While the quest for the optimal diet has been an ongoing debate for centuries until this day, the overriding evidence still shows that there is no optimal way of eating for everyone. I’ve seen with my own eyes in my Naturopathic practice the extent to which people's responses to different foods and food plans are so varied. In particular, my clinical practice has shown me how varied responses are from person to person when using any particular nutritional framework that is touted for promoting healing. Perhaps the clearest example of this is looking at the way in which many chronic health conditions improve from plant-based diets while for others, diets that include animal products seem to be critical for activating healing in the body. Interestingly enough, the efficacy of both of these seemingly contradictory nutritional ideologies for healing chronic health issues is substantially supported by research.
The Sea of Contradictory Nutritional Information
In order to rectify the many nutritional contradictions that we find out there, let’s look at why there seems to be so much disagreement about which is the “correct” way to eat. Afterward, I’ll talk about a different approach to nutrition that utilizes nutrition according to it's ability to activate the body's innate healing power and how we can learn to distinguish varying nutritional needs from person to person.
There are a number of different reasons behind the ongoing debate about the optimal way to eat. Firstly, as our understanding of nutritional biochemistry advances, different experts can interpret and prioritize certain findings over others, leading to varying dietary recommendations. In addition, the media's influence, with its penchant for sensationalism, can amplify specific dietary trends, often oversimplifying complex concepts and contributing to confusion among the general public. Cultural and social factors also play a significant role through genetic influence over nutritional requirements as well as the dietary habits that are deeply intertwined with many traditions, cultures, and identities.
In addition to the factors mentioned above, it’s also important to recognize how economic interests from various sectors of the food industry can further muddy the waters, potentially skewing information to favor particular products or dietary ideologies. The confluence of these factors results in a diverse range of opinions, making it challenging for individuals to navigate the sea of dietary advice and determine what truly constitutes the optimal diet for their unique circumstances.
Research was done in major universities and hospitals on twins eating the same foods which showed a high occurrence of varied responses to identical foods including large variations in insulin and fat levels after eating (1). Other interesting research studies show that both genetic differences as well as varying ethnicities affect food tolerances and nutritional requirements (2). This research makes it clear that while there are some basic nutritional principles that most people agree on like eating lots of veggies and fiber and cutting back on things like sugar and processed foods, a new way of understanding how to personalize nutrition for optimizing one’s health is needed.
The Times They Are A Changin
When examining how to begin to integrate healing principles of different ideologies in a way that can be applied to the individual, we must examine the dynamic interplay between external factors and our understanding of human health. While nutritional wisdom from different traditions have provided valuable guidance, it's essential to acknowledge that the modern landscape presents novel challenges and influences that have led to shifts in how to apply wisdom from different nutrition camps to an individualized nutritional approach that works for the current conditions that we are living in. Factors such as changes in food production, regular exposure to various chemicals, processing methods, environmental stressors, and advancements in genetic engineering have introduced complexities that demand a reevaluation of traditional nutritional paradigms. Our bodies now contend with synthetic additives, pesticides, and highly processed foods that were absent in earlier dietary contexts. Furthermore, genetic engineering has introduced modified versions of crops, altering their nutrient profiles and potentially affecting our bodies' responses to them.
The pressures of modern life, including chronic stress, sedentary lifestyles, and disrupted sleep patterns, contribute to changes in our metabolic dynamics and nutritional requirements which also demand consideration when moving towards a new paradigm that accounts for individual nutrition needs. These external stressors can impact how our bodies metabolize nutrients and respond to various dietary components, making it crucial to adapt our nutritional strategies accordingly. As our understanding of epigenetics deepens, we recognize that even our genes' expression can be influenced by our environment, potentially altering how we respond to specific nutrients.
Steps Toward Finding Your Optimal Nutrition
In light of the myriad of factors that play into each individuals unique health circumstances, it becomes evident that our ideas about nutritional need to evolve to address the modern context. By acknowledging the impact of external factors on our nutritional requirements, we can begin to understand a new approach to finding the optimal way to eat for each individual that promotes health and healing. From here we can be ready to take the necessary steps to identifying the optimal way of eating for our individual needs at any given time in our life.
Here are some points to consider when moving toward a new understanding of nutrition for optimal health:
Witnessing the transformation of physical and emotional health that comes from a new dynamic way of approaching health and nutrition is truly astounding. It's surprising to see how often people who initially say they are allready eating healthy, change their approach to health and nutrition after learning simple principles and tools for self healing that were not evident in their initial understanding of "healthy eating". What's even more wonderful to see is the increased sense of well-being and empowerment that I see come from not only the nutritional changes but also the inner work that this new approach sparks in people. When one understands this comprehensive system of healing, the contradicting nutritional ideas that previously created confusion resolve and pave the way for an integrated paradigm of health that can be applied to each individual. The result of this shift becomes an existence of increasing levels of health that's about thriving instead of just surviving.
Click here to learn about my upcoming 5 week Mind Body Upgrade course where I will be teaching my basic system for mind body healing that empowers people with the tools needed to activate the self healing mechanism of the body and determine the nutrition that will be most optimal for each individual at any given phase of life.