MYTH: Elimination diets are a bad idea because they can cause nutrient deficiencies
MYTH BUSTED: Elimination diets do not result in nutrient deficiencies when guided by qualified
Nutritional Therapists. They are powerful tools for identifying the root cause of many health complaints. The main concern leveled against elimination diets (and the Therapists who advise them) comes from erroneously conflating Public Nutrition Policy with Personalised Nutrition Advice. Public policy must operate on a lowest common denominator approach as it seeks to supply generic healthcare guidelines to a nation, therefore it must avoid complicated instruction lest it be misconstrued and wrongly applied by sections of the population to their own detriment.
Personalised Nutrition advice is very different from Public Policy and operates in a different context where an individual is actively engaged with a qualified Nutritional Therapist and diet changes are monitored for their effect and changed to suit the personal circumstances and level of understanding of the individual.
Short term restrictions of food groups are often employed to help determine food intolerances or the root cause of digestive complaints so that a remediation program can be put in place. Nutrient deficiencies do not arise as a result of short term diet restriction.
Medium to long term diet restrictions may also be advised in certain circumstances, for example where a person reports feeling better whilst avoiding certain foods, or where damage to ones digestive system takes time to resolve.
In these cases diets are easily recreated to ensure adequate supply of key macro and micro nutrients despite eliminating certain food groups. In the event that a suitable diet cannot be implemented, for example due to food reactions, or personal preference, temporary courses of nutritional supplements can be employed as extra insurance. Such fine tuned advice is not possible to issue to the public at large and is thus one of the key strengths of personalized Nutrition Therapy carried out under the guidance of a fully qualified practitioner, such as those listed on the NTOI website.
The most common criticisms of exclusion diets relate to wheat and dairy. Wheat and dairy comprise the lion’s share of the world’s most allergenic foods and are thus commonly excluded…often indefinitely.
For sure much of this advice is based on fad reasoning or simple popularity, but much is also necessary, thus navigating this complex field should ideally be done under professional guidance.
For every food excluded there are numerous alternative common foods available to replace them and supply the ‘missing’ nutrition.
For example dairy supplies most people with their RDA of calcium, but if it needs to be excluded then all green vegetables, nuts, fish, bones and meat can be used to supply the difference.
The main concern with excluding wheat is the potential deficit it may cause for carbohydrate in general and B vitamins specifically, but also fiber.
All of these nutrients are easily found in a range of other foods, for example potatoes and bananas supply lots of carbohydrate, beans supply B vitamins and fiber, organ meats, even in small amounts supply ample B vitamins, all vegetables supply some fiber, some B vitamins and some carbohydrate.
Sections of the public may not be aware of this thus exclusion diets promoted to the public at large may well be a bad idea, but under the guidance of a professional Nutritional Therapist they are a very powerful healing tool.