Is there such a thing as the best diet?


Is there such a thing as the best diet?

What is the best diet? Well, it depends who is asking the question. Listen to the latest Happier & Healthier podcast episode in which I explain why there isn’t a one-size fits all diet, how to use food as medicine to heal, and how to use information from your microbiome to optimize your diet.

Maria Marlowe

Maria Marlowe

Founder of Healthy by Marlowe

Maria Marlowe has made it her mission to inspire people across the globe to eat healthier and live stress free. She opened her Integrative Nutrition Health Coaching practice in New York City in 2013 and has since coached hundreds of people, from moms to business executives to celebrities, to improve their health by improving their eating habits. Maria’s work and recipes have been featured in Vogue, InStyle, The New York Times, Dr. Oz, NBC, CBS, and more. She is the author of the #1 New Release on Amazon, The Real Food Grocery Guide, and host of The Happier & Healthier podcast. She currently lives between Dubai and NY.


Maria Marlowe: [00:00:30] Is there such a thing as the best diet? This episode comes as a result of multiple increase on Instagram and through my website. Maria Marleau dot com about the best diet. One should follow in particular. I’ve been getting asked a lot about the Keto diet, most recently from Lynn Vae on Instagram. So shout out to Lynn for inspiring this episode. And I know you also mentioned something about being too old to change because you’re in your 50s. It’s absolutely not true. You can make a change and improve your health dramatically at any age. It’s never, never too late to start. So for anyone listening who feels like you’ve tried everything before and it hasn’t worked, or that maybe your just meant to be overweight or meant to be unhealthy, it’s not the case. When you figure out the best diet for you, you will regain health and you can reach an ideal weight. Now, before we jump in, I do want to remind you guys, if you have a health and wellness question that you would like to be turned into a podcast episode, you can submit them to me on Instagram. It’s @mariamarlowe and Marlowe is m a r l o w e and you may see your question or hear your question as an upcoming podcast episode. Now to make sure that you never miss an episode of the Happier and Healthier podcast. Be sure to subscribe on i-Tunes or wherever you listen to this podcast. And you could also sign up. Sign up for my weekly newsletter email newsletter and you could do that at It also comes with delicious healthy recipes each week. And summit nutrition tips and advice. So is there such a thing as the best diets? The answer is yes and no. Now, I always say that when you ask if you ask 10 different people what a healthy diet is, you’ll get 10 different answers.

Maria Marlowe: [00:02:36] And I actually did this. I pulled the people on Instagram and Instagram stories and I did get all sorts of different answers. Of course, you guys, my listeners are a little bit more educated. So I did get some some really, really great answers, but for they were all great answers. But, you know, sometimes I would hear Keto or Paleo or vegan. And the truth is, there is not just one diet that works for every single person. And there is not even a diet that’s necessarily going to work for you for your entire lifetime. Maybe. Maybe it is. But for example, if you develop some sort of condition or illness, there may be a specific diet that you need to follow for a length of time in order to bring you back to health. And then once you’re healed, you can then change up your diet a little bit. Now, I know you’ve all heard the saying that food is medicine or you are what you eat. I’m sure you’ve heard both of these phrases a million times each. So I know you’ve heard them. But my question to you is, do you actually believe them? And if so, do you actually put them into practice in your life? A lot of us are struggling with chronic health issues and not just weight. I think weight is often the issue that will prompt us to seek a healthier way of eating or a healthier diet. But the truth is, millions and millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions of people have chronic illnesses, whether it’s diabetes or whether it’s heart disease or whether it’s a rosacea, an eczema, an acne, and just all these chronic conditions that we get used to feeling on.

Maria Marlowe: [00:04:33] Well, and we don’t realize that we can actually do something about it with our diet. So just one common example. I remember when I was growing up and in high school, everyone would talk about PMS. All right. On whenever it was that time of the month, you were going to get cramps. You were going to get bloated. You were going to be in pain. I just thought that that’s the way that it is. I’m a woman. I’m screwed. And this is what happens. Once a month, because that’s what was happening to everyone around me, I remember might all was advertised quite a bit, which is a pain reliever for PMS pain, and I just took took that as as the way that it is. However, those symptoms could actually be due to nutritional deficiencies or eating inflammatory foods and certain foods that could be triggering them and basically taking our body out of that perfect balance. So now that I have had a healthy diet for over 10 years, I can tell you I’ve never had a cramp since or never had PMS In fact, I wouldn’t even know my period was coming if I didn’t track it right.

