To Eat or Not to Eat: The Facts Behind Elimination Diets

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Elimination diets are all the rage. Who knew the idea of giving up certain foods could gain such traction? But the phenomenon of cutting out a certain food or group of foods to cure a symptom has grown significantly in popularity as of late. Even though people continue to give up gluten, dairy, sugar, nuts, soy, and alcohol at the ready, some doctors still aren’t wholly convinced.

The Wall Street Journal published a piece on the elimination diet craze Wednesday and explained how many people turn to the idea when they have an annoying symptom, such as headaches, skin irritation, joint pain, or digestive problems, but don’t think a doctor’s visit is warranted. They believe cutting out certain foods may help, so they completely avoid a food group or a number of food groups for a few weeks, and then reintroduce each food one by one back into their diet, testing the body’s response. They believe that this way allows them to determine which food is causing their symptoms, and then they can work on avoiding that food long-term in the future.

It makes sense, except many doctors maintain that it’s not that simple, because as highlighted by The Wall Street Journalthere is still a lot to be learned about gut health, and there is little science to prove that the practice of an elimination diet and an improvement in symptoms is directly related. Some doctors believe that the diets simply force consumers to eat healthier, cutting out processed foods, and that’s why they feel better.

Still, many consumers are convinced about the effectiveness of the diets, and The Wall Street Journal highlighted Amanda Deming, a 35-year-old mother and legal assistant, as one of them. After suffering stomach cramps and intestinal issues for years, she tried Whole 30 — a plan where gluten, dairy, sugar and sweeteners, white potatoes, alcohol, legumes and grains, are eliminated — and reported that within two weeks of her new diet, her stomach felt significantly better.

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