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elatedsquirrel

Is a healthy diet the same for everyone?

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I was thinking the other day about the diet of the inuit, and also of the higher risk of type 2 diabetes among people of South Asian heritage.

I also recall Valter Longo suggests that you should eat what your ancestors ate - or rather "Select ingredients among those discussed in this book that your ancestors would have eaten". (This presents an interesting conundrum for people like me with ancestors from different parts of the world with quite different culinary traditions!)

This makes me wonder: Is a healthy diet the same for everyone?

Or does it differ based on your individual genetics, epigenetic influences, ancestry, etc.?

Might we one day hope for genetic tests that tell you e.g. Bob should eat low carb, but Ben shouldn't etc.?

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Probably a combination, to a degree.  Genes do make a difference, but the basics should be the same for the vast majority of people.

In other words, most humans would be healthier on a plant-based diet, moderate food and alcohol  intake, and sufficient exercise and sleep.

I doubt anyone's evolutionary development has made them uniquely suited to a diet of French fries and KFC.

 

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36 minutes ago, elatedsquirrel said:

This makes me wonder: Is a healthy diet the same for everyone?

I think there is wisdom in "Let food be thy medicine".   Is healthy medicine the same for everyone?

 

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Absolutely not. Sure, there will be elements that overlap for everyone - ingesting arsenic will benefit no one - but there will also be significant differences. And furthermore, the optimal diet will change for any given individual over time, in response to emergent medical conditions, the environment, your lifestyle etc. 

I know that my diet has been changing over the years, and will continue to change. Even things as basic as macronutrient proportions - f.ex. less protein earlier in life and then somewhat more protein (proportionately) in your more senior years. Diet is just one component of your health maintenance, and other elements, such as exercise, will interact with it - are you someone who benefits from exercise before your first meal, or is it better for you to exercise just after a meal, do your protein needs change in response to weight training or is that not relevant to you given the intensity level of your exercise. What medication do you take, what are the other interventions you avail yourself of - cold exposure, or perhaps some dietary elements that mimic CE in activating brown fat. 

The more we learn, the more we can tailor all these interventions, including diet, to your particular individual profile. It's really not just about genes - it's about everything that impacts your health.

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1 hour ago, Todd Allen said:

I think there is wisdom in "Let food be thy medicine".   Is healthy medicine the same for everyone?

 

I guess no? But then a lot of medicine is poisonous, just less harmful than the disease it cures.

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1 hour ago, Ron Put said:

I doubt anyone's evolutionary development has made them uniquely suited to a diet of French fries and KFC.

I did read something about fairly recent adaptions to high saturated fats in some Europeans. I'll try to find the reference. (Although I guess KFC is mostly fried in vegetable oil...)

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7 hours ago, TomBAvoider said:

 

I know that my diet has been changing over the years, and will continue to change.

I'm wondering if you could expand on this. 

 

8 hours ago, elatedsquirrel said:

Might we one day hope for genetic tests that tell you e.g. Bob should eat low carb, but Ben shouldn't etc.?

Yup - you bet! But I don't think that's around the corner anytime soon.

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10 hours ago, elatedsquirrel said:

Might we one day hope for genetic tests that tell you e.g. Bob should eat low carb, but Ben shouldn't etc.?

A finger prick blood glucose testing kit is sufficient to see if one has an issue with carbohydrates and it can let one determine which particular carbohydrates in what quantities and circumstances are trouble.  

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37 minutes ago, elatedsquirrel said:

Interesting TEDx talk that chimes with the "personalized nutrition" issue:

Hi Elated Squirrel!

I watched the video -- of course, his general thesis is correct.  But, although he found an increased postprandial glucose response to artificial sweeteners, he did not discuss:

How do these spikes compare with different people?

How large is this alleged spike?

How big (if at all) the spike is to each artificial sweetener?

How many different sweeteners did he check?

Also, what about natural lo-cal sweeteners  -- such as Stevia, Monk Furit?

Comparison with fully caloric sweeteners, such as sucrose, sugar alcohols, fructose, glucose?

Still, his basic thesis is correct.

(Also, obviously, genetics are important -- but he couldn't cover everything; we don't have the date or AI capacity to cover everything.)

