It never fails: my fellow Louisiana Functional Medicine enthusiasts always ask about what the latest research says in regard to what we should eat. Yet what we should be asking is: How is my current diet serving my health and my happiness? Both are important... right?
Performing nutritional research is tough.
And extremely expensive.
It costs millions of dollars just to look into common food beliefs that really don't paint a clear picture as to what is better or not.
For example, the latest research results comparing Low Fat Diets to Low Carb Diets really showed no difference in "weight loss" in regard to the participants.
And why, might you ask?
Well, because it is complicated. These results are not only based on the researchers giving advice on what certain participants are supposed to eat, but it is also based on what the participants "report" that they actually did eat.
There could be some room for human error within 12 months time, wouldn't you agree?
And besides, it isn't like we can pay one researcher per participant to stand over them and spoon feed them what we feel "could be healthy" in the long run. We also can't subject participants to diets that we think will harm them either.
Because... that is unethical.
Hence the trouble with attempting to perform nutritional research for the masses.
One of the directors of the study (a dietician herself) stated the following:
"As a registered dietitian, the outcome of the study does not surprise me," she said. "While it would be nice to find a way to determine the best diet for an individual, from this research it is clear that we aren't there yet."
And this isn't the only research that seems confusing. Other Diabetes research found similar conflicting results when attempting to pinpoint certain food's affect on individual participant's blood sugar.
Foods that spiked one person’s blood sugar or kept their triglyceride levels elevated for hours didn’t necessarily do the same for the person dining next to them—even if they were twins.
Individuals even had different responses to the same meals when they were eaten at different times of day.
Clearly, these results suggest that nutrition facts alone cannot predict how a certain food will affect health and weight.
Sweet! Back at square one!
"What the heck should I eat?"
You might have also noticed the feature image of this article and you may be asking:
- What is he eating?
- What is he drinking? Is that alcohol?😱
- How does he get his hair to stand up like that?
And while two of these questions deserve answers, the latter will have to remain a secret...
Back to the picture:
Technically, according to research, I should be doing myself a huge favor. By sipping on fresh Hill Country wine and local, zesty olive oil, my heart should be reaching out of my chest to hug me.
But, clearly I can't survive, nor have a full healthy head of hair, by simply surviving on olive oil and vino...
So what ELSE am I supposed to eat?
And that is the main question most Americans find themselves asking.
"What am I supposed to eat if I want to..."
- shed body fat
- build muscle
- tone my thighs
- cure cancer
- get a six pack
- prevent sugar cravings
- live longer
- prevent heart disease
- stave off Alzheimers
- improve my hormones
- grow hair that sticks straight up even when soaking wet!
But the truth is, we CANNOT rely on current research to definitively tell us what is healthy and what is not.
Mainly, because most research is attempting to breakdown our food into simple macronutrients and vitamins. But we didn't even know what the hell a macronutrient or vitamin was until the 1800's...
Precision Nutrition lays out this concept of why nutritional science is so confusing really well in their infographic.
Is all food research a waste?
Even though in its infancy, nutritional research is lighting some insightful paths as to which diets are better for certain populations, genetics, activity levels, and health goals.
But here is the catch: you (the participant) has to perform nutritional and lifestyle research on yourself... daily!
1. Which foods, if you removed, would have a greater impact on your health moving forward?
2. Which foods, if you added, would have the greatest impact on your body fat levels and recovery?
4. How are you sleeping? Recovering?
5. Do you have a purpose for this life? How might a different diet serve it?
6. If you have no purpose... why does your diet even matter?
These questions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to helpful insight to your current standing in regard to your health journey.
Our small daily habits and decisions play way more of a role in our overall health and wellbeing as opposed to one single diet or supplement.
We intuitively know this. Yet we often default ourselves into falling victim to the latest marketing hype and believing their is an easier way.
The single most effective thing that I have seen positively influence my clients is simply documenting their food, water, sleep, exercise, stress, and energy each and every day.
1. Stop waiting on research to tell you if eggs and fish oil are going to kill you.
2. Stop hoping that science will prove that cake and beer have been the anti-aging, fountain of youth under our noses all along.
3. Start becoming mindful and conscious of your nutritional decisions and documenting them daily for weekly assessment.
4. If you are stuck or lost while looking for answers in a sea of Googling health symptoms...
Stop Googling and start Highliting!