September 1, 2020Categories: Food & Diet Research
I keep harping on customizing our diets for ourselves.
The importance of this cannot be overstated.
Where it All Started:
Let's break it down a bit as to why it's so important.
Let's assume that what we eat is either harmful or helpful.
What have you eaten over your life?
Does your neighbor eat exactly the same?
What about someone in another city or country?
What you ate over your lifetime will play a big part in what damage was done by the harmful food and what protection you received from the beneficial food.
You also need to consider genetics. You may have some similar conditions in your immediate family, but the further you go out from your immediate family, the more differences there are in your relatives.
Your genetics are completely different from non relatives. The influences are vastly different.
You also need to consider your environment or things you've been exposed to in your environment throughout your life. The range of what this was and what it did to you are great.
There are also a lot of influences that we don't even know about yet.
All these things combine to make your own individual needs different. It's as unique as your fingerprints.
Take a Health Inventory:
If you're just starting on your journey of trying to improve your diet for health reasons it's good to take an inventory of some of the negative influences you think might affect you.
This can include the following:
- Known illnesses, including lifestyle related, genetic, etc.
- Very close family illnesses that you think might apply to you based on circumstances
- Various known environmental exposures, such as chemical spills, explosions or bad fires, poisonings, overdose, medication usage that was later banned for serious side effects, etc.
- Current and past habits that you know can cause problems, such as smoking, overeating, sedentary lifestyle, etc.
Where to Start Researching:
This can give you a few areas to investigate if there are any related diet suggestions based on those. You'll find a few foods that are suggested to add and some to avoid.
You'll find some contradictions on a lot of these. When you do, then dig deeper into each conflicting idea to see if you can figure out which is more valid. Don't stop only at those that you like more, dig into all ideas. You'll be surprised to find some of the so called good advice is definitely not good. Some ideas you'll find are just gimicky, or marketing driven, or only opinion based, so those you can give less weight to.
Search in both professional fields and in various diet and support groups. Both provide useful info.
Another thing that may come out of expanding your search to include professional and real people is that they'll treat the subject quite different. Sometimes it's due to groups just enabling each other, and the professionals being more on track. Or you could find the opposite, where the groups are more in touch with what works, and the latest cutting edge information, and the professionals are out of touch and going only on old out dated info.
You'll likely find a few things with some similarities that match you. For example you might have 3 or 4 conditions that all recommend going gluten free or grain free. Or you might find several that point out a common nutritional deficiency as a cause or contributor.
With this kind of info you have the start of a unique diet plan you can start to construct. You're not just making a guess about what you do, you're making some informed decisions.
Sources and Quality of Info:
When doing research, mix up the type of media you're getting info from. For example, check out YouTube videos, podcasts, blogs, medical journals, etc. They all have a different focus, and a different feel, and you'll find different information on the different media formats.
Make an effort when doing your research to learn more about what actually classifies as legitimate and useful info.
For example, you may find lots of people talking about some condition or treatment or protocol, but there isn't anything to actually back it up except opinion.
Or you'll find some research paper that's on mice, but we aren't mice and that's not a suitable replacement for human research. That kind of research is really only useful to scientists as a very early step in a chain of research and isn't applicable to the general public at all.
Or you'll find some research that turns out to just be a survey. Surveys NEVER can link cause and effect. And surveys are notorious for being inaccurate. Think of election polls, and how many of them are wrong when people are telling pollsters how they voted 5 minutes after voting.
You might find research that is a review of a whole bunch of other research. But if the individual papers are within the above categories, then a review of a bunch of them is no better. Any research review like this is only as good as the worst paper included in the review.
Beware of Pitfalls:
This is a skill that takes some time to learn. Unfortunately a LOT of people push their own agendas based on very poor or fraudulent research. This isn't just an occasional thing, it's rampant in the research field, and some topics are worse than others.
An example I came across once was a research paper on Celiac.
It is known in the Celiac Disease field that less than 30% of people with Celiac actually have stomach pain. It is also known that you cannot diagnose Celiac Disease by having a stomach ache. There are several tests that are needed to diagnose it (one or more are needed).
Some researchers did a test with a small number of people (around 20 to 25) who "self" diagnosed as having Celiac. First, you can't self diagnose. Second, that is an extremely small number of people, too small for anyone to make decisions on.
Then they fed them 2 types of food. One high fodmap, and one low fodmap. (Fodmap is a type of carb that causes stomach issues). This food is unrelated to Celiac. The people reported they felt better on the low fodmap diet.
The conclusion of the study was that those with Celiac Disease don't actually have Celiac Disease, they have an intollerance to high fodmap diets. This was funded by people with a conflict of interest, and they were pushing / promoting low fodmap grain products.
As you can see, if someone didn't know some of the underlying knowledge they wouldn't have been able to see where this study was flawed (fraudulent).
That's why it's important to not always just believe what we hear. Just put it on the "Info Pile." That's also why I recommend to look at all sides of any contradictory information. Over time we'll get a better picture, and can adjust our actions as we learn more, or gain a different perspective.
Our research is unique to each of us. Where we start and where it takes us will be different.
The main point is to get started, and be open to learning new things, and seeing new perspectives, that ultimately will guide you to making better diet and health choices that work for you.
As you start getting info you can act on, along with other things you know you want to change already, check out our Free DIY Menu Planning article and template download to start building your custom eating and meal plan.
Learn, eat and enjoy!