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Saying No to the Junk: Implementing an Elimination Diet

Saying No to the Junk: Implementing an Elimination Diet

Learn how to implement and elimination diet and why it may help your fertility.

Learn how to implement an elimination diet and why it may help your fertility.

If you have been researching natural ways to boost fertility for long, you have likely come up against a wealth of information on food intolerances and how they can contribute to various ailments within the body, including infertility. Studies have shown that allergies to food can inhibit sperm production, prevent implantation, and even increase the risk of miscarriages. This is because an overactive immune system, which can be triggered by those food intolerances, can actually cause the body to attack itself – making conception much more difficult when you are eating food that your body simply doesn’t agree with.

The problem, for many people, is that they simply don’t realize what their food intolerances are, or they may not think they have any at all. An interesting thing about the human condition is that we have a way of adapting, and when you have been eating foods your entire life that make you sick, it becomes easy to ignore the signs and symptoms as simply being a part of your “normal”.

Because of this ability to adapt, elimination diets are sometimes the only way to pinpoint the foods which could be negatively affecting your body. In other words, sometimes you have to give something up, before you can realize just how bad it really is for you.

How Elimination Diets Work

The goal of an elimination diet is to cut out any foods which could be contributing to a less than optimal state of being. Elimination periods may depend on the level of suspected sensitivity to certain foods, but should generally last at least two to four weeks. It is during this time period that your body and gut will be allowed to heal from the years of continuous onslaught of foods you are sensitive to.

Once the elimination period is complete, you will begin to reintroduce the foods you have eliminated. This should be done with one food item at a time, allowing at least three days in between new introductions so that you can gauge any potential symptoms which may appear. When symptoms are recognized, you should eliminate the food once more and wait five days before introducing another food item. In some cases, you may want to reintroduce the offending food item again several weeks down the line, simply to verify that the symptoms you experienced were, in fact, associated with that food item, rather than appearing by random coincidence due to some other illness.

Symptoms of food sensitivities may include anything from fatigue and memory issues, to joint pain, heartburn or sinus congestion. It includes anything that wouldn’t be your typical norm and that deviates from the relative health you were otherwise feeling during the elimination period.

People often think of food allergies only in the realm of stomach issues or rashes, but there can be symptoms which exceed far beyond those obvious signs. The beauty is that after removing these foods from your diet for a set period of time and allowing your body to heal, you are more primed to recognize the less pervasive symptoms than you would have before. And recognizing those symptoms can help you to identify foods you should be avoiding in the future, not just for optimal fertility, but also for optimal health.

Choosing Which Foods to Eliminate

When participating in an elimination diet, it is always a good idea to eliminate those foods which are known to be top allergens first. These can include gluten, dairy, soy, wheat, eggs, corn, pork, beef, caffeine, chicken, beans, citrus fruits and nuts. It sounds like a lot of food, and requires you to live a mostly clean and whole-foods diet during the elimination period, but there are plenty of recipe books and lists online that can help you to still create a balanced and delicious meal plan which adheres to your current restrictions.

Even beyond the basic allergens, it can be helpful to consider some of your own known or potential allergens. If you have a family history of allergies to garlic, for instance, that might be something you should consider eliminating. In general, the more foods you eliminate, the better, as this will give you the most complete picture of what foods you can safely eat, and which ones may be causing issues for you.

Seeking the Guidance of a Professional

In many cases, visiting a doctor or naturopath ahead of time to have allergy testing done can provide you with the best list of possible allergens to eliminate. These professionals can also help you to devise an elimination diet plan, even mapping out how long to eliminate certain food groups, and which foods to introduce first. If you keep notes of your reintroduction experiences, your doctor or naturopath can further help you to decipher the symptoms you may have been experiencing, and decide which foods are worth attempting again in the future.


Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN
Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN

Dr. Traxler is a University-trained obstetrician/gynecologist, working with patients in Minnesota for over 20 years. She is a professional medical writer; having authored multiple books on pregnancy and childbirth; textbooks and coursework for medical students and other healthcare providers; and has written over 1000 articles on medical, health, and wellness topics.  Dr. Traxler attended the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences and University of Minnesota Medical School,  earning a degree in biochemistry with summa cum laude honors in 1981,  and receiving her Medical Doctorate degree (MD) in 1986.

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