Electrogastograms and Rewiring the Electrical Activity of the Gut

If you have been struggling with an issue like SIBO, candida, IBS, IBD or an Episode 20 of The Perfect Stool Understanding and Healing the Gut Microbiomeeating disorder that is not resolving with traditional or alternative treatments, you may be dealing with an electrical problem in your gut, brain or the connection between the two. In my last podcast episode: The Gut-Brain Connection: A Deep Dive with Corey Deacon, DNM, CFMP, we talked about an amazing new tool that he is using, the electrogastrogram (EGG), to help resolve these issues and retrain the brain and gut.

EGGs record the electrical activity of the gut through sensors on the outside of your body. Every cell in your body needs an electric current to function, and your gut cells are no different. The EGG is similar to an EKG you would have on your heart, just on a different part of your body. EGGs can run through an app on your phone and are then synched with a diary of times you eat, have a bowel movement, etc. In Dr. Deacon’s work, he has found that people with IBS, IBD, GERD, SIBO, chronic parasites or fungal problems, the EGG isn’t smooth and the gut isn’t moving things in the proper rhythm, which is normally 0.05 Hertz. In many people, the migratory motor complex, which controls the movement of food through the intestines, is moving food too slowly, which is known as dysmotility. In other cases, there are little areas within the intestines that are firing improperly, and sometimes firing in the wrong direction. A common example of this is GERD, where acid comes back up the esophagus. While it’s obvious when this happens in the esophagus, it’s much harder to diagnose throughout the rest of the gut as the symptoms are more subtle. But the result of this firing in the wrong direction is a buildup of dysbiotic bacteria that release lipopolysaccharides (LPS). LPS, also known as endotoxins, stimulate a strong immune response, leading to inflammation.

But Dr. Deacon and his colleagues have found that some of the time, the improper firing or gut dysmotility has its origin in the brain, for example following a traumatic brain injury. So when you have both an EGG and an electroencephalogram (EEG), which tracks your brain waves, you can figure out the directionality of your gut problems. One surprise that the practitioners of this technique discovered was that with eating disorders, 70% of the time, it was in fact the gut taking control of the brain and causing the behavior, not the contrary. Using these neuro and biofeedback technique techniques to retrain the brain and gut, Dr. Deacon and others have had success in helping people resolve their eating disorders.

Brain and gut retraining is done through a technique called operant conditioning, which is accomplished by providing audio and visual feedback cues that the brain likes when it’s behaving correctly. This is done by hooking sensors up to the gut and brain and playing a game, movie, music or animation for the patient when the gut or brain is facilitating a proper rhythm. In the brain, the superior and inferior colliculi respond to audio and visual information, and send a message to the limbic system, which then sends a message to the reward system. The limbic system likes stimulus (as opposed to nothing), like how we love our cell phones and can’t stay off them. So when the stimulus is removed, the brain is unhappy. Over time, the brain figures out how to get the stimulus by facilitating the proper gut rhythm, and through the neuroplasticity of the brain, extinguishes old pathways and creates new, healthy pathways to facilitate proper gut movement.

Training sessions last 45 minutes to a hour 2-3 times/week, with 16-24 retraining sessions in total to correct problems in mild to moderate cases. Then patients will do a maintenance session every 1-4 weeks to correct for mental or emotional stress or physiological stress on the gut through toxins, etc. In the next 2-3 years, they’re hoping to develop an at-home system for gut retraining that could be accessed via a cell phone app.

To hear more details about this exciting new technique and much more, listen to my latest episode of my podcast The Perfect Stool: Understanding and Healing the Gut Microbiome.

How to Support Your Gut Microbiome While Taking Antibiotics

Antibiotics are dramatically overprescribed in our current medical system, and this takes the form of prescribing them when they aren’t necessary, prescribing wider-spectrum antibiotics than necessary, and prescribing longer courses than necessary. I was once prescribed 10 days of Cipro twice in rapid succession for urinary tract infections that I later learned only warranted a 3-day course. All of my autoimmune conditions were diagnosed in the following year. This makes me quite suspicious!

