A helpful review of the most popular diets: Paleo, keto, and more
Whether it’s a new year or not, you may be hopping on a new bandwagon to try one of many well-known diets — for whatever reason that may be: to cut down on sugar, gain more vitality, or even help manage a chronic issue like candida overgrowth.
Focusing on 7 core principles, the Body Ecology System of Health and Healing is designed to help you create energy, correct digestion, cleanse toxins, and conquer infection. Order your copy today.
There’s so much noise out there that making a personal decision can be tough.
That’s why we decided to put together a comprehensive list of the diets you’re most likely to hear about so you can make an educated decision.
Now, we’re going to be upfront when we say that the majority of diets out there fall short of focusing on restoring gut health. Some also don’t focus on the Principle of Uniqueness.
And as we always teach, there’s a front and a back (or a positive and a negative) to everything. You may remove a certain food from your diet, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad for your unique body.
Or, you may really like a specific food that claims to do all these wonderful things; however, if you eat too much of it over time, it may cause issues for you.
What works for some people and their uniqueness may not work for others.
15 popular diets: Which food plan is right for you?
So, let’s dive in. (Please note: If a particular diet that you’re interested in isn’t listed here, feel free to contact us, and we’d be happy to get you additional information.)
Tastes are essential to balance, and Body Ecology founder Donna Gates has always taught that we need the six tastes in our daily meals to maintain balanced health. Donna loves to cook with traditional Ayurvedic herbs, such as turmeric and neem.
The trick is, how do we find balance in our desire for these tastes (such as sweets), and how do we do this in a healthy way?
- Your digestive health has a direct link to your body’s health.
- Therefore, eating foods higher in sugar, like rice, can potentially feed a systemic yeast infection.1
In addition, many spices, such as black pepper, can be very hard on the gut lining. You can still eat an Ayurvedic meal — just do it Body-Ecology-style by switching the rice for a BE-approved grain and also eating fermented foods to ensure you’re getting the most benefit from your meal while supporting your gut.
2. Blood Type Diet
Different blood types may react differently to certain substances in food. While there’s not a lot of “hard science” to date on blood type, it makes sense. Blood carries the nutrients of foods into your cells, and clearly, not all blood is exactly the same. Knowing information about your genes can help augment the Blood Type Diet.
Keep in mind that:
- When foods are fermented, they’re broken down and may be well-tolerated, even though these foods may not be a good fit in their un-fermented form.
- While Body Ecology believes that the blood type theory can provide clues to your diet and health, this is a theory and, therefore, is still in development.
- The Body Ecology program offers a series of guidelines about your blood type so that you can safely experiment.
Hopefully, you know your blood type. If not, it’s worth finding out (via your functional medicine doctor, for example). Keeping in mind the Body Ecology Principle of Uniqueness, blood type may be a way to modify Body Ecology guidelines for your own unique situation.
Also known as the Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet, GAPS is another gut healing protocol:
- Donna has lectured with Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride — originator of the GAPS diet — and respects her as a colleague, especially for her excellent explanation of the connection between behavioral disorders like autism and gut dysbiosis.
- Campbell-McBride, who’s quite familiar with the Body Ecology program, now includes a greater emphasis on fermented foods in the GAPS protocol, adding them to the recipe section in her 2010 revised edition of Gut and Psychology Syndrome.2
- Fermented foods are a critical factor in helping to restore gut/brain health.3
GAPS also focuses on the belief that candida is mostly a problem in the gut and is only one of many potential pathogens that can be found there. In fact, a candida infection in the gut can clear up easily, but the systemic infection throughout the entire body is very difficult to conquer. It’s this systemic infection that GAPS fails to address and is a major focus for the Body Ecology program.
Many foods on the GAPS diet also do feed yeast. These include high-sugar foods, such as fresh and dried fruits, honey, and fresh whey. Too many acidic foods, including meats and nut flour pancakes, cookies, bread, etc. (especially when sweetened with dried fruit, as recommended), simply serve as fuel for a systemic or gut infection.
