Eating food is one of the most basic elements of our existence as human beings, and yet our diet is a topic of great complexity and variation. Different cultures around the world eat very differently, from the portion size of their breakfast to the types of food they eat. Americans are known for having one of the unhealthiest diets in the world, yet our culture practices diets of many kinds. The vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, Mediterranean, and paleo diets are just several. Meanwhile, we are told that universal principles apply to our diets. Do people’s diets really differ? Yes, yes they do.
Every Diet Is Different
What is healthy for an individual person? We know the benefits of eating different types of food and eating different meals in the day, so why would these facts not apply universally? Because of our genetic makeup, each person has unique health needs, and each body looks and functions a bit differently.
One famous 2015 study in Israel showed that when given the same exact meal, glucose levels can differ dramatically from person to person. At the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, researchers studied 800 participants’ blood sugar levels in the course of a week. When the participants ate bread without any topping, glucose levels were higher than if they ate the bread with butter. This did not apply to all participants, however.
Another striking incident was that of a middle-aged woman who had obesity and pre-diabetes. She had tried other diets in the past, but to no avail. The researchers noticed that when she ate tomatoes, her blood sugar levels spiked, whereas most others’ did not. In her case, what may look like an unhealthy diet to some would actually be healthy for her.
Universal Healthy Eating Tips
It is not hard to see that people come in all shapes and sizes. These are not bad, but rather a beautiful aspect to humans as physical beings. While we may have different food preferences and needs, like oranges over apples or large vs. small breakfast, universal healthy eating principles do exist.
The tips to achieve this are simple: eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full. Eat what you like, and eat what feels right. Your diet should give you alertness and energy to tackle each day.
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