In Part One we discussed various challenges and potential pitfalls with nutrition research, and the recommendations gleaned from them.
Some questions we could be asking ourselves:
Could nutrient requirements and recommended daily intakes (RDI’s) be inaccurate?
In what context are they based on in the first place?
Nutrient requirements for optimal health? Or to prevent deficiencies? Is there a difference?
What way of eating was used to determine them? Omnivorous diet? Western or Standard American diet? Paleo diet? Vegan/Vegetarian? Whole food plant based? Carnivore Diet?
Do the same requirements apply to all dietary strategies and lifestyles?
Do nutritional recommendations make sense for you based on your ancestry or where you live? If your lineage is from somewhere northern, with a real winter (like here in Canada), would your ancestors have evolved consuming a diet with a wide range of plant foods year round?
Do we really need a widely mixed diet of many types of foods? Do we need that in all contexts?
How plant based should our diets be? How animal based should our diets be?Could our plant and animal food requirements shift from day to day? Month to month? Season to season? Year to year? Even hour to hour?
Is what's commonly thought of as best nutrition practices the truth? Or just what’s been repeated the most over time?
Now, what on earth do we do with all of this? How should we eat and live our lives in a way that produces optimal health?
Perhaps there is a way of eating like our wild animal friends where we don’t have to overthink what/how much we are eating, and that allows our body to give us accurate indications that it’s gotten what it needed from our food and move on.
Nutrition should have the quality of fluidity to align with the fluidity of life and circumstance. Your body is highly intelligent and is always in communication with you (if you listen to it). It will tell you loud and clear if your way of eating isn't right for you via symptoms, your physical composition (lean/overweight/muscle definition etc) and overall function.
Maybe it’s time to stop blindly following the wacky world of nutrition recommendations, and start becoming your own empirical scientist and take your health into your own hands.
I encourage you to explore varying opinions to make an informed decision for yourself. But in general as long as the foundation of your diet is nutrient rich whole foods, you can continually play around with different nutrition strategies, and discover what rings true for you.
Here are a few of my general rules of thumb to experiment with:
Practice social distancing from highly processed, calorically dense, hyper-palatable foods, combining highly processed grain flours, sugars, fats and oils, that lead to over eating and cause drastic blood sugar fluctuations.
Regularly expose yourself to organic whole foods grown and raised in tune with nature, so your foods heal and improve your personal health, soil health, and the collective health of the planet, rather than supporting its destruction.
Pay attention to how you feel after eating: Does your meal leave you comfortably full and satisfied for several hours with good energy and mental capabilities? Or do you experience symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, gas, bloating, discomfort, energy lulls, anxiousness, short lived satiety, ‘h-anger’ etc?
As a side note, here are some lifestyle factors that are equally important to incorporate (because health doesn't come from diet alone):
Take time to rest, de-stress, and balance your nervous system.
Don’t just sit there, move, move, move! No one improves their health being sedentary.
Build resilience through discomfort. Utilizing practices like exercise, heat and cold exposure (sauna, cold plunge), and breathing techniques involving extended breath holds (brief intermittent hypoxia), etc.
Get out in nature, letting your skin touch the earth, and letting the sun kiss your skin.
Mindfully and purposefully connect with others and those you love in meaningful ways.
Get good quality sleep (done by utilizing the above strategies).
Be skeptical, but learn to listen- Don Miguel Ruiz
The nutrition and lifestyle practices that ring true will produce more feelings of health, vitality, love and connection in your life, at which point they will begin to feel effortless.
In conclusion, you are the best judge of what works for you - begin gaining experiential knowledge and start to listen to your body and discover its true wisdom. If you’re listening, it will lead you to states of health and vitality. States where you can accomplish your dreams, goals and objectives, and take on life’s challenges with present awareness, from a place of love, compassion and empathy.