We hear a lot about sustainability in the context of agriculture, energy and the environment – but what about diet? Have you ever tried a popular marketed, celebrity endorsed diet plan, only to find that the struggle to stay on-plan didn’t seem worth the mediocre results? Perhaps you felt worse instead of enjoying improved health after following the programs recommendations? Why did it work for so many other people and not you? If it did work for you, is it sustainable?
It is far better to find a diet that you can do, and will want to continue, over the long term. Dietary changes that you start and stop for short periods of time aren’t ideal and can actually harm your body. Take the time and invest the effort in developing an outline that you follow over the course of your lifetime. Something just for you, that will nourish your body and leave you with lots of energy and fewer unhealthy symptoms.
- No more gas or bloating.
- No more runny-nose after a meal.
- No more headaches triggered by food.
- No more achy joints from inflammation overload.
- No more irritable bowel symptoms.
- No more unwanted pounds.
How do you know what food is right for you?
Food becomes energy. The quality, type and amount of energy are specific to each individual. What one body needs is not necessarily what another needs. The key to finding your personalized diet is to figure out what foods allow your body to function best, what your body lacks, and what is toxic to it. Even the best quality food may be toxic to you if it’s not what your body needs.
How can food be toxic?
Food can be toxic to an individual if the quantity, quality or chemical makeup overwhelms the body. Take, for instance, carbohydrates. Whether they are refined or the best quality whole grains, they break down into sugar. If you eat too many they get stored as fat. They don’t keep you satisfied and can create cravings. Inflammation can be triggered, especially for those with blood sugar and insulin issues such as diabetics. Inflammation is the root of most chronic diseases. Carbohydrates need to be balanced with a variety of healthy proteins and good fats.
Also, there are natural and added chemicals in food that can be toxic and contribute to symptoms and disease. Acrylamide is a probable carcinogen that naturally occurs in meats, toast, and potatoes when browned under high heat. Gluten is a natural peptide that your body can become allergic or sensitive to. Nitrites, aspartame, pesticides and drugs given to animals, such as antibiotics and ractopamine are toxins found in food that can alter your body’s function.
Any food can be toxic to an individual if they have gut challenges. A poor balance of microbes means an unhealthy gut. These “bugs” that reside in our gut are crucial for good health including optimal weight. When out of balance, the body does not respond as well to the food and other microbes introduced into the gastrointestinal tract. Intestinal permeability, or “leaky gut”, can occur when this is left unchecked. It is because of this imbalance that the immune system can become over reactive to normally healthy foods and cause unwanted symptoms.
Finding your optimal diet takes a little detective work. That may mean just exploring different foods and seeing what works for you but sometimes it takes a little more effort. Lab tests for nutrient deficiencies, food allergies and sensitivities, and gut microbial balances can help you find answers. Work with a health care practitioner who is trained in functional medicine to understand the bigger picture of what your whole body needs to thrive.