I feel very fortunate to introduce and interview Sally Taylor, diet therapist and metabolic typing advisor as we delve deeper into the concept of an individual approach to food.
As a diet therapist how important is metabolic typing (mt)?
MT is essential to my practice. I use it as a starting point with all clients. I call myself a Diet Therapist as opposed to a Nutritionist because it reflects the tremendous importance I put on getting the diet right. Unless clients are willing to modify their diet there’s no point in their consulting me. Anything else they do will simply be nibbling at the edges of the problem. I’m not prepared to take on clients who really just want a list of supplements to buy or foods to avoid. That is an allopathic nutrition approach – it treats symptoms without correcting the underlying problems. Diet Therapy is a holistic approach that ensures the body is given all it requires to build health and vitality from the inside out. Many people, doctors included, still don’t understand that it is literally true that we are what we eat. Food is the raw material we consume to constantly build, repair and replace every cell in our body. It is a waste of money to spend a fortune on nutritional supplements or gym membership if one continues to eat nutrient deficient and damaged processed, convenience foods!
Is there such a thing as a healthy diet?
Yes, absolutely, but not a standard one that can be prescribed across the board – the panacea everyone is looking for doesn’t exist. The exact recipe is different for everyone, depending on their MT. The balance of macro and micronutrients required by our bodies to operate at optimal efficiency depends on our genetic inheritance and individual stressors. There are clear basic principles that apply to everyone though: eat organic, whole foods (as close to nature and as unprocessed as possible – ie fresh, raw or lightly cooked), drink plenty of water, avoid toxins such as alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, drugs; and ensure you get adequate daily doses of sunlight, fresh air, exercise, and around 8-hours of quality sleep a night.
What makes MT different from Atkins, Zone, GI, low fat diets?
These diets work for some people, some of the time, and they address some of the issues contributing to weight gain or poor health in some people. The difference between those popular diets and MT is that MT is not “a diet” in the sense that we generally use the word. It is not something one does for a few weeks to lose a few pounds, and then returns to old eating habits. It requires a commitment to a complete lifestyle change. Metabolic Typing is a clinical methodology for identifying the right basic diet for clients, and fine-tuning it to suit their specific biochemistry. Implemented properly, one cannot “fail” on the Metabolic Typing Diet, because it is actually an educational process that teaches clients to listen to their body’s signals and adjust ratios of carbohydrates, proteins and fats to suit their unique metabolism. An individual’s precise nutritional requirements are dependent on their particular interaction of genetics and environment.
In recent years controlled carbohydrate diets such as Atkins, Zone and GI have become popular, despite flying in the face of orthodox advice, because they do work for millions of people. The reason being that they are all concerned with limiting the amount of carbohydrate eaten. Most people, including athletes and active children, eat far too much carbohydrate, in the form of processed, convenience foods. Even if they have already cut out cakes, biscuits, puddings, chocolate etc, they continue to fill up on what they have been told is healthy forms of carbohydrate, such as breakfast cereals, bread, potatoes and pasta. Man is simply not designed to eat this much carbohydrate!
Research has established that stabilising blood sugar levels and reducing insulin output is essential to health. We have two metabolic pathways for generating energy. The one everyone has been concerned with is the process of burning glucose as a fuel. It is a very immediate source of energy, as it can be taken directly from our blood stream, having arrived there as the breakdown product of all digestible carbohydrate, and be stored in our cells in the form of glycogen (the human equivalent of starch). However, once the cells and glycogen stores, mostly in the liver and muscles, are full, glucose excess to requirements is converted to glycerol and fatty acids and combined to form triglycerides. This is the substance that produces body fat. Triglycerides are laid down in fat cells as an energy store. However, the fact that is commonly overlooked is that we can and should also be using fatty acids to produce energy, but we cannot burn our stores of fat when blood glucose or insulin levels are high, which they are pretty constantly for many people.
