Due to the broad individuality, immune disturbances, and dietary variety that exists, we have avoided the all too common and false thinking, which recommends a singular diet to unilaterally fit the needs of all patients. Instead EVND physicians have focused on encouraging dietary recommendations based on precise testing of each individual’s allergies, microbiome imbalances, candida overgrowth, histamine reactions, and other common digestive complaints. With the focus to achieve healthy bowel function we are guided by the principle of discovering the root disturbance and restoring optimal gut health. Along the way we learned and created very helpful guidelines or rules, based on research and experience, which help guide and simplify successful dietary practices for maintaining energy, reversing diabetes, normalizing GI function, and losing weight.
The intestinal tract is the most important contributor to disease and health. One of the leading concerns that is present in many ill patients, but also puts unsuspecting healthy individuals at risk is the presence of a “leaky gut”. Although the intestinal tract is contained within the body, it is really an extension of the outside world by the introduction of food and water. It serves as the primary physical barrier from the outside world, protecting us from potentially harmful environmental factors passing through the digestive tract, including food additives, toxins, pathogenic microorganisms, and other potential antigens.
The protective and absorptive intestinal lining consists of a single layer of epithelial cells separated by protein complexes known as tight junctions. In a healthy gut, tight junctions regulate intestinal permeability, selectively allowing the transport of digested proteins, fats, sugars, water, nutrients, and electrolytes across the intestinal barrier, with an equally important priority of preventing the absorption of harmful substances.
Difficulties arise when various environmental factors damage the tight junctions, resulting in increased intestinal permeability often referred to as leaky gut syndrome. Multiple conditions and dietary practices contribute to increased intestinal permeability. Examples include dietary excesses from saturated fat and alcohol, nutrient deficiencies including vitamin D and fiber, antibiotic use, stress, and fungal, bacterial and parasitic infections.
With the increased intestinal permeability, undesirable antigens are able to cross the gut mucosa into systemic circulation. This results in an immune response with low-grade inflammation causing fatigue and possible “brain fog.” Leaky gut has also been associated with certain gastrointestinal conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis to name just a recognizable few.
HEALING FROM INTESTINAL PERMEABILITY
The following ideas are used to address the root imbalances of most digestive conditions while reversing intestinal permeability by supporting gut healing.
1. Remove Overabundant Pathogens Residing in the Intestinal Tract
The first step is to remove pathogens including candida, yeast, parasites, and bacteria associated with increased intestinal permeability. Targeting pathogens effectively may require treatment with pharmaceutical medication, antibiotics, or antimicrobial, antiparasitic, and antifungal herbal supplements. Overgrowth of pathogens creates an unhealthy microbiome resulting in fatigue, bloating, brain fog, and many other common health complaints.
2. Reduce Inflammatory Foods and Replace with Healing Foods
The second step is to replace inflammatory foods with dietary nutrients and gut-healing foods that help to reduce inflammation and support digestive health. Anti-inflammatory foods include:
- Consume anti-inflammatory herbs and spices (e.g., turmeric, rosemary, garlic)
- Consume Omega-3 fatty acids as found in wild-caught fish
- Consume good fats from extra virgin olive oil and avocados
- Consume predominantly high-fiber foods such as vegetables, fruit, and nuts
- Reduce or eliminate saturated and trans-fatty acids as found in most processed and fast food choices
- Avoid gluten a protein found in certain grains (e.g., wheat, barley, rye)
- Avoid other food sensitivities(such as dairy), which may be identified through IgG food intolerance testing or the elimination diet
- Avoid processed foods which include food additives
- Avoid refined starches and white refined sugar
- Avoid alcohol
In addition, digestive enzymes can be added with each meal to support digestion and absorption of dietary nutrients. Digestive enzymes support individuals with impaired digestive function breaking down fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. This helps reduce the expression of food intolerances such as lactose and gluten intolerance. Other options include bitters or bile acid supplements to assist in nutrient absorption by emulsifying lipids, supporting the function of the live and gallbladder.
3. Repair the Gut Lining with Advanced Therapies
The final step involves repairing the gut lining with specific nutrients, medicinal herbs, and peptide therapies that have been shown to decrease intestinal permeability and inflammation. Examples of these ingredients include:
- Lorazotide peptide
- Aloe vera
- Chios mastic gum (Pistacia lentiscus-Anacardiaceae)
- Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL)
- Marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis)
FOOD ELIMINATION DIETS
It can be very challenging to change the diet, but it can bring significant benefits that will not likely come by any other means or treatments. An elimination diet or IgG food intolerance testing are other options to help delineate the right foods to eat and avoid for optimal health. Another good option is the popular Whole 30 Diet designed to eliminate the common inflammatory foods that cause symptoms and illness in so many patients we treat. If you are over the age of 50 and are concerned about brain health than consider the Brain Regeneration Diet described below reported to prevent and reverse age realted cognitive decline.
