Book Excerpt
Eat Right for Your Metabolism : How the Right Foods for Your Type Can Help You Lose Weight
by Felicia Drury Kliment

An excerpt from Eat Right for Your Metabolism : How the Right Foods for Your Type Can Help You Lose Weight by Felicia Drury Kliment, published 2006 by McGraw-Hill.
Book excerpt reprinted with the permission of the publisher.
Copyright © 2006 Felicia Drury Kliment




Shedding New Light on Your Metabolism

Why Nutritious Foods Are Not Always Healthy for You


There's No Such Thing as a Standardized Diet

Why We Should Eat According to Our Metabolic Types

The biggest problem with diet "experts" -- nutritionists who dictate government policy on nutrition; diet gurus who write bestselling books; and nutritionists who plan menus for schools, hospitals, prisons, and other institutions -- is their assumption that the same dietary rules apply to everyone. The mistake in recommending a standardized diet is that it doesn't take into consideration the multiethnic society in the United States. Each ethnic group that immigrates to this country brings with it its own culinary tradition -- and a digestive apparatus attuned to it. So when immigrants switch to the foods most commonly eaten in this country -- red meat, deep-fried foods, soft drinks -- they are apt to develop digestive problems, a sign of more serious health problems to come. This scenario has been substantiated by innumerable studies (see "Abandoning the Ancestral Diet Causes Health Problems" later in this chapter) showing that immigrant populations suffer from more degenerative disease in the United States than they did in their countries of origin. The problem boils down to this: when food isn't digested -- split up into units that are small enough to be absorbed into the cells and reconstituted into substances that the cells can utilize -- the body, though having enough calories for energy, goes into a state of starvation. Without enough nutrients, the cells can't be repaired and regenerated, so they malfunction or die out.

The Myth of the Standardized Diet

Even if your ancestors have lived in the United States for hundreds of years, the typical American diet may not be suitable for you. You know you're not eating foods your digestive system can break down if a half hour to two hours after a snack or a meal you begin to feel unwell or suffer indigestion -- although occasionally symptoms of indigestion don't occur until twenty-four hours after eating. People typically associate only digestive tract symptoms such as nausea, acid reflux, ulcers, diarrhea, and colitis with the wrong diet. But in fact all pain, discomfort, and unnatural changes in appearance -- red cheeks, chipping and peeling fingernails, hair fall-out, coughing after swallowing food, headaches, restlessness, dizziness, irritability, bursitis and joint pain, insomnia, depression, dry eyes or mouth, cracked lips, chronic colds and/or infections, even floaters in the eyes -- are caused by eating the wrong foods.

A sign that what you ate the night before is not right for you is waking up in the morning with a stuffy nose and watery eyes. Dr. Jonathan V. Wright, director of the Tahoma Clinic and editor of the newsletter Nutrition and Healing, writes, "If a woman tells me her fingernails crack, split, peel, break easily, or `layer back' . . . or that her hair is thinning or falling out, I know that her stomach is not functioning properly." In fact, there isn't a single symptom or full-blown illness, gastric or otherwise, that can't be caused by the toxic by-products of an inappropriate diet. This includes bacterial and viral infections. If you are not convinced that your aches and pains are caused by what you eat, go on a one-day water fast. The chances are one hundred to one you'll feel better the next day.

"Pain, discomfort, and unnatural changes in appearance are caused by eating the wrong foods."

Most people in their youth and young adulthood can get away with eating just about anything and not experience any adverse symptoms because their digestive enzyme glands can produce all the enzymes necessary for digestion. But enzyme glands that are chronically forced to overproduce are usually worn out by middle age. Without enough enzymes, the food you eat doesn't get digested.

To get the nutritional value you need, follow a diet that fits your particular digestive requirements. No food item, no matter how nutritious, is suitable for everyone. This truth was brought home to me at a dinner party at which the food was unusually rich. I noticed, after the dinner was over, how differently people reacted to the same foods. Some guests remained cheerful and alert, while others complained of feeling stuffed or looked uncomfortable and were no longer socializing. This made clear that quantities of enzymes, acids, bile, and flora involved in breaking down different kinds of protein, fats, and carbohydrates differ from one individual to the next, and that, as a result, diet should be customized to each person's particular digestive needs.

