Here is an interesting article by Lara Briden, ND, about gentle carbs, particularly in regards to women under 35 who may have “adrenal fatigue” or HPA axis dysfunction (think “stressed out”) Many people have insulin resistance, weight gain and other connected symptoms. Lara says she wrote this article

“in response to some young, thin, nervous patients that I’ve had recently. Really crashing on meat and salad diet.”

Many people are doing really well on protein fat and low starch veggies but some are not. I spoke with a man the other day who noticed he was feeling depressed on that diet and has added back some rice.

I’m currently reading The Perfect Health Diet by Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet (both PhD scientists). If you read through the comments on Lara’s blog you can see her response to this book too. They call them “safe starches” and the consensus seems to be: root vegetables and tubers (carrots, beets, potato, pumpkin, squash, sweet potato, yams, turnips, radish… and white rice.

I am currently working with eliminating all seeds, grains legumes and nuts (remember I have autoimmune disease x3 and my childhood eczema flared up last year) and also eating the most easily digested and nourishing foods possible, with the help of Rebecca Wood. Rebecca’s approach is based on 5 Element Medicine theory and practice and 45 years of working with food as medicine food as nourishment with an early training in macrobiotics and decades of cooking and advising people on improving their health with food. Check other website, she has alot of resources for self care like recipes, articles and a new book on 5 Element face diagnosis. She also offers individual sessions on the phone. She has written eBooks on elimination diets, parasite and toxin clearing, face diagnosis and a new cookbook of soups and stews.

I like how all these different “experts” are pointing at the same thing: healing the gut, reducing inflammation, improving digestion and assimilation and self-nourishment is the key. For me, Rebecca’s emphasis on self nourishment really took me to a whole new level in regards to diet, I had always focused so much on what I was removing from my diet, I kind of lost touch with the nourishment side.

So even though I have taken the most radical approach to elimination diet (Rebecca has 3 levels), removing all seeds, grains legumes and nuts, I have also been preparing nourishing meals for myself every day, 2-3 times, it has been quite a practice for me but I read of a woman who was doing it too and she has 6 kids! This emphasis on self care and self nourishment over restriction and elimination has been really helpful.

What they all agree is that we need to have protein, fat and starch at every meal. Just eliminating the inflammatory foods like grains and sugar etc. is not going to work for everyone and Lara has identified one specific group here that clearly need these carbs. Maybe not everyone needs to be that careful but if you read the comments, there are other practitioners who talk about men and others for whom, no grains and low carb (so called Paleo diets) are not ideal for either.

“Clinically, I’ve found that some people need more starch than others. Namely, young nervous women with HPA axis dysfunction need a regular serving of rice, potato or squash with every meal. I had thought that those with significant insulin resistance (and no significant HPA dysfunction) benefit from the majority of meals with no starch, at least in the short-term. But I’m currently in the middle of Paul Jaminet’s book (Perfect Health Diet) thanks to a comment above, and he makes a pretty compelling case that everybody needs 30% carb (by calorie).”

So I have been cooking my gentle starches every day: roasting radishes, carrots and turnips, boiling beets and mashing yam (kumera, sweet potato… ie the orange ones) with turnips as well as my old standby, EVOO and cilantro. I avoid nightshades so potatoes and tomatoes are out for me but the upside of this elimination of grains etc is that I have discovered a whole new food group: starchy vegetables.

The more I study the more I see how healthy the traditional Australian diet actually was (if you didn’t get carried away with all the flour and sugar). Because meat and 3 veg typically meant lamb or beef (grass fed, free range, no hormones or antibiotics), potato (gentle starch) green peas or beans (ok well leafy greens or broccoli would have been better) and carrots. And roast pumpkin regularly and pickled beetroot (ok sadly, canned not naturally fermented) in sandwiches and on hamburgers and salads as well. I am not knocking all the food that came to Australia in the waves of postwar immigration, all those traditions are healthy too but sadly the SAD (standard American diet since 1950) had a huge influence to with processed everything and people buying their food at Woolies and Coles instead of at the fruit and veg shop, the butcher and prepared, every day “from scratch” as they say in the US.

OK here is the article from Lara Briden that sparked off this post from me. Its a huge area of conversation but I am finding that amongst all the diversity of food advice out there there are some really outstanding confluences of approach:eat whole foods, an intelligently balanced diet, heal your guts, eliminate inflammatory foods, deal with sugar and processed starches and especially gluten, nourish yourself with real food… oh and COOK! Michael Pollan is in San Francisco tonight (sold out) talking about his new book Cooked! and he is another voice in this admirable crowd.

Gentle Carbs for GABA and Cortisol | Lara Briden’s Healthy Hormone Blog.