Everyone Isn’t Different.

BruceAndFruit Having a general understanding of the ways in which choices regarding nutrition, can impact upon physiology and health (including psychological state or mood), can be enlightening and empowering, as well as extremely liberating.

If I had a dollar for each time I heard somebody say, ‘everyone is different’, I’d be very rich, and probably less frustrated. I get where they’re coming from. But it worries me that people are missing out on high quality biology and nutrition information that can be very helpful, no matter how different they think they (or their health issues) are.

It’s true that physiological problems can be complex, and often develop over long periods of exposure to stress (including hereditary influences) of many different kinds. And it’s also true that it isn’t always possible to pinpoint a single factor origin for a health issue. Luckily, most of the time, that isn’t necessary. There are things that are going to help more than others, regardless of the original cause, or the exact makeup of existing metabolic circumstances.

The stress promoted illnesses or conditions, are influenced by a long list of overlapping biochemical issues. Thyroid dysfunction, systemic inflammation, bacterial overgrowth, excessive exposure to the inflammatory stress substances (like endotoxin, serotonin, estrogen, nitric oxide, cortisol, lactate and histamine), vitamin deficiencies and mineral imbalances, cholesterol issues, iron dysregulation and oxidative stress. These are some of the most common. All can exist at the same time, and one often promotes the other.

As stress rises and metabolism is interfered with more and more, the biological changes that occur, impact upon each other, and gradually lead to a worsening of overall system function, and greater susceptibility to disease. But the same can be true in reverse, and you don’t necessarily need to know all of the details in order to help make things work (metabolically speaking), a little better.

Knowing which of the above-mentioned biological factors can be said to apply more specifically to you, is usually not required. What you do need to know however, is how to go about lowering biochemical stress, and improving overall energy system metabolism. And if you succeed with one of these two things, you will basically be doing both.

This might sound like an oversimplification, but keeping things simple can be a valuable approach, especially when you’re on the right general track. It’s a powerful stress reducing mindset. When it comes to actually fixing metabolism, it often only takes a small number of things to start moving in an improved direction, for the whole system to start working better.

So where’s best to start? There is more than one right answer to this question, but I think digestion is as good a place as any. The beauty of metabolism, is that there isn’t really any separation between systems. Your brain is as much a part of your digestive system, as your digestive system is part of your brain. Regardless, whether or not it’s noticeable, if you have metabolic issues, they are probably going to be connected to sub-optimal digestive function.

Every kind of biochemical stress (and its impact) can be reduced by improvements in digestion. Interference with digestion promotes intestinal stress and inflammation. When the inflammatory stress substances such as bacterial endotoxin, serotonin, estrogen and nitric oxide, rise in response to intestinal distress, the liver has to work harder, and eventually inflammatory substances will increase systemically.

Systemic stress and inflammation, increases exposure to free fatty acids and inhibits thyroid energy production. Thyroid dysfunction and rising circulation of PUFAs promotes cholesterol and iron dysregulation, and all of this can encourage oxidative stress and more inflammation. When energy systems are suppressed, lactate and histamine tend to rise, promoting further metabolic interference. This is just one way of looking at stress and metabolism.

If instead, you were to approach the problem by working with different ways to reduce systemic inflammation, or to support thyroid energy system production, you would potentially create the conditions which can then allow for digestive and liver function to improve. This would then help to reduce exposure to the stress substances (including the PUFAs), which promote inflammatory disease. It doesn’t have to be extremely complicated and you don’t necessarily need to know why it’s working.

Some of the things that help reduce inflammation, can also be used to help improve digestion, or improve thyroid function, or lower exposure to nitric oxide and serotonin. But if something you are doing to try to fix a health issue, improves one area of metabolism, and worsens another area, it may not be the safest approach.

And when the information relied upon to make decisions regarding how to improve digestion (for instance), is based on misleading or invalid ‘science’, everything can start to get confusing. And that’s when the ‘everyone is different’ mantra so often comes into play. But don’t be fooled. It’s just an easy way to make sense of what isn’t making sense, and a good way to sell things that aren’t really that good after all.

Yes, everybody does have a different history. And as a result, everybody does develop differently, and everybody can have issues which look slightly different. But, everyone is not different.

Even though some people can handle sub-optimal nutrition better than others, some foods can still be said to be better for humans, than other foods. And food is not the only thing impacting upon metabolic health. It can be complicated, even when the information being used is good, but it is possible to work out effective solutions to metabolic problems, when you know what the main variables are.

