You hear the word ‘diet’, you instantly start to wince. To some people, diet is synonymous with health, energy and weight loss. To others, and probably most people, it’s synonymous with hunger, frustration, restriction and disappointment. The good news is, we’re not here to talk about nonsense like being “bikini ready”, whatever that means, fitting into a new suit, being more desirable to prospective partners or even body positivity. For the most part, those topics are focused on aesthetics.
No, we’re here to talk about your internal health and how that affects some complicated chronic conditions. Often the natural instinct to fix a medical problem is to treat it with drugs. Note the irony. But if we take the time to truly understand the inner workings of our bodies, a holistic approach and diet changes, not restrictions, can make all the difference in the world to not only alay many serious symptoms but to actually cure you of certain conditions in the long run.
Before you roll your eyes, no this isn’t a load of hippie nonsense. While things like erratic weight gain or loss, compulsive behaviour, lethargy, insomnia, joint pain, anxiety and depression might easily get explained away by bad lifestyle choices, trauma or unlucky genetics – before jumping to those “obvious” conclusions, few people realise that very likely the real culprit behind most, if not all, of those issues is one overlooked word – hormones. You hear the word ‘hormones’ and you no doubt visualise a teenager throwing a tantrum. And this is part of the problem. The average person knows next to nothing about hormones – for starters, the sheer amount of them and the different roles they play in your body.
So get ready – hormones control practically everything. You’re happy? That’s serotonin. You’re tired? Melatonin. Your metabolism? Thyroid and triiodothyronine, and that’s just two of the hormones involved, and even those two are controlled by yet another hormone. You’re stressed? Good old cortisol. And you know how people can put on weight, courtesy of chronic stress? It’s not just because you’re feeling sorry for yourself so you drown the pain in wine and french fries. Cortisol causes an increase in appetite and cravings for sweet, salty and fatty. Too much cortisol also slows down your metabolism leading to, ding ding ding – fatigue and weight gain. And that’s just one hormone. The human body has dozens of them. And they all interrelate in some form or other and they all affect you. But because the external symptoms may be as simple as “I feel tired all the time” or “I’ve been struggling to lose weight”, everyone around you, including your doctor, may just write it off as: you’re lazy, you just need a coffee, you just need to exercise more, or the ultimate favourite – just try being more positive! By the way, hormones control that too.
But hormones, those tricky little buggers, answer to higher powers too. And those higher powers are vitamins and minerals. And where do vitamins and minerals come from? The food we eat. “Aha, here we go. Here comes the go-on-a-diet sermon”, I hear you say? Wrong. Well, to be more specific, inaccurate. Everybody’s physiology is different, and we’re not just saying that to make you feel better when looking at twig models on Instagram. Even those beautiful skinny girls have a world of crazy hormone madness going on internally, to say nothing of what they might be doing to themselves in order to stay so “picture-perfect”.
Before making any kind of changes to your diet, you have to understand the specific requirements of your body. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for you. But it’s even more complicated than that – following someone else’s healthy diet might even be damaging to you! Whether you’re struggling to lose weight, or gain weight, have trouble sleeping or struggle with your mental health, your first step is to consult an endocrinologist. That’s the hormone specialist. Get the Cadillac of blood tests to understand where, if anywhere, your problems lie. Odds are, there will be some sort of imbalance or deficiency somewhere down the line. Nobody is in perfect balance. The Dalai Llama maybe? Once you have your blood work, the next step is a nutritionist. And we do mean a proper nutritionist. An influencer on TikTok telling you to swap out the chocolate bar for an apple is not a reliable source.
Expert nutritionists will likely have years of experience in hormonal issues as well since those disciplines are so closely related. But here’s the fun part. Bioresonance testing is an amazing technology that allows a consultant to use your hair and fingernails to detect thousands of food and chemical sensitivities in your body. There we go, chewing away at them when we’re stressed out, but it’s truly incredible how much something as simple as a fingernail can tell about your inner workings, including intolerances and sensitivities unique unto you. So about that good news we promised? You’ll be amazed at your results. Foods that you thought were good for you, are in fact a problem. And while you feared that extra slice of pizza might be your Achilles heel, your body might actually be struggling to deal with something else entirely you didn’t even think was a big deal.
