A 5-minute-read introduction to the Body Ecology Diet

I’ve been experiencing very bad gut/stomach problems since August 2015 and for the first 4 months no doctor was able to help me. They would just give me pills to treat the symptoms, without any further investigation into my eating habits. I was feeling lost. I know how important the connection between what you eat and how you feel is, but couldn’t find a doctor who shared this view in Melbourne—what the hell?

Luckily I’ve found an “integrative doctor”, who approaches every patient/problem from a holistic perspective. In fact, the first thing she did was put me on a new diet that helps treating severe gut disorders such as Candidasis (also called yeast overgrowth, or just Candida) which appears to be my problem (although I’m still waiting for test results).

This new diet is called Body Ecology Diet, and it’s all about restoring the “body ecology”, i.e. making sure the good, friendly bacteria we have in our digestive system are doing their work and growing well, and that the number of bacteria that may become harmful to us if overgrowing are kept under control. Just like we do with our garden.

Cultured vegetables body ecology diet
Cultured vegetables are one of the key elements of the Body Ecology Diet.

The whole focus is on making sure we create the perfect environment for the friendly bacteria to grow. Why? Because the bacteria in our stomach and intestine help us digest food and assimilate nutrients and minerals that we need. If we don’t have enough of these, and the “bad” ones are growing exponentially, our immune system is weakened and we may experience all sorts of symptoms, from nausea and heartburn to vaginal thrush and depression (yes—depression! The gut has an extremely strong connection with our brain and mood).

So if you have candida, or irritable bowel syndrome, or other problems with the digestive trait, and find that medications alone don’t work—that’s because you have to literally “starve” the yeast and other bad bacteria in your body. If you keep eating foods that feed yeast, it will keep reproducing and grow more and more, surrounding your organs and increasingly weakening your immune system. You have to be aware of the foods that feed yeast and completely forget they even exist until you’ve recovered (and even then, you should consume those in moderation).

So how does the Body Ecology Diet work? It doesn’t really have too many rules, but they are strict, and need to become part of your everyday routine.

body ecology diet food combining
The food combining rules of the Body Ecology Diet.
  1. Only eat foods that don’t feed yeast. These are: vegetables, land and ocean (with a few exceptions, like potatoes), meat, fish, eggs, and only the following 4 “grains”: quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, and millet. All the rest—sugar, wheat, flours, nuts (except for almonds, but soak them for 12 hours first), alcohol and basically anything that’s not on the list above is forbidden as it feeds the yeast. Fruits are not allowed, although you can have cranberry or blackcurrant juice in the morning with an empty stomach.
  2. Follow the food combination rules to ensure optimal digestion. The rules are:
    1. 80/20 proportion. 80% of your meals should always be vegetables (land or ocean), and 20% should be either animal protein or starchy vegetables (squash, red skin potatoes, pumpkin) or a BED grain.
    2. Always combine animal protein with land/ocean vegetables.
    3. Always combine starchy vegetables with land/ocean vegetables.
    4. Always combine BED grains with land/ocean vegetables.
    5. Never combine animal protein with BED grains.
    6. Never combine animal protein with starchy vegetables.
  3. Introduce friendly bacteria in your gut with fermented food/drinks. This point is key to success. Fermented foods and drinks naturally contain living bacteria that help with digestion. We’re talking about cultured vegetables (not the ones you find in the supermarket. Forget about those. It’s very easy to make your own!), apple cider vinegar (perfect for seasoning salads and steamed vegetables) and young coconut kefir or milk kefir (if you can tolerate it). Start every morning with half cup coconut kefir mixed with blackcurrant juice (stimulates appetite and is good if you have stomach problems) or cranberry juice, and always have a half cup of cultured vegetables with your meal (especially if you’re having animal proteins).

According to the book, the first stage of the diet lasts about 3 months (but it’s worth remembering that we’re all very special unique snowflakes and some of us might need more time). During these 3 months you’ll be starving the yeast and, as these bacteria die, they’ll release toxins that may cause the so-called Horxheimer effect. This means your symptoms may get worse as the body is doing its best to get rid of all the toxins. I know it feels very bad, but it’s actually a good sign! Cleansing always requires a bit of a mess at the start – just like when you want to spring-clean your living room and you start moving furniture around… But after a lot of hard work, the end result looks and feels great!

Got the gist? This is just an introduction of course, and I’ll be covering all the key points of the diet more in depth in the next posts. In the meantime, here’s a few links that may help you decide if the Body Ecology Diet is right for you:

The Body Ecology Diet website heaps of tips and recipes
The Body Ecology Diet book – a highly recommended read!
How to make your own cultured vegetables it’s easier than it sounds.


The joys of learning

Wether it’s a new skill, a recipe, a way of cutting paper, a theory of the world and its mysteries—learning sums up what I love doing pretty well. It’s also one of those inevitable things that just “happen”: we all know how the saying goes – “You learn something every day”. That’s probably not 100% true, but I’d say a good 80% is true – and 80% is a lot!

The thing with learning though, is you might learn something and waste the new knowledge by not putting it into good use. Us humans, we are forgetful beings (some more than others). But hey, knowledge is power [link]! So how do we avoid wasting our newly-acquired power? I believe there’s two ways. You can do both things, or at least one of the two:

  1. Do something about it. Today you’ve learned that coffee creates an acid condition in your body, and should be avoided when you have a digestion problem – like the one you’re experiencing now? Then don’t have coffee. Or you learned that the best way to get started with meditation is spending at least 10 minutes of your day focusing on the quality of your breath? Well then find those 10 minutes today, maybe before going to bed (instead of playing Candy Crush on your phone after turning off the lights!).
  2. Share what you’ve learned with someone. Sharing makes everyone happy. Do you know anyone who could benefit from what you’ve learned today? Maybe you’ve read an article about a new regulation or law that might help a friend solve an issue. Or maybe that cool photography tutorial is just what your husband is looking for to get better at his new hobby. Or maybe what you’ve learned today is just a silly dad joke, and you want to share it with someone just to make them laugh. And this way, you’ll know that the knowledge (power!) you have acquired today won’t get lost in the depths of your already-very-busy memory.

So this is my own way of trying to make sure the stuff I learn doesn’t get lost. I share it with whoever will read it and might find it useful (myself included!). I also do my best to actually do something with it, but that doesn’t happen as often as I’d like… but while I’m working on that bit, I can write and write and write, and hopefully someone else will benefit from the new discoveries I make along the way.

Oh, why the owl you ask? Because owls are beautiful! What a silly question.