Tips for Embracing Bio-Individual Nutrition
Nina Zorfass, IIN Content Editor
The power of bio-individuality.
Eat more fat; eat less fat.
Cut carbohydrates from your diet; eat carbohydrates but only at certain times.
Artificial sweeteners are a great alternative; artificial sweeteners wreak havoc on your gut.
Do any of these sound familiar? When it comes to making decisions about your health, there’s often a lot of conflicting and confusing information.
You may be wondering, “How do I cut through all the noise to make healthy decisions that are right for me?” If you’re a Health Coach, you might also ask, “If I can’t decipher this for myself, how can I possibly do it for clients?”
Here at IIN, we embrace bio-individuality, our unique concept that you are the only version of you and what works for you won’t work for everyone else. It applies to everything – from the environment you thrive in to the relationships that nourish you to the food you eat (or don’t eat!).
Here are three nutrition tips that everyone can benefit from, regardless of their bio-individuality:
1. Eat more vegetables.
Dark, leafy greens, in particular, pack a powerful punch, and research links consumption to sharper memory and slower rates of cognitive decline. They’re also packed with fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamins E and K, and folate, which is imperative for keeping inflammation at bay.
As a bio-individual, experiment with raw and cooked vegetables.
Some people may experience digestive discomfort when eating raw vegetables, especially kale and other leafy greens. To avoid digestive distress and ensure you’re absorbing available fat-soluble vitamins, sauté kale in olive oil or ghee. If your digestion can tolerate raw greens, go for it! Top a big leafy salad with a simple dressing of extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice, munch on crudité and hummus, or spiralize raw zucchini and drizzle it with pesto! You can also create delicious salads with cooked vegetables – for example, roasted fennel or carrots.
2. Limit refined sugar.
From an evolutionary standpoint, our bodies are built to crave sugar found in nature, such as whole fruit and honey. However, our bodies have also been programmed to store this sugar as fat, since sugar was only available in the summer months and our bodies had to prepare for a long winter ahead with limited calories. In modern times, we’ve become inundated with sugar in the form of processed foods, and our bodies are not equipped to handle it. This can result in additional fat storage and contribute to diabetes and obesity.
Limiting your consumption of refined sugar is a good place to start, but it requires being mindful of ingredients. Hidden sugars appear in everything from yogurt to salad dressing to protein bars.
As a bio-individual, learn how sugar – both natural and artificial – affects you.
Any and all types of sugar will spike your blood sugar, but some people may be more sensitive than others. For example, some people are affected by the natural sugar found in fruit. Trying an elimination diet can help you tune in to this. Remove fruits that you think might negatively impact how you feel, record how you feel in a food journal, and reintroduce the fruit(s) to figure out if you might want to avoid it in general, eat it occasionally, or continue eating it as often as you want.
3. Make sure the fats you’re eating are health-supporting fats.
Fat is essential for the health of our brain, heart, and nervous system. However, the types of fats we consume determine whether we’re supporting our health. Harvard Medical School suggests that people “avoid trans fats, limit saturated fats, and replace essential polyunsaturated fats.” But what do those actually mean?
Trans fats are a byproduct of hydrogenation, which turns oils into solids to prevent them from going rancid. You’ll find trans fats in many processed foods. Unfortunately, consumption of these fats has been tied to inflammation, insulin resistance, and heart disease.
Saturated fats are fats that are solid at room temperature. Their carbon atoms are “saturated” with a high number of hydrogen atoms. Common sources of saturated fat include red meat, whole milk and whole milk products, coconut oil, and palm oil. There’s some conflicting research, but a meta-analysis of saturated fat consumption found that replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat might reduce the risk of heart disease; though there was no conclusive evidence that saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease.
Mono- and polyunsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. Their carbon atoms have fewer hydrogen atoms bonded to them. Nuts, seeds, and avocado are common sources of monounsaturated fats, while sunflower and safflower oils are common sources of polyunsaturated fats. Omega-3 fatty acids – found in foods like fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts – are a rather popular form of polyunsaturated fats. Consumption of these healthy fats is tied to an improved cholesterol profile, lower triglycerides, and a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke.
As a bio-individual, eat a variety of healthy fats, while consulting with your healthcare practitioner.
Heart health includes HDL, LDL, total cholesterol, and triglyceride count, but it’s important to speak with your healthcare practitioner about your specific needs. For example, you may be genetically predisposed to high blood pressure. Plus, the way your body metabolizes fat is impacted by other bodily systems. However, you would likely benefit from adding some omega-3s on a weekly basis. You can also reduce your intake of inflammatory oils found in processed foods.
You won’t hear about bio-individuality anywhere else, which makes IIN such an incredible resource for aspiring Health Coaches, as well as for our successful graduates! Take our sample class to get a taste of IIN’s revolutionary curriculum.