5 Ways Poor Digestion Is Affecting Your Life

5 Ways Poor Digestion Is Affecting Your Life

There’s some misalignment in our lives. It’s 2017, and we know so much about our health and diets—more than ever before—yet we still have ready access to fast foods and processed meals. While we may know more, we don’t always act on that knowledge. And that’s unfortunate, because our lack of focus in doing what’s best for our bodies may be affecting us through poor digestion and other gut issues.

Common Medical Conditions Can Be Tied to Poor Digestion

It may surprise you to learn that some of the most common medical conditions hospitals and clinics treat today deal with poor digestion. Whether bloating, heartburn, constipation, or gas, these are all tied to your digestive system.

Short of having pains in your gut and/or bathroom issues, how could you possibly know that you have poor digestion? There are definitely some key indicators.

1. Bad Breath

Bad breath can be caused by many things, but since your mouth is linked to digestion, that might be the culprit. Even if you brush, mouthwash, and chew gum—and still stink—look to a root cause. Halitosis can be the result of bacteria in your throat being thrown off balance. It becomes even worse after eating something sweet, as the bacteria feeds off of the sugar.

2. Body Odor

Poor digestion causes imbalances with the bacteria in your digestive tract. In addition to the chemicals made from the digestion process causing bad breath, the odor is also absorbed into the body and then emitted through your skin when you sweat. That can turn you into “that stinky guy” at the office, even after using deodorant, cologne, or perfume.

3. Tiredness Following Meals

Does every meal make you feel like you’ve just eaten a hearty Thanksgiving feast and need a nap? It might be due to a sluggish digestive tract. After eating, your body has to use energy to digest all of that food. When your chemicals and bacteria are out of whack, your body has to divert even more energy to your gut. And that can leave you feeling completely drained after eating.

4. Acne and Skin Conditions

Many skin conditions, such as acne, eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, and rosacea, actually begin in your digestive system. While these conditions seem completely unrelated to your gut, it truly is where they start. If you are having trouble digesting fat, you probably have itchy and flaky skin. A lack of certain vitamins in your diet can lead to acne and leave your skin with an unnatural, unhealthy look.

5. Difficulty Maintaining Weight

When weight fluctuates—either up or down—it could be a by-product of poor digestion. Your body may not be processing the nutrients in your food as effectively as it should be. And that shows up on the scale.

Poor Digestion Problems Can Be Easily Fixed

Most people experiencing some of these problems might not think anything is wrong at all because they seem so normal. People tend to write off acne, body odor, or feeling tired after meals to just getting older or generally being out of shape.

It’s important to pay attention to the signs your body is telling you. That’s the joy of functional medicine: While traditional medical professionals may not think anything of the above symptoms, functional medicine practitioners know better. The way you process food—and how your body reacts—is a sign that your diet needs to change.

Schedule your initial consultation with us to get insight into your poor digestion. We get to the root cause so you can live life to the fullest.

How to Help a Colic Baby

How to Help a Colic Baby

How to Help Your Colic Baby

I am not an expert when it comes to babies, but we did find a solution after the worst 10 days of our life!  Our newborn progressively got more fussy and colic as the days went on.  We were about to throw in the towel, but we figured out why she was such a colic baby.  Listen to this video to hear what we did.

Gut Issues: What Your Gut Is Trying to Tell You

Gut Issues: What Your Gut Is Trying to Tell You

gut issuesWe’ve all been there: We have a glorious gastronomic feast on our plates—that represents a huge indulgence—and we devour it. Even when our stomach is full, we continue to eat. After all, it’s just so delicious! But there’s a reason your stomach is grumbly afterward; it has to do with your gut issues and the signals you should be heeding.

New Research on Gut Issues

When it comes to the gut, there are all kinds of challenges you could be facing. Most seem to get lumped together into irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. According to new research out of Australia, IBS is the correct term to encompass a number of gut-related issues, including people who are genetically predisposed to gut issues, patients who develop conditions after a gut infection, and people who have a chronic gut infection that causes the symptoms.

