There seems to be no limit to the diets you can select from today.  The drawback with diets is that they usually only benefit about a third of the people who follow them, and of those who notice an improvement, it is rarely sustained beyond the first three or so months.

The idea that we are unique individuals with varying nutritional needs determined by our genetics, and environmental , was first put forward by Roger Williams Ph.D, D.Sc., in his book Biochemical Individuality in 1998.  The idea that we need different ratios of protein, fat and carbohydrate and that people respond differently to the same vitamins, minerals and co-factors, means that a one-size-fits-all diet can never exist. The false assumption that everyone’s metabolism is the same despite genetics, environment, climate, age and level of health still informs modern medical practice which has not kept abreast of advances in genetics. It is still rooted in a model that targets dietary recommendations – if any are given at all – and treatment at the disease rather than the patient, with the same prescription given to every patient who presents with the same diagnosis. Genetics has taught us that there are four possible drug reactions: it is broken down too quickly necessitating a higher dose, it is broken down too slowly requiring a lower dose and also increasing the likelihood of a toxicity reaction, it goes down a different pathway altogether and is changed into something else, or – bingo – it hits the target and the response is as intended.  A bit hit and miss for something that is supposed to be scientific!

The idea of personalised nutrition is attractive. We instinctively know when we give our bodies the exact nutritional formula it needs, as we enjoy good levels of energy and our body is better able to overcome health problems. Just as a car needs the right fuel mix, we need the right nutrient mix. Scientists now recognise that the same nutrient can have opposite biological effects in different people, and that the same disease can be caused by opposite biochemical imbalances.

In the 1930’s and 40’s, Dr Weston Price, an American dentist, travelled extensively analysing the diets of 14 indigenous peoples, and his remarkable findings are outlined in his seminal book Nutritional and Physical Degeneration. He observed that although the diets were wildly different as they were determined by geographical location, they were more nutrient dense than those on ‘civililised diets’ which, at that time, did not include the horrors of factory farming, food additives, high fructose corn syrup, glyphosate and GM.

In the last century, several medical researchers developed systems to help determine our individual nutritional needs. You may have heard of Metabolic Typing, which bases recommendations upon questionnaire analysis and measurements of the acid/alkaline balance, or the Blood Type Diets in which blood group is a major consideration. And classification according to which endocrine gland is dominant was developed around the 1950’s and 60’s by Drs Melvin Page and Henry Bieler. The Indian Ayurvedic doshas and the Chinese elemental systems show us that the ancients too were aware that people were different.  The biological types of both theses systems correspond well with each other and with homeopathic constitutional types and our modern understanding of genetics and physiology.

In the 1950’s Dr George Watson, Professor of Psychology at UCLA, discovered that individuals burned different nutrients at different rates. For example, if you burn fats slowly, a high fat diet would result in weight gain, and your weight stabilise on a higher carb diet. He found that to produce optimum energy for the brain, it was important to eat the right mix of proteins, fat and carbohydrates at every meal. He had significant success healing mental-emotional problems ranging from depression and anxiety to insomnia. But it wasn’t until Wolcott established the principle of metabolic dominance in 1983, which identified whether a person was autonomic or oxidative dominant, that the reason why some systems work for some whilst not for others was finally understood. If you would like to discover your individual dietary needs, I recommend the book The Metabolic Typing Diet.

So, whether you are a meat eater or are raw vegan, adjusting your ratios of fat, proteins and carbohydrates can be an effective way of customising your diet to optimise health, energy and weight management.

In my next blog, we are find out whether diets for specific health problems are effective.