Biochemical Individuality

By Paul Eastwood BSc Chek Kinesis - Trainer to the stars and metabolic type nutritionist

In current day training methodology we employ many forms of assessment when we meet a new client for the first time, as well as periodically throughout their training program. This allows us to record individual differences and variances within the population as a whole due to genetic and environmental influences. A periodical assessment evaluates your client's responses to your training programme and allows you determine what changes are necessary for continued improvement. Thus we treat our clients on an individual level in regards to physical and physiological responses to exercise but never before really on a nutritional basis. This is a poor attitude to the importance and vast benefit available from nutrition and I still see many trainers and magazines lump everybody in the same basket and not appreciate the biochemical individuality that exists between us. I hope this article brings some sense to the fact that we now appreciate the biochemical differences of individuals and monitor them accordingly, both from a nutritional standpoint as well as a physical one. If different people have different physical attributes, it makes sense then that their nutritional requirements and nutritional responses will also be different.

The concept of biochemical individuality is not a new one in fact, at least not in the medical world. The first theory of biochemical individuality was introduced by an English physician, Sir Archibald Garrod in 19081,2 even though his works were not published until the year after. In the past, nutrition has largely been based on what the food properties were and how much that would benefit the population as a whole, rather than on how specific that nutrient was for any given individual. Now with further research since Sir Archibald Garrod's ground breaking work, we now know that even diseases such as phenylketonuria, an autosomal genetic disorder, can be effectively treated. Phenylketonuria is characterized by an enzyme deficiency2 and a diet low in phenylalanine providing adequate amounts of other amino acids is the treatment, especially as there is no cure and damage done is irreversible.3

In even more recent works we see even more effective treatment on health from the power of nutrition from William Wolcott's new book The Metabolic Typing Diet. A conglomerate of health practitioners such as nutritionists, physicians, physiologists and even psychologists collate evidence on how foods are playing a massive role on their specific areas of research. Science from over 30 years ago4 has been assembled and applied to human subjects which is the common denominator of all our work regardless of your area of study; and as we are not all working with the exact same person our guiding principle must be to the individual client and their bodily relationship to food and specific nutrients, not the other way round.

For some time now we have been using physical systems to train and coach the clients and athletes we work with. Over time we have learnt to refine and adapt our training principles to the individual rather than the old bodybuilding approach of 10–12 reps repeated 3 times for the masses – the industry standard some 10 years ago. I am happy to report I do not see too much of this over simplified approach being used on the ever growing health club membership. The works of Paul Chek, Michael Boyle, Gary Gray and Alwyn Cosgrove to name but a few, are raising the level considerably in this field of human physiology.

What is physiology or physiological exactly?

Physiological - Being in accord with or characteristic of the normal functioning of a living organism.5

I have included this to illustrate why we need a specific individual score rather than a general sweeping statement. After reading this quote, who then is normal? Is it you or is it me? Is it again a third person and why them? We could be talking about physical height, organ efficiency, jump height or nutritional requirements the list is endless and any of these parameters mentioned will also differ between individuals, not to mention the countless hundred not quoted here. Every single human parameter can also change over time at any time depending upon the demand incurred from birth to death. Hans Selye describes that individuals not only have different size stress organs, but each person has their own tolerance to stressors (a stressor such as floor prospecting for trainers) and that each person has different stress levels and stress responses; what might very well be a stressful situation for one person, might not be for another individual.6

Everyone has their own unique genetic imprint and individual environment in which they live, they greatly influence the specific foods each and every person requires. Some of these influences can be seen on the table below to illustrate what stressors and unique environments I am talking about. This table also serves to show that the body is in a constant state of flux7 and thus repeat assessments and regular follow ups are essential for best results.

Biochemical Individuality

It is good practice to follow up on a client's nutritional recommendations every couple of weeks; this is where a seven day food diary serves as a useful tool. A re-assessment of a client's individual needs can be performed every quarter or less depending upon what new or intensifying stressors exists in their specific environment. Reference to the above table can be helpful if you suspect or detect new stressors entering their life and after a week or two of exposure – retest and measure accordingly. If this is something new to you and difficult to comprehend I suggest looking for nutritional or educational courses from previous mentioned contributors, such as Paul Chek's HLC course, or read books from authors such as Joseph mercola8 as well as William Wolcott and Trish Fahey4 to improve your knowledge and unlock the real power of nutrition.

