The compatibility of superfoods with your genetic makeup
By Richard Labaki
An adage you would always hear me say is, “one person’s food is another person’s poison.” It is a conviction I have been upholding for years – verified by both continuous research and helping others through holistic therapy. And this is mainly the reason why you never see me blindly following a certain health doctrine or an alleged “healthy diet.” Various elements need to be factored in before deciding if a specific food is good for you or not – allergies, digestive capabilities and drawbacks, genetic predispositions and others.
As more and more people are trying to reclaim their wellbeing through fixing their lifestyle and dietary habits, it could get confusing sifting through the influx of information and making sense of it all. Moreover, we are bombarded daily with articles written by professionals, amateurs and marketers (each harboring his or her own agenda) in which traditional and exotic food items are praised.
Turmeric, coconut oil and other so-called “superfoods” have been receiving their fair share of glorification within the natural health community – and for very good reason. Several of these foods have been under investigation by scientists for a while now. And in many instances, the results have been impressive in terms of balancing the human body and inducing vitality.
Turmeric, for example, continues to baffle researchers. Its ability to reduce inflammation (arguably the strongest root cause for many of today’s diseases) is simply remarkable. Additionally, turmeric has demonstrated an impressive ability to make several types of cancer cells commit suicide – a process scientifically called apoptosis.
Another superfood with an impressive array of health benefits is extra virgin coconut oil, which is one of the few types of dietary fats that actually help in burning body-fat! This healthy fat is rich in the energizing medium chain triglycerides (MCT), has a favorable impact upon the thyroid gland and is rich in caprylic acid, which is capable of killing off bad bugs (bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc.) in the body.
Given the health benefits of such amazing foods, your tendency to incorporate them into your diet becomes overwhelmingly strong. And this is simply a major mistake! Thanks to the relatively new but solid science of genetic testing, I have been able to ascertain what I have suspected all along: Some foods, despite their positive impact on health in general, could spell disaster for some individuals. And to make my point, I will share with you two separate cases I have been working on for a while now.
The dark side of superfoods
The first case is a man in his fifties suffering from high toxicity in the body. Toxic heavy metals like mercury, cadmium and aluminum appeared in high levels in his tissues. Despite having him follow a detoxification plan, the toxic values in his system were coming down at a snail pace. And so the next logical step for me was to request a genetic test specifically designed to assess the detoxification capabilities. As expected, this man had several genetic disadvantages that made his body weak in terms of excreting the various toxins and heavy metals that enter our body via polluted air, water and food supply.
But what was most intriguing is how turmeric (mainly its active ingredient curcumin) negatively affected a chemical reaction in his detoxification process called acetylation! He had a genetic variation that is potentially causing a reduced activity of N-acetyl Transferase 2 (NAT2) resulting in slowed acetylation. As it turned out, turmeric could further reduce the activity of NAT2 enzyme, which is bad news for him. Had we not done this test, he could have possibly continued supplementing with turmeric on the presumption that it is helping improve his overall health.
Another intriguing case is that of a 34-year-old woman who had been battling with weight issues despite her health-inducing efforts in terms of exercising, eating clean and adopting good habits. A genetic testing for body-weight issues determined that she has a tendency that renders her body inefficient in terms of handling dietary fat in general and saturated fat in specific. Too much saturated fat in her diet could potentially sabotage her efforts to lose weight (even if the saturated fat is derived from a healthy source.) This was further validated via a stool test, which revealed an inability on her part to digest lipids properly. And so while coconut oil could help heal, energize and burn body-fat for many individuals, my client was genetically predisposed to have an opposite reaction to it.
Your decision to take matters into your own hands when it comes to health is praiseworthy. After all, your body is the one entity that you could never replace if it ever breaks down totally (unlike material possessions such as cars, clothes, homes and others.) However, and given the complexity of the human body and how each person reacts differently to similar elements, treading the path to a healthier life could be very confusing and replete with traps. Therefore, a good strategy is to seek the guidance of a functional medicine doctor or holistic therapist who could help you in pinpointing your specific problems and determining the best course of action. Bear in mind though that the good therapist/doctor is one who will not dispense the same general recommendations to everyone in a copy-paste fashion! He or she should have the skills/knowledge to determine which superfoods and supplements work best for you. And while there is no unique diet that works for everyone, there is, however, a unique diet for each individual waiting to be uncovered.
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