The low carb diet
Low carb diets have long been promoted for weight loss and for recovery from candida overgrowth. For the last few years the popularity of low carb diets has taken off with (Paleo, Primal, Grain Brain diets). The latest research supports the good results people have been getting with their weight and multiple pleasant side benefits as well. Studies are confirming that eliminating sweets, reducing carbs and increasing healthy fats can also have anti-inflammatory benefits, increased physical energy and supports mental, emotional, and immune health.
Two nutrition gurus in particular are supporting the now only slightly controversial ideas about carbohydrates. Dr David Perlmutter, is a physician, author and researcher. He’s written six books on brain health including Brain Maker, Grain Brain and the Grain Brain Cookbook and will be the editor of a nutrition journal starting later this year. It is called Brain and Gut. Perlmutter advocates a functional and holistic approach toward treating brain disorders. The second is Dr Robert Lustig, a paediatric endocrinologist from the University of California, San Francisco. He has authored 85 peer-reviewed articles and 30 reviews and the book, Fat Chance, Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity and Disease. Both Dr Perlmutter and Dr Lustig share strong concerns about the consequences of eating too much sugar and carbohydrate.
Dr Perlmutter says "even healthy carbs like whole grains can cause dementia, ADHD, anxiety, chronic headaches, depression, and much more. He also says that, "While we definitely require protein and fat, the human requirement for dietary carbohydrate is none, none whatsoever.”
Dr robert Lustig claims that sugar (more specifically fructose) "is toxic" and that it is responsible for multiple epidemics of chronic degenerative diseases (including obesity, type two diabetes, hyper tension and heart disease). He goes so far as to say that sugar is causing a public health crisis.
Ketosis for health
For many years carbohydrates have been promoted as essential to provide fuel for the brain. It was presumed by many as important to prevent the biochemical state known as Ketosis. We go into the state of ketosis when food energy is low, in particular carbohydrate. This forces our body to produce energy from ketone blood fats instead of blood glucose (from carbohydrates). Two decades ago, ketosis became known rather suspiciously through association with the Atkins low carb, high protein diet which became known for promoting weight loss but also kidney issues and osteoporosis. However, it turns out it was not the state of ketosis that was making people sick but the impact of high levels of protein. Ketone fats are actually a very good energy source. In fact they are actually The most efficient brain fuel.
Dr Perlmutter’s recommended diet aims to trigger ketosis for it’s multiple benefits. He recommends replacing our carbohydrates by eating up to 80-90% of our calories from healthy oils and the rest of our calories from vegetables and protein. I recommend you try to eat organic veggies and protein from healthy animal products. Dr Perlmutter explains that a low carb, high fat diet can "alleviate, or even reverse brain disease, eliminate brain fog symptoms, and improve memory and energy levels.” He says that ketone fats are beneficial in three ways because they:
-"stimulate the pathways that enhance the growth of new neural networks in the brain"
-“increase glutathione, a powerful, brain-protective antioxidant, levels in the hippocampus and...
-"facilitate the production of mitochondria”, which is good for our physical and mental energy.
Not for the faint of heart
If you are considering trying Dr Perlmutter's diet, though it will likely be good for you health and may help with candida, I don’t advise making the decision to do so lightly nor changing to it overnight. Carbohydrates are a mental and physical habit for most of us and our physiology (not to mention our mind) is accustomed to them. Carbohydrates can even trigger addiction like responses. Thus reducing or eliminating carbs and replacing them with healthy fats will force the body to make changes, a sort of withdrawal adjustment if you will. This can be temporarily uncomfortable.
Enduring carbohydrate withdrawal requires a firm commitment and an adjustment period in which we can expect to pass through some fatigue, some cravings, some candida die off, and possibly some temporary resistance to our choice before we start to feel really good. Then, our satiation will go up, and our hunger will go down. We’ll likely drop extra pounds and feel clearer headed, more energized and happier.
My personal experiments with a dairy free version of Dr Perlmutter’s diet were mostly positive. After moving through a rather brutal and exhausted sort of carb ‘detox', I felt much healthier for as long as I could keep it up. Animal products and fats tend to accumulate toxins so such a diet can only really be healthy if you can afford to pay for the highest quality food ingredients. Thus it is not possible for everyone to sustain financially. But if you can afford it and, if you are genetically predisposed to Alzheimer's, if you have not been able to resolve candida with the Whole Approach diet program, or if you have out of control cravings, blood sugar imbalances, mental health, or inflammation issues, you may wish to try it.
