Bioindividuality: One size DOES NOT fit all
When you tell people you are a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, it is not uncommon to then get questions about what you yourself eat. And if you follow my Instagram, you probably know that I like to show off my food 😃 However, I am actually very hesitant to talk too much about what I eat, and today's blog post is about WHY.
I believe very strongly in Bioindividuality: an individual's specific genetic, ancestral, and geographical makeup that determines their own unique nutritional needs.
My training was largely based on the work of a scientist named Weston A. Price. He was one of the most prominent health researchers of the 20th century, and one lesson we have learned from him is this concept of bioindividuality.
Dr. Price traveled the world in the 1930's in search of our planet's healthiest people and to understand what it was that made them so. His travels took him to remote Swiss villages and islands off the coast of Scotland. He studied Eskimos in Alaska, American Indians, African tribes and Australian aborigines.
In all, Dr. Price found 14 tribal diets that, "although radically different, provided almost complete immunity to tooth decay and resistance to illness" (Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Weston A. Price, DDS). What does this mean? Well, several things, but today's blog post will focus on two main points of Dr. Price's findings.
The first is that Dr. Price found 14 different populations living in optimal health that had "radically different" diets. In modern society, we get completely inundated with the most recent popular diet. Are we supposed to be gluten-free? Low-carb? Paleo? Vegan? If you've ever done any internet research on which diet is best, you quickly find yourself falling down a rabbit hole-- a million experts who tell you what you should and shouldn't be eating. And, most likely, they have also provided plenty of research to back up their claims. AND, many of them are probably right!
But let's look at Dr. Price's findings again: 14 completely different diets, each supporting the world's healthiest people. How is that possible? Some of these people ate almost exclusively seafood. Some populations were dependent on domestic animals, some on dairy products. Some diets contained almost no plant foods at all, and some contained a variety of fruits, vegetables and grains. Some populations cooked all of their food, and some ate almost everything raw, even animal products.
If Dr. Price's findings are accurate, why would we think that there is one single diet that is going to work for every single one of us? Bioindividuality states that each individual has a specific genetic, ancestral and even geographical makeup that determines their own nutritional needs.
I've got plenty examples for you. At the moment, I am eating oatmeal for breakfast every day because I am nursing my 7 month old daughter, and oatmeal helps stimulate my milk production. This is a unique nutritional need for me. Oatmeal is not a good choice for someone who does not tolerate grains.
Another example; my sister is not a big meat eater. If she eats meat 2-3 times a day, it makes her feel heavy and lethargic and just kinda blah. I, on the other hand, am a big meat eater. I feel more satiated and energetic when I eat good quality meat, and I have no problem eating meat with every meal of the day.
When I work with clients, they often ask me if certain foods are "allowed" on their dietary plan. Am I allowed to have rice? Am I allowed to have cheese? How about this Paleo protein bar? My answer is always "how does it make you feel?". With the exception of processed foods, I strongly believe that no foods are off limits to everyone. If a certain diet makes you feel good, then stick to it! If your best friend swears that she feels amazing ever since she went vegetarian, it doesn't mean you will too. It certainly doesn't mean that you are a failure if her diet doesn't work for you.
I personally don't label my diet. I eat what makes me feel good and I avoid what makes me feel bad. Gluten gives me brain fog and makes me feel bloated so I avoid it. Sometimes sugar makes me feel happy, so I eat it. But often, sugar makes me feel gross, so I don't eat it all the time. I continuously explore what food makes me feel good and what doesn't, and I adjust.
I mentioned that there are two main points that I will discuss about Dr. Price's findings, but I think this blog post is long enough for today. Check back next week to continue the discussion— even though these diets were different, they did all have a few things in common. We'll talk about these things and how you can use Dr. Price's research to reach optimal health in your own life!
I'd love to hear from you! What dietary changes have you made that make you feel good? Are there any foods that you thought were healthy that actually don't make you feel that great?