Beyond Gluten Free: Is THIS the Missing Piece to Your Health Puzzle?

For many of you, the gluten-free journey has been a life-changer. You’ve likely experienced reduced bloating, improved energy, and a clearer mind.

But what if the journey doesn’t end there?

What if, despite the improvement, you still struggle with fatigue, discomfort, or lingering health concerns?

As a functional medicine practitioner, I regularly see patients who’ve reached a plateau with gluten-free living. They continue to grapple with persistent symptoms, weight management struggles, or simply a nagging feeling that there’s more to unlock.

This is where advanced dietary interventions like Paleo, Keto, and even Carnivore diets come in. These are not just fad diets but powerful tools that, when used correctly, can unlock the hidden potential within you.

But before you dive into one of these diets, remember that these are not one-size-fits-all solutions. Each approach has its unique strengths and considerations. That’s why I’m dedicating this blog to helping you navigate the options, understand their potential benefits, and ultimately find the path that best supports your unique needs and goals.

Remember, this isn’t about blindly following a trend or advocating for one diet over another. It’s about understanding YOUR unique needs and tailoring a dietary approach that resonates with your body and lifestyle.

So, if you’re ready to explore the possibilities beyond gluten-free, let’s dive in together to discover your path to optimal health.

 

Which Diet is Right for You? Paleo, Keto & Carnivore Diets

Ready to explore the details of each diet?

Let’s unpack the Paleo, Keto, and Carnivore diets and talk further about gut health, inflammation management, and metabolic optimization to help unlock even greater well-being levels. Remember that my goal is to equip you with the knowledge to discover your perfect diet.

 

assorted paleo foods diets

A Glimpse into the Past – The Paleo Diet

Imagine you transported back 10,000 years to the Paleolithic era. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors thrived on a very different diet than the modern one. The Paleo diet attempts to replicate this “ancestral” way of eating, believing it aligns best with our genetic makeup and promotes optimal health. (1)

Paleo prioritizes foods in their natural state, like grass-fed meats, free-range poultry, wild-caught fish, vegetables (including starchy roots), fruits, nuts, and seeds. Processed foods, refined sugars, and artificial additives are banished, mimicking the presumed absence of these items in the Paleolithic era.

One of the most distinctive features of the Paleo diet is the elimination of grains (wheat, barley, rice, etc.), legumes (beans, lentils, peanuts), and dairy products. While staples in modern diets, these foods were likely scarce for our ancestors. The Paleo philosophy suggests they may contribute to inflammation, digestive issues, and metabolic imbalances for some individuals.

Paleo vs. Autoimmune Paleo (AIP)

While the paleo and AIP diets focus on whole, unprocessed foods, the AIP takes it a step further by eliminating specific food groups beyond the standard paleo exclusions. (2) This stricter approach addresses potential triggers for autoimmune conditions, such as nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers), eggs, nuts, seeds, and even some fruits. Think of the AIP as a more targeted version of paleo, specifically designed to manage autoimmune symptoms by removing potential inflammatory triggers.

It’s important to note that the AIP diet isn’t necessarily intended for long-term use. Instead, it can be a valuable tool to regain control of your health in the short term. Once your condition improves and initial healing occurs, reducing food reactions and addressing underlying issues, you may gradually transition to a more varied dietary approach like Paleo or even gluten-free, depending on your needs and goals.

Who might benefit from Paleo:

  • Individuals with autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s or Crohn’s disease.
  • People seeking to improve gut health and reduce inflammation.
  • Those looking for a sustainable approach to weight management.

Paleo Pros:

  • Emphasis on whole, nutrient-rich foods.
  • Can improve blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity.
  • Potential to reduce inflammation and improve gut health.

Paleo Cons:

  • Restrictive nature can be challenging for some.
  • May lack certain essential nutrients like calcium and vitamin D.
  • Requires careful planning and meal preparation.

 

Ketogenic diets ingredients

Fueling the Body with Fat – The Ketogenic Diet

Imagine your body running on a different kind of fuel. The keto diet, short for “ketogenic,” flips the metabolic switch, training your body to burn fat for energy instead of its usual source, glucose (sugar). This is achieved by severely limiting carbs, typically below 20-50 grams per day, and increasing healthy fats in your diet. (3)

While not as emphasized as fat, protein intake on keto is moderate, usually around 0.8-1 gram per pound of body weight. It helps maintain muscle mass and ensures essential amino acids are available.

Weight loss is often a significant benefit of keto, but the potential goes much further. Studies suggest it may improve blood sugar control, reduce inflammation, and even benefit certain neurological conditions. (4)

Who might benefit from Keto:

  • Individuals with epilepsy, keto diets have shown effectiveness in seizure control.
  • People looking for rapid weight loss and improved insulin sensitivity.
  • Those seeking to manage neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.

