Woman choosing between healthy and unhealthy meal. Woman choosing between healthy and unhealthy meal. Nutrition just got very personal. (Photo: IAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV / Shutterstock)

Why french fries may be better for you than salad

Science has figured out why one-size-fits-all diets may not be the best idea.

You all know the old adage: What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Well, throw that one out and try out this new, updated proverb: What lowers the blood sugar of the goose may raise the blood sugar of the gander.

Not quite as catchy, we know. But scientists say that looking at foods in a highly personalized way – rather than prescribing a one-size-fits-all diet – may be the key to eating more healthfully and avoiding diabetes and obesity.

"The huge differences that we found in the rise of blood sugar levels among different people who consumed identical meals highlights why personalized eating choices are more likely to help people stay healthy than universal dietary advice," Professor Eran Segal of the Weizmann Institute in Israel, said.

Segal and his colleagues at Weizmann studied 800 people for a week, monitoring their food intake, blood-sugar levels, physical activity, sleep habits and – because no nutritional study would be complete without it – bathroom deposits. What they found is that different people have strikingly different responses to the same foods, even though said foods may be universally considered healthy.

For example, in one study subject, the reseachers found that blood-sugar levels rose sharply after eating bananas but not after eating cookies. In a different participant, the exact opposite occurred. In another example, a diet high in glucose caused a rise in glucose levels in some people, while in others, blood-glucose levels spiked after they ate white bread, but not after glucose.

So why did this happen? This video breaks it down charmingly (with animation!):

Segal said the results of this study supports the need "to develop personal dietary recommendations that can help prevent and treat obesity and diabetes, which are among the most severe epidemics in human history.” For the layman, that just means that you shouldn't expect a diet to work for you just because it works for your friends, or your mother, or your boss.

"As scientists, we often deal with very basic questions," said Dr. Eran Elinav, of Weizmann's Immunology Department. "But in this work, we are also very happy to introduce a potential that, if further developed, would ... benefit the health of millions across the world."

Not sure what type of diet is best for you? We prescribe a visit to your doctor, with some supplemental web browsing. Start with our Israeli Kitchen recipe collection for ideas on how to contour and personalize your diet.

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Related Topics: Healthy eating, Science

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