Eating Well: My initial research into healing my gut

In this post, I shared how I was tired of feeling crappy, and vowed to dig into several suggested eating plans that would address healing my gut and perhaps, contribute to a little weight loss. I’ve done some homework that I want to share with you today.

I took a good look at these plans. 👉

I’m still reading and researching, of course—but today I’ll provide a brief overview.

As I think about digging into an eating plan, there are some considerations I need to make.
  • First, the plan I use has to be gluten-free. That’s generally not a problem but I am tossing that out to the universe as a given.
  • Secondly, I may need to eliminate dairy in all or some forms.
  • Third, I’ve long suspected I may have an issue with nightshade vegetables.
I would like to find out if my dairy and nightshade suspicions are correct, so I considered that as I reviewed these plans.

Other factors include cost of food, ease of execution, time to manage, navigating eating out (the Boyfriend likes to eat out…), meal preparation, and any other miscellaneous requirements or restrictions. In short, I want to be able to execute this without hassle and drama.

So, I set out to find some answers—or at least gain more information.

What follows is a brief overview of the plans I researched. I’m sure I’ll mention these occasionally in more detail in future posts. Each description is in no way inclusive of all details of the plan—but I’ve also provided enough resources for you to seek our more information, should you like.


The Plant Paradox

I don’t recall how I became interested in Dr. Steven R. Gundry, M.D.’s work. Perhaps I saw a social media post or a segment on television. I had ordered this book a while back and read most of it—and then the book was shelved. I never got back to it.

A few weeks ago, the Boyfriend sent a message saying, “Check this guy out and his cookbook. What he says sounds a lot like your digestion issues.” So, I clicked the link, the book looked familiar, and I went to my shelf. I didn’t have the cookbook (or so I thought at the time) but I did have the “theory” book behind Dr. Gundry’s work about the hidden dangers in “healthy” foods that cause disease and weight gain. I began reading again and ordered the cookbook. Turned out, a few days later, I realized I already had the cookbook too! Boyfriend now has a copy at his house.

Now, Boyfriend is a farmer—he grew up farming in the 60s and 70s and even though he doesn’t live on a farm today, he still loves growing and gardening. The red flags Dr. Gundry speaks of are interesting to him as well—particularly the use of chemicals and antibiotics. All of which are also important to me, which means we are going to be on the same page as I make some dietary changes.

That is a huge plus.

In a nutshell, the Plant Paradox focuses on these principles and more:
  • The relationship between lectins and gut health—and how eating foods with lectins can promote similar symptoms as gluten in many people.
  • Avoidance of what he calls the Seven Deadly Distruptors: antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), stomach acid blockers, artificial sweeteners, endocrine disruptors, Genetically modified foods (GMO), herbicides (Roundup), and blue light.
  • He discusses “healthy” foods that aren’t really healthy.
  • Clear recommendations are given on the types of protein—seafood, poultry, and red meat—to consume (from organic to pasture raised to grass fed (and more).
  • A list of approved foods to eat and foods to avoid.
  • Foods to avoid include, in a nutshell: foods high in lectins, peanuts and cashews, corn, quinoa, conventionally raised meat, vegetable oils, legumes and beans, dairy, nightshades, and squashes.
  •  Dr. Gundry provides a program to kickstart, repair, and restore your body and gut health by avoiding lectins and others “so-called healthy” foods.
  • His plan also provides tips for stocking your pantry with the right foods, and includes recipes.


Whole30

I first learned of Whole30 a couple of years ago from co-workers who were doing the program. I’d not thought much about it since until I had dinner recently with one of those friends, and she mentioned she was going to do the Whole30 program again come January. (I talked about that in this post.)

Whole30 has a very extensive website where you can find tons of information about the program and I suggest you start there. Visit www.whole30.com to learn how to do the Whole30 program, meal planning and recipes, program rules, and life after Whole30. I’m super-impressed with the site and information.

I also bought a couple of books to supplement what I learned from the site. Those books are Whole30 Day by Day, and Whole30 Fast & Easy.

What interests me about Whole30 is the number of testimonials of people who have used the program and talked about an improvement of health conditions—health conditions that I’m occasionally plagued with myself. Those include thyroid dysfunction, fatigue, IBS, diverticulosis/diverticulitis, heartburn, joint pain, arthritis, and skin conditions.

I was also impressed with the simplicity of the program and the clearly explained Whole30 Rules:

  • Do no consume added sugar, real or artificial.
  • Do not consume alcohol.
  • Do not eat grains.
  • Do not eat legumes.
  • Do not eat dairy.
  • Do not consume Carrageenan, MSG, or added sulfites.
  • Do not re-create baked goods, treats, or junk foods with approved ingredients.
Basically, for 30 days, on this plan you eat meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables and fruits, natural healthy fats, and herbs, spices, and seasonings. Whole food for 30 days. There is guidance provided for the 30 days and a re-entry phase for adding foods gradually back into your diet—or not. All thoroughly explained.

There is, of course, a lot more to know about the program and I encourage you to read the fine print and perhaps check out The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom and/or some of the other resources mentioned here.

The Hormone Reset Diet

This plan, thus far, appears to be the most complicated plan to implement. It does appear to have vast advantages, however. Written and designed for women to fix their broken metabolism, it addresses hormones as the root cause. Dr. Sara Gottried, the author of the book, brings a background of medical science and personal experience to her approach to reset hormones, heal metabolism, and lose weight.

I’m still studying this book—The Hormone Reset Diet—because there is much to explore, understand, and put into practice. There is a rigid protocol of what to eat and how much, how much to move, and suggested supplements to take.

The plan consists of Seven Hormone Reset cycles: Estrogen, Testosterone, Growth Hormones, Thyroid, Cortisol, Leptin, and Insulin. Each cycle has its own protocol. Throughout this process you are eliminating the following:
  • Meat (estrogen)
  •  Sugar (insulin)
  • Fruit (leptin)
  •  Caffeine (cortisol)
  • Grains (thyroid)
  • Dairy (growth hormone)
  • Toxins (testosterone)
Measurements are tracked pre and post, some of which require a visit to your physician. There is a re-entry program that follows the completion of the cycles.

Intermittent fasting

I’ve dabbled in intermittent fasting previously. My dad came back from his cardiologist appointment a few months ago and shared that his doctor mentioned intermittent fasting as a way to cure diabetes. (My dad is diabetic.) Now, this was not something my father, at age 82, was willing to try, but he knew I had tried fasting at times and shared with me the book and author the doctor recommended.

The doctor was Dr. Jason Fung and the book was The Diabetes Code. Later, I ended up purchasing The Obesity Code, also by Dr. Fung. (For the science behind fasting, go here.)

Intermittent fasting, at the basic level, is eating within an 8 to 10-hour window daily, and not eating the remaining 14 to 16 hours of the day. Easy peasy. There are reportedly a number of health benefits, including weight loss, body fat loss, increased fat burning, lowered sugar levels, improved mental clarity, improved cholesterol, reduced inflammation, and more.

There are additional ways to fast – 24-hour, 36-hour, alternate day, extended, and more—and I definitely recommend doing your research if you feel this is a type of eating plan you want to pursue. Dr. Fung and colleagues’ books and websites provide a great deal of information.

***
So there you have it—my brief overview of these four eating plans. You'll notice similarities in the plans and some common denominators that exist between them. We will explore those common denominators soon. My immediate plan is to continue to research over the next few weeks. I have deemed this my “awareness and research” period.

More about that and my next-step plans in future Eating Well posts. I hope you decide to follow along with me.

Comments