Maria Marlowe: [00:05:40] So you don’t have to be in pain. And our body is not meant to not feel good. We’re not meant to not have energy or to be fatigued or to be bloated or to have some strange rash like our body is not meant for that. And I really encourage you to always be a body detective. That’s what I tell my clients. Be a body detective and don’t take any symptoms as just the way that it is or just because a lot of times these things can be tracked back to our diet. So I went off on a little tangent here to bring it back. I just want to really make it clear that, of course, a healthy diet can help you lose weight. But did you know that a healthy diet could also help you reverse heart disease? So, for example, my own mother, who was diagnosed with heart disease last year and then drastically changed her diet, was able to reverse heart disease. Another example is with autoimmune conditions. So countless people have reversed autoimmune conditions by optimizing their diet. An example would be Dr. Terry Wahls, who was a traditional M.D. and she developed M.S., which put her eventually in a wheelchair. And she was just getting progressively worse and worse and worse, despite the fact that she was following all of the conventional treatments because she was growing frustrated and she was an avid athlete. I think she biked quite a bit prior to her diagnosis and now she couldn’t because she was wheeled in a wheelchair. She started to dig into the research and she drastically changed her diet. And lo and behold, she is now back to running and swimming and hiking and walking and said goodbye to her wheelchair.

Maria Marlowe: [00:07:30] Another example would be with cancer. So many people have put their cancer into remission by focusing on optimizing their diet. Kris Carr would be one example. She’s quite well known as an author. Another example would be my friend Liana Werner Grey, who was just on the podcast recently for her book Cancer Free with Food. And she talks about all these foods that have the power to help your body fight cancer. All of these examples that I’ve given you of these specific people, they all optimize their diet in order to heal their body. But the diet that each of these people used is not exactly the same. Are they similar? Yes, very much so. But depending on what you have going on in your body at the time, that is going to influence the real specifics of what exactly you should be eating or avoiding. And it really comes down to your personal biochemistry. It comes down to your microbiome. It comes down to your gut health, your immunity and and just your health in general. So let’s first talk about the similarities between any sort of healing diet. Then later on, we’ll get into the specifics. Healing diets are going to be low glycemic, which means they’re not going to spike your blood sugar very much. And this has really been shown to be one of the healthiest ways of eating. And it’s something that you will see in all of the healthiest diets and the diets that bring the most results, not only in terms of weight loss, but in overall health.

Maria Marlowe: [00:09:14] The reason that these diets are low glycemic is because they typically avoid completely or have very, very small amounts of any sort of refined carbohydrates, a sort of flowers or sugar. So sugar is usually not in a the healthiest types of diets. Fruit, fine, but like actual refined sugar, you’re not going to find that in the healthiest diets. What you will find a ton of across the healthiest diets and the diets that heal is a ton of vegetables. Now, you know that I’m all about the vegetables. I’ve made it my mission to help people eat more vegetables because I think that’s really the single most effective and important change that. We can make in our diet to make an impact on our health. No matter what our health goals are. Study after study confirms their wide ranging benefits from weight loss to there is such a great source of fiber. So they help improve our digestion and keep everything moving in and out very easily and smoothly. They’re loaded with antioxidants that we need. So not even just the vitamins that we know, vitamin A, vitamin C, but they have all sorts of phytochemicals, some of which we have not even identified yet. And we don’t fully understand how they work to support our health. So vegetables, any sort of healing diet is going to be very focused on vegetables. Doesn’t mean that it’s 100 percent vegetarian or vegan, but vegetables by far. Make up the biggest portion.

Maria Marlowe: [00:11:03] So if you’ve been following me for a while or you read my website a while back a couple years ago, I did a post on what I call the ideal plate ratio. And I created this for my clients because it was, in my opinion, the easiest way for them to remember how to fill their plate no matter where they are. Because a lot of my people in New York or L.A. and these big cities, they are eating out a lot. Some people think that if you eat out a lot, that you can’t possibly eat very healthfully. And that’s not actually true. Of course, when you’re cooking at home, you have the most influence over what goes into your dishes and of course, have the power to use the healthiest ingredients. But when you’re eating out, there are steps you can take to create a healthy plate, even if it’s not exactly on the menu. One of the biggest factors of this ideal plate ratio is that at least 50 percent, if not 75 percent of your plate is made up by vegetables, which this is quite a revolutionary thought. Right. Because traditionally vegetables were thought of as a side dish. It’s actually reversed. So vegetables should really be your main dish and your protein should be your side dish. Keep that ideal plate ratio in mind wherever you are. And that will really help you make sure that you are getting enough vegetables in every single day. Now, protein is also a critical part of that ideal plate ratio and you want about a quarter of your plate to be made up with some sort of protein. So it could be plant based or it could be animal base.

Maria Marlowe: [00:12:34] And I do think after my experience and after experimenting with so many different diets and working with people with so many different diets, I do think that the healthiest type of diet does include some animal protein doesn’t have to be an enormous amount. In fact, it can’t be right because 50 to 75 percent of what you’re eating is still vegetables. But animal products do hold a part on a healthy plate. They do offer us certain nutrients, certain amino acids and and things that we can’t necessarily get from plants. For example, vitamin B12 is very well known in the vegan world because vegans have to supplement with B12 because it’s highly unlikely that they’ll get an adequate amount through a plant based diet. In fact, the majority of plant-based foods do not have B12 and there’s really only two where you can get some bioactive B12 and they are Nori which is a type of seaweed. Typically your sushi is wrapped in Nori and the other one is Tempeh, which is a type of fermented soy.

