Written by: Bonnie Feldman, DDS, MBA, Becca Malizia, BS, Ellen M. Martin
It’s no news to say that the world of dieting can be very overwhelming. And while it’s easy to get lost in the clutter, it’s even easier to lose the hope of finding your “perfect diet” along the way. We get that, and that’s why we’re here to provide a change in perspective on the traditional approaches to diet. It is easy to forget that you are not only your best advocate, but you know yourself better than anyone else! It is YOUR body after all.
Re-Defining the Word “diet”
Google defines the word diet in a couple of ways, one being:
→ “A special course of food to which one restricts oneself, either to lose weight or for medical reasons”.
While this is the more common use of the word, the lesser known, more accurate definition is simply:
→ “the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats”.
We make this point to break the boundaries around the way modern society conventionally uses the term “diet”. We want to help you find your best diet, meaning eating the food that helps you reach your optimal health! That “diet” could be following a strict protocol like Wahls diet, or be simply eating everything in moderation, or maybe even a combination of both! The point is this is your life, and you can use any and all tools to figure out what works best for you. So let’s get started!
How to Know What to Eat
Listening to Your Body
While it’s easy to listen to the signs of your body, it’s a little more difficult to determine how to respond to what your body tells you. For instance, let’s say you’re facing nausea, indigestion, and diarrhea after a large lunch. What do you do? “Pepto Bismol!” While you might feel better after popping a pill, you should be wondering why you are having pain in the first place. Pepto Bismol, like Gas-X and many others, are ways to alleviate symptoms–but they don’t really tackle the root of the issue.
All of these symptoms are your body’s way of telling you that there is an issue in your diet! A food diary is the easiest way to see the patterns between your symptoms and diet. This can also help highlight food that may be important if you want to do an elimination diet Becoming more mindful of your nutrition and body is the first step to optimizing your health.
Learning From Your Genetics
Although genetics and epigenetics can be complicated, they are practical tools you can use to better understand yourself. Why is it helpful to know your genes? Well, not only is it cool to find out about your heritage, it’s also informative. There are different genetic markers that can clue you into many aspects of your health. Companies like 23andMe and Ancestry can provide you with a complete genetic analysis and identify the different genetic variants in your DNA. These reports can help provide you with guidelines on which foods to eat and avoid. While these recommendations are not perfect, they are a great starting point when it comes to figuring out what diet may be good for you!
Exploring Your Microbiome
Right now, the world of microbiome research is in full swing. Scientific research is diving deep trying to understand the bacteria that inhabit our guts and oral cavities. Many companies have sprouted up that include pre- and/or probiotics for optimal health. While some companies like seed and hyperbiotics focus on supplements, others include these probiotics in food products. In addition to these product based companies, microbiome testing companies have also been on the come-up. These companies provided serves similar to genetic testing, but are specific to your personal microbiome. Companies like Viome, DayTwo, and Ixcela send you kits, sequence your microbiome, and develop a dietary report and/or supplement recommendations based off your personal microbiome!
Now Let’s Dive Into These Resources…
A Spotlight on Some of The Genetic Testing Companies
- Ancestry is a genetic testing company that started out focussed mostly on ancestry, but has moved into a model that provides health reports too. They offer a membership service, where you can purchase a monthly or six month membership. Within those, you can either choose US discovery, World Explorer or All Access pass. These vary in price from $19.99 a month for US discovery, to $199 for a six month All Access pass.
- 23 and Me is also a genetic testing company that offers either just an ancestry report ($99) or both and ancestry and health report ($199). Although seemingly more expensive, once purchased you will have full access to all of their services, with many options for promo codes and holiday sales. They provide 75+ reports that allow you to learn more about your health, wellness, carrier status, and ancestry, which they continuously update and add reports to. They also are linked with scientific researchers who apply to access your DNA, which comes to you in the form of surveys, allowing you to contribute to the research database while continuously learning about more about yourself.
- Self Decode takes existing genetic data (from 23andMe, Ancestry etc) and provides more substantive dietary and supplement recommendations based on your genome for $59.
A Selection of Microbiome and Other Scientific Wellness Companies
- Viome is a microbiome testing company that provides you with a kit and annual plan for $399. It creates a personalized action plan for you with a dietary guideline based on your specific gut microbiome.
- DayTwo is also a microbiome testing company with a similar kit service as Viome, for $349. As well as creating personalized dietary guidelines, they incorporate your blood sugar levels. With data from your personal microbiome, they quantify how each food item will affect your blood sugar and also provide an app service that scores what you eat and relates it all to stabilizing your blood sugar levels.
- Ixcela also uses a blood kit to sequence your gut microbiome. You can choose your ideal action plan within their services ranging from a one time fee for $299, to either a six month or annual plan for $140 per month. They provide you with personalized supplements and probiotics based on your specific results, while coaching you on lifestyle and dietary choices in a trackable progress based manor.
A Sample of The Many Microbiome Products
- Seed is a combined pre and probiotic supplement company that is based on sex (not gender) coined “Synbiotic”. For $49.99 a month, they give you 90 capsules and a guide for introducing this supplement into your daily routine. Seeds advocates that their bacterial strains are unique, backed by the latest science, and can’t be found in yogurts or fermented products.
- Hyperbiotics is a supplement company that provides pre and probiotics differentially designed for women, children, immune support, weight, oral health and many more. Their products range from $15-$30, with a wide variety of options. To learn more about hyperbiotics click here!
Step Back and Recap
Any and all of these resources are a great way to get started on your journey to find your best diet. Learning more about your uniqueness can help you shorten the time it takes to finding what food options are best for you.
Have you already tried or are going to check out any of these resources? Are there any that we haven’t listed that you love? Comment below!
Stay with us as we continue to report and craft the tools you need to optimizing your nutritional health because Food Matters!