Nutrition is a key component to health & fitness.  In the CrossFit hypothetical model of athletic development it forms the base of the pyramid.  Without molecular health, everything else suffers.  A strong foundation is essential for long term success.

On Vancouver’s West side, in neighbourhoods like Dunbar Street, most people are concerned about health and take care in the foods that they select.  But are they making the correct selections?

As we learn more about the intestinal microbiome we are developing a better understanding of the importance of the foods we eat and how some foods positively or negatively effect us.  From a macronutrient stand point most everyone knows that carbohydrates trigger  insulin and dampen leptin response.  But researchers have recently begun to appreciate the importance of the vagus nerve linking our digestive tract directly to our brain.

Yes, it would seem that our digestive tract has more neurotransmitters than our brain itself.  So that “gut feeling” isn’t as metaphorical as we once believed.  And it is turning our that the microbes inhabiting our digestive tract are also responsible for releasing neurotransmitters.

We already have seen that people with a more diverse microbiome are less likely to suffer obesity and that obese individuals with a diverse microbiome are healthier and more resistant to disease than obese individuals with less diverse intestinal flora.

But now researchers are beginning to document how changes in the microbiome effect emotions and personality.  It has gone beyond anecdotal accounts of food triggering mood changes.  There is potential for treatment of mood disorders like anxiety and depression, as well as Alzheimer’s, MS, Parkinson’s, Schizophrenia and other conditions through dietary interventions or fecal transplants.

Read more here: http://ijnp.oxfordjournals.org/content/ijnp/early/2015/10/03/ijnp.pyv114.full.pdf

And for those of us hoping for one simple, universal dietary prescription suited for everyone, the diversity of the intestinal flora between individuals might rule that out.  It is beginning to look like the composition of your microbiome may play a role in determining how you respond to certain foods.  This could explain that skinny friend of yours who can eat anything she wants and stays trim and healthy while you get puffy and achy just thinking about donuts.

Read more here: http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2015/10/future-of-dieting-is-personalized-algorithms.html#

It is an exciting new field of health that can make a positive contribution for us all.  Our understanding of nutritional science is yet in its infancy.  Best guidelines I can offer are to eat naturally occurring foods and avoid processed foods.  Eat foods that make you feel good.  Avoid foods that do not agree with you.

And when all else fails, go with your gut!