With this new knowledge of each of us possessing our own unique individual biochemical make up, we now know4

  • Any food or nutrient that works well for one person may have no effect on a second and may even make a third person worse
  • Any food or nutrient can have virtually opposite biochemical influences in different people
  • This is the concept that lies in the heart of metabolic typing
  • The effects of nutrition are cumulative, the more you ingest the stronger the effect

This last statement is extremely important to understand as foods to avoid for your unique biochemistry are essential knowledge if you are looking to reduce energy dips and body fat. Listed below are several foods that also require caution for regular consumption as they are receiving more and more attention from careful research that they are not beneficial to optimum health and fitness8,9.

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Sugar
  • Grains
  • Hydrogenised oils (i.e. margarine and vegetable oils)

What we are seeing is a reduction in health and performance can come from a limited intake of essential nutrients as well as consumption of bad foods. When non-essential foods are continually ingested, poor nutrition occurs, as you might be aware, no drug known to man 'cures' you, the drug simply kick starts your healing mechanism, food and correct key nutrients do exactly the same thing.4,8,9 The healthy population of this planet are finally beginning to see that even 'apparently' healthy food, still does not yield the results they want and similarly doctors and practitioners have seen incorrect food choices for your body/metabolic type responsible for reduced recovery in certain diseases.4,8,9 This state of poor nutrition is best described in this diagram below where a declining spiral of events takes place starting with nagging colds or simple ailments to begin with, leading down to chronic disease if the body doesn't receive key nutrients to heal and regenerate properly; see diagram 1.

Declining spiral of events takes place starting with nagging colds or simple ailments to begin with, leading down to chronic disease

Nutrition and food choices suddenly become more important when considering this modified flow chart. As you become more and more imbalanced as your bodily functions start to get progressively worse until one system fails completely. As each person suffers with their own specific depletion this would answer why some people can be suffering from more than one ailment at a time and why most current leading health practitioners cannot explain them.

It is easy to forget that what we eat is directed into our blood stream and / or organs and from there, is delivered to every cell in our bodies, approx 3-6 times a day, every day; this accounts to 21 – 42 times a week! The impact of nutrition therefore is massive on our health and performance, in fact for successful function the quality, rate and amount of food4,9 at any given time must be considered. This must bring the use of non-organic products into question as these contain many chemicals not designed for human biochemistry to metabolise or are synthesized in our way our bodies don't recognize which when left unchecked, can also affect the very important processes that run on a daily basis; these are:

  • Digestion, transport, respiration, synthesis, regulation, growth and reproduction10

Without this knowledge it is very likely that most of you are malnourished in one system or more. This can be detected by energy dips, headaches, cravings, digestive disorders or other nagging ailments as well as excess body fat. Where else are you going to store toxins or excess nutrients not required? What are the symptoms of a hang over? That it's your body (specific organs actually) telling you its reacting to your previous night of alcoholic consumption; it repeats this message every time it happens. This is your own internal doctor talking, your own biochemistry responding to the nutrients or lack of being metabolised at that time. If you feel well and have good energy consistently then it's a sure sign you are eating right for your specific individual needs; if not, adopt some changes. Increase your skill as a trainer, coach or nutritionist and seek out these references as it will bring you and your clients towards the levels of health of fitness that we and they all yearn for.


References:
  1. AE. Garrod. 1909. The Inborn errors of metabolism: 2nd Ed 1923.
  2. GT. Berry. 2008. Nestle Nutr Workshop Ser Pediatr Program. 62:55-75; discussion 75-80.
  3. www.wikipedia.org - Phenylketonuria
  4. William L. Wolcott & Trish Fahey. 2002. The metabolic typing diet: Broadway books
  5. The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary, 2nd Edition. 2004: Houghton Mifflin
  6. Hans Selye. 1978. The stress of life. revised ed: McGraw Hill Inc
  7. Roger J Williams. 1998 edition. Biochemical individuality. Keats Publishing Inc
  8. Joseph Mercola, et al. 2003. Dr. Mercola's Total Health Program: The Proven Plan to Prevent Disease and Premature Aging, Optimize Weight and Live Longer. Mercola.com
  9. Paul Chek. 2004. How to eat move and Be Healthy. California: C.H.E.K Institute.
  10. Tortora, G. J. 2002. Principles Of Anatomy And Physiology: John Wiley & Sons