8 Reasons Why No Single Diet is Good for Everyone
The problem with the diet industry is that it is trying to fit our body into a particular diet, when in fact we need to fit the diet into our body type. While specific foods may be nourishing for you, these same foods cause others digestive discomfort and inflammation. Your body’s diverse microbiome is yours, and no one else’s. While specific good bacteria are found in your gut, there is also a plethora of good bacteria that protects all parts of your body internally and externally on the surface of your skin. This makes you who you are and is the reason why you are unique.
When my patients come into my clinics and are looking for nutritional guidance, I design my plans around my Body Brain Balance Program, where I take 8 main factors into account.
1. Body Type
You could be the same age as your best friend, with similar health problems and do the same sport but you still don’t burn, nor can you digest the same foods as she/he does. If you have a rounder body shape you are a Yin type and if you have a long thin body you are Yang type. (link to article) You digest and break food down differently and you should eat according to your type while trying to maintain balance with your opposing side. A Yin type person should also strengthen their Yang to help move blood and body fluids, Yin substances, while a Yang type person, who has an abundance of energy, should take care to nourish their Yin. Only when you have balance do you have health.
2. Your Brain Activity
This may sound a little out there but hear me out! How much nourishment does your brain need? Is it being taxed heavily on a daily basis? Chronic stress is expensive and your two brains (your brain and gut) pay a lot for it. The stress hormone, cortisol, causes an increase in gut permeability, causing inflammation in the body as well as destroying cells in the hippocampus in the brain, where our memory is stored. It causes the brain to age and inhibits the production of new cells. Stress also leads to decreased levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin in the brain and in the gut, which can then cause depression. It is important to address these issues by including foods and micronutrients in your diet that nourish the brain and by incorporating exercise into your routine regularly. Studies have shown that aerobic exercise helps brain cell growth and improves awareness.
In your youth you are better able to build muscle mass and this muscle mass requires a lot more calories than fat to be sustained. As we age our muscle mass declines, as does our basal metabolic rate. The calories we need are simply less than they were when we were 20. Furthermore hormonal shifts that we experience through our life, as well as cell damage and inflammation can all lead to muscle loss. It is therefore important to eat according to your age. Take for example a young female doing moderate exercise, with the same build and height as a 60 year old woman doing the same amount of exercise. The older woman simply because of her age requires about 300 calories less than the 20 year old.
4. Digestive Weaknesses
If you have a weak digestive system then certain types of food are needed to help rebuild your intestinal lining. If you have a dis-balance in the intestinal bacteria or suffer from IBS, then certain foods must be omitted. You will need to be careful to avoid foods that cause inflammation and further intestinal permeability. I always tell my patients that the stomach (digestive system) is a cooking pot. Don’t put in cold, iced foods as this will put out the fire and further weaken the digestive system. Instead strengthen your digestion by taking a high-quality probiotic, with prebiotics, and supplement with digestive enzymes to support the system in absorbing maximum micronutrients.
The type of exercise you do will also determine what your dietary requirements are. If you have a high cardio regime then you require more carbohydrates than someone who centers more on muscle training. If you perform more low intense exercise like yoga or Tai Chi then your diet will also be completely different. These sports all have different requirements but they are all equally important. I personally believe you should try to do 20 minutes of aerobic exercise a day. Exercise will help increase your metabolism as well as feed your body and brain.
The food you eat will also be determined by the season and climate you live in. You should eat according to the foods that are in season, but you should also eat according to the climate. If it is winter, then foods should be according to this season, as well as the style of cooking. Slow cooked stews and root vegetables suit a winter diet, while fast stir fried food is better for summer. One of the reasons why eating seasonal foods is important is simply that they have more nutritional value. Styling your cooking according to the seasons is a method I use from the 5 Elements. Take for example winter whose element is water. I therefore suggest to my patients to cook with water by boiling, steaming and poaching. This will help to nourish the corresponding organ in its season.
Men and women have different requirements, not only in the amount but also in the type of foods. Women tend to be more susceptible to deficiencies in certain elements, like for example in iron, folic acid, B vitamins and calcium, than men. While men tend to need more protein than women. Furthermore there are many hormones and factors involved in metabolism that makes the man’s body, in general, build more muscle and burn more fat, while women tend to store fat.
8. Illnesses and Intolerances/Allergies
It stands to reason that if you have a particular illness you also have different requirements. Diabetes or high cholesterol are 2 perfect examples of where a specific diet is essential. The type of foods you should avoid or steer toward, will depend on the illness, allergy or food intolerance you have. While food is part of your medicine, it is also essential to take micronutrient (vitamins, minerals and trace elements) supplements, as your daily requirements exceed what you can absorb from the food you eat.
Your body is your own integrated whole. Its diversity makes it special and the reason why all factors need to be taken into account when choosing what and how you eat appreciate your individuality and nourish your body and brain accordingly.