When looking into special diets as a means of weight loss, to find relief from a health issue or simply to improve your overall health, always remember the concept of bio-individuality. Genetics play an important role in determining what foods are appropriate for each of us. Some people can efficiently break down starchy vegetables and grains, while others fair better omitting these foods entirely from their diet. Some humans have evolved to be able to digest cow’s milk while others lack the enzymes to do so. And some people are able to extract the nutrients they need from a plant based diet while others need a healthy dose of protein, fat and other nutrients found only in animal based foods. The point is that we’re all different and no one diet is best for everyone.
While I do make some individual recommendations to my personal clients, I try to avoid blanket statements about diet and health when talking to the masses. BUT, regardless of what foods you decide to eat or not eat, be sure to include plenty green vegetables and don’t forget to exercise every day.
Gluten Free Diet: Some doctors believe grains, especially gluten containing grains are the root cause of many physical and mental illnesses like headaches, depression and cancer. Wheat and gluten can be especially problematic because of the hybridization that has taken place over the last 50-100 years. These new strains of wheat are much higher in gluten and bare little resemblance to the wheat our ancestors consumed. If you are considering going gluten free, here are some resources to get you started.
All of the recipes you will find at OrganicFitnessMama.com are gluten free.
Grain Free Diet: If you have already excluded gluten from your diet and are still experiencing anxiety, depression, digestive discomfort, acne, chronic inflammation, asthma or other autoimmune disease symptoms you may be in a category of people who have trouble digesting grains. From an evolutionary stand point humans have only been consuming grains for a short time and our bodies have not had time to adapt. Grains can inhibit the absorption of nutrients and cause chronic inflammation which is a precursor to disease. Grain free sources are listed below.
Most of the recipes you will find at OrganicFitnessMama.com are grain free.
Dairy Free Diet: Conventional, pasteurized, homogenized dairy does not do ANY body good. It can cause chronic digestive and respiratory discomfort along with chronic inflammation throughout your body.
Some people should avoid dairy all together, while others do okay with a small amount of high quality dairy. Try eliminating dairy for 6 weeks and then slowly add in some of the dairy options below to test your tolerance.
Lactose, a sugar in cow’s milk, and casein, a protein in cow’s milk can be especially problematic. Full fat fermented dairy like yogurt and kefir seem to be more easily digested because the lactose has been broken down during the fermentation process. Other good dairy choices are ghee, butter, and cream because they are mostly free of lactose and casein. If you do include dairy in your diet always choose high quality dairy from grass fed cows. To learn more about the dangers of conventional dairy click on the links below.
Soy Free Diet: Some say soy is a health food, others claim it’s linked to health problems. The truth is complicated and some place in between. In moderation, whole organic soy does have a place in some people’s diets, but most soy is genetically modified, then heavily sprayed and processed. Soy is also among the foods most commonly linked to food allergy or sensitivity.
I have a sensitivity to soy myself so most of the recipes you’ll find on this site are soy free with the exception of a few that call for organic soy in a fermented form. At the link below you’ll find 100% soy free recipes.
Paleo/Primal Diet: Dr. Loren Cordain, founder of the Paleo movement, has done extensive research on evolutionary diet and disease. Dr. Cordain believes that while we’ve evolved as an agricultural society with grains, legumes and dairy as staples we haven’t biologically evolved to process these foods.
Research has shown that our Paleolithic ancestors did not experience modern diseases like obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes.
While the Paleo diet has evolved and taken many forms, the original premise was to eat only wild or pastured meat, fish and eggs fruit, nuts, seeds and vegetables while avoiding all sugar, grains, dairy, legumes, and potatoes.
The Primal diet allows for some high quality dairy.
The majority of the recipes you’ll find at OrganicFitnessMama.com are Paleo/Primal. Many of the recipes in this category do contain dairy, but they call for only pasture raised high quality dairy.
