Dietary deficiencies and excesses as well as poor food quality underly many nutritional imbalances. A balanced, nutrient dense diet is critical to supply the body with all of the basic building blocks needed to regenerate new healthy cells as well as to balance your blood sugar and hormones.
There is so much variability within the human population that there is no ideal diet for everyone - hence the saying: One man’s medicine is another man’s poison. People from around the world are well adapted, through centuries of evolution, to the traditional diets of the region. For example, the Inuit thrive on diets high in protein and fat made up of fish, raw meat, and blubber. Native tribes of dairy herders do well on milk, meat, and blood. Orientals prosper on soy, rice, vegetables, and small amounts of meat. Native Americans found strength on corn, beans, and squash. And the list goes on.
However, no matter how diverse diets are around the world, healthy diets have certain commonalities: They all avoid refined carbohydrates (white sugar, white flour), processed foods, dangerous fats/oils (trans fats, processed vegetable oils, hydrogenated fat, etc.), and artificial ingredients. Conversely, they all consume plenty of fresh, whole foods that either walked, swam, flew, came from the ground or grew on a tree!
The best diet is one that meets the unique requirements of the individual. The majority of people react, to some degree, to certain foods whether they are aware of it or not. Food sensitivities are great masqueraders that can take the form of any symptom - from digestive issues, to chronic pain; from skin reactions, to systemic inflammation; and from chronic headaches, to severe learning disabilities. Food sensitivities are a common culprit that often underly chronic disease, mysterious symptoms, and a poor response to treatment.
The most common food sensitivities are intolerances to milk and gluten. These types of sensitivities are often the result of genetically mediated enzyme deficiencies. For example, it is estimated that about 70% of adults worldwide (95% of Orientals, 70% of Blacks, 30% of Caucasians) lack the necessary enzyme, lactase, to digest milk. One theory, which explains why so many adults lack this enzyme, suggests that we are biologically programmed to stop consuming milk after infancy. In fact, proponents of this theory point out that there are no other species (including cows!) that continue to consume dairy past infancy, and definitely none that drink the milk of other species!
Other common food sensitivity culprits include, eggs, chocolate, sugar, citrus fruit, corn, soy, peanuts, and the nightshades (tomato, potato, peppers, paprika, cayenne, eggplant, and tobacco). These type of sensitivities can be be the result of numerous factors, including genetic, immune, and/or digestive weaknesses.
Today, the problem is even more complicated as people are also reacting to foods due to factors linked to conventional farming methods. For example, many cannot tolerate homogenized milk due to the resulting denatured fatty acids; pasteurized milk products due to the destruction of beneficial enzymes and probiotics, which are needed for the proper digestion of milk; and some are also adversely reacting to antibiotic, hormone, and other chemical residues found in conventional milk products. In contrast, many are experiencing issues with gluten containing foods because of reactions to the pesticides they contain, added preservatives, genetically engineered crops (GMO), and due to rancid whole grains caused by the lengthy process to get the product from the farm to the table.
That said, it is never wise to arbitrarily impose food restrictions on yourself without first identifying your unique food culprits and understanding why they are causing you problems. For instance, if you are reacting to a food due to a digestive weakness, such as an enzyme deficiency or low stomach acid, then your priority should be to address the underlying weakness; or if you are reacting to harmful byproducts of conventional farming, then you may simply need to switch to a higher quality, Organic product. Always investigate and consider your options with a professional before eliminating an otherwise healthful food.