BRAIN REGENERATION DIET (KetoFLEX 12/3 PLUS)
With a leading focus of our clinic on longevity medicine and brain regeneration we have chosen to adopt the KetoFLEX 12/3 diet as our foundational dietary plan. The KetoFLEX diet was developed by Dr. Dale Bredessen and is part of the Bredesen Protocol for treatment and prevention of Alzhiemer’s and vascular dementia. The power of the KetoFLEX diet is its flexibility in meeting the diversity of patients abilities and health needs. The KetoFLEX is a modified keto diet designed to aid in preventing and reversing cognitive decline, and in addition it reduces the risk of the leading diseases of aging and premature death.
Through his research and a successful clinical trial, Dr. Bredesen has found the most effective nutrition for support of brain health includes a mix between the mediterranean diet, a moderate ketogenic diet, and nightly fasting of a minimum 12 hours starting 3 hours before bed. This dietary approach is heavily plant-based, high in healthy fats and nutrient-dense whole foods (emphasizing local, organic, seasonal, and colorful non-starchy vegetables), combined with an adequate amount of protein. This dietary approach abstains largely from refined sugar, grains, refined carbohydrates, and dairy.
KetoFLEX 12/3 PLUS Overview
KetoFLEX 12/3 is a friendly lifestyle diet made up of flexible guides to optimize cognition, longevity, mood, and energy. This dietary approach is flexible and effective enough to also have significant benefit in diabetic patients, reduce cardiovascular risk, and most inflammatory conditions.
- Keto refers to ketosis, the natural process by which a body breaks down stored and dietary fat to use as fuel in the absence of sugars and carbohydrates from starchy foods and grains. You are in a state of Ketosis starting approximately 4 hours after eating, with fasting, and when adhering to a strict Keto diet. The key to staying in Ketosis is avoiding foods that elevate insulin such as sugars, refined carbohydrates, starches, breads, pasta, cereals, and all grains. Fat has no effect on raising insulin. Generally protein has minimal or no effect on insulin.
- FLEX refers to metabolic flexibility, a flexitarian diet, and flexible grain intake.
- Metabolic flexibility is defined as the ability to use either glucose or fat as a fuel source. The longer we stay in ketosis, or in other words, the longer we exercise, work, and sleep in ketosis, our body becomes more able to convert to fat burning as a source of energy instead of waiting to be fed carbohydrates every 4-6 hours.
- FLEX also refers to a flexitarian diet, in which meat is optional. Focusing on generous healthy fats, vegetables, and plant based proteins is also a viable option.
- FLEX also allows grains or starches at dinner for those who maximize Ketosis for the majority of the day by avoiding grains at breakfast and lunch, a very effective approach for diabetic or pre-diabetic patients or those with elevated insulin who desire to lose weight. The goal is to limit consumption of grains to <50 grams daily. Keeping the consumption of the grains at one meal, maintains ketosis, fat burning, and promotes metabolic flexibility, while providing more options and flexibility for family dinner.
- 12/3 refers to the minimum amount of time each day that you should spend fasting; for at least 12 hours and no food at least 3 hours before bed.
- With all the established benefits of extended fasting known or intermittent fasting, we encourage fasting up to 16 hours daily after the age of 40, limiting the eating window to 8 hours total daily instead of 12 as recommended in the KetoFLEX diet.
- It is our opinion that most individuals after age 40 could stand eating one less meal a day. This change could have significant benefits for diabetic or pre-diabetic patients and for those wishing to lose or maintain weight as they age.
- PLUS allows grains or starches at dinner for those who maximize Ketosis for the majority of the day by avoiding grains at breakfast and lunch, a very effective approach for diabetic or pre-diabetic patients or those with elevated insulin who desire to lose weight. The goal is to limit consumption of grains to <50 grams daily. Keeping the consumption of the grains at one meal, maintains ketosis, fat burning, and promotes metabolic flexibility, while providing more options and flexibility for family dinner. PLUS also encourages longer windows of intermittent fasting and intentional monthly all day(24-36 hours) or multi-day fasting(2-5 days).
Eliminate the Worst Inflammatory Foods
The greatest impact of the KetoFLEX 12/3 diet is not just what we are eating, but what we are avoiding while focused on good nutrition. It is just as important to know what NOT to do, as it is to know what to do. First eliminate the most common inflammatory foods pictured below including processed refined sugar, simple carbohydrates (breads, muffins, cakes, pastries, crackers, chips, pretzels, pasta etc.), conventional dairy (milk, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt), and grains (wheat, corn, rye, oats, rice, etc.). These foods are the leading contributors to insulin resistance, candida overgrowth, weight gain, afternoon fatigue, brain fog, and many other common symptoms mistakenly attributed to normal aging.
KetoFLEX 12/3 PLUS Food Pyramid
Below you will find a description of the most correct food pyramid according to research and not anything like the food pyramid of “olden” days designed by the FDA and special interest groups.