You’re feeling ill and dealing with numerous health issues. Could your diet be to blame? Could going vegan or Paleo help? What about eliminating GMOs or eating only organic foods? What about cutting out all packaged and processed foods? I truly believe that the only diet that helps is the one that gives your body what it needs, no matter what type of diet it is or what types of food it contains. It’s the diet that works for you as an individual. Below is what I’ve found that works best for me, at least so far.
I’ve only eliminated foods that are reactive or are difficult to balance. I don’t consume gluten, guar gum, acesulfame potassium, or flaxseed because they cause reactions. I also don’t consume food ingredients which have the potential to be contaminated with wheat or gluten, like distilled vinegar and xanthan gum. I very rarely eat sunflower seeds or cashews because of their extremely high copper content. Oysters are extremely high in zinc, so I very rarely eat these as well. Liver and other organ meats are very high in vitamin A, so I also tend to avoid these. I have to be careful with nuts and seeds that have a high vitamin E content relative to iron. I have to make sure the other foods I eat with them have enough iron to help offset the vitamin E. I don’t eat these very often either. I also minimize the amount of vitamin D fortified foods I eat since I take a supplement daily. My diet is how I make sure to get enough vitamin A to balance the supplement, and consuming a lot of D-fortified foods would make this more difficult.
I’ve had to determine my vitamin and mineral imbalances and modify my diet to balance them. Over time, I’ve found that I have to make sure that copper and zinc balance each other as well as vitamin E and iron. I have to make sure I get enough vitamin A in my diet each day to balance my vitamin D supplement. A doctor or dietician may be able to help you determine the nutritional shortfalls in your diet, although I do suggest you ask your doctor about issues with nutrients like copper, zinc, and vitamin E if you routinely have issues with borderline-low levels of iron. If you consume a lot of foods rich in the nutrients your doctor or dietician feels are deficient in your diet, then you could very likely be dealing with an imbalance. An excess of one or more other nutrients could be crowding out those nutrients, causing deficiencies to occur.
Processed foods play a role in my diet. Of course, healthy whole foods like unprocessed meats, fruits, vegetables, fish, eggs, and dairy are mainstays in my diet, but even the more processed foods may provide just the right mix of vitamins and minerals to complete a balanced meal. Although I don’t do it often, I’ve had cream of rice, a Boost Original shake, and a piece of fruit for breakfast. I’ve never had issues with anything getting too low or too high with this meal. Iron-fortified foods like certain breads, cereals, and flours have come in very handy at times to add balance to foods that are higher in vitamin E content. Also, I try to make room for treats like soda, candy bars, gluten-free baked goods, and others. I just have to be smart about when and how I consume them. Most of the candy bars I eat are bars like Snickers that are pretty balanced when it comes to copper, zinc, iron, and vitamin E. I’ll drink regular soda occasionally when I can make room for the calories. To me, it doesn’t matter whether or not foods contain GMOs or whether or not they’re organic. If they have or don’t have certain nutrients, depending on my needs at the time, and if I don’t react to any of the ingredients, then they are definitely options for me.
I don’t try to meet the RDA for all nutrients in my diet. The one exception is vitamin A, where I try to make sure I get as close to 100% of the RDA as possible to balance out my vitamin D supplement, which is 100% of the RDA. I’ve been able to do so by incorporating a lot of fruits and vegetables high in beta-carotene in my diet, like carrots, mangoes, papaya, sweet potatoes, and dark leafy greens. Consuming animal products with vitamin A, like butter and yogurt, helps as well. The rest of my diet is focused on keeping copper and zinc, as well as vitamin E and iron, in balance. It’s been months since I felt like I’ve had an ongoing deficiency of any kind. I’ve not felt the need to add any vitamin or mineral supplements other than vitamin D. So far it seems like what I’m doing is working to make sure I get all I need and in the right balance.
Diets are highly individual, and what may work for one person may not work for another. The diets getting much of the attention today, like the Paleo diet or the Ketogenic diet, may not be right for you at all. I certainly don’t believe they’re right for me. Unfortunately, what I’ve found works for me took a lot of trial and error and just trying different things to see if they made a difference. I didn’t have a doctor or a dietary guidebook to help me. I’m sharing what I’ve learned about how to diet in a way that works for my body in the hopes that others may benefit. They may find that it works for them too. However, if you can work with a doctor or dietician who can help you figure out what you need to do, then please do so. I believe that’s the best way to find out what works for you.
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