Rhonda Jacobs Reviewer: Leonardo Silva, this was me ten years ago. He weighed quite 40 pounds today and, like many of us, wanted to cut down. Like many of us, he wanted to understand what the simplest diet is for humans. Many people even have an opinion on this question. Some believe that a low-fat, plant-based diet is best. Others say that a low-carbohydrate diet, rich in protein and fat, is the best. Others have opinions about what proportion of sugar we should always eat, or what proportion of salt, cholesterol, saturated fat, eggs, or dairy we should always have in our diet. But the question of what is the simplest diet can be a scientific one, so there should be no room for opinions or beliefs. If diet A is basically better than diet B, then a study comparing diet 2 with enough people should definitely prove it. No opinions, no beliefs, just hard data, right? What is also clear is that if the simplest diet exists, then we have not found it yet because the incidence of diet-related diseases has increased dramatically in recent decades. Now, you might think it’s because people don’t listen to what we say to them.
But actually, that is not true, people actually follow dietary guidelines.
But actually, that is not true, people actually follow dietary guidelines. But according to the Disease Control Media, if you reside within us, there is more than a 70 percent chance that you are overweight, have diabetes, or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. And there is overwhelming evidence that diet and lifestyle are the main drivers of these conditions. So why is it that after so much research, we still don’t have a solution to the seemingly simple question of what is the simplest diet for humans? What I would like to propose to you today is that the reason we don’t have a solution is that we have been asking the wrong question. And it is the wrong question because it assumes that the simplest diet depends only on the food and not on the person who eats it. What if these differences explain why some diets work for a few people but not for others? What if our nutrition must personally adapt to our unique makeup? This is precisely the question to which we began to invite our own research, which I asked with my colleague Eran Elinav and several other graduate students of the Weizmann Institute of Sciences.
we first look for a healthy nutrition metric that we should always study.
To require a scientific approach, we first look for a healthy nutrition metric that we should always study. Most studies look at weight loss or risk of heart disease after a little diet. But the thing is, these suffer from many factors unrelated to diet, they take many weeks to vary, and in the end, you get a measure of success. And if it didn’t work, then it is extremely difficult to know why. then instead we looked for a metric that might still be relevant to weight management and diet-related diseases, but that we could also easily and accurately measure in many of us. And this led us to specialize in blood sugar levels and, more precisely, changes in blood sugar levels after a meal. We call this a “glucose response to meals.”
Because it is important?
Because it is important? After eating, our body digests carbohydrates in food into simple sugars and releases them into the bloodstream. From there, with the help of insulin, the cells of our body extract glucose from the blood to use it as a source of energy. But insulin also tells our bodies to turn excess sugar into fat and store it, and that’s the main way we gain weight. In addition, the rapid flow of glucose into the blood often causes our bodies to release an excessive amount of insulin, which could lower our glucose levels below baseline, making us feel hungry and eat more. Responses to glucose in food are also highly relevant to our health because they are risk factors for obesity, diabetes, disorders, and other metabolic disorders. A recent study that followed 2,000 people for more than 30 years found that higher glucose levels in meals after meals predict higher overall mortality. Last but not least, with recent technological advancements, we will now track an individual’s glucose levels continuously for an entire week.
Since the typical person eats about 50 meals per week
And since the typical person eats about 50 meals per week, it allows us to experience glucose responses to 50 meals in just one week. Meal glucose responses also give us how to directly measure the effect of each meal, compared to common approaches that only assess the effect of a general diet. Now, of course, there are many factors beyond glucose levels that influence a healthy diet. But this is often very important, and solving it is usually a breakthrough. Fortunately for us, we managed to convince 1,000 healthy people of this concept, and that we hooked them up to at least one of those little glucose sensors and continuously tracked their glucose levels for an entire week. and during that week, the participants recorded everything they ate in a mobile application that we developed. Then that allowed us to live the glucose responses to 50 different meals for each person and around 50,000 different meals among the 1,000 participants, making our study the most important ever conducted on this problem to date. So what do we find? Well, once we checked the averages, we saw trends. for example, more carbohydrates in the food generally increase the response. this is often not so surprising.
Another trend, perhaps more surprising
Another trend, perhaps more surprising, is that more fat in food generally decreased response. But, and this is often the key finding of our study, for every trend we found, many of us were very different from it. Basically, when an equivalent person ate an equivalent meal on different days, the response was very similar. But when different people ate an equivalent meal, the response was very different. for example, light bread induced almost no effect on blood glucose levels in some people, but in others, it induced huge spikes. And so the same was true of all the foods we tried, including rice, pizza, sushi, and even chocolate. For each food, some people had low responses, some had medium responses, and some had very high responses. It was not almost the food, but also the person who ate it. So while averages and trends are informative, to any individual, they won’t mean much.
Now, it wasn’t nearly how good the body was at handling sugar
Now, it wasn’t nearly how good the body was at handling sugar, everyone was eating different foods that increased their levels. Some people even had opposite answers. for example, some people got rich on the parfait but not on the rice. on the other hand, others were enriched with rice and not as a frozen dessert. In fact, more people liked rice than frozen desserts. Now my wife may be a clinical dietitian so once I showed her this data she was surprised because as a practitioner she, of course, relies on general dietary guidelines, which is one of the main things that tell her a lot. times recently. Diagnosed prediabetics is to avoid eating foods like frozen desserts and instead eat more complex carbohydrates like rice. So as soon as you looked at our data, you actually realized that for many of your patients not only is your dietary advice not helping but actually pushing them faster to develop the exact same disease that your advice was intended for. stop.