Updated: Mar 5
With so many to choose from, how do we even know where to start? Is keto right for me? Or maybe paleo? But then what about: Atkins, the Ornish diet, Mediterranean diet, GAPS, SCD, etc. It can be exhausting trying to figure out what to eat sometimes. What can be even more frustrating is when you start to eat super clean and still have issues. I have been there and can attest to the confusion and frustration that can surround this topic. I experienced many of the fad diets out there when I was on a quest to heal my skin. For those who don't know I experienced 9 years of severe carbuncle cysts and boils on my face that led me to learn as much as I could about truly healing the body from the inside out. Many of the diets listed and the ones unlisted can confer health benefits in some regard. At least temporarily. I have come to find that dietary balance is a key component to creating rich microbial diversity and a healthy gut microbiome. I'm not saying the ketogenic diet for instance is a bad thing outright. I think it can yield great results for weight loss, skin health, reducing brain fog, etc. What I am saying is that for long-term sustainability and for the body to get all the nutrients it needs, a balanced approach is what I recommend. So, what does that look like?
Before I get into the foods I recommend, let's address the inflammatory ones that should be avoided. I really categorize these into four groupings. 1) Gluten-containing grains, 2) Conventional dairy products, 3) Hydrogenated oils, 4) Sugar, sweeteners, food colorings, dyes, additives, preservatives, synthetics, etc. These foods contribute to leaky gut and intestinal permeability, fuel dysbiosis and autoimmune conditions and body-wide toxicity.
Now I'll break down healthy food options per macronutrient category.
Carbohydrates. Some hate this word, some love it. I was a low carb guy for a while and now I've realized the importance of consuming the right ones in moderation. Healthy options in this category are sweet potatoes, squash, a handful of berries, gluten free oats, buckwheat, quinoa, wild rice and brown rice. The key is portion control as well as timing of consumption. These type of carbs provide a plethora of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber to help support a rich microbial diversity. These fibers can act as probiotics to properly nourish the good microflora in the gut.
Fats. Fats are so critical for healthy endocrine system functionality, for memory recall and brain health, for heart health and for hormonal balancing. Hydrogenated oils like vegetable oil and canola, corn, cottonseed, sunflower, safflower, peanut and soybean oil should be avoided as they're quite inflammatory to the body, oftentimes genetically modified and can throw off the proper ratio of omega 3:omega 6 fats. I recommend extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil as well as some ghee. Other healthy fats are going to be chia and flax seeds, nuts like walnuts and almonds, avocados and fatty fish like salmon.
Proteins: Proteins are essential macronutrients that comprise pretty much every body tissue. I recommend organic chicken and turkey, grass-fed beef, wild-caught salmon, tuna and tempeh as healthy protein options. Incorporating bone broth protein and collagen can be very beneficial as this tends to decline in production with age and because most people don't consume enough dietarily. I recommend ancient nutrition as a reputable and clean brand for those products.
Fermented foods: These help establish proper microbial diversity in the gut, produce organic acids and produce vitamins like Vitamin K and the B vitamins. I recommend kimchi, sauerkraut, goat milk kefir/goat milk yogurt, kombucha, kvass and tempeh.
Fermented foods can help crowd out bad species of gut bugs to restore proper balance.
A rich, plethora of vegetables is a staple of a healthy diet. Prepared properly they can be enjoyable and a desired part of a meal.
Fruit intake is also important on a daily basis but in lesser quantities than vegetables ideally.
So these are many of the recommended foods I mention to patients I work with but of course they're tailor-made to their specific needs based on lab work.
I hope you're able to draw some insights from this blog and can begin to incorporate some of these healthy foods in balanced proportions. Exact percentage breakdowns vary by person and activity level, metabolism, etc. A general safe recommendation can be 45-65% of calories from carbs, 10-35% of calories from protein and 20-35% of calories from fat.
Dietary balance will enrich the gut microflora the best, which leads to optimal body-wide health.
Dr. Seamus Allen
CFMP, DACBN, DC