We are constantly inundated with health information. When we are watching tv, listening to the radio or flipping through a magazine we are forming expectations of what our healthy self should look like.
It is from this constant flow of information that we are indoctrinated with the ‘magic bullet’ mentality - that you only need ‘one thing’ to look better, feel better and live like that deliriously happy person in the advertisement.
Most patients research on their own about natural remedies, healing diets, and nutritional supplements and can quickly become overwhelmed.
Wanting some definitive answers they ask me, “What is the best diet?”.
I have seen certain diets work wonders for some and cause others serious health issues - the unpopular reality is that a person's optimal diet is unique to them. What works for one person will not work for another.
Many times when I say this to a patient they visibly show their disappointment that there is no universal 'fix.’ The nutrition plan that will work for you is the one that is both sustainable and targeted to your own unique health needs.
The Foundation of Healthy Eating
There are elements in a healthy diet that can be almost universally applicable. Foods with lots of additives, high amounts of refined sugar and that are highly processed are never going to be the healthiest choices for you.
Fruits and vegetables have vast amounts of nutrients for your body. Eating foods in their most organic (free of as many pesticides as possible) and natural (least processed) form are the best choices for you.
That means that the microwave meal of rice and vegetables will be less healthy than if you were to buy the fresh ingredients and cook it yourself. It will also taste better and probably be cheaper.
Eating foods in season that do not have to travel long distances to get to you is ideal. In general, local foods are fresher, taste better, are cheaper and have a higher nutrient content.
Why Your Diet Should Be Personalized
Aside from visiting a functional health practitioner who can personalize your dietary needs to you - the most valuable tool in finding the best diet on your own is to listen to your body.
A healthy diet will make you feel great, have plenty of energy and will NOT make you hungry all the time.
You have unique nutritional needs based on your health history, genetics, family history, activity level, nutrient deficiencies and health condition. These requirements change over time - a way of eating that was perfect for you in your 20s can make you sick in your 40s. Just because something has worked in the past does not mean it will work now. As your health needs shift and goals change, so do your nutritional demands.
Keep track of what foods make you feel ill and which ones make you feel great. Remember that just because a specific diet helped your friend or family member does not mean you will achieve the same benefits.
What Your Symptoms May Be Telling You
Frequent headaches, stomach pain, indigestion, a rapid heart rate after eating - all are indications that something is wrong. You could be suffering from impaired stomach function or a small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or a hidden food allergy.
Keep in mind the way you feel may not be caused directly by the food you eat. Many times, food may cause a reaction because of an underlying problem.
For example, onions and garlic can trigger a migraine in some people. Are they ‘bad’ food for these people?
No - in fact, this could be a valuable warning sign of a deeper problem. These people may be suffering from a liver toxicity problem - upon which the sulfur in the onions and garlic starts the detoxification process.
If there is a toxic buildup within that person of something like pesticides or mercury, the detoxification pathways are clogged which ignites a chain reaction which then triggers head pain.
Alternatively, take digestive upset when eating fruit. Does it mean that fruit is ‘bad’ for these people or even harmful?
Not necessarily, it could be simply a case where the digestive system is so compromised that it cannot properly process fructose, so fruit may need to be limited for a period of time while digestion is restored.
When it comes to fruits or vegetables - they are not the ‘bad guy.’ There are times when the body may not be ready for certain fruits or vegetables because it is in a compromised state.
The goal is to heal the body to get to the point where we can use all t