My Personal Experience With the Body Ecology Diet.
I was first introduced to The Body Ecology Diet many years ago by Steven Acuff.
Whilst reading Donna’s book, everything she advocated made sense to me; and a lot of things I had already been doing for years were validated. Living a whole foods lifestyle, I had already been following a lot of the basic principles of the diet for many years. Furthermore, when I looked at the bibliography of Donna’s book, there were many familiar books that had long been part of my library. For me, Donna had successfully “cherry picked” all the best parts of what she calls “the pillars of the holistic health field”: modern science, Macrobiotics; Chinese medicine; Ayurvedic philosophies; alkalinity practices; raw and cultured foods; and food combining strategies; and woven them together in one regime, with the addition of probiotic rich foods like kefir and raw cultured vegetables.
I have had a life long battle with candidiasis (an overgrowth of yeast) or Candida Related Complex (CRC). This immune disorder has been linked to other problems such as food, chemical and environmental allergies; digestive disorders and skin disorders. It also occurs in conjunction with other diseases such as chronic fatigue and Epstein Barr virus, AIDS, bronchitis and pneumonia, and a whole range of other immune deficiency disorders.
I have always had an intolerance to dairy, wheat and sugar. I was diagnosed with Epstein-Barr virus when I was a teenager, having struggled with lethary and fatigue; and had constant digestive issues such as flatulence and bloating. So I can personally testify to the links between an overgrowth of candida and some of these other problems. But because I was Macrobiotic, principally vegetarian, and maintained such a healthy lifestyle, I was able to suppress the severity of most of my symptoms.
But in May of 2009, I received a wake up call. After overindulging in all of the backstage treats whilst working on the Australian production of August: Osage County, and having been directed by the theatre and the company to take my first course of antibiotics in years due to a cast flu, my system was really out of balance. The result: a raging overgrowth of yeast! I finally realized that my body had been out of balance for a long time, and that I was a “healthy sick person”! I now had a systemic infection that had literally become a “seven year itch.”
I had long been living a life relatively free of refined sugar, alcohol and processed foods, until I began travelling back and forth to America in 2002 to visit my boyfriend who later became my husband. During that time, I had uncommonly strayed from my strict diet from time to time, and had indulged in a few too many “toxic treats” like commercial lemonade and french fries that I had not allowed myself to experience in many years. My body finally rebelled in spectacular fashion!
At just the right time, I received a “tenth edition” copy of The Body Ecology Diet as a birthday gift from my then sister-in-law, who had severe health issues and was following the diet. I, once again turned to Donna; revisited her diet; and a few months later, I was on the road to optimum health again.
Although The Body Ecology Diet is principally geared towards those of us with candidiasis; it is a fantastic diet for anyone with a compromised immune system with chronic fatigue or Epstein Barr syndrome; people with environmental or food allergies or sensitivities; digestive and skin problems; headaches, muscle and joint pain; or lethargy, anxiety and depression. I highly recommend this diet for anyone looking for more energy and vitality; and anyone wanting to be more healthy and calm. Following these principles, along with drinking green smoothies, has helped restore my health and vitality.
I am not going to lie. This diet takes some serious passionate commitment. Particularly, for those of you not already following a whole foods diet. However, this dedication will pay huge dividends in health, energy and inner peace. Do yourself a favour, and pick up a copy of this fantastic book.
It will literally change your life.
What Is the Body Ecology Diet?
The Body Ecology Diet or B.E.D is all about boosting immunity by maintaining a healthy inner ecosystem by keeping large amounts of friendly bacteria in the digestive tract, and maintaining alkaline blood, which in turn, strengthens the health of the entire body.
Let me explain further.
In every body, there are always friendly and unfriendly bacteria present. In a strong healthy body, the beneficial bacteria effectively combat the harmful bacteria, preventing an overgrowth. Conversely, in a compromised immune system, the unfriendly bacteria overpower beneficial bacteria, and this imbalance of bacterial beasts releases toxins, which invade our tissues, cells, organs, and blood, weakening our immune system even further, and affecting our ability to fight infection.
This bacterial war is manifested with symptoms ranging from: food allergies, headaches, digestive disorders, persistent colds and flus, to life threatening diseases such as cancer. Other factors that contribute to this harmful imbalance include: chemicals, stress, inferior quality air and water, hormonal changes, and the use of antibiotics, which destroy harmful pathogens, but also destroy beneficial bacteria, which then throw our bodies out of their natural balance, starting the entire process of imbalance again.
Candida Related Complex (C.R.C) is not a disease as such; but rather, a condition of acute internal imbalance, which fosters the development of systemic infections and diseases. Candida can proliferate in the intestines, vagina, mouth, nose, and blood, compromising the assimilation and absorption of nutrients which then causes disease.
