Check out parts 1 and 2 of the “What Is The Best Diet For Me?” blog series. Check back regularly for new installments, and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter!


In keeping with the theme of our Best Diet for You series that food is a set of instructions for our bodies to properly metabolize energy sources, we’re going to take a look at the microbiome. We discussed how genetics plays a role, and how mimicking the diets of our ancestors leads to a greater wealth of energy and optimal health. But genetics are only part of the picture.

Our environment, the foods we’ve eaten all our lives, and other factors influence our optimal health, too.

This is most common in the microbiome.

best diet for me - what is a microbiome?

What is a microbiome?

A microbiome is defined as a community of microorganisms that reside in our digestive system. They are made up of millions of good bacteria, human cells, viral strains, yeasts and fungi which help our DNA express itself. This expression manifests through hereditary factors, body type, weight, predisposition to disease, and more. Normally when we think of bacteria, we immediately think sickness, infection, etc. It’s only been in recent decades that we’ve come to understand there are good bacteria in our digestive tracts, which aid in digestion and nutrient absorption, and keep the bad bacteria in check.

Your gut microbiome is shaped by your genetics, but outside exposures have influence as well. These include:

• Medicines
• Supplements
Different types of foods
• Your general environment

what are microbiomes and why are they important

What does a microbiome do?

Think of your microbiome as its own ecosystem.

There are good bacteria that prey on bad bacteria, yeasts and fungi to provide the fertile ground in which good bacteria thrive, and cells that function as transportation for nutrients, which the body absorbs and converts to energy.

The problem arises when the bad bacteria outnumber the good.

When this occurs, the health of our microbiome deteriorates. Inflammation increases, energy production begins to fluctuate, and our set weight point begins to change. In the long-term, this sets up a potential for greater discomforts, like joint pain, chronic fatigue, weight gain, and arthritis.

Prolonged imbalance of the microbiome can be detrimental to our hearts, brain, and autoimmune responses.

how to keep your microbiome healthy

Maintaining a healthy microbiome

If you look at DNA, very few genes within a human DNA strand differ from person to person. We are all, genetically speaking, very similar. The microbiome, however, is the opposite. Our gut microbiomes, bearing millions, or even trillions of microorganisms, are almost as unique as our fingerprints.

So what’s healthy for one person’s microbiota isn’t as beneficial for another’s.

This is where companies like Viome come in. They get a very accurate analysis of your gut microbiome, which can further refine how you should approach eating. You learn which foods you need to eat more of to benefit your specific ecosystem of microorganisms, and which foods you should avoid altogether.

Everyone's microbiome is different.

The health of your gut microbiome has greater impact than even your genetics.

There are some foods that should universally be avoided to prevent inflammation, which is the beginning stage of microbiome imbalance. These are:

  • Refined vegetable oils (such as corn and soybean oils, shortening, and canola)
  • Refined carbohydrates and processed grain products
  • Conventional meat, poultry, and eggs (due to feeding the animals corn and cheap ingredients which negatively impact their microbiomes)
  • Added sugars (commonly found in pre-packaged snacks, breads, condiments, cereals, etc)
  • Trans/hydrogenated fats (in packaged or processed items and often fried foods, including most fast food)

Your individual microbiome could also be impacted by pasteurized dairy products, which can be a common source of allergens.

 

Foods that help reduce inflammation are:

  • Fresh vegetables: they’re loaded with phytonutrients shown to lower cholesterol, triglycerides, and symptoms of chronic disease states. Some of the best are carrots, beets, leafy greens, onions, peas, salad greens, and squashes.
  • Whole fruits (not juice), which contain antioxidants tied to cancer prevention and brain health. Good examples are apples, berries, cherries, nectarines, oranges, pears, strawberries and more.
  • Herbs, spices, and teas: turmeric, ginger, basil, oregano, thyme, etc. Green tea and organic coffee in moderation are also good.
  • Probiotics, which contain good bacteria, like yogurt, kombucha, kefir, or cultured veggies.
  • Wild caught fish, cage free eggs, and pasture raised meats. They have higher omega-3 fatty acids, and are great sources of protein, healthy fats, and essential nutrients.
  • Healthy fats, such as grass fed butter, coconut or extra virgin olive oil, and nuts/seeds.
  • Grains and legumes, best when 100% unrefined. Good choices are black beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, lentils, buckwheat, quinoa.

Keep your gut healthy and be mindful of microbiomes

Be mindful of your microbiome

Your microbiome can impact how your body handles nutrients and stores fat, playing important roles in your overall health, even more so than your genetics. Changes in microbiota have led to significant changes in health and body weight, and it doesn’t take long to impact your overall health. Factors like poor diet, environmental toxin exposure, and stress negatively affect your microbiome, upsetting that all important balance between good and bad microorganisms.

