In the world of health and nutrition, much information is polluted by marketers, who are only trying to sell you the next miracle pill or diet. There is enough bad information out there to make you feel almost paralyzed on how to approach your own diet.
Even Richard Horton, the editor in chief of a prestigious medical journal, The Lancet, recently pointed to a disturbing trend that is happening in the scientific world, where journals and universities are more interested in securing funding and putting out high-impact publications, than they are in reproducing good science.
The good news is that there is a simple solution to this problem: Turn your diet into a science experiment. If you think about it, every one of us is already engaged in a diet experiment called the “Western diet,” except most of us aren’t consciously taking note of the results.
The reality is that your diet is highly personalized. What works for one person might not necessarily work for another. This means that we all have to take responsibility for our own nutrition by running our own experiments on ourselves. All you have to do is follow these steps:
1. Make an observation and form a hypothesis.
Whether it is going gluten-free, trying intermittent fasting, or starting an elimination diet, you need to first make an observation and form a hypothesis on how you think this alteration in your diet will affect you. For example, the last experiment I ran was to see the effects of cutting my carbohydrate intake to less than 10 grams a day. My hypothesis was that by doing this I would increase my energy levels overall.
2. Perform an experiment.
Next you have to commit to your experiment for a prolonged period of time. Committing to at least two weeks or more would be ideal.
During your experiment it’s important to note how you are feeling mentally, physically, what your quality of sleep is, and if there are any noticeable side effects. For example, when I limited carbs, I began to notice that I felt more focused and had more energy. My sleep quality did not change, and my levels of satiation became far more stable throughout the day.
3. Analyze data.
This is where you determine if your experiment was a success, if you should extend the time period, or if this new alteration should become a permanent part of your lifestyle.
I considered my last experiment to be a success and integrated it into my lifestyle. I’m still testing the longer term effects of this diet. During this step, it is also important to do research and find studies on similar topics, talk to people who have also done what you have done and also people who have the opposite opinions.
4. Report findings and invite others to reproduce the results.
This step could be as simple as telling your friends and having them try a similar experiment. This step is important because this is where you will get a lot of questions which will lead to more research and a better understanding of your new diet.
Some people are convinced that being a vegetarian is the best diet and others are convinced that a Paleo diet is best. The truth is that they are both right. For that person, that diet is the best for them. However they are both wrong in saying that their diet is the best for everyone. There is no perfect diet for everyone but there is a perfect diet for you. All you have to do is run some experiments, do some research, and find out what that diet is for you.