According to an article by Tina Hesman Saey on Sciencenews.org, the idea of dieting and restrictive eating aren’t so black and white like we previously believed it to be. There are many factors someone should think of when they’re considering a new dietary plan. One main tip that people often give is that one who is considering a new dietary plan should consider eating low glycemic foods. A glycemic index diet is an eating plan based on how foods affect your blood sugar. Therefore, pursuing a low glycemic food diet, you’re eating foods that do not raise your blood sugar to very high levels. Maintaining a good blood sugar is important for body health because high and low blood sugar levels can result in many diseases, both digestion and nervous system issues in addition to many other issues that come with these diagnoses. When thinking of foods that would fit this new low glycemic dietary plan, we tend to think of fruits, vegetables, healthy grains, etc. that are often praised in a “balanced” diet. However, in Saey’s article we’re shown that foods have different affects on people’s blood sugar levels and other nutrient levels because of the way that their organs function in their body.
Saey uses two main examples to display the variety in body digestion of different foods. In her article, she provided a graph that displayed the varying blood sugar levels of different people who ate the same type of muffin. The main reason for having the graph of the study in her article was to display how people’s blood sugar levels can drastically vary purely off of the functions and traits of one’s body and organs. One main surprise that came from the study was that even identical twin sisters had different spikes in blood sugar from the muffin. Both sisters live different lifestyles, one being an athlete that ate mostly salads and the other being less active and eating foods like bread and cheese more frequently. Although one would assume that the more athletic sister would be able to deal with carbohydrates and other nutrients much better than the other, the two sisters share that different foods are harder on their bodies. For example the more athletic sister struggles to eat spaghetti bolognese because it spikes her blood sugar levels, even though it is considered a low glycemic food, and prefers to eat other carbohydrates like mashed potatoes; The less athletic sister struggles to eat mashed potatoes, but is able to freely consume spaghetti bolognese without any problem.
Another example given was of a man who ate the same meal of a sandwich and orange juice after a day of work. He realized that his blood sugar levels spiked after having this meal and continued to figure out what meals wouldn’t. He learned that his body is able to consume apples and pears without drastically raising blood sugar levels but not bananas. She then provides an example of a study where different people experience higher blood sugar levels from apples than cookies and vice versa. Evidently, the advice to eat more fruits and vegetables should be taken with caution as many people’s bodies aren’t able to consume these substances without having a spike in high blood sugar.
Unfortunately, this same rule applies to other organic compounds in our food such as dietary fats. These fats and carbohydrates work hand in hand as seen when the article says that the scientists are unable to see how quickly people cleared the fats from their blood after a meal until they were able to identify the blood sugar and insulin levels of the people who ate the food. Lipids and Proteins share many of the same molecular components which could be the reason for their similar affects on the body after consumption. Both lipids and proteins are both mostly made up of Carbon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen, however, the small differences in their composition can lead to these different reactions in the body. There are 20 different types of amino acids and each protein can act differently in the body due to the varying polarity, R-groups, etc. Although lipids do not vary as much as proteins do, lipid variation matters a lot in the foods we eat; we stress the importance of eating unsaturated fats much more than saturated fats because of the health effects they may have on our bodies, showing that even the smallest variation of a double bond to a carbon atom has severe affects on our health. There are so many factors in our bodies that are different with each individual. Everything is also intertwined and any huge change made to our nutritional intake can severely affect the way the organs and functions of our bodies work. We have to keep track and be wary of all these different factors and make sure we act accordingly in order to promote a healthy, body, mind and life.
According to Immunologist Eran Elinav of the Weizmann Institute of Technology, gut microbes are probably the most important factor in determining which fibers and complex carbohydrates get digested. Microbes were also a huge role in the spiking of one’s blood sugar after a food is consumed. Coincidentally, what you eat affects the type of microbes present in your digestive system, so there is some room for exploring how we can possibly eat in ways that promote a specific type of microbiome or avoid excessively eating foods that don’t work well with the microbiome created by our current eating habits. However, we as consumers have the responsibility of reading the labels and tracking the traits of the foods that we eat. Jennie Brand Miller, a nutritionist at University of Sydney, states that although there are certain exceptions due to people’s digestive systems being different, there is a 99% chance that high glycemic foods will spike your blood sugar more than low glycemic foods. If people do intend on following any type of dietary plan they must use the information that they’re given to the best of their abilities to make inferences and conclusions to reach their ultimate goal.
We must take facts about food and nutrition with a grain of salt since everyone’s body isn’t the same. Evidently, there is some room for more research and experimentation for us to find a possible ideal microbiome and dietary plan for each individual person. With more research and experimentation we should be able to determine if personalized diets are an efficient strategy to allow people to reach the health and body goals they want to achieve. This also brings into question, what other areas of nutrition are not as simple as they seem. Is it really that bad to eat a lot of carbohydrates or fats? Are meat diets truly helpful or are they more harmful to our bodies? Is there truly an ideal dietary plan that works for every person? There is much promise to having personalized dietary plans, but there is no such thing as a flawless system and we must be wary of the consequences of following such a system.