Personalizing Your Anti-Inflammatory Diet – and what you can learn from genetics and microbiome testing
What did I learn from all the testing? Complete Comprehensive blood panel, urine, hair, microbiome and genetics tests?
The genetics and microbiome tests were by far the most helpful for understanding which foods are best for me — the blood, urine, and hair tests were supportive and informative.
A quick overview of the blood, urine, hair tests This was a little exciting for me since I have never had blood work done! What I did learn from the blood, urine, and hair tests? I’m doing ok 🙂 I’m well hydrated, blood sugars are perfect, heart panel perfect (I have the highest HDL and lowest LDL the two doctors that looked at my results have ever seen), and even though I did this test looking for hormonal imbalances, my hormone profile is that of a woman 10 years younger than me … however this peri-menopausal time of my life has left me with a very low Red blood cell count, low hemoglobin, low hematocrit … (no wonder I have had such low energy between lack of red blood cells and sluggish thyroid!) All of which I am addressing with food and herbs that build my blood. The blood test does support what I learned about myself from my genetics tests.
Where I need to be cautious; my thyroid is slightly sluggish (thank you Three Mile Island), I am not absorbing nutrients well (genetically poor digestion), my omega index is out of balance (6s much higher than 3s — again this is a genetic tendency), and even though I winter in Hawaii my Vitamin D was in the normal range but at the low end of the normal range. And I spend a lot of time in the sun year round! It sure is hard to get your Vitamin D up.
I have addressed my thyroid with iodine and selenium supplementation and by massaging my thyroid each morning with a small dilution of Myrrh essential oil. I added krill oil supplements to help with my omega index and have begun eating more fish — although I don’t detox mercury very well due to MTHFR double mutation, so I have to be very careful with the fish I consume.
And a side note, on the hair tests it does reveal my body is slightly burdened with mercury, aluminum, and cadmium (again thank you Three Mile Island for dumping cadmium in my drinking water every since I have been 13) and low on stored minerals (due to low digestive fire). I am not sure where the aluminum is coming from since I have eliminated all aluminum cooking supplies, deodorant, foil etc. for many years now. Could be in the environment? Chem trails??? Several of my Maui friends and I did this hair test and we all came back with aluminum in our system which has implications it is environmental.
I learned a lot through my genetics test. I did my genetics test with www.dnalife.healthcare I got the four main tests; DNA health, DNA diet, DNA sport, and DNA estrogen for a discounted total of $386 (I got a discount due to my functional medicine health coach certification).
A word of caution if you decide to do a genetics test … it messes with your mind! You have to be solid in the fact that lifestyle is above genetics. Our lifestyle will turn bad genes off and good genes on. Remember only 12% of breast cancer patients carry the BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 gene.
This is an example of what you can learn from doing a test like this:
The most important data from my genetics test? I don’t detox well! anything! Due to two double mutations in our genetic detox pathways (both MTHFR and COMT double mutations) I do not detox:
- Stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline well — meaning they stay in my blood
stream longer and make it harder for me to “get over” the stressor. Thank you yoga
and mediation for giving me the awareness of how our mind creates stress that is not really there. Developing this awareness can save one a lot of stressing out ….
- I also do not detox sex hormones; hence the estrogen dominance I have going into
peri-menopause — which is what caused my symptoms for me to do all this testing in the first place!
- I am challenged to detox mercury. I eat lots of cilantro and greens which does help to detox heavy metals.
- xenobiotics and carcinogens — meaning chemicals, pesticides, and plastics — I do
not detox well. I have always been allergic to perfumes and sensitive to chemicals
sprays (like yard and garden chemicals) and have avoided them all my life and been on an organic kick since my teens. Probably why I was drawn to this holistic more natural path in my late teens / early 20s.
- I don’t detox medications well — probably why I never take any!
- I don’t convert folic acid to folate. Folic acid, the synthetic version of folate just further clogs up my detox pathways. Since I can’t make the conversion, the folic acid needs to be detoxed from my body, therefore creating more of a burden on my body. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SYNTHETIC VITAMINS AND REAL VITAMINS. Half the population has this mutation — so half the population that is being fed folic acid via folic acid supplementation to all enriched wheat products (read the labels and you will see) and most vitamins has the same issue … Just sayin’ — its time to wake up the food manufacturers who’s foods are driving disease (and the doctors who use folate and folic acid interchangeably like they are the same thing).
Empowered with this information I have gotten even “cleaner” with foods and chemicals — eating more of my own and my friends homegrown local foods, and only organic even when on the road … And when I do eat out (rarely) I ask a lot of questions to the server and chef … Not only due to my own need to eat clean but also to start spreading the knowledge of what is happening to our food supply.
What I learned about my ideal diet from the genetics tests? High fat diets are NOT for me! And I will survive a famine just fine … my body stores fat very well and does not release it — even with exercise.
