5 ME/CFS Diets explained:Paleolithic Diet, Blood Type Diet, Body Ecology Diet, Organic Diet, Simple Carb Diet
Paleolithic Diet aka Stoneage Diet
The following is Dr. Sarah Myhill’s paleolithic diet for ME/CFS patients in full. Her entire downloadable book is available at her website. The ‘diet’ downloadable book is free in PDF format as part of the entire book. It is an indispensable resource and I highly recommend it. I have added my own comments at the end. www.drmyhill.co.uk
EAT A STONE-AGE DIET
Human beings evolved over millions of years eating particular foods. Neanderthal man was a carnivore and only ever ate meat. More recently Paleolithic man expanded the diet to include root vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds which he could scavenge from the wild. It is only in the last few thousand years since the Persians, Egyptians and Romans that we began farming and grains and dairy products were introduced into the human diet. A few thousand years from an evolutionary point of view is almost negligible.
Many people have simply failed to adapt to cope with grains and dairy products and it is very likely that these foods cause a range of health problems in susceptible people.
Modern studies on ancient tribes who continue to eat a stone-age (paleolithic) diet show that these people suffer from no diabetes, obesity, heart disease or cancer. If they can survive the ravages of infectious disease, childbirth and war wounds, then these people live healthily to a great age.
So the secret of a healthy diet which allows one to live long is to copy what our ancestors ate which includes a stone-age diet. In practical reality this is not easy and some grains and dairy products are bound to come into the diet in small amounts. So long as one is not allergic to those foods, small amounts occasionally will not matter very much so long as the emphasis is on balance. At present four foods, namely wheat, dairy products, sugar and potato make up 70% of our calories. The artificial restriction of modern diets means we are likely to be missing out on many essential nutrients which could otherwise benefit us.
EAT SMALL AMOUNTS OF HIGH QUALITY FOOD
In addition to choosing the right foods to eat, one can further improve their nourishing value. The first is that ideally these foods should be grown from a soil in which the mineral content has been corrected. Modern farming simply applies three elements, namely NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium), resulting in soils which are grossly out of balance. There is a net loss of minerals such as selenium, zinc, magnesium, cobalt, copper, manganese (to name but a few) from the soil into plants and animals, humans, with human waste not recycled back to agricultural soil.
One of the most important determinates of longevity is the amount of food you eat. Rats, which are fed on diets only just sufficient for a healthy life lived up to 50% longer than rats fed on identical foods but given ad-lib. The same principles are likely to apply to humans.
Foods must also be as free from toxins as possible, such as pesticide residues, hormone residues, antibiotic residues etc. To achieve this, buy organic as much as possible. One of the criticisms I have against organic farming is they do not routinely treat the soil to correct mineral levels.
Food which tastes good is likely to be good food. Taste is a sense which is trace element sensitive - i.e. foods which are deficient in trace elements don't taste so good. For example, zinc deficiency in children is very common. Zinc is necessary for taste buds to work and so food for these zinc deficient children is tasteless. So they tend to go for salty, sweet or spicy foods to compensate and end up eating "junk foods", thereby further worsening the zinc deficiency. Most people can tell you the difference between home grown fresh vegetables and 3 day old shop vegetables. The true free range chicken is a rare beast but quite different in taste from the factory bird. This "food vitality" may be difficult to quantify but it makes it no less real!
For most people "everything in moderation" applies - so long as the "everything" applies to high quality foods. For the allergics "one man's meat is another's poison". Most people will have to sort out their own diet based on healthy principles (see below). FAT IS GOOD FOR YOU
We have been brainwashed into believing that high fat diets result in high cholesterol, which results in arterial disease and therefore premature death. There isn't a shred of evidence to show high fat diet causes high cholesterol and there is a good bio-chemical reason for this. 80% of cholesterol is synthesized in the liver as a result of sugar metabolism. There is no convincing evidence that links high fat diets with high rates of arteriosclerosis. The key issue is to eat high quality fats. Many toxins bio-concentrate in fats and therefore it is important to eat as organic a diet as possible. Fats that are heated to high temperatures will oxidize and these oxidized fats (so called lipid peroxides) are potentially dangerous. So avoid highly cooked barbecued food and cook meat at low temperatures.