Maria Marlowe: [00:13:44] Spirulina is commonly cited as a source of B12. However, the B12 in spirulina is not biologically available and is therefore not a good source for B12. For a vegan, a few other things that you’ll only find in an animal products and not in plants are creatine, carnosine, seen vitamin D 3, which is a very critical nutrient. You can find vitamin D too and plant-based foods, but you’re not going to find vitamin D. 3 You’re also not going to find DHA which is one of the omega 3 fatty acids. Now plant based foods do contain omega 3. So for example, hemp seeds, chia seeds, walnuts. Do you have omega 3? But they have the type of omega 3 called ALA. Now your body can create DHA from ALA. However, it’s not a very efficient process as you’re not going to get the amount of DHA from eating plant based foods as you would if you eat a animal based source of Omega 3, which is already naturally high in DHA. And lastly. Other example would be heme iron, so plant based foods do contain iron, but they contain a different type of iron called non heme iron, animal based iron ore heme iron is much better absorbed, more readily absorbed in the body versus the plant based iron and plant based iron can be affected by anti nutrients such as phytic acid, which is often found in plant foods. So even though food may contain iron, you may not actually absorb as much of that iron as you would think.

Maria Marlowe: [00:15:31] The biggest thing to keep in mind with animal products is that quality is key, so conventional animal products do not have any place in a healthy diet. And that I would say avoid 100 percent completely. But conventional animal products are very different from organic and pasture raised animal products. I go through these differences in exactly what you want to choose with each type of animal product. In my book, The Real Food Grocery Guide. In short, though, I just want to give you an example that will illustrate the very big differences between these two products. Conventional animals are typically given some therapeutic doses of antibiotics. The animals are given these antibiotics because the farmers have figured out that when you give an animal a small amount of antibiotics over a long period of time, it actually helps fatten them up. Because these farmers get paid by the pound and not the quality. They’ve adopted this as a practice which is very, very widespread amongst conventional animal farmers. The problem is not only that we end up consuming this meat that has the animal has been consuming and Roddick’s their entire life. So we are getting some of that remnant. But the bigger problem is that this practice is leading to antibiotic resistant bacteria. The rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria is regarded as the biggest public health threat. Our generation is facing by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, by the World Health Organization and by many health organizations across the globe. One of the biggest causes of the rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria is the overuse of antibiotics. And one of the places that we severely overuse antibiotics is in the raising of livestock, which then becomes our food. The unfortunate part about this growing or looming epidemic is that you don’t have to actually eat the conventional meat to be affected by the rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Maria Marlowe: [00:17:52] So, yes, it’s possible that you could get and a strain of antibiotic resistant bacteria by eating meat or some sort of animal product that is tainted with it. However, you could also pick it up from someone else, or maybe you go to the hospital for a routine operation and you pick it up there. And even though you didn’t eat the meat that maybe caused it, you could still be affected by it. So antibiotics in our livestock is just one of the many causes for the growth in antibiotic resistant bacteria, but it is one of the biggest ones. And so by choosing organic. Not only are you limiting your exposure to antibiotics, you’re also helping to prevent or at least slow down the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria and help prevent it from becoming a full blown epidemic. All right. Back to some of the similarities between the healthiest healing diets. So they have a lot of vegetables. They have high quality organic and pasture raised animal products in small amounts. They also have plenty of healthy, good fats. So please, please, please do not be scared of avocados. They will not make you fat. Olive oil is another excellent, healthy fat. Coconut has healthy fat, not seeds. So there’s plenty of places that you can get healthy fats. And again, these will not make you fat as is or was once commonly believed. The they are very much a important part. Healthy fats are an important part and protective part of the diet.

Maria Marlowe: [00:19:34] So those three things, a majority of vegetables, high quality protein and animal products and healthy fats are some of the similarities that are going to unite all healthy healing diets. So some of the styles of eating that would fit into that criteria would be the Mediterranean diet. This is often regarded as the. Healthiest diet or one of the healthiest diets? The problem with the Mediterranean diet is that even though it has all this amazing stuff in it, such as the vegetables and wild seafood, olive oil, it also does contain some refined carbohydrates which are high glycemic and are not health promoting at all. So that’s the one thing I will mention there. The paleo diet definitely falls in line with us and has been very helpful for a lot of people. Many people do a healthy version of paleo, but some do not. So some people take paleo or the caveman diet to mean just meat. Meet me, eat meat and they’re putting bacon and steak on their plate at every meal and not enough vegetables. So that is one downfall of paleo in general. Keto could qualify as meeting these criteria. However, it’s possible that it could become a way to meat and protein heavy and not actually balanced by vegetables on the keto diet.

Maria Marlowe: [00:20:58] They do restrict starchy vegetables and anything sweet like fruit, even though it’s natural, which I think can leave you missing out on certain nutrients and antioxidants that are found in these foods. As an example, blueberries are often touted as one of the healthiest, most antioxidant rich foods.

