People can be divided into three general body types:
- Fast oxidizers, whose blood pH tends toward a little more acid and who are carnivores
- Slow oxidizers, whose blood pH tends to be more alkaline and who do better on more plant and lean animal proteins
- Mixed or balanced individuals who do well with a mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats
What foods/fuel mix we require is determined by our genetics, just like the color of our eyes, our height, or our blood type. We are a product of our parents’ rates of oxidation, also called metabolism. If we are eating food that does not burn efficiently based on the needs of our engine, then we will not function optimally, and this also underlies not only physical but mental health challenges.
What kind of food supports the fast oxidizer? These individuals do well with a moderate-protein, high-fat diet to slow down their rate of oxidation and to stabilize their blood sugar. They will also do well on high-purine foods, such as organ meats, sardines, and anchovies. Their ideal ratio is 35% protein, 15% carbohydrates, and 50% fat. They will benefit from fruits and vegetables more than grains.
Slow oxidizers do best with 25% protein, 50% carbohydrates, and 25% fats. They may do best on both plant or animal proteins like chicken, turkey, pork, fish, and eggs.
A plant-based (vegetarian) diet that is rich in plant proteins, fruits, nuts, seeds—and legumes for some—provides a superior foundation for mental health nutrition and will benefit nearly everyone. Nuts and seeds, especially nut butter, and the grains quinoa and millet are good sources of protein along with well-soaked and well-cooked beans.
The key to a successful plant-based diet is ensuring a diversity of proteins to provide the complement of amino acids necessary for optimal functioning of neurotransmitters in the brain and thus mental health.
The balanced/mixed oxidizers will burn efficiently using 30% protein, 35% carbohydrates, and 35% fats.
These percentages are not hard-and-fast rules but may guide choices. You will know when you feel best, and these ratios can shift due to illness or stress.
Thus, the fast metabolizer is what we would call a carnivore, the slow metabolizer would be on the vegetarian end of the spectrum, and the mixture will benefit from a range of foods. Keep in mind that we are talking about a spectrum.
But not everyone should live on plant proteins alone. Depending upon one’s individual biochemistry, one will benefit from adding fish, dairy, eggs, poultry, and meats. Slow oxidizers will benefit from lean meats while fast oxidizers do well with fatty meats.
How to Identify Your Oxidizer Type
- Niacin test: Take 50 mg of niacin on an empty stomach. Niacin creates a strong flush on the fast oxidizer, has a mild effect on the mixed or balanced oxidizer, and it has little or no effect on a slow oxidizer.
- Vitamin C test: Take 8 grams of vitamin C over an 8-hour period (1,000 milligrams every hour). The fast oxidizer will not feel well, the balanced oxidizer will have a mild response, and the slow oxidizer will have little or no response.
- Tissue mineral analysis: Analysis of mineral status and ratios found in hair can reveal the general rate of metabolic function.
Remember that no one does well on refined sugar and refined wheat flour. When one eats well 90% of the time, however, an occasional “refined” food will not be harmful.
To learn more about the best food for your type of body, read my book The Good Mood Kitchen: Simple Recipes and Nutrition Tips for Emotional Balance, the essential dietary road map for anyone interested in improved mental well-being and explore tasty, life-changing ways to eat healthier—and happier!
I recommend the online course Effective Strategies to Balance Mood and Enhance Cognitive Function if you are either a nutrition professional, health professional, or nutrition-savvy individual, who wants to work with foods, supplements, and herbal medicines to enhance mental health and cognitive performance.
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