There are 6 common food sensitivities that people are unaware of. We may have them and not even be aware of them. They can cause chronic low grade inflammation that leads to unexplained body aches, joint pain, arthritic symptoms, symptoms consistent with fibromyalgia, sinusitis, unexplained skin rashes, eczema, rosacea, irritable bowel syndrome, unexplained nausea, and many other chronic conditions. When you are unsure if you have food sensitivities, I recommend food allergy testing with an ND, but for some it is cost prohibitive because insurance doesn't cover the blood test. So, here is an easy to do elimination diet that takes out the 6 most common food sensitivities. These 6 foods are a good place to start.
These foods include: Dairy, Gluten (and Wheat Products), Soy, Corn, Peanuts, and Eggs.
This diet occurs in 2 phases. The first phase is the elimination phase. The second phase I will call the Reintroducing phase.
For 2 weeks, avoid all 6 of these foods completely. It is not uncommon to start to feel some general malaise around days 2-4 of the elimination as your body processes out any toxicity from these foods. You're body is detoxing and trying to heal itself. It may also be having some withdrawals from these foods. This can show up as extreme cravings, muscle pain, diarrhea, nausea, etc. In the natural health world, we call this a "healing crisis." Strive forward. It will pass in a couple of days, and it will be worth it.
The key to this diet is to make sure that you avoid all package foods that include these ingredients. Look for labels marked "gluten free", but also be aware there are other names for gluten out there. Here is a link for some common sources of gluten: https://celiac.org/live-gluten-free/glutenfreediet/sources-of-gluten/.
Dairy elimination includes all dairy foods including cheese, ice cream, yogurt, etc. However, it is important to eliminate food with casein (dairy protein) in it, as well as removing foods sweetened with lactose and popular protein shakes that include whey (another dairy based protein). For more information on dairy elimination, please see the following link: http://www.healthline.com/health/allergies/casein.
Soy and corn are much more complicated to avoid. These two foods are in nearly every processed food available in the American supermarket. From things as simple as High Fructose Corn Syrup to the more complicated unknown ingredients of Fructose or Vinegar (most vinegars in ketchup and other condiments are made from corn), corn can be found in most things. For a list of foods containing corn see this link: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/childrens-hospital/nutrition/corn-free.aspx
For soy, it is not as complicated. Many labels will warn you if an item contains soy, but not necessarily if it contains corn. Tofu, edamame, and TVP (textured vegetable protein) are the primary protein in many vegetarian foods. If you must eat processed foods here is more information on soy: https://www.foodallergy.org/allergens/soy-allergy.
Finally, we need to eliminate eggs and peanuts. Thankfully, many of our labels tell us if these ingredients are in the food. When there is an allergen present, the label usually reads: "Contains: soy, nuts, eggs, dairy." I think corn is the only ingredient not on that list, so for us in the 21st century, label reading is more simplistic, but you'll need to be a label sleuth. That means you are going to have to investigate every single label you see, or better yet, avoid food with a labels all together if you can during the elimination diet. That will make it easier on you.
After 14 days, we enter the reintroduction phase of our elimination diet. This is where we are going to introduce small amounts of these foods into your diet to see if you have a sensitivity. On day 15 you're going to have a little bit of dairy at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This can be cheese, yogurt, a cup of milk, etc. Do not consume any dairy on day 16 and 17. That's the waiting period to see how your body responds to the reintroduction of this food. Make a note of anything you notice whether it is nausea, post-nasal drip, gas and bloating, coughing up phlegm, drainage, diarrhea, etc. This is your clue that you have a dairy sensitivity.
On day 18 you're going to consume a little bit of gluten with all 3 meals. This can be bread, baked goods, or anything containing wheat. Wait day 19-20 and record any reaction that you notice. Make a not of any of the above symptoms including gas and bloating, body aches, joint pain, etc.
Continue this regiment until you have reintroduced all the above allergens making sure to note any symptoms during the 2 day waiting period after consuming the foods you eliminated.
By the end of the elimination diet, you should have a pretty good idea about the foods you are sensitive to. These are the foods you want to avoid from here on out. They are a big cause of your discomfort and pain.
Food is medicine. It can make you sick or it can heal you. I hope that this information helps you start to get to the root of your illnesses instead of just treating the symptoms. It has been my experience in the nearly 15 years that I have been working in the natural medicine field, that we can resolve a lot of our body's complaints through diet and exercise. If you want more details about your food sensitivities or undiagnosed food allergies, please make an appointment with your N.D. or other natural health primary care provider.