 

We still have a lot to learn about the individual microorganisms that make up our gut microbiomes, but understanding the concept of your digestive ecosystem can help you tailor your diet specifically to your needs, and through this, you’re one step closer to reaching your most optimal health.


Check out our free 9-Week Nutrition Program based on Dr. Vickery’s book, Authentic Health.

Part 2 of our “What is the Best Diet For Me?” blog series. Check back here often so you don’t miss an installment, or subscribe to our newsletter!


In our last post, we considered food not just as a source of sustenance, but a source of information for our bodies, a blueprint for the body to know how to process what we eat. But what, how much, and how frequently we eat aren’t the only signals we need to consider for optimal health.

Our genetics play a huge part in how the body processes food.

Health is not only about our percentage of body fat. One person could be their healthiest self with very lean musculature, while the next person could be their healthiest with a percentage of subcutaneous fat. The key words are optimal health.

This is genetics as they relate to nutrition.

Think of the body like a car.

Some cars take unleaded fuel, while some take diesel fuel. They won’t run well (if at all) on the other type of fuel, so other things break down if you try to put the wrong type of gas in the tank. If your body is genetically predisposed to high cholesterol, then a plan like the ketogenic diet is not for you. That diet is low-carb, high-fat, and many of the healthier fats, like butter or coconut oil, are high in cholesterol.

Ancestry has a lot to do with your best dietary needs.

Ancestry

Our DNA is determined by our ancestry, but it is also influenced by our environmental exposures and our diet. When we eat in a manner closely related to our ancestors, we tend to experience our best health and energy. Our bodies are programmed within our very cells for those food choices to click. It’s when highly processed foods are introduced into our diets that we begin to experience a detrimental impact, be that fatigue, weight gain, or the development of chronic diseases.

what is the best diet for me based on body type?

Body Type

We’ve all heard someone in our lives refer to themselves as “big boned,” and maybe they’re speaking of the pounds they’d like to lose in a tongue-in-cheek way, but they very well could have a larger skeletal frame. Some people are destined to keep a higher percentage of body fat because it’s programmed into their genetics.

Someone else could be trying to gain weight if their body type is leaner than they’d like. It’s no different than someone genetically predisposed to being tall.

What matters is that when your body is purring along at optimal capacity—with plenty of energy, clear thoughts, and good sleep and stress reduction—you’re the healthiest you can be. Perhaps that means your outward appearance matches what society says is the ideal body image, but it might not.

That’s not to say you’re failing; it means your genetics are your own and no one else’s.

Any attempt to defy that predisposition could tilt your needle out of the optimal health range and into feeling increased fatigue, slower energy boost, and opens you up to the potential of chronic illness.

best diet for me based on genetics

The Foods That Nourish You

These days, there are labs we can turn to for a clear genetic blueprint for how we should eat. Two of these are DNAFit and Stratagene, and they can help you understand how to shape your approach to food based on your genetics. Your genes say a lot about what nutrients you need, what supplements you could benefit from, and which foods you should avoid.

Not everyone has the money for these detailed assessments, however. Don’t fret. It’s quite possible, through mindfulness of your reactions to foods, that you can determine which foods make you feel like a superhero, and which ones drag you down.

For example, if you decide to on a plant-based wholefood diet, but quickly discover it makes you feel worse, you could have a genetic sensitivity to plant lectins, and despite the diet being wholesome and nutritious, those particular nutrients are not kind to your system.

A good rule of thumb for any healthy approach to eating is to avoid fake foods, highly processed carbohydrates, and refined sugars.

But you’ll become aware rather quickly which foods improve your energy and weight, and which you do not tolerate well.

Consider journaling not only the foods you eat and their macronutrient content—carbs, proteins, and fats—but how you feel in the hours after eating. By doing so, you’ll see in black and white exactly which nutritional elements your body runs well on and which nutrients bog you down.


Check out our free 9-Week Nutrition Program based on Dr. Gus Vickery’s book, Authentic Health.

Part 1 of our “What Is The Best Diet For Me?” blog series. Be sure to check back each week for the latest installment! 


The word “diet” is frequently met with an internal wince, or perhaps a heavy sigh because we often think of diets as a means to losing weight and getting healthier, which are big challenges. Diets are hard, and they can be depressing when we have to set aside the dessert menu, when our lunch doesn’t seem as appetizing as what our coworkers are eating, or that craving has to be ignored no matter how strong it is.

Perhaps that’s where our first hurdle lies—with the way we think of diet.