As for low-fat diets, which have been recommended by Governments and the medical professions to reduce obesity and heart disease for over 30-years, time has shown that they don’t work for the majority. In the three decades since these regimens were adopted as official policy in the US and UK we have seen a huge increase in the incidence of obesity, diabetes and CVD. These concepts are explored in detail in ‘Dr Atkins’ New Diet Revolution’ – a book that I recommend everyone interested in their health reads, together with his lesser known title ‘Dr Atkins’ Age-Defying Diet Revolution’.
I have a great deal of respect for Dr Robert Atkins. It was reading his books that educated me to solve my own health problems, which were weight gain (I was 3-stone overweight), fatigue, and painful knee joints. Both my parents are Type-2 diabetics, with cardiovascular problems and severe arthritis of the knees, so clearly I am at a genetic disadvantage in these areas! Now, at 46-years old, my weight, which I battled with my entire life, is perfect for my build, I have more energy than I’ve ever had, and no health issues. My experience with the Atkins’ Diet led me to formally study nutrition, and through this I discovered Metabolic Typing, which confirmed that I need a high protein/fat, low-carb diet, as I’m a Fast Oxidiser.
MT explains why the Atkins’ Diet does not work for everyone, but all those concerned with regaining and maintaining their health should be aware of the sound scientific principles upon which it is based. Basically, I still adhere to an Atkins-type diet today, but have incorporated the modifications I learnt through MT. I ensure the vast majority of my food is organic and unprocessed, and I steer clear of Soy products – it is, in fact, a cave-man style eating plan.
So why isn’t MT as popular or well-known as these diets?
MT is fast gaining in popularity. It is recommended by many well-known, high profile practitioners and promoters of holistic health and integrated medicine – such as Paul Chek, Dr Joseph Mercola, Dr Dietrich Klinghardt, Dr Etienne Callebout, and the ‘What Doctors Don’t Tell You’ team. But, it is designed principally as a clinical application, rather than a popular ‘diet’. ‘The Metabolic Typing Diet’ book, was written by William Wolcott to fill a gap. It is suitable for those requiring a simplified self-help approach. It enables those who cannot afford the services of a HealthExcel Metabolic Typing Advisor to start down the path to correcting their health problems. If finances are tight, I suggest clients buy that book, and the Atkins’ titles, and see what they can do by themselves first
Is MT difficult to follow, complicated or impractical for the average person?
The beauty of MT is that there is no strict daily diet sheet to follow. You are given clear guidelines as to what constitutes an optimum diet for you. Once you become familiar with your best foods it becomes second nature to eat as per your MT. It’s not something you have to endure for a few weeks before you can return to your previous habits – it’s a lifestyle change. It teaches you how to listen to your body and respond to its messages. And, this is what we must do in order to ensure we can integrate healthy eating into normal, everyday life.
Is someone’s MT fixed in stone? Or can it change with circumstances- if so when?
There are two aspects to our Metabolic Type – our Genetic Type, which is predetermined by internal factors that are inherited – and our Functional Type, which is fluid and affected by external factors. These are all physical and mental stressors basically, such as environment (eg climate, pollution, toxins), illness, activity levels, and the food we eat. Clearly we can’t alter our genes, so what we are doing with MT is tweaking our biochemistry and affecting our Functional Type. Retesting is recommended after following your prescribed MT diet plan for 3-6 months precisely because your functional imbalances will have been corrected, and that may reveal a different underlying Genetic Type. If you continue to follow the original plan you may find that your body chemistry is pushed too far in the opposite direction.
Are all carbs the same?
