Subtle Maladaptations in Nutrition
The “new normal” – most times adaptations occur so slowly and over a long period of time that the effects are sub-perceptual.
When you were 20, you certainly didn’t have that nagging low back pain you have now, nor did you have that muscle stiffness that makes getting out of bed in the morning more of a chore. But at the same time, you definitely don’t plan on going to the doctor to address it any time soon – you just accept it. It occurred over such a long period of time that this is your new normal.
The same thing happens with nutrition, often for the worse.
Since the majority of Americans have eaten the SAD (standard American diet) high in refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and inflammatory, oxidized vegetable oils all of their life, they’re in a constant maladaptation process.
This is why their bodies aren’t sending them acute emergency signals telling them what they’re eating is slowly killing them. The signals are slow and often unnoticeable until they build up to such a degree that manifests in chronic disease.
The same can be said for subclinical food intolerances.
If you’re just reactant enough to a compound in food that it causes mild, low-grade gut inflammation, but not violently so, chances are your normal is a constant state of low-grade digestive distress.
This could manifest itself in a variety of ways depending on how long it’s been going on and sometimes it won’t even manifest with gut symptoms! Fatigue, lethargy, anxiety, depression could all be symptoms.
This is the exact same reason that if you cut these foods out of your diet for at least a month, you’ll begin to experience a new normal that feels significantly better.
You might stop forgetting where you put your keys. You might have better verbal fluency. That nagging low back pain might even go away. However, upon reintroduction of said foods, your body WILL send you violent signals to let you know what you’re doing to it.
Now what can you do with all this information?
I would encourage you to sit still and quiet with as little external input as possible. Really hone in on how you feel right now. Feel every aspect of your body.
Practice better awareness practices. Feel your breathing currently.
After a meal, hone in on your digestion. Do you feel bloated? Do you have gas?
When you wake up, are you stiffer and more tired than you used to be?
Try and remember how you felt 2, 3, 5, 10 years ago. Do you feel the same? Chances are that you don’t.
Age is a natural, unavoidable process, but our environment and our inputs (food, stress, etc) can accelerate it or slow it.
If you realize that you don’t feel as well as you could, then I’d encourage you to really pay attention and try to make connections to these feelings, the food you’re eating, and the lifestyle that you’re living.
To change in nutrition, I would personally start with the rule of thumb that if it comes in a sealed package, try your best to avoid it. If you do eat a packaged food, the ingredient list shouldn’t be a paragraph long. Start out with all whole foods and work your way down from there.
The human brain evolved being comfortable with black-and-white (an evolutionary adaptation that definitely helped us survive in hunter-gatherer times!), but the physics-based laws that govern this world operate on a very granular and nuanced greyscale.
I wish I could give you a more concrete “Eat this! And don’t eat this!”, but beyond the obvious nutritional suspects, I can’t. I would encourage you to do many elimination/re-introduction experiments, and with enough playing around, you will find the right diet for you.