Wheat allergy. Celiac disease. Wheat intolerance. Gluten sensitivity. These are all problems that fall under the umbrella of gluten-related disorders:
- Celiac disease: Marked by an autoimmune response. Can take hours to weeks to show up. Symptoms are seen in the gut and beyond.
- Gluten sensitivity: Marked by an immune response. Can occur hours to days after eating gluten. Symptoms are seen in the gut and beyond.
- Wheat allergy: Marked by an immune response. Happens within minutes to hours of eating wheat. Symptoms appear in the gut and beyond.
- Wheat intolerance: Marked by an inability to break down wheat. Happens within minutes to hours of eating wheat. Symptoms appear mostly in the gut.
If you think you’re sensitive to gluten and that it triggers an immune response, completely avoid gluten-containing grains like modern wheat, rye, barley, and spelt. Besides gluten, these grains contain enzyme inhibitors that may stir up a response from the immune system and intensify your reaction.
On the Body Ecology program, we advocate a gluten-free diet because a healthy gut is essential to getting rid of candida overgrowth.4
5. Hypothyroidism diet
The thyroid gland is a small gland with a butterfly shape that sits just below the thyroid cartilage. It can increase your energy, warm your body, and activate your immune system:
- It can also tell the body to slow down. Sometimes, the thyroid slows down so much that it becomes underactive.
- When this happens, the thyroid gland doesn’t do its job, and the whole body suffers.
- This is what’s known as hypothyroidism. And there are three common mistakes that people make when it comes to dieting with hypothyroidism.
Using iodine or iodine-rich foods to address a thyroid condition doesn’t take into account autoimmune hypothyroid. It also doesn’t address diet or lifestyle, which can make a tremendous impact on thyroid hormone levels.
This is why we recommend working with a qualified healthcare practitioner, while at the same time:
- Healing the gut. Follow the Body Ecology program, and use Vitality SuperGreen to support the healing of the gut lining.
- Populating the gut with good microbes. Remember, gut microbes convert about 20 percent of T4 into usable T3: Eat probiotic-rich fermented foods and drink probiotic beverages like InnergyBiotic with every meal.
- Regulating the immune system. Follow the Body Ecology Principles, and take alkalizing minerals (that also help nourish the thyroid).
Along with these suggestions, make sure to repair any blood sugar imbalances using the Body Ecology Principles.
While there are many ways to do a ketogenic diet, this diet is essentially very low-carb and high-fat, designed to put the body into a state of ketosis. High-fat diets are known to kill good bacteria and are especially hard on the Bifidus bacteria in the gut.5 Knowing what your genes say about how you digest fats is imperative before beginning a ketogenic type of diet.
7. Lactose intolerance/dairy sensitivity
Whether you call it lactose (milk sugar) intolerance or a dairy allergy/intolerance, often symptoms that result from consuming dairy are more likely caused by difficulty digesting the protein casein. Casein is the main protein found in milk and is also used in many food products as a binding agent. It’s even present in lactose-free foods and products as varied as soy cheese and nail polish.
Casein can enter the open, permeable, and inflamed gut wall, potentially prompting your body to attack this protein as an enemy. If this happens, you’ll experience a negative allergic reaction and most likely will notice a drug-like effect on your central nervous system with symptoms like brain fog, excess mucus, and lethargy.
Lactose intolerance is the inability to break down the sugars that belong specifically to milk:
- If you get gassy or feel a cramping sensation after you drink milk or eat anything containing milk, it may be the milk sugars that you can’t digest.
- These sugars don’t absorb where they should, in the small intestine, and instead, they end up being food for bacteria later on down the line.
- Fermentation of undigested sugars happens in the large intestine, which is where stool forms.
- These sugars, which we can’t digest and that end up feeding bacteria and fungal overgrowth in the gut, are known as FODMAPs, described in more detail below.
One of the main goals of the Body Ecology program is to establish a healthy inner ecosystem by adding healthy microbes to your intestines that help correct digestion and improve the absorption of nutrients — like casein.
Consuming fermented foods and drinks is a great way to populate your gut with healthy bacteria. Kefir made from goat or cow’s milk is a delicious, fermented drink that can be consumed in Stage 2 of the Body Ecology program. But as this kefir from goat or cow’s milk does contain casein, it’s best to wait until you heal your intestines and establish a flourishing inner ecosystem before adding it into your diet.