During the cold and flu season this winter, your doctor may prescribe you antibiotics for conditions that are caused by viruses, like cold and flu, or for sinus infections, which are much more likely to be fungal, not bacterial or viral. So if you’re offered an antibiotic for one of these conditions, you should definitely ask your doctor, first of all, is this really necessary? Now admittedly, there are some bacterial infections like strep throat that can be secondary to a viral infection, and those legitimately do need to be treated with antibiotics or herbal antimicrobials. If you go that route, you can see a naturopath for herbal medicines or instructions on which herbal products to use and when to seek out antibiotics if they aren’t working.

If you do have to go on antibiotics, one of the best things that you can do is to take probiotics both during the time you’re taking the antibiotics and then afterwards, to make sure that you protect and rebuild your gut. Note that most probiotics are just transitory and will not colonize your gut, but will protect you from pathogenic bacteria taking root (like C. Difficile) while you’re on antibiotics, will help select for healthier strains in your gut and will protect you from intestinal permeability or leaky gut, where the gut opens up and allows food particles, bacteria and toxins to escape.

So the first probiotic that I always recommend is S. Boulardii, (officially Saccharomyces Cerevisiae subspecies Boulardii), which is not actually a bacteria. It is a beneficial yeast. I like the Jarrow brand (5 billion CFU in 1 capsule; also available from my Fullscript Dispensary) because you can get a nice big bottle for a reasonable price. I would take those at least two or three times a day during the time you’re on antibiotics. As a yeast, the antibiotics won’t kill it. The nice thing about S. Boulardii is that it stops the reproduction of candida, which is also a yeast normally present in your gut. When you are killing off bacteria, the balance between the bacteria and the candida can get off, which can lead to an overgrowth of candida. I take S. Boulardii on a daily basis even when I’m not on antibiotics.

Then another type of probiotic you will want to consider are soil-based or spore-based probiotics, of which I’d take one serving/day. Some of the big names in spore-based are Megasporebiotic (also on Fullscript); likely the most expensive, most diverse and highest dosage one with 4 billion CFU and 5 strains in 2 capsules). Then there’s justthrive (3 billion and 4 strains in 1 capsule) and ProFlora 4R (on Fullscript; 3 billion CFU, 3 strains + Querticin, Aloe Vera and Marshmallow Root). And then there’s also a brand called Restorflora (on Fullscript) that has both 5 billion CFU of S. Boulardii and 2 billion CFU of 2 strains of spore-based probiotics. So I’d either go with the S. Boulardii plus a separate spore-based probiotic, or I would go with the combined one. But you may want to double up on RestorFlora to get as many of the spore-based as you would with another brand that was only spore-based strains. But of course, it’s not an exact science.

Another probiotic that I recommend as well is Equilibrium, which is really unique in the field of probiotics because it’s a human-derived probiotic with 115 strains. So these are strains that actually live in your gut. Again, I would go with maybe two or three of these a day during the time you’re on antibiotics or one/day starting right after you’re done, and keep that up until you’ve finished out 1-2 bottles. You could also go with Equilibrium Boost, which is basically 2 capsules of 10 Equilibrium combined into one, and then follow that by a regular bottle of Equilibrium right after you finish with the antibiotics. (You can use discount code HDH15OFF to get 15% off Equilibrium either at at the link above or on Amazon).

And then either at the same time or after you’re finished with your antibiotics, I’d also use food-based probiotics, something that has high levels of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. If you want to go really high end, you can look at the Bifido Maximus, which is sold out of the Gut Institute and has 100 billion CFU per ¼ tsp. serving. Another good one is Renew Life Ultimate Flora that has 50 billion CFU per capsule. Of the food-based, I’d shoot for 100 billion CFU/day.