This belief suits the food manufacturers well because fats (except cooking oil and margarine, which they have erroneously convinced us have health benefits) are expensive and it is difficult to profit from them. Carbohydrates however can be bought cheap and sold expensive - potatoes can be bought for £100 per ton and sold for £10,000 per ton as crisps. Carbohydrates are addictive - what better for company profits than to sell a product which is addictive? Fat is essential for normal human metabolism - it is a case of eating the right sort of fats - natural, unprocessed and not burnt by cooking. I cook with lard, dripping or olive oil.
Margarine is bad for you. It is artificially prepared by heating oils to high temperatures. This causes formation of trans fatty acids, which are poorly metabolized in the body. Margarine has no "health" advantages over butter. Use best quality "cold pressed, virgin" olive oil for cooking and salads. Other oils have often been heated and therefore denatured. The mono-unsaturated fats are thought to be best in protecting against heart disease.
Our Western diet is relatively deficient in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids - so aim to eat oily fish and good quality vegetables and seeds twice weekly and/or use linseed oil. SUGAR AND REFINED CARBOHYDRATES ARE BAD FOR YOU
I'm coming to the view that sugar and refined carbohydrates are as dangerous as smoking cigarettes in their potential to cause disease. High sugar and high glycaemic index diets result in high blood pressure, insulin resistance, obesity, diabetes, and arterial disease. They are also a major risk factor for cancer - something which is not generally appreciated. We now know the reason why sugar is so dangerous - it sticks on to other molecules to form advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) which literally accelerate the normal aging process. See section: Ischaemic Heart Disease - what really causes it?
GOOD QUALITY WATER
General Principles - Drink good quality water. Spring water (direct or bottled) is undoubtedly the best. Second best is filtered water (water filters should be changed regularly), with tap water a poor third. Many drinks (tea, coffee, alcohol, pop) contain substances which are diuretic and make you pee out minerals.
VARY THE DIET - EAT FOODS IN SEASON
Have as varied a diet as possible - everything in moderation is the key. Government advice to eat five pieces of vegetable and fruit a day is fine so long as the fruits are low glycaemic index berries, not high GI tropical fruits or fruit juices. Don't forget nuts and seeds - these are one of the richest sources of trace elements and vitamins - use for snacks.
EAT FOODS FRESH AND UNPROCESSED
As soon as something "dies" it rots and loses it's goodness. So avoid such "dead" foods as those in tins and packets. Buy fresh, "alive" foods. Eat meat which has "had a life". The fatty acid content of factory farmed fish, pork and poultry reflects that of the food it eats - i.e. poor quality. Eat free range - lamb and beef probably offer the best value in this country. There is a myth that chicken is a healthy meat - if one could see the conditions under which chickens are kept and the quality of food they eat one would understand why chicken is a low quality food. Fruit does contain sugar and this can make it addictive!
Use Solo which is sea salt for which the sodium content has been reduced and so is much closer to our physiological requirements than table salt (sodium chloride). If you do not eat processed food then you will need to add salt to your diet.
ENJOY ADDICTIONS IN MODERATION
Alcohol in modest amounts may well be beneficial to health and red wine comes out at the top of the list unless of course you have an intolerance.
Tea and coffee should be avoided at meal times because they chelate up minerals and prevent them from being absorbed.
Chocolate has many health benefits but avoid the highly sugared bars. Ideally go for organic high cocoa percentage solid chocolate.
COOK FOODS LIGHTLY
Vegetables which are boiled to death lose most of their trace elements in the water. Or if you like your vegetables done this way then you should drink the cooking water (or use it in the gravy). Burned fat from cooking meat is carcinogenic.
As a general principle, proteins and fats are more sustaining, carbohydrates are stupefying. I recommend eating protein and fats at breakfast and carbohydrates in the evening. Breakfast like an emperor, lunch like a king, supper like a pauper! This is especially important for people suffering from fatigue.
