Have you noticed how many nutrition and diet books you will find in the bookshops nowadays? It seems that the regions of weight control and nutrition are amongst the most popular of all reading materials, with many well-known shops stocking no fewer than 80 distinct dietary plans espousing the numerous virtues of high fat versus low fat, higher protein vs low protein and higher carb vs low carb.
There quite simply hasn’t been a time in history when so much information has been made readily available to us in the fields of human nutrition and biochemistry. As fitness professionals we should be jumping for joy! Yet, before we pat ourselves on the back and congratulate ourselves for a job well done we’d do well think about the fruits of our collective labor. Despite (or maybe because of) our increasing knowledge of the chemical qualities of foods, it’s a sad truth that there are now more clinically and morbidly obese people in the world than at any other point in history, with statisticians from many first world nations predicting worse yet to come.
And it’s not only obesity that is about the increase; Diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, ipertensione, mental illness and even cancer have reached record levels also, suggesting that the human metabolism has finally reached breaking point and can no longer deal with the excessive demands placed upon it.
Clearly, our knowledge of nutrition is lacking. It’s time to examine the wisdom of our current nutritional supplements and change our paradigms concerning the dietary advice we provide our customers. As fitness professionals we are often called upon to make judgements about the quality and amount of food which our clients eat to be able to keep and improve their health. Armed with our nutritional adviser certifications and a little additional reading we frequently find ourselves advising our customers about the foods they should or shouldn’t eat, substituting some foods such as vegetables and fruit as’good’ whilst we advise that red meats and saturated fats are’bad’ and should be avoided at all costs.
These generalisations enable fitness professionals to provide non-prescriptive information to the masses, for what is generally considered’mangiare sano’ or a’balanced diet’. The advice we provide our customers has become so accepted as fact that seldom, if ever, do we cease to question the effectiveness of the information, the wisdom behind it and the impact it’ll have on the ones that follow it. Bad or good for whom? When Lucretius initially said’One man’s food is another man’s poison’ he hit the nail right on the head as far our individual nutrient requirements are involved.
Indeed, the early Romans of Lucretius’ time, the early Greeks of Hippocrates age and the ancient practitioners of herbal and Chinese medicine were quite well-studied in human health and were fully aware of food’s amazing capacity to heal and revitalise and it is potentially destructive properties. Yet, far from the prescriptive’one size fits all’ approach offered by modern nutritional experts, these healers of yesteryear recognized the healing powers lay not in the food itself but more specifically, the way that food socialized with the person.
In more recent times, researchers like Dr Weston A. Price and Dr Royal Lee have noticed from their observations of their native cultures from around the world, that micro and macro nutrient consumption varies greatly from region to region without impairment to the health and well-being of the ones that survive on their native diets. For example, the Inuit Eskimo’s of Northern Alaska subsist almost exclusively on whale and seal meat and fat with kelp, berries and nuts forming the rest. This diet, high in saturated fats and protein breaks every’rule’ of modern western diets nevertheless the Inuit people living on it lead healthy, vital lives and are virtually disease-free.
Similarly, yet at the opposite end of the supplement, would be the Quetchus Indians of South America who reside on predominantly vegetarian diets and yet are still afforded the exact advantages of disease-free excellent health. It’s interesting to note that in all these situations, the native peoples residing on quite different and even what is considered extreme dietary variations have the ability to maintain a degree of health and benessere that’s virtually unheard of in western society and yet, when introduced into foods not indigenous to their own geographical areas they exhibit the exact illnesses and diseases which are now so rife in the industrialised world.
- The oxidative system – The speed at which fuels are oxidised following ingestion. For instance, fast oxidisers will consume glucose rapidly and operate out of available energy for maintenance and repair. These individuals will need diets that are high in protein and fat, providing a’slow-burn’ of fuel. Slow oxidisers on the other hand won’t be able to receive their energy from protein and fat quickly enough and will require greater carbohydrates in their diets so as to remain balanced.
- The Autonomic Nervous System – The ANS controls all ‘automatic’ bodily functions such as frequenza cardiaca, respiration and digestion. Divided into sympathetic and parasympathetic branches, the ANS can provide either an excitatory stimulus ‘fight or flight’ or an inhibitory one ‘rest and digest’. We’re usually more dominant in these areas compared to other and may have our equilibrium thrown out further still by eating foods that excite either branch.
- Catabolic/Anabolic equilibrium – The human body frequently changes between anabolic and catabolic cycles as part of its natural diphasic rhythm. Often though, because of a stress that the body can’t deal with it becomes locked in to a single cycle with energy system disturbance occurring as a result. In response to this disturbance the cell membrane will increase or decrease in permeability making nutrient supply and retention difficult.
- Acid/Alkaline Balance – George Watson’s excellent book ‘Nutrition and your mind’ emphasized the importance of acid/alkaline equilibrium in treating emotional disorders without drugs. Specifically, he noted that as opposed to the acid/alkaline qualities of the foods consumed it was their interaction with the biochemistry of the person that determined their consequences. Imbalances here will frequently cause respiratory and renal stress to increase. Endocrine kind – Research has discovered that we are regulated by one of our four endocrine glands. For some it will be thyroid or adrenal whilst for others it could be pituitary or gonads. These glands determine how much excess weight may collect on the body. Additionally, it’s known that certain foods can stimulate certain glands into over or under-production and make unnecessary weight retention.
- Prostaglandin Balance – Prostaglandins are produced from fatty acids and are involved in virtually every metabolic action. Disruption to prostaglandin balance can affect hormone production, neurotransmission, immune performance, flow and inflammatory processes in addition to others.
- Blood Type – In Dr Peter J. D’amo’s book’Eat Right for your type’ he presents the idea of blood-group biased diets which identify our nutrient needs based upon our ancestral genetic biochemistry. Metabolic typing recognises this as a contributory element to biochemical balance yet as a result of international migration and inter-racial breeding round the past couple of generations that is seen as less significant. However, blood typing gives us a fantastic idea about foods you need to avoid.
- Constitutional Type – Probably the least’proven’ yet still highly effective area of metabolic typing relates to a constitutional type. Based upon ancient herbal and Chinese medicine this relates to the components wood, fire, earth, metal and water and how they present within the individual foods and the people themselves.
- Electrolyte/fluid equilibrium – When the body fluids become imbalanced or depleted the capacity to transport vital nutrients can also be severely affected. In the event of dehydration by way of instance, fluids become more focus and’lethargic’ affecting the delivery of nutrients to where they’re needed. This can alter endocrine response, acid/alkaline equilibrium and create additional negative consequences ‘downstream’.
The carbohydrate type, such as is instructed to consume from carbohydrate rich food groups with loads of starch and moderate glycemic index values. Although encouraged to consume proteins at each meal their amount will be low-moderate and ALWAYS of the decrease purine, thinner types. Protein dominant type on the other hand is encouraged to consume meals high in fat, high in protein from heavier, darker meats and lower in carbohydrates. Mixed types as you might well guess are permitted to eat from the ends of this spectrum. Far from those three base types however, are myriad permutations allowing for individual variables to be addressed with regard to certain foods and macronutrients ratios. It’s this flexibility and adaptability to individual needs that makes metabolic typing such a strong tool in the arsenal of the fitness and health professional. In other words it addresses the source of our customers’ health issues and focuses on building health instead of tackling disease.