Maria Marlowe: [00:21:18] We just talked about it as one of the most powerful anti-cancer foods on a recent episode. And on a Keto diet, you have to actually restrict your blueberries because they are a bit a bit sugary. So beyond all that, I do think that a keto diet is also hard to really uphold correctly and to implement it on a day to day basis. If you want a more thorough discussion of Keto, then definitely check out my episode with Dr. AXE where we discuss it in further detail. And I do think if you are going to try the Keto diet, his version of it is definitely superior to just trying to do keto on your own and figuring out how much of what you eat on your own. Now all of that said, if I was to have to choose the healthiest diet in general, in my opinion that would be the pegan diet. The pegan diet marries the best of all of these styles of eating. Of course, though, I’m still a believer that there is no such thing as a one diet fits all. And I think the peak in diet is a great starting point. And then making small tweaks to it based on your present condition, on your present health is what is going to help heal your health. So let me first explain what a pegan diet is and then I’ll explain how you figure out those specific tweaks.

Maria Marlowe: [00:22:46] So pegan stands for paleo and vegan. And as you can imagine, it takes the best of both of these styles of eating. It is primarily plant based. Definitely 50 to 75 percent of a pegan diet at least is vegetables. There are small amounts of high quality organic animal products and there is, of course, plenty of healthy fats. It’s low glycemic diet because it does not have any processed or refined foods.

Maria Marlowe: [00:23:17] So a couple of the things that are missing in the pegan diet and really any type of healing diet, they’re also not included in a paleo diet, for example, would be gluten and dairy. I know this is hard for a lot of people to wrap their head around, especially because humans have been eating bread for, you know, as long as humans were in existence practically. So I know it’s really hard for people to wrap their head around. In fact, when I was in nutrition school, one of the professors when I was at NYU actually went on this whole tirade one day on how gluten free is just a marketing thing and that the majority of people do not have to be gluten free, shouldn’t be gluten free. Only the 3 percent of the population that has celiac has to avoid gluten. No one else does. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. People who do not have celiac can still have a gluten sensitivity and still be negatively affected by gluten. And in fact, if you have a gluten sensitivity but ignore it and don’t stop eating gluten, it could turn into a full blown celiac disease down the line. The problem with gluten is that increases the levels of zonulin in our intestines. Now, this is true for many, if not most people. Some would even say all people. It depends which study you’re you’re reading now. The amount of zonulin released and people that have celiac or who have gluten sensitivity is much, much higher than someone who. Doesn’t, but someone who doesn’t have those issues, they will still experience an increase in monument. And when our on zonulin levels are increased, our tight junctions open.

Maria Marlowe: [00:25:12] So tight junctions are essentially what holds together the lining of your intestines. So if you think that your lining is basically a row of cells, it’s like a single layer of cells. Those cells are held together by tight junctions, the tight junctions. Their role is to allow nutrients from the intestines to go out into the bloodstream, but they’re supposed to stay closed and keep everything else that’s in your intestines. Keep that inside. What happens when our zonulin increases, our tight junctions loosen and open up, and then particles from inside our intestines can leak out into our bloodstream? So this includes food particles, toxins, microbes, whatever is in there could actually leak out.

Maria Marlowe: [00:26:01] There is a body of research to show that when we have leaky gut, this is the precursor to developing an auto immune condition. Earlier, I mentioned Dr. Terry Wallis as someone who has reversed her M.S., reversed her symptoms of M.S. through diet. There’s also Dr Amy Myers, who had a similar story. She didn’t have M.S. I forgot exactly what she had, but she was able to put her auto immune disease into remission and get rid of the symptoms by optimizing her diet as well. And one of the biggest components of any sort of diet that is going to heal an autoimmune condition is focusing on digestion. And I should just say, the one of the most important parts of healing any condition is focusing on digestion and making sure that your digestion is strong and it’s not compromised in any way and definitely not leaky. Our gut is the root of our health. And on earlier episodes, I’ve had Dr. Pedre on who is a gut health expert. He talked a lot about this, how our God and our immune system are very intricate, intricately intertwined. And so if your gut and your digestion is unhealthy or it’s not working properly, chances are your immune system is not working as effectively as it could be. So it’s really important, no matter what issue that you’re dealing with, whether it’s skin issues or some sort of chronic health issues, autoimmune. You have to focus on repairing the gut.

Maria Marlowe: [00:27:39] So one one of the ways that we do this is by removing these inflammatory foods and removing foods that could be, for example, causing leaky got like gluten. And additionally, we also have to actually strategically repair it with different supplements and adding in certain foods, for example, bone broth and other things that are going to help heal that got lining. So gluten is one thing that is not in a pegan diet or a healing diet. Dairy is another one. Most people cannot digest dairy after childhood. Certain cultures can, like certain Nordic cultures, tend to do better with dairy than others. But even Harvard Medical School has cited a pretty clearly that dairy is not a necessary part of the human diet. It is not the only nor the best source of calcium, as is commonly believed. And in fact, dark leafy greens are some of the best sources of calcium because they also contain magnesium. So you actually absorb quite a bit of the calcium and magnesium from your dark leafy greens. Plus, if you just think about it, where do you think the cow is getting her calcium from? Because cow is eight dark leafy greens, a.k.a. grass all day long. So those are some of the main principles. If you want to read more do had to my blog posts, you could just google Maria Marlowe pegan and it will come up or you can head to my website. And it really lays out all of the guidelines.

