By William Wolcott
Author of The Metabolic Typing Diet (Doubleday)
For many years, so-called nutritional experts advocated a low protein, low fat, high carbohydrate diet as the perfect diet for all of us. They promised that we’d lose weight and lower our cholesterol while simultaneously improving our health and fitness.
Well, they turned out to be wrong, dead wrong for some and seriously wrong for millions of others. Instead of fulfilling its promise, this latest "right diet for all people" to come down the pike produced a rise in obesity like this country has never seen, along with the "bonus" side-effect of an ever-growing epidemic in diabetes.
Today we find ourselves on the cusp of the pendulum poised to swing the other way.
Recent scientific studies have "discovered" that just maybe the high carb, low protein/fat diet is not so good after all, and that what really is the best "right diet for all people" is a high protein, low carb diet. Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that reality once again will prove to be different than expected. In a few years, there will be a fallout of just as many people suffering in the wake of this "new" pendulum swing as from the last one.
The problems will be different, but the "casualty rate" will be about the same. Metabolic Typing, the science of individualized nutrition, reveals why this will be the case.
Through Metabolic Typing, it has been learned that the answer to the question of the right diet lies with your genes -- not whim, fancy or philosophical belief, or even in scientific research, at least not in the way it is being performed today.
Previous studies have shown benefit to the low protein/fat, high carb diet as well as the opposite diet of high protein/fat, low carb diet.
But basic premises of Metabolic Typing such as the idea of biochemical individuality, or that the same nutrient can have different effects in different Metabolic Types, or that the same disease can arise in different Metabolic Types for totally opposite biochemical reasons, have far-reaching effects and shatter many current en vogue myths of nutrition. Here are some examples that not only offer some valuable, practical information, but also reveal greater insight into the exciting new world of Metabolic Typing:
MYTH: A vegetarian diet or a diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in protein and fat is good for you.
REALITY: If it's wrong for your Metabolic Type, meaning, if it is not in line with your ancestral diet, your genetically based nutritional requirements, this diet can make you sicker or create new health problems for you. There are no "good" foods and there are no "bad" foods, except in terms of the requirements of your unique Metabolic Type.
MYTH: The Healthy Diet
REALITY: There's no such thing as a diet that is universally healthy for everyone. This applies to any diet that is purportedly right for all people -- whether it’s the Atkins Diet, MacDougall Diet, Ornish Diet, (or pick any diet you can think of!). The only diet that is healthy for you is the diet that is right for your Metabolic Type. Only that diet meets your inherited needs for nutrients.
MYTH: To lose weight you need to reduce calories and limit fat (or limit protein or limit carbs).
REALITY: Fat doesn't make you fat. Protein doesn't make you fat. Carbohydrates don't make you fat. And even calories per se don't make you fat. But what does make you fat is the inability to properly metabolize, or convert to energy, carbs, proteins, fats and calories.
If you're overweight, you're actually starving -- starving for the right balance of nutrients that will increase your metabolic rate and convert to energy the food you're eating instead of storing it as fat.
Eat the right foods for your Metabolic Type and eat the right ratios of macronutrients (proteins, fats, carbs) and you’ll be giving your body the right kind of fuel for your engines of metabolism. Science is beginning to awaken to the idea that much of what our bodies do with food is in our genes.
MYTH: To lose weight all you need to do is reduce calories and exercise more.
REALITY: Millions of people have done just that, but in most cases have not only failed to lose weight, but gained weight instead. Worse, for most people, reducing calories has led to food cravings, binge or yo-yo dieting, mood swings and energy fluctuations.
Only by giving your body food that it can efficiently convert to energy will you lose weight permanently. Only then can watching calories and exercising regularly make a real and lasting difference.
Best of all, when you eat right for your Metabolic Type, when your body fully converts to energy the food you eat, gone forever will be the gnawing hunger, food cravings, binges, mood swings and energy fluctuations that normally are associated with "dieting."
MYTH: If you take lots of supplements and "cover all your bases," your body will take what it needs and discard the rest.
REALITY: This is like saying that if you hold a flame under your outstretched hand, your body will take whatever heat it needs and throw off the rest. Such ideas ignore the reality of cause and effect. If you apply a flame to skin, the skin will burn. Fire has specific physical properties that apply wherever fire is present.
Similarly, nutrients have very precise effects on the body—either stimulating or sedating, acidifying or alkalinizing. Every supplement you consume will either stimulate or sedate specific organs, systems and fundamental control mechanisms.
Take the wrong nutrients or the wrong formulations for your Metabolic Type and you will worsen your existing imbalances or create new imbalances and all of the problems that go with them. Nutrients indeed have the power to heal, but they also have the power to make you ill if they are wrong for your Metabolic Type.
MYTH: Everyone should take calcium (or vitamin C, or anti-oxidants, etc.).
REALITY: Nothing could be further from the truth. Through Metabolic Typing, we know that any nutrient can have opposite effects in different Metabolic Types. This is why a nutrient can help correct a condition in one person, have little or no effect on another person, or worsen the same condition in a different Metabolic Type.
