At this time of year many of us commit or more commonly recommit to work on our health. This often comes in the form of weight loss goals and dieting.
In my family practice I work with a lot of people on their diet and I am often asked if there is a specific diet plan that will work for everyone.
Despite the title of this article there is no one diet for everyone. In my experience everyone is different. We all have different ways to cope with life and stress. Some may use food as a coping mechanism while others may not. Some have a higher tolerance for high carbohydrate foods and others will be predisposed toward diabetes. In reality, the right diet for you will probably be totally unique to you.
That is why it is important to examine what role food plays in your life while at the same time using some basic blood tests to examine your biochemistry.
When you go to a lot of other doctors they don't particularly focus on risk factors in your blood work that can point toward how you should change your diet. Many doctors use the reference ranges as guides and as long as your numbers fall within these reference ranges they may not even mention them to you. There are also some blood tests that are not performed that can help provide some useful information.
For example, the reference range for blood glucose is, depending on the lab, about 70-100. So if your fasting blood sugar is 95 your doctor may not even mention it to you as it falls withing the reference range. However, there is some data that suggests that people with blood sugar levels above 85 are at increased risk of diabetes and the optimal blood sugar may be between 70-80.
A blood sugar level that is higher in the reference range probably means that the carbohydrate component of the diet should be addressed.
Another very telling level to pay attention to is the fasting blood fat level (Triglycerides). Higher levels of triglycerides are associated with a high carbohydrate diet and is often elevated when the blood sugar is elevated. Lowering the carbohydrate component of your diet and losing weight will often result in significant lowering of your triglycerides. Lowering your triglycerides will also dramatically lower your risk of heart disease.
There are many other tests that can be done. One I commonly recommend is a fasting insulin level. If your fasting insulin level is elevated this may indicate that you body is at risk of developing diabetes and the amount of blood sugar in your diet is too high.
In general, the majority of Americans can probably eat less carbohydrates and eat more fat and vegetables.
To know precisely where you fall in terms of dietary risk factors I definitely think it is worth getting some basic testing done with a doctor that has expertise in the area of diet and nutrition. I am definitely passionate about this area and can help.
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