In the same research study, a particular gene was identified with IBS, making some people more predisposed to it than others. They also found a potential link between IBS and mental illnesses due to the inflammation that starts in the gut and can also occur in the brain.

How to Know You Have Issues

While every person reacts to gut issues differently, there are a few telltale signs that you might have a problem.

  1. Abdominal pain that is recurring or happens after eating certain foods or at certain times of the day.
  2. Feeling bloated or gassy after eating or other activities.
  3. Diarrhea and/or constipation, often occurring shortly after eating trigger foods.

Of course, all of the above symptoms could just be something in passing, but it’s when you have challenges over a period of time that you should be paying attention. For most people living with gut issues and IBS, the condition is chronic.

Treatment Options for IBS and Gut Issues

Since the causes of IBS and many gut issues are unclear, most physicians focus on treating and alleviating the symptoms first. And that could lead those who are suffering through months—or even years—of trying different drugs to find relief.

Alternatively, you could look at the source of your gut issues.

In the field of functional medicine, we shift from disease focused to patient focused. Each person is different; therefore, each approach is different. With functional medicine, we’ll look at all components of lifestyle, in addition to symptoms.

Since diet is often at the core of any kinds of gut issues, functional medicine often starts there. What really differentiates this way of thinking from the traditional allopathic mindset is in getting to the core of the matter rather than putting a Band-Aid on the symptoms.

Are You Suffering with Gut Issues?

If you have chronic gut issues and IBS, there’s no reason to suffer any longer. Your gut really is trying to tell you something; you just have to take a moment and listen.

You can find relief—and preferably without having to take a number of pills every day. Contact us at My Health Detective. We’ll work with you to determine what the true cause of your gut issues is and how we can turn them around. You don’t need to suffer any longer.

Is the Beyond Meat Burger Good for You?

Is the Beyond Meat Burger Good for You?

What is the Beyond Meat Burger?

Vegan eating seems to be more and more prevalent these days.  Most people go vegan for health reasons whether it is to lose weight or decrease inflammation and then the few who just don’t want to eat meat.  What’s funny is that even though vegans and vegetarians want to avoid meat, they still want burgers.  Go figure.  Before you judge, I am not against vegan or vegetarian eating.  In fact I think it could be helpful in reducing inflammation and healing people who are chronically sick.  None of us eat enough vegetables, so this style of eating would force more vegetables into the diet.  However, does that mean that processed food, even though it is vegan, is good for you?  Let’s continue…

A brand called “Beyond Meat” has developed a burger that is being touted as tasting just like a real burger!  Although they are not claiming any health benefits by eating their burger, according to Harvard Health Publications, vegetarians believe that they are healthier by avoiding meat.1 Is that necessarily true?  Can you eat this meatless burger without any health consequences?  Let’s breakdown these ingredients and see!

Beyond Meat: The Beyond Burger ingredients: Pea Protein Isolate, Expeller Pressed Canola Oil, Refined Coconut Oil, Water, Yeast Extract, Maltodextrin, Natural Flavors, Gum Arabic, Sunflower Oil, Salt, Succinic Acid, Acetic Acid, Non-GMO Modified Food Starch, Cellulose From Bamboo, Methylcellulose, Potato Starch, Beet Juice Extract (for color), Ascorbic Acid (to maintain color), Annatto Extract (for color), Citrus Fruit Extract (to maintain quality), Vegetable Glycerin.

OK!  Seems like a lot of effort and ingredients to get a burger versus beef, and I’m a believer that less is more.  Now, let’s see what the purpose and function is of each ingredient in regards to food.

