Changing ones diet is the simplest thing one can do to make a huge impact on their health but many people resist making changes to the way they eat. I’ve tried many different diets in order to improve my health. Some helped, some made things worse, some I didn’t see any results either way. I’ve listed them below with a brief description and how I did on them. What most of them have in common is a focus on unprocessed or minimally processed foods.
Yeast Elimination Diet: There are several different yeast elimination diets online or in books. This diet is used to kill overgrowth of candida yeast. Candida overgrowth can manifest as a skin rash, chronic vaginal yeast inflections, gastrointestinal issues, and/or increased fatigue. The diet involves eliminating all foods that feed the candida microbes in the gut. This includes: sugar, yeasts, carbohydrates, fermented foods, & vinegars. Once yeast overgrowth symptoms are gone for several weeks, foods can slowly be reintroduced. Supplements to help kill the yeast and mitigate the effects of yeast die-off can be taken but I’ve done the diet many times without supplements.
I first tried it in 1997 when a brown rash developed on my neck under my hair and kept spreading. My medical doctors told me since it didn’t itch it was just cosmetic and there was nothing they could do about it. My chiropractor suspected it was yeast so I read up on candida and ways to get rid of it. I came across a 4 step yeast elimination diet and tried it. It worked and since then I’ve had to go back to it multiple times, including for a few months this year. For me, a decrease in beneficial gut microbes from years on antibiotics and Prednisone allowed the candida microbes to grow unchecked in my gut.
Anti Inflammatory Diet: There are multiple types of anti inflammatory diets but most recommend eliminating inflammatory foods like sugar, nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant), trans fat and omega 6 fatty acids, alcohol, dairy, MSG, and gluten. They recommend adding whole grains, leafy greens, nuts, ginger & turmeric, olive oil, garlic & onions, bright colored fruits & veggies, and omega 3 fatty acids from foods like salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, chia seeds, & flax seeds, all of which have anti inflammatory properties.
After I got sick in 2008 many of these items increased my inflammation so I eliminated them out of necessity. Some I still have reactions to but others I don’t. After a year of eliminating all inflammatory foods, I added those I don’t have a sensitivity to back into my diet. I’ve had to be vigilant, though, since I got inflammation reactions from foods that are supposed to be anti inflammatory like leafy greens, and ginger & turmeric have a tendency to cause a rash if I over saturate my system with them.
Neurotoxin Diet: This diet was recommended to a friend by an Integrative Medicine doctor and she suggested I try it. It’s currently not well known. I believe the doctor is working on a book about it. The diet eliminates foods with high levels of heavy metals like arsenic in factory farmed chicken & rice, cyanide in tapioca, nuts, seeds, legumes, spinach, and mercury in certain varieties of fish. It also eliminates latex fruit (avocados, bananas, & mangoes) that have been artificially ripened with calcium carbide, artificial sweeteners, and MSG.
I tried this diet for about six months in 2011 but didn’t notice any changes in my health so I eventually reintroduced most of the foods back into my diet. I still don’t notice any harmful effects from these items other than soy, rice, and artificial sweeteners but those are for other reasons (soy changes my menstrual cycle due to hormone increases and rice & artificial sweeteners cause inflammation from the release of cytokines due to my MSH deficiency).
Medical Weight Loss Plan: The clinic I went to emphasized low calories, low fat, low carbohydrates, and high protein along with handfuls of supplements to make up for the nutrients not being obtained by food. It pushed a lot of things I don’t consider acceptable food items (highly processed whey or soy protein bars, protein powders, and snacks with artificial sweeteners). I focused on vegetables and meat.
I did this for about 3 months in 2011 after my weight loss plateaued. With Intracrainal Hypertension, weight loss was strongly recommended as a way to keep the cerebrospinal fluid drains in the neck open and avoid brain surgery. Nothing motives a person to lose weight like the threat of brain surgery. I lost about 15 pounds on the program and it kicked my metabolism back into weight loss mode even though I was miserable on the diet and my health continued to decline. I’m glad I did it but I know so much more about healthful eating and weight loss now than I did then. Between 2010-2011 I lost 60lbs. I regained 30lbs between 2012-2014 due to improving my malabsorption issues and increasing thyroid meds but the weight loss did help. Not only did the extra fluid in my skull start draining properly, reducing the pressure on my optic nerves, it also completely resolved my obstructive sleep apnea.
Specific Carbohydrate Diet(TM): This diet is supposed to improve gut health and has been around in one form or another since the 1950’s. It eliminates grains, starches, and sugars as well as processed foods. The theory behind it is that some people can’t digest complex carbohydrates so only monosaccharide carbohydrates are allowed.
Of all the diets I’ve tried, I had the hardest time with this one. While I understood the rules from a scientific standpoint, it was hard to remember exactly which carbohydrates were allowed. I only lasted two months on it. In that time I didn’t notice any improvements.
Modified Paleo/The Wahls Protocol(TM): This diet was created by an MD who healed her MS through a modified Paleo diet and Functional Medicine. The diet stresses eating 9 cups of non-starchy fruits and veggies per day: 3 cups of colored fruits & veggies (berries, beets, carrots, etc.), 3 cups of leafy greens, and 3 cups of sulfur veggies (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, garlic, onions). It focuses on organic, whole foods without additives like artificial sweeteners, pesticides, herbicides, and antibiotics. It eliminates all cereal grains, legumes, potatoes, refined sugar, refined vegetable oils, and limits dairy.
