You and your friend could go on the exact same diet and see completely different results. One reason? The bacteria in your gut.
Each of us cultivates a garden of microscopic organisms within our digestive systems. More and more, scientists are discovering the important and complex ways that our gut health and our general health are linked as one.
Because our internal gardens can be so different, the way two different people metabolize the exact same meal can be very different, too. While one person could see a dangerous spike in blood-sugar levels after butter-on-toast, another person might cruise along at a comfortable speed. Which, it should be said, makes giving useful dietary advice that is generally applicable pretty tough.
A team of Israeli scientists and doctors set out to see if they could solve this problem and come up with individually tailored diets that would make you and your gut feel good. And they did — they took blood and stool samples from 800 people, fed them 46,898 meals, and analyzed the results. They were able to generate a computer model that would develop dietary recommendations tailored to an individual’s gut garden. The results were published this week in Cell.
The subjects who were given personalized diets did very well, consistently avoiding spikes in blood sugar levels, which are associated with diabetes and obesity. Here’s a cool thing — their gut colonies got better too, with the levels of “good” bacteria going up, and levels of “bad” bacteria going down. This is great news, since a gut full of unfriendly bugs makes it really hard to avoid cravings and lose weight.
How can you get your own personalized diet recommendations, you ask? Hopefully one day there will be a simple test that any doctor can perform, with the results directing you to an easy-to-follow meal plan.
Until that day, here’s my completely unprofessional advice:
If you have health concerns related to obesity or diabetes, talk to a doctor, a nutritionist, or a naturopath about ways you can change your diet in a way that helps cultivate a healthy gut.
Eat lots of healthy fats.
Avoid foods that tend to create blood sugar spikes, while keeping in mind that your body will respond in its own unique way. Pay attention to how you feel after eating — if you get a burst of energy and then crash, don’t eat that meal again.
Cultivate your internal garden with care, and remember — you are beautiful, you bacteria-filled beast, you.