There are about 100 million people in the U.S. who deal with digestive disorders. That’s more than one in three for whom issues like bloating, constipation and diarrhea are everyday realities. To bring more information about this all-too-common complaint to BOYT readers, we asked Donna Gates, nutritional consultant, author and lecturer, to provide some insight. Her book The Body Ecology Diet was written after years of research to find a cure for her own Candida-related health problems.
BOYT: What are the principles of the Body Ecology Program?
Donna: The Body Ecology Diet works with seven key principles:
The Principle of Uniqueness
The Principle of Step by Step
The Principle of Cleansing
The Principle of Balance (Expansion and Contraction)
The Principle of Acid and Alkaline
The Principle of Food Combining
The Principle of 80/20
Some of these principals are grounded in ancient traditions, like Chinese medicine; others are more modern. All of the Body Ecology Diet principles can be used as a framework for whatever diet best suits you, such as high protein, raw food, macrobiotic, or a vegetarian diet.
The goal of the Principles is to:
1) Increase energy
3) Correct digestion
4) Conquer infection
BOYT: We know that the Body Ecology Diet discourages the consumption of carbohydrates and sugars. What types of carbohydrates, if any, can be consumed?
Donna: Sugars and carbohydrates, especially wheat gluten, create an acidic condition in the body, which is the perfect environment for Candida and other harmful microorganisms to grow. An acidic body is also more inflamed. Inflammation destroys tissue and leads to many of the chronic diseases that are so common today.
The principle of Uniqueness tells us that each individual will experience a unique set of circumstances at any given moment. So, the first thing to remember is flexibility. At the same time, ultimately you want to completely remove sugars and most grainsfrom the diet. This will not only restore gut health, but it will also limit the effects of the aging process. As surprising as this sounds, sugar ages the body.
We recommend four grain-like seeds. They are buckwheat, amaranth, millet and quinoa. All four grains do not feed the yeast in the body.
When eating grain-like seeds or starchy vegetables, like potatoes or winter squash, it is essential to limit these foods to 20 percent of your meal. This is the Principle of 80/20. It tells us that grain-like seeds and starchy vegetables give us the maximum nutrient value when combined with 80 percent non-starchy vegetables, seaweeds and fermented vegetables.
BOYT: Please explain what Candida is and the effects that it has on the body.
Donna: Candida albicans is a type of yeast, which is different than bacteria. It occurs naturally in the digestive tract and the vaginal walls. Because Candida is pathogenic and opportunistic, it can cause severe digestive and neurological troubles if given the opportunity to grow excessively or spread outside its native habitat to the blood and other areas of the body.
An overgrowth of Candida yeast can weaken many systems in the body, especially the immune and endocrine systems.
BOYT: What are symptoms of too much Candida in the system?
Donna: Many symptoms of Candida fungal overgrowth occurring in the digestive tract show up in the skin and in mental cognition. For example, a person may have gas, bloating, constipation, or food allergies. They could also have acne or skin rashes. An overgrowth of Candida can create poor memory, what we call “brain fog,” or mental fuzziness, and it can even generate headaches. Because it can weaken the immune system, we also see chemical and environmental sensitivities, in addition to food allergies. It also leads to fatigue and depression.
If a person is at all immune-compromised, from diseases such as chronic fatigue, cancer, AIDS, Epstein-Barr virus, bronchitis, pneumonia, or an onslaught of antibiotic therapy, quite often that person will develop Candida overgrowth.
We have a quiz on our website so people can get an idea of their Candida levels: http://bodyecology.com/quiz.php
BOYT: In addition to following the program for the Body Ecology Diet, do you recommend any cleanses or flushes to remove the buildup of Candida?
Donna: Certainly. In fact, the Principle of Cleansing is one of the most important elements of the Body Ecology Diet. This is because it opens up the detoxification pathways and allows a whole-body shift to take place. The diet as a whole actually will cleanse the body on a cellular level. We have cleanse protocols and products to assist in the process.
