The ‘human’ diet
There have been numerous studies carried out regarding nutrition over the years. Diet-based diseases such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes have been increasing dramatically in the last few decades. You may assume that this is because people haven’t been listening to guidance on what we should and shouldn’t be eating. However, studies have shown that it isn’t just what we eat; our genetics, lifestyle and gut bacteria also play a huge role.
I am particularly interested in a study by Professor Eran Segal, who has also written books on this topic. Professor Segal studied the effect of a range of foods on blood sugar levels and determined that responses to food are personal, and no single, best diet exists for all humans. For some, a banana might cause a spike in blood sugar levels, while the effect is negligible in others. Surprisingly, the study found that rice caused blood sugar spikes in more people than ice cream did! Who would have expected that?! The conclusion here is that diets need to be tailored to individuals.
For more information, why not watch Professor Segal’s TED talk? It really is interesting stuff!
Nutrition and our immune systems
Food certainly plays a part in how well our immune systems switch on and off at the appropriate times, and subsequently, how our bodies manage inflammation. In an ideal world, we would like to know how each of our bodies is affected by the different foods we eat, but unfortunately, that isn’t possible yet. However, we can look at government guidance and try to eat foods considered to help reduce inflammation and positively affect our immune system.
- Antioxidants known as polyphenols can have an anti-inflammatory effect.
- Omega-3 fatty acids can help control inflammation.
- An unhealthy diet can cause our immune system to react in a similar way to how it would a bacterial infection.
- Micronutrient deficiencies such as zinc, selenium, iron, folic acid and vitamins A, B6, C and E can alter our immune system function.
- A healthier diet can combat feelings of sluggishness, enabling us to get out and exercise more. Gentle movement and stretching are another great way to fight chronic pain.
You may wish to start a food journal to track how your diet affects pain and see if you notice your blood sugar level is affected by unexpected culprits.