Supper: carbohydrates (potato, root vegetables, pulses) lots of vegetables, salad, nuts, seeds, berries, small amounts dried fruit, 70% cocoa chocolate. [raw, no sugar, no fillers is best]
The Principles and the Practice of the Stone Age Diet
There are five aspects of modern Western diet and gut function which commonly cause symptoms from irritable bowel syndrome to fatigue. These are:
1. High carbohydrate intake - this is probably the largest single cause of modern diseases such as hypertension, obesity, syndrome X, heart disease and cancer
2. Food allergy
3. Toxins in the diet (lectins naturally present in foods; artificial additives, colourings, flavourings; artificial sweeteners; pesticide residues, plasticiser residues, etc) social chemicals (alcohol, caffeine, tobacco etc), toxins from burnt fats in cooking.
4. Fermentation of food instead of digestion – see FERMENTATION IN GUT
5. Poor digestion of food due to low stomach acid (HYPOCHLORHYDRIA) and poor pancreatic enzyme production PANCREATIC FUNCTION.
The Stone Age diet tries to address the top three problems at the same time, since they often co-exist in the same patient. This is the diet I like all my patients (including me) to eat long term. This is because it is the evolutionarily correct diet and by eating this we can avoid long term health problems and postpone degenerative conditions. I would settle for getting my Parkinson's disease when I am 120!
As a general principle it is important to remember that:
Carbohydrates (CHO) tend to cause fatigue, even in "normal" people. We should be eating protein and fat in the day and saving carbohydrate until the evening, when it helps sleep. At present Western diets are completely upside down because we eat cereals and toast at breakfast, sandwiches at lunch and meat in the evening - it makes you feel tired in the day and wakes you up at night!
Food allergy is a common cause of many symptoms such as irritable bowel, asthma, mood swings, headache, arthritis, allergic muscles and of course fatigue. The commonest offenders are grains, dairy, yeast and toxins in the diet. Chemicals in the diet inhibit enzyme systems and slow up metabolism - this applies to drugs as well as food additives and pesticide residues, hormone residues, antibiotic residues etc.. Inshore seafish can be expected to have a mercury load. Avoid additives, colourings, flavourings etc, avoid plastic wrappings (especially if heated!) on food and try to switch to organic foods wherever possible.
Gut dysbiosis and poor digestion of foods, whereby foods are fermented instead of being digested, can also cause these symptoms.
This diet, therefore, has foods of low glycaemic index (GI) in the day and moderate GI index in the evening, it avoids the common allergens, avoids mouldy foods and foods of high fermentable substrate and is as free from chemicals as possible. Actually, in the long term I see this as a diet for life. My view is that we should be mimicking Stone Age principles. The following is the evolutionarily correct diet. Once the diet is established, we do not have to follow it slavishly, but it should make up our staple diet and ultimately the forbidden foods should become treat foods and not staple foods. Allowed foods in the Stone Age Diet
The following foods are allowed both in the day and the evening:
Any meats: choose from chicken, beef, lamb, pork, turkey, duck, 'game' meats such as venison, pheasant, goose etc. Bacon and ham. Salami. Liver, kidney and offal are fine too. Eggs - an excellent source of lecithin (eat soft yolks). Any fish: salmon, mackerel, cod, haddock (care with smoked fish which often contains dyes). Tinned fish in brine or olive oil is fine. Tinned shrimps, prawns, mussels, cockles etc.
All green vegetables, all salads, avocado, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, celery, peppers, onion, cress, bamboo shoots etc. French dressing: make your own from olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, mustard. Any low CHO fruit: apple, pear, orange, grapefruit (no sugar!). Berries are excellent. Seeds: sunflower, poppy, sesame. Nuts: peanut, brazil, hazel, cashew, pistachio, walnut etc.; nut butter spreads, tahini (sesame seed spread). Use cold pressed nut and seed oils liberally such as sunflower, olive, sesame, grapeseed, hemp. linseed, rape and so on. Soya products Oats and oatcakes (do not eat for breakfast as it is likely to create CHO craving) Spices and herbs: chilli, cumin, ginger, coriander, pepper, cloves etc Herbs, salt (ideally Solo - a sodium reduced sea salt), olives, pork scratchings
Allowed drinks in the day: Bottled or filtered water Herbal teas: redbush ("rooibosch", "11 0'clock tea"), rosehip tea.