In terms of timing, all of the probiotics besides the S. Boulardii need to be taken separated in time from antibiotics. Otherwise the antibiotics will just be killing them. So for example, if you’re taking your antibiotics at breakfast and dinner, then take your probiotics at lunch and/or right before you go to bed, or if the antibiotics are three times/day, then take the probiotics between meals and/or at bedtime.

Another substance you might want to look at to help protect your gut is L-glutamine, which is a nonessential amino acid. Normally your body makes enough and it also comes from a lot of different foods like chicken, fish, dairy, tofu, cabbage, spinach, beets, peas, lentils and beans. But it can become deficient due to major infections, trauma, significant stress, radiation and chemotherapy, shock and vigorous exercise. So one way to protect your gut during these times of infections is to have a lot of bone broth, which has both L-glutamine and collagen, which is why of course grandma’s chicken soup was recommended. Note though that if you have histamine intolerance, bone broth is a source of histamine, so you wouldn’t want to go that route. Or you can take supplements of L-glutamine. The maximum dose is 30 grams a day split into five gram portions taken six times a day. But what I’d recommend is that you just start with a powder and work your way up to what seems to be a good dose for you. That helps seal the gut and keep it protected from becoming leaky.

Then you should also make sure you eat probiotic foods. So fermented sauerkraut, kefir, kim chee, etc. And the other thing that’s really important is to avoid sugar and processed carbohydrates during the time you’re on antibiotics and while you’re rebuilding your gut afterwards, because this is a time you’re going to be particularly prone to an overgrowth of candida. The more I see clients and people around me who are sick, the more I believe that a lot of these gut and autoimmune issues are traceable to the destruction of the gut microbiome due to antibiotics. You end up with an imbalance between the bacteria and fungi, including candida. So it’s really important that you get off the sugar and the processed carbs as much as possible. And that includes alcohol.

Then the other important part is to feed the body and its resident bacteria prebiotics and fiber. So just in case there’s any unclarity, probiotics are the bacteria and beneficial yeast, prebiotics are the food for the bacteria. I wouldn’t say it’s necessary to go for a prebiotic supplement, but just eat a lot of fiber from fruits and vegetables, like onion, garlic, beans, lentils and other legumes (the powerhouses of fiber).

And then you can also aim to get good resistant starch, which functions like soluble fiber, as a food for our bacteria. It helps us feel more full and controls blood sugar but we don’t digest it, our bacteria do. Good sources are tiger nut flour (a root vegetable, not a nut), green banana flour and banana skins. If you want to put banana skins into your smoothie, make sure you use organic bananas. You can also get resistant starch from heated and then cooled rice and potatoes. Once you cool them down, you get significantly fewer carbohydrates (or simple carbohydrates if you’re eating white rice) and 2½ to 3 times more resistant starch. Once you cool them, you can heat them back up to eat.

Finally, I did want to mention that if you took antibiotics a long time ago and you’re now dealing with what seems to be gut issues that followed on the antibiotic treatment, you can certainly try probiotics. You can go hard on them and see if it helps. But it may just be putting a bandaid on a bigger problem. So my recommendation is if it’s been a while since you took the antibiotics and you’ve been having gut issues, then you probably want to see what’s going on through testing. It may be parasites, it may be bacterial overgrowth like SIBO, it may be fungi like candida. It’s important to figure out what’s going on so that you can kill the appropriate thing, if there’s something to kill, and then rebuild with the prebiotics and probiotics. I think that’s a better route than trying to just put a bandaid on a dysbiotic gut.

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Reversing Autoimmune Disease Naturally

If you’re suffering from an autoimmune disease, you’re not the only one, Reversing Autoimmune Disease Naturallybut fortunately, there is hope! Over the last 50 years, autoimmunity has increase threefold, with around 50 million Americans current affected (more than cancer or heart disease), 78% of whom are women. In autoimmune diseases, the body produces antibodies that attack its own cells, tissues and organs. The most common autoimmune diseases are Rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Celiac disease, Graves’ disease and Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus, but there are more than 100 autoimmune diseases that are either systemic or attack individual organs.

