Got a few extra pounds to lose?
Perhaps your energy level is so-so, digestive problems are a nag, allergies, low blood sugar, poor concentration, mood swings, hormonal imbalances, high blood pressure, or other chronic ailments have you hunting for solutions?
Have you tried lots of diets with limited success?
Are you confused by all the contradictory advice of nutrition experts?
If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, here’s what you need to know: the real secret of health, fitness and longevity is customized, individualized nutrition.
Let’s go back a bit into dietary history….
For years, the American public has been overwhelmed with complex and often sharply contradictory information about what to eat to stay healthy.
If you were to make a quick internet search on the term “healthy diet” you would get over 24 million results (as of this writing). That is not only mind-boggling, it’s downright crippling to figure out if you should follow a paleo diet, raw food diet, gluten-free diet, dairy-free diet, sugar-free diet, heart-healthy diet, cancer prevention diet, diets for athletes, diets for women, diets to slow the aging process, diets to strengthen immunity, diets to combat depression or fatigue, cholesterol-free diets, hypoglycemic diets, and on and on.
The focus of all these diet debates is on the all-important issue of macronutrient consumption – that is – how much protein, carbohydrate and fat people in general should be eating, and what types.
For instance, veganism is all the rage amongst the super health conscious. They contend that animal protein, the farming and consumption of animals, is bad for you and for the environment. Then there is the gluten-free debate. And the dairy debate. And the soy debate.
You get my drift?
It’s a diet war zone out there, ladies!
So, what’s a hormone balancing diet diva to do?
There are two very important elements to consider amidst all the food fuss and fight – genes and lifestyle.
Your Genes Determine Your Nutritional Needs, Mostly
Yep. Your DNA has needs. Ones which were determined before you were born. Over thousands of years of evolutionary history, people in different parts of the world developed very distinct nutritional needs in response to a whole range of variables – including climate, geographical location and whatever plant and animal life their environments had to offer.
Take the First Peoples of the Americas for example (aka Native Americans). According to this article on National Geographic, traditional diets of various tribes are largely influenced by what’s available locally.
If you lived in the Pacific Northwest, you’d know the six types of salmon and how to harvest them, but if you were a Navajo on the Midwestern plains, you never would have seen one.
— Lois Ellen Frank, a Native American chef with a Ph.D. in culinary anthropology.
This is before the high rates of diabetes which now exits among Native Americans. Yes, they ate animal products. Another example, those who reside in tropical or equatorial regions have strong hereditary need for diets high in carbohydrates such as vegetables and fruits and grains and legumes.
I was one of those people in my youth and young adulthood. I grew up on a tropical island and lived in tropical South Florida. Until my late 20’s, I was rarely ill, very lean, healthy and strong. Subsisting on a high-carb diet including my favorite rice and beans with small portions of meat and loads of fruit.
This type of diet provides the kind of body fuel that is most compatible with the unique body chemistry of people who are genetically programmed to lead active lifestyles in warm and humid regions of the world. Their systems are simply not designed to process or utilize large quantities of animal protein and fat.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, people from cold harsh northern climates are not genetically equipped to survive on light vegetarian food. They tend to burn body fuel quickly, so they need heavier foods to sustain themselves. Eskimos, for example, can easily digest and assimilate large quantities of protein and fat – the very types of foods which would overwhelm the digestive tracts of people from, say, the Mediterranean basin.
My current diet in the past couple of decades since living in a four-season climate, is higher in animal protein and less in carbs. I simply could not function on the high carb diet of my youth.
The bottom line is that a diet considered “healthy” in one part of the world is frequently disastrous for people elsewhere in the world. Therefore, I prefer not to use the term “healthy” when speaking of food.
The question I keep asking – healthy for whom?
If you are the factoid or science type – read this report. Very interesting.
I want to bring your attention to this statement, bolded text for emphasis:
Dietary reference values, e.g. recommended dietary allowance (RDA) or safe upper limits, which are designed for the general population and based on different metabolic outcomes, are not optimised for genetic subgroups which may differ critically in the activity of transport proteins for a micronutrient and/or enzymes that require that micronutrient as a cofactor.