What would happen instead if we considered diet as simply an approach to eating? Not good or bad, just how and what, as though our food choices are simply information our bodies interpret?

WHat is the best diet for me? An approach to diet.

Food is energy.

What we eat bears a set of instructions telling how our bodies process it: carb-loading signals for conversion to glucose for immediate usage, so athletes might benefit from a high carb breakfast before the big match or race. High protein tells our body we might be trying to build muscle, so it digests that high protein shake or meal into amino acids, which are essential for adding muscle.

When considering our food choices as data for the body to interpret, that informs us what kind of diet we should be eating to accomplish our goals.

But let’s back up a second.

It’s not as simple as knowing all the food signals and sending the right ones to your body by eating specific foods. There are a multitude of factors specific to an individual’s optimum health, and in this Best Diet for You series, we’ll take a step-by-step look at how to choose the most ideal dietary approach for you.

What is the best diet for me? Understand nutrition with Health Shepherds

What are your goals?

Without knowing your personal picture of ideal health, how can you know what food data you should send to your body? The answer is, you can’t. You have to figure out first what you need. Are you:

  • Needing to lose weight?
  • Fighting chronic diseases, such as Type 2 Diabetes?
  • Sick of being fatigued or under the weather all the time?
  • Wanting to experience more energy?
  • Desiring a more active lifestyle but aren’t in good enough shape to participate in strenuous activities?

All of these and more are valid reasons to consider a more conscious approach to your diet. Close your eyes and picture your best health. What do you see? Many of us picture ourselves more comfortable in our clothes, with more stamina to take the stairs instead of the elevator or become active in a favorite sport. Maybe it’s keeping up with your children, or fighting chronic diseases. Whatever your optimal picture of health is, we have to consider if your current dietary habits are helping or hindering that. So with that picture of the healthiest you in your mind, take a moment to ask yourself a few questions.

best diet for me - how to eat throughout the day

How do you eat every day?

  1. Are you a grazer, eating smaller meals but more snacks?
  2. Do you cycle through days where you don’t eat much, and then have a day where you can’t get enough?
  3. Maybe you’re able to stick to a fairly consistent schedule, or maybe you’re so on-the-go all the time, food is grabbed when you have a spare moment.

These things will factor into your approach to your best diet. Someone who cycles through one day where you barely eat but one meal to eating quite a bit the next day might have more luck with an intermittent fasting approach to diet than someone who needs small, frequent influxes of nutrients.

best diet for me - how often do I eat

How often do you eat every day?

Are you consistent with breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Is it easier for you to pack something quick for lunch when your day is full than it is to stop for a lunch hour, or do you skip? Do you find yourself needing snacks because your energy tanks in the afternoons and an influx of caffeine or sugar helps fight fatigue?

Perhaps there are psychological factors involved, as well.

  • Is your feeding frequency influenced by what’s happening around you?
  • Do you comfort eat?

Changing your eating patterns will be more challenging if the reason you’re snacking or overeating isn’t due to simple habit.

Best Diet For Me: How much are you eating every day?

How much do you eat every day?

A lot of information concerning which diet approach works best centers on your specific biometrics, aka your body’s current physical stats. This includes intake. Knowing how much food you consume will tell you if you’re overeating, or even undereating. If you’re not getting enough calories and you have no stored fuels to rely on because your body type is very lean, you will struggle with getting the energy you need through the day. Or maybe some eye opening truths will come to light if you realize you’re not eating super unhealthy foods, but your portions are in excess.

What is the best diet for me? It depends on your body type.

What types of foods do you eat every day?

Food is more than calories and macro-nutrients like carbs, protein, and fats. Food also has micro-nutrients, the vitamins and minerals responsible for optimal health. These are things like Vitamin C, potassium, folic acid, and more. While calories, carbs, proteins, and fats, matter, they’re not the only material nutrients in our diets. In fact, quite a lot of our modern day foods are calorie-rich but nutrient-poor. Nutrient-dense foods are a requirement for proper energy storage, good tissue building, and efficient energy burning.

Close your eyes and picture your best health. What do you see?

So you can see, some honest truths surrounding your daily dietary habits are key to determining what kind of diet from which you’d benefit most. And there are a lot of potential options for dietary approaches, such as a low-carb high-fat diet, an intermittent fasting diet, perhaps even a ketogenic diet.

It’s all about what kind of information you introduce to your body.

Once you understand the quantity, quality, and frequency of your current eating habits, you can see where changes might be required, and what those changes might entail to help you rethink your approach to food. When you do that, you’re well on your way to learning the best way to become your healthiest you.


Check out our free 9-Week Nutrition Program based on Dr. Gus Vickery’s book, Authentic Health.