Thursday, September 17, 2009

Body Ecology Book by Donna Gates

**Please make sure and read the comments following this post-there are some great ones!**

I just finished reading 'The Body Ecology Book' by Donna Gates (here is her website).

I was under the impression it was similar to the Gut and Psychology Syndrome book by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride.  And in some ways, they are similar, but I was surprised at the differences as well.

I had seen the video series here with both authors talking about the affect of their diets on autism and other auto-immune diseases. And they really didn't appear to disagree on much. 

I am still waiting for the GAPS book from my library, but  from what I have read from their website, it's definitely different. And I think I agree with GAPS more then with BED.

But, I did learn some from it and it was an interesting, and quick read.

Gates had some major health problems growing up and studied a lot of the diets out there, trying to get well.  She paid special attention to the eastern religions and their forms of holistic healing. It was kind of funny how much I was reminded of 'Sugar Blues' by William Dufty.

She based the BED diet on a combination of principles that she had studied.  Mostly they had to do with balance in what and how we eat.  Her principles were:
1.  The Principle of Expansion and Contraction (yin/yang)
2.  The Principle of Acid and Alkaline
3.  The Principle of Uniqueness (eating for blood type)
4.  The Principle of Cleansing
5.  The Principle of Food Combining
6.  The Principles of 80/20
7.  The Principles of Step by Step 

She had a short and helpful comparison of the following diets:
Raw foods Diet, the Macrobiotic Diet and the Vegetarian Diet.  And she incorporated elements of all of them into her diet.  

The main principle of the book is that our guts are messed up (she calls them our body ecology, as they are basically an ecosystem in themselves) and need help. The vast majority of Americans show signs of Candida overgrowth, to the point that they are often systemic and affect the whole body, including our organs.  This comes about from improper food from the womb and into adulthood.  Our guts are full of life, good or bad.  We need it for proper digestion and assimiliation of nutrients into our bodies.  We are all born with candida yeast in our bodies, but as long as our diets are nourishing, they do not flourish.  The good bacteria is able to keep them under control.

Unfortunately, our diets today contain food that do not feed the good bacteria, but rather the bad.  So not only is our good bacteria no longer as useful as necessary, but the bad bacteria (Candida) is growing stronger and spreading through the blood and organs to cause many of the diseases that are fast becoming epidemics in America today.

Foods like denatured flour, sugars, anything processed, chemicals in and on our foods, rancid oils, drugs, alcohol and other non-food substances that we now consume regularly, feed the Candida, making it stronger, while also blocking your body from assimilating what few nutrients are in them.

She says the time it takes for a body's ecology to right itself is anywhere from 3 months to 3 years.  And she has you eating a diet of some meats, poultry, fish, eggs, lots of cultured and raw veggies, soaked and sprouted almonds, certain oils and fats, kefir, some veggie juices and sea salt, ocean veggies (seaweed), squash, young coconut kefir and a few grains (quinoa, buckwheat, millet and amaranth-and only if they are soaked and/or sprouted).
After your gut is back in order, then she tells you to slowly add in healthy foods to see how your body reacts.  At the end she has some recipes that you can eat on the diet.

Some of the things I disagreed with:

1.  She had a definite grudge against meat and dairy.  She believes it is hard on the environment and more expensive to feed people with those products then it is to feed them grains and veggies.  I disagree with that on many levels.

2.  She fermented her veggies with either nothing or a special BED culture you could buy.  Whereas GAPS and NT (and many others) use whey and sometimes just sea salt, as well as vinegar or lemon juice. Therefore, I do not think the veggies were lacto-fermented (**see comment below**), and even she mentioned that the lack of an acid medium at the beginning made it more likely to get some bad bacteria in there and spoil the batch.

