Eating for Wellness with Ella Davar

Nutritionist Ella Davar’s personal health struggles help her maximize wellness for her patients

Nutritionist Ella Davar’s personal health struggles help her maximize wellness for her patients
Nutritionist Ella Davar’s personal health struggles help her maximize wellness for her patients.

By the time Ella Davar arrived at Canyon Ranch Resort & Spa in Miami Beach in 2013, she was exhausted by the gastrointestinal and skin issues she’d been dealing with for years. “I was bloated all the time,” she says.

Though she had seen doctors and holistic healers, tried fad diets, and shelled out a small fortune for supplements and creams, nothing helped. On a whim, she scheduled an appointment with the registered dietician at Canyon Ranch, who ran a food sensitivity and intolerance blood panel on Davar. The results revealed that she had an aversion to gluten, dairy, yeast, and alcohol. “At some point, I asked, ‘What am I supposed to be eating?’” Davar recalls about the restrictive diet she was prescribed. But finally, after years of discomfort, Davar felt relief.

“That one dietician changed my life by changing my relationship with food. I began to see it as medicine,” she says more than 10 years later. “It was no longer about what this one doctor said or the philosophy of an Ayurvedic diet or any of the information out there; it was about all the information I could get from my own body.”

Add antioxidant-rich berries
Add antioxidant-rich berries.

As her health improved, Davar quit her stressful job on Wall Street, became a yoga instructor and health coach, and enrolled in the clinical nutrition master’s program at New York University. Now her story has come full circle: she’s moved to Miami and works as a registered dietician in the same Miami Beach building (now the Carillon Miami Wellness Resort) she visited years ago—except she’s on the other side of the desk, helping clients who find themselves similarly bloated, breaking out, and uncomfortable.

“I specialize in personalized diets,” Davar explains. “I help people understand how food affects them specifically. But I also incorporate mindfulness practices.”

Mitigating stress is an important component of Davar’s treatment plans. “Not many people understand how a stressful lifestyle depletes us of nutrients,” she says, noting that the more stress a person is under, the more cortisol hormones their body produces. “Cortisol-driven adrenal fatigue is very often associated with malnourishment. So even if you have a healthy diet, it goes out the window when [you’re] stressed out.”

Davar founded the Gut-Brain Method, which incorporates personalized nutrition, food sensitivity panels, anti-aging techniques, stress management, and methods to optimize the gut microbiome—helping to decrease inflammation in the gut lining and increase the ratio of good bacteria. Rather than treating symptoms like heartburn, acne, bloating, sinus problems, or yeast infections, Davar seeks the root cause, testing clients for enzyme sufficiencies, infections, metabolic imbalances, and inflammation biomarkers. Often times, the culprit is in the gut.

“Our gut controls serotonin production, which is the feel-good hormone,” Davar explains. “Improving your gut microbiome and focusing on diverse nutrient intake can improve overall well-being, energy levels, immune function, and resilience.”

She’s even got a book in the works titled The You-tarian Diet, exploring how people’s lifestyles, ancestries, and genetics require unique nutrition plans. “Personalization is the future of my field: finding the answers within and creating the diet by yourself for yourself. My goal is to empower people to do that.”

Opt for foods high in omega-3 fatty acids
Opt for foods high in omega-3 fatty acids.

Gut Reset 101

1. Limit added sugar

“The bad bacteria and yeast in your gut thrives on sugar. Berries and fruits are great. The occasional [piece of] dark chocolate is okay. But I’m talking about white sugar and artificial sugars. The latter might be noncaloric, but they were created in a lab and can lead to microbiome imbalances because our bodies have a hard time metabolizing them.”

2. Incorporate more leafy green vegetables

“Green leafy vegetables are high in fiber, polyphenols, and sulforaphane that the liver needs to detoxify. They also make you feel full longer because they fill up your gut and keep you regular. They’re also low in calories.”

3. Add antioxidant-rich berries

“Berries are high in fiber and low in sugar compared to tropical fruits like bananas. They have a lot more fiber because of all their seeds, [and] the fiber helps the gut. Berries are also very beneficial for metabolism because their antioxidants support both your heart function and your mitochondrial health.”

4. Eat probiotic-friendly foods

“Yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, fermented beets, and fermented pickles—all of these fermented foods are so full of good bacteria. They are great to improve and support the good bacteria in your gut.”

5. Opt for foods high in omega-3 fatty acids

“Salmon, trout, sardines, and mackerel are all incredible options. They’re high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory. They’re also high in protein and healthy fats. They’re satiating and great for those who want to lose weight and lower inflammation while improving gut health.”

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