And if you want to truly encourage the growth of good bacteria and yeast in your gut, you may want to learn more about fructooligosaccharides — or FOS, as it’s more commonly called — which is becoming more widely known in the world of health and nutrition for good reason.
FOS are short- and medium-chain sugar molecules your body cannot digest. FOS passes through your stomach and into your intestines, where beneficial bacteria (also known as probiotics) and yeast feed on them. There, they help you digest food, cleanse your system, and enhance your immunity.
FOS are the prebiotics that feed the probiotics in your intestines to help keep you healthy and strong. And it just so happens, our EcoBloom does just that.
8. Low FODMAP
FODMAP is an acronym that stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. Gastroenterologist Dr. Peter Gibson developed the FODMAP list of foods to treat patients with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). It describes foods that contain specific carbohydrates that don’t always absorb easily.
Examples of high-FODMAP foods include fermentable:
- Oligosaccharides: Jerusalem artichoke, cabbage, onion, and garlic.
- Disaccharides: Cow or goat milk.
- Monosaccharides: Apples, peaches, mangos, and pears.
- Polyols: Avocados, apricots, prunes, snow peas, and xylitol.
These carbohydrates can end up fermenting in the intestines, leading to signs of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). A low FODMAP diet restricts foods that feed bacteria in the gut. Avoiding a trigger food only removes the problem. It doesn’t heal the root of the disorder.
While the payoff of the FODMAP diet is reduced gas, bloating, and cramping — the cost is that you forevermore avoid a long list of otherwise beneficial foods (like cabbage, garlic, and raw dairy).
If you want to follow the FODMAP diet, we suggest also adding in small amounts of fermented foods. Many cultured foods are inherently high in FODMAPs — like the cabbage you’ll find in sauerkraut and kimchi, or the dairy you’ll find in milk kefir. But fortunately, these foods are also fermented, which means they’re pre-digested. They’ll be easier to digest than unfermented high-FODMAP foods.
Having studied with Lima Ohsawa in Japan, this is where Donna realized that principles, even more than food, were critical in health and healing. It was looking past the food to find the universal laws of a healing diet that led Donna to create Body Ecology’s 7 Healthy Eating Principles.
Body Ecology is not a one-size-fits-all diet. You must discover what your unique needs are at this moment in time and give your body what it must have to be healthy right now. Balancing the high-grain meals with more plant-based and fermented foods will be important, as well as removing hard-to-digest foods, such as beans, initially.
Monounsaturated fats are abundant in the Mediterranean diet and are a healthy alternative to the trans fats and refined polyunsaturated fats you find in most processed foods. However, it’s important to understand what your own unique genes tell you about the consumption of fat and what type works best for you.
The shared company and community of the Mediterranean way of eating is also a great thing to incorporate into meals.
11. Microbiome/gut health
The communication between gut bacteria and soil bacteria does play a critical role in your health. These diets cut their teeth on Body Ecology in restoring gut health and the importance of bacteria in that role. It’s key to remember the Principle of Step by Step and find out what’s optimal for your body because it’s possible to get too much of a good thing and throw your body out of balance.
Keep in mind that your gut health can alter the effects of any diet you choose. Learn how to turn your gut around in 10 days.
12. Paleo and AIP
When you eat like a caveman, you get rid of foods that may challenge the immune system — like wheat gluten and milk casein. But for many on the Paleo diet, there’s a honeymoon phase, and eventually, metabolism slows down. Body Ecology was essentially the first “paleo” type diet having a Phase 1 and an Antiviral Protocol that eliminated these foods.
For those with autoimmune diseases:
- The autoimmune paleo diet or autoimmune protocol (AIP) takes things one step further by totally eliminating certain foods allowed on the paleo diet that may harm the microbiome and focusing on super nutrient-dense foods, like organ meat and vegetables.
- AIP is an extremely limiting diet and is something you should consult with your doctor about before trying, especially if you have chronic symptoms.
