Diet, food and what to eat to be healthy is a constantly evolving body of knowledge
Diet is a huge topic! We are still learning a lot about it. Recently (10/2010), I spoke with Dr. Geoff Ames, M.D. whom I first met almost 2 decades ago at Dr.Krystal's Advanced Metabolic Typing seminar. Dr. Ames was giving a seminar on the work of Dr. Jan Kwasniewski of Poland (high fat diet) and summing up his findings after a few decades working with diet on treating medical issues. He found this high fat type of diet extremely beneficial for controlling diabetes, for weight control and for neurological disorders, including autoimmune ones. But, after the seminar he shook his head and said, "There is still a lot to be learned. I have still not found the perfect diet. Metabolic types seem to be only significant if you are at the extremes. There are people around the world who eat "wrong" and yet live healthy and long. There seems to be an interaction with heredity, culture, time between meals, overall amount of calories and actual diet."
That being said, biological diversity and the consequent difference of metabolism from one person to another seems to be the rule. There are common dietary DOs and DON'Ts that apply to most people and there is a short list of common metabolic imbalances that can be easily monitored to determine if someone is eating properly for their own individual metabolism. Furthermore there are simple protocols to correct these metabolic imbalances.
Common Metabolic Imbalances
There are a number of different protocols available for practitioners to monitor and help recommend dietary changes, but they fall into two main categories: Objective-based testing, which includes blood, hair, saliva, urine, and physiologic responses (blood pressure, heart rate, breath rate, breath holding, etc), and the second main category is subjective-based testing, which includes directly asking the body via muscle response testing what are its needs and stressors. In my practice I use both and find that together each testing approach can find things that the other method may miss.
A correct diet will eliminate physiological imbalances
The simplest way to look at diet is to look for imbalances in physiological markers (i.e. blood, urine and other tests) and then to make corrections through diet or temporary supplementation. This general method helps most symptoms and conditions. What symptoms that are left over after correcting the more obvious dietary and physiological imbalances are then corrected specifically by other modalities. For instance, allergies may be much improved, but still there can be some reactivity so I may look at immune and adrenal function and combine this with an informational medicine approach (See NMT--Neuromodulation Technique). High blood pressure may be lowered but there may be some tweaking that needs to be completed, and so on. Obviously for acute pain, diet may be secondary in terms of treatment priority. But in almost all cases I look at energetic and dietary-life style imbalances first and try to resolve those before working on the individual details. If there are infections I may work on those concurrently.
With dietary work what I do is try to stay up on all the latest research, ignore the fads and look for dietary extremes or irregularities for each person which can in fact cause problems for my clients. There is a growing body of evidence to show that certain foods are "bad" for most people and that certain food groups are "good" for most people, but there is a very big gap in the middle of foods and diet that may be neither clearly good or bad, or may only have idiosyncratic reactions for some people.
Diet includes things we do not normally think of as food
Diet is as much about the mindset one has when eating as the food itself. In a real way our daily habit of thought affects us as much as diet and these habitual thoughts can be said to be as much "diet" as the food you eat. It is rare that diet fads talk about the importance of one's thoughts and how they interact with diet. A recent study showed just this: if you visualize yourself losing weight while on a diet, you are more likely to lose weight. Note, that you need to both watch your food intake and think yourself thin. It would be the rare person indeed who could lose weight by thinking about it or visualizing it only.
Diet is more than the biochemical and chemical ingredients. In Chinese traditional medicine and other ancient cultures, food, especially fresh, raw fruit and vegetables have "life force." In the West we have not even begun to speak of diet in this context. Certainly, there is a raw food movement which supports this, but even then the proponents talk about the undamaged enzymes and other nutrients, rather than about the non-chemical or energetic aspects of food. Raw food can be of benefit to some, especially if they have no problems digesting it. Otherwise they may want to take enzymes containing cellulase or lightly cook/steam their food. There are numerous reports of people who have lived without food, but when asked, they said that they drew their energy from the air around them or from the sun. Clearly we have much to learn about what is food and what it takes to optimally sustain us.
In my dietary counseling and work I tend to focus on:
- Each client's unique metabolic imbalances
- My client's philosophical adherence to a particular diet style. Sometimes this can get imbalanced, but I work with the client and do not try to change his dietary preferences.
- Excess or deficient Dietary Macronutrients: Protein, Fats, Carbohydrates, Optimal caloric intake
- Dietary toxins, inflammation, sensitivities, allergies, intestinal infections
- Detoxification when necessary through diet or other methods (link)
- Dietary habits that may be detrimental
- Potential metabolic type extremes
- The need to eat more concentrated food as we age and how to achieve this.
- Weight loss issues and the various metabolic issues which contribute to this.
- Fermented foods, probiotics, Gut health
- Digestion and elimination
- Vegetarian, Vegan, Meat diets
- Raw Foods
- Whole Food Supplements
- Specific dietary changes to help with a medical complaint