It should be no secret by now that what you eat affects your health. We are bombarded daily by information coming from all angles on what the best diet is. “You should eat Paleo like our ancestors, no wait raw vegan is the best, eggs are bad, wait eggs are good, gluten is the devil” and on and on. Honestly it can be exhausting keeping up with it all!
If we just stop and take a deep breath and really think about it in a rational manner you have to realize that there can’t be just one good way to eat. We are all so different in so many ways that trying to stick everyone in one category is ridiculous. Depending on what our genetics are, nationality, the state of our gut, our health history and so many other variables will drastically affect which foods we are better eating and those we should avoid.
Food is medicine
What you eat day in and day out is either beneficial to your body in some way or it isn’t. There is no way around that and that’s why it is so important that you figure out how to eat right for your body. In all my years of working as a Functional Medicine Practitioner (even before I knew that’s what I was doing) I have seen many diets come and go in popularity. I personally tend to recommend more moderate approaches to eating as I have seen the more drastic diets that people put themselves on ultimately causing harm.
Let’s think for a minute about why we eat food anyway. Sure it’s a social thing now but the real reason we eat food is to provide our bodies with fuel. The problem is that over the years we have drastically changed the quality of the fuel we are using. We have added things to it that make it more addictive and prettier and longer lasting. We have altered the crops so they are easier to grow and repel bugs and we can grow them cheaper. While some people see this as great advancement in agriculture it is actually killing us. We actually have less nutritious food than ever before. Doesn’t that seem so crazy? We have ended up depleting our soil and altering the food so much that the food our grandparents ate is not at all like what we are eating now. In one study they looked at 43 different foods from the 1950s compared to those foods in the 90s and there were significant declines in 6 different nutrients including protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin and ascorbic acid. That was in the 90s! Can you imagine what it’s like now? There is a lot of discussion on why this is but ultimately it doesn’t matter why, the fact is that we are not getting the nutrition from our food that we used to so we have to make up for that somehow.
The Standard American Diet (SAD) includes way less fruits and vegetables and includes more processed and packaged food than we have eaten in the past also. It would be crazy for us to think we can be healthy and symptom free while eating the junk that most people are eating these days. If you are at all interested in being the best and healthiest version of yourself you must avoid the Standard American Diet and please please do not go by the USDA Food Pyramid!
With almost all of our Functional Medicine patients we recommend starting out on an Elimination Diet. Especially if you are dealing with any of the following issues:
Autoimmune Disease of any kind
Weight gain or loss
Skin rashes or acne
Chronic Pain anywhere in the body
Moodiness or emotional imbalances
This is a great way to customize and discover exactly what your optimal lifelong food plan should be. Most people hear Elimination Diet and think oh no, this is going to be so hard! It has such a negative connotation. I say we rename the diet and call it the Eliminate your Symptoms Diet!
The Elimination Diet allows us to discover your specific food triggers and it also helps you to become more aware of how certain foods affect the way you feel physically as well as emotionally.
It naturally reduces inflammation because food triggers create a low grade inflammatory response in the gut which leads to the commonly discussed leaky gut syndrome.
Another benefit is that many of the allowed foods are actually anti-inflammatory and can be beneficial for helping the lining of the gut to heal. Healing the gut ultimately leads to strengthening the immune system because 70% of your immune system is clustered around the gut.
The Elimination Diet is naturally high in phytonutrients and automatically reduces the amount of toxins we are taking in as it promotes natural, cleaner eating.
So how does it work?
It’s a 3 week program where you eliminate the most common reactive foods from your diet. After the 3 weeks is up you gradually work to slowly reintroduce one food at a time that was eliminated and look to see how your body reacts.
The foods that you eliminate are:
Coffee, Soft drinks, tea
Grains that contain Gluten
Soy and Soy products
Ok don’t freak out. We get it, it looks like you can’t eat anything but let’s look at that you can eat!
Foods to Include:
Fruits (only specific ones listed)
Gluten free whole grains
Legumes (except soy and peanuts)
And remember it’s only for 3 weeks! IFM (Institute for Functional Medicine) has created a wonderful Comprehensive Guide and Food Plan that explains it and gives great guidance on how to complete the diet. Click here and we can email you a copy!
It really is the best way to completely customize an eating plan just for you that promotes optimal health!
Now when we are typically doing this with patients we do this as part of a whole program. So we are having them go through the Elimination Diet while we are looking at other possible root causes of their fatigue or anxiety or hormonal imbalances. Sometimes though the changes in diet make such a drastic difference that they feel great after just doing this one thing!
Anytime someone is experiencing food intolerances you need to look at gut repair as another thing to focus on. Eliminating the foods that are not agreeing with the body is a great first step but going deeper and giving the body supplements for repair can make lasting health changes too. It's not uncommon for people to do the Elimination Diet, eliminate the foods causing them issues while we repair the gut that then they can actually tolerate foods that they weren’t able to before.
We hope that you can use this information to get you on your path to wellness. Sure it’s challenging but it’s worth it, you are worth it! What if 6 weeks from now you were experiencing more energy, less digestive issues, less anxiety and a clearer mind just by changing your food? No more excuses! Give it a shot and I promise you will have significant positive changes in your health!
If you're interested in working with a Functional Medicine Practitioner online we would love for you to set up a free 20 minute consultation where we can talk with you specifically about how we can help you live your healthiest, happiest life. The consultation can be done over the phone from anywhere in the U.S. or in our office in Grayton Beach Florida. Give us a call to schedule 850.231.6000 or you can book online. Just make sure to book the "Free 20 Minute Phone Consult" and enter the best number for us to call at your selected time.