Consider this case study from an anonymous contributor. Their symptoms were all the usual suspects: trouble with weight loss, erratic bouts of lethargy, painful bloating, trouble sleeping, chronic anxiety. Treating these with medication over the course of a decade did little to nothing to improve the issues. They were under the impression that of their good habits, eating lots of fruit was an absolute plus. They’d happily eat fruit over a chocolate cake and fruit have lots of vitamins and minerals!
Well, a few strands of hair and nail clippings later, we find out that this person is intolerant to fructose. And not just fructose. Sweet potato – the healthy alternative to potatoes! Lentils – a superfood, no less. Onions, beetroot, almonds, lamb… The list was as long as it was surprising. While they worried about the quantity of cheddar consumed, the results showed that they can carry on eating as much cheese as they liked. Fruit was one of the main problems! Fad diets and skinny friends’ advice and one-fits-all exercise regimes are no substitute for cold, hard data. Data doesn’t lie, or pacify – it simply shows what is.
Yes, let’s be clear, the result of these tests can show that you need to sacrifice or restrict some of what you’re eating. But what that is may well not be something that breaks your heart to give up! Or at least, you can compensate for what you shouldn’t eat with something that you really adore – because your body can handle it. No more fruit, but all the grilled cheeses? That’s not the worst compromise to make. Obviously, when we say all – let’s maintain a sane sense of moderation. But it’s not just what food we eat, it’s also when we eat it. Time of day and the associated hormone levels also have a massive impact on the effect our diet has on us. Sample analysis, coupled with a careful look at your daily routine, can show that even if you eat plenty of a certain type of vitamin, you might have an issue with the natural absorption of it due to a digestive problem, that’s exacerbated by your caffeine intake or the fact that you skip lunch every day (note: this is a speculative example).
There are endless more case studies that show people suffering from diabetes, PCOS, chronic fatigue, post-trauma pain, eczema and so much more have turned their whole life around just by making adjustments to their food routine. And it needn’t be drastic. Another benefit of this approach is that you can take incremental steps and in so doing even notice which changes make the biggest impact.
Bottom line: understanding your own, unique body function is key to getting this right. Don’t waste years of your life taking inappropriate pills or killing yourself at the gym with the wrong type of exercise, all to be disappointed because it doesn’t work and you just don’t understand why. Investigate your hormones, consult a trained nutritionist. Typical diets and exercise routines can take weeks if not months to show some sort of payoff, starting hormone pills likewise takes time to show effects – including bad ones – but changing your …let’s call it nutrition, not a diet (the evil word of misery), changing your nutrition will almost instantly show you positive results – and that’s what really spurs you on to keep going.
The case study above? After just 2 weeks of the adjusted nutritional intake, they lost all bloating discomfort, bowel discomfort, became much more alert and productive and lost 1kg – and that’s with no exercise (which, you know, isn’t great, but illustrates the point!).
Many people avoid doctors or dietitians because they’re scared that they’ll be given a long, berating list of everything they’re doing wrong in their lives. And sure, it’s a doctor’s job to encourage you to quit smoking or cut down on the takeaways. But when you seek out specialist analysis, ie an endocrinologist, you don’t get judgemental browbeating, you get helpful information. Apply that information in the context of nutrition, and you’ll have a clear and easy-to-follow roadmap to start feeling better and happier.
And that’s the ultimate goal here – things like weight loss or slowing down wrinkles are a happy by-product – but if you set out to improve how you feel from within, you’ll look and feel awesome from without. And if you’re lucky, you’ll get to do it with a glass of cognac in one hand and a grilled cheese in the other!