In the evening you can eat all of the above, plus modest amounts of higher GI foods:
Rice and potato e.g. rice cakes or puffed rice from health food shops. Root vegetables - carrots, parsnip, turnip, celeriac. Specific grains: millet, buckwheat, sago, quinoa. Some high carbohydrate fruit: banana, grapes, melon
Dried fruit: sultana, apricot, prune, raisin, fig, date etc Pulses: lentil, butter beans, chick peas, flagolets etc Mixture of nuts, seeds, dried fruits Arrowroot flour: for thickening gravies
Diluted fruit juice: Grape juice, pineapple juice, apple juice, tomato juice.
Most foods from packets and tins will have hidden additives, so avoid these. Be careful with sausage which contains rusk. ALL OTHER FOODS ARE FORBIDDEN!!! - this means no tap water, tea, coffee, chocolate, alcohol, wheat (bread, biscuit, cake, pasta, pastry), rye (Ryvita), corn, dairy products (milk, butter, cheese, yoghurt, dried milk), vinegar and sugar. Try to avoid drugs and medicines, many of which contain fillers of corn, lactose, colourings etc.
Getting worse on the diet
This is almost to be expected. The reasons for worsening are as follows: Hypoglycaemia - this is the commonest reason for worsening and may take weeks to settle. There are some nutritional interventions which help greatly (see HYPOGLYCAEMIA - Not just about diet!) Caffeine withdrawal - again a common problem. Usually results in headache, which clears in four days. Food allergy withdrawal may cause many different symptoms. Some people report feeling 'flu like. Typically this lasts four days, but symptoms like eczema, arthritis, allergic muscles and fatigue can take weeks to clear. One patient with prostatism took 4 months to clear!
Breakfast: Bacon, eggs, fried tomato. Smoked fish (kippers, mackeral with lemon juice). Nuts and seeds with soya yoghurt (see Probiotics - we should all be taking these all the time and double the dose following antibiotics and gastroenteritis)
Lunch: Cold meat, fish (tinned fish in olive oil is fine), prawns, salami, smoked fish, rusk free sausage (ie 100% meat), avocado. Salad (lettuce, cucumber, tomato, celery, peppers etc), French dressing. Green vegetables with nut/seed oils
Home-made soup (made from meat stock, not cubes, only with allowed vegetables). Nuts and seeds with soya yoghurt Oatcakes
Supper: Meat, fish or eggs, potato or rice, any vegetable. Fruit, soya yoghurt. Muesli made from rice flakes, millet flakes, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, fresh fruit etc (some health food shops do "gluten free" muesli with the above ingredients). Use soya milk or fruit juice to wet the dry cereal. Puffed rice or rice cakes with soya margarine, nut butter. Oatcakes. Buckwheat flakes.
Always remember: breakfast like an emperor, lunch like a king and supper like a pauper!
In practice, make the Stone Age diet your staple diet, but relax the rules when you socialise.
