Updated: Oct 28, 2020
Why does eating right seem so complicated, and why do so many so-called social media nutritionists and trainers claim to have the right answers, yet so many people fail to obtain their goals? The truth is, Holistic Nutrition Science is an evolving and complicated science with new discoveries being made daily. The idea that there is one correct diet for people to eat is absolute nonsense, and I want to encourage you to move forward with a new understanding.
To explain why diets aren’t “one size fits all”, let me introduce you to a few topics of study. First, there is the study of Biochemical Individuality, and it refers to one’s individual specific nutritional needs, based on their genetic predisposition, lifestyle, and stressors pertaining to different environmental factors. Biochemical individuality is a term first coined by the nutritional biochemist, Dr. Roger Williams. Doctors Neustadt and Pieczenik, describe biochemical individuality as a complex web of interactions that control the way a person’s body uses amino acids, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and fats for all body functioning. When looking at a person’s biochemical individuality, it is crucial in exploring the whole person; their mind, body, and spirit. Health professionals must be aware of all the pieces about their client in order to assist them in moving towards optimal health and vitality. An example of biochemical individuality at work is with depression. Certain nutrients are crucial for the human body to manufacture the mood-regulating hormones serotonin, dopamine, and epinephrine. It is well researched that phenylalanine, tryptophan, vitamin B3 and B6, along with the minerals of copper and iron are necessary in manufacturing these mood-regulating hormones. Two patients, both suffering from depression can express this condition in various ways. Patient A may have a hard time processing tryptophan and getting it to cross the blood-brain barrier there by limiting the manufacturing of serotonin. Patient B may be anemic and lack the necessary iron needed in manufacturing new red blood cells. Both cases can lead to a diagnosis of depression, but treated in the same generalized manner, it is possible that neither patient will thrive. This explains the importance of biochemical individuality as compared to generalized nutritional therapies for weight loss, disease prevention, and the treatment of other disease and medical conditions. Moving deeper into the study of biochemical individuality leads us to a growing field of study called nutrigenomics. Nutrigenomics is the study of how naturally occurring chemicals in foods may alter an individual’s molecular genetic expression. The goal of nutrigenomics is to develop a personalized nutritional strategy for one’s optimal health and disease prevention based on their individual needs. As Naturopathic Doctor Andrea Pryce states, “genetics alone do not determine our future health and wellbeing, it is the interaction between genes and the environment and nutrition that do that”. Nutrigenomics targets to identify, through patterns of gene-expression, protein expression, and metabolite production, the specific genes that influence disease risk associated with diet on a genome-wide scale, and to eventually have a thorough understanding of what drives these expressions. Narrowing in even further from nutrigenomics, there is epigenetics. Epigenetics is the study of how nutrients and environmental exposures, both positive and negative can alter the structure of one’s gene expression causing some genes to turn on and some to turn off. These are changes in the gene expression; however, the DNA remains unchanged. These changes in gene expression may be passed on to offspring who may never have had the same exposure as the parent. A great example of epigenetics at work is with lab studies done on mice whose mothers nurtured them by constant licking. Those mice that were licked repeatedly by their mothers, showed to provide that same care to their offspring. Reversely, those mice who were not nurtured frequently, were found to not frequently nurture their offspring. Science is becoming clearer in that epigenetics is active both inside and outside of the womb. Science is also showing that these changes may be reversible. I hope this helps in understanding the complexities of the world of nutrition science, and why there is no cookie cutter way of moving towards optimal health. A nutritionist is in no way a substitute for a medical doctor; however, they can provide a huge enhancement in moving the client towards optimal health and wellness. When choosing nutritional support, just like picking a medical doctor, it is extremely important to make sure that they are highly qualified. References available