Is The Whole30 Diet Really Healthy?
In this article:
- Mycobiome and Its Relationship With Food
- What Happens When You Eliminate a Variety of Foods All at Once?
- How to Reach Your Whole30 Goals in a Less Restrictive Way
Is the Whole30 Diet Really a Gut Healing Diet?What Is the Whole30 Diet? The Whole30 elimination diet works by avoiding food that induces cravings like sugar, grains, dairy, MSG, and alcohol for an entire 30 days. You are not supposed to measure your weight during the entire 30-day diet.
Mycobiome and Its Relationship With Food
What is Mycobiome? The fungal community inside a living body. It’s an important part of the human microbiome. Going from a “normal” eating plan to something so restrictive (seriously, no hummus?) is pretty drastic. It made gut expert and BIOHM founder Mahmoud A. Ghannoum, Ph.D.—who actually is the one who coined the term “mycobiome“—wonder exactly how the swift transition affects the gut.
Dr. Ghannoum and his team have a wealth of data at their disposal (gathered from the people who use BIOHM's at-home gut testing kits) regarding how different diets change the bacteria and fungi levels in the microbiome—for better or for worse. Based on his research, Dr. Ghannoum developed a strong opinion about the Whole30 diet. The verdict: He does not recommend it. Intrigued? Keep reading to find out why he doesn’t think it’s the best way to go, plus, his advice for getting to the root of digestive problems without eliminating so many foods at once.
What Happens When You Eliminate a Variety of Foods All at Once?Dr. Ghannoum is all about the benefits the Whole30 diet promises. But he doesn’t think eliminating so many foods that actually heal the body is good for you—or even necessary“A diet that restrictive really isn’t healthful,” he says. “Some of the foods the eating plan demands be cut out are actually good for you.” Specifically, dairy, grains, and legumes.
“You really don’t want to cut out grains unless you’re truly celiac, intolerant, or have a wheat allergy,” Dr. Ghannoum says. “Studies have shown that having a cup of whole grain barley or brown rice [a day] has been shown to decrease inflammation.” He adds, “That in itself is very good because many people have gut problems because of inflammation.”
Dairy ProductsSimilar to his philosophy with cutting grains, Dr. Ghannoum doesn’t advocate nixing dairy, unless you are intolerant or allergic. “What we see from scientific research about dairy is that moderation is the way to go,” he says. “Studies have shown that it is full of healthy proteins that are good for the body.”
LegumesHe also isn’t a fan of the fact that the Whole30 rules call for cutting out legumes, including chickpeas, black beans, and lentils. “These foods are very healthy,” Dr. Ghannoum says, calling out the foods as being good sources of fiber, another nutrient linked to lowering inflammation. He adds, “The reason why the Whole30 asks people to cut out legumes is because of a compound called phytate [an anti-nutrient that impairs absorption]. But phytates are also found in meat, so even if you stop eating legumes, you aren’t eliminating this compound completely.”
How to Reach Your Whole30 Goals in a Less Restrictive Way
Many people who are fans of Whole30 credit the diet to helping them cut sugar cravings and, separately, eliminating digestive problems. How exactly does Dr. Ghannoum recommend accomplishing the same goals? When it comes to those pesky sugar cravings, Dr. Ghannoum has some real talk. “Having completely no sugar just isn’t realistic because it’s in so many things,” he says. “But the key is to work toward having only a little—the World Health Organization says just six tablespoons a day—and spreading it out, not having it all at once.” He adds further, “When you have a lot of sugar all at once, it overloads the body.”Hence, eating too many sweets leads to a sugar high—and an inevitable crash.
If you’re experiencing digestive problems and are trying to figure out why, Dr. Ghannoum says you should try cutting one food group at a time—like grains and legumes, or dairy—instead of everything all at once. “If you think you are sensitive to wheat, stop eating it and see if you feel better,” he says. It turns out that yes, troubleshooting really can be that simple.
Optimize Your Gut In 5 Simple Steps with this video from BIOHM Health:
Suddenly eliminating a huge chunk of food groups may cause more harm than gut healing . Instead of doing a crash elimination diet like the Whole30 diet, try meal planning packed with fruits and vegetables and good eating habits.
Have you tried eliminating one food group from your diet? Share your experience in the comments section below.
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