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Good Foods Don’t Exist

Couple eating together outdoors
April 18, 2016 (Updated: August 16, 2018)
Lily Moran

Everyone knows that losing weight means eating “good” foods, avoiding “bad” foods, and (ugh)—counting calories.

But what if it’s not about “good” foods versus “bad?”

And what if it’s not even about calories?

It’s all about your unique gut.

Fact: it’s about your metabolic and digestive system makeup. The trillions of “good bacteria” in your unique gut or microbiome.

They determine what’s good food and what’s bad. And it’s different for you than for everyone else.

A new Israeli study of diet and blood glucose levels shows that this is the case.

A simple example (the best kind)…

When Bob eats bread, that long-suffering dietary villain, his blood glucose level skyrockets. Bad for Bob.

When Sandy eats bread…no change in her blood glucose level.

Same bread, same amount…but widely different, even opposite, blood glucose responses.

There’s a major breakthrough here.

Digesting fifty thousand meals

The Israeli study monitored each subject’s blood glucose levels every five minutes, then matched the results with each subject’s food diary—who ate what, how much, when, etc.

It was an elegantly simple methodology—though studying more than 50,000 meals doesn’t seem exactly simple.

But it was worth every minute and mouthful. Especially because blood glucose levels are vital determinants of more than weight management in treating diabetes. They’re also key factors in many diseases, including cancer.

So getting a handle on exactly what makes your gut tick is hugely important.

In this case, the handle is a new algorithm (a complex, inter-related set of calculations) that can pinpoint exactly the foods that are best, and worst, for you—and only you.

Algorithm-tailored diets—the next big thing

Here’s glorious evidence of the new algorithm’s promising future.

The Israeli researchers used it to create custom-tailored diets for 20 pre-diabetic subjects. Each one was first given a diet tailored by the algorithm to minimize his or her blood glucose spikes. After a week, subjects switched to a diet with the same calorie content, but with no customization to control blood sugar.

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With the tailored diet, some subjects’ blood glucose levels fell from a pre-diabetic to a healthy level—in just one week.

With the second diet, the same subjects had glucose spikes that qualified as “glucose-intolerant,” i.e., not healthy.

Remarkable, and for my money, a huge directional sign pointing the way to the next big thing.

Please pass the ice cream…and butter

More examples of the old model turned upside down: many research subjects had little or no glucose responses after eating ice cream, a perennial bad actor in the calorie-counting world. For many others, bread with butter caused a lower glucose response than plain bread.

Ice cream? Butter? OK? Really?

Yes, really, but not for everyone—which is exactly the point here.

“There are many more such surprises, including foods considered to be good which on average are not,” says one of the research team.

Wait—tomatoes—not OK?

Here’s another example of shattered conventional wisdom. A lady who regularly ate plenty of tomatoes as part of her healthy diet just couldn’t lose weight.

When she eliminated the tomatoes, the pounds fell off.

Again—it’s not about the tomato, or any other food, being “good” or “bad.” It’s about the unique microbiome of the person doing the eating.

Here’s some additional icing on this fascinating cake. In his recent book, The Diet Myth: Why the Secret to Health and Weight Loss Is Already in Your Gut, a King’s College (London) professor of genetic epidemiology cites studies showing that even identical twins respond differently to similar diets.

That’s pretty amazing. Identical twins are born with identical genes, DNA, microbiomes.

Lifestyle and diet, we now know, can change how our genes behave. That’s clearly what happened in the case of the twins studied. Further proving this breakthrough discovery.

Observe yourself

As always, you’re the key factor in becoming or remaining healthy. Armed with this insight, how about keeping a keen eye on how you react to what you eat?

If you’re already on a glucose-monitoring regimen, or just trying to lose weight, pay attention to your energy levels while you eat, and after. You might find that a sugar buzz or a sugar crash can be traced to a particular food.

The more you can learn about how your gut responds to what you put in it, the wider the door opens to some potentially life-changing, even life-saving, behavioral changes.


  • Staff, Times of Israel. “Israeli scientists develop algorithm to help with weight loss” June 13, 2015, 1:53
  • O’Callaghan, J. “Could an Algorithm Help you Lose Weight?”
  • Sample, I. “Bespoke diets based on gut microbes could help beat disease and obesity.” Wednesday 10 June 2015 18.41

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