Happy 2023! Or, for those of you still on the Byzantine or Roman calendar, I hope you’re all having a great 7531!
My year started with dancing and Dancing Ledge, followed by an assault on a wardrobe, and then finally getting all the results back from my Zoe personalised nutrition experiment.
Data! — what a wonderful start to the year!
This Zoe experiment measured my blood sugar control, blood fat control and the contents of my guts. And, as a confirmed hypochondriac, the results are actually quite embarrassing.
What I was vaguely hoping for was some sort of blood or fecal explanation for my inherent recalcitrancy, soporific laziness, and, of course, those violent depressive episodes following any use of the letter ‘u’ in ‘sentences’ such as ‘what u up 2?’
Instead, I got this:
Excellent blood sugar control…
And very good blood fat control. Gutted.
Looks like I’ll have to come to terms with Prince-inspired lexical horrors alone.
But, hold ur horses — what’s this?
Yes! — I have a SHOCKING diversity of microbial species living in my gut!
No wonder I’m completely broken as a human being — frankly, it’s a miracle that I’m even able to sit here and type these wor— Oh, wait.
Apparently, Zoe have discovered that there’s actually a ‘more powerful’ measure of gut microbiome health than mere species diversity, one based on the ratio of ‘good’ to ‘bad’ bugs in my tumtum.
Turns out that my constitution is bullet proof. How irritating.
Oh well. Let’s put that aside and look instead at what all this data might mean for my eating habits.
For data nerds (and, if you’ve got this far, that’s you), this is where the fun begins.
Zoe rolls all those delicious data points together, feeds them into an algorithm and spits out a score for every single imaginable foodstuff that you might put into your gaping maw (except, for some conspiratorial reason, strawberries).
These findings are not earth shattering — who knew that scoffing cake might be suboptimal for your diet? (But if you are going to scoff cakes, scoff these…)
Personalised nutrition is more about tweaking the little things, making subtle improvements through substitution or combination.
My personal takeaways (TAKEAWAYS) from this experiment thus far are:
- Eat kale, broccoli and peas every day — green stuff, basically (mind blown, eh?)
- Go mad on apples, oranges, avocados, passionfruit, cherries and grapefruit, but avoid dried fruit (except semi-dried prunes) and, while I’m in the fruit aisle, not much point in picking up bananas either (interesting)
- My protein is, predictably, going to come from lentils, beans and tempeh (basically beans) — mind you, I haven’t been (BEAN) eating much of this sort of thing and my daily nutritional intake (which Zoe also calculates) has been totally fine without it
- Swap out peanut butter for almond butter (that’s gonna get spenny) and balsamic vinegar for white wine vinegar
- Eat bulgar wheat or pearl barley instead of rice, pasta or potatoes (and if I have to eat potatoes, go for sweet potatoes)
- Add extra virgin olive oil, olives, hummus, nutritional yeast, kimchi and all kinds of seeds to everything (even the Welsh cakes)
- When eating carbs, make sure to combine them with fats
Let’s see food combinations in action as we build the arch-hipster uber-brunch, smashed avo on toast, starting with just plain toast on the left:
See how one tablespoon of EVOO transforms that slice of rye sourdough toast from a worrying score of 45 (‘enjoy in moderation’) to a handsome score of 75 (‘enjoy freely’).
Smash some avo on top and — BOOM — 86 points, which I think translates to ‘gorge horrifically’.
So that’s how the Zoe program works. I won’t keep going on about it in this newsletter because it is, by definition, personalised to me.
It is also extremely expensive — £450 in total for the testing and four months of working with the data (that’s what I’ve started this week) — and most of you have much better things to be doing with that kind of money.
But I hope this little tour has helped you ponder a little about what’s going on inside you (and perhaps only you) when you put things inside yourself.
If you’re interested in reading more, I wrote this science-y explanation of how I (possibly) transformed my gut microbiome by cutting out sugar for three months.
There are some predictable and unavoidable generalities — eat your greens daily, save your cake for special occasions — but your microbiome, like mine, is unique and will behave differently with everything you eat.
If you are interested in trying the Zoe program, then I have an invite code that will get you instant access (otherwise there’s a waiting list). Hit me back and I’ll send it over.
And, by all means, I’d be happy (possibly a bit too happy) to go into excruciating detail about anything else you’re curious about. Just wind me up and set me going.
I have one last question: anyone know how to make sourdough from gram flour?
ps: Oh, by the way, I am also extremely grateful to my little bugs for being so goldarned healthy. It makes me wonder what effect the past couple of years of more-or-less veganism have had on the little blighters. Doesn’t seem to have done much harm, anyway.
pps: I’m also thrilled to see my uncool attraction to Emmental backed up by the data. Number one, baby!