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Restrictive diets and food sensitivities
March 15th, 2021 + The Naturopathic Co.

Food intolerances and allergies are becoming more and more common and complex. Unfortunately for many patients, the only solution initially is a restrictive diet, as we aim to eliminate trigger foods.

I see so many patients who have a huge amount of anxiety around eating out. They regularly experience severe digestive symptoms that come on immediately after eating, and when eating out, they’re often triggered. Young women carrying Imodium around in their bags because they’re so concerned about getting symptoms after eating. Digestive symptoms can really affect quality of life.

Removing trigger foods is a really important first step that enables us to reduce any symptoms and inflammation. However, we shouldn’t just restrict the diet ongoing. It’s not realistic, and it’s not effective in treating the underlying problem. The most important next step is to work to improve gut health and increase tolerance.

Avoiding dietary triggers can offer relief, an overly restrictive diet can produce further complications to digestive health long-term. Many of the commonly eliminated foods in these kinds of diets are important to maintain healthy diversity of the gut microbiome (particularly FODMAPS foods).

Therefore, long term dietary restrictions can end up worsening gut health for the patient. Elimination should only be the first step to a broader treatment for food allergies.

The naturopathic treatment aims

  • Identify and remove dietary triggers (short-medium term).
  • Reduce gastric inflammation and mediate allergic response.
  • Restore healthy balance in the microbiota.
  • Facilitate regular bowel movements.
  • Gentle digestive enzymatic support if required.
  • Heal the gut lining.

Addressing microbial disturbance, correcting digestive function of enzyme secretion, restoring diversity in beneficial gut bacteria, and healing the gut lining are all important factors in addressing food sensitivities.

Chronic adherence to restrictive diets has been shown to deplete bacterial species in the microbiome and negatively impact digestive health. While such diets are beneficial to produce therapeutic gains in the short-term, they should be viewed as acute interventions and not lifelong diets. Unfortunately, many patients do not understand this and persist with such diets for too long, which negatively affects microbiome health and gut function.  When treatments for food intolerance move beyond avoidance and address the underlying functional disturbance within the gut, then long-term improvements can be seen.

If you suffer from food sensitivities and ongoing digestive symptoms, make a time to see our South Yarra naturopath, Camberwell naturopath, or speak to us online via zoom.

Yvette is a qualified Melbourne-based Naturopath and Nutritionist, MINDD Practitioner, member of the Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia, and Complementary Medicine Association. Yvette specialises in the treatment of digestive complaints, skin issues, mood disorders, hormonal concerns, fatigue, and also has a key interest in children’s digestive and neurological conditions. Yvette consults in South Yarra, Camberwell, and Australia-wide via Zoom. Book HERE


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