This affected me personally when I was diagnosed with three autoimmune diseases around 2014 – Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, ITP (an autoimmune platelet disorder) and B12 anemia. Traditional doctors had nothing to recommend other than monitoring the progression of my conditions and waiting until treatment was necessary (except for the B12 anemia which shots and sublingual supplementation helped). I soon realized that there was a lot more I could do, and thanks to the methods I outline below, I have been able to reverse my autoimmune diseases almost completely. And last week was a special celebration when my lab tests showed my platelet count solidly in the normal range for the first time since 2013! And I have yet to have to go on replacement thyroid hormone for my Hashimoto’s and my antibodies were almost down to normal at my blood tests last year.

So what causes autoimmune disease? While twin studies show that about 25% of the cause may be genetic, the other 75% is environmental, which means that changing those environmental factors can help reverse your autoimmune disease and its symptoms. The main environmental contributing factors are diet, intestinal permeability (aka, leaky gut), environmental and dietary toxins, infections and stress. In fact, many autoimmune sufferers can point to a period of high stress when their condition started.

Pharmacological treatments for autoimmunity include immunosuppressive drugs, NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), DMARDs (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs), and biologics. Immunosuppressive drugs suppress the immune system, creating vulnerabilities to bacteria, viruses and toxins that your immune system normally can handle, and cause a host of other dangerous side effects. NSAIDs, when used long-term, can cause stomach pain, heartburn, ulcers, headaches, dizziness, liver or kidney problems, high blood pressure, and increased risk of worsening heart failure. Side effects from DMARDs include abdominal pain, anemia, anxiety or depression, easy bruising or bleeding, fatigue, infection, lymphoma, night sweats, skin cancer and tuberculosis. Finally, biologics, which are quite expensive, also have side effects that include cancer, headaches, heart failure, hepatitis B, joint pain, nausea, upper respiratory infections and vision problems.

Given the track record of pharmacological treatments, natural treatments to reverse or improve autoimmune conditions hold great promise for relieving suffering without causing additional problems. Protocols to reverse autoimmunity aim to address the underlying triggers of autoimmunity and heal the root causes. These protocols typically involve 5 steps. They are:

a. Detoxification – A congested liver may be making it hard for your body to remove current toxins, leading to an overload. Gentle supplements that support your body’s own detoxification systems can help clear the backlog of toxins and give your body the chance to reset. Eliminating environmental and food toxins by choosing natural cleaning and personal care products, filtering your water, and eating whole, organic foods will help eliminate a large percentage of toxins entering your system.

b. Identifying food sensitivities – Gluten and other common food sensitivities are often co-factors in autoimmune disease, that when eliminated allow your body to heal. An elimination diet done under the care of a professional will help you identify and replace foods to which your body may be sensitive.

c. Suppressing and/or healing infections – Different infections including small intestine bacterial overgrowth, candida overgrowth in the gut, Epstein-Barre virus (which causes mononucleosis), HSV (Herpes Simplex Virus), and bacteria such as Yersinia and Klebsiella have been implicated in different autoimmune conditions. Testing for and treating underlying bacterial or fungal infections or overgrowths and suppressing viral infections will help heal your autoimmunity.

d. Healing the gut lining – Stress, antibiotics that alter the balance of your gut microbiome, emulsifiers used in foods, environmental toxins, food sensitivities, a diet high in sugar and simple carbohydrates and low of fiber and heavy alcohol use can lead to an unhealthy gut lining with large cracks or holes that allow partially digested food, toxins and bacteria, to enter your body, triggering inflammation and autoimmune reactions. Eliminating those foods and toxins, and identifying and removing triggers, as well as including healthy sources of fiber in your diet and using appropriate probiotics and other supplements will help heal your gut lining. Finding effective ways to remove stressors and manage stress is also essential.

e. Fixing nutrient deficiencies – Deficiencies in key nutrients like vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids, B vitamins, selenium, zinc and magnesium can also be a factor in autoimmunity. Testing for nutrient deficiencies and supplementing where necessary will give your body the tools it needs to modulate your immune response, fight bacteria and viruses and support an appropriate inflammatory response.

