Here at Fresh Start boot camp in Chiang Mai we have lots of discussions around Bio Individuality. We enjoy discussing how we are uniquely different and what goals we set ourselves to help us develop and change, on the outside and on the inside. But what is Bio Individuality, as humans we may appear very similar, however by comparing two people in detail we can start to see how they are uniquely different.
In Greek, Bio means “life”, and in other words ‘individuality’ means the particular character, or aggregate of qualities, that distinguishes one person or thing from others; sole and personal nature (1). Within the boot camp we certainly want to share the range of benefits from different forms of exercise, and aim to tailor exercises to individuals and their goals. However, what about food? There’s no one diet that is suitable for all individuals, each person is a unique individual with highly individualised nutritional requirements, creating their own bio individuality. This individuality is founded on the principles that there is a vast array of individual differences from one person to the next.
These differences include the anatomy, metabolism, DNA, blood type, body composition and cell structure, muscle fibres and so forth, the endless combination of all these differences influence the individual on their overall health and wellbeing, the choices they make, the performances they give and the foods that make them their best. This is why there is no clear cut way of eating that works for everyone, dietary intake must be unique, it must be tailored and adapted to help you perform at your best. For example, food that may suit your lifestyle, exercise regime, age, body type and so on may have a completely different effect on someone else with their own bio individuality.
Getting to know your body is an essential asset to staying healthy, this is why fad diets don’t work as a lifestyle because one person’s food may be another person’s toxin. Men eat differently than women, children eat differently than adults. Our personal tastes and inclinations, natural shapes and sizes, blood types, metabolic rates and genetic backgrounds influence what foods will and won’t nourish us. But how do we know what suits our bio individual body?
Blood type is a good place to start. Each blood type, A, B, AB, O can be traced to a certain period of human history with distinct differences in diet, culture, and social conditions. Each type has developed particular strengths and limitations and knowing them can influence your health. For example, many type O’s get a lot of energy and strength from eating meat, while type B’s are able to digest diary better than others. This does leave us with the conclusion that if you eat food that is incompatible with your blood type, it could eventually lead to health problems. Discussing this with a health professional or doctor will be important.
Delving further into bio individuality, another key element is an individual’s metabolism. This term is used for the rate which we convert food and use it as energy. Younger people tend to have faster metabolisms, they could eat a burger and fries and next they are out on the street running around using it as energy. Their metabolic rates are quicker, burn calories faster and convert food into useful sources of energy quicker than adults. Again understanding your body and knowing whether you metabolise carbohydrates, proteins and fats better than others is key to knowing your bio individuality. Choosing foods that support you and your body will help towards improving overall health and wellbeing.
DNA testing is a growing trend in the fitness industry; our genes and bio individuality dictate how we respond to different food and exercise. Knowing which variants you have means you can access the sort of personally tailored training plan that was once only available to elite athletes, but not anymore (2). With a simple swab in the mouth, which you post back, the test scans 45 gene variants with a proven link to how the body responds to food and exercise. This includes variants such as sensitivity to carbohydrates, salt and saturated fat; lactose and gluten intolerance risk; individual anti-oxidant and vitamin needs; and caffeine and alcohol metabolism. All of which can be used to tailor your exercise programme and nutritional intake to improve your health and wellbeing. This test allows you to match your bio individuality as closely as possible to ensure what you’re putting into your body suits your individual needs.
Your ancestry can also play a large role in your bio individuality. What your ancestors have eaten in the past, the cultures and environment they grew up in will have a large impact on your bio individuality and how different types of food suit you better than others. For example, if your ancestors originate from Scandinavia then they were on the whole accustomed to eating dairy on a daily basis, in which case it would be more natural that your body will be able to adjust to a higher dairy based diet. However, many generations spent within African communities would have accessed beans, grains, animal proteins, green vegetables and so on. These ancestors would have had limited access to dairy products as Dairy was not easily accessible or easy to store in hot regions making this food group scarce in a traditional diet. Therefore a lot of people of African descent are lactose intolerant.
Something we often discuss as Fresh Start boot camp is the ability to listen to your own body. We provide opportunities to develop an understanding of what foods you need as an individual, when it needs them and what is best for you. We can help you research what foods are best for your blood type, your metabolism and what foods were typical from your ancestry. At our boot camp holiday in Chiang Mai we promote making small changes such as adjusting nutritional intake as well as a solid training plan to help set and reach goals.