Written by: Bonnie Feldman, DDS, MBA, Becca Malizia, BS, Ellen M. Martin
To recap, the world of dieting can be very overwhelming. It is easy to get lost in the clutter as you try one thing after the other, losing hope along the way. Here we explain a way to use the internet and resources to your advantage, combining it with everything you already know about yourself! 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”.
This is the more common use of the word. But the first definition, not only on google, but Merriam- Webster’s dictionary as well, is more 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
It is important to listen and to actually hear the signs of your body! Combine your autoimmune diagnosis with these signs in order to better understand yourself! “Nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea, Yeah, Pepto Bismol!” Sound familiar? It has been overly reinforced that when we have pain or problems, there is a pill or some medicine we can take to feel better. Pepto Bismol, like Gas-X and many others, are just ways to alleviate symptoms. And sure, you probably do feel better after taking them, but the real question is WHY are having pain and WHAT are you eating that gave you that pain in the first place. All of these symptoms, as well as others like bloating, cramping, and gas, are your body’s way of telling you NO! Starting a food diary is the simplest, cheapest way to record and see patterns with your symptoms and diet. This can also help highlight food that may be important if you want to do an elimination diet to start off your nutritional health journey. Becoming more mindful of your nutrition and body is often times the first step to optimizing your health.
Learning From Your Genetics
Although genetics and epigenetics can be complicated when you get into the science, they are tools you can use to better understand yourself. You can explore your genetic makeup in various ways. Companies such as 23andMe and Ancestry will provide you a kit and do a complete genomic analysis for you. Now 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. These companies will give you health reports that identify variants in your genetic makeup and help interpret them. These reports vary from distinguishing you have a genetic variant making you more susceptible to developing celiac, to simple guidelines based on your genes about what foods to eat/avoid. These recommendation are not perfect, but 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 gut and oral body cavities to promote health and wellbeing. Many companies have sprouted up that include pre- and/or probiotics for optimal health. Some focus on supplements such as seed and hyperbiotics, whereas other include these probiotics in a food product like Punk Rawk Labs vegan nut milk cheeses. In addition to these product based companies, microbiome testing companies have sprouted up, similar to genetic testing but specific to your personal microbiome. Companies like Viome, DayTwo, Arivale, and Ixcela send you kits, sequence your microbiome, and develop a dietary report and/or probiotic 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.
- 23andMe 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.
- SelfDecode 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 your personal microbiome, they quantify how much 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.
- Arivale is a blood testing company, that looks at 80+ health markers and matches you with a coaching service based on your specific needs/wants. Their service is $199/month with combined blood testing, self assessments and personal coaching to maximize health goals.
- 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!
- Punk Rawk Labs is a company who makes a fermented vegan nut milk cheeses, with added probiotics for optimal health. They are continuing to develop alternative healthy food options, with incorporated microbes, for the best nutritional and health outcomes. We had a chance to try the original and nacho cheese and man were they creamy and delicious! Read more about this awesome company 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!
- Learn more about Prebiotics, Probiotics and food in our new post here
- Read about your uniqueness in our first Food Matter’s post here
- Click to discover more about two amazing female owned and operated companies hyperbiotics and Punk Rawk Labs!
- Dive into the microbiome and autoimmunity in our blog series here