If you’re suffering from an autoimmune disease or know someone who is, the good news is that many people have reversed autoimmune conditions even as serious as Multiple Sclerosis and gone on to lead long, healthy lives. Please share this information with people who need it! I coach clients on reversing autoimmune disease using these natural methods. It just takes an open mind and willing spirit! Set up your complimentary, 1-hr. Autoimmune Health Breakthrough Session ($97 value).

Schedule a Breakthrough Session Now

Prickly Pear Season in Tucson

My family and I moved to Tucson, Arizona about a year ago and I really wanted to enjoy some of the native free food (I can never resist free food!) Prickly pears are a local green cactus (like the ones in my logo) that produce oval, red fruit in the summer. The plants are abundant around us, so my son and I only had to go out to the median strip near our house and spend about ½ an hour picking them (we used pliers to avoid getting pricked) to get a huge bucket full.

Once home, I rinsed them with water, then ran them through the juicer my neighbors were kind enough to lend me. Its filter is very fine, which traps all of the tiny, fine needles that would kill you if you swallowed them.

So that got us a full giant crock pot plus a big Tupperware container full of juice.

Some of it I used in a vinaigrette, some we saved for prickly pear margaritas (amazing color, right?), and the rest I cooked down for about 2 hours, to make a tangy, sweet paste. I didn’t really have any prickly pear recipes, so I used some of that paste for these Prickly Pear Muffins I invented, which I was happy to discover turned out spectacular. If you don’t have access to prickly pears, you could substitute any kind of reduced fruit paste (without big seeds) like mango, strawberry or blueberry. 

Prickly Pear Muffins (Gluten-free, Dairy-free, and Sugar-free)

For more sugar-free and healthy recipes, invitations to talks in Tucson on “How and Why to Kick the Sugar Habit” and “Reversing Autoimmunity” and healthy living tips, sign up for my newsletter.

1½ cups almond flour
½ cup gluten-free flour (or whole wheat if not gluten-free)
½ cup xylitol (or sugar if you don’t want sugar-free)
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ cup full fat coconut milk or coconut cream
½ cup prickly pear juice reduction
½ cup avocado oil
1½ tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. chia seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Use an electric mixer to mix all of the ingredients except chia seeds in a bowl. 

Grease muffin tin with avocado oil. Fill muffin slots to about 3/4 full with batter (I use a regular-sized muffin pan so cooking time is based on that). Sprinkle chia seeds on the top. Bake for 18-20 minutes until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Gluten-, Dairy-, Sugar- and Soy-Free Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

½ cup xylitol
½ cup avocado or coconut oil
2 eggs
2 mashed ripe bananas
½ cup coconut cream or full fat coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup almond flour
3/4 cup gluten-free flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1/3 bag Enjoy Life dark chocolate chocolate chips
2 tbsp. chia seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tin. Beat xylitol and oil. Add eggs, bananas, coconut cream or milk and vanilla and mix with beaters. Mix flours, baking soda, and salt then add. Beat just until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in chocolate chips. Spray muffin tins with oil, then pour into muffin tins then sprinkle each one with chia seeds and cook for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Which Probiotics to Choose

Last updated 4/10/20

There is a rich amount of peer-reviewed, published data supporting the many positive effects of taking probiotics. However, not every product is perfect for every condition. Here is a brief summary of the strains that help with each type of condition, with links to some products that contain as many of those strains as I could find. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, so when you use the affiliate links to Amazon and the manufacturers you support the time and effort I put into doing this research for you! Thanks for using my links!

You can also find most of these products in my Fullscript Dispensary. Check prices there before deciding where to buy. It’s easy to set up an account!