- I do not metabolize fat well at all due to genetically poor digestion —I noticed this as I tried to shift my diet to a high fat diet due to all the hype about it. Not only did I gain weight on it, I would feel sluggish and nauseous after eating, and sometimes very sleepy.
- I have to eat more vegetables than most people to help with detox issues and to avoid cancer (I have a higher risk of cancers due to detox issues). The most important vegetables for me to eat everyday? Cabbage foods (cooked or fermented), garlic, fermented foods, and citrus.
- My genes prefer a Mediterranean style diet (YAY! the only good news I really got with my genetics tests!).
My Genes and my Exercise
Again I was drawn to this path for a reason … turns out due to my detox challenges I need to exercise and sweat every day to help with detox. I need more exercise than most people. However, again my finicky body needs more exercise but due to a collagen dysfunction I carry a higher risk of injury. What this tells me:
- I need cross-training — a variety of exercise routines — doing the same exercise
everyday increases my risk of joint/tendon/ligament injuries … So guess what … I no longer do ashtanga six days per week. I do ashtanga 3 days per week and I love it — I feel free …. on the opposing days I garden (of course!), once or twice each week I walk the beach (when in Maui), or go for a bike ride (when in PA), on other days I do qigong, HiiT workouts, or calisthenics. This takes me back to my roots and gets me outdoors where I grew up exercising all my life. Needless to say if you can not tell, this feels very good to me 🙂 And I am very much enjoying my freedom from a daily ashtanga practice.
- I do every day meditation and pranayama to help with awareness around stress and keeping stress hormones out of my blood stream since I don’t detox them well.
- My body does not use exercise to lose weight … 🙁 I have to control my weight with my diet. And furthermore with my genetics, over exercising while restricting calories will make my body think we are in a famine and I will hold on and store fat even more.
Knowing your Gut Bugs aka Microbiome aka Beneficial Bacteria
Lastly and most helpful has been the microbiome test. I did my test with Viome. They have extensive research and data building in an Automated Intelligence engine — as this
knowledge is above and beyond human comprehension we need some AI support to
translate the information.
When you sign up for their service you sign up for a year contract (all included in my initial payment of $400) which includes having your microbiome tested every 4 months (its a stool test … so well not pleasant its pretty easy –clean and streamlined, they send you everything you need) — so your foods may slightly adjust every season — which is supported by Ayurveda’s belief that our diets change with the seasons.
When you get your results you get an overview of your gut bugs and how they are effecting your health, a list of the exact strains you have (I have not studied all the strains — there are many so that does not really tell me much), your diversity of bacteria, the amount of good bacteria and an overview of rare bacteria you have.
They are still developing their data base and learning about the microbial world we have mis-understood for the last hundred years. As we learn more and more the recommendations will change as they discover what all functions these microbes are performing for us and how they behave differently from one person to another. We are really on the cutting edge here and I am excited to be part of the experiment.
The latest research highly supports this way of eating so I am excited to participate. Our gut microbes do the heavy lifting for us; where our genetics fail these gut bugs pick up the workload, such as helping digest foods and giving us back the nutrients, detoxing chemicals and metals and pesticides, and helping with mood. You want to support the microbes that do this work for you. At Viome they encourage us to be a better host ….
The Viome test spells out for you the food to eat as per your gut microbes. You get a
superfoods list, a Foods to Indulge in list, a Foods to Enjoy list, as well as a Foods to Minimize list and Foods to Avoid list.
You also get the macronutrient breakdown that is best for you, again I was surprised to see my carbs recommended at 50%, below is what they suggested for me:
At each meal or snack during the day, aim for the following ratio of macronutrients as a percentage of calories.
- 50% Complex Carbohydrates – mainly vegetables, some fruits, and sprouted grains
- 25% Proteins – legumes, dairy, nuts, and for omnivores: lean meats, fowl, and fish
- 25% Fats – dairy, nuts, seeds, oils, butter, and for omnivores: fatty meats, fowl, and fish
Go For Variety
Explore foods on your food lists that may be new to you and alternate choices instead of eating the same food every day. Aim to eat at least one serving of each color (green, red, orange, yellow, blue, purple) of fruits and vegetables per day. Be sure to include both raw and cooked vegetables in your diet.
It is important to get variety in your diet, Viome emphasizes that we are to eat one or two foods per day from our minimize list. Minimize does not mean avoid. They are adamant about the importance of variety in our foods.
My power foods and foods to indulge and enjoy more of are pretty
much all the foods I have been favoring. Fun and easy to follow! And my avoid list only has three foods on it …. all of which I have not touched in 20 years to never (raisins, lard, and agave), my minimize foods list is shorter than I expected. The only surprises for me on my minimize list are molasses and maple syrup.
