foods are not working for you.
Rarely have I met someone who consistently loves a food more than they love feeling great. The elimination diet is a chance to give your body a break and nourish it with yummy food medicine.
10. Become more mindful of the foods you eat.
Are you an emotional or compulsive eater? Do your body a favor and end starvation diets and fad diets. Your body exists as a result of myriad physiological factors that need to be nourished with good, healthy food. Your body needs those nutrients to function the way it was intended.
Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, D.C., is a leading functional medicine expert who consults people around the globe, starting one of the first functional medicine telehealth centers in the world. Named one of the top 50 functional and integrative doctors in the nation, Dr. Will Cole provides a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. He is the host of the popular The Art Of Being Well podcast and the New York Times bestselling author of Intuitive Fasting, Ketotarian,The Inflammation Spectrum, and the brand new book Gut Feelings: Healing the Shame-Fueled Relationship Between What You Eat and How You Feel.