  --  Saul

 

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3 hours ago, elatedsquirrel said:

Interesting TEDx talk that chimes with the "personalized nutrition" issue:

We've been discussing the 'personalized nutrition' concept by the Israelian researchers Elinav and Segal. They even wrote a book on it which I read.

image.png.b76c16c94760b68517fe867f467693b3.png

I tried to follow their suggestions but it involves way too many pricks in the fingers. Interesting elaborations though. I concluded that I was not glucose intolerant so now I've increased my carbs intake. Should repeat the tests maybe.

They are presently expanding their previous research with continuos glucose monitoring and it will be interesting to see the results. It seems to me taht  their thesis didn't have an exceptional good acceptance in the academic world, maybe they must produce more evidence or what.

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Two things:

(1) good glucose tolerance isn't the only positive health benefit that you can have -- to put it mildly.

(2) A glucose tolerance test is probably the gold standard for testing glucose tolerance.

(Sounds like an oxemoron 🙂

  --  Saul

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Personalized diet is here to stay - there really is no longer any discussion about the validity of it. It has now been established extensively that what is a healthy diet varies DRAMATICALLY between individuals. A recent study shows this conclusively - the PREDICT-1 study:

Landmark study shows inflammation after meals varies dramatically among healthy adults

Here are some takeaways (bold mine):

PREDICT-1 study results showed:

  • A wide range of factors from gut microbes, blood sugar, fat and insulin levels to exercise and sleep impact an individual's ability to achieve optimal health.
  • Genetics plays a minor role in determining personal nutritional response and even identical twins can respond very differently to the same foods.
  • Everyone is unique in the way they respond to eating food (nutritional response), so there is no one "right" way to eat.
  • The optimal time to eat for nutritional health also depends on the individual rather than fixed "perfect" mealtimes. The researchers found that some people clearly metabolised food better at breakfast while others saw no difference.
  • Optimal meal composition in terms of fat, carbohydrates, proteins and fibre (macronutrients) is also highly individual, so prescriptive diets based on fixed macronutrient ratios are too simplistic and will not work for everyone. For example, a sensitive glucose responder may need to reduce carbohydrates whereas someone else may be able to eat these freely.
  • The proportions of nutrients explain less than 25% of our responses to food, showing the importance of how we eat (time of day, sleep, exercise etc.) as well as what we eat.

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Nice study Tom.

The real question is:  How, without supervision from a hoard of unusually knowledgeable nutritionists and others, can an individual adjust hie/her diet -- what to eat, when to eat it -- and exercise and sleep patterns -- to reach "personal valhalla"?

an Aside from following the usual, unpersonalized, diet, exercise and sleep recommendations, the only guide to personalization that I know of is frequent bloodwork and urine analysis.

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Mom is 91 takes no prescription medicines, only health issue is bad knees. She never dranK or smoked. Her diet is generally dairy, meat, Eggs, fruit and vegetables and oatmeal. No nuts, grains(except oats), drinks a cup of coffee and a cup of tea. Sometimes I think why not just follow her diet. Also she had mild weight issues in midlife. Currently a BMI of 29 which she has had for decades. As Walter Longo suggests eat like your relatives?? Not so sure, but eat like your healthiest longest lived relatives might not be a bad idea

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1 hour ago, Mike41 said:

Mom is 91 takes no prescription medicines, only health issue is bad knees....

Good genes? Luck?  I often find some obese guy at a party who notices that I am vegetarian and tells me how vegans are amino acid deficient or how he's never been sick in his life. Hey, look at Churchill!

On the other hand, people used to ride motorcycles without helmets and many were still alive to tell after a lifetime of doing it. Similarly with seatbelts. But I'd rather wear a helmet and protective gear, and buckle up.

 

19 hours ago, TomBAvoider said:

Landmark study shows inflammation after meals varies dramatically among healthy adults

Interesting development and I'd love to see something useful come out of it, but since this is the same crowd pushing ZOE, so I'd take it with a grain of salt. ZOE was discussed a while back here:
 

 

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Again, one can't simply say "genes determine the best diet for you" - because as pointed out, even with identical twins you can still have radically different diets that are optimal. Even when genes determine some 25% of your diet, you still have 75% left.

It's one thing to establish something, and an altogether different one to put into practice. At this point there really can't be much dispute that the "optimal diet" is a highly individual thing. But how do you determine just what that optimal diet is for a given individual is a completely different matter. I'm quite confident that the day will arrive when everyone will undergo tests to determine what diet, lifestyle and medication regimen is optimal for you specifically, but that day is still quite a ways off, unfortunately.