Maria Marlowe: [00:29:08] I truly believe that this is a excellent place for the majority of people. It works so effectively because it really removes the most damaging foods for our health and adds in the healthiest foods. So if you’re coming off of a standard American diet or just a relatively unhealthy diet, this these changes alone eating the pegan way will make a huge, huge impact. But like I said earlier, there is no one diet that works for every single person perfectly. You really have to tweak it based on your specific unique body. One person’s food can be another person’s poison and even something that we generally think of as healthy. For example, a salad can be on. Healthy and not good for a certain person. So, for example, if someone has IBS or has an inflamed gut, eating a whole ton of raw fiber is really not the best thing to put in your gut at that point in time. Instead, you would want to choose cooked vegetables. Right. That’s one example. Another example could be something like tomatoes. Tomatoes are a very healthy food, right? Well, for some people, they actually cause inflammation because they’re part of the Nightshade family. And some people are sensitive to those types of fruits and vegetables. So for that person, consuming tomatoes and supposedly healthy food is actually unhealthy for them. So how do you figure out which specific foods to eat or to avoid? You can do that through testing.

Maria Marlowe: [00:30:57] Now you can do a lot with elimination. Let me just backtrack a second. Elimination diets are great for proving to yourself that things like gluten and dairy and some of these big called common allergens are not great for you. And elimination diet is something I do with my clients a lot. You could even attempt it on your own. Essentially, you just remove a certain food group for a period at minimum two weeks and then you see how you feel if your symptoms that you were complaining of before you disappear. That’s a good indicator that this food was not doing very good for your body and that if you reintroduce it after those two weeks and then you have a flare up of those symptoms, that’s really quite clear signal from your body that this food is doing more harm than good, in which case you would want to continue to avoid it. Now, what about things like tomatoes or blueberries? Right. Blueberries are healthy food. However, if your digestion is impaired, you may not actually be absorbing the nutrients from all this organic produce that you’re spending all your money on. So you really want to test your gut and know what’s going on inside of there, and that’s going to help you figure out the best foods for you. So back in episode 38, I interviewed the chief scientific officer of Viome. His name is Momo Vuyisch, which he is a Phd and biochemistry and a very, very interesting man.

Maria Marlowe: [00:32:29] I highly recommend if you have not listened to that episode, definitely go check it out. His whole belief is that basically any illness can be cured with food and by optimizing the diet. His story was he spent, I think 12 years at Los Alamos Laboratory studying genomics and the microbiome, amongst other things. Then after he healed his rheumatoid arthritis by optimizing his diet, he left to start biome. Biome offers a DNA stool test. So you give them a very small stool sample and they will come back to you with the complete breakdown of what’s in your gut, because a DNA test. So it picks up literally every organism that’s in there. Typically, when you go to the doctor or gastroenterologists complaining about some digestive issues, they’ll have to choose specific tests based on what they think you might have. So they might do one test for one thing, another test for another thing. And the great thing about biome is that it really picks up everything. So just to give you an example, both my fiancé and I did the Viome test and he was having some digestive issues and had went to a doctor and the doctor had given him multiple tests that he had to do and didn’t find anything in particular that was of any concern to him. However, when he did the Viome test, there were actually some concerning things in there.

[00:34:03] Now, that Viome has identified the or at least one of the reasons for his issues we can get him adequate treatment for it. For the lists of microbes that you’ll get. You can, of course, scan through there and see if you recognize anything, but you probably really won’t know what’s good or bad or what’s going on in there so that you could take that to a functional medicine doctor, integrative medicine doctor, nutritionist, someone who could understand it a little bit better for you. And they can give you some insights. But we’re a Viome really shines is that it also gives you a very specific list of foods to eat or avoid based on the microbes in your gut. So I learned a ton of really interesting things. Again, I already have a quite healthy diet, but going through this Viome, I learned a lot about me. And now that I’ve started to put it in practice for a few weeks, it’s making a lot of sense.

Maria Marlowe: [00:34:56] So I’m gonna do a blog post where I’m going to chair completely about my results from Viome, but I want to talk a little bit about it now. So some interesting things. I didn’t have too many foods that I have to avoid. So maybe there’s maybe there’s about 10 things and some of the things I don’t eat anyway. But a couple really interesting points that I found. So two things that I’m supposed to avoid are asparagus and bell peppers. And I actually hate both of these things. They they repel me and, you know, I love my vegetables. But these are two things that I really highly dislike. So I just kind of interesting that my body doesn’t like them and they’re they’re not great for me. So, for example, with asparagus. It says that there’s histamine contained in asparagus, which would likely increase inflammation and and worsen my inflammatory score. And this was really interesting. Apparently, I have a number of different plant viruses. So the reason that I’m supposed to avoid bell peppers is because my microbiome contains pepper mild model virus, which is known to cause disease and bell pepper since plant viruses in the microbiome could potentially cause immune system activation in humans. It’s recommended you avoid bell pepper. That is really gross, but that’s not the only vegetable virus that I had. So I have bell pepper, cucumber and shallots. So those I have to avoid. I also have to avoid chickpeas, which was quite possibly the saddest news that I ever heard. Although I kind of felt like I was going to get this this suggestion. I do eat a lot of them. And while typically they’re you know, traditionally they’ve been fine for me.

