The Importance Of Bio-Individuality When It Comes To Nutrition

In the world of nutrition, for anybody who’s bothered to look into it, even if only a little, there are tonnes and tonnes of different dietary/nutritional theories. The idea behind bio-individuality is that no 2 people are made entirely equal and we all have our own unique make-up, characteristics, qualities & traits. This bio-individuality is exactly why there simply is no “one size fits all” diet/nutritional plan/programme. Everybody has their own unique nutritional needs/requirements, their own tastes (likes & dislikes) and so on… All of these, alongside community & environment, which will influence &/or dictate what produce is readily-available will together determine which diet/nutritional programme is BEST for you.

In the course I’m studying to become a qualified nutritionist/health coach, all these topics and contributing factors are covered… This is why an Atkins-style diet (high protein/fat & low carb approach) works wonders for some (at least in the short-term) & is disastrous for others. I can safely say it is not a diet/nutritional regime to be recommended for anybody to follow on a continuous/ongoing/long-term basis! Another popular diet/nutritional regime in recent years has been the high carb-low fat approach. Again, v.successful & workable for some, but disastrous for others. Now it is the world of raw foods, living foods and superfoods which are all the rage, essentially advocating eating more fresh (raw/uncooked) fruit, vegetables, nuts, sprouts & seeds… I think this one can be safely recommended for anybody (especially on a continuous/ongoing/long-term basis)!

But, back to bio-individuality. What exactly do we look at to assess what dietary/nutritional regime to custom-design for you personally as nutritionists/health coaches? We look at family history, specifically medical history: is there a history of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, auto-immune disease, mental health issues? Addiction/alcoholism? This can help us on many fronts.

Next, we can factor in your blood type. The “Blood Type Diet”, famously created by Dr. Peter D’Adamo (a naturopathic doctor, following in his father’s footsteps, who laid the foundations for what is now known as the blood type diet). He has conducted many in-depth research studies with all the available medical data he was able to get access to, to determine the correlations between blood type, lifestyle, diet & disease. His conclusions are quite eye-opening/revealing. There is no doubt that a clear correlation exists between all these factors. I highly recommend his New York Best-Seller “Eat Right 4 Your Type”, or the follow-up book “Live Right 4 Your Type”, which incorporated other lifestyle factors better suited to your blood type e.g. exercise, career/profession, relaxation/stress-management techniques…

Blood type O is the “Original” blood type the “universal donor” (meaning they can give/donate blood to any blood group, however they can only receive blood from their same group, O+ or O-). O’s are the 1st type of human beings to have existed in our planet and back in those days our diets relied entirely on what we could find in nature, it is the “hunter-gatherer” diet… Meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds…

Blood type A is the “Agricultural” blood type, the 2nd in the evolutionary scale, when humans began to live in communities and began to cultivate and grow their own food, i.e. when farming came into being. This blood type is best suited to a vegetarian (or primarily vegetarian) diet, with plenty of cereals/grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds… And yes, of course a little fish or meat is ok… But, neither O nor A are well-suited/well-adapted to digest milk/dairy well (beyond the baby/weening stages)! All milk/dairy products should therefore be avoided by both these blood groups.

Blood type B is for “Bolder” (I just made that one up)! After people settled in their communities, some of them wanted to travel to broaden their horizons and see the worlds, others were forced to move due to droughts, floods & other weather/climactic factors. As we moved away from our original nest in Africa (so it is believed), and we travelled, our bodies evolved/adapted to their newfound climates and environments. People with blood type B are often found in India, the Nordic/Scandinavian countries, as well as in the Jewish community. This blood type is able to digest milk/dairy products v.well. In fact, it is believed that this evolution/adaptation is precisely because of all the travelling this blood type did. In order to have a regular food source when they travelled, they would take cows, goats, sheep, donkeys, camels… And it was the milk from these animals that kept them nourished when other food sources were scarce. Not only can blood type B’s digest milk/dairy well, it really is a highly nourishing food source for them & they can almost live exclusively on it, so if you are a blood type B don’t feel you have to scrimp… Eat your cheese, yoghurts, kefir, milk with your cereal… As to the rest of the diet, they can have “a little bit of everything”, but oddly, you might find you can eat some meat and fish without a problem, e.g. Beef is ok, or chicken, but not pork… Salmon is fine, as is trout, but then tuna disagrees with you! The same goes with fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. You will have to do a little bit of “trial & error”, or try an “elimination diet” -this simply involves eliminating any “suspect” foods that you think you may not be doing too well with for a minimum of 30 days, but ideally for 6-8wks. Completely cut it out/omit it from your diet for that period of time, then reintroduce it… Place a small portion on a plate, with nothing else but that one ingredient & eat it. Wait for 3-5 days to see if you experience any unusual reaction to it. If not, it is a “safe” food for you. If you do e.g. a skin rash, lip or tongue swelling, headache/migraine, asthma, tightness in your chest, shallow breathing (or, worst case scenario, anaphylactic shock!), then this is an “unsafe” food that you would do best to avoid at all times.

Blood type AB, the 4th and last/latest blood type, I like to call the “AmBi” (ambidextrous, ambivalent, ambiguous… Take your pick!). They have properties from both blood groups A and B, so they too can digest dairy, although not quite as brilliantly as B’s, so they might prefer to stick to the fresh cheeses, the cream cheeses, the fermented milks (kefir) and yoghurt, than the other options. They can also eat “a little bit of everything”, but again will manage better on some foods than others. Blood group AB is also the “universal recipient” (meaning they can receive blood from any other blood group, yet can only give/donate blood to other AB’s).

All this so far already covers quite a lot and helps us design an individualised plan/programme for any one of our clients to follow. Then, we also look at individual tastes (likes & dislikes), which may seem/sound trivial, but one primary obstacle for anybody embarking on a health-regime/journey always stumbles (& often falls) when it feels like a chore/hard work rather than a pleasure/fun! It HAS to be fun (at least in my book)! People, on the whole, won’t stick to any new healthier lifestyle change (stop/reduce drinking/smoking, exercising/going to the gym, dietary changes…) when it stops being enjoyable, end of! So, as a health coach it is of paramount importance to get to know our clients as best as possible, to serve them as best as possible. What are the client’s interests, hobbies/pastimes/leisure activities, favourite foods/dishes (and why?), least favourite foods/dishes (and again, why?), job/career/profession (and importantly, do they enjoy/love doing what they do? If not, why not? And what would they ideally like to be doing in this arena of their lives?) & last, but certainly not least, what state are their relationships in? With family (spouses, children, parents, siblings…), friends, work colleagues…? With all this information to do with their own lifestyles, changes they want to make, goals they want to achieve, we can definitely start to custom-make a plan/design for the individual client before us… A tailor-made/made-to-measure programme if you will. Then, it is just a question of the client doing it, keeping it up and then my job is simply to help keep him/her motivated & inspired with occasional meetings (which can be video calls) to monitor/supervise their progress, reviews every so often to see if targets/goals set have been reached and for general support & to answer any/all questions the client might have.

Happy eating leads to happy living 🙂

Enjoy, in joy!

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