When a poorly combined, highly acidic, sugary diet is eaten, it provides a perfect breeding ground for yeast, fungus, and bad bacteria to multiply. Donna claims that American immunologist, Alan Levin, estimates that 1 out of every 3 Americans has a candida overgrowth. If you have persistent colds, flus, skin rashes, digestive complaints, and muscle aches and pains, chances are, you could have a candida overgrowth.
So how do we combat these yeast beasts? It is important to note that the goal is not to completely eradicate candida. This is impossible. But rather, to restore the strength of the immune system and alkalize the body, so that a healthy bacterial balance can prevail, fostering optimal bodily function.
The first step in restoring healthy body ecology and reversing the overgrowth of candida is to starve the yeast and bad bacteria, and then provide an inner ecosystem that makes it impossible for them to thrive.
We do this by eating an alkaline, mineral-rich diet that is very low in sugar, and consuming probiotic-rich foods such as coconut kefir, fresh land and sea vegetables, and cultured vegetables. This recolonizes the friendly life-affirming bacteria. These friendly bacteria, the most common of which is lactobacillus and bifidus, are vital for maintaining healthy digestion and elimination; as well as fighting disease and infection. If antibiotics must be taken, probiotic supplements and probiotic-rich foods should be eaten immediately after the course has been finished, in order to restore a healthy body ecology.
The Seven Key Principles of the Body Ecology Diet.
There are seven key principles of healing in The Body Ecology Diet, which Donna has successfully brought together from what she calls “the pillars of the holistic health field”.
The 1st Principle: The Chinese idea of Yin (contraction) and Yang (expansion).
This ancient universal law or nature is incredibly complex and overwhelming.
But in relation to food and healing it can be summed up like this: there are foods that cause our bodies to expand, open up and relax, such as: sugar, alcohol, milk, cheese and coffee. Conversely, there are other things that cause up to tighten and close, such as: salt, meats, nuts and beans.
Just like a healthy balance of bacteria is required in the body for optimum health, so too is a balance between contractive (closed, tight, soft, dark) and expansive (released, open, relaxed, active) forces. The ideal state is to exist between the two extremes, where the body feels calm, centred and strong.
The Body Ecology Diet principally utilizes neutral foods such as green vegetables, sea vegetables, and alkaline grain-like seeds such as quinoa and millet, and employs healthy food combining strategies that work with the complementary nature of opposite forces, and balance the life force energy or Ki (pronounced Chi) in the body. Some expansive (herbs, spices, kefir, ghee) and contractive (fish, eggs, salt) foods are allowed. Fish (halibut, salmon, tuna) is the recommended animal food in the diet, as it is the most balanced contractive animal food.
The 2nd Principle: Maintaining a Healthy Acid / Alkaline Balance.
The optimum PH for our bodily fluids and beneficial bacteria to thrive is slightly alkaline at 7.365.
Maintaining this alkaline state is absolutely critical to optimum health. Consuming highly acidic foods, overeating, drug abuse and stress can all contribute to the acidification of the blood which weakens the cells, organs, and vital systems in the body leading to fatigue, disease, and an absence of mental clarity. Furthermore, yeast, fungus, bacteria, viruses and cancer cells thrive in an acidic condition causing infection and disease.
When a highly acidic diet is consumed, the body must rely on its alkaline mineral reserves (also known as alkaline buffers) in an attempt to balance this toxic acidity. This results in nutrient leaching within the body, which contributes to disease. By eating an alkaline mineral-rich diet, you are building up your reserve of alkaline buffers to fight infection, as well as starving yeast, bacteria, and parasites.
Alkaline foods that are recommended in abundance are: sea vegetables, most land vegetables, herbs, raw seeds (except sesame), soaked and sprouted almonds, cultured vegetables, raw kefir, raw apple cider vinegar, and filtered water. The only fruits that are allowed on stage one of the diet are lemons, limes, unsweetened cranberries and blackcurrants; as they are the only ones that are lower in sugar and do not feed yeast.
Acid forming foods that are allowed include: fish, eggs, beef, poultry, buckwheat, and organic unrefined oils. The only sweeteners that are allowed are stevia and lacanto. Highly acidic foods such as processed foods, sugar, flour, beans, soybeans, nuts (except almonds), vinegars and alcohol are to be excluded.
The 3rd Principle: Bio-Diversity, Bio-Individuality or “Uniqueness”
This is one of my favourite aspects of this diet. Acknowledging the reality that one diet will not work for every human being on the planet. We must acknowledge the impact of seasonal changes, environmental pollutants, emotional realities and aging on our bodies. This concept of “flexibility and fluidity not rigidity” resonates with me. It is much healthier to adopt an intuitive approach to diet and healing that does not remain static. But rather, adapts to your body's changing needs.