Probiotics for Babies Born via C. Section

Bifidobacterium (B.) longum subsp. infantis

Baby’s Jarro-Dophilus DropsAmazon

Probiotics for Constipation

B. lactis (in children), B. longum, S. Boulardii, Equilibrium (115-strain probiotic) and a combo of Lactobacillus (L.) acidophilus, L. reuteri, L. plantarum, L. rhamnosus and B. animalis (B. animalis lactis was formerly called B. infantis)

For kids:
Douglas Labs Multi-Probiotic Kids PowderAmazon
For adults:
Equilibrium AmazonEquilibrium Store
Greens First Women’s Health ProbioticAmazon
Kirkman Pro-Bio DefenseAmazon
Syntol AMD (also yeast cleansing formula) – Amazon

Probiotics for Infectious Diarrhea

L. rhamnosus GG, L. acidophilus and L. bulgaricus

Culturelle Amazon
Klaire Labs – Ther-Biotic CompleteAmazon

Probiotics for Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea

S. boulardii, a mixture of Lactobacillus acidophilus CL1285, Lactobacillus
casei LBC80R and Lactobacillus rhamnosus CLR2

Jarrow Formulas S. BoulardiiAmazon
Klaire Labs – Saccharomyces Boulardii Amazon
Florastor Amazon
Bio-K+ (contains dairy) – Amazon

Probiotics for IBS-Related Diarrhea

Bacilis coagulans, S. boulardii and a combination of several Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria strains

DrFormulas Nexabiotic Advanced Multi-ProbioticAmazon
Jarrow Formulas S. BoulardiiAmazon
Douglas Labs Multi-Probiotic 40 BillionAmazon

Probiotics for Breakdown of Digestive Plaques Associated with Crohn’s Disease

L. acidophilus, S. Boulardii, B. breve, L. rhamnosus + Amylase (digestive enzyme)

BIOHMBIOHM store (use my affiliate code HDH10OFF for 10% off)

Probiotics for Leaky Gut

Bacillus indicus (HU36), Bacillus subtilis (HU58), Bacillus coagulans, and Bacillus licheniformis, and Bacillus clausii

justthrive Probioticjustthrive Store

Probiotics for Pain and IBS Symptoms

Bifidobacterium infantis 35624


Probiotics for Gas and Bloating

L. plantarum 299v

Jarrow Formulas Ideal Bowel SupportAmazon

Probiotics for Heart Health/Decrease in Bad Cholesterol, Increase in Good

L. acidophilus, B. longum and L. reuteri

trunature Advanced Digestive ProbioticAmazon
Nature’s Way Primodophilus Reuteri pearlsAmazon

Probiotics for Irritable Bowel Disease, Ulcerative Colitis

S. Boulardii, L. rhamnosus GG, L. plantarum 299v, VSL#3 (combo of many lactobaccili and bifidobacteria)

Jarrow Formulas S. BoulardiiAmazon
Klaire Labs – Saccharomyces Boulardii Amazon
Culturelle Amazon
Jarrow Formulas Ideal Bowel SupportAmazon

Probiotics for Weight Loss

L. gasseri, L. rhamnosus, a combo of L. rhamnosus and B. lactis (B. animalis lactis, previously known as B. infantis) and Equilibrium (115-strain probiotic)

Douglas Labs Multi-Probiotic 40 BillionAmazon
EquilibriumAmazonEquilibrium Store
Bifido Maximus from The Gut InstituteThe Gut Institute

Probiotics for Mental Health

B. longum, B. breve, B. infantis, L. helveticus and L. rhamnosus, L. acidophilus, L. casei and B. bifidum

Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotic Professional FormulaAmazon

Probiotics for General Health, Increase of Short Chain Fatty Acids

B. bifidum

Bifido Maximus from The Gut InstituteThe Gut Institute
Seeking HealthProBiota HistaminX Amazon
Douglas Labs Multi-Probiotic 40 BillionAmazon
Lifted Naturals Bifidus Mood BoostAmazon

