The Body Ecology Diet Guide: Pros, Cons + Its 7 Key Principles

We delve into gut-friendly eating.

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The Body Ecology Diet plan is designed to help restore health and vitality to the “inner ecosystem“ of your body.

As such, the Body Ecology Diet principles and meal plan are targeted to help support healthy gut bacteria and restore balance to the microbiota.

In this nutrition guide, we will discuss what the Body Ecology Diet plan involves, the seven principles behind its meal plan, and potential Body Ecology Diet benefits and drawbacks.

Let’s jump in!

A person making heart with their hands over their stomach.

What Is the Body Ecology Diet Plan?

The Body Ecology Diet plan was developed by Donna Gates, who authored a book on the diet in 2011 called The Body Ecology Diet: Recovering Your Health and Rebuilding Your Immunity.

Gates attests that the Body Ecology Diet plan helps improve symptoms such as sluggishness, constipation or frequent diarrhea, gas, bloating, frequent colds or flus, or other signs of a poor immune system and increased inflammation.

The Seven Principles of the Body Ecology Diet

There are seven key principles to the Body Ecology Diet program to help restore optimal health:

#1: The Principle of Expansion and Contraction

According to the Body Ecology Diet theory, certain foods are “contractive,” meaning they cause negative changes to your body or are particularly hard on your digestive system.

These include foods like fatty meats, eggs, and sodium.

On the other hand, “expansive foods“ are those that promote health, reduce inflammation, and support the microbes in your intestinal tract.

Body Ecology Diet expansive foods include things like cultured veggies, fermented vegetables, sour fruits, seed vegetables, and high-quality fats.

Based on this Body Ecology Diet principle, you are supposed to reduce the consumption of Body Ecology Diet contraction foods and increase the consumption of nourishing expansive foods.

Fermented foods.

#2: The Principle of Acid and Alkaline

Like the alkaline diet, the Body Ecology Diet meal plan prioritizes alkalizing foods, which help increase your body’s pH and move you away from an acidic state.

This is because acidic foods and an acidic blood pH are thought to increase inflammation by proponents of the alkaline diet theory or the acid ash diet.

#3: The Principle of Uniqueness

One of the unique aspects of the Body Ecology Diet plan is that it recognizes that each person is an individual and may respond differently to foods.

This diet encourages you to listen to your body rather than mainstream dietary advice if it does not apply to you or doesn’t seem to work for you.

#4: The Principle of Cleansing

Removing foods from your diet that trigger symptoms will help “cleanse“ your body.

This may be accompanied by “detoxing“ symptoms that should pass but may be temporarily uncomfortable.

#5: The Principle of Food Combining

The Body Ecology Diet meal plan suggests combining certain foods may impede digestion, such as starches and proteins. Body Ecology Diet meals arrange particular food groups and avoid other food combinations.

A person holding up her hand to say stop.

#6: The Principle of 80/20

There are two different forms of the 80/20 diet rule with the Body Ecology eating plan.

First, you are only supposed to eat until your stomach is 80% full, with the remaining 20% left so that you are never fully stuffed.

Then, your ideal Body Ecology Diet recipes should consist of 80% vegetables and 20% of either protein, grain-like seeds (such as quinoa), or seeds.

#7: The Principle of Step by Step

You do not have to overhaul your diet all at once completely. Rather, make gradual, incremental steps towards a healthy inner ecosystem diet.

The Body Ecology Diet plan is not designed to be a short-term diet but rather a lifestyle eating pattern, so there’s no rush in getting to the “finish line“ where you have a perfect Body Ecology Diet meal plan in place.

A farmer's market stand of vegetables.

What Can You Eat On the Body Ecology Diet Plan?