What to do if you are no better on the diet
Stick with it! This is the evolutionarily correct diet and greatly reduces your risk of heart disease, cancer and degenerative conditions! The three common reasons for not improving are: Because of multiple allergies to foods (i.e. there is something on the diet that you continue to react to). In this case consider a rotation diet, or starting on desensitisation ENZYME POTENTIATED DESENSITISATION - INTRODUCTION Because of a gut dysbiosis - i.e. the wrong bugs in the gut. Consider a gut fermentation test or Comprehensive Digestive Stool analysis to look for parasites, bacterial overgrowth or yeast overgrowth. FERMENTATION IN THE GUT AND CFS. Poor digestion of foods HYPOCHLORHYDRIA, PANCREATIC FUNCTION Because you trigger a detox reaction. Recommended reading: "The Complete Guide to Food Allergy and Intolerance" Brostoff and Gamlin, £9.99. ; "Not All In The Mind" - Richard Mackarness;"The Food Intolerance Diet Book" Workman, Hunter and Alun Jones; “Dr Atkins Diet Revolution” - Dr Robert C Atkins. “The Detox Diet” - Dr Paula Baillie-Hamilton 0-718-14545-3 from www.penguin.com
If you wish also to lose weight
As a general principle I don't like my CFS patients dieting because cutting calories makes you tired, cold and depressed and you can do without those things! However, if you are extremely strict with CHO, the body switches into a state of ketosis. To burn fats in the body is a two stage process - the first stage is conversion of fats to ketones, the next is ketones to carbon dioxide and water. Both stages release energy for the body to use. However, the second stage requires some CHO - if there is none then ketones are excreted in the breath and in the urine - one literally pees out calories. This is very good for morale when every time you pee you lose calories and weight! To do this diet properly you really need to get the book “Dr Atkins Diet Revolution”, which goes into detail of exactly which foods you need. Also I can supply ketostix which measure ketones in the urine and tell you if you are doing the diet correctly. Atkins permits dairy products but I recommend avoiding these. He also permits various artificial sweeteners which should be avoided. I recommend the use of Stevia, an extract of a South American plant.
The idea behind a rotation diet is that one continues to react to foods that are in the gut for possibly up to three days. So no food is eaten within that time. Day 1 has a group of foods you are allowed to eat, then a completely different group of foods for days 2, 3 and 4 before repeating the cycle. You can find an example of a 4 day rotation diet on the website (it could be worse – there are 7 day rotation diets! If it's Wednesday it must be parsnip!!!). Or phone the office for a hard copy. Obviously avoid any foods which you know you are allergic to.
Very Restricted Diets e.g.: lamb, pear and rice
I used to give patients very restricted diets (such as lamb, pears and rice) to sort out their allergies. I no longer do this for two reasons. Firstly I found a few patients got stuck on a very restricted diet and were unable to expand it. However I do occasionally do a rare foods diet for a limited period of time – say two weeks. Secondly I now have a technique called EPD (ENZYME POTENTIATED DESENSITISATION) which turns off food allergies without one having to know what those allergies are. It can do this because all the different food antigens are represented in the vaccine. I use EPD if I am convinced that a patient has food allergies but is not responding to the elimination or rotation diets.
The supermarkets are now catching on to the demand for grain free, dairy free and yeast free products and there is a much better choice of foods than ever before.
The Problem of Addiction
These days I find myself talking more about addiction than allergy and there is no doubt carbohydrate addiction is a major cause of tiredness. It results in hypoglycaemia and maybe you can identify with the following scenario.
I estimate that over 90% of people who consult me are addicts. Addiction usually starts off in life with sugar, but then moves onto carbohydrates generally, chocolate, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and maybe onto other hard drugs. There is a carbohydrate addiction gene which switches on when the carbohydrate content of the diet exceeds 4%. This makes one endlessly crave carbohydrates when carbohydrates are available. This does not make sense until you think from an evolutionary point of view. Protein foods such as meat, fish and shellfish, were available throughout the year, but every so often there would be a bonanza when, for example, the banana tree would ripen. The only way man could store this food source was to eat it and store it as body fat. So once carbohydrate appeared in abundance and he started to eat it the carbohydrate gene was switched on to create a craving Homo Sapiens who ate to excess, put on weight and was thereby able to store it in his body for leaner times ahead. The problem in modern times is that carbohydrates are now freely available and we continue to crave them and continue to put on weight. Furthermore, once you put on weight, the imperative to use your brain and your body to seek new food declines and so you become sluggish and lethargic. The converse of this is true. If you wish to lose weight then eat a very low carbohydrate diet such as the Atkins diet and often you will see an immediate improvement in your mental and physical energy levels.