For now, it's all a matter of trial and error. Monitor your physiological reactions closely and experiment - that's the only thing at your disposal today. Very lacking, but it is what it is.

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7 hours ago, Saul said:

an Aside from following the usual, unpersonalized, diet, exercise and sleep recommendations, the only guide to personalization that I know of is frequent bloodwork and urine analysis.

There can be value in labs but I care more about my physical performance, how I feel and how I look.   By labs my LDL and testosterone were above the reference ranges and since adopting a keto diet nearly 4 years ago both have nearly tripled and are still rising.  According to common wisdom this should be killing me as LDL supposedly drives heart disease and testosterone supposedly drives my genetic progressive wasting disease.  But by every other measure I am doing fabulously better.  So I without reservation no longer place any weight on the traditional interpretations of those labs.  I'm not alone here is a video showing others embracing BAD cholesterol: 

 

Edited by Todd Allen

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Hi Ron!

You may be enjoying good health now -- but ignoring your biomarkers increases the likelihood that this desirable state may change sooner then if you successfully -- and intelligently -- took care of them.

  --  Saul

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17 hours ago, Saul said:

Hi Ron!

You may be enjoying good health now -- but ignoring your biomarkers increases the likelihood that this desirable state may change sooner then if you successfully -- and intelligently -- took care of them.

  --  Saul

Thanks, Saul. I do like data and I do track biomarkers, some may say perhaps excessively :)

But the ZOE program seems, to me, a bit too product-focused and I am not certain that it can provide reliable actionable data.

If I recall correctly, there have been a number of twin studies that support the idea that genetics play a limited role, is the microbiome of identical twins can be dramatically different and impact health accordingly.  But while I did a test with uBiome and posted some of my results here, it is a very young science and while one can draw broad conclusions, it doesn't appear to be ready for prime time at the individual level, except in very specific circumstances.

With respect to ZOE and the like, I tend to lean to what Dean said in the thread I linked above:

On 8/20/2019 at 7:04 AM, Dean Pomerleau said:

As you noted on the other thread about personalized nutrition, it isn't clear that preventing transient rises in blood glucose after meals is necessary for good health, and it is clear that it isn't ALL that's necessary for good health.

But focusing narrowly on blood glucose for the moment. There is no doubt that people's post-meal glucose response to different foods varies substantially. But Tom and these researchers/entrepreneurs pushing personalized nutrition seem to assume that these variations are due to intrinsic differences between individuals, although paradoxically pointing out that genetics has very little to do with it.

Instead they seem to attribute it largely to differences in microbiome from person to person. But there is a lot of research to suggest that microbiome differences are caused by the diets we eat. So it seems to me a very credibly hypothesis that the glucose response differences are merely an artifact of eating an unhealthy diet that leads to an unhealthy gut microbiome and insulin resistence. As a corollary, my hypothesis would suggest that if people ate a healthy, whole food plant-based diet, with time their gut microbiome and insulin resistance would improve, glucose responses would settle down, obviating the need for "personalized nutrition".

In other words, I haven't seen any evidence that a WFPB diet won't work for everyone if followed consistently for a a year or two to get your weight, gut microbiome and insulin sensitivity in order.

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I just got this from Nebula Genomics, which did, for what it's worth, a bit more precise whole-genome sequencing for me than 23andme;

Genomic analysis of diet composition finds novel loci and associations with health and lifestyle

 

Fluke or not, I am in the top 1% of their pool for "thinness," which is kind of generally true :)

Not that I can't get fatter, of course. There was a time when I regularly ate multi-course restaurant meals and my BMI hit 23 at one point (about 18-18.5 lately).

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So, the interesting thing from the talk was his claim that they could predict the best diet for you (if I recall, based on DNA and what I'll euphemistically call "microbiome samples"). At least, the best diet as far as blood sugar is concerned.

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1 hour ago, elatedsquirrel said:

they could predict the best diet for you [...] At least, the best diet as far as blood sugar is concerned

Not even the best diet for that single parameter,  nor even the best kind of  combined meal, but the best individual food in isolation,  like say,  ice cream!

That's a big step forward toward individualized healthy eating!  (The next step is to determine who in the ice cream group does better on full fat vs low fat ice cream.)

Edited by Sibiriak

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