Listening and learning from our bodies is critical. In the cooler months, you may want to eat more cooked, heating and strengthening foods; and in the hotter months, more raw foods would be balancing. Similarly, if you are feeling tight, you will want to eat more expansive foods in order to gain some strength.
Donna incorporates the best parts of James and Peter D’Adamo’s “blood group diet”, that she says address these concerns in the most adequate fashion.
The 4th Principle: Welcome and Support the Natural Cleansing Activity Of Your Body
Cleansing and removing toxins is important in order to regenerate and heal. This process is fabulous when you are at the other end of it. But can be unpleasant whilst in the throws of the detoxification process! Natural cleansing reactions include headaches, muscle aches and pains, fatigue, colds, flus, skin rashes, diarrhoea, and erratic mood swings.
It is advised that we do not try to mask these cleansing reactions with antibiotics or other medicines. Allow the body to naturally purge these toxins, or they will be driven deeper into the tissues and organs and embed themselves, causing problems down the track.
Disease occurs when our bodies become overwhelmed with deep-seated toxins and pathogens, and are no longer able to cleanse effectively. Most people have cleansing reactions for about 3-7 days. Persevere with the diet, and your body will reap the rewards. “Cleansing is healing”.
You can support the cleanse by engaging in colonic irrigations or colon hydrotherapy, which can help expel the toxins more quickly. I can personally testify to the health benefits of colon cleansing. I have been doing it for 20 years. I am use the open gravity flow system and prefer the Libbe machine. However, this is a personal decision. If you do decide to cleanse your colon, always seek out a qualified colon hydrotherapist who uses a gravity flow machine. It is also extremely important that you replenish the friendly bacteria in the colon after the cleansing. Your colon hydrotherapist should do this for you before you finish your treatment.
The 5th Principle: Food Combining.
The inclusion of proper food combining is one of the most important principles that elevates The Body Ecology Diet above other anti-candida diets. I explain the ideas behind this principle in more detail in the Food Combining page.
But in relation to an overgrowth of candida, when we combine incompatible foods (when we combine starches and proteins, or fruits with other things), they remain in the digestive canal longer than they need to, and ferment, rot and putrefy. This putrefied material attaches to the lining of the digestive tract, and provides a perfect breeding ground for harmful bacteria, parasites, viruses, yeast, funguses and cancer cells to proliferate.
Read more about the principles of food combining on the Food Combining page. The main difference between other food combining diets and B.E.D is the inclusion of fruit. Whilst fruit can be alkalizing, it feeds yeast. So only low-sugar sour fruits such as lemons, limes, cranberries and blackcurrants are allowed on stage one of the B.E.D diet. All other fruits should be avoided until healthy body ecology is restored.
Donna says that this is the biggest mistake made on stage one of the diet - introducing fruits too soon. It sounds unbearably restrictive. But when I was on stage one of the diet, my favourite breakfast was an avocado smoothie made with avocado, unsweetened cranberries, sprouted almonds, coconut kefir and a few drops of stevia or cultured coconut pudding flavoured with avocado and blackcurrants and stevia! They are both delicious.
The 6th Principle: The 80 / 20 Rule.
It is important to support complete assimilation and elimination of foods by not overloading the digestive system with “too much work”. Donna advocates the “80/20 rule” that is advocated by lots of health care professionals. That is, to refrain from overeating that puts a strain on our system; and instead, eat only until you are 80% full, leaving the remaining 20% to be available for proper digestion.
In addition to this, the concept extends to reversing the conventional portion sizing, and instead, eat 80% land and/or sea vegetables, and 20% protein, or grains and starchy vegetables. The other component is to include 80% alkaline foods and 20% acidic foods. Dr Robert O Young also advocates the 80/20 rule with 80% alkaline foods and 20% acidic foods being put on your plate at a meal.
The 7th Principle: Be Patient and Embrace a “Step-By-Step” Approach to Healing.
Listen to your body and be patient as it heals in it's own time.
Every body is different and it can take varying times to eliminate the toxins and restore your natural body ecology. The toxins built up over time, and so it is only natural that the elimination will take time. We cannot expect instant healing.
Be patient and you will reap the rewards. Also be persistent with the healing process. If you stick to the diet it will work. Some great foods that will aid the process are: raw coconut kefir, raw cultured vegetables, sea vegetables, lemons, limes and apple cider vinegar.
It is also important to cleanse you colon to aid the detoxification process.
Move towards optimum health step by step. Be gentle and patient with yourself. Reduce stress as much as possible. Rest, and eliminate any medicines that retard the cleansing process. Most of all, have faith that this diet can help you just as it helped me.
You can find wonderful Body Ecology recipes here at Healthy Blender Recipes, or on The Body Ecology website. Be bold, experiment and come up with your own too.