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One Size Does Not Fit All

Updated: Sep 30, 2020

Among the biggest problems with conventional nutrition and wellness advice is that the practitioner has one set view of how a client should achieve their goals. This makes for great gimmicks, but not lasting success.



Frequently I am asked which diet is best for optimizing our chance of a long, healthy and active life. There are so many options out there, often with conflicting data, it is no surprise that people are confused. For example, right now we are in the midst of a Ketogenic diet frenzy, with proponents insisting that eating keto will resolve a myriad of issues, ranging from acne to diabetes to heart disease. And, for some people, it does! It can truly be an extraordinarily beneficial diet for the right people. However, for other people, it causes increased levels of Apolipoprotein B (apoB) and LDL Particle Numbers (LDL-P). Several studies have shown that increased apoB and LDL-P are the best predictors of adverse cardiovascular disease risk.1 On the other end of the spectrum, there are a multitude of adherents to a vegan diet, not only for ethical reasons but because they believe eliminating all animal products will mitigate their risk of developing metabolic and cardiovascular disease. As a matter of fact, there is lots of evidence in the scientific literature that supports this belief. However, there is also significant evidence showing vegans and vegetarians are at a much greater risk of various nutritional deficiencies. As if that were not enough to give one pause, veganism can also cause higher levels of Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) in many people.2 Just as the acronym implies, high levels of AGEs tend to age us physically and mentally, increasing inflammation and metabolic dysfunction.3

So, is a Paleo diet best then? Or, low-carb? Or, is it low fat? Or, is time-restricted eating or intermittent fasting the way to go? The answer is…it depends. The reality is there is no one way of eating that optimizes health for everyone. The ideal diet for any one person is bio-individual and is based on their genes, their ancestors, their culture, their metabolic health, their medical conditions, their age, their activity level, and their goals. All these factors must be considered and balanced before deciding on a broad direction, then it is important to hone in on what works best. Often times, seeking help to decipher it all is the best first step, especially if you feel your nutrition plan is lacking. An Integrative Nutritionist, a Registered Dietician (with an advanced degree), an Integrative Physician or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine should all be able to get you started.

References:

1. Barter, P., Ballantyne, C., Carmena, R., Castro, M., Chapman, M., Couture, P…Williams, K. (2006), Apo B versus cholesterol in estimating cardiovascular risk and in guiding therapy: Report of the thirty‐person/ten‐country panel. Journal of Internal Medicine, 259: 247-258.

2. Sebekova,K., Krajcoviova-Kudlackova, M., Faist, V. Klvanova, J. & Heidland, A. (2001). Plasma levels of advanced glycation end products is healthy, long term vegetarians and subjects on a western mixed diet. European Journal of Nutrition, 40(6). 275-281.

3. Ramasamy, R., Vannucci, S., Shi Du Ya, S., Herold, K., Fang Yan, S., & Schmidt, M. (2005). Advanced glycation end products and RAGE: a common thread in aging, diabetes, neurodegeneration, and inflammation, Glycobiology, 15(7), 16R-28R.

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