Personalised nutrition is the future of health, but nutrition can seem confusing. Although public interest for health or weight loss diets is high, the majority of people develop total apathy over the constantly conflicting reports on what to eat or not to eat.
First, fat was bad,so eat a low-fat diet, then fats were good again! And carbs were bad… Now it turns out fats are bad again, but which fats? Oh, and shouldn’t we be eating a low protein diet? Every macro nutrient is demonised by someone, somewhere, at any given point in time.
Unfortunately, humans lack the ability to create energy via photosynthesis – so how are we meant to make sense of which diet is right for us?
The truth is, any of the statements above can be correct, or not, dependent on biological context, such as your body, lifestyle, genetics and a host of other variables.
In 2015, a ground-breaking study was conducted in Israel where 800 subjects were provided with 48,898 different meals. The subjects wore continuous glucose monitors, had blood measurements taken, filled out questionnaires on dietary habits and physical activity, recorded anthropometric measurements (height, weight, waist size etc), and assessed their gut microbiome.
They found that despite eating identical meals, the blood glucose responses were dramatically different between individuals.
They used this data to create an algorithm and test the information they gained on 100 new subjects by predicting the best diet for these individuals based upon their gut microbiome, blood markers, and all metrics taken in the first trial.
The prescribed meals significantly improved the subject’s post-prandial glycemic control with these results being repeated in subsequent study. The main takeaway here being,your individual biological context determines how your body responds to a given food [1,2].
This topic is too complex to answer in a blog. But to give you an idea, here are three areas to help define the best nutrition plan for you.
Food preference is important (although it doesn’t mean hammering your way through boxes of donuts because they taste good). Adherence is critical for any eating plan to be successful, and it’s why 95% of diets fail after 3 years. You should enjoy the foods you’re eating most of the time .
Preference also includes your preference in lifestyle and goals – what do you want from your diet; specific health goal, performance or general well-being – any given goal can change how the diet should be structured .
This can be extremely obvious; if something you eat gives you heart burn, has you running to the toilet, or causes bloating – it’s probably worth reviewing its inclusion in your diet.
It can also be not so obvious; we house the majority of our immune system in our gut and we are only just starting to scratch the surface of the importance of the gut microbiome. We are now realising that symptoms and conditions unrelated to gut symptoms like autoimmune disease, allergy, joint pain and brain fog may have their root in the health of your gut [5, 6, 7, 8].
Your lifestyle and genetics determine how much you make or clear of any given enzyme, molecule,protein, toxin, or neurotransmitter in your body. The best way to see how this symphony of signals works together is to look at your blood results [9, 10, 11].
It may be you’re achieving your goals and thriving, but if you’re suffering with symptoms (gut related or not), have imbalanced blood glucose, lipids, inflammatory markers or nutrient status – it may be worth examining what changes can be made to rebalance this.
First; any resource, guru, documentary or article making bold claims about diets without discussing the nuance of individual variation, can be reasonably ignored. They don’t know you, your lifestyle, genetics, or goals.
Second; if you, like the majority of people, don’t know where to start when assessing your gut health or reading blood markers, an appointment with a nutritionist trained in functional medicine is invaluable. They can recommend relevant tests based on your history and goals and interpret these results to form an ideal personalised nutrition plan.
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