3.  She was really big into the spiritual/new age part of the diet. I do agree that our bodies are connected, and internal stress will show itself externally.  But I also believe that there is a Creator God who is in charge and the only way to find true peace is through Him. That said, I also believe that Christians would do well with more inward meditation.  And I'm even all for yoga. I keep meaning to get a book and find some 'poses' that I could do to strength my upper body and core muscles. But, they do not bring me any closer to heaven literally, just closer to a comfortable life here on earth.  :)

4.  She greatly reduces the use of good quality sea salt, which I think is of utmost importance in a diet.

5. I did not think she put enough emphasis on quality.  She mentioned organic, but didn't make a big issue of it.  And the same with grass-fed animal products.  I think 'grass-fed' was in there once. But then since she looked down on animal foods in general, why make a big deal of it?  I've come to think of quality as extremely important and sadly lacking in most foods today, so I expect others to point that out in diet books I guess. :)

6.  There were a lot of their products advertised throughout the book.  Which they are allowed to do of course, and which is actually  nice if you are going to go on their diet.  But I just found it kind of annoying.

7.  One could not live sustainably or locally on her diet at all. And for short term healing, that is fine.  But I believe one must adjust one's over-all diet to their current local food production for long-term health and economy's sake.  And she did not take that into consideration at all.

8.  She discouraged fats in general, which I have come to believe are highly beneficial and necessary to a human body.  She esp discouraged animal meats and fat to be eaten together. But God obviously designed them to be eaten together, since that is how he gave them to us!

9. She thinks that a colon cleanse is necessary, and even a liver cleanse on occasion. Although I'm not positive about this, I do think God probably designed our bodies to release the toxins on it's own.  Of course, only if you are eating properly.  I'm not opposed to a fast of some sort.  Maybe broth, or juiced veggies/fruit, or even just water for a few days.  But having an enema seems really unnatural (and incredibly uncomfortable) to me. 

10.  She encourages vegetarianism.  Although she does advise against strict veganism.

11.  It was rather complicated, with her combining and balancing.  And it didn't seem to be based on any traditional people groups or historical evidence.   I prefer simple, logical diets based on history. 

The two things that it really encouraged me to do were:
1.  Drink more kefir   
2.  Consume more fermented vegetables every day

So, that was what I learned from reading the Body Ecology Diet.

Now back to Weston Price's book, that one takes a bit longer to read and digest!  :)

I posted this on 'Fight Back Friday'.


  1. Great review! One thing to note -- there is a lot of natural "wild" lacto-bacillus in the air and on our hands, so you really don't need add a culture to lacto-ferment. But, as you noted, it DOES help ensure the ferment goes well w/o getting spoiled. So, I typically always DO add a culture, or at least some salt to discourage bad bacteria.

    Thanks for sharing this in today's Fight Back Friday carnival.

    (AKA FoodRenegade)

  2. This was a good post. I'm a Certified Body Ecology coach and I just wanted to clarify a few things.

    Body Ecology does not at all discourage eating meat (especially grass-fed and organic), it is actually encouraged, especially in the beginning when some people need more protein to heal. However, people with type A blood may need less meat and be better with a more vegetarian diet (that doesn't mean don't eat meat or fish) -- only because it's easier on their digestive system.

    Also, fats (organic, unrefined) are encouraged for healing. The only time to reduce them a bit is if someone has issues with their liver health. When you go to a Body Ecology training, there is ample organic raw butter, extra virgin olive oil, pumpkin seed oil, coconut oil -- Body Ecology teaches to use a range of good fats for essential fatty acids.

    Most of what to eat or not eat is based on what is easy to digest, so you don't further tax an already imbalanced digestive system. If your digestive system is already having trouble, the idea is to make things as easy as possible, so your digestive tract can heal.

    You can find a lot of free information (hundreds of free articles and some free videos) on the website: - check out the articles archive for more on just about any topic.

    I acknowledge you for doing this great blog so people can learn more about natural health! And like you, I also am a big fan of GAPS...

  3. Great review! I actually did the Body Ecology diet for a while and it did help my health, but I agree with many of your qualms. It does seem complicated, especially at first.

  4. I have been on the BED for over a month. At first it seemed it would be difficult, but I am finding it easier than I imagined. Like you, I believe strongly in WAP. However, grains that are gluten, soaked or not,tend to inflame my rheumatoid arthritis. I have lots of digestive problems and believe this diet will help resolve these problems and make my joints feel better. Great post!

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