Most of us are either actively trying, aspiring or planning to be fitter, lighter and eat better. We read about various diets, and wandering which one will give us the best long-lasting result with the minimum effort required; whether that is easy cooking, eating mostly what you like and still having a treat if possible. 

So which diet would do all of the above? Is it the hypocaloric diet, the 2:5 diet, the low carb diet, the Mediterranean one, a detox diet etc…The answer is the one that works for you best. But how does one know, except for trial and error? 

Nutritional Genomics

An emerging concept over the past 10 years has been nutritional genomics or nutrigenomics. 

Nutritional genomics explores individual genetic variations that means one may respond differently to different diets or individual foods. At present that are several companies who offer these services and are easily available online, some at less than £100/test. Usually you will sign up, purchase a kit that gets delivered to your home, you may be required to attend a certain centre for the test, but usually you do this at home. You then receive a report that present your results against certain genetic markers, and some recommendations may be made. 

I undertook couple of these tests during last winter, and I must say my diet has not changed as a result. The majority of the findings confirmed largely what I knew was right or wrong about the foods I eat an perhaps shouldn’t, and about how my body works. I felt slightly disappointed though that did not present me with a miracle weight loss ingredient- ‘eat the Brussel sprouts as these will accelerate your metabolism’. This is kind of information what I was looking for!

Same size doesn’t fit all

Diets are not just about science and genome mapping. And one ‘good diet’ is only good if produces results in long-term:

  • Did it trigger a long-lasting change in our psyche or our body? 
  • Are we happy to incorporate the diet in long term?

As let’s face it, eating is not just about being hungry. It is also about socialising, same as drinking. 

When it comes to diet many factors have a role to play:

  • Cultural beliefs, 
  • Personal Preferences, 
  • Age and sex,
  • Sleep patterns, 
  • Physical activity, 
  • Psychological, 
  • Environmental, 
  • Work patterns, 
  • Cooking facilities, 
  • Family needs, 
  • Your Gut microbiome
  • Your pocket!

So yes, if I lived in Greece, I may eat a salad every day. However, a hot meal is much more satisfying when you live in a colder climate! 

And not eating ‘good’ foods may be worse than eating ‘bad’ foods as shown in the Global Burden Disease 2017 Study published in Lancet last year. 

The truth is, we are early on in identifying why some people respond better / worse to certain foods; for example, some individuals’ blood sugar may raise higher than others after the same foods. 

So where should one look who wants help?

Personalised nutrition

Personalised nutrition is about good and bad foods for you. Designing an individual diet. 

First of all, common sense should prevail. No reports replace common sense, and reports should be actionable.

The approach should be simple but thorough, taking into consideration all of the factors listed above. A patient once said to me: ‘I work 9-10 hours a day, I travel 2, and any workout feels like an extra job; I don’t even want to think about cooking!’. The diet must fit around your lifestyle and day to day needs. And when it cannot, solutions should be explored.

A medical professional should assess your individual environmental and personal factors, look at your general health and nutritional status, genetic predispositions, and gut microbiome.

The gut microbiome has a role in many illnesses – obesity, cancer, inflammatory disease, irritable bowel syndrome, neurological, metabolic disease, diabetes, infection susceptibility etc. It may be a cause for how you feel. Dietary changes, or probiotic supplementation may change the microbiome and help reduce some of your symptoms and control a certain risk. The gut microbiome has also been linked to ageing. So, watch this space if an anti-ageing approach is what you are after! 

“My motto? Stay well, happy for as long as you can.. and someone please give me my own personalised recipe book!”

If you would like to discuss any of the above with a member of staff, book a health, nutritional or gut microbiome check, do get in touch! 

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