Most people are either red meat eaters or grain eaters, that is, they either have more enzymes for digesting red meat or more enzymes for digesting grains, chicken, and fish. But in terms of the proportions of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in the diet, humans everywhere have pretty much the same needs. Still, even here there are exceptions.

Stacy, a successful publicist in her early twenties, doesn't fit the stereotype. Although human energy needs require that around 60 percent of the diet should consist of carbohydrates, Stacy can digest only a fraction of that amount. She feels bloated on even small portions of potatoes, pasta, rice, or bread. The meal she digests best is steak or lamb chops along with asparagus, string beans, green peas, or cauliflower. She has enough starch digesting enzymes to handle the small amounts of starch in these vegetables but not enough to break down the large amounts of starch in potatoes, rice, pasta, and grain products.

A small percentage of people have a problem digesting foods that fit their metabolic type. I'm an example. As a red meat eater I have no problem with beef -- a legacy of my English genes -- but get nauseated if I eat even a small amount of lamb. Lamb is also a red meat, so as a meat eater, I should have no trouble digesting it.

There are also grain eaters who have a problem digesting foods appropriate to their metabolism. I have one client with a grain-eating metabolism who feels bloated whenever she eats wheat. And then there are people who don't like certain foods in their metabolic category. My grandson Matthew is one such person. He commented, at the age of 6, "I'm a strange man; I don't like butter." He didn't realize how prescient this remark was because he is, constitutionally, a meat eater and meat eaters usually love butter because they have a biological need for it. These are examples of the small number of people who, for one reason or another, can't follow the rules of nutrition that are appropriate for others in their category.

The problem that overrides all others, however, is the attitude of medical scientists and nutritionists who don't recognize that diet should be custom fitted to the individual's biological requirements. Perhaps these scientists' views of diet have been influenced by the ideal of democracy, namely, that all humans, given the same opportunities, can achieve the same goals. Governed by this populist way of thinking, they assume that if people raised under the same circumstances are potentially capable of behaving alike, they also have similar biological requirements and therefore the same dietary needs. So food scientists, instead of seeing the solution to health problems to be one of fitting the diet to the individual, recommend a single diet that they believe will take care of the nutrient requirements of everyone.

"We are not all created equal: we each have our own dietary needs for our unique bodies."

Dr. Marion Nestle, head of the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University, illustrates this way of thinking. While her studies on how the food industry contributes to obesity by making food items oversized are on target, her notion of what constitutes a good diet is open to question. She says that everyone should "eat more fruits and vegetables and not eat too much." This implies that neither the kind nor quality of foods, nor matching foods to individual digestive requirements, make any difference to health -- as long as people eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and don't eat too much.

That the nutritional requirements of individuals are all the same is also the official position taken by the United States government. In an article in the Health and Fitness section of the New York Times, the surgeon general is quoted as stating that "the goal of the government is for all Americans to consume at least three servings of whole grains a day." This recommendation is not based on individual needs but on the fact that the fiber in grains provides excellent roughage and is also a rich source of nutrients. For this reason everyone, except those with allergies to the gluten and gliadin protein in wheat and/or other grains, should eat some grains -- but not everyone should or can eat three or more helpings of grain a day. Those individuals who digest grains better than meat can in most cases easily digest that much grain, while individuals with meat-eating metabolisms can rarely do so.

