Thursday, June 18, 2015

One size to fit them all

Before I start writing the first articles on nutrition topics, I think I need this additional short post to introduce another very diffused behavior people adopt when choosing a diet, may it be for life or for just for getting ready for summer. The one size fits all.

There is a huge number of diets out there, both traditional and recently defined by MDs and nutritionists. Try to organize a catering with 20 invitees from different countries and different ages and you’ll see what I mean: you must make sure there are gluten/lactose/nut free options, vegetarian and vegan alternatives, non-alcoholic drinks, diabetic-friendly food choices, etc. And they were just twenty.

Almost all diets have a body of evidence to support their claims, this is particularly true for traditional diets, some with generations of success stories dating back to centuries if not millennia.
However, while some people can stay healthy (read: lack of illness) and there are cases for each diet of people thriving (read: optimal health), for others it doesn’t work and in some cases it is a total disaster, with potentially serious implications.

The explanations usually given tend to blame the dieter (s/he didn’t do it correctly): of course it is never the diet. Or, if you belong to another faith, yes: it was definitely the diet. Black or White, again.

Biochemical individuality

How can two diets which are at the exact opposites both work? And why doesn’t the same diet systematically work for everybody?

What we forget is that we are not all clones of one pair of humans born 200K years ago. Everybody is different, both because of our genetic heritage, the environment we live in of course, the way we lived our lives so far, the age... We have therefore different needs: things do not work the same for everybody and sometimes it is at a molecular level. I have an interesting article with concrete examples in my head what I will surely publish during the next weeks.

Common guidelines

Is there such a thing as an optimal diet? Yes, indeed!

Everybody, in every specific period of their life, has different but specific needs: growing kids, adolescence, getting ready for or sustaining a pregnancy, breastfeeding, preparing a competition, recovering from a competition, detoxifying from a previous bad diet, healing from traumas or illnesses, etc.

Things are not perforce complicated and for healthy people, those not requiring specific actions,  there are some common guidelines. This will be the topic of my next posts, things start getting interesting so… stay tuned!

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