The Body Ecology Diet prioritizes seven groups of superfoods:

  1. Organic land and ocean vegetables: Spinach, kale, beet greens, kelp, nori, seaweed, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, etc. According to the Body Ecology Diet recipes, certain vegetables should be cooked while others should be raw. You can learn more about the raw vs cooked vegetables for Body Ecology Diet meals here.
  2. Consume fermented foods and drinks: Kimchi, sauerkraut, cultured vegetables, young coconut kefir, miso soup, and kombucha.
  3. Eat healthy animal proteins: Organic, free-range poultry, wild-caught fish, and grass-fed meat. Just do not consume your proteins with starches.
  4. Eat Body Ecology Diet fats and oils: Organic, cold-pressed coconut and organic cold-pressed avocado oil.
  5. Eat Body Ecology Diet grain-like seeds and fiber-rich foods. Examples include ancient grains like quinoa, buckwheat, millet, and amaranth. Soak your greens before consuming them.
  6. Drink Body Ecology Diet green drinks: Body Ecology Diet Vitality SuperGreen, which is said to help alkalize the body.
  7. Be careful about the sweet foods that you choose. You cannot have regular fruits because they contain too much sugar. Sour fruits are permitted: Tart cherries, lemons, limes, black currant, and cranberries, as long as you eat the fresh fruit that has not been sweetened.

The Body Ecology Diet plan does not allow natural sweeteners such as honey, molasses, agave, maple syrup, or anything with added sugar like table sugar. You can have small amounts of Stevia.1Kang, G. G., Trevaskis, N. L., Murphy, A. J., & Febbraio, M. A. (2023). Diet-induced gut dysbiosis and inflammation: Key drivers of obesity-driven NASH. IScience26(1), 105905. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2022.105905

You can only eat natural Himalayan or sea salt but not conventional table salt.

A green juice.

What Are the Benefits of the Body Ecology Diet for Weight Loss and Health?

The Body Ecology Diet plan is intended to help heal your gut microbiome and be a lifelong eating pattern for optimal health. It is not intended to be a weight-loss diet.

This is not to say you can’t lose weight on the Body Ecology Diet plan.

Body Ecology Diet weight loss may occur intentionally or unintentionally, given the fact that the food list is somewhat limited and only includes low energy-density foods.

These foods are filling but do not contain many calories per gram or volume of the food.

Any diet can result in weight loss if you are in a caloric deficit.2Weight Loss Depends on Less Calories, Not Nutrient Mix. (2015, May 22). National Institutes of Health (NIH). https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/weight-loss-depends-less-calories-not-nutrient-mix

‌There aren’t specific studies that have evaluated the Body Ecology Diet meal plan and its effect on gut health and its claims.

However, because this plan aims to heal the gut microbiome, the claims surrounding the symptoms it may heal are often signs of gut dysbiosis (an imbalance in the populations of healthy beneficial bacteria vs. unhealthy bacteria and yeast in the intestines), the Body Ecology Diet claims may help.

A person making heart with their hands over their stomach.

However, not all of the healing claims surrounding the Body Ecology Diet plan for health are necessarily backed by evidence. 

That said, the Body Ecology Diet meal plan is generally healthy because it focuses on consuming whole, natural, unprocessed, healthy foods, especially probiotics,3Hemarajata, P., & Versalovic, J. (2012). Effects of probiotics on gut microbiota: mechanisms of intestinal immunomodulation and neuromodulation. Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology6(1), 39–51. https://doi.org/10.1177/1756283×12459294 and removing ultra-processed foods, added sugars, and other “toxins“ for the bacteria residing in your gut.4Brown, K., DeCoffe, D., Molcan, E., & Gibson, D. L. (2012). Diet-Induced Dysbiosis of the Intestinal Microbiota and the Effects on Immunity and Disease. Nutrients4(8), 1095–1119. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu4081095

‌Despite the benefits of the Body Ecology Diet plan for health, the meal plan is quite restrictive, which can impede long-term adherence. 

The Body Ecology Diet foods are also high-quality foods, which tends to mean that the food cost is also high. This may make the Body Ecology Diet plan impractical for people on a tight budget.

Finally, given the restrictive nature of the Body Ecology Diet plan and all of the food rules, this diet may be unsafe for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, needing to gain or maintain weight, dealing with or have a history of an eating disorder, or who have a chronic disease.

The high vegetable intake may also be problematic for people with digestive disorders, and the low protein intake may be inadequate for athletes. 

If you are concerned about your gut microbiome and overall digestive health, you should work with a gastroenterologist, registered dietitian, or healthcare professional to determine if the Body Ecology Diet plan is right for you or how you should otherwise address your symptoms and optimum health through nutrition.

A gastroenterologist with a patient.

References

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Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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