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Dr. Dirk Farrell

The Nourish Foundation: Types of Diets

Hello, my name is Dr Dirk Farrell from Align Wellness in Seattle, WA.
When it comes to health, the thing I care about most is getting results; consistent and predictable results for you in your life and for me in my life.
That is why I’m sharing the following information. Keep in mind this is general information and not prescriptive or diagnostic for you, personally, in any way.
If you have seen some of my videos you likely know already that there are three Foundations of Health. These are; Structure, Condition and Nourish.
  • Structure is your physical body in space – how the package called you is shaped internally and what impact that shape has on your health. 
  • Condition is how you use your physical structure. 
  • Nourish is what you put in your body. It is the food, beverages, water, and supplements which you eat and drink.
In this blog series, we are going to focus on the Nourish Foundation, specifically:
  • Diet hacks
  • Types of diets: paleo, ketogenic, vegetarian, etc.
  • How we can help you get specific, objective answers when it comes to what type of diet (foods, drinks, and supplements) would be best to put in your body so that you get the nourishment you need.

In the previous blog, we talked about how Diet Hacks often focus on how your body feels in the short term, not the long term. This blog continues the discussion by focusing on Types of Diets. To understand the importance of giving your body what it needs, you can think of your body as an assembly line – which it is. Your body is a very complex assembly line that needs all of the right parts in the right place at the right time to get best results.

When Apple builds iPhones, they need each and every individual piece in the right place at the time in order to get the right outcome … to have iPhones that are exactly to specification.

Until recently, I didn’t know any way to check my personal inventory of “parts” (or nutrients) other than through blood, urine, stool samples, or biopsy. Each of these three methods comes with significant drawbacks (more on that coming up).

The assembly lines of our bodies are much like an iPhone assembly line though significantly more dynamic and involved! Nonetheless, we need to get all the right nutrients to the right places at the right times.

The dominant approach to help people get better nutrition has been, for centuries, pre-planned “diets.” Diets have come in hundreds, if not thousands, of varieties over the centuries and are simply a set of Do’s and Don’ts about what to eat or not to eat in an effort to get some result(s).

Of course, every diet has likely worked for somebody for some length of time. As an unspecific approach, I’m very partial to the “eat real food” diet. This diet follows the guideline that if it looks like an unprocessed plant or animal then it’s probably okay to eat it (at least in moderation). These are foods that your great-great-grandma would recognize as foods. The “eat real food” diet eliminates all processed foods.

There are currently a number of popular variations on this:

  • The Paleo diet is one. It limits food to ONLY real food that would have been available to Paleolithic man. That’s a bit further back than your great-great-grandma – unless you come from a really long-lived family ;-).
  • The ketogenic diet is another. This diet severely restricts carbohydrates and makes protein a moderate inclusion in the diet with fat being the significant source of calories and nutrients. The point of ketogenic diets is to have one’s body become more efficient at burning fat which can enhance weight loss and give increased endurance with less fuel intake and perhaps less physical digestion distress. There can be many other benefits. (By the way, a Paleo diet can also be ketogenic or not depending on one’s food choices within the Paleo suggestions.)
  • Still, some people follow and some practitioners are suggesting the Mediterranean Diet to their patients. The Mediterranean Diet is based on traditional foods people eat in Italy, Greece, and other Mediterranean countries. It is also primarily whole food based with emphasis on not eating sugar, processed meats, refined grains, oils, and other processed foods.
  • There’s Vegan, there’s Vegetarian, and there’s a near infinite variety of Vegetarian-adjacent diets that people have created.
  • There are liquid diets based on juicing.

In the end, everyone has their very own diet that is simply the combination of foods and beverages they end up consuming. The question is, “Are the foods that you are eating, either through habit or through a specific diet, providing your body what it particularly needs?” Because no matter how great those food choices may be for somebody and no matter how much they may have changed someone else’s health, if it is not right for you it is not right for you and you are going to limit your health potential as a result.

Nutrition is complex; there is no doubt about that. There can be a lot to understand. Personalized nutrition can be more or less daunting depending about how you go about it. Any potential obstacles, however, are not reasons to abandon your health to “over the counter” nutrition or guesswork nutrition. I can’t think of a single thing that I couldn’t find a gazillion details about when I decide to learn about it. Nutrition is like that. The key is to find the details that make the difference for you. And YOUR HEALTH MATTERS.

You might have asked what I mean by “over the counter nutrition.” Let’s take a look at vitamin D, for example. Especially in Seattle two months from now, people are going to start feeling less energized and many of them have learned to turn to vitamin D for help. Here’s what you’ll find on the internet as benefits of vitamin D if you search for, “Benefits of vitamin D.”

  • Helps with the health of bones and teeth
  • Helps the immune system, brain, and nervous system
  • Helps regulate insulin levels
  • Helps lung and cardiovascular function
  • And beyond...

What the website and others who aren’t looking at your personal health profile don’t know are things like:

  • Your calcium levels.
  • Your potassium levels.
  • Your magnesium levels.
  • Your copper levels. (Just to name a few...)

Here’s an example of why that matters. When vitamin D “helps with the health of bones and teeth” it is in part because that person needs more calcium and vitamin D can help a person absorb more calcium. However, in absorbing more calcium, vitamin D can end up decreasing magnesium stores because calcium can compete with magnesium. vitamin D also decreases potassium stores. While some people need this, for many people this is the opposite of what they need. If a person with already low levels of potassium in their tissues takes vitamin D, they may notice, for instance, that their stress levels start spiraling up and their temper comes closer to the surface. This is not good and not healthy.

I’m actually one of those people who (on the surface) seem like they need vitamin D. Based on how much I love the sun in the summer and then miss the sun for nine months in Seattle, I assumed I needed vitamin D supplements. I don’t. Supplementing with vitamin D further drives down my already low potassium levels. This is downright harmful to me and ultimately harms my health even more, whether or not I have symptoms at the time of taking the vitamin D.

A similar understanding can be applied to many if not all of the minerals and vitamins that you take. What to take as supplements is pure guesswork until someone trained in looking at the right information looks at your specific data. With the right information, that guesswork can be replaced by a framework of understanding that can then be applied to your health.

Interested in learning more? Check out the next blog in this series, Specific, Objective Answers for YOU, to learn how one objectively finds out what is going on with the minerals within their body to most effectively help them with their nutrition. Or, contact us to schedule your Nutrition Consultation today!

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