Thus the old adage, "one’s food is another’s poison." This is why you should only take those supplements that are right for your Metabolic Type. Every nutrient raises or lowers up to 9 other nutrients in your body. So taking therapeutic doses of vitamin C can actually, for example, cause cancer (vitamin C lowers copper, so if you are already deficient in copper and take high therapeutic doses of vitamin C, you can seriously compromise your immune system).
Taking too much calcium can actually cause osteoporosis (in order for calcium to be utilized, it needs certain synergistic nutrients and if you are already low in those synergistic nutrients, taking more calcium will only further deplete the existing deficient levels, worsening any problems relating to calcium metabolism).
Eating a low-fat diet can actually raise cholesterol (if it further disturbs the body's cholesterol metabolism, e.g., certain metabolic types paradoxically need to eat a high-fat diet to promote efficient cholesterol metabolism). Of course, everyone needs all the nutrients in order to be healthy . . . but not in therapeutic doses. So before you start supplementing your diet, it’s best to know your Metabolic Type.
MYTH: Nutrients are nutrients. It doesn't matter what form they are in.
REALITY: The carriers of nutrients are just as powerful -- in some cases even more powerful -- in their effects on metabolism as the nutrients themselves. Depending on your Metabolic Type, any nutrient can be acidifying or alkalinizing.
For example, in a Parasympathetic (alkaline) Metabolic Type, calcium is acidifying, but in a Fast Oxidizer, calcium is alkalinizing. So, it is important that an acid form of calcium (e.g., calcium chloride) be used if you’re an alkaline Parasympathetic type metabolizer, but that an alkaline form of calcium (calcium citrate) be used if you’re an acidic Fast Oxidizer.
Otherwise, the nutritional supplement will at best have a neutral effect, and at worst, actually worsen your existing imbalances. You can take the best supplements money can buy, but if they are not right for your Metabolic Type -- the right nutrients and the right forms of the nutrients -- they won’t produce the result you’re looking for and can end up making you worse than before.
MYTH: Drink lots of orange juice to help get rid of a cold
REALITY: Colds and flus are viruses and viruses thrive in an alkaline biochemical environment. Citrus juice, because it is such a highly alkalinizing food, is one of the worst things you can ingest to prevent and fight off a cold or flu virus. Interestingly, cold weather produces an alkaline shift in the body.
In addition, the most powerful alkalinizing substances in your diet are sugar, alcohol, caffeine, salt (and nicotine), the very substances that tend to increase in our diets during cold weather and the holidays. Beginning with Halloween, and going on through Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year's celebrations, the amounts of these highly alkalinizing substances dramatically increase in our diets.
When you consider the elevation of those alkaline foods in our diets in combination with the alkaline effect of the cold weather, is it any wonder that time of year has come to be known as "the cold & flu season?" At the first sign of a cold or flu, try to acidify your system by increasing protein and decreasing carbohydrates, particularly fruits (especially citrus) and the alkaline substances listed above.
When you buy a new car, one of the first things you learn is the kind of fuel it uses. You wouldn’t want to use the wrong kind of fuel for fear of damaging the engine, not to mention the fact that its performance would suffer dramatically.
You would do well to adopt the same attitude towards your own body. Remember that your body is designed to be healthy, but in order to run efficiently, it must be given the right fuel, the kind of fuel it is genetically programmed to utilize.
You can eat the best organic foods, take the finest supplements money can buy, drink plenty of pure water, get sufficient rest and exercise regularly, but if you do not meet the needs of your Metabolic Type, you’ll only be wasting your time and money.
Give your body what it needs and you’ll enjoy a lifetime of good health, energy and well-being.
By Dr. Mercola
William Wolcott is the author of a book I recommend to absolutely everyone, The Metabolic Typing Diet. If you want to begin understanding your metabolic or nutritional type, in order to adopt the diet that is right for you, reading Wolcott's book is an excellent way to begin, as it gives you a good background into why there is NO one-size-fits-all approach to diet.
I have incorporated Wolcott’s principles into my Nutrition Plan. My program comes from decades of experience in which I have researched extensively, conferred with my professional colleagues, and most importantly, successfully treated tens of thousands of patients.
My nutrition plan is easy to learn and easy to manage with today’s busy lifestyle. By eating the foods that are best for you, you won’t be hungry, and you will achieve your optimal weight, and optimize your insulin level, cholesterol level and blood pressure. You will learn how to listen to your body and modify your foods as appropriate. Whether you are basically healthy and wish to keep it that way, or whether you have major health challenges, my Nutrition Plan is an excellent guide.
Not only is what you eat important for optimizing your health, but other lifestyle choices are also veryimportant:
- Make exercise a part of your daily routine
- Make sure you get plenty of sleep
- Make sure you have a way to de-stress
By embracing a comprehensive “lifestyle approach” to your health, you will feel better, have more bounce in your step, and enjoy more vitality than you ever imagined.