The reason we become addicted is because consuming the addictive foods has a direct effect on brain neurotransmitters causing the release of happy hormones such as serotonin, adrenaline, noradrenaline, endogenous opiates and possibly others. These have the combined effect of giving energy (both physical and mental) as well as a calming effect (everybody recognizes comfort foods – or reward foods). These are highly desirable in the short term, but you cannot have an upper without a downer, and soon, levels of happy hormone start to decline. We recognise the symptoms, start to crave again and go for another shot of addiction. Sometimes we vary the addiction and switch from one addiction to another. In the long-term chronic addictions lead to chronic fatigue!
My own comments to add to Myhill’s paleolithic diet from the perspective of a holistic nutritional consultant:
for frying, use ghee (clarified butter) or coconut oil as these fats do not oxidize at high heats, creating free radicals in the body (of which we already have plenty!). For low-heat frying, olive oil is acceptable
some people with ME/CFS cannot tolerate eating certain food combinations without incurring digestive upset. If this is you, stick to eating fruits alone; proteins with vegetables and small amounts of fat; allowable carbs with vegetables and small amounts of fat; do not mix many types of protein at one meal
raw, unrefined chocolate is a nutrient dense superfood. ‘Raw’ is key here. The best bar I’ve found to date is made by www.livinglibations.com. It is the only one that doesn’t make me super-overstimulated. My body loves it!
make sure meals are proportioned correctly to maintain a proper alkaline balance in your body. This means 1/4 protein to 3/4 vegetable for protein containing meals
Blood Type Diet
The Blood Type Diet is based on the book Eat Right For Your Type, Dr. Peter D’Adamo with C. Whitney; 1996.
The blood type diet is based on eating foods that the author deems appropriate for your blood type: O, A, B or AB. Through eating foods beneficial for your blood type, one achieves optimal well-being through the avoidance of diseases most commonly associated with blood type. This diet is intended for long-term use.
D’Adamo cites that the first blood type to exist was O, that of the Neanderthal man living c.50,000 BC, and that this was the only type to exist until c. 30,000 BC when very quick genetic mutations created type A blood in response to environmental conditions. Around 15,000 BC, blood type B is believed to have emerged from the Himalayan Highlands, perhaps in response to climactic changes. The rarest blood type, AB, apparently emerged between 500 BC and 700 AD as the product of type A and type B intermingling.
D’Adamo states that type O represents the ‘Hunter’ [carnivore] and that people with this blood type are strong, self-reliant leaders. People with blood type O have inherited their ancestors’ hardy digestive tract with the high stomach acid needed to digest meat. They also have strong immune systems, sometimes so active that autoimmune conditions result. Type Os are susceptible to blood clotting disorders, inflammatory diseases (like arthritis), ulcers and allergies. They do not adapt well to new environments or diets. D’Adamo believes their diet should be high in animal protein, vegetables and fruits; grains, beans and legumes are to be limited. I have noticed many reactions to sulfa drugs and immunizations in this blood type, likely due to the fact that they have very vigilant immune systems that are not tolerant of any ‘outsider’ getting ‘in’.
Blood type A is represented as the ‘Cultivator’ [vegetarian], the type requiring an agrarian diet. Type As adapt well to dietary and environmental changes, yet have a slightly more vulnerable immune system. Their medical risks include hearts disease, cancer, anemia, liver and gallbladder disorders. The type A diet should emphasize vegetables, tofu, grains, beans, legumes and fruit.
Type B is seen as the ‘Nomad’ [omnivore], the type with the most flexible dietary choices and the tolerant digestive system. They have strong immune systems, yet imbalances may cause a tendency towards autoimmune issues and a susceptibility to rare viruses. Type Bs are the omnivores that can eat various meats, dairy, grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits.
Modern merging of type As and Bs has created blood type AB: the ‘Enigma’ [also omnivorous]. This is the only blood type that hasn't evolved as a response to environmental changes. They have a sensitive digestive tract and a ‘chameleon’s response’ to changes in environment and diet. Those with the blood type AB have immune systems that are highly tolerant to pathogens, allowing for easy invasion. I have noted that this blood type has fewer reactions to immunizations and certain antibiotics as their immune systems just ‘let it all in’; they are very hospitable! Medical risks for ABs include heart disease, cancer and anemia. They have the best and worst characteristics of types A and B; their optimal diet also reflects this inheritance. [This is my blood type]
In Eat Right For Your Type , various foods are categorized as ‘beneficial’, ‘neutral’ or ‘not recommended’ for each of the four blood types. You can refer to the book or to pocket-sized cards sold at health-food stores that are custom made for each of the blood types, outlining the diet appropriate for each.