The Ingredients: Broken Down

Pea protein isolate: an almost complete protein that is the main source of protein in the product.1

Expeller pressed canola oil: Canola oil is extracted from rapeseed, a plant in the cabbage family.  Adds fat and texture.2

Refined coconut oil: extracted from coconuts then bleached and deodorized to eliminate flavor and smell.  Used for fat and texture.3

Water: colorless and odorless substance.  Used for moisture.

Yeast extract: Hydrolyzed yeast containing free glutamates. Also known as monosodium glutamate (MSG).  Flavor enhancer.4

Maltodextrin: white powder derived from corn, rice, potato starch or wheat.  Used as a thickener or filler.5

Natural flavors: The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.6

Gum Arabic: This is a complex polysaccharide (carbohydrate).  Used for fiber and texture.7

Sunflower oil: An omega-6 oil derived from sunflower seeds.  Used for texture and preservative.8

Salt: flavor enhancer and preservative.

Succinic Acid: A colorless crystal with an acid taste.  Used in perfume esters. Used in food as a buffer and neutralizing agent.9

Acetic Acid: A product of ethanol.  Used as an antibacterial and counterirritant.10 Gives products a vinegar type flavor.

Non-GMO Modified Food Starch: Usually developed from corn.  Used as a stabilizer in food providing desirable texture, consistency and storage ability.11

Cellulose from Bamboo: Obtained by bleaching and chemically treating bamboo.  Used as a stabilizer, fiber and for texture.12

Methylcellulose: Derived from a plant origin.  Used to add bulk to the product and is not digested.13

Potato Starch: Derived from potatoes.  Used as a binder.14

Beet juice extract (for color): Derived from beets. Used as food coloring and sweetener.15

Ascorbic Acid (to maintain color): Commonly used as a preservative.  In this case to maintain color.16

Annatto Extract (for color): Extracted from annatto seed.  Used for color.17

Citrus fruit extract (to maintain quality): Extract from citrus.  Used as a preservative.18

Vegetable Glycerin: Made from vegetable oils during production of soap or biodiesel.  May be used as a thickener or wetting agent.19

How Good are They for You to Consume?

I’ve laid out the unbiased research of what the ingredients are, so now let’s take a look and see how healthy these ingredients are to consume.

Pea protein isolate: This is an allergen-free protein that is lactose, egg and meat-free.  Often consumed by vegetarians and those with allergies.  Pea protein has a mostly complete amino acid profile and has been shown to be just as effective when compared to whey protein for increasing muscle mass.1, 20

Expeller pressed canola oil: This is an oil that is highly advertised as being heart healthy, and may be acceptable if non-GMO and organic. However, you should know this oil is highly processed and higher in erucic acid than most other oils.  More recent and older studies show that canola oil can cause heart issues, inflammation and lower vitamin E which is an effective antioxidant.  Despite the positive health claims, studies show that consuming this oil can be harmful to your health.21

Refined coconut oil: Coconut oil has recently taken some heat by the press and American Heart Association as a possible risk factor to heart disease.  Despite the minimal research and empty claims, coconut oil has been shown to reduce inflammation and decrease body fat.22,23 All that said, refined coconut oil comes in many forms and this product does not specify how it is made.  Also, burgers are usually grilled at temperatures above 450 degrees, the point at which refined coconut oil burns and could become toxic.24

Yeast extract: Despite what most online bloggers say, and even I am against the use of MSG because of how I feel and have seen others feel, there is no scientific evidence of MSG causing symptoms.  While some people do have symptoms follow consumption of MSG, at this time the literature does not support it.

Maltodextrin: Is relatively safe depending on where it is derived.  It does however, spike blood sugar as it is a polysaccharide and has a glycemic load higher than table sugar.26 Therefore, I would not deem it safe especially for those who have blood sugar management issues.

