There is no more contentious health issue than the subject of how to choose foods that are right for you. People who want to eat healthy, nutritious foods are frequently confused about what to do. Many follow what they assume are healthy diets with the best intentions, only to unwittingly be causing health problems by eating foods that are harmful to them. The following discussion of this complex and misunderstood issue provides a starting point for making sensible food choices based on science, not opinions. The focus of this discussion will be on food intolerance and food allergies with a special emphasis on the newly discovered condition referred to as sub-clinical or hidden gluten intolerance. The purpose of this discussion is to help you understand the importance of eating foods that are well tolerated and to teach the value of avoiding those foods that can lead to health problems.
When it comes to eating the right foods, it is difficult for even the most well educated person to understand all the different opinions presented by doctors, nutritionists, fitness experts, magazine articles, etc. It is clear that there is little to no consensus on what constitutes a healthy diet or how to go about choosing foods wisely.
There are dozens of diets to help a person lose weight, enhance athletic performance, or incorporate foods such as soy products to help hormonal balance; in fact, there are diets for every imaginable purpose, but sorting through the contradictory advice has become so challenging that many people simply give up. Each week the media reports more and more information about the beneficial aspects of certain foods and the harmful attributes of others. Even official government recommendations and the new “food pyramid” has replaced the old four food groups. The challenge is to wade through all the available information and find what is right for each of us as individuals.
First and foremost, any diet related advice must be based on sound physiological principles, not on personal experiences, preferences, current fads or product marketing. Science can guide us in terms of explaining the basic requirements for normal human physiology and function when it comes to how to eat. Additionally, there are sophisticated laboratory tests available that screen for food intolerance and food allergies to determine what specific foods are right for you. These lab tests can be used by anyone seeking to determine reliable, science-based dietary recommendations.
There are two general topics to investigate in determining the best diet for you. The first subject is coming to an understanding of the basic physiological principles around food and diet that apply to all of us. Scientists have known for decades that proper blood sugar control is absolutely required for maintenance of appropriate fat levels, to have good cognitive function, and to stimulate healthy immune function. The second issue each of us must investigate is what specific foods are harmful and which foods are well tolerated and health promoting for our unique body chemistry.
In my practice, I use an Adrenal Stress Profile to analyze cortisol and DHEA levels, revealing valuable data on how well patients have maintained blood sugar control over time. I also use gluten free diets and nutritional typing to evaluate patients’ unique biochemistry and how they react to specific foods.