Heard of the Glycemic Index? Forget About It!
We are so saturated with information. With stimulus. With advice. With authoritative edicts on health. A chain of gurus have come before me seeking to guide patients into the light of wellness. People are blinded by it, however. They feel confused, skeptical, and disenfranchised. And then they default to consensus and conformity around FDA standards of disease-care. There is a better way.
It involves awakening your inner guru. Getting in touch with your own inner compass.
This is necessary because there is no one just like you out there. No one has walked your path, accumulated your exposures. Grown and changed in response in quite the same way.
Modern medicine doesn’t acknowledge the vital importance of biochemical individuality. About how we are a unique collective of organisms, an ecology within that is connected to an environment without like a snowflake in a winter sky.
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So, it only stands to reason that we would interact with our environments uniquely, and support ourselves through nature in a personal way. Nutrition is, perhaps, our most intimate dance with the living ecosystem of this planet.
Weston A. Price tried to tell us about individualized diets. Francis Pottenger tried to tell us about individualized diets. Dr. Nick Gonzalez tried to tell us about individualized diet. They were, in many ways, speaking a Truth that we weren’t quite ready to receive.
This is because we have been programmed, for decades to believe in an automated universe – one that could be explained neatly through scientific cause and effect – and one that interfaced with our robotic bodies in predictable ways. In this model, nature is “mostly stupid” as Alan Watts would say, in that it could be easily mastered and put in its place of subservience. Germs are tedious annoyances out to get us. Diseases are mistakes. Medications and vaccines are applied to one and all. And food is caloric fuel for our body machines.
When you look at food as part of our relationship with the living world beyond our skin, you understand that it is information, energetic, and complex in ways that we don’t have mechanisms to understand. This is why reductionist concepts like the “glycemic index” have always struck me as a misguided construct.
Now we have a brilliant study, perhaps one of the first of its kind, that decimates this false flag of nutrition consciousness. Published in Cell, an Israeli group of researchers followed 800 people with a prescribed diet for one week, assessing biological parameters from blood sugar to their microbiota. What they uncovered was a clear signal of truth: the same foods affect different people differently!
Even obese, diabetic patients following formal dietary recommendations for a “healthy diet” found surprising information on the effects of foods such as tomatoes on their blood sugar. Of course, we know that there is more to the benefits of a diet than its benevolent relationship to blood sugar. We know that microbiota have a meaningful role in the metabolism and impact of foods on the body, and that food can directly impact the microbiota, enhancing strains required for its digestion.
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We also know that the autonomic nervous system and associated individualized differences in pancreatic innervation can dictate whether one person thrives on a high carb (whole food) diet and another tanks on it. I’ll never forget the feeling of shattered nutrition dogma when Dr. Gonzalez discussed with me a patient of his whose insulin-dependent diabetes had resolved on a prescribed high carb vegetarian diet complete with multiple glasses of carrot juice daily. (We will be publishing this case soon!)
In summary, the Cell article authors state:
“Measuring such a large cohort without any prejudice really enlightened us on how inaccurate we all were about one of the most basic concepts of our existence, which is what we eat and how we integrate nutrition into our daily life.”
Because nutrition is one of the most basic concepts, our confusion is emblematic of how far we have come from intuitive living. This is why, the most profound healing involves a transformation of consciousness, a reclaiming of agency, a connectedness to the inner and out communities we thrive with, and a relationship to intuition.
I ask my patients, after 30 days of a whole foods, organic diet, to begin to observe their preferences for pastured red meat, fruit, and leafy greens. This observation requires mindfulness around eating and a daily practice of meditation (even a couple of minutes!) to clear the clutter so that you can actually feel what is best rather than reacting from your head. Because you are your own best healer.
Join the revolution. Find out more in A Mind of Your Own: How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives.
Kelly Brogan, MD, is a Manhattan-based holistic women’s health psychiatrist, author of the book, A Mind of Your Own and co-editor of the landmark textbook, Integrative Therapies for Depression. She completed her psychiatric training and fellowship at NYU Medical Center after graduating from Cornell University Medical College, and has a B.S. from MIT in Systems Neuroscience. She is board certified in psychiatry, psychosomatic medicine, and integrative holistic medicine, and is specialized in a root-cause resolution approach to psychiatric syndromes and symptoms. She is a mother of two.