Maria Marlowe: [00:36:46] I have felt like recently they have I’ve been getting a little bloated after I would eat them. So it says chickpeas contain agglutinin, which has been shown to impair the absorption or utilization of essential nutrients. If it is not degraded by specific microbes. So essentially, I no longer have, I guess, the microbes that are needed to break the gluten down. It also suggested that I avoid quinoa because it’s likely to increase inflammation and worsen my inflammatory score. I’m also advised to avoid amaranth, cashews, lentils, shallots, turkey and wild rice. So my my list of foods to avoid it wasn’t too bad. Kush’s, My fiance’s was like a laundry list. It was just crazy. The app also tells you your super food. So for me, it was a lot of the cruciferous vegetables, things like cabbage and brussel sprouts, chard, also some fresh herbs like dill, garlic, ghee, green tea, olive oil, olives, oregano. I have a quite nice long list of foods that are my superfood. So these are foods that are really going to help support my microbiome. Salmon, wild caught is also on there. Yams, turmeric, sauerkraut. So it was definitely a good long list. And then it also gives you sort of these in-between foods which foods you might want to limit or minimize. So for example, I got anchovies to minimize, I got barley, beef, fatty grass-fed, but beef lean grass-fed was OK.

Maria Marlowe: [00:38:30] So that’s kind of interesting. And it really just gives you detailed list. I don’t know how many are in here, but I would say definitely over a hundred if not hundreds of different foods.

Maria Marlowe: [00:38:40] Basically, any sort of whole food is in this Viome app and it will tell you whether you enjoy it, avoid it or minimize it. Now, while overall I’m very satisfied with the Viome tasks and my results and I have started to enact the suggestions. One area where I think it did fall short is that it did tell me that I could eat gluten and dairy, which as you now know, I very strongly believe are not healthy for anyone. In fact, I know they’re definitely not healthy for me because when I do eat them, they do cause an immediate negative reaction. Now, I’m not sure if the reason it didn’t flag this for me is because I haven’t actually eaten them in a very long time. So maybe there’s just no marker there there for them. But whatever the case is, Viome does have a little caveat that basically if it tells you to eat a food that or that a food is OK, that you know is not good for you, then definitely avoid it.

Maria Marlowe: [00:39:41] This is not 100 percent foolproof, but it does give you a pretty accurate representation of what you should be eating or avoiding. If you want to test your own microbiome and get those personalized dietary suggestions. You can check out Viome, head to a, that’s v i o m e dot com forward slash and a r l o w E and you’ll get 50 percent off your kit. Now I want to just kind of finally to close up. I do want to offer a couple anecdotes to really drive this point home a little bit deeper of how food is our medicine. And to find the best diet, you really need to be a body detective and optimize. You can’t just sort of take an off the rack diet like the paleo diet or the vegan diet or the keto diet, because it’s not going to necessarily work for you. I know plenty of people, men and women, who the keto diet has done really well for them. They feel great. They’ve reached their optimal weight and they’re feeling good.

Maria Marlowe: [00:40:52] I’ve also heard from multiple people that the keto diet was making them lose their memory and they felt like they couldn’t remember anything. So they ended up going back to a more paleo or pegan style of eating with the vegan diet. A lot of people feel great on it for a period of time, but sometimes over time they start to not feel great. And I want to talk about the vegan diet in particular for a little bit because I do promote a very plant-based lifestyle. And so I know sometimes a lot of times people think that I’m vegan and I was vegan many, many years ago for a short period of time. But I think just because I talk so much about vegetables, people automatically assume that I’m vegan, but I’m not. And there’s, in fact, seafood recipes on my Web site. And I talk about these kinds of foods in my book and in my programs. Here’s the thing. A vegan diet coming from like a whole food plant based diet. Let me clarify. Right. Because a vegan diet could be Oreos and, you know, cookies and things. A whole food plant based diet that is 100 percent vegan can be a huge, huge improvement, especially coming from the standard American diet. However, it is very easy to develop deficiencies as a vegan. And what’s more, it could because many vegan diets are or include a lot of beans, lentils and whole grains, including wheat.

Maria Marlowe: [00:42:33] You could end up with digestive issues and eventually even autoimmune conditions because of leaky gut. So let me give you two examples. I’ll actually give you three examples. So before I mentioned Dr. Terry Wahls and how she developed M.S.. Well, she was a vegetarian for 20 years. When she started digging in the research and looking at her nutrient levels and just looking at what she was eating and how her body was at that moment, she realized that she actually needed to add in animal products. And it was very, very hard for her. She’s written about this, that you was not only vegetarian for health purposes, but for for moral purposes. And she found it very hard to wrap your head around in the beginning that she had to start including animal proteins in there. Eventually she did, and eventually she healed her M.S.. So that’s just one example. Another example is also Dr. Amy Myers, who healed her autoimmune condition. And she was also vegetarian for, I think, at least a decade before she developed her autoimmune condition. And I want to tell you about me as well. So I grew up eating a very standard American diet. I pretty much just a pizza, cookies and demands cheese, Danish McDonald’s and T-Bone steak.

