How to Find The Right Diet For You
In my quest to answer the question, “How to find the right diet for you?” I confess I’ve sometimes let information from the Guinness Book of World Records influence me.
The officially documented identity of the oldest person who ever lived. As of today, the honor goes to Jeanne Louise Calment, who lived until age 122.
She supposedly smoked from ages 21 to 117, ate 2 pounds of chocolate weekly, and was fond of Port wine and olive oil.
I don’t mean to throw shade on her. However, claims that someone has achieved the greatest age of anyone who ever lived deserve a bit of skepticism!
And I have company. A 2018 Researchgate report from the Moscow Society of Naturalist’s Nikolay Zah, Ph.D. suggests that Jeanne may have claimed her mother’s birth certificate as her own “in order to avoid paying inheritance tax.”
If true, her death at “only” 99 remains impressive for a lifelong smoker. Many super-centenarians who lived past 110 smoked throughout their lives and ate all manner of diets.
The last person known to have been born in the 1800s was Emma Morano. She died in April of 2017, aged 117 years and 137 days. Diagnosed with anemia at age 20, she started a lifelong habit of eating one cooked and two raw eggs each day.
Assuming she didn’t miss a day, over the next 97 years, she consumed 106,626 eggs, 70,810 of which were raw.
Does this mean we should all make a point of eating raw eggs? Not quite!
What Works for One Person Might Be Wrong for Another
In 2001, the CDC estimated that 118,000 cases resulted from eating salmonella-contaminated raw eggs. In 2009, according to a Washington Post article, the Food and Drug Administration estimated the annual number of salmonella infections had risen to 142,000.
Salmonella poisoning is no walk in the park. For most people, it means diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal cramps.
But for those with impaired immune systems, it can lead to severe or deadly complications. And salmonella poisoning is only one egg-related health issue.
Cholesterol is another. Statistics say our odds of getting salmonella poisoning or dying of heart disease from eating eggs are much greater than our odds of living to 117 because of eating them!
Yet, it’s easy to read of a long-time smoker or raw-egg consumer and mentally file the story away as permission to take our next drag or binge on eggs Benedict. But it’s definitely not recommended as the way to choose a healthy diet!
My Top Tip on How to Find the Right Diet for You
In my 20s, I had my own “Emma,” someone whose story influenced me to eat an omelet almost every morning for fifteen years. I believed I’d accurately answered the age-old question, “How to find the right diet for you?”
Today, I believe something very different about the best diet for me: it doesn’t include any eggs. What changed my mind?
I discovered what separates the best research from the shoddiest. First, I learned the differences between case studies, success stories, and testimonials.
- A case study is a detailed examination of an individual case.
- A success story is an anecdote with a positive outcome.
- A testimonial is someone’s personal story of success.
Among these three, the case study is most reliable. But it’s still the least reliable evidence on which to stake your health decisions!
Case studies matter because they often lead to more in-depth research. But in terms of scientific evidence, they’re sorely lacking.
It’s not that we should ignore a case study or individual success story. I’ve spent most of this week writing about Tom Brady’s Diet, my diet, and yesterday, Frances Greger’s incredible recovery!
But none of that has been to suggest that
- Tom Brady
- Frances Greger
- Jeanne Louise Calment
- Emma Morano
or Gregg Rozeboom knows (or might have known) precisely how to find the right diet for you!
While our stories might make you stop and think, they’re merely starting points for more research. That a Google search on “diet” brings up over a trillion results shouldn’t discourage you.
The National Library for Medicine’s website PubMed.gov narrows it down to roughly 550,000 – with the advantage that all the results have at least some scientific validity.
The secret of how to find the right diet for you is in uncovering the best available balance of evidence. For an amateur sleuth, narrowing the research is part of the fun!
As I wrote earlier this year:
“I’m not an expert, self-proclaimed or otherwise. My advice comes from the books and studies I read and attempt to understand. I’m an amateur sleuth, scrounging the library and Internet for clues on the best diet for my family and me. Each day, I write about what I’m learning and share it with others.”
Why not become an amateur sleuth with me? Start digging through the research, validating the sources, and comparing competing studies.
Don’t ever think you’ll definitively answer the question of the right diet for you. Keep seeking dietary truth – and have fun exploring!
As to my latest findings?
Check-in tomorrow for my thoughts on the debate raging over egg and cholesterol research. It may be one topic in a million, but together, we may uncover enough evidence to help us live healthy to 100!