The standardization of the American diet is given further impetus by the dietary guidelines issued every five years by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture. One important way in which the guidelines for 2005 differ from those of 2000 is in suggesting larger amounts of fruit and vegetables. But like the 2000 guidelines, those of 2005 ignore the fact that people of different ages have different nutritional requirements. For example, the recommendation to drink an 8-ounce glass of milk three times a day to satisfy calcium requirements doesn't take into consideration the findings of research studies that reveal drinking large amounts of milk is unhealthy for teenagers and adults. (See the section, "Milk Can Sabotage Your Diet" in Chapter 3.) As for the recommendation to eat low-fat cheese to keep the amount of saturated fat in the diet small, it's ill advised on two counts. First, it ignores the fact that separating some of the fat from the cheese involves the use of toxic chemicals. Second, it doesn't take into consideration the fact that everyone needs some saturated fat in his or her diet.

Heredity and Protein Choice

Most diet plans, with the exception of the Atkins diet and other high-protein, high-fat, low-carbohydrate diets, treat red meat and butter as though they were poison because of their saturated fat content. Yet red meat and butter contain more minerals and vitamins than any other food. The unfounded advice of so many diets, namely, that red meat and butter should be eaten sparingly, or not at all, doesn't take into consideration either their high nutrient value or the fact that the meat of four-legged animals, particularly beef, is the traditional fare of the many people in this country who are descended from the early colonists -- many of whom were from the British Isles.

The British people's taste for red meat goes back at least eight thousand years. The meat-eating proclivity of the ancient Britons was a surprise to archaeologists. They assumed that because the oldest settlements in Great Britain had been founded primarily along coastlines and the banks of rivers, the principal dietary staples at that time would have been fish and plant foods. This theory has been discounted as a result of an analysis of an eight thousand-year-old female thighbone conducted by the archaeologist Glyn Davies of the University of Sheffield in England. Found in a river bank in the central part of England, the patterns of nitrogen and carbon isotopes in the thighbone show that the woman's diet was almost exclusively carnivorous, having only occasionally been supplemented with berries or roots, and showing no evidence at all that the woman had eaten fish! Marks found on the bones of wild cattle nearby are further evidence that eight thousand years ago the English people, even those living beside rivers and other bodies of water, ate meat to the exclusion of fish.

The genes of these meat-eating ancient Britons were transmitted through successive generations and, beginning in the seventeenth century, were brought to the New World. The descendents of these English colonists living in the United States today are still, constitutionally, meat eaters, so that a diet of grains, chicken, and fish is not suitable for them.

The ancient Britons were not the only people who turned their backs on fish as a dietary staple despite having built their settlements alongside rivers that teemed with fish. Paul Theroux in his book Dark Star Safari remarks that while walking along the Nile River in Dongola, Sudan, he was surprised at how few fishermen he saw. He was told that the Sudanese in the north were not great fish eaters, because "fish didn't keep in the heat and . . . lamb and camel and goat were tastier."

The Norse people who established a colony in Greenland in a.d. 984 -- that by 1400 had disappeared -- are another example of a people who didn't include fish in their diet despite the abundance of fish in nearby coastal waters. And even during the potato famine when they had hardly anything to eat, the Irish living along the coast shunned fish. They would wade into the water searching for clams washed in by the tide, but they never ventured farther into the water in boats for the purpose of catching fish. Thus even in cases in which a people's favored food staple is scarce, they will often avoid another food that is nutritious and easy to obtain because it is not part of their dietary tradition.

Yet many diet experts ignore the fact that food is an expression of culture. As a result, they don't take into consideration, when formulating diet plans, the melting pot of nationalities in the United States, each requiring a different diet to satisfy their nutritional needs. Nutritionists also have a tendency to base their diets on the research studies that support their preconceived contentions, while ignoring the studies whose conclusions point in the opposite direction.

Making Sense of Ancestral Dietary Traditions

What accounts for a culture's choice of its dietary protein staple? Soil and climate are the principal influences, but religion is also a factor. For example, the ancient Chinese clans chose millet as their protein staple because they believed this grain was the offspring of the Earth God. This is just one example of a culture that cultivated grains despite tremendous obstacles such as unpredictable floods and droughts when they have close at hand equally nutritious and more easily obtainable sources of protein in the form of meat and/or seafood. After a protein staple has been eaten by a cultural group for a long time, the need for it becