Eliminate the Foods That Ail You

By Scott J. Banks, Joe Kraynak, J. J. Virgin

Fewer than ten foods are responsible for triggering most cases of inflammation and numerous autoimmune disorders in humans: wheat, soy, dairy, sugar, corn, eggs, peanuts, artificial sweeteners, and trans fats. To find out whether any of the items on this list ails you, get tested for food allergies and sensitivities or perform a modified elimination diet. The table lists the most common culprits to test.

Performing a Modified Elimination Diet
Category Include These Foods Exclude These Foods
Fruits Fresh or unsweetened frozen fruits, unsweetened fruit juices,
avocado
Oranges, orange juice, dried fruit
Vegetables Raw, fresh, steamed, sautéed, juiced, or roasted
vegetables, sweet potatoes, and yams
Corn, creamed vegetables
If you have arthritis, also exclude nightshade vegetables and
spices made from those vegetables: tomatoes, white potatoes,
eggplants, peppers, paprika, salsa, chili peppers, cayenne, and
chili powder
Starch, bread, cereal Rice, millet, quinoa, amaranth, teff, tapioca, buckwheat,
gluten‐free oats processed in a plant that doesn’t
process wheat
Wheat, barley, spelt, khorasan, rye, triticale
Legumes Any beans, lentils, peas, and hummus not listed in the
“Exclude” column
Soybeans, tofu, tempeh, soy milk, soy sauce, edamame, other soy
products
Nuts and seeds Almonds, cashews, walnuts, Brazil nuts, sesame seeds (tahini),
sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds; butters made from these
nuts; seeds that do not contain added ingredients
Peanuts, peanut butter
Meat and fish All canned (water‐packed), fresh, or frozen
low‐mercury fish; wild game; pastured, hormone‐free,
antibiotic‐free chicken, turkey, and grass‐fed
lamb
Beef, pork, cold cuts, frankfurters, sausage, canned meats,
eggs, shellfish
Dairy Rice, hemp, almond, or coconut milk — all unsweetened and
without soy
Milk from animals; products made from milk or cream (cheese,
cottage cheese, cream, yogurt, butter, ice cream, frozen yogurt);
non‐dairy creamers
Fats For cooking: Coconut
oil, palm oil, ghee,
cold‐pressed olive oil
No heat: Flax, safflower, sunflower, sesame, walnut,
pumpkin, and almond oils
Margarine, butter, shortening, processed (hydrogenated)
oils
Beverages Filtered or distilled water, herbal tea, seltzer, or mineral
water
Soda, soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, coffee, nonherbal tea,
other sweetened or caffeinated beverages
Herbs, spices, and condiments Vinegar, any spices not listed in the “Exclude”
column
Chocolate, ketchup, mustard, relish, chutney, soy sauce,
teriyaki, tamari, Worcestershire sauce, mayonnaise, and sandwich
spreads

You can do an elimination diet in a couple of different ways.

  • Remove a suspect food from your diet for 28 days. If you feel better without it, you can eliminate that food from your diet for good, reintroduce it to see whether it really does cause problems, or get tested to confirm or rule out your suspicions. If you notice no difference whether you eat or abstain from eating the food, you can add it back into your diet.

  • Eliminate for 28 days foods that are most likely to cause problems and then slowly re‐introduce them, one every two to three weeks, until your symptoms return. Then eliminate any food(s) that triggered symptoms.

Don’t eat even a small amount of the food you’re testing for the entire duration of the 28‐day period. If you’re allergic to that food and you eat even a small amount, the antibodies to that food remain elevated in your system, and you may not notice an improvement in symptoms, defeating the purpose of the elimination diet.