In the good old days, a diet was a short term change in eating habits to lose some weight. Now, diets are lifetime programs and diet promoters insist that they have the “right” one for you!
I think I can say that “everyone” knows that nutrition is important. – improving one’s food choices is indeed one of the three Foundations of Health. The right diet at the right time can cure allergies, skin conditions, brain fog, cancer and many other health problems both minor and major.
But is there a right diet for life? Is Paleo or Ketogenic (Keto) or Mediterranean or, fill in the blank, the diet that you should be on for all time?
Let me break this down, back to front: What’s the purpose of eating? Obviously, food provides much of what your body needs to stay alive. Better food choices make it easier for your body to stay working and can even help it work close to 100 percent capacity – both physically and mentally. So, there is some mix of nutrients your body needs. Ideally, we’d feed ourselves exactly what we need at exactly the right time. But, unfortunately, that’s impossible. There’s no way we can know that.
Much like a tightrope walker sways from side to side and front to back to keep their balance, people need to sway and balance their nutrition. Do low carb, high fat diets (Ketogenic) have good research behind their effectiveness and can they help with both physical and mental symptoms? It definitely appears so. Does this mean you should be on a Ketogenic diet 24/7 from now until your last breath? No! Does this mean you shouldn’t be on a Ketogenic diet 24/7 from now until your last breath? Again, no.
Diets – food choices – are tools. While it is easy to attach to an idea like vegetarian or South Beach or Atkins, the focus should not be on any one diet plan. Rather it should be on how a set of food choices (called a “diet”) serve your health and well-being. And, like the tightrope walker, your needs will likely change over time. If you (as most people do) get habituated in your food choices and the nutrient content of those choices were to be analyzed, chances are very high that you will have excess of some nutrients and deficiencies of others. Changing your diet by making other choices may be the best way to balance these deficiencies and excesses.
Now we are getting back to the question, “is there a right diet for all time?” My short answer is, “No.”
My longer, more nuanced answer is that some diet programs are more wholesome (eat real food, stay away from processed sugar, processed grain, etc.) but, within these broader parameters, food choices will most likely need to ebb and flow. The reasons are many and individual. For example, some folks don’t digest fats very well for various reasons. For them to switch to a high fat diet could be bad. First, they should find out what is in the way of their digesting fats well and handle that issue.
Two last points for this blog post: First, to find out where a program will take you health-wise, you need to follow that program for several months. The best program for you may take you on a bit of a roller coaster in terms of emotional and physical symptoms. There is nothing wrong with this. It is usually something that your body needs to go through to get to a healthier status.
Second, finding out your intracellular mineral quantities and balances may be the most important single thing you can do to guide your food and supplement choices. Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA) using mass spectrometry is the nutrition hack I’ve been looking for for years. It is the most reliable and affordable approach I know of for determining a person’s specific nutritional needs and one we now offer at Align Wellness. Interested? Call or visit us to find out more!