Body Ecology Diet (Donna Gates)

Mindd Diet Protocols

The growing “special diet” section online and in your local bookshop is reassurance that you are a part of a large and growing group of people whose digestive tracts are demanding that we reconsider our modern diet, medications, environmental toxins and stress levels. By offering a comprehensive overview of some important healing diets and a great selection of cookbooks, we endeavour to give families an idea of how fun and easy “special diets” can be.

There are many dietary protocols and principles that help children with ADHD, asthma, allergies and autism also help individuals suffering from Coeliac, Colitis, Crohn’s, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, anxiety and depression.

Individuals dealing with metabolic and digestive disorders require special diets to avoid foods that trigger allergies or harm the digestive tract. There are a number of “elimination” diets that can help in this way. While elimination is sometimes necessary, in many instances certain foods can be reintroduced once the gastrointestinal tract has had time to heal.

In general, we recommend an organic, fresh, whole food diet with no/minimal refined flours and sugars and no processed foods, artificial additives, colorings or preservatives. And plenty of filtered water containing minerals is essential.

Here we explore the Body Ecology Diet designed by Donna Gates. This diet seeks to remove sugar, gluten, and casein, while also introducing probiotics to restore the natural pH balance of the gut…

The Body Ecology Diet (Donna Gates)

The Body Ecology Diet, designed by Donna Gates, M.Ed., ABAAHP, was the first of its kind.

It is a diet that seeks to remove sugar, gluten, and casein, while also introducing probiotics to restore the natural pH balance of the gut.

Donna Gates’ diet is based on the Eastern understanding of medicine and nutrition, and favors natural, whole foods. Gates’ teachings have been successful worldwide, and in 1994, her sugar-free alternative, Stevia, became a staple food for dieters and the health conscious. Since then, Gates has raised awareness of the importance of the body’s “inner ecosystem” and the positive effects that fermented foods can have on your health, appearance and overall wellbeing.

The Theory Behind the Body Ecology Diet

Raw Organic Sauerkraut

Raw Organic Sauerkraut Ready to Eat

The Body Ecology Diet encompasses 7 principles of eating and healing, these vary from traditions derived from traditional Eastern philosophies to modern Western approaches towards nutrition.

  1. Foods can be contracting or expanding:

Salty food, meats, and poultry cause contraction or tightening, and if the body is too tight, it cannot function properly. Circulation is compromised and elimination of wastes stalls (constipation).

Sugar, alcohol, coffee cause expansion, which causes the body to open up and relax.

Foods which are neither contracting or expanding create balance in the body and are the basis of the Body Ecology Diet. These include plant foods.

When too many contracting foods are eaten, you will experience a craving for expanding foods. For optimal internal health, foods must be eaten which balance one another.

  1. Maintaining Acid/Alkaline Balance:

The Body Ecology Diet recommends eating foods which help to alkalize the body’s internal environment, as illnesses may occur when the body is too acidic and toxic. The optimal pH for bodily fluids is slightly alkaline.

Sugar, white flour products, nuts, and red meats are all examples of acid forming foods.

  1. Uniqueness

There is individuality in everybody’s healing process, no two people are the same, nor will the same food or supplements be beneficial for everyone. The Body Ecology Diet is a system of health and healing that takes this into consideration.

  1. Cleansing

The Body Ecology Diet welcomes the body’s own methods of cleansing, this may be as minor as your eyes watering when a speck of dust gets in your eye, to your body developing a fever when it catches a virus.

  1. Food Combining

Eating foods which require a similar environment for digestion will ease the overall digestive process and enhance one’s health. Nutrients will also be digested and assimilated easier. Examples of optimal food combining include:

  • Animal proteins are eaten with non-starchy vegetables and fats
  • Animal proteins are not eaten with starchy vegetables and grains
  • Starchy vegetables and grains are eaten with non-starchy vegetables and fats
  • Protein fats (kefir, nuts) are eaten with acidic fruits and non-starchy vegetables
  1. The 80/20 rule

If you suffer from any immune-related illnesses, it is important that all food is digested, assimilated, and then eliminated properly. A healthy digestive system will be able to do this effectively. However, overeating or improper food combining will cause too much of a strain on the digestive system and compromise its function.

  • Eat until your stomach is 80% full, leaving 20% available for digestion
  • 80% of your food should be non-starchy vegetables, 20% can be protein, grains, or starchy vegetables.
  1. Step by step

Everything occurs in a process, step by step. All things in nature, and in us occurs in an orderly manner. This includes taking the appropriate steps for healing and overall wellness, the steps below can be done at whatever pace suits you, but these foundations for wellness must be accomplished.

The Body Ecology Steps include:

  • Creating a balanced inner environment in your intestines
  • Hormonally balancing and nourishing your adrenals and thyroid
  • Address infections including systemic fungal infections
  • Cleanse and detoxify

Features of the Body Ecology Diet

The main features of the diet are to reduce carbohydrate and sugar intake, ensure healthy fats and oils are consumed while increasing intake of cultured foods in order to create a favorable environment for beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract to flourish.

  • The diet encourages significantly reducing sugar intake, which may be beneficial for managing blood sugar imbalances, and the prevention of a wide range of chronic illnesses
  • Restricted-carbohydrate intake, which may aid in weight loss/management, as well as the management of certain chronic illnesses such as Type 2 Diabetes
  • Encouraging a healthy fat intake, favoring the consumption of fish over certain fatty meats, which contain higher omega 3 content. This may improve satiety, as well as improve cardiovascular health
  • The diet focuses on whole foods, which are rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals
  • The diet encourages consumption of organic produce, which reduces overall intake of herbicides, and pesticides
  • The first meal of the day, breakfast is extremely light, followed by a heavier meal with animal protein for brunch/lunch, snacks are recommended, as well as a vegetarian dinner

Who Can Benefit From the Body Ecology Diet?

