Popular Diets - What You Need To Know

Popular Diets - What You Need To Know | CM Connect Blog

People everywhere are constantly looking to hop on a new bandwagon and try a new way of eating, whether it's to lose weight, cut down on sugar, gain more vitality or to help a chronic issue like candida (that 70% of all people are affected by).  

There’s so much info out there that making a personal decision can be very tough. That’s why we decided to put together a comprehensive list of the diets that we know most about to help you make the best educated decision. 

Now, we’re going to be upfront when we say that the majority of diets out there fall short of focusing on principle of uniqueness - your body is unique based on your genetic blueprint. And as we always teach, there is a positive and negative to everything. 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 another issue for you.   

The bottom line - what works for some people may not work for others.

Ayurveda

Tastes are essential to balance and I have always taught that we need the six tastes in our daily meals to maintain balanced health. I love to cook with the 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 feed a systemic yeast infection. 

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 by switching the rice for grains such as quinoa and fermented foods to be sure you are getting the most benefit from your meal while healing the gut.

Ketogenic

The keto craze has become more trendy by the year. 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. 

PROS - Weight loss  There has been anecdotal evidence of people losing weight on the ketogenic diet due to limiting carbohydrates. 

CONS - Weight gain : Many people who begin a keto diet experience temporary weight loss, followed by weight gain due to high intake of calories (from fat) and a deficiency in vital nutrients.

High fat diets are also known to kill the good bacteria and is especially hard on the bifidus bacteria in the gut. Knowing what your genes say about how you digest fats is imperative to know before beginning a ketogenic type of diet.  

Macrobiotic

Macrobiotic diets aim to avoid the "toxins" that come from eating dairy products, meats, and oily foods. This is a pescatarian diet based primarily on consuming locally and organically grown whole grains, vegetables, and beans. The ideal breakdown is 60% whole grains, 30% vegetables, and 10% beans, tofu, or sea vegetables (seaweed). Fresh seafood, fruit, and nuts can be consumed one to three times a week. Herbs should be used to add flavor, while rice syrup is the only recommended sweetener and should be used sparingly. 

PROS - Lower Risk of Disease : The macrobiotic diet, along with other plant-based diets, has consistently been shown to help lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Additionally, the anti-inflammatory power of plant-based foods can help decrease the risk of chronic diseases. The diet has also been shown to reduce levels of circulating estrogen in women, which may help lower risk of breast and other cancers.

Weight Loss : Following a Macrobiotic diet may also be beneficial for weight loss, especially if processed foods and high fat meats are replaced with vegetables.

CONS - Inadequate Vitamin Intake : There is some concern whether or not the macrobiotic diet provides an adequate intake of vitamin B12, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and vitamin D. 

Hard to Maintain : The macrobiotic diet can be difficult to follow, since food must be prepared from scratch and purchased locally whenever possible.

Mediterranean

Monounsaturated fats are rich 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 consumption of fat and what type works best for you. The shared company and community of the Mediterranean way of eating is a great thing to incorporate into meals!

Microbiome/Gut Health

The communication between the gut bacteria and soil bacteria does play a critical role in our health. We love the Body Ecology Diet for restoring gut health and the importance of bacteria in that role. It’s important to find out what is optimal in your body, because it's possible to get too much of a good thing and throw the body out of balance.

Paleo and AIP

When you eat like a caveman, you get rid of foods that challenge the immune system—like wheat, gluten and milk casein. But for many on the Paleo diet, there is a honeymoon phase and eventually metabolism slows down. 

For those with autoimmune diseases, the autoimmune paleo diet takes things one step further by totally eliminating certain foods that are allowed on the Paleo diet that may harm the microbiota and focus on super nutrient dense foods like organ meat, and vegetables.  

This is an extremely limiting diet, and is something you should consult with your doctor about before trying it, 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 + Vegan.

It’s important to remember that certain foods nourish your inner ecosystem, or the communities of good bacteria and yeast that live inside the 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. 

I encourage people to eat 80% plant based, eat the grain-like seeds for your evening meal and be sure to include the fermented foods in your diet. The plant fiber in gluten-free grains and legumes enriches your inner ecosystem, lowering inflammation and assisting you in getting a good night’s sleep.

Raw Food

If you live in a warm climate like Hawaii, Arizona, California (where most raw foodist live) eating raw can be right because it is a cooling diet. Raw is also ideal when you have an active viral outbreak…like herpes and AIDS…but only if it’s done completely sugar free. Raw cools the heat and inflammation of these infections. If you do raw with sugary fruits and all those popular, raw, sugary treats you will, however, trigger viral infections. 