The main determinant of which foods fall into which category for any given blood type is based on the theory of lectins and how they affect each blood type when consumed through certain foods. Lectins are compounds (usually proteins) that can interact with surface antigens found on the body’s cells, causing them to agglutinate (stick together). Lectins are present in many foods and are often blood type specific. Hence, the diet focuses on eliminating the lectins that specifically affect your blood type.
The main caveat here for people with ME/CFS is that this diet on it’s own is not enough, especially when there are major accompanying gut issues. My advice is that it could be used as an adjunct to the Stone Age Diet or the Body Ecology Diet. And remember, just because a food is on your blood type list as ‘beneficial’, it is never beneficial if you are allergic/intolerant to it. Coffee is also highly recommended on this diet for certain blood types, yet many with ME/CFS can’t tolerate it; if this is the case, don’t have it. Remember this book is meant for the general public, and that you know your body best. Otherwise, as stated earlier, it can be a useful adjunct in your quest for optimal health through diet. It's interesting to see how we've evolved as humans in this way, and the consequences that our blood type and diet bring to our health.
The Body Ecology Diet
The purpose of this diet is to restore and maintain the ‘inner ecology’ (gut bacteria) of the body to enable the body to heal itself. It is based on the book of the same name, by Donna Gates.
The diet is based on the concept that our bodies have a natural balance of microorganisms that are crucial to a wide range of functions in the body, including immunity and brain function. Modern diets are rife with sugars and excess carbohydrates which lead to altered biological terrain and increased susceptibility for disease.
The Body Ecology Diet rebuilds your body’s natural ecosystem which in turn supports optimal health and improves a variety of chronic health conditions, including immune conditions like ME/CFS.
The Body Ecology Diet is basically a Candida Diet.
Five principles lay the foundation of the diet:
The addition of cultured foods to the diet such as fermented vegetables and organic yogurt and kefir.
The use of quality of fats in the diet. Gates encourages the use of ‘good’ fats such as flaxseed oil, extra virgin olive oil, and coconut oils.
Dramatically reducing carbohydrate and sugar intake. Most forms of concentrated carbohydrates are eliminated on this diet including gluten-containing grains, potato, sweets, and the majority of fruits. As dieters progress on the diet they may be allowed to carefully increase their intake of fruits, high carbohydrate vegetables, and specific grains.
Proper food combining, which is essential for healthy digestion.
Maintaining a proper alkaline/acid balance in the body.
Recommended foods include:
Kefir made from goat milk, organic cows milk, coconut water/milk; cultured vegetables such as raw sauerkraut; sea vegetables; organic eggs; fish; organic chicken, turkey, and lean meats; soaked sunflower and pumpkin seeds; salads and steamed vegetables; raw almonds; quinoa, amaranth, millet, buckwheat, blue corn chips; oils (flax, olive, coconut).
When I was at my healthiest, I was on this diet. I found that it took a lot of preparation, for example, to make almond milk from scratch. Yet, I loved cooking and I had the energy to follow this regime. The effect was wonderful; I felt clearer and stronger than anytime in the history of my illness. The recipes were good and I enjoyed making my own ginger ale with stevia, ginger, vanilla and lemon extract. It is quite a strict diet, and it positively will not work for vegans or vegetarians. Some restaurants have Body Ecology Diet (BED) options on their menus. The recommended buckwheat made my blood sugar unstable; perhaps because of my AB blood type. This is a good example of how taking the best from a few sources really helps to fill out a proper foundational diet ... If you want to dine out while on the BED: meat/fish, vegetables, salad with lemon and olive oil are great choices, and are usually accessible. You get the hang of the Body Ecology Diet after a while without feeling deprived and the results are worth it! Through my own experience, I highly recommend it.
