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Introduction: In a recent episode of the H.V.M.N. podcast, host Latt Mansor and special guest Jade Teta engaged in a thought-provoking discussion about the difficulties researchers face in the realm of food and nutrition studies. In this blog, we delve into their conversation and shed light on the intricate nature of food research, the limitations it presents, and how individuals can navigate this landscape to develop personalized lifestyles that work for them.

The Complexity of Nutrition Research: Jade Teta, an expert in nutrition, emphasized that conducting research in the field of nutrition is incredibly challenging due to the multitude of variables involved. When designing a study to determine the effectiveness of a particular diet, researchers would ideally need long-term studies with participants who adhere strictly to the assigned diet. Moreover, there is a need to have a control group following an opposite approach to observe significant differences. Isolating a single variable alone is already demanding, but incorporating multiple variables, such as micronutrients, macronutrients, and calories, adds to the complexity.

The Nature of Nutrition Research: One of the key takeaways from the discussion is that nutrition research is dynamic and evolving. As new studies emerge, our understanding of nutrition can shift, leading to changes in beliefs and recommendations. This dynamic nature often causes confusion among the general public, as the advice they receive might vary over time.

The Gap in Research Methodology: Teta highlighted that the scientific community is still in the process of developing research methodologies that effectively address the numerous components of nutrition. Considering the additional factors of exercise, mindset, and overall lifestyle, the challenges intensify. However, he emphasized that these difficulties should not discourage individuals from pursuing research in nutrition. Instead, they should be aware of the limitations and seek to refine their approach as new evidence emerges.

The Role of Personal Experience: Both Teta and Mansor emphasized the significance of personal experience and individual feedback in shaping dietary approaches. While research provides valuable insights, it should be used as a tool for refining one's approach rather than strictly defining it. By becoming a "metabolic detective," individuals can experiment with various strategies, observe their body's responses, and tailor their lifestyles accordingly.

Developing a Personalized Approach: The experts advocated for a holistic approach to nutrition that considers three main elements: biofeedback, body composition, and blood labs/vitals. By assessing how one feels, tracking body composition changes, and regularly monitoring vital markers, individuals can gather valuable information to develop a diet and lifestyle that works best for them. It's important to note that each person's optimal approach may differ, highlighting the uniqueness of individual responses to dietary interventions.

Conclusion: Nutrition research is a complex and ever-evolving field. While challenges exist, it is crucial to acknowledge the limitations and use research as a tool alongside personal experience to develop personalized dietary approaches. By becoming active participants in their own metabolic journeys, individuals can discover what works best for them and continuously refine their approach to achieve their desired outcomes.

Remember to consult with qualified healthcare professionals or registered dietitians before making any significant changes to your diet or lifestyle.

In this episode, you'll discover:

  • Conducting nutrition research is challenging due to the multitude of variables involved, such as micronutrients, macronutrients, and calories. Researchers strive to isolate single variables, but incorporating multiple variables adds complexity.
  • Nutrition research is dynamic and evolving, leading to changes in beliefs and recommendations over time. This can cause confusion among the general public as advice may vary.
  • The scientific community is still developing research methodologies that effectively address the numerous components of nutrition, including exercise, mindset, and overall lifestyle. However, individuals should not be discouraged and should refine their approach as new evidence emerges. Personal experience and individual feedback are valuable in shaping dietary approaches.

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Dr. Jade Teta

When you think about nutrition, it's really interesting because from my perspective, those who do research in the nutrition space, it's the most difficult area to do research in because there are so many different parameters. And think about this, just you listeners think about us. If Latt and I were designing a study to try to determine a particular diet being effective, we would need relatively long-term studies. We'd also need to know every single element that this person was eating and they would have to be consistent with it. We then have to have another group, if we were gonna do this right, who's doing the opposite? And we need to track them to see these major differences. And so when we do these studies, we would want to isolate just one variable in that way. And that's hard enough.
Now try doing it across multiple variables, micronutrients, countless numbers of them, macronutrients, the calories, all these different aspects of this. And this is one of the reasons why there's so much confusion in nutrition research where one year we're told X, Y, or Z, and the next 10 years later, we're believing A, B, and C. And this is simply the nature of nutrition research.
Now, this is not to say it's not beneficial, it's not useful, it's not giving us valuable information. But I do think what you're speaking to here, Latt, is that science has yet to adopt a research methodology that adequately addresses multiple components in something like nutrition. Now when you add in exercise on top of that and mindset and this whole lifestyle effect, it becomes even more difficult. Now, this doesn't mean we shouldn't do it. This just means that this is part of the difficulty when you're doing research. And so how do we fill that gap?
Well, as clinicians, we fill that gap through our clinical experience. We begin to work with people. We see certain things and we begin to say, this looks like it might be something that works. And that's why I oftentimes say with me, I never use research to define my approach. It almost always is refining my approach instead. And so I do what I do in clinic because I see what works, realizing that I have biases and things that I can't necessarily see. But then when research comes along to correct or adjust my approach, I will simply use that. And so I'm using my own judgment. I'm using the individual in front of me. And then I'm using the evidence base in a way that refines my approach into medicine. Now, the final thing I would say here is we shouldn't let this get us depressed. We shouldn't be in this position where we're like, oh my God, let's just throw our arms up in the air and forget about it.
This is the nature of things. However, what I would say could be most beneficial is that most people, when they think about changing their lifestyle, they become dieters. And so what they do is they go, let me talk to Latt and listen to Latt. Let me talk to Jade and listen to Jade. Let me talk to, let me read this book. Let me listen to this podcast. Let me watch this documentary. And then what we do from there is we say, okay, I'm gonna do that. And if it fails, we start all over again from the beginning. What I would say is, make yourself a living metabolic experiment.
I call it becoming the metabolic detective instead of the dieter. And so what you would do is you say, okay, well I heard this thing from Lat. I'm thinking I'm gonna try that. And then what you do, the things that work for you, you keep the things that don't work for you, you discard, and you always carry along with you the things that you know work. Then you can begin to talk to me and say, well, let's see what Jade has to say. And then you go, well, I will take some of this stuff that Jade said.
I will keep some of the stuff that Lat said. I will get rid of some of the things that Jade said, and I will keep doing what I know works for me. And in time, you will begin to develop a lifestyle built for you by you. And from my perspective, this is the right approach given the nature of this. And so yes, you should be listening to the research. You also should be listening to your own body's reaction. And just to clear this up and then I'll shut up here. The way that I like to do this is simply look at three elements.
One, your biofeedback. How are you feeling? Are you feeling vital? Is your hunger under control? Is your energy stable and predictable, your cravings under control, exercise performance, exercise recovery? Are you feeling good? Next is, is your body attaining or maintaining optimal body composition? And finally, what's going on with your blood labs and vitals.
And now we have ways to measure this. You can wear a continuous glucose monitor. You can wear something that measures HRV. You can get your labs done quarterly. And if those three things are true, that you're feeling good, you're also looking good, and all of your blood labs and vitals are moving in optimal directions, then you are developing a diet and a lifestyle to the best of our knowledge that is going to work for you. And that is going to be different, by the way, than probably what works for me, what works for LA, and what works for most other people.

Dr. Latt Mansor:

Exactly. So no one would know your body better than yourself. That's the end of it, right? And you try all you can, and throughout your life, there are many, many years to go for you to experiment on your own body, what works for you, what gets you the results that you want. And some people may be able to put on muscles easily, but then you might not want muscles and you want to be lean, and you might try with other methods.

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