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.
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.
- 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.
- Follow the food combination rules to ensure optimal digestion. The rules are:
- 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.
- Always combine animal protein with land/ocean vegetables.
- Always combine starchy vegetables with land/ocean vegetables.
- Always combine BED grains with land/ocean vegetables.
- Never combine animal protein with BED grains.
- Never combine animal protein with starchy vegetables.
- 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: