August 14, 2022

You Are What You Eat

Have you noticed how many diet and nutrition books there are in the bookshops these days?

It seems that the areas of weight control and nutrition are amongst the most popular of all reading materials, with many well-known stores stocking no fewer than 80 different dietary plans espousing the various virtues of high fat vs low fat, high protein vs low protein and high carb vs low carb. There quite simply has never been a time in history when so much information has been made readily available to us in the fields of human nutrition and biochemistry. As fitness professionals we should be jumping for joy!

Yet, before we pat ourselves on the back and congratulate ourselves for a job well done we would do well consider the fruits of our collective labour.

Despite (or perhaps because of) our increasing knowledge of the chemical qualities of foods, it is a sad fact that there are currently more clinically and morbidly obese people on the planet than at any other point in history, with statisticians from many first world countries predicting worse yet to come. And it’s not just obesity that’s on the rise; Diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, mental illness and even cancer have reached record levels too, signifying that the human metabolism has finally reached breaking point and can no longer cope with the excessive demands placed upon it.

Clearly, our understanding of nutrition is lacking. It is time to examine the wisdom of our current nutritional strategies and change our paradigms regarding the dietary advice we give our clients.

The Problem

As fitness professionals we are often called upon to make judgements about the quality and quantity of food that our clients eat in order to maintain and improve their health. Armed with our nutritional advisor certifications and a little extra reading we often find ourselves advising our clients about the foods that they should or should not eat, classifying some foods like fruit and vegetables as ‘good’ whilst we advise that red meats and saturated fats are ‘bad’ and should be avoided at all costs.

These generalisations allow fitness professionals to offer non-prescriptive advice to the masses, for what is generally regarded as ‘healthy eating’ or a ‘balanced diet’. The advice we give our clients has become so accepted as fact that rarely, if ever, do we stop to question the efficacy of this advice, the wisdom behind it and the effect it will have on those that follow it. Rarer yet do we ask the most important question of all;

Good or bad for whom?

The Case For Biochemical Individuality

When Lucretius first said ‘One man’s food is another man’s poison’ he hit the nail right on the head as far our individual nutritional requirements are concerned.

Indeed, the ancient Romans of Lucretius’ time, the ancient Greeks of Hippocrates era and the ancient practitioners of Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine were very well-studied in human health and were fully aware of food’s amazing power to heal and revitalise as well as it’s potentially destructive properties. Yet, far from the prescriptive ‘one size fits all’ approach offered by modern nutritional experts, these healers of yesteryear recognised that the healing powers lay not in the food itself but more specifically, how that food interacted with the individual.

In more recent times, researchers like Dr Weston A. Price and Dr Royal Lee have noted from their observations of the indigenous cultures from around the globe, that macro and micro nutrient intake varies greatly from region to region without impairment to the health and well-being of those that survive on their own native diets.

For example, the Inuit Eskimo’s of Northern Alaska subsist almost exclusively on seal and whale meat and fat with kelp, nuts and berries forming the remainder. This diet, high in saturated fats and protein breaks every ‘rule’ of modern western diets yet the Inuit people living on it lead healthy, vital lives and are virtually disease-free. Similarly, yet at the other end of the nutritional spectrum, are the Quetchus Indians of South America who live on predominantly vegetarian diets and yet are still afforded the same benefits of disease-free good health.

It is interesting to note that in each of these cases, that the indigenous peoples surviving on very different and even what would be considered extreme dietary variations are able to maintain a level of health and wellness that is virtually unheard of in western society and yet, when introduced to foods not native to their own geographic regions they exhibit the same illnesses and diseases that are now so rife in the industrialised world.

Quick to pick up on this fact was Dr Roger Willams Ph.D an outstanding biochemist who noted that just as we all have unique fingerprints, iris patterns and external physical characteristics, so too do our internal environments exhibit a distinct individuality also. In fact, Williams discovered that on every level from organ size and shape, to acid/alkaline balance to endocrine system dominance we are each individually unique with unique responses to each and every stimulus that is presented to us…including food.