Dr. Wahls’ website was recommended on my first visit with my Integrative Medicine MD in 2012. I tried the diet for just over a month and ended it because I became sensitive to leafy greens & peppers and gained 20lbs. I think it’s a great diet for those with an autoimmune disease and a functioning gut but not so great for people like me who has MTHFR gene mutations affecting the processing of nutrients and other nutrient deficiencies that create food sensitivities. Her book “Minding My Mitochondria” was very informative and interesting, though. It lists the nutrients needed for optimal mitochondrial and cell function in the foods she recommends.
CORE Diet: This diet was recommended by a nutritionist in 2012. It’s both marketed as a weight loss diet as well as a way to eat well-balanced meals. It consists of food lists with average calorie counts per serving size for those who want to count calories as well as a Daily Plate chart that recommends each meal consist of 20% lean protein, 30% healthful fats like olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, and nuts/seeds, and 50% carbohydrates with an emphasis on vegetables and whole grains. It emphasizes quality (low sugar, low gluten, high fiber, organic), quantity (small frequent meals, portion control, minimum 2 fruits/3 non starchy veggies per day), timing (eat every 3-4 hours, last meal 2-3 hours before bed), and balance (protein and fat with every meal or snack). It can also be easily modified for carbohydrate restriction and vegetarians.
I still have the pages given to me by my nutritionist on the fridge. It’s a very sensible eating plan that can be modified for almost everyone. I never used it as much as I should have.
Rotation Diet: This diet is for people with multiple food sensitivities. It rotates food groups in a 4 day rotation in order to reduce new food sensitivities. Four days works better than 3, which I tried, because it gives the immune system enough time to eliminate antibodies from foods rather than keep building them up. There are no foods eliminated on this diet, only restrictions on what can be eaten on which days.
It took visits to two different nutritionists and food allergy blood testing for me to get a decent rotation diet that worked but it was one of the best things I did. I was on a rotation diet of one form or another for most of 2012-2014. I only recently stopped it as I feel that my nutrition levels are finally up to levels where my body is functioning properly enough that it can eliminate antibodies like it’s supposed to.
Low/No Amylose Diet: Amylose is a natural polymer made up of glucose that is broken down by the enzyme amylase that’s in saliva. Eliminating foods high in amylose and glucose helps burn fat without increasing blood sugar. It’s recommended by Dr. Shoemaker to help his mold patients both lose weight and balance hormones. It helps with leptin resistance, glucose resistance, and pre-diabetes. It’s similar to the Paleo diet and the Atkins diet only it’s less restrictive and much easier to understand than the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. It eliminates cereal grains except waxy corn, simple sugars including dextrins, starchy root vegetables including peanuts, bananas & plantains, and commercially prepared juices. It emphasizes no fasting or skipping meals and 6-8 ounces of protein per day.
I’ve been on the edge of pre-diabetes for years and there’s a family history of it. I did this diet for almost a year and the first six months I was very strict about it. I felt okay on it but didn’t lose weight and my fasting blood glucose levels didn’t decrease. It did, however, increase my Transforming Growth Factor Beta-1 levels.
Low Protein Diet: The absolute minimum protein a woman needs is 46 grams per day. A man needs 56 grams. Most people feel better with more, however, there are exceptions. Notably, people with kidney disease are often put on low protein diets. The only restrictions on this diet is the amount of protein.
My reading up on Transforming Growth Factor Beta-1 lead me to this diet. There’s studies that show low protein diets have positive effects on TGF-B1 levels and, since the medication I’ve taken since April hasn’t helped, I thought it was worth trying. An added benefit to this diet was I didn’t have to eliminate anything other than foods I get a reaction from (though I need to keep an eye on my blood glucose levels). The diet makes sense for me since TGF-B1 has been implicated in kidney disease as well as diabetic neuropathy. The reason diabetics are often put on medications to protect their kidneys is to keep TGF-B1 levels from rising. Those same medications are used to reduce TGF-B1 in kidney disease patients and mold/biotoxin patients.
Shangri-La Diet: This weight loss diet was the idea of the late psychologist Seth Roberts, PhD. Besides experimenting on himself, he did in depth studies on it as well. The concept is based on the idea that the body stores more calories from familiar tasting foods than from neutral or unfamiliar foods and eating/drinking high caloric flavorless foods can reset the appetite controls in the brain, making it so a person eats less. There are no food restrictions on this diet but it does add 1-2 Tablespoons of flavorless oil or sugar/honey water twice a day. The oil/sugar gives the body the calories it needs to function without storing it as fat. The book recommends a person gets enough nutrients by taking multivitamins or other supplements.
I read the book in October. I started this diet around the same time I started the low protein diet and drastically changed my thyroid meds. So far I’ve lost 11lbs and I haven’t been following it as strictly as I could be (some days I only do 2 tbs of extra light olive oil once a day). I don’t feel deprived of food and I don’t have to count calories. I mostly eat nutrient dense foods for my two meals a day because quality of nutrients matters to me. Breakfast usually consists of a fruit smoothie and lunch/dinner is a roasted veggie blend with a small amount of meat or fish. My weight has fluctuated up and down depending on the dose of my thyroid meds since 2012. This is the longest I’ve maintained any weight loss since 2011 and I’m hopeful I can lose the rest of the extra weight I gained and maintain it thanks to this diet.