- You may have also heard of the pegan diet, a term coined by Dr. Mark Hyman, which is a combination of paleo and vegan.
It’s helpful to remember that certain foods nourish your inner ecosystem, or the communities of good bacteria and yeast that live inside your gut. These foods include fibrous plants and grain-like seeds, which bacteria love to feed on. While the paleo diet is a step in the right direction, it stops short of healing the inner ecosystem.
Body Ecology encourages people to eat 80-percent plant-based, eat the BE grain-like seeds for your evening meal, and be sure to include fermented foods in your diet. The plant fiber in gluten-free grains and legumes enriches your inner ecosystem, helping to lower inflammation and assisting you in getting a good night’s sleep.6
13. Raw food
If you live in a warm climate like Hawaii, Arizona, or California (where most raw foodists live):
- Eating raw can be right because it’s a cooling diet.
- Raw is also ideal when you have an active viral outbreak — like herpes or AIDS — but only if it’s completely sugar-free. Raw may help cool the heat and inflammation of these infections.
- If you do raw with sugary fruits and all those popular, raw, sugary treats, you may, however, trigger viral infections.
Donna has also found that many people simply cannot digest raw foods. Add fermented foods and drinks to your diet, and remember that wild yeast are not the same as cultured, beneficial bacteria and yeast, and anyone with candida should avoid them.
We totally sympathize with the commonly-held belief that eating animal foods takes away the life of another animal and is morally, ethically, and spiritually wrong. Those on a spiritual path often choose to eliminate animal foods entirely from their diet for this reason, and we respect this choice.
- Donna’s years of working with vegans have demonstrated that it’s very difficult to be a vegan and also be grounded and strong.
- Over time, muscles waste away, and the brain especially seems to suffer.
- A vegetarian meal with fermented milk and eggs may be a better compromise for anyone who, for spiritual or personal ethics, wants to avoid killing an animal to sustain their own life.
Natto, miso, and tempeh are three outstanding fermented vegetarian protein sources that fit well into The Body Ecology Vegan Diet. They should be eaten with other fermented foods, especially cultured vegetables. Phytates and tannins bind to minerals that are central to your biochemistry, so you may want to ferment grains, legumes, and grain-like seeds, or use a product like our fermented pea/rice protein.
A fad diet for some, and not for others, the Whole30 diet focuses on the removal of any foods that could be inflammatory (examples include sugar, soy, dairy, alcohol, grains, and legumes) and basically replaces them with three daily, “clean” paleo-type meals (examples include meat, seafood, and vegetables) for 30 days. Natural sweeteners are even avoided.
Then, after the 30 days, you’re supposed to slowly reintroduce previously eliminated foods to see which ones trigger a response. Many move on to a paleo-style diet after this.
- 1. Van Ende M, Wijnants S, Van Dijck P. Sugar Sensing and Signaling in Candida albicans and Candida glabrata. Front Microbiol. 2019;10:99. Published 2019 Jan 30. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2019.00099.
- 2. Campbell-McBride, N. (2010). Gut and Psychology Syndrome. Medinform Publishing.
- 3. Sivamaruthi BS, Kesika P, Chaiyasut C. Impact of Fermented Foods on Human Cognitive Function-A Review of Outcome of Clinical Trials. Sci Pharm. 2018;86(2):22. Published 2018 May 31. doi:10.3390/scipharm86020022.
- 4. Uhde M, Ajamian M, Caio G, et al. Intestinal cell damage and systemic immune activation in individuals reporting sensitivity to wheat in the absence of coeliac disease. Gut. 2016;65(12):1930-1937. doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2016-311964.
- 5. Liu, Yue, Gibson, Glenn R., and Walton, Gemma E. ‘Impact of High Fat Diets, Prebiotics and Probiotics on Gut Microbiota and Immune Function, with Relevance to Elderly Populations’. 1 Jan. 2015 : 171 – 192.
- 6. Tang Y, Tsao R. Phytochemicals in quinoa and amaranth grains and their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and potential health beneficial effects: a review. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2017 Jul;61(7). doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201600767. Epub 2017 Apr 18. PMID: 28239982.