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Hey everyone. It’s Dr. Ruscio, I just want to give a quick reminder as you’re trying to determine what the best diet for your individual system is. It is important to understand that healthy foods may harm you.
Foods High in Fiber
Now the term “healthy foods” is a very kind of loose rubric but there are two examples that are important to keep in mind. One is foods high in fiber. Even though foods that are higher in fiber are oftentimes stereotyped as healthy, such as fruits and vegetables, for those with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) or IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), there is definitely evidence showing that these foods can be problematic. Now that is not to say you go devoid of those foods completely, but there is clearly a trend where these types of foods seem to be noxious and irritating to those with sensitive digestion. So the solution here is not going to extremes in absolute terms, but rather, understanding that you may have a certain threshold for how much of these foods you can tolerate in your diet and still do well.
Foods High in Histamine
Now, another food that can be problematic or type of food that can be problematic are those high in what’s known as histamine. These, again, are foods that on the surface look healthy. These are typically fermented foods. So your kimchi, your sauerkraut, your fermented beets, your kombucha, and kefir also, which all can be health-promoting and good for you. But for some people, there is a threshold. Now, this also includes what I term lazy man’s paleo foods, like jerky and avocado. These are also high in histamine. Again, none of these foods in and of themselves are good or bad, but different individuals with different systems may thrive or not do well on higher or lower consumption of these foods. So keep this in mind as you’re navigating kind of the dietary landscape out there.
Assessing the Merits of Diet
Unfortunately, the healthcare consumer oftentimes seems to be given a narrative of guru XYZ is all about diet A and then you hear all of the reasons why diet A is so good for an individual, but it’s really disclosed that this is just one of a few diets on offer that we as healthcare providers should be helping the individual assess the merits of. Fruit, vegetable, and fiber intake can be health-promoting. However, there may be a threshold and if people go over that threshold, they may flare themselves. It’s important to understand that so you don’t keep trying to eat a higher intake of fruits and vegetables, because you’ve been told it’s health-promoting, and rather identify what your threshold is and maintain that dietary balance.
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Then on the other side of the spectrum, or potentially on the other side of the dietary philosophical spectrum, so high fiber veganism here on the one hand, and on the other hand, the lower carb/paleo community. Oftentimes in that community, there is a real emphasis on these fermented foods that are oftentimes higher in histamine, and those can also be a problem.
A Personalized Diet
One of the fundamental points here, epistemologically, is to get away from one diet being the best and to honor and understand that there’s evidence for a number of different diets and the goal should really be an individual having information about these different diets, being able to navigate through them and come away with a simple, personalized diet. Also within this conversation, very important to mention, we want to avoid dietary neurosis. Getting really wrapped up in the idea that you cannot have any histamine, or you have to be very careful about fiber.
There’s a lot of room for wiggle here. In a recent podcast with Paul Chek, we pinned down one very important point, which was any value system, and this would include dietary systems, applied fanatically can oftentimes vector harm. So keep that in mind when you’re navigating these different diets. They’re not necessarily meant to be things that are followed 100%, strictly and ardently. Rather they are a tool to enable you to run an experiment, learn what works for you, carry that forward and then disregard the rest. So just a few tips here about common, “healthy foods” that can give people problems and an acknowledgement that it is okay to not follow the dictates of one healthy diet. Rather listen to your system as you trial that diet to come away with the personalized way of eating that works well for you. This is something that, in the first section of the action plan in Healthy Gut, Healthy You, I lay out guidelines for how to determine what the best diet for you and your system may be.
So just a few tips there about healthy foods, I guess “when healthy foods attack” we could say, and how you can better navigate that so as come away with all the benefit and sans any of the dogma that is oftentimes attached to the narratives regarding diet. Okay, hope this helps.
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