I have also found that many people simply cannot digest raw foods. Add fermented food and drinks to your diet and remember that wild yeast (Kombucha) are not the same as cultured, beneficial bacteria and yeast, and anyone with candida should avoid them.  

Vegan

I 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 chose to eliminate animal foods entirely from their diet for this reason, and I respect this choice, but years of working with vegans has taught me that it is very difficult to be a vegan and also be grounded and strong. Over time, muscles waste away, and our brain especially seems to suffer.

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. 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 the grains, legumes, and grain-like seeds or use a product like fermented pea protein.

Blood Type Diet

Different blood types may react differently to certain substances in food. While there is not a lot of “hard science” to date on blood type, it makes a lot of “common sense”. Blood carries the nutrients of foods into our cells and clearly not all blood is exactly the same. Knowing information about your genes can help augment the Blood Type Diet however. 

Keep in mind that when foods are fermented they are broken down and may be well tolerated by someone even though it may not be a good fit in its un-fermented form.  

While the blood type theory can provide clues to your diet and health, this is a theory so therefore, still in development. Hopefully you know your blood type — if not, it’s worth finding out (via your functional medicine doctor, for example). 

Gluten Free

Wheat allergy. Celiac disease. Wheat intolerance. Gluten sensitivity. These are all problems that fall under the umbrella of gluten-related disorders:

  • Wheat allergy: Marked by an immune response. Happens within minutes to hours of eating wheat. Symptoms are seen in the gut and beyond.
  • Celiac disease: Marked by an autoimmune response. Can take hours to weeks to show up. Symptoms are seen 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.
  • Gluten sensitivity: Marked by an immune response. Can occur hours to days after eating gluten. Symptoms are seen in the gut and beyond.

If you think that you are 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 stir up a response from the immune system and intensify your reaction to gluten.

We advocate a gluten-free diet because a healthy gut is essential to getting rid of Candida overgrowth.  

Lactose Intolerant/Dairy Sensitivity

Call it lactose (milk sugar) intolerance or a dairy allergy or 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. Casein is even present in lactose-free foods and products as varied as soy cheese and nail polish!

Casein enters the open, permeable and inflamed gut wall and your body attacks this protein, seeing it as an enemy. You will experience a negative allergic reaction and most likely will notice a drug-like effect on your central nervous system and experience 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 that contains milk, it may be the milk sugars that you can’t digest.

These sugars do not get absorbed 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 stools are formed.

These sugars, which we cannot digest and that end up feeding bacteria and fungal overgrowth in the gut, are known as FODMAPs, which are described in more detail below. 

We believe in a healthy inner ecosystem by adding healthy microflora (healthy bacteria) 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. 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 is more commonly known — which is becoming more widely known in the world of health and nutrition for good reason! FOS are short and medium chain sugar molecules that 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 keep you healthy and strong.

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 are not always easily absorbed. 

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 will find in dairy kefir. But fortunately, these foods are also fermented, which means they are pre-digested. They will be easier to digest than unfermented high FODMAP foods.

GAPS

There is a direct connection between behavioral disorders like autism and gut dysbiosis. Fermented foods are a critical factor in restoring gut/brain health. 

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 be easily cleared up, but the systemic infection found throughout the entire body is very difficult to conquer. It's this systemic infection that GAPS fails to address.

Many foods on the GAPS diet also do feed yeast. They 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, breads, etc. (especially when they are sweetened with dried fruit, as recommended) simply serve as fuel for a systemic or gut infection.

Whole30

A fad diet for some, and not for others, the Whole 30 diet focuses on the removal of any foods that could be inflammatory foods (ex. sugar, soy, dairy, alcohol, grains, legumes) and basically replace them with 3 daily, “clean” Paleo type meals (ex. meat, seafood, vegetables) for 30 days.  Natural sweeteners are even avoided. Then, after the 30 days, you’re supposed to slowly reintroduce them to see which ones trigger a response. Many move on to a Paleo-type diet after this. 

Hypothyroidism Diet

The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland 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 does not do its job, and the whole body suffers. This is what is known as hypothyroidism. And there are 3 common mistakes that people make when it comes to dieting with hypothyroidism.

Using iodine or iodine-rich foods to address a thyroid condition does not take into account autoimmune hypothyroid. It also does not 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. We recommend following the Body Ecology Diet to help heal the gut and gut  lining.
  • Populating the gut with good microbes. Remember, gut flora convert 20 percent of T4 into usable T3 — eat probiotic-rich fermented foods and drink probiotic beverages.
  • Regulating the immune system. 
  • Repairing any blood sugar imbalances.