The microbiome Diet, though very science sounding, is actually a diet uniquely suited for those who have tried various diets in the past and never found results. It’s a new approach built upon the principle that the obesity problem many are facing is due to the digestive system being compromised by the foods we are eating – leading to leaky gut, inflammation, increased hunger and cravings, and other health problems ranging from soreness to lack of concentration. The way our food is processed in the body is greatly aided and abetted by microbiomes – bacteria in the gut. When there is an imbalance (lack of certain bacteria or too many bad ones), our health suffers and we gain weight.
The diet is based around “Four Rs”: 1) Remove the unhealthy bacteria and the foods that unbalance the microbiome; 2) Replace the digestive enzymes that you need for optimal digestion; 3) Reinoculate with probiotics (intestinal bacteria) and prebiotics 9foods and supplements that nourish this bacteria and keep it healthy); 4) Repair the lining of your intestinal walls, which have likely become permeable and are releasing partially digested food into the bloodstream and causing major problems like inflammation.
The diet has three phases. In the first, you avoid sugar, eggs, soy, gluten, and dairy (as well as all packaged/artificial foods). This is the heart of the four Rs above. Phase 2 is the metabolic boost. You eat a wider range of foods and introduce some items like milk and eggs. Phase 3 is about maintaining healthy weight loss. You eat about 70% of the phase 2 foods and then some ‘goodies’ in between.
The diet is set up to cleanse the system of the bad stuff, heal your gut, and in the process wean you off the items that cause the insatiable cravings and hunger. At the same time, improve all over health. Recipes and a meal plan are given at the beginning, as well as a shopping list for each stage. Recipes are set up to be made quickly and easily using fairly staple foods. Chicken, salads, seafood, etc.
For the recipes, I had a few problems with the directions (e.g., I have no idea what I’m doing when I’m told to “deglaze the vinegar”). As well, with a few I wasn’t really sure what was going on (e.g., I’m told to saute garlic and then add wet Kale and let it simmer – but I’m not quite sure how wet the kale should be?). But on the whole, I was able to follow the recipes and they satisfied me – I wasn’t left hungry. There were no surprises here – a lot of the recipes are superfood centered, so you’ll see similar iterations in other cookbooks that focus on organic and superfoods like cruciferous vegetables and legumes). I wish there was more information about substitutions (e.g., I can’t eat seafood and when given an ingredient like apple cider vinegar, I’d like to know if malt cider is an acceptable alternative.)
Although there weren’t a lot of exotic ingredients (I wasn’t able to get jerusalem artichoke or kimchee at my local store), there are resources on where to get many ingredients. One big downside for me was tracking down the huge amount of supplements, which was 7-10 pills a day and some powders. Be prepared – it is a heavy cost up front (perhaps not as heavy in the long run for good health, though). If you are outside of the US, this will be a hard diet to follow.
Recipe examples include: minted fruit salad with brazil nuts, rich vegetable soup, jerk cornish game hen, mussels steamed in beer, gazpacho smoothie, stuffed mushrooms, and snacks such as baked kale chips.
I’ve tried the diet for 3 weeks now and the cravings really do go down. I haven’t received all the supplements in the mail or tracked down all the ingredients as of the time of writing this, though, and will update later. But the weight is coming off.
If buying the Kindle version, the formatting is a bit harder to read than with the book version, so I recommend the physical copy.
Reviewed from an ARC.