Probiotics for Histamine Intolerance

B. infantis, L. gasseri, B. breve, B. bifidum, L. salivarius, L. rhamnosus (especially GG), B. longum, B. lactis, L. plantarum

Bifido Maximus from The Gut Institute (also D-Lactate-free) – The Gut Institute
Seeking Health – ProBiota HistaminXAmazon
Vitanica – Flora SymmetryAmazon
Lifted Naturals Bifidus Mood Boost (also D-Lactate-free) – Amazon

First Probiotics Post-SIBO Treatment

Bifidobacterium strains
Bacillus clausii

justthrive Probioticjustthrive Store
Renew Life Adult 50+ ProbioticAmazon
RestorFlora – only available from Fullscript
Seeking Health Probiota BifidoAmazon
Jarrow Bifidus Balance + FOS – only available from Fullscript
Lifted Naturals Bifidus Mood Boost (also D-Lactate-free) – Amazon

Most Diverse Probiotic (Highest Number of Strains)

EquilibriumAmazonEquilibrium Store

If all this was too confusing and you feel like you need some help and guidance in choosing a probiotic or solving your gut health issues, you can set up a free, 1-hour Breaththrough Session.


Keto, Paleo, Primal, Vegan, Intermittent Fasting, which diet should I follow?

If you are paying any attention to current diet trends, you’ve likely heard ofsalad the diets above. I often get the question “What do you think of keto” when I’m giving talks, and inevitably I am mostly through the answer (and sometimes putting my foot in my mouth) when I think to ask “Are you on keto now?” They always are. 😃

Here’s a brief synopsis of each diet for those who are unfamiliar.

Vegan: No meat, eggs, or dairy products (cheese, milk, etc.)

Ketogenic: 70-80% daily calories from fat, 5-10% from carbohydrates, and 10-20% from protein (so effectively, no grains, only low sugar fruit and non-starchy vegetables, no legumes, no added sugar). Monitoring of urine to check for ketones, indicating your body is burning fat as a fuel vs. glucose.

Paleo: Only food that would have been available to our paleolithic ancestors. No dairy, no grains, no legumes (including soy and peanuts), no processed food (so no added sugars, seed oils, etc.), discourages nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, peppers) and coffee. Natural, unprocessed sweeteners like honey and maple syrup are allowed.

Primal: Like paleo but allows raw dairy products, nightshades and coffee.

Intermittent Fasting: Limiting eating to 8-10 hours/day; eating normally 5 days a week and having 500-600 calories 2 days a week; or fasting entirely for 1-4 days/week.

Since I help clients with weight loss, people are often asking my opinion of these diets in that context. My first question to them is: “Is it sustainable? Are you prepared to eat this way for the rest of your life?” Because I don’t put my clients on diets. I teach them how to eat for the rest of their lives so as to break insulin resistance, lose weight, keep it off and be in your best health. 95% of people who diet gain the weight back within 3 years. The above “diets” are meant to be lifestyles, not diets. While they all have the potential to trigger weight loss (especially the last four) because they generally lead to lower consumption of added sugars and processed starches or calories in general, they are also difficult to sustain because they eliminate foods that are common in the American diet and in some cases, very nutritious foods. And for totally grain-free and very low carbohydrate diets like the ketogenic diet, I have concerns about the impact on the gut microbiome, which is a topic that scientific research has yet to settle. And any diet that eliminates entire food groups could lead to nutritional deficiencies if used long term.