Natural flavors: We really don’t know what is being used as a “natural flavor”.  Some flavors can induce food cravings and others can be hiding another flavor.  While there are no direct links to health issues, consumers really don’t know what is being used so they are best to be avoided.27

Gum Arabic: This carbohydrate is a mixture of polysaccharides, oligosaccharides and glycoproteins.  Gum Arabic has been shown to decrease body fat.7  However, those with gut issues specifically SIBO, could find that this ingredient will irritate the gut because of the different saccharides.

Sunflower oil: Like canola oil, this oil is high in omega-6’s which have been shown to be inflammatory2,8 and consumers don’t always know the source of the seed used which could be a health concern.

Salt: This could be a health concern depending on your current state of cardiovascular health.

Succinic Acid: This additive is regarded as safe as long as the amount used in food in in accordance to the FDA.9 Like some other additives, this is a chemically derived substance for consumption.

Acetic Acid: Regarded as generally safe.

Non-GMO Modified Food Starch: Regarded as safe.  However, the process in which this starch is made involves chemicals and bleaching.  So, this is a highly processed starch.

Cellulose from Bamboo: This is primarily a fiber and therefore generally safe to eat.

Methylcellulose: Although regarded as safe for consumption, it does act as a laxative and could cause digestive distress.28

Potato Starch: Generally safe.  Potato starch is a resistant starch and could be good for improving gut health through feed good bacteria.29

Beet juice extract (for color): While beet juice extract has potential health benefits,30 beet juice extract for color is basically harmless and has no impact on health in this product.

Ascorbic Acid: is a form of vitamin C and is generally safe.  Having too much of this ingredient could cause digestive distress.31

Annatto Extract: Although just a food coloring, there are some reports of this product causing irritable bowel syndrome symptoms and rare cases of anaphylaxis.32,33 In general, I would avoid unnatural food coloring.

Citrus fruit extract: As a preservative, this is nothing more than an antioxidant to prevent rancidity.34 It is regarded as safe.

Vegetable Glycerin: Generally safe although because it is a sugar alcohol could elicit gastric issues such as diarrhea, bloating or nausea.19

Final Thoughts

Beyond Meat has developed a vegan option for those who want to avoid meat in their diet.  They have released what’s called the Beyond Burger as a viable option.  While this product is vegan friendly, I have some reservations about the ingredients.  Most of the ingredients are highly processed and chemically treated.

Although the FDA regards most of these ingredients as generally safe, I have reservations when it comes to any product containing so many processed ingredients.  While they are generally safe individually, we need to think about the combined load of the products.  What are the health effects when all of these processed ingredients are consumed at one time?  Can the body handle the processing of so many chemically produced ingredients?  Other than the pea protein, the top 5 ingredients are highly refined and processed and have been shown to cause a negative reaction in the body according to the studies I’ve referenced.

That said, I would not recommend this product as a viable alternative to beef burgers.  There are no issues with being a vegan or vegetarian.  As a practitioner, I think it can be very helpful in reducing inflammation and living a healthier lifestyle.  Therefore, I recommend adhering to that lifestyle and eating real food within the guidelines of the vegetarian diet.  If one day you want a burger, I recommend eating the real thing as it will be healthier for you than this chemically made food.

 

Picture Source: DailyMail.com https://goo.gl/kD98ro

References
  1. Pea Protein. Michigan Medicine: University of Michigan http://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hn-10013795.  Published June 5, 2015.  Accessed August 2, 2017.
  1. Expeller-Pressed RBD Canola Oil. Pacific Coast Canola. http://www.pacificcoastcanola.com/canola-oil/expeller-pressed/. Accessed August 3, 2017.
  1. What is Refined Coconut Oil? Coconut Oil Facts Website. http://www.coconutoilfacts.org/refined-coconut-oil.php. Updated July 27, 2017. Accessed August 2, 2017.
  1. Questions and Answers on Monosodium glutamate (MSG). U.S. Food & Drug Admin Website. https://www.fda.gov/food/ingredientspackaginglabeling/foodadditivesingredients/ucm328728.htm. Published November 19, 2012.  Accessed August 3, 2017.