Here are a few snapshots of what you can expect to learn about your foods that are best for you, these are my power foods:
My Super Foods:
|Vinegar (Apple Cider)|
My foods to enjoy list is long and too much to include in this article but it is
quite extensive and includes lots of a variety of vegetables, fruits, dairy (yes cheese in all types is good for me — Goat, sheep, cow, lots of legumes on my list of foods to enjoy as well, and of course … Eggs. I have limited grains that are good for me … Oats, brown rice, bulgar, and wild rice are it… again another sign of my finicky body; I need a higher percentage of carbs in my diet but I am limited with grains that are good for me.
Beverages are easy too and include green tea (whew!), coconut milk and coconut water, herbal and rooibos teas, and white tea. The only sweetener that is good for me … Dark Chocolate 70%+ 🙂 Fine by me!
I have a very long list of herbs and spices that are good for me, and nuts and seeds, and
really plenty of oils to choose from as well like avocado, butter, coconut, ghee and olive all show as good oils for me. Lots of meats which I don’t eat anyway …. and lots of fish of
which I can only eat a few due to mercury .. but am very happy to see Lobster on this list!
There are foods that are good for us they did not include on any lists. This is because the foods are either heavily sprayed with pesticides (such as berries), or high in oxalates which can lead to kidney stones or gout if you have a genetic SNP that impairs your oxalate elimination (like spinach), and foods like wheat that are both high in lectins and high in pesticides (due to their dessication with roundup). As we gain a better understanding of how these foods effect different people they will slowly be added in to the food lists.
What did I learn about all the food tests I did? Don’t try to conform! Conforming usually
means you are eating the fad diet of that time period… which may be super nutritious for one person but NOT for you!
Don’t believe what “they” say … Who is “they” anyway? They are usually some corporation
who sponsored some clinical trial to support the efficacy of THEIR product, then set some
“guidelines” for the entire population …. “They” got a lot wrong, some examples of what they got wrong:
- The sun is good for you! You need sunshine in your life. Sunscreens are BAD for you
— extremely. They are loaded with cancer causing chemicals that block Vitamin D
absorption! The incidences of skin cancer have risen along with the use of sunblocks.
Look at the data … We all have a computer in our pockets now, why are we not looking
these things up?
- They said for the last 30-40 years that saturated fat was bad for us and instead use
sugar … 40 years later we have an obesity epidemic from this advice.
- Diet recommendations, the daily RDA is out of balance, so is the eating pyramid and any other government society that is making diet suggestions. They are paid for their “suggestions” by the food companies that support them. They only common diet recommendation? Water. We all need water, about half your body weight in ounces per day. Otherwise what is a power food for one person can be an inflammatory bomb for another. You need to learn what foods are best for you.
Don’t demonize any one food — for example, wheat, dairy, fat, fruit, carbs, etc. (not talking about processed foods here, they are the demon in our food world!). Paleo is not the diet for everyone, high fat diets— while therapeutic for certain conditions — they are not for everyone, fruit is healthy, and some people even do quite well with gluten and dairy if it’s not desiccated with round-up or from suffering animals pumped full of antibiotics and hormones standing on concrete up to their knees in their own shit.
I like how Dr. Mark Hyman mediated the debate between the paleo and the vegan
communities … go Pegan … which means if you are vegan to eat clean fresh organic and local vegetables and lots of them —reducing your intake of grains and soy and beans
are not bad foods and even healthy for you, most vegans eat too many grains), and for the
Paleo folks this means eating more vegetables and plant foods and less animal foods — too much animal protein is common with the paleo crowds.
Variety is very important in your diet. Don’t fall into the same habit of eating the same food for breakfast every day … or the same lunch. We need variety to be our healthiest. Yes
blueberries are a power food, but when eaten everyday year round then not so much! When eaten in season mostly, and when other seasonal fruits are included when they are in season then blueberries become a super power food — as do some of the other fruits as well.
You need to plan your meals — or at least have a vague idea of a weekly meal plan that
To help you with variety and meal planning I have a meal planning guide on the recipes
sidebar in my Learn & Thrive section. https://www.befityoga.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Meal-Planning-pdf.pdf
- The first page is about your breakfasts, there are three columns, one for each eating
season spring, summer, fall&winter, with space under each heading to plan 5 go to
breakfasts for each season. And the second page is space to make your grocery list
for each season so you have the foods you need in stock on any day. Third and fourth pages do the same with lunches, main meal or dinner planning is best done weekly in season. Each week plan 5 main meals based on the season you are in (this still leaves room for two ‘fudge’ days each week— meaning days you eat out or have a pizza, etc.), write down your shopping list of ingredients and go get them all so you have one weeks worth of meals with their ingredients to choose from ready to go when you get home from work ….
My recipes in the Learn & thrive section are sorted by season and meal to make it easy to
cook and eat with the seasons.
It’s fun to change your diet with the seasons, try it and see how good you feel.