Diet 101: Macronutrients and Micronutrients

Cofactors, Hormones, Vitamins, and Metabolism

The Best Diet for Everyone

It’s crucial to maintain a healthy diet for a healthy brain, with plenty of greens, healthy fats, and nutrient dense foods. Yet, different people eating identical diets often see vastly different results.

Why is this?  I thought you are what you eat?  Not quite. A large part of how your body and brain respond to the foods you eat depends on what eats it first.  After food is broken down in your stomach, food makes its way to your intestines, where bacteria and other microbes break it down into more useful, more easily absorbed molecules. These molecules then make their way into the bloodstream to fuel your cells, and some even get into your brain.  These organisms vary from person to person, and they can also drastically alter your neurochemistry.  Scientists have been able to make fat mice skinny and skinny mice fat by feeding them gut microbes from one another.  You aren’t what you eat; you’re the leftovers.

Low-Carb Diets are Hard

Are we really in control? Low-carbohydrate diets like the Ketogenic, Atkins, and the Paleo diet are not “just fads”. These diets are well tolerated by the brain, and can lower inflammation levels, boosting long term cognition.  Yet, there is no such thing as a free lunch.  Sticking to these diets can be tough at times, and require steadfast willpower.  Starting them can be even harder.  But they are 100% worth it.  Reduced fatigue, faster recovery times and mental well-being accompany a diet that agrees with the body and the brain.  These diets all have one thing in common: they limit intake of simple carbohydrates and sugars.  This is a lot harder than it sounds.

High sugar foods (with fruit as the exception) tend to be empty calories; they lack vitamin and nutrient content.  Following Dr. Bruce Ames’ triage theory, micronutrients are essential for not only short term performance but long-term sustainability.

Sugar Addiction is Real

Too much sugar, most commonly delivered in the form of glucose or fructose, can be devastating to a healthy mind and derail an otherwise balanced diet.   Sugar has been shown to be more addictive than cocaine in rats, causing dependencies similar in nature to alcohol or opiate addiction.  This can be exacerbated by the fact that some unfriendly gut bacteria happen to love sugar themselves, and will cause us to become anxious and irritable when they get hungry.  This adds to our sugar dependency.

Learn your body inside and out and provide it the building blocks on which to perform admirably.   Ultimately, there is no one best diet for everyone.  Some people need a higher ratio of fats/proteins/carbs than others.  Some people need incredibly high levels of dietary iron, some get way too much