by Dr. Will Cole
William Cole, leading 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, pescaterian, ketogenic, Mediterranean….it can be overwhelming trying to find the right way to eat, and with all the contradicting information out there, how do you even know what’s true, let alone best for you? It’s enough to make a person give up and go through the drive-through.
But wait….don’t order that mega-meal just yet! There is a way to determine the right diet for you, personally, so you can cut through all the media hype and finally eat in a way that builds your health instead of tearing it down. 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 the gold standard for discovering the foods that don’t agree with you as well as the foods that make you feel awesome. The information you will get from an elimination diet is exactly the information you need to create a sustainable food-as-medicine plan for your life.
What is an elimination diet? It is a process of removing specific foods that are most likely to cause problems. Live without those commonly reactive foods for 8 weeks, and focus instead on eating the highest quality anti-inflammatory whole foods, which are specified in the diet. Don’t worry – you have plenty of delicious options.
After eight weeks, you will reintroduce the foods you have eliminated, one by one, to test yourself for reactivity and symptom recurrence. This will show you exactly which foods don’t work for you (even if they work for someone else), and which foods actually make you feel awesome.
I’ve done the elimination diet 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.
But while the primary purpose of an elimination diet is to discover your food intolerances, it can do much more for you. If you’re considering doing the elimination diet for yourself, here are 10 benefits you should know about that might surprise you:
1. You will calm inflammation.
Many chronic health problems, from weight gain to fatigue, involve one commonality: inflammation. Because it removes all commonly inflammatory foods, an elimination diet gives your body a chance to calm inflammation. You will be able to feel the difference.
2. You will experience increased energy.
Do you have trouble waking up in the morning, feel tired during the day, or get that common (but not normal) energy crash in the afternoon? When inflammation goes down because of your improved anti-inflammatory diet, your brain will begin working better, and you will feel your energy surging back. It’s like a reinvigorating spa day for your insides.
3. You will pinpoint your food intolerances.
You may already suspect certain foods don’t agree with you, or maybe you just notice that sometimes you get bloated, fatigued, or experience brain fog after a meal. With the elimination diet, there’s no more second-guessing about which foods make you feel lousy. You’ll find out for sure through the reintroduction process.
4. You will pinpoint your body’s favorite foods.
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 with reintroduction you will also discover which foods don’t cause reactions.
5. You will create a customized food plan that works for you.
The foods that work best for you may not be right for someone else, and in fact, I’ve seen the healthiest foods heal some people and cause issues in others who simply can’t tolerate them. The elimination diet allows you to know definitively which foods work for your body and which foods do not. Once you have this invaluable intel, you’ll be able to design a food-as-medicine plan that is right for totally unique you.
6. You will begin to heal 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 level of gut component to them. By removing the top gut damagers and focusing on gut-healing foods, you’ll begin the process of reversing underlying gut problems you may not even know you have, such as leaky gut syndrome.
7. You will give your immune system a boost.
Just an inflammatory foods can aggravate your gut, they can also put a damper on your immune system. The anti-inflammatory foods you will enjoy during the elimination diet will do just the opposite, helping to strengthen rather than impede your immunity, which is essential, whether you find yourself often getting run down with colds or you’re struggling with autoimmune problems.
8. You will decrease your intake of processed foods.
You know you shouldn’t, and yet, it’s difficult to quit eating processed junk foods that have been formulated to be addictive to your tastebuds. Of course you also know they are mostly, devoid of nutrients and feed health problems of all kinds, so this is your chance to kick them to the curb by jump-starting your commitment to clean eating.
9. You will give your body some (much needed) TLC.
An elimination diet is all about self-care, not “dieting.” Dieting in its traditional sense of deprivation for weight loss represents a dead, unsustainable relationship with food. Instead of punishing your body with yet another diet, focus on healing your body with your meals, and that is going to make you feel nurtured and replenished. 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. You will become more mindful of the foods you choose to 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 a myriad of physiological factors that need to be nourished with good, healthy food. Your body needs those nutrients to function the way it was intended. Purposefully choosing foods that feed your body’s needs and paying attention to the quality, taste, texture, and nourishing energy in each bite will make every meal a Zen experience.
If you want to learn more about your own health case please check out our free health evaluation. We offer in person as well as phone and webcam consultations for people across the country and around the world.
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.
Our articles may include products that have been independently chosen and recommended by Dr. Will Cole and our editors. If you purchase something mentioned in this article, we may earn a small commission.