Autoimmune Paleo, sometimes called Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) Diet is an extension of the Paleolithic Diet. If you have an autoimmune issue you most likely have a damaged digestive tract that is preventing you from digesting your food properly. Not only are you not absorbing much of the nutrients from your food, but byproducts are passing through your intestines and leaking into your blood stream causing your immune system to respond. The AIP diet focuses on getting plenty of nutrient dense foods while avoiding foods that stimulate inflammation and an immune response.
The AIP approach was developed by Dr. Sarah Ballantyne. Through diet, Dr. Ballantyne healed herself from a long list of autoimmune conditions. Find out more about the AIP diet on Dr. Sarah Ballantyne’s web site.
Low Carb Diet: Most integrative practitioners who have studied blood sugar, insulin, disease and diet believe that a diet high in carbohydrates from any source will eventually lead to mental and physical ailments and disease. That doesn’t mean that everyone needs to be on a low carb diet. You may fair well on a moderate amount of carbohydrates as long as you are choosing the right ones. Others who are already showing signs of insulin resistance or who are not genetically equipped to process large amounts of carbohydrates should aim to cut back. How much, depends on your situation. I like Dr. Hyman’s carbohydrate intake recommendations based on your current health status.
Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) Diet: Fat plays a vital role in human health. Our bodies depend on fat for energy, for brain development, for nerve function, for insulation, and for maintaining healthy hair and skin. Dietary fats are essential for absorbing certain vitamins, to protect and build cells, for optimal brain function, and for making hormones. Many experts who have studied fat and cholesterol in detail believe that coronary artery disease has more to do with damaged cholesterol than cholesterol itself. One of the ways cholesterol can become damaged is when sugar molecules attach themselves to LDL and change their shape. That’s why a diet high in fat and low in carbohydrates can be a heart healthy diet for some people. Diets that include upwards of 70% fat have been successfully used in some people to control weight, depression, anxiety, epilepsy, and blood sugar with no evidence of adverse affects. An extremely high fat diet may not be right for everyone. Find out more about the benefits of healthy fats at the link below.
Vegetarian Diet is a diet that excludes all meat, fish and foul. See notes below on vegetarian and vegan diets.
Vegan Diet is a diet that excludes all animal products including dairy and eggs. See notes below on vegetarian and vegan diets.
Raw Vegan Diet is a diet that excludes all animal products as well as food cooked at a temperature higher than 118 degrees Fahrenheit. See notes below on vegetarian and vegan diets.
Notes about Vegetarian and Vegan diets:
1. Vegetarian and Vegan diets can be healthy for some people as long as they are made up primarily of nutrient rich foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
2. Vegetarian and Vegan diets heavy in grains and processed foods can lead to nutrient deficiencies.
3. Vitamin B12 is a necessary supplement for all vegans since it is only available in it’s natural and useable form through animal products.
4. Other supplements may be necessary for those that are genetically incapable of extracting and converting certain nutrients from plant sources.
5. While some people can thrive on vegetarian and vegan diets, others may experience serious health problems. Without extensive genetic testing you’ll have no way of knowing if you have the genes necessary to extract and absorb everything your body needs from a plant based diet.
6. While I don’t advocate a strict vegan diet for health reasons, if you are committed to a vegan diet for religious or ethical reasons the link below is the best resource I have found on vegan nutrition and supplementation.
Nut Free Diet: Nuts are among the foods most commonly linked to food allergy. They can also be hard to digest for those with a compromised digestive system because they contain enzyme inhibitors. The purpose of these enzyme inhibitors is to protect the nut until it has what it needs for growing (ex. sunlight, water, soil, etc.). When eaten, these inhibitors will neutralize natural enzymes in our bodies making digestion more difficult. Soaking and rinsing your nuts thoroughly will remove most of the enzyme inhibitors. Sprouting or fermenting will also make nuts and seeds more digestible. Just don’t go overboard with a lot of baked goods that use nut flours. An unusual amount of nuts can be problematic for even a healthy digestive system.
Egg Free Diet: Eggs can be an easily digestible nutrient rich food for many, but eggs are also among the foods most commonly linked to food allergy or sensitivity.