Since ME/CFS patients generally have elevated serum levels of chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides compared to normal controls, it shows that an organic diet is particularly important for people with ME/CFS (RH Dunstan, M Donohoe, W Taylor et al., 1995).
The authors of this study noted that certain chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides, such as 1,1-dichloro2,2-bis(P-chlorophenyl)ethene (DDE), are lipid compounds that can accumulate in lipid membranes and potentially change cell membrane integrity and inhibit functional membrane-bound proteins. Also, they are able to affect neurological activity of people with ME/CFS as these compounds are able to cross the blood brain barrier (CS Miller, TJ Prihoda, 1995).
What this means is that people with ME/CFS are accumulating pesticides found in commercial foods, and that some of these pesticides can affect neurological function as well as the functioning of other bodily organs. Seeing as most of our second phase detox system of the liver is inhibited ( cytochrome P 450), we are unable to clear these and other toxins as efficiently as control subjects. To ease the burden on the body, choose organic wherever possible, especially for the highest sprayed commercial crops.
According to the Environmental Working Group, USA (based on statistical analysis of the FDA and USDA), consumers can reduce their pesticide exposure by 80% by avoiding the most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating only the cleanest.
Top 12 Most Contaminated Produce Items (EWG), 2010#of Pesticides
1. celery 64
2. peaches 62
3. strawberries 59
4. apples 42
5. blueberries 52
6. nectarines 33
7. bell pepper 49
8. spinach 48
9. kale n/a
10. cherries 42
11. potatoes 37
12. grapes 34
Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet, Elaine Gotschall; 1994 Recipes for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, Raman Prasad
In my Holistc Nutrition courses, I was taught that all autoimmune disease begins in the gut; that the gut is the largest immune organ and that the gut is also ‘the second brain’. Presently, the connection between the gut and the brain has gained even more predominance in progressive health circles. Symptoms of Celiac Disease were once thought to consist primarily of diarrhea and other bowel troubles. Now, it is known that this intestinal autoimmune disease can produce symptoms such as seizures and schizophrenia (A. Fasano, Scientific American; 2009).
Problems occur when a ‘leaky gut’ lets undigested or partially undigested food particles (especially proteins) and bacteria into the bloodstream, where they circulate and eventually wreak havoc on bodily organs. Most MDs will probably deny that this phenomena exists, but those patients experiencing ‘leaky gut’ definitely know there’s a problem. For those with a ‘leaky gut’, the gastrointestinal tract must be healed before healing from any larger illness, like ME/CFS can be expected.
Most people with ME/CFS have some degree of intestinal involvement, sometimes as Irritable Bowel Disease, gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, nausea or abdominal discomfort. They are also usually low in gastric hydrochloric acid, rendering complete digestion of protein inadequate. I have noticed this firsthand in myself; when I have gastric reflux, it doesn’t burn as it did when I was healthier. The fluid from my stomach is quite alkaline, which indicates low hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Hydrochloric acid is also one of our first lines of defense against viruses, bacteria and parasites. As you can see, gastrointestinal health is of utmost importance, especially if we want to heal from ME/CFS.
Hence, I include a reference here to the book Breaking the Vicious Cycle which involves following the Simple Carbohydrate Diet, i.e. cutting out all complex carbs as well as mucilaginous foods. If you have gut issues, you may want to choose this diet as your foundation to healing, especially if the Stone Age Diet or Body Ecology Diets are not working their best for you. It is promoted as a diet to heal Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s, Celiac Disease, etc., yet has many other relevant applications. I know a few people with mysterious, undiagnosed maladies that cleared up on this diet.
The recipe book by Raman Prasad is wonderful. Great recipes for those with ME/CFS. If I could chew, I would eat all of them! These are lactose-free, grain-free, gluten-free, heavy starch-free, sugar-free recipes. There is a recipe for goats' milk kefir, but enough dairy-free recipes for those wishing to avoid all types of dairy. If the general public ate like this, we'd definitely see a decline in most chronic disease including autism, rheumatoid arthritis, heart failure and all bowel-related illnesses.