I recently came across something that made me think about the ways in which we all eat. Sure the Paleo diet and primal lifestyle has done wonders for me but is it for everybody? What’s good for me may not be good for you and what’s good for you may not be good for me. This concept called “bio-individuality” I learned about at The Institute For Integrative Nutrition. In 1956 Roger Williams published the book Biochemical Individuality. This book explained how personal differences in anatomy, metabolism, composition of bodily fluids and cell structure influence your overall health. Nutritional needs go much deeper than we may think.
–Ancestry (ex. If your ancestors were Japanese you most likely would thrive on a Japanese-type diet),
–Possibly blood type, (A, B, AB, O) these have evolved over thousands of years and offer insight into what foods work best for us.
–Your own unique metabolism,– or the unique way you convert food into energy. This explains why some can eat any and all they want and remain thin and others gain weight.
–Personal tastes and preferences. Maybe you just can’t stand eggs. Do you force yourself to eat them just because they are good for you?
Even with these factors in mind I have put together 12 universal health truths I believe we can all follow and benefit from…
- -Avoiding processed/fast foods.
- -Avoiding artificial sweeteners
- -Avoiding preservatives and artificial food colorings.
- -Avoiding refined oils and trans fats (margarine, corn, soybean, canola)
- -Avoiding sugar as best as we can (sugar is a catalyst to a whole host of diseases)
- -Avoid “fat free” products in packages
- -Removing most any and all grains (including white/wheat flour, whole wheat, whole grain) as they are pro-inflammatory and problematic to the digestive system if not soaked and prepared properly.
- -Eating organic pasture raised meat vs. conventional CAFO meat.
- -For milk and cheese choose raw if possible if not available then drinking organic full fat grass fed dairy and cultured dairy drinks such as Amasai from Beyond Organic.
- -Eating more healthy fats such as avocado, olives and extra virgin olive oil (for dressing not cooking), pastured butter, ghee, coconut oil, and flax oil to name a few.
- -Adding in cultured beverages like Kombucha and cultured vegetables to our diet.
- -Eating more vegetables and fruit (preferably organic)
Keeping these health truths in mind you still also need to listen to your own body. For example if when you eat meat you feel tired and sluggish then maybe you need to cut back and focus on more organic fruits, veggies, and healthy fats. If you are a strict vegan but find yourself constantly hungry with cravings then adding in some pastured organic animal products would probably benefit you by providing essential fats and proteins your body may need. Some days you may feel super hungry so eat more and other days you may not feel that hungry at all so eat less. Bottom line: Listen to your own body.
We all have different needs of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins and a one-size fits all diet is just not practical. For example: men’s nutritional needs are different from women, we all usually eat and crave different foods in the summer vs. the winter, children have unique needs such as essential fats for growing brains, and the elderly are going to have different dietary needs.
We cannot fall prey to fads or trends. Humans and animals know instinctively how and where to get food that is best so don’t ignore the messages your body is sending. We often ignore the messages our bodies send until they become unbearable and then we turn to doctors and medication. Is your body trying to tell you something? Pay attention!
There is not one right diet for everyone and our right diet changes throughout our life. In my experience people often find that they are healthier, feel better, and lose weight on a Paleo diet. This is because they eliminate grains and added sugars that are so inflammatory and problematic to our bodies. Also this lifestyle leads to eliminating the unhealthy foods that can lead to disease. I tend to send people in the paleo/primal direction but am not 100% hardcore about it. It’s not for everybody but the basic concepts are solid and backed by numerous scientific studies and testimonials.
Its time to stop dwelling on calories, carbs, fats, proteins, restrictions and lists of good and bad foods. Stick to simple primal whole foods that will nourish your body. Listen to your own body and make the connection that healthy whole food really will make you feel better. Pay attention to your own nutritional needs, listen and trust your body, and eat a variety of healthy foods. Keeping this idea of bio-individuality and finding what works for your body is the key to longevity, happiness and health!