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Navigating your Bio-Individuality

TIGNUM Thoughts

September 5th, 2020
By Angela Walker

As a nutritionist, I am endlessly fascinated by the bio-individuality of human beings. I love the intricacies of the human body - all the biochemical processes that make us tick and fire us up.

I am often asked in coaching, “What is the best diet for me?” If there truly was just one simple diet that worked for everyone, that would be easy to answer. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

One of the most remarkable human traits is our adaptability. We have the ability to drive change, rather than be driven by change. As it turns out, our diet gives us the ability to drive change in our bodies, so maybe exploring and designing the best diet for you is the key to developing your adaptability.

Recently, at the American Society of Nutrition conference, a very interesting study called the PREDICT study was presented. The ultimate purpose of the study was to look at how different individuals respond to the same food. While it has yet to be published, the investigators reported that individuals can have an eight-fold variation in how they respond to a standard meal. Was this due to genetics? Interestingly enough, after looking at identical twins, the research team did not believe this was the cause.

As it turns out, the research team believes that the microbiome is the main driver for the variation. Those 2kg (4.4lbs) of bacteria in your gut could be the key to finding the right diet for you.

This is fascinating and exciting because although we can't drive change in our genes, we can drive change in our microbiome. In fact, we can change the makeup of the microbiome in a relatively short time with the following approach:

  1. Choose foods high in fiber.
  2. Choose fermented foods and drinks.
  3. Choose a variety of colors in our fruits and vegetables to maximize the phytonutrients.
  4. Have an overnight fast of at least 12 hours.
  5. Use meals as a recovery break, chewing slowly and enjoying the food.

The recipe below is a great example of a microbiome powerhouse meal. You will get around 13g fiber, 9 different plant-based foods, and an array of micronutrients.

In our experience at TIGNUM, one of the best ways to personalize your nutrition is to apply your awareness with the mental model of Eat, Feel, Perform. (What do I eat? How does it make me feel? How does it impact my energy and brain performance?) An example might be:

  • _You eat granola for breakfast, you feel good for an hour, but then your energy dips and you feel hungry. You check the granola ingredients and realize it's quite high in simple sugars.
  • _The next day, you try a granola with no added sugars, and you add a plain Greek yogurt (a good protein source, a good source of fat, and a fermented food). You feel good after eating it, your energy stays steady, and your focus is high.

Following the lead from the PREDICT research, you may even find that how you respond to the same meal changes over time as your microbiome changes. This means that the Eat, Feel, Perform approach is a constant awareness exercise that helps you adjust your foods to Rule Your Impact.

As always, we'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences with this.


Lime-Scented Quinoa with Black Beans, Tomato, and Cilantro/Coriander


Servings for 2

  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1⁄4 cup finely chopped cilantro/coriander & flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon hot sauce/chili sauce (less if you don’t like food too hot)
  • Can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 medium-sized tomatoes
  • 1 red pepper, diced


  1. Bring stock to a boil and add quinoa.
  2. Stir and bring back to a simmer. Cover and cook for 12 to 14 minutes or until the quinoa is fluffy and tender. Set aside and let cool.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, lime juice, cilantro/coriander & parsley, salt and pepper, lime zest, and chili sauce.
  4. Place quinoa, beans, tomatoes, and pepper in a medium bowl.
  5. Add the olive oil mixture and toss.

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