10 Reasons Why Low Carb Diets Fail To Heal
For those suffering from the digestive disease constellation including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis (UC), and irritable bowel disease (IBD), what to eat is a constant worry and challenge. Information about “trigger foods” and “anti-flare” diets are ubiquitous. Prescriptive diets such as Keto, GAPS, Simple Carbohydrate and Paleo are correctly identified as being useful in the management of Crohns/UC/IBD, but what is lost in this information is the highly personalized nature of the “food prescription”.
The need to heal and seal the gut before introducing a wide variety of foods is lost in the pages of paleo and low-carb diet books and recipe blogs with the exception of GAPS. GAPS, or the Gut and Psychology Syndrome, diet presents the most comprehensive, step by step approach to gut healing available in one book. GAPS is widely known as a dietary treatment approach to help heal autism, child behavioral health issues, as well as autoimmune diseases such as Crohns/UC/IBD but it is an incredibly difficult diet to follow.
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Why These Diets Fail
Many patients come to me after trying and failing carbohydrate restrictive diets like Keto, GAPS or Paleo diets and these are the most prominent reasons why:
- Ultra low and low carb diets are very hard to sustain. They require willpower, dedication and plenty of kitchen time to make them work. The motivation to carry on a restrictive diet for years is daunting.
- You have to follow the process of introduction of foods as defined in the GAPS diet and you cannot jump ahead or speed this process. Jumping into any low carb diet without properly laying the foundation for proper digestion and elimination is most likely destined to fail. The measure amounts to months, and even years.
- Nut flours and gluten-free replacements are not your friends. You can’t just replace wheat with almond flour and gluten-free products and call it a day. The oxalic acid in almonds alone can be more irritating than gluten.
- Eggs are really two foods: a protein (whites) and a fat (yolks). If you suspect egg allergy, try the whites and yolks separately as you may tolerate one better. In the GAPS diet, runny egg yolks play an important role to heal and seal the gut and there use specifically in the undercooked state is vital to the gut healing process.
- Stewed and well-cooked fruits and vegetables are the best carb sources for low carb and elimination diets. Raw food purists and those looking to grab a piece of fruit and run will be dismayed, but putting some fire to your food increases its digestibility while making those yummy sugars available for a longer period of time to provide sustained energy.
- 6-Fear of fats, especially animal fats like tallow, can result in lack of satiety and boredom. For the average sized person eating under 100 grams of carbs per day, counting fat calories is generally unnecessary and products like avocado oil, walnut oil, duck fat, beef tallow and even bacon grease can be flavorful and satisfying components of your diet.
- Bone broth is essential and mandatory. There is no substitute and no better thing you can do for your health, satiety and gut integrity than consume at least a cup a day of high-quality bone broth.
- Probiotic foods often involve fermentation and dairy, two areas that could cause trouble for IBD/UC/Crohns. You should extensively supplement with at least two brands of high-quality probiotic supplements, one freeze-dried (shelf stable) and one refrigerated if you are avoiding common probiotic foods such as yogurt or pickles due to intolerance.
- Maybe you’re on a diet that’s wrong for you. If you have SIBO, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, you may not benefit from a low carb diet. Gluten-free is not a panacea as whole wheat contains a high level of prebiotics and wheat transformed through starter cultures can be a nourishing and hypoallergenic food for some people.
- Maybe you don’t know your trigger foods and are eating the wrong things even though they are allowed in your diet. Or, you could be depriving yourself of perfectly healthy and viable foods. Exploration through clinical food allergy testing (IgG and IgA), self-challenge through an elimination diet AND food journaling can give you clarity on this for where you are today. You can use a blood test that involves a 96 food allergy panel, which can be drop shipped to you anywhere in the US.
Whether you suffer from an auto-immune disease or just want to fine-tune your diet, a temporary low carb diet can be healthy and rewarding. Those serious about restoring their gut health naturally often try a carbohydrate-reduced diet in hopes of healing. The success or failure of these diets comes down to determination and the right guidance to connect the dots toward proper and complete digestion and elimination.
Anyone attempting a low carb diet to treat a disease or syndrome should work with a healthcare professional, especially a naturopathic doctor, to ensure safety and to create the best possible likelihood of success.
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