Maria Marlowe: [00:43:56] That was actually my my favorite thing to eat. My dad was best friends with a butcher. And so we would always have steak and milk and cheese and all this like it was an Italian deli. So all this amazing meat and animal products, which was not organic, of course. Anyway, it tastes it tasted good at the time. So that’s what I grew up on. I come from a family where obesity is the norm, not the exception, where pretty much everyone, including like the younger people, not just older people, has at least one chronic condition. And so for me, illness and weight problems were just a regular part of of my life at that time, because that’s all I know. And that’s you know, that’s what we were eating when I got to college and I started experimenting with my diet. I originally did it because I wanted to clear up my acne. And I realized when I took the meat out and when I took the dairy out, it made a huge impact on my skin. And so I eventually started going towards the vegan vegan direction and was actually vegan for a period of time. There were not as many resources are as there are now and not like a ton of education about it. So for me, a vegan diet basically meant a whole wheat. Everything I was eating whole wheat bread.

Maria Marlowe: [00:45:24] I was eating whole wheat crackers. I was eating whole wheat cookies, vegan cookies because I thought, oh, it’s a vegan cookie. So it must be healthy. Right. So I made all of those mistakes and I really thought that I was actually eating very healthy at the time. But over a period of time, I did develop an autoimmune condition. Now, let me just back that up and say I was having a lot of digestive issues at that time as well. So I was having to run to the bathroom every time I ate my breakfast cereal in the morning. I was sneezing after I eat my whole wheat bread, you know, toast, whatever. I was eating avocado toast. And I did have multiple signs that what I was eating wasn’t good for me. But at that time, I didn’t realize those little signals like me sneezing or me having to run to the bathroom or having diarrhea or whatever the case was, having pain, having bloating. I didn’t realize that that was my body. Like, Hey, Maria, wake up. Please stop feeding us this because you’re enflaming. You’re God and you’re you’re hurting our body. So I didn’t realize that back then. But in retrospect, I can see how my overconsumption of weed led to presumably leaky gut, which then led to my auto immune condition.

Maria Marlowe: [00:46:39] So I have something called morphea, which is a form of scleroderma derma, which basically my skin sort of attacks itself and creates scar tissue for absolutely no reason. Now when I first got got it, it started off small and then it sort of grew to this huge shiny patch on my chest. And then eventually as I started to optimize my diet and my stress and everything, it did actually go away. But then it did recently come back. And so now I know that I have to really focus on eating what’s called the ATP protocol or the auto immune paleo protocol. This is very similar to the pegan diet, but there are some specific changes in specific foods. Like, for example, a big part of the ATP protocol is consuming organ meats. So, for example, liver now someone with an autoimmune condition. This is really important for them to get the nutrients they need and to heal their body to get back to health. However, if you don’t have an auto immune condition and you don’t want to eat organ meat, you may not have to. It definitely can offer health benefits, but you if you have no reason to really consume it, you don’t have to rights, which is another example of how you really need to figure out the best foods for your unique body. And while I haven’t confirmed it with any additional testing, I do think that my results from the biome test do suggest that I have leaky gut, which would make sense because I have been eating a lot of beans, especially now that I recently moved, and it’s a little bit harder to get the highest quality animal products. And it was harder to get wild seafood, for example. So I was just relying very heavily on beans and lentils, which can also open tight junctions. It’s not just gluten, it’s also things like chickpeas, for example, in small amounts.

Maria Marlowe: [00:48:45] For many people, they shouldn’t be problematic. However, for others who are more susceptible to them or who are eating a very large quantity of them like myself, that’s when you can run into trouble with them. So it was interesting that Viome did pick that up and suggests that certain things like Kiwi and chickpeas and certain grains that I do avoid because of the components of them and also because it could worsen my inflammation. So I am going to follow the recommendations in the app and I’m also going to just generally start the AIP protocol. I to be honest with you. You know, for so long I felt like I eat so healthy and I had tried the AIP protocol and because I was coming from mostly a plant based diet and apparently because I can’t digest fatty beef. When I first started it, I just went crazy on eating beef and bone broth and all these things. And it sent me straight to the bathroom and was making me sick. So I was like, OK, fine. Like I cannot eat beef. Like, I just. No, it doesn’t sit right with me, it makes me sick like. So I basically just stopped being strict on the AIP diet. But what what biome also reaffirmed is that OK? For whatever reason, I can’t digest fatty meat. However, I can apparently, or I should be able to have lean, leaner meat.

Maria Marlowe: [00:50:17] So what I have found is that I can take bison like bison meat, organic grass-fed. I can digest perfectly fine and do really well with it. Similarly, other types of meat I do fine with. So in terms of really figuring out the best diet for you, I think it’s a mix of trial and error. That’s definitely a huge part of it. But also you can sort of fast track that by doing some sort of microbiome tests that will give you more targeted guidelines to follow and will kind of push you forward a bit faster than just doing trial and error on your own. Another last example I want to give you with diet. So if you guys follow me on Instagram, you know, about a year ago and I think I also mentioned this earlier. My mom woke up one morning and her ankles and legs were extremely swollen and retaining water. So this, of course, terrified her. She went straight to the doctor emergency room. And the doctor is basically like your two days away from having a stroke.

