What is the best diet? Is there a best diet? Is there a best way to eat?
We sat down with the founder of Cloud Medical to talk about whether is such a thing as an optimal diet. According to Dr. Tusek, there are five main things to keep in mind:
#1 What to eat.
While there are thousands of books about diet and nutrition, the best evidence is pointing to eating fewer grains, sugars and processed foods—more like our hunter/forager ancestors ate before the advent of agriculture. Fresh, seasonal and varied are good tips.
#2 Where our food comes from.
If we are what we eat, then so is our food. Know the sources of your plant-based foods in terms of soil quality and exposure to chemicals. If you’re a carnivore, know how the livestock bestowing your meat was raised and covet friends who are hunters. If you hunt, make sure to use nontoxic buckshot or bullets (or a bow). If you are a vegan or vegetarian track you nutrients such as vitamin B12, zinc and iron. And if you eat fish, download the SeafoodWatch app and monitor your mercury levels.
#3 How much to eat.
Calories still matter, and we can either eat too little or too much. For most of us, the Japanese tradition of ‘hara hachi bu,’ which is a way of saying grace before a meal and roughly translates to “eat until your belly is 80% full” is quite an upgrade from the “Supersize Me” approach. The psychology of our tendencies to over or undereat is deeply important to uncover if we are to have a healthy relationship with food.
#4 When to eat.
Meal timing is one of the most powerful concepts influencing our health, and the research studies keep piling in. It appears that training our body to become a ‘hybrid engine’ which can efficiently burn not only carbohydrates (sugar), but also fat in the form of ketones, is beneficial for everything from weight loss to cancer prevention. This can be accomplished by “intermittent fasting” (eating only during an 8hr window and fasting for the other 16hrs per day) which is a metabolic game-changer for most people.
#5 Personalized nutrition.
While the four concepts above are good general guidelines, identifying our own unique sensitivities and allergies to specific foods is often crucial for optimal health and wellness. This can be a confusing and controversial area of medicine, but in our experience, there are many individuals who benefit from various specific protocols such as low-lectin, AIP, FODMAP, GAPS, and low-histamine diets. Fortunately, there is now a cookbook available which incorporates all such diets into its recipes: “The Heartful Kitchen,” written by local renown Chef Maria Cooper.