Mariah Hunt


Eating for a healthy body and mind – it’s just a matter of putting the good stuff in our tummies, right?

It's not so easy, says Maria Hunt, one of COYO’s favourite health practitioners. In fact, she says it’s not what you eat, but what you absorb, and that’s a pretty interesting principle that underpins, 'The Body Ecology Diet'. It’s a dietary protocol that Maria’s dedicated to sharing, for those with rumbling, bloating tummies and allergies. We asked Maria what the go was with, 'The Body Ecology Diet', and how to keep our guts healthy and happy with delicious, cultured veggies.

You’re currently Australian head for ‘The Body Ecology Diet’, and spokesperson for AGM Foods, but what was your journey to health and wellness like?

It was a long and expensive one, trying out so many different health protocols! But fortunately, I learned a great deal along the way and found a sustainable solution!

I was extremely ill and felt flat after just getting off the couch some days. I was only just able to take care of myself and manage two days of work a week. It was so frustrating! After a long path of trialling different cures and not finding a real solution, I discovered Donna Gates and the 'Body Ecology Diet'. I was so relieved to find a protocol that truly worked for me.

What exactly is the Body Ecology Diet?

The BED gives us natural tools to work with our body to clear candida, which is a harmful form of yeast. It also restores balance, helps you to regain vitality and strengthens your immunity. It’s a unique protocol based on eating fermented foods and drinks. It also draws on food combining, acid/alkaline, anti-candida, and the blood type diet.

Why is the BED different to other diets, like GAPS and FODMAP? Don’t they all focus on the gut?

Both GAPS and the BED both value the importance of having a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut, which we refer to as having a good gut biome for optimal health. These diets also address the detrimental effect of Candida. The BED takes this awareness further that GAPS with a more specific dietary approach that focuses on cleansing the body of systemic candidiasis. GAPs has included fermented foods in their protocol after seeing the success of fermented foods in the BED diet.

FODMAP and The BED have the same intent, which is to help reduce uncomfortable and often painful gut problems like bloating, cramping, distension, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). While FODMAP cuts out certain allergenic foods to help reduce gut problems – and it is effective at doing this – the BED tweaks this by adding fermented foods and drinks, some of which are not allowed in the FODMAP diet. With good gut health restored, FODMAP trigger foods may be re-introduced, allowing people to enjoy a variety of foods without the gut issues.

Why do we need happy, healthy guts?

A healthy gut to me is having at least 80% good biome present. If we have a healthy gut, our bodies will effectively digest and absorb our food. When this happens, we can actually get our essential minerals, vitamins, amino acids proteins and enzymes. A healthy gut will also fight infection, and viruses and fungi like Candida, and support our mental and emotional health. For example, more than 90% of serotonin – our ‘happy hormone’ – is produced in our gut! This is why I am such a big fan of having a happy healthy gut!

So how does gut health affect immunity and intolerances?

If we have a healthy gut, the good gut biome is on the go, clearing viruses, infection and fungi from our system. So our immunity is much less compromised! And with intolerances, a healthy gut means our digestive system has more of a chance to efficiently break down and absorb all types of foods.

What are cultured vegetables? Are fermented and pickled vegetables the same?

Good question! Culturing and fermenting are the same process, while pickling veggies is a different process.

Culturing and fermenting describes a way of preserving vegetables that not only brings good gut biome in, but also increases the nutrient availability of the vegetables themselves. If you can make a slaw, you can make cultured or fermented vegetables. It’s simply shredded veggies placed in an airtight container with a culture starter and left for two to three days to ferment. The end result is a slightly tangy slaw that goes well with so many other good foods. It’s so simple yet so effective at hitting us up with good gut biome!

Pickling describes a tasty method of preserving veggies, but not a way of obtaining good gut biome. Because the BED uses the culture starter during the fermentation process, it gives veggies a huge hit of good biome. Once eaten, cultured foods help to protect us from harmful bacteria.

How do you feel about supplements? Can we just pop a pill and call it a day?

Good question! If we have a major deficiency in a vitamin/mineral, supplementation is the way to go to restore that deficiency. But, I do believe a supplement can in no way replace overall vitality and wellness gained from having a body that effectively digests and absorbs healthy food.

What is the easiest way to incorporate gut-loving foods into your diet?

The simplest way is to start with a daily shot glass of a 100% fermented drink. You can then gradually increase the dose to three shots per day. It’s great to have as an aperitif with each meal – just like they do in Europe.

Once your body has adjusted to this, add something else in, like cultured veggies! The key is to gradually introduce small, new habits so we don’t become overwhelmed.

Stress is not on the menu!