Maria Marlowe: [00:51:25] My mom had extremely, extremely high blood pressure and, of course, heart disease, but really had no idea because she hadn’t been to the doctor in decades. This obviously scared her. And so she did go on medication because she was at a very dangerous point at that point. So she did go on medication, but it’s really like woke her up and she decided to make huge changes in her diet and her lifestyle. So she definitely started eating more plant-based, although she didn’t eat a ton of animal products before.

Maria Marlowe: [00:51:59] But she definitely was not like super,, you know, she didn’t care if it was organic or not and things like that. And she did have a lot of sugar and bread and refined carbohydrates and gluten that really made up the bulk of her diet. So long story short, I had read from Dr. William Davis and it was either Undoctored or his earlier book, Wheat Belly, about the impact that wheat has on the heart. So I really highly, highly encouraged her to not only go plant-based like more plant based, but or like the basically the pegan diet, but also that key component is, of course, removing removing gluten. And so fast forward to today, which is about a year later, she is in great health. In fact, she’s in better health and she’s ever been. And before this episode, she was struggling with a number of health issues that she would just brush off as normal. So, one, she would have digestive issues all of the time. She would brush them off. Why? Because she had them all of the time. And she just thought they were normal. She just thought, oh, this this must be my body. So she would brush them off, would not address them. And then the other issue she had is she had hurt her back. Somehow, I think she had slipped and come down on her knee or something. And like her hip, you know, her hip started hurting. So she she was having some pain there or maybe it was like her hip. And then I started going to her back and she was going to chiropractors. And the pain would kind of come and go. Sometimes it would be worse. Sometimes it could get better. And this persisted for for quite some time. I’m talking like months and months, maybe like the better part of a year.

Maria Marlowe: [00:53:49] And she, like I said, it would, you know, would come and go. And and one one afternoon before she had this whole heart disease episode or, you know, at the hospital, she came to visit me. And we were supposed to go spend the Saturday at the Union Square Farmer’s Market. And when she arrived, she looked like she was crippled, like she literally could not walk. She was moving her feet like a little old granny, which my mom is not that old. And, you know, earlier I’d seen her a week earlier and she was she was walking just fine. So it’s for me to see this is it was very, very scary and very unsettling. Long story short, like I she was also having like crazy digestive issues at the time. And I really urged her, I’m like, please, you have to stop eating gluten. Like I asked her what you have for breakfast. She had an English muffin. So I just I just knew the two were related.

Maria Marlowe: [00:54:48] Unfortunately, parents just don’t like listening to their children. So she she didn’t know. She. She kept it out for a little while, but she she just couldn’t understand that bread, what she served at church. Right. I bread that bread could be such a cause of her issues. Anyway, long story short, after the heart heart scare, she did take out out out gluten because I really urged her and said that there is a pretty significant link between the two. So not only did she heal her heart, her digestive issues disappeared and what she was struggling with for years, by the way, and she no longer has that back and hip pain. It literally disappeared. So she really thought it was like the way that she moved or was walking or like, you know, if she would reheat it or something like that, that that was triggering it. And maybe that would help kind of set it off. But it was really what she was eating. That was inflaming her and causing this excruciating pain to the point where she sometimes couldn’t walk. She had to lay down and and all of that. You know, I share these stories and my story and her story with permission, because I you know, I just knowing it’s not the same as doing. And, you know, even like with my own mom, like she knows all the things, she has my book, you know, she she’s been watching me, you know, do this for for years and years and years.

Maria Marlowe: [00:56:15] And so she knows all the information, but she wasn’t actually implementing it. So I really urge you, if you’re listening to take what you’re learning and take what you know and put it into action, when you upgrade your diet, you seriously upgrade your entire life. And when you feel better, you have a better life. Right. You’re happier. You’re you have more energy and you can just live a fuller life. So it’s not just your immediate health that will improve. It’s literally your entire life. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t feel like you’re starting too late. Don’t feel like you’ve done so much damage. You can’t possibly repair it. No, no, no, no, no. None of that is true. You can start in any moment. And the amazing thing is that every single day you have the power to make a new choice. In fact, every single meal you have, the power to make a new choice, you wield immense power with your fork. So don’t get discouraged. Just work on it. And dietary changes, some of them will give you nearly instantaneous results. You can see huge improvements and huge differences in your health. In just a few days, by making simple changes, by adding things that are taking things out, but to heal a condition like to heal autoimmune disease, that’s not going to happen overnight. And so you do have to stick with it. You have to give it time. You have to have faith. So just don’t give up. That’s all I want to say is if you you know, if you think you eat pretty healthy, but you still have some health issues, you may not be eating the healthiest diet for you. And if you don’t eat healthy right now, that’s totally OK. Like I said, you can always make a new choice. And if you are committed to feeling better, looking better, having better health, and you make that new choice to start today.

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