Bio-Individuality: What Works for You
There is no one perfect way of eating that works for everybody. This is called bio-individuality. Each person has very specific needs for his or her own health according to age, constitution, gender, size, lifestyle and ancestry.
Ancestry, you ask? What does that have to do with anything? Well, it does and if you think about it you will see the sense in it. If your ancestors were Japanese, you will most likely thrive on a Japanese-type diet, high in rice, sea vegetables and fish. If your ancestors were from India, your digestive system will probably love basmati rice, cooked beans and curry. If many generations of your ancestors from Scandinavia were accustomed to eating dairy on a daily basis, it’s natural that your body will be able to assimilate dairy foods. This theory also applies to foods that you have trouble digesting. For example, many traditional African communities had an abundance of beans, grains, animal protein, sweet potatoes and green vegetables. Dairy was not easily accessible or easy to store in hot regions, and therefore, not a part of the traditional diet. So it makes sense that a lot of people of African descent are lactose intolerant.
Blood type also influences bio-individuality. Each blood type (A,B,AB,O) can be traced to a certain period of human history with distinct differences in diet, culture, and social conditions. Each type has developed particular strengths and limitations and knowing them can influence your health. For example, many type O’s feel energized by eating meat, while type B’s are better able to digest dairy. If you eat a food that is incompatible with your blood type, it could eventually lead to health problems.
Another aspect of bio-individuality is metabolism, or the rate at which you convert food into energy. Knowing your personal metabolic rate is helpful when gauging the amount of food your digestive system can process. There are three metabolic types: Protein types, Carbo types and Mixed types. An example of this is that some people can eat a lot of processed carbohydrates (bread and pasta) and stay very thin while others gain weight on such a diet. Knowing what foods You metabolize best will help you to choose foods that make you feel good and support your individual body. This is why fad diets don’t work for most people in the long run.
We are living in an age of modern nutrition. This means that almost everyone is on one diet or another, diet books are best sellers, and every day we are informed of a new discovery proclaiming the health benefits of a certain food or the best way to lose 10 pounds in a week. Nutrition experts disagree about almost everything. For example: one expert can prove dairy is a necessary component of a healthy diet, while another expert can prove dairy is very detrimental to health. The one thing the experts do agree on is that we all need variety in our diets.
So, what is the answer to the nutrition question? Listen to your body. It knows what foods you need, when it needs them and what is best for You. Research what foods are best for your blood type, your metabolism and what foods were typical for your ancestry. Make small changes like adding more fresh vegetables and fruits to your diet, as well as whole grains. Learn to pay attention when you eat so you can decide when you’re full. Learn to recognize the difference between ‘real’ hunger and eating just because you’re bored or stressed. Cook healthy foods at home, make better choices when you eat out, and eat out less. Check out what constitutes a ‘portion’ size so you can stop over-eating at a meal. Learn to slow down and savor your food instead of rushing through a meal because you have things to do or while working at your desk.
Even though each person is a distinct individual, we all share the same instincts. Don’t ignore the personal messages your body is sending.