5.     Is Maltodextrin Bad for Your Health? Authority Nutrition Website. https://authoritynutrition.com/maltodextrin/. Accessed August 3, 2017.

  1. Code of Federal Regulations Title 21. U.S. Food & Drug Admin Website. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/cfrsearch.cfm?fr=501.22. Published April 1, 2016.  Accessed August 3, 2017.
  1. Babiker R, Merghani TH, Elmusharaf K, Badi RM, Lang F, Saeed AM. Effects of gum Arabic ingestion on body mass index and body fat percentage in healthy adult females: two-arm randomized, placebo controlled, double-blind trial. Nutrition Journal. 2012;11:111. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-11-111.
  1. The Shocking Truth About Sunflower Oil. U.S. News & World Report. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2014/01/03/the-shocking-truth-about-sunflower-oil. Published January 3, 2014. Accessed August 3, 2017.
  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database; CID=1110, https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/1110. Accessed August 3, 2017.
  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database; CID=176, https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/acetic_acid#section=Top. Accessed August 3, 2017.
  1. Lanciers S, Mehta DI, Blecker U, Lebenthal E. The Role of modified food starches in baby food. J Lab State Med Soc. June 1997;149(6):211-4.
  1. Zhang J, Song H, Lin L, Zhuang J, Pang C, Liu S. Microfibrillated cellulose from bamboo pulp and its properties. Biomass and Bioenergy. April 2012;39:78-83. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biombioe.2010.06.013.
  1. Select Committee on GRAS Substances (SCOGS) Opinion: Methylcellulose. U.S. Food & Drug Admin website. https://www.fda.gov/food/ingredientspackaginglabeling/gras/scogs/ucm260473.htm. Published 1973. Updated October 15, 2015. Accessed August 3, 2017.
  1. Potato Starch and Derivatives. Food Processing- Technology website. http://www.foodprocessing-technology.com/products/potato-starch-for-meat. Published January 30, 2014. Accessed August 3, 2017.
  1. Beet (betacyanins, Betanins, Betalalains). The Colour House website. http://www.ddwcolor.com/natural-colours/beet/. Accessed August 3, 2017.
  1. Home Canning: Ensuring High-Quality Canned Foods. National Center for Home Food Preservation website. http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_01/ascorbic_acid.html. Updated February 2, 2017. Accessed August 3, 2017.
  1. Code of Federal Regulations Title 21. U.S. Food & Drug Admin website. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=73.30. Updated April 1, 2016. Accessed August 3, 2017.
  1. GRAS Notices; GRN No. 475. U.S. Food & Drug Admin website. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/fdcc/index.cfm?set=GRASNotices&id=475. Published May 8, 2014. Updated May 31, 2017. Accessed August 3, 2017.
  1. Glycerin (Glycerol). Nutrients Review website. http://www.nutrientsreview.com/carbs/edible-glycerin.html. Accessed August 3, 2017.
  1. Babault N, Paizis C, Deley G, Guerin-Deremaux L, Saniez M, Lefranc-Millot C, Allaert F. Pea proteins oral supplementation promotes muscle thickness gains during resistance training: a double-blind, randomized, Placebo-controlled clinical trial vs. Whey protein. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. January 2015; 12:3.
    https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-014-0064-5.
  1. Fallon S and Enig M. The Great Con-ola. The Weston A. Price Foundation website. https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/know-your-fats/the-great-con-ola/. Published July 2002. Accessed August 3, 2017.
  1. St-Onge MP and Bosarge A. Weight-loss diet that includes consumption of medium-chain triacylglycerol oil leads to a greater rate of weight and fat mass loss than does olive oil. Am J Clin Nutr.March 2008; 87(3), 621-626.
  1. Intahphuak, P. Khonsung & A. Panthong. Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic activities of virgin coconut oil. Pharmaceutical Biology. 2010;48(2). http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/13880200903062614.
  1. Cooking Oils: Which One When, and Why? University of Rochester Medical Center website. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/patients-families/health-matters/june-2015/cooking-oils-which-one-when-and-why.aspx. Published June 15, 2015. Accessed August 3, 2017.
  1. Williams AN and Woessner KM. Monosodium glutamate ‘allergy’: menace or myth?. Clin Exp Allergy. May 2009;39(5):640-6.  doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2222.2009.03221.x.
  1. Chronakis IS. On the molecular characteristics, compositional properties, and structural-functional mechanisms of altodextrin: a review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. Oct 1998;38(7):599-637. DOI:1080/10408699891274327.
  1. Woerner A. What are natural flavors, really? CNN. January 14, 2015. http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/14/health/feat-natural-flavors-explained/index.html. Accessed August 3, 2017.
  1. Hamilton JW, Wagner J, Burdick BB, Bass P. Clinical evaluation of methylcellulose as a bulk laxative. Dig Dis Sci. August 1988;33(8):993-8.
  1. Grabitske HA & Slavin JL. Gastrointestinal effects of low‐digestible carbohydrates. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. April 2009;49(4):327-60.
  1. Clifford T, Howatson G, West DJ, Stevenson EJ. The Potential Benefits of Red Beetroot Supplementation in Health and Disease. Nutrients. 2015;7(4):2801-2822. doi:10.3390/nu7042801.
  1. Ascorbic Acid. MedlinePlus: U.S. National Library of Medicine website. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682583.html. Updated October 1, 2010.  Accessed August 4, 2017.
  1. Nish WA, Whisman BA, Goetz DW, Ramirez DA. Anaphylaxis to annatto dye: a case report. Ann Allergy. February 1991;66(2):129-31.
  1. Floch MH. Annatto, diet and the irritable bowel syndrome. J Clin Gastroenterol. December 2009;43(10):905-6.
  1. Rehman Z. Citrus peel extract- A natural source of antioxidant. Food Chem. 2006;99(3):450-454. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2005.07.054.
Is Organic Food Worth It?

