By Lisa Cutforth, BSc. Hons. Nutrition with Psychology
It’s interesting how we naturally expect people to be different from each other in all sorts of ways: their favourite sport, their style of dress, their favourite colour, their favourite movie, their choice of music, their career choices, their dream partner and their dream home amongst many other things.
We expect that some people will have common interests and may even be very similar in some ways, even though we understand that won’t mean they are exactly alike. We even anticipate that identical twins will have some differences from each other.
We also know people have different preferences when it comes to foods. Some people love spaghetti bolognaise, other people love a roast dinner, some people love spicy foods, some love seafood, some like marmite and it hurts me to say it, but some people even claim to love McDonalds!
Yet we sometimes seem to forget that each person’s nutritional and biochemical makeup, and dietary needs, can also be similarly unique to each individual!
People’s Nutritional and Dietary Needs are Different!
In the same way that people have different preferences, people also have different needs, some of these are “hard-wired” into their body’s genetics and some are related to diet and lifestyle factors.
And while it would be really convenient and even tempting to support the idea of a “perfect diet” that would “perfectly meet everyone’s needs”…
…the fact is it’s highly improbable.
There Is No “One Size Fits All” Diet Plan!
That’s why at The Banyans we focus on personalised nutrition.
We like to do two important things with our guests: Firstly, we like to speak with you about your dietary likes and dislikes (your preferences) and secondly, we like to run a batch of tests that help us to discover exactly where your body (and brain’s) biochemical/nutritional needs are.
We then use this information to carefully create an ideal meal plan for you, while you are in residence with us, and ideally beyond. Sometimes this also includes us recommending nutritional supplementation to assist your body to normalise biochemically.
But does nutrition and diet really make that much difference, some people wonder?
As a Nutrition professional, I can say: “It can make ALL the difference!” Let’s look at one tiny example:
Did you know that extensive studies have clearly shown that a vitamin B6deficiency can produce (or contribute to) a wide variety of physical symptoms including irritability, depression, short term memory problems, insomnia, muscle weakness, difficulty walking, PMS, psychosis, among other things?
When you understand the role vitamin B6plays in our bodies, this is less surprising. B6is directly involved in the synthesis of important chemicals that make the brain (and you) function smoothly: serotonin, dopamine and GABA.
(Serotonin, dopamine and GABA are neurotransmitters – (among others). Neurotransmittersare the chemical messengers which allow the transmission of signals from one neuron (nerve) in the brain to the next, across synapses (gaps between nerves). They are also found at the axon endings (specialised nerve endings) of motor neurons (type of nerves), where they stimulate the muscle fibres. Neurotransmittersplay a vital rolein the way we behave, learn, the way we feel, and sleep).
In addition to the production of neurotransmitters, vitamin B6is involved in more than 80 biochemical reactions in the body. Overall, B6 is important for utilising protein, growth, and the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems.
Vitamin B6Deficiency Can Affect Mental Health And Produce Physical Symptoms
So vitamin B6 is pretty important. And some people’s bodies even have high Vitamin B6but not in the activated form, or they excrete their B6, so they still present with symptoms that look like a B6deficiency but require the correct type of supplementation to make any difference to them.
Before you rush out and buy a B6supplement, all this doesn’t mean I would recommend that everyone start supplementing vitamin B6 preventatively!
Most people don’t realise there are three different chemical forms of vitamin B6. These are pyridoxine (PN), pyridoxal (PL or sometimes called PLP), and pyridoxamine (PM), often collectively termed “pyridoxine.”
Although they are only subtly different, these differences have direct consequences in the body. The body can make use of the different forms differently and this is dependent on your genetics, your nutrition status and your diet.
It is possible to get vitamin B6from your diet, but in the US (and most likely Australia as well) many people don’t consume enough to meet the daily recommended guidelines. So some people can benefit from supplementing B6(in the right form for their individual needs).
Here’s a list of food high in B6, and while I certainly wouldn’t be recommending you regularly eat all of these, (particularly I wouldn’t be promoting salami or the overconsumption of any processed food) or even that you need to, it provides some useful references. Note that Garbanzo beans, bananas, potatoes and avocados – all plant foods – have relatively high B6content!
Perhaps in future articles I will talk about bio-availability which is another factor to consider, when you are wanting to meet nutrition needs.
And of course too much of a good thing is too much, and there can be adverse reactions to excess B6.
This is why we don’t like to make assumptions, and why we want to assist you (through thorough investigational analysis) in getting a proper and comprehensive picture of your particular nutritional requirements, needs and preferences which will complement you achieving optimal health, not only during your stay with us, but as an ongoing part of your lifestyle as you integrate this new knowledge into your everyday life!
If you think that a program like this may be beneficial to you or someone you care about, fill out a form below or give engage in a non-obligatory phone discussion on 1300 BANYAN (1300 226 926).
Kant AK, Block G. Dietary vitamin B6 intake and food sources in the US population: NHANES II, 1976-1980. Am J Clin Nutr 1990;52:707-716
The Weston Price Foundation, http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/abcs-of-nutrition/vitamin-b6-the-under-appreciated-vitamin/
William Walsh, 2012. Nutrient Power. Sky Horse Publishing: USA