Your Lifestyle & Environment Overrides Your Genes
Genetically, we’ve evolved to engage in a great deal of physical activity – running (from predators), walking, hunting, farming and all that goes along with basic survival. In the past 100 years or so, things have changed. We spend huge blocks of time indoors under artificial light, exposed to all kinds of foreign chemicals, leading sedentary lives in front of TVs or computers or riding around in planes, trains, and automobiles.
Along with that, the many modern stressors to our mind and body make staying healthy a bit more complicated than simply trying to determine ethnic and cultural heritage. Or what our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate. There are just too many different factors besides heredity and evolution which influence your nutritional needs.
In addition to that, your nutritional needs are not static. Your body is a dynamic homeostatic system – meaning it’s always in flux, always attempting to regulate itself, to achieve a healthy balance and to adjust to shifting environmental conditions. As a result, your nutritional needs could shift from year to year, season to season, day to day, even hour by hour, due to cyclical (circadian) rhythms.
The experts call it epigenetics. And in dietary terms, they call it nutrigenomics – how food impacts (and sometimes alter) our genes.
In the report referenced earlier, this statement stands out:
The ultimate goal is to (i) match the nutriome (i.e. nutrient intake combination) with the current genome status (i.e. inherited and acquired genome) so that genome maintenance, gene expression, metabolism and cell function can occur normally and in a homeostatically sustainable manner…
This, ladies, is where I’m going with this – Functional Nutrition. Did I mention that I was a functional health coach?
A Healthy Diet Seeks to Maintain Metabolic Function and Efficiency. Period.
Every cell in your body is genetically programmed to be a perfect cell. It is designed to be healthy and to efficiently perform the functions for which it was created. When the cells are strong, healthy and efficient, so too are the organs, glands, and systems of your entire body. The result is good health, mental clarity, and vitality. But to acquire the nutrients for which your body has a genetic need, you must first identify your functional, metabolic, nutritional needs.
Unless the specific nutrients for which you have a genetically-based need are made available to your body at the right place, at the right time, and in a form that can be utilized, your cells will not perform their job effectively.
Today’s diet books are virtually all based on a standardized or mass market approach to health and nutrition. In other words, they offer single, one-size-fits-all dietary solutions. But this approach has proven to be very ineffective overall – it’s the reason diets don’t work for all the people, all of the time.
Personalized, Bio-individual Dietary Need is the Uncontested Truth
The best-kept secret in the nutrition world is simply this: what works for one person may have no effect on another person and may make a third person worse. Here’s another way of describing this same principle: any food or nutrient can have virtually opposite health-building influences in different people.
In other words, the very same diet which made your friend lose weight and stay in shape may make you become overweight, fatigued and downright miserable!
Simply because your metabolic needs are unique. Your genetic needs are unique. Your functional dietary needs are unique. You are as unique as your fingerprint.
You know that deep down inside, don’t you?
You may be a soccer mom driving around in traffic from one activity to the next; a marathon runner training for your next 5K; an IT tech sitting all day at a desk; a nurse working all hours of the day and night; a retiree watching reruns of Law and Order – you are going to need different foods and nutrients to keep you out of the doctor’s office.
Bio-individual, functional nutrition is not new information.
While you may not have heard about this before, it’s a well respected, thoroughly documented dietary philosophy. Folks like Drs. Western Price, Francis Pottenger, Roger Lee, William Kelly and others were not pill-pushers or marketing gurus of the internet age. Yet a silent revolution has been going on behind the curtains for decades. Functional nutrition has been curing or reversing cancer, diabetes, MS, Lyme disease and all manner of modern-day ills.
Forget the best-selling diet gurus and trendy diets. Staying healthy, balanced and vital is, well, personal.
As a Metabolic Typing Advisor with the Healthexcel System of Metabolic Typing, I can tell you this – no one diet fits all of the people all of the time.
For the sake of your health and wellbeing, it’s time to end the diet war and begin to eat functionally and genetically.
To your hormonal health,