Is Organic Food Worth It?

Is It Worth the Extra Money to Get Organic Food?

This article is going to help you save money and eat organic when necessary!  There is always a lot of talk about whether we should buy organic at a higher price or save money and buy non-organic groceries. Why spend extra when you can save on regularly cropped foods?

Well, you don’t have to buy all organic.  Although I highly recommend you do if you can.

The good news is that we have advocates and one of the biggest is the Environmental Working Group.  The Environmental Working Group is an independent, non-profit organization who’s mission is to “use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment.” They use research to bring to light public health concerns such as pesticides on our crops and the damage it can do to our bodies.

The Dirty Dozen

Many of us don’t know what we should buy organic and what we can buy non-organic, so the EWG compiled a list of foods that are safe to eat non-organic and a list of foods that need to be bought organic based on pesticide levels. They call this list The Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15.

The Dirty Dozen consists of foods most highly contaminated by pesticides, so you will want to buy these organic.  Highlighted facts include:

  • Every sample of imported nectarines tested positive for pesticides, followed by apples (98 percent) and imported plums (96 percent)
  • As a category, grapes have more types of pesticides than any other produce, with 64 different pesticides.
  • A single bell pepper sample was contaminated with 15 different pesticides, followed by a single sample of celery with 13.

At the top of the list are apples, celery and bell peppers.  They even added two more foods to the list because pollutants have gotten so bad recently.  Kale/greens and green beans have made it to the list because they are contaminated with highly toxic organophosphate insecticides. These insecticides are toxic to the nervous system and have been largely removed from agriculture over the past decade. But they are not banned and still show up on some food crops.