Definitely not! This is a very important point, Craig. The type of carbohydrate we eat is really key to a diet being healthy or not. Basically, the difference lies in how much the carb has been messed around with! The fresher it is, the closer to nature, the more it looks like it has just come off a tree or out of the ground, the healthier is the carb. In fact, this principle applies to all the macronutrients (ie carbs, fats, proteins), but it is carbs that we tend to process the hell out of and eat in enormous quantity (because it is convenient, and has an addictive quality, totally unlike fats and proteins)! The raw material is cheap and once processed, the finished products keep for a long time, and therefore are very profitable for the food manufacturers and very convenient for consumers. But these highly processed, convenience products are not real food. They bear no resemblance to anything that appears in nature – they are the Frankenstein of food stuffs! Real food goes off quickly; this fake food lasts and lasts! When processed most of the goodness (micronutrients like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and fibre) is destroyed or discarded and the natural sugar content is concentrated. Artificial preservatives, colours, flavours etc are added – and you end up with a relatively cheap, filling product, with an addictive quality, devoid of nutritional value. For example, whole-grain rice is a perfectly healthy, natural food. By the time it’s been turned into something like rice krispies or rice cakes, it has had all the goodness removed and the sugar content concentrated. It then comprises a whopping 84% carbohydrate – and this is ALL converted to glucose, resulting in a huge blood sugar hit very soon after eating (just look at the total carbohydrate box on the nutrition panel of any packaged foods). Other examples are fresh oranges vs. orange juice, corn-on-the-cob vs. corn flakes, strawberries / blueberries / apples vs. Kellogg’s Fruit Winders (a popular product in children’s lunchboxes), lightly boiled potatoes vs. crisps. It actually drains our body’s reserves of nutrients in order to process this stuff, which is why the manufacturers of breakfast cereals have to add vitamins and minerals to it.
To illustrate this, a famous experiment fed one group of rats on commercial breakfast cereal, and another group on the empty cereal boxes. The group fed the cardboard boxes outlived the group fed the breakfast cereal! I believe the details of this are quoted in a Paul Chek article, available on www.mercola.com
To sum up, we should get the majority of our carbohydrate from fresh vegetables and fruits, in their natural, unadulterated state, with some coming from whole grains if your particular MT can take it. This is what we have evolved to eat – not the fake stuff from packets! No-one needs bread or pasta – despite public and medical opinion, they are NOT health foods!
How long generally does it take for a person to notice significant differences in terms of energy levels, and clarity once they are eating correctly for their metabolic typing?
It can take as little as three days to notice significant improvement but certainly by two weeks many people feel like a new person! The longer you continue eating to your MT (and don’t forget, what is recommended is a lifestyle change, not a two week ‘diet’ fad) the better you will feel, the stronger your body will be and the healthier you will become. In short, you will regain control of your emotions, hormones, weight and health.
Can people react differently then to vitamin and mineral supplements if we react different to the macronutrients? any rules?
Yes, very much so. As with foods, supplements will affect our pH balance and other aspects of body chemistry, depending on one’s MT. With the Intermediate Level test results one is provided with a list of specialist MT supplements that will push body chemistry in the right direction. It gets complicated but, as an example, Fast Oxidisers have a need for more Calcium whilst Slow Oxidisers require more Magnesium. There is a range of specialist supplements developed to support the three basic MTs. However, usually I recommended clients concentrate on getting the diet right first, then we can consider supplements later, adding them if needed to address specific health issues. But, I must underline the fact that getting the food right that we put into our bodies three times a day – that’s around a thousand times a year- is the most important factor!
As a Metabolic Typing Advisor and health professional what do you believe is behind our current state of poor health and record obesity levels?
21st Century lifestyles are the problem. I could go on about this for hours! But it’s probably best to recommend everyone read ‘Lights Out’ by TS Wiley, which looks at it in depth. It explains why our hormones are out of whack, why our immune systems are unable to cope, why we have obesity, diabetes, CVD, cancer etc, etc. From the dietary viewpoint, the problem is that as a society we have become totally dependent on convenience foods – which means carbohydrates. We all lead busy lives, filled up with work and family commitments, and say we have no time to buy fresh food and prepare meals from scratch. But this mentali
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