David Magallanes is a wellness writer and presenter committed to sharing the good news about attaining and preserving health. He also writes a weekly bilingual (English/Spanish) column for a community newsletter. David thrives on daily exercise, a Mediterranean diet, and a morning cup of good coffee.
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By necessity, the standard nutritional support recommendations tend to be generic; there’s nothing “personalized” in their nutrition plans, given your uniqueness even within a particular demographic. It’s true: there’s only one you.
Why Personalized Nutrition Is Important
You may have a friend of about the same age, the same body type. Maybe you exercise about the same amount and eat about the same kinds of foods. But you have your own routines, stressors, and family history that set you apart and play a role in how healthy you are and how you feel.
Or perhaps you and your friend have somewhat different lifestyles. Maybe you’re a “stress mess” while your friend is rarely stressed and is totally “kick back.” Your friend may be a bit forgetful whereas you are “sharp as a tack.” One of you may have a family history of osteoporosis or cancer, while the other is concerned about blood pressure and heart disease running through the family tree. Suppose you’re a strict vegetarian, while your friend lives for “fast food” (we won’t call it “junk food”). Yet both of you may have been referencing the same standard government diet and nutrition recommendations for people of your age, height and weight.
We can all be so much the same, yet so different. It’s possible for you to be your physically healthiest self when you have a custom, personalized diet and nutrition plan for you. There are several good sources for obtaining our own plans.
A Little Background Information
A report from the National Center for Biotechnology Information published in 2019 details an interesting study of hospital patients. The study evaluated the patients’ nutritional risks. Those who were considered at risk were given “nutritional support,” and the results were analyzed. The study then compared the patients’ clinical outcomes (including survival) with those patients who consumed standard hospital food.
The lessons learned from this study highlight the advisability of assessing patients’ individual nutritional needs. Once their backgrounds are evaluated, doctors or computer algorithms can customize their nutritional support for optimal outcomes.
This would seem to teach us that we all might well be able to improve our health, and how we generally feel, by assessing our own needs, given our history and background. But to where do we turn if we indeed wish to develop an individualized plan for ourselves?
Personalized Nutrition: The State of the Art
Personalized nutrition is not, by any measure, an exact science. As we can read on the website Food Insight, scientists are still learning about the complex relationships among the many aspects that make up our lives. We all have different behaviors, eating patterns, genes, and environments. They all influence our health in one way or another, to one degree or another, and they all interact with each other in unpredictable ways. Add to this the problems of trying to get people to accurately report what they eat, when they eat, and how they eat.
Let’s Not Wait To Try Improving Our Health!
Until nutritional science evolves enough to provide us with clear answers to our questions about the diet and nutrition plan that’s right for us, those of us who are serious about improving our health can do several things:
- Get back to basics:
- Meals that are rich in fruits, vegetables, grains
- Diets that include lean proteins and avoid “fast foods”
- Reasonable proportions and varieties of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals in our diets
- Eating with food choices guided by the seasons (for example, strawberries in the summer and squash in the fall, etc.)
- Consume a reasonable number of calories daily, depending on our age, weight, body type, etc.
- Exercise daily, without overexertion
- Include stress-relief measures in our lifestyle, such as:
- Aerobic exercise
- Enjoy a healthy social life that includes good meals, the company of family and friends
- A healthy dose of “me time” to recharge our batteries and allow us time for reflection
Where To Go for Our Plans
Once we’ve gained control of our basic dietary and nutritional needs, we can start looking at fine-tuning our health. Now it’s time to begin finding sources for our individualized plans, despite the uncertainty of their accuracy. But where do we begin to look for those plans?
Beginning in 1992, we all depended on a “food pyramid” to guide our dietary choices. But that one-size-fits-all approach did not address our individuality. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) revised the pyramid in 2005. In 2011, the USDA demolished the pyramid and replaced it with “MyPlate.” This graphic representation is from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. We can learn all about MyPlate from this USDA/U.S. Department of Agriculture website.
You can explore how to make MyPlate work for you, and even take a MyPlate Quiz at the MyPlate website.
MyPlate Plan is not, by any means, a diagnostic tool that pinpoints an individual’s optimal nutritional requirements, but it’s a step in the right direction toward nutritional wellness.
In a subsequent post, I’ll be writing about fine-tuning our nutritional health even further as we seek to improve our “nutritional support.”
But maybe you would like to find out even sooner than that how you can begin optimizing your health beyond prudent diet choices. If so, just fill in the form below. You’ll receive a link to a brief video on my website that explains a program dedicated to creating a customized personal nutritional supplement plan based on a computerized assessment of your diet, background, and history. The nutritional products are manufactured by the Shaklee Corporation, a world-renowned nutrition company that is recognized for its clinical research in the development of its products.