Keto Pros:

  • Can lead to significant weight loss and improved blood sugar control.
  • May offer benefits for brain function.
  • Potential for reducing inflammation and improving gut health.

Keto Cons:

  • Restrictive nature can lead to the “keto flu” with initial adjustments.
  • May increase the risk of kidney stones if not appropriately managed.
  • Requires careful monitoring of electrolytes and individual needs.

 

carnivore diets

The Ultimate Carnivore – An Animal-Based Diet

Imagine a world where your plate is filled only with meat, fish, and eggs. This is the essence of the Carnivore diet, an approach where you exclusively consume animal-based foods. This includes meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, and even some dairy products (depending on individual interpretations). (5)

All plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes, are strictly forbidden.

Some people with autoimmune diseases, mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS), and significant food restriction or digestive issues find relief on the carnivore diet due to the absence of plant-based components that might trigger inflammation or discomfort. However, it’s an extreme approach with potential risks and limitations. It can lead to nutrient deficiencies, particularly in fiber, certain vitamins, and minerals.

While the Carnivore diet requires careful planning and monitoring to ensure adequate nutrition, it can be a powerful tool for short-term elimination. This approach can help identify potential food sensitivities or triggers, especially if you struggle with autoimmune conditions or chronic gut issues. Many of my patients return to a more varied diet once their conditions are better under control and some level of healing has taken place.

But remember that reintroducing foods after a carnivore elimination phase needs to be done thoughtfully and strategically. This process, called “reintegration,” involves slowly adding back previously excluded foods while monitoring for any reactions or symptom flare-ups.

Who might benefit from Carnivore:

  • Individuals with severe autoimmune conditions, MCAS, or digestive disorders.
  • People seeking to address specific allergies or sensitivities to plant-based foods.
  • Those willing to commit to a highly restrictive and unconventional dietary lifestyle.

Carnivore Pros:

  • Can improve gut health and reduce inflammation in some cases.
  • Potential for improved energy levels and mental clarity for some individuals.
  • Elimination of potential allergens and sensitivities from plant-based foods.

Carnivore Cons:

  • Extremely restrictive nature poses significant challenges in terms of nutrient intake.
  • Increased risk of nutrient deficiencies like fibers, vitamins, and minerals. (6)
  • Requires careful planning and supplementation to avoid health risks.

 

Healthy food. Organic food assortment with raw beef steaks .

Finding Your Dietary Match

Remember, the “perfect” diet doesn’t exist!

Your unique needs and preferences will drive the selection of the right diet for you. But here are a few things that you can do to help find your dietary match:

  1. Start with small changes: Don’t jump headfirst into a restrictive diet. Begin by incorporating more whole foods and gradually eliminating processed options.
  2. Listen to your body: Pay attention to how you feel on different diets. Track your energy levels, digestion, and overall well-being to identify what works best for you.
  3. Embrace flexibility: Remember, a “one-size-fits-all” approach rarely works. Be willing to adjust your dietary choices based on your individual needs, preferences, and health goals.

If you’re ready to ditch the confusion and unlock the dietary key to your vibrant health, I encourage you to schedule your personalized functional nutrition consultation with my nutritionist, Sarah.  

When working with Sarah, you’ll embark on a transformative journey towards:

  • Unlocking your perfect dietary match
  • Customized guidance based on your health history, sensitivities, and lifestyle.
  • Sustainable success
  • Managing your health proactively and optimizing your energy, mood, and overall well-being.

Don’t wait another day to unlock your full potential!

Schedule your functional nutrition consultation today and take the first step toward a healthier, happier you!

 

Resources

  1. “Paleolithic Diet—Effect on the Health Status and Performance of Athletes?” NCBI, 21 March 2021, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8004139/. Accessed 15 February 2024.
  2. Burkhart, Amy. “The Autoimmune Protocol Diet (AIP Diet): Does it help? – Amy Burkhart, MD, RD.” The Celiac MD, https://theceliacmd.com/the-autoimmune-protocol-diet/. Accessed 15 February 2024.
  3. “Ketogenic Diet – StatPearls.” NCBI, 16 June 2023, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499830/. Accessed 15 February 2024.
  4. “Long-term effects of a ketogenic diet in obese patients.” NCBI, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2716748/. Accessed 15 February 2024.
  5. “,.” , – YouTube, 19 May 2023, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2475299122106086?via%3Dihub. Accessed 15 February 2024.
  6. O’Hearn, Amber. “Can a carnivore diet provide all essential nutrients?” PubMed, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32833688/. Accessed 15 February 2024.