Before jumping in however, I recommend that you read Grain Brain and look at Dr Perlmutter’s cookbook as well as the Whole Approach candida diet links to information about healthy oils and healthy animal products. Other than the fact that Dr Perlmutter recommends cheese , I think his recipe book is a good complement to the Whole Approach resources. Dairy is definitely not good for everyone. Even product from the healthiest, most naturally raised animals may not be healthy for some people because it has both lactose, a hard to digest sugar, and casein, an allergenic substance that can trigger inflammation. This is more likely in people who react to gluten as casein and gluten commonly trigger similar reactions of inflammation, digestion upset and nervous system issues.
The Whole Approach Candida Diet
The Grain Brain diet represents such an extreme change for most people that it makes the Whole Approach Candida Diet look easy by comparison. Our low carb Whole Approach Candida Diet is very healthy and not that hard to follow after adjustment to the initial carb and sugar purge. Though I don’t recommend a specific number of carbs or grams of carbs, the diet instructions do suggest a specific number of servings per day depending on what stage of the diet you’re on. To maximize nutrient density, I recommend eating 50% or more, (by volume) of your diet in vegetables and selecting the healthiest possible quality of both vegetarian and animal proteins.
For more information about this healing diet change, see the Recipes for Recovery Candida Diet book by Whole Approach. It has over 480 candida diet recipes from Whole Approach forum members from around the world. Regardless of the diet you choose to resolve your candida and other health challenges, be sure to give yourself the time and compassion you need to make a successful transition. Here are some tips to help you make the change successful.
Tips for Transitioning to a Healthier Diet
Try to focus on the joy of discovering new favourites.
Remember that it is an advantage to release yourself from the carb merry go round of insatiable cravings.
Sugar/starch cravings are similar to drug addiction. Self regulation techniques like meditation can help you ride them out.
Nutritious snacks like nuts, meat jerky, veggies and dip, or bean balls (if you’re eating beans) help reduce a craving.
In the beginning, try removing starchy sweet foods from the house and reducing time at restaurants and parties to reduce temptation
Set goals for the approach that feels best for your style of change.
Whether you go ‘cold turkey’ or take a phased approach, track your progress and celebrate milestones.
When people ask you why you’re not eating sugars or starches, tell them you want to feel your best and improve your health.
Setting Goals and Tracking Progress
Regardless of whether your goal is the Whole Approach diet (with or without grains) or a dairy free Grain Brain diet, a gradual approach to change may be useful, starting the diet in stages. You can schedule your transitions according to what is likely to work best for your approach to change. Do you adapt to change quickly? If so, do you manage to keep it up or do you take on too much at once? What is the most likely schedule for your success? Will you take one step or more than one at once? Will you increase the changes every week or every two weeks? Do you want to start with the hard changes first or the easy ones?
Fill in a calendar (in pencil!) your planned steps according to whatever schedule you think suits you best and, if it becomes too hard, change it, change it - give yourself longer. But don’t give up! Failure is an essential part of learning. The calendar combined with a food and wellness diary will help you track your changes. The Health Minder is a useful book for some people. It helps to record your goals, schedule them into a calendar and track your symptoms and successes. If you wish to write down everything you eat, you may need something with more room than the Health Minder. You could design your own or buy a daytime that has a monthly and a generously spaced daily view.
Suggested Steps for Success
Below is a list of steps and the order is merely a suggestion. You can design the order, combination and schedule to suit your unique needs.
1- eliminate sugar, refined sweeteners and stage three fruit*
2- switch to pasture raised and wild animal products
3- eliminate stage two** and stage three fruit*
4- eliminate dairy (or limit to once a week)
5- reduce total carbohydrate
6- reduce caffeine and eliminate alcohol
7- further reduce caffeine and carbohydrates
8- investigate possible dietary intolerances through elimination-provocation (see this article for more)
9- consider going grain free
View the database on the USDA website here to read the carbohydrate content of common foods
The many ways sugar can harm your health - a simple list form of concerns about the negative effects of sugar.
Dr Robert Lustig was featured on an episode of 60 Minutes. You can https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM give a 90 minute lecture on the toxicity of sugar.
Blog image is Low Carb Cauliflower Potato Salad. See recipe at: