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11 Reasons Why There Is No "One Diet"

The gut's surface area is about 400 square meters, approximately the size of a basketball court. It requires 40% of the body's energy expenditure and is renewed about every 5 days (Bischoff, 2014).

Nutrition is so central to our health, it's no wonder that dieting and weight loss is big business—it's a $72 billion dollar industry in the U.S. alone.

What works for one person may not work for another. Instead, there is a diet that works optimally for your individual genetics, gene expression, metabolic state, microbiota, exposure profile (environment), lifestyle, and physiology at a given time. The challenge lies in figuring it out amidst the ever-flowing changes...

A healthy amount of food skepticism is warranted, especially when incorporating new foods that historically weren't a part of our ancestors' diets. Indigenous people tend to have very healthy gut microbiomes and immune systems compared with the average Westerner, and there's a movement towards "re-wilding" the gut microbiome. Pesticides and other contaminants can also adulterate our food, lowering its nutritional quality. Our food can slowly heal us or slowly kill us.

Diet alters feedback loops, changing our gene expression, overall health status, and nutritional requirements.

Here are 11 reasons there isn't "one diet" that works for everyone.

1. Food allergies and intolerances

"One man's food is another man's poison."

It's estimated that up to 20% of the world's population may have a food intolerance.

A diet that one person swears by may sicken another and nearly land them in the hospital.

What one person deems a superfood can give another person skin breakouts.

You can develop allergies over your life, such that something that never used to bother you now gives you noticeable symptoms.

Keeping a food log can help you keep track of how your body responds to certain foods.

2. Plant toxins

An estimated 96% of Americans are omnivores. Recent archaeological evidence shows that earlier in human evolution, meat consumption, specifically in the form of fat-rich bone marrow, catalyzed the cortical expansion.

Further, plants evolved mechanisms to defend themselves from being eaten, which can be toxic to humans. This may explain why many people experience worsening health such as brain fog, bloating, and decreased muscle mass on a raw vegan diet. There are oxalates, lectins, FODMAPs, antinutrients like tannins and phytic acid that decrease absorption of minerals, and much more.

Oxalate-rich foods like spinach, almonds, and chocolate can stress out the kidneys. Lectins found in tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers can cause leaky gut in those predisposed. FODMAPs, which stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and poly-ols, are short-chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. Fiber does not help with bloating and is not recommended for IBS or SIBO.

Certain people may be sensitive to particular plant toxins and have to avoid certain fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, or seeds accordingly.

3. Ancestry and genetics

Geography, climate, and available food sources shape dietary choices, which affects protein expression profiles. For example, certain groups can digest milk better than others due to lactase persistence.

If someone has a family history of diabetes and kidney issues, they may restrict intake of grains and sugars, while someone with a family history of heart disease might be more cautious about eating meat.

4. Different effects imply different requirements

Some people get brain fog from eating certain kinds of meat, like turkey, and others get brain fog from completely cutting out meat, due to vitamin B12 deficiency or lack of some other nutritional requirement.

5. Performance-dependent

Elite athletes training for a marathon or extreme endurance may eat mostly protein and simple sugars (e.g. chicken, pasta, banana) and stay away from fatty foods and fiber (e.g. fish, beans, broccoli). This is because fats and fiber break down more slowly, and more blood will go to the gut, decreasing muscle performance. Carbs are also a quick source of energy. A high-carb diet may work for a triathlete but may be potentially disastrous for a type 2 diabetic patient.

6. Metabolic rate affects appetite

The food you eat and when you eat it affects your metabolism and subsequently your hunger.

To speed up your metabolism, move around, be active, eat protein, do cardio, lift weights, and get a good night's sleep. Caloric restriction, sedentary lifestyle, and delaying breakfast generally slow down metabolism.

Sugars and high-glycemic foods spike blood glucose faster, so they may not hold you over as long.

7. Gut microbes affect our food behaviors, preferences, aversions, and cravings

Diet impacts which gut microbiota thrive in the gut, and in turn, gut microbes influence sensations like satiety, nausea, and conditioned food aversion, creating a feedback loop of dietary preferences. Around 90% of the body's serotonin and 50% of the body's dopamine is produced in the gut, emphasizing the role of gut microbes in food-related mood and reward pathways.

Since gut microbes modulate the vagus nerve, part of the autonomic nervous system, a lot of our response to food is not conscious. A person who once enjoyed the taste of greasy food could later find the smell of fried fast food nauseating because of the gut's memory of that food wrecking their digestion, or simply because their gut microbial profil