Exercise and diets are not one size fits all. We all have our own distinctive health issues, family histories, and our own bodies. Just because your best friend is on the Paleo diet doesn’t mean it’s necessarily right for you too. The same goes for your family member who is taking calcium supplements. That doesn’t mean you need calcium supplements. Here’s a deeper look into how unique we all are when it comes to our healthcare needs.
Everyone’s family history is unique. “If our parents or grandparents have a history of obesity, cardiac disease, diabetes or high blood pressure – that does put us a higher risk of developing that disease,” says Stacey Brake, 9Health Fair Health and Wellness RN, BSN. She says knowing our family history is important because our diet can play a key role in reducing the risk of developing those diseases. Plus, if we know certain diseases run in the family, it just might be the motivation we need to eat healthy and exercise.
If you know that certain diseases run in your family, you may want to consider taking a close look at them and what you can do to prevent them. The Surgeon General has a great site to help you with this. It even allows you to print your family history so you can share it with others in your family.
While some supplements are beneficial for some people, the same supplements or dosage may not be good for others. For instance, Brake explains that “some supplements for weight loss may cause a racing heart in one person while others aren’t affected. It’s important to know that just like other medications – supplements aren’t one size fits all. Pharmacists can look up interactions between supplements and other medications.”
“I also worry about the supplements that claim to help you lose X amount of weight in a month without dieting or exercising….I find those to be misleading and can have ingredients that raise heart rates or blood pressure which can be very detrimental.”
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has several examples of how supplements react differently with different people. For instance, if you take Vitamin K and are on blood thinners, that supplement will reduce the effectiveness of the blood thinner. They also remind you that just because a supplement is considered “natural” doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe. The herb comfrey may be natural, but it can cause liver danger. You really should talk with your doctor before taking supplements, according to Brake.
We all have bacteria in our gut. Brake says we are born with our own set of bacteria, much of which we inherit from our mothers and the environment. “We have common ones but even these can be different for each person and among different populations,” she says.
ThePhysicians Committee for Responsible Medicine describes the job of our gut bacteria:
- Helps digest and absorb nutrients
- Synthesize certain vitamins
- Protect against intruders, such as the flu
- Boost our immune system
- Let the brain know how to regulate our metabolism
They state that the more diversity you have in gut bacteria, the better of you’ll be in the long run.
According to ScientificAmerican, your gut bacteria may also play a role in your weight – “New evidence indicates that gut bacteria alter the way we store fat, how we balance levels of glucose in the blood, and how we respond to hormones that make us feel hungry or full. The wrong mix of microbes, it seems, can help set the stage for obesity and diabetes from the moment of birth.” If you’re struggling with your weight, you may want to consider incorporating foods into your diet that will boost healthy gut bacteria, such as artichokes, polenta and blueberries.
Don’t Buy into the Blood Type Diet
There are people out there who say your blood type should influence your diet. Don’t fall for that. “I tend to be a person that believes in a well-rounded, healthy diet,” says Brake. “I just don’t think there is enough information out there to know how if effects our health or improves it. It seems that it would take a lot of work and diets that are a lot of work just aren’t successful in my opinion. I think speaking with a registered dietitian about dietary concerns or suggestions is the best bet.” She suggests talking with a registered dietician at one of our Spring or Fall Family 9HealthFairs if you want to learn more.
Bottom line – just because your friends are doing it doesn’t mean you should too. When it comes to nutrition, we all have our own “baggage.” It’s always good to talk to a medical professional before making changes in your diet.