The Body Ecology Diet can be a wonderful method of dealing with food intolerances, various illnesses, and general digestive discomfort.

People with the following conditions may benefit from the Body Ecology Diet:

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Adrenal fatigue
  • Food allergies and intolerances
  • Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Leaky gut syndrome (intestinal hyperpermeability)
  • Various autoimmune diseases
  • Mould disease/exposure
  • And more.

Body Ecology and The Gastrointestinal Tract

Coconut Water Kefir

Kefir water for good digestion

Our digestive system does not only function to digest food and absorb nutrients, it plays a major role in ensuring we are balanced physically and mentally. Suboptimal dietary choices, consuming food products which do not favor our bodies and aid us to thrive, modern day stressors, medications, and more will ultimately affect our digestive system. Eventually, this will also impact how our body functions systemically, compromising both physical, and mental/emotional health.

Suboptimal dietary choices, consuming food products which do not favor our bodies and aid us to thrive, modern day stressors, medications, and more will ultimately affect our digestive system. Eventually, this will also impact how our body functions systemically, compromising both physical, and mental/emotional health.

The digestive system houses billions of live bacteria, the microbiota is an ecosystem of its own which is responsible for the health and wellbeing of our gut, brain, endocrine and immune function. This internal environment is sensitive and its balance can easily become compromised.

The body’s internal environment is sensitive and its balance can easily become compromised. This may eventually create disharmony amongst the bacterial ecosystem, causing an overgrowth of certain yeasts and/or bacteria which may lead to conditions such as SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth), Candidiasis, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, to name a few. However, an imbalance of the microbiota may also influence many other chronic immune, neurological, behavioral and/or metabolic disorders in both adults and children.

Donna Gates, the Body Ecology founder, encourages this diet in order to help manage the overall health and wellbeing of autistic children. BEDROK, which stands for Body Ecology Diet Recovering Our Kids aims to reset the body’s balance of benevolent bacteria; to nourish not only the body but also the mind.

The Body Ecology Diet offers a back-to-basics approach in aiming to restore the body back to its natural order by encouraging a diet which is rich in foods that cultivate, nourish and repair our inner ecosystems.

What can be eaten and what is excluded from the Body Ecology Diet?

If you are interested in trying the Body Ecology Diet, it is important to understand which foods are permitted, and those which are not. In addition, it is beneficial to have an understanding of why these foods are included and excluded.

Included in Body Ecology Diet

Excluded from Body Ecology Diet

  • Cultured or fermented vegetables
  • Most land vegetables (carrots, peas, onions etc.), exceptions being those on the restricted list
  • Shiitake mushrooms
  • Mineral-rich ocean vegetables including kelp, nori, and wakame
  • Sea salt
  • Herbs – in particular, cayenne, ginger, and garlic
  • Soaked and sprouted almonds
  • Sunflower, pumpkin and flax seeds (preferably soaked and sprouted for easier digestion)
  • Quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, and millet (gluten free grains)
  • Unrefined, organic fats and oils such as coconut oil, ghee, and seed oils
  • Stevia for sweetening
  • Lemons, limes, cranberries, and black currants. After a year or so of the Body Ecology diet, more fruits can be introduced, but tart fruits such as kiwis are more recommended than sugary, sweet fruits
  • Animal products should be eaten in moderation – about 20% of the total food intake. To ensure they are digested well, they should be eaten alongside fermented vegetables. Meat is permitted as long as it is organic, but fish is preferred. Eggs are encouraged.
  • Sugar-free kefir and yogurt
  • Parsnips, Russet Burbank potatoes, and sweet potatoes (high in natural sugars)
  • Any mushroom other than shiitake (too expansive in the stomach)
  • Tomatoes, eggplants or bell peppers (can be inflammatory)
  • Any other nut than almonds (high arginine content)
  • Sugar
  • Dairy
  • Sugary fruits
  • Wheat, oats and other wheat-based products

One Day on the Body Ecology Diet:

Below are examples of meals that you could eat on the Body Ecology Diet:





Coconut Kefir

Green Smoothie (Water, Celery, Cucumber, lettuce, zucchini, chia seeds, mint, essential fatty acid supplements, stevia)


Homemade milk kefir and berries

Eggs, fermented vegetables, leafy salad.


Pre-soaked gluten free grains and vegetable soup + animal protein

Vegetarian meals:

Soaked grains (quinoa, millet, buckwheat) and vegetable soup.


Stir-fried vegetables and grains


Grain salads/Raw salads

Cultured vegetables

Coconut kefir

Listen to Your Body

It is important to listen to your body in order to understand what it needs, and what makes it thrive. Plenty of water should be consumed in order to keep cells hydrated. Adequate sleep is also essential to maintain cognitive function, and energy for the day. The day should be started off with a nutritionally balanced meal.

Exercise is also important for both physical and mental wellbeing, so incorporating movement into your day is beneficial.


Donna Gates’ website has an extensive collection of additional resources to explore:


Diet Profile Research and Writing: Kimberly Kushner BHSc (Nutritional Medicine), BHSc (Naturopathy) for MINDD

Mindd Foundation