It’s important for people to understand that the cleansing process can take years as you move through different layers of the body. As you heal, the body gets stronger and the cells have more energy. The cells will actually be able to push old waste out of their environment and into the blood stream and lymph system for removal. This can show up as acne, skin rashes or mood sensitivity. It is important to remember that cleansing is not always easy, because many toxins are brought to the surface. However, the elimination of built-up waste and toxins is an essential part of the healing process.
In our professional, social, and personal lives, we can spend a great deal of energy acquiring. Many modern day diseases are from excess. Cleansing allows the body to let go. And when that happens, you have the space to truly heal.
BOYT: What foods are best to be avoided if one has a Candida allergy?
Donna: Candida thrives in a low-mineral, high-sugar diet. Unfortunately, the Standard American diet is exactly this. Most processed foods need to have a shelf life. Manufactures accomplish this by stripping away nutrients and adding sugar. Avoiding packaged foods that have fillers and refined oils-like canola oil-is a must. Since sugar feeds all systemic-infection—from Candida to viruses—it’s important to avoid sugar, even if it’s from agave and honey.
Some foods, like wheat, cause serious inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. This is true whether or not the wheat is highly processed. In fact, a little processing of all grains is ideal, as they can irritate to the intestinal tract.
Wheat gluten is especially toxic to the body because the protein in wheat looks a lot like Candida. The immune system can get confused and react. When the immune system reacts, this opens up the walls of the intestinal tract and can lead to a permeable gut, or what people call “leaky gut.”
BOYT: Lastly, what are the top three pieces of advice that you can offer women that have the biggest impact in one’s health?
Donna: Eat fermented foods—they will heal your body, change your skin, balance your weight, and keep you from aging! Change the fats that you are eating to the good fats that we recommend on the Body Ecology Diet. And cut down on the sugar. Eat only the sugar that’s found in nature after you have established a healthy inner ecosystem. If you crave that delicious, sweet taste that humans naturally enjoy, use stevia.
A healthy inner ecosystem affects the whole body. While it is simple to establish this environment in your digestive tract, the foods that most of us eat are more harmful than nourishing. Fermented foods, good, healthy fats and removing most sugar from the diet would completely support the immune system, the endocrine system, and brain health. These are typically at the root of most chronic diseases.
Without proper food combining, you can eat the healthiest, most nutrient-dense foods available, and still feel tired and bloated. For example, if you want to eat fruit, we recommend that you eat only sour fruits, like kiwi or blueberries, and that you eat these fruits alone and on an empty stomach. This will allow the fruits, which are more likely to ferment if combined with other foods, to move quickly though the digestive tract. When fruit ferments in the digestive tract, it feeds Candida and opens the intestines up to inflammation.
Another example is having a Standard American dinner—a large steak with a small side of broccoli and mashed potatoes. A better way of having a similar meal would be a large salad, a side of kale and fermented vegetables and your choice of fish, chicken, or steak.
BOYT: We understand that you recommend the use of probiotics. How often should a person take probiotics and is there a brand that you recommend?
Donna: I recommend probiotic foods with every meal! Probiotic foods are fermented vegetables and beverages. A probiotic supplement is fine, but should not be the primary source of your healthy bacteria. Many times we simply do not know how many live, viable bacteria are in a supplement because of processing methods. I recommend culturing your own vegetables, coconut water, or dairy, if tolerated. These are all great ways to enjoy the benefits of fermented foods.
Including a glass of fermented coconut water with every meal also helps with digestion, while inoculating the gut with beneficial bacteria.
BOYT: Do you find that colonics, juicing, or enemas are effective in eliminating and detoxifying the body?
Donna: Juicing must be done correctly. Juices are absorbed into the system very quickly. The Principle of Balance tells us that juices are expansive, just like sugar. If you juice too early in the diet or before you have established a hearty inner ecosystem, this could cause a Candida flare-up.
Colonics and enemas work well together in removing toxins from the body. The body needs these tools to properly release toxins.
Even if you have a bowel movement every day, many of us have seven to ten pounds of old fecal matter in our colons. The walls of the intestines can become coated with a gluey, sticky sludge. Colon cleansing removes this waste matter that may be years or decades of accumulation. When this sticky sludge is removed, the intestines have a chance to heal and are free to absorb nutrients from food.
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