You might think that you simply aren’t a sugar burner, or that coffee will always make you jittery and keep you up at night. Maybe you believe you are destined to react badly to milk or cheese, or that potatoes are forever going to cause you to feel bloated. Perhaps you are of the opinion that you can handle lots of PUFAs, and that they aren’t causing you harm.

I’m not saying that everyone does just as well on (or is harmed equally by) exactly the same foods, or that people need to force themselves to like what doesn’t make them feel good, and vice versa. But there is no denying that proper nutrition can play a major role in protecting against the effects of long term metabolic interference.

When you discover logical, honest nutritional and biological science, and experiment with that, figuring out how to repair the damage from inflammatory stress, and up-regulate metabolic function, becomes viable. And then it’s possible to work out how to use a large variety of different foods in a manner which maintains metabolism and allows for a good level of protection against stress and disease.

Why is digestion such a good place to start? For one thing, there are a huge number of  harmful substances very commonly added into the ingredients lists of food items today. They are completely unnecessary from a nutritional standpoint, and once you figure out how to choose foods that (largely) do not include them, you’re often already half way there. Avoiding the PUFAs alone can lead to a significant decrease in stress and inflammation.

Once most of the PUFAs and other unnecessary, harmful ingredients have been removed (things like gums, heavy metals, flavor enhancers and numerous other inflammatory chemicals), it can be easier to work out which actual foods are interfering with digestion, and start experimenting with hopefully easier to digest, nutritionally dense high energy foods in order to see if there are any noticeable changes.

Digestive function can change a great deal over time, once many of the interfering substances are removed and healing begins. As soon as digestion is more effective, liver issues have a better chance to be reduced, and then inflammatory stress can start to resolve throughout the main system, allowing for other organ systems to function better. The benefits can be exponential.

Tracking pulse and temperature and watching symptoms like bowel regularity, sleep quality and mood stability, makes it easier to see if you are on the right track, and to make adjustments. Over time you might find that you are feeling better, that you are more energetic, and that you have vastly increased resilience to stress. Then you can try reintroducing previously hard to digest foods, and see how you handle them.

Improving energy system metabolism helps everything fall into place, but ongoing adjustments are necessary as a more optimal metabolism can create different requirements. It’s not possible to know in advance, how much will be needed of various minerals (for example sodium or magnesium) or vitamins (for example vitamin A) in order to repair metabolic function or to maintain it over time. But this is the result of variations in the effects of biological principles that apply the same way to everybody.

You might say we are all different expressions of the same biology. No two mountain climbers ascend or descend on the exact same path, but they are climbing the same mountain, and the same laws of gravity apply equally to all of them.

In a similar sense, removing sugar from your diet, leads to the depletion of glycogen stores, a rise in stress substance exposure (including cortisol and adrenaline), and increased tissue breakdown and fat release, in order to provide fuel. This is true no matter who you are or how well you are able to withstand the additional stress.

Yes, everyone responds to this kind of stress slightly differently, depending on many factors, some of which are unrelated to diet. But everyone is not different, just like changing weather is not the result of a new version of chemistry or physics.

When everybody is exposed to completely different, contradictory versions of biology and nutrition science, and when the official approach (as well as many of the alternative approaches) are hit and miss, being able to say ‘everyone is different’ is a great way to rationalize away the failure to achieve consistent results.

A diet removing the PUFAs (and other harmful unnecessary ingredients) and limiting difficult to digest grains, seed, nuts and legumes, and too many under cooked vegetables, including enough protein from milk, cheese and gelatinous meats, and plenty of sugar from sweet ripe fruits, fruit juice, white sugar and honey, is one possible way to lower stress and improve metabolism, eventually lowering exposure to inflammatory conditions that promote degeneration and disease.

I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist, but from what I have seen, I believe that before anybody decides that it just won’t work for them because they are different, they need to keep in mind that the right kind of approach, won’t bear fruit until what is getting in the way is dealt with.

It’s difficult to see how much sugar and other good things help, in the face of continued exposure to anti-metabolic, inflammatory conditions and substances. Even once most harmful things have been removed, it takes time and experimentation to figure out individual requirements, and it takes time to heal enough to start seeing the benefits.

It’s probably true that we are all unique and beautiful snowflakes. But no, that does not mean that everyone is different.


Image: Froot.nl
“Bruce Lee die je ontbijt klaarmaakt”

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