Don't blindly follow other diets, create your own and observe the wonders

Don't blindly follow other diets, create your own and observe the wonders

Wouldn't it be great to know that soft drinks might actually not be as harmful for you as you always thought it was?

Are you amazed at just how much your sister can pig on the Christmas pie whereas you get stomach cramps as soon as you eat a morsel out of the same pie? I am. My colleague took me to an Indian street vendor's stall for some fast food. At first, I wasn't sure about how my stomach would take to it but once she reassured me that she had eaten there several times and once I saw the cook spice the food up in the most delicious manner, I was all ready to eat. Well surprise surprise, I was down with an upset stomach accompanied with loose motions for two days after, while she was able to eat the same food the very next day without experiencing any side effects at all. I was baffled until I heard of the "personalized diet plan." Read on to learn more. 

As reported by the Daily Mail, to clear all floating myths and beliefs on what is a healthy diet and what is not, Israeli scientists Dr Eran Segal and Dr Eran Elinav studied nutrition for years to arrive at a well-concluded belief. 

What seems healthy does not necessarily have to be healthy for you. (Pexels)

Why is it that some people can binge on junk food and still feel as fit as a fiddle whereas some other people fall sick after just one meal of junk food? During their research, the two Israeli scientists from Weizmann Institute of Science in Tel Aviv found that everybody reacts very differently when it comes to food.


Using this theory they hope to explain why some people stay "stubbornly heavy on a healthy diet while others can consume all sorts of junk food without getting fat." 

The key here is discovering which foods work for you and which don't by studying how your blood sugar levels rise and fall based on what you've eaten. It's always been known that large and regular increases in blood sugar levels raise one's risk of weight gain and obesity, as well as the risk of developing disorders such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. This is how doctors explain this phenomenon: Your body reacts to excess sugar in the blood by pumping out the hormone insulin, which triggers a chemical cascade that can damage blood vessels and make you more likely to store fat." Hence, the more sugar you have in your blood, the bigger the fat stores you accumulate.

The newly published book. (Amazon)

Together the two scientists have published a book, The Personalized Diet, based on helping you create your own diet by measuring the fluctuations in your own blood sugar levels. This completely personalized diet that you would create would potentially avoid foods that "trigger your blood sugar spikes" and instead stick to the foods that don't, therefore keeping blood sugar levels stable. What is most sensational about this idea is the dismissal of our dietary and health beliefs that — one rule fits all. 

For all we know, all those sayings about avoiding sugar and refined carbohydrates like the plague might be myths, because Dr Segal and Dr Elinav claim that everyone has a completely varied cocktail of enzymes "which means that one person might break down any one food far, far faster than another." 

To further elucidate, the doctors studied to find that "the gut bacteria, the mix of which varies massively from person to person, plays a part, meaning your personal microbiome might be fantastically efficient at breaking down sugars (thereby triggering a blood glucose spike), or is otherwise occupied by fibre, protein or fat in your diet, meaning you absorb carbohydrates more slowly."

What might be healthy for you might not be healthy for the person sitting right  by you. (Pexels)

Obviously, such a strong claim has to be backed by a study that involves experiments conducted on several people. The two doctors and their team collected a huge amount of data in regards to the minute-by-minute effects of food on the blood sugar levels of 800 people who volunteered to be monitored around the clock for a week straight. 

Even without knowing what species make up your microbiome or how your genetics or health status influences your tolerance to certain foods, measuring your blood sugar can give you the broad answer, the doctors claim.

Create your own "personalized diet" to know what suits you best. (Pexels)

The best way to do it yourself is to buy a simple finger prick testing kit to measure blood sugar levels — before and after meals. While this can sound extremely uncomfortable for some people, the scientist duo promises that the results will be worth it.

For those who prefer spending a little more to taking the pains of 20 finger stabs a day, a painless and high-tech option exists as well. The FreeStyle Libre set comes in two parts: a small coin-sized disc of plastic sticks to the flesh on the back of your upper arm with a hair-thin wire protruding into the skin, and remains in place for all of two weeks. If you wave a small handheld "reader" resembling a mobile phone close to the sensor it beeps and displays your blood sugar levels on the sensor. 

Thus to create the personalized diet plan, one must record their blood sugar levels an hour before and an hour after eating normal meals and snacks for a few days. With time you are required to introduce new foods and meal plans to your diet to further measure your body's blood sugar levels for a week.

"How high your blood sugar goes after eating any given food is a direct measure of how harmful that food may be to your health, and how often you eat those harmful foods is indicative of your future diabetes risk."

According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), normal blood sugar levels indicate a measure of 4 to 6 mmol/l on an empty stomach and shouldn't rise to above a measure of 7.8 two hours after a meal. 

This process can be extremely enjoyable — for you can potentially discover how an occasional glass of wine or a choco-filled cookie does absolutely no harm to you while a leafy green kale salad hits a high blood sugar spike.  

Imagining a scale where 1 = not hungry at all, 2 = mildly hungry, 3 = moderately hungry, 4 = very hungry, 5 = extremely hungry, the doctors request you to track your hunger before you eat, and then an hour, two and three hours afterward as well. Those foods that result in hunger after eating them tend to relate to higher blood sugar spikes, whereas foods that don't make you feel as hungry after eating them indicate a low blood sugar rise. The doctors further suggest maintaining a food diary of everything consumed for a week to study its effects on your body.

The idea here is that your body is able to "respond well to certain meals and foods with a gradual blood sugar rise and fall within a narrow range, or it will respond poorly to certain meals and foods with a dramatic blood sugar rise and fall, or it will have blood sugar that stays elevated for longer than it should." Most people tend to be "carb sensitive" signifying that a majority of people have an increased blood sugar reaction with an increase in carbohydrates consumption. 

Once you know what suits you and what doesn't, you will find yourself living a much healthier and happier life. (Pexels)

Some other things that can affect our blood sugar reactions are the time of the day, how well you've exercised, how much you've slept and your hormones and stress levels. For instance, women might notice more blood sugar spikes during menstruation because of hormone levels going haywire. The book helps you take account of all the factors that might affect your blood sugar levels to arrive to an ideal and personalized diet.

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