The Clean 15

The Clean 15 are the top foods that are least likely to test positive for pesticides.  Therefore, you can buy these foods non-organic.  Some highlighted facts:

  • No single fruit sample from the Clean Fifteen had more than 5 types of pesticides detected.
  • Avocado, sweet corn, and onions had no detectable pesticide residues on 98 percent or more of the samples tested.
  • Of the Clean Fifteen vegetables, no single sample had more than 5 different chemicals

The EWG has a PDF file of the list that you can download, an app for your phone, and a complete guide online at their website.

There is a huge nutritional difference between organic and non-organic crops because of soil, pesticides, and quality.  Many people wonder if we need to supplement our diet with vitamins and minerals even if we eat a nutritionally balanced diet.  Stay tuned for a future article discussing the differences and why taking supplements can make you healthier.

 

References:

http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organic_food

Diet and Nutrition: Does What You Eat Matter?

Diet and Nutrition: Does What You Eat Matter?

“You are what you eat.” We’ve heard that statement all our lives. But is it true? Diet and nutrition are the base of our health—for better or worse. The true question, then, is if what you eat does matter, what should you be eating to optimize health?

Misleading, Conflicting Information

Just when we think we have this whole diet and nutrition game figured out, someone changes the rules. Earlier this month, US Today ran a story stating that the American Heart Association suggests removing coconut oil from your diet. This comes after hearing for years of the benefits of coconut oil.

It’s been the same story for as long as any of us can remember: First, we’re told that a particular food or diet is good for us, only to be followed years or decades later with the news that, ooops, we were wrong! It can be challenging to determine what the best diet lifestyle is to reach your goals, whether those are to lose weight, be healthy, maintain weight, or get into competitive mode.

We Are Not Created Equally

Another important consideration in the diet and nutrition game is the ability to know yourself. Unfortunately, there is not a one-size-fits-all diet that works universally. One person can feel amazing on a vegan diet, whereas another person feels lethargic when not consuming animal protein.

How do you know which diet is right for you?

Sometimes, it comes down to trial and error. And sometimes, you need the help of a professional. The sad truth is that most Americans have been taught to eat what’s on their plate, and they aren’t as attuned to their bodies as they should be. And that can lead to all kinds of issues.

How Diet and Nutrition Affect Our Bodies

When it comes to nutrition, it’s pretty simple: food fuels our bodies. We use the three big fuels—our basic macronutrients carbohydrates, protein, and fat—in different ways as they’re being digested. Carbs are the body’s preferred fuel because they are easily and quickly converted into immediate (glucose) and stored (glycogen) energy. During low- to moderate-intensity activity, your body will use fat as fuel, and it will also turn to fat stores when your body is depleted of glycogen, such as in a low-carb diet. Protein feeds your muscles and is responsible for about 5–10% of your overall fuel.

When you change your diet, you change how your body gets fuel. And that can work really well in certain circumstances and with certain people. For instance, a ketogenic diet forces the body into ketosis by depriving it of its preferred fuel, carbs, and forcing it to use fat as energy. Another example is a bodybuilder loading up on proteins over fats and carbs to fuel muscle building and metabolism. And, if you’re the average person, you may strike a balance among all three fuels. All of these approaches can work depending on your goals and individual hormones and needs.

Which Diet Is Right for You?

It’s impossible to make a blanket statement and say, “The (fill in the blank) diet is the right diet!” Since we are all a little different, there are many factors to consider: lifestyle, goals, hormones, fat and muscle distribution, activity levels, etc. If you know your body well enough, you may be able to determine which diet and nutrition program is best for you, but if not, it might be time to get some help.

Functional medicine is the practice of focusing on the optimal functioning of the body through a holistic approach. You don’t have to be sick or even facing any particular issues to benefit from working with a functional medicine practitioner. In fact, some athletes choose to include a functional medicine practitioner on their team to ensure they are in prime condition at all times.

When you are tired of struggling with which diet and nutrition program is right for you, maybe it’s time to take a step back and look at the overall picture. My Health Detective can do that. Contact us to schedule your initial consultation and get on the path to better health.

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