Have you ever been told by a fellow health enthusiast about their latest cure, craze, or discovery and tried it yourself to no avail?
I recall in my early ventures into nutrition and wellness how I hopped on the bandwagon of whatever super-food and super-cure was currently in fashion. Although my intentions were good and my pursuit of wellness was a wise idea, I didn't have the skill set or knowledge base to understand WHAT those foods were doing in my body and WHY I did or did not benefit from implementing them. Some items were fairly benign while others actually adversely impacted my health. Especially for those who are struggling with chronic conditions and for those who are in a fragile health position, trying out the latest and greatest nutritional fad can potentially be daunting, discouraging, and even dangerous. This is one of the reasons it's so great to work with someone who has seen the research and has a firmer grasp of the biochemistry involved in dietary changes than simply listening to the gal in the supermarket line who changed her life with coconut oil (no offense intended, Miss Supermarket Gal, I love coconut oil too!).
However as your own best advocate, remember that:
A. Changes should be made with wisdom and purpose.
B. Changes should be tailored to your current body chemistry and needs.
C. Changes should not be made on the belief that they will "cure" or that they apply to everyone.
Allow me to give a few specific examples...
1. Eat That Fat!: Coconut Oil, High Fat Diets, Ketogenic Diets
This is a hot topic and I want to say up front that I am in no way an opponent of saturated and animal fats or eating dietary fats in general. However, coconut oils and diets high in other saturated fats (primarily animal fats) are quite popular these days. They may be excellent for some individuals, and perhaps not so great for others. This is because, in part, when you consume a saturated fat one of the results is the stimulation of a certain receptor (called a toll-like receptor or TLR) on your immune cells. When this receptor is triggered, your immune cells are given the ramp-up command which is great if your body needs to defend against a pathogen. However, for those who are chronically in the ditch of body inflammation, boosting your inflammatory response against pathogens may be contraindicated. These individuals may need to watch their consumption of coconut and animal fats to either ensure a balance in their diet, or to actually consume higher amounts of unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats. Those who chug the bullet proof coffee at breakfast and consistently eat a high fat or ketogenic type diet the remainder of the day may be inadvertently increasing immune activation and inflammatory load over the long term. Depending on the person's unique biochemistry, this can be a boon or a detriment.