In my personal experience, I have tried super low fat/low carb diets and intermittent fasting. While both led to weight loss, neither was sustainable for me. I thought about food constantly and felt totally hungry and deprived. And when I went off of them, the weight came back on quickly. However, eliminating sugar and most white wheat-based flours (I do eat gluten-free flours) and keeping grains reasonable (generally 1 serving/meal + 1-2/day as snacks) has allowed me to keep weight off. However, I recognize that some people’s bodies are not able to eat even that quantity of carbohydrates and maintain weight. A recent study showed that only about half of us have a gene mutation that allows our bodies to cope with high glucose diets. So if you’ve been struggling to lose weight and keep it off, I’d suggest looking at your consumption of sugar and grains (bread, pasta, chips, rice, desserts, etc.) and trying to reduce as much as possible until the weight starts to come off. Then when you get to your ideal weight, add grains back in slowly until you are safely maintaining your weight. Desserts with added (or concentrated natural) sugar should remain an occasional treat.

Chicken with Lemon Grass

If you’ve never tried lemon grass from the tubes of paste that you can find at Safeway in the produce section, you’re in for a treat!Chicken with Lemon Grass Recipe

Chicken with Lemon Grass Recipe

1 package (1 lb.) chicken thighs or breasts
3 tbsp. lemon grass paste or 3 stalks of lemon grass, outer leaves removed and edible parts blended
3 spring onions
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
2 tbsp. avocado or coconut oil
2 cups cut up vegetables of your choice (broccoli, bok choi, Chinese broccoli, peppers, carrots, kale, chard, etc. are all good choices)
1-2 fresh red chilies, seeded and chopped (or a squirt of sriracha)
4 tsp. sugar or xylitol
Extra black pepper to taste
½ cup roasted peanuts, finely chopped
1-2 tbsp. fish sauce to taste
fresh cilantro, washed and leaves removed

Cut the chicken up into bite sized pieces and remove fat. Finely slice the spring onions, including green leaves. Mix the chicken pieces with the salt, pepper, 2 tbsp. of the lemon grass paste and spring onions and set aside for 30 minutes.

Heat a wok to medium high, add oil and when oil is hot, add the chicken mixture and stir fry for 5-7 minutes until all chicken is mostly cooked through. Remove from pan. Add the chilies and vegetables and cook until crisp and bright but cooked through. Add last tablespoon of lemon grass paste, put chicken back in, and add sugar (or xylitol), extra black pepper and fish sauce and mix. Sprinkle chopped peanuts and cilantro on dishes to serve.

Serve over rice, rice noodles or shirataki noodles if grain-free.

Sample Letter to Friends, Family and Colleagues

Many of my clients struggle with situations in which they find themselves having to refuse or resist sweets all around them as they try cut sugar out of their diets for good. This can be hard and awkward for them and can feel like a strain on relationships. I wrote up this sample letter that you can modify to letter writingmeet your needs if you find yourself in the same situation. Imagine if everyone sent out a similar letter – we could change the culture!

Dear friends, family and colleagues,

I’m so thankful for the ways that you have shown me love over the years. For some of you, one of these ways was sharing food you loved with me, including special desserts. Unfortunately, my health and weight have brought me to make the decision to stay away from sweets most of the time going forward. To be clear, I’m not going on a diet. I’m changing the way I eat for life, to ensure my health and longevity. This is very important to me, so I want to share it with you so that you can best support me in my goals.

Going forward, I want to suggest some other ways that you could share your love with me and support me in my efforts. If you’re wanting to give me something sweet or share something sweet for a potluck or a family gathering, fresh fruit would be awesome. I’m also open to eating desserts that do not have added sugar. Some alternative sweeteners that work for me are xylitol (replaces sugar 1:1), Steevia, erythritol, and monk fruit extract. And of course this doesn’t mean that you can’t bring regular desserts for other people to eat. I just don’t want you to be offended if you don’t see me partaking.

And another way that you could support me is by not offering traditional sweets or desserts to me, as it currently is a difficult temptation for me. Another way you could support me is by hiding any sweets or candy that you typically keep out on your desk or in your home when I’m visiting. Or if you have leftover sweets, it would make it much easier for me if you didn’t leave them uncovered in a public place or announce their existence over group emails. I’m guessing I’m probably not the only one trying to cut back on sweets!

Thank you for your support in my health efforts! ​