Individualized Diets Are the Only Way to Keep Blood Sugar in Check

Research now says that we all react differently to the same foods. Maybe grabbing that cookie isn't as bad as we thought it was.

Everyone wants to know what the best diet is for losing weight or for keeping ourselves healthy. From Atkins to paleo to Mediterranean-style diets, we keep searching for the magical set of foods that will keep us active and alive longer than ever. But what if the reason it’s so hard for society to figure out the magical “best” diet is because there isn’t actually a one-size-fits-all solution in the first place?

New research shows that people’s bodies can react quite differently to the exact same foods. The study assigned duplicate meals to participants and measured their resulting changes in blood sugar. Some of the foods that we consider “healthy,” such as bananas and tomatoes, actually increased blood sugar in certain participants, whereas some foods that we consider “unhealthy,” such as cookies, didn’t raise blood sugar in all of the participants.

Researchers say that their results show how diets should be highly individualized in order to be effective and healthy. Interestingly, they were able to create an algorithm that could predict how a participant’s blood sugar levels would respond to a meal based on that person’s lifestyle, medical history, and gut bacteria. The researchers are hopeful that they can apply their findings to individuals with consistently high blood sugar who are at a higher risk for developing diabetes and diabetes-related complications throughout life.

What does all of this research mean for the everyday eater? Take a look at the paleolithic diet, which was the most commonly Google-searched diet two years ago. The diet, which focuses on eating what our ancient ancestors did (think meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit), is still immensely popular, but is all that hype misguided?

While the new research might suggest that people could process paleo diets differently based on their habits and biological makeup, there might still be value in changing your dietary habits. Being more aware of what we are eating, whether it is through a paleo diet or something else might train us to make better choices overall about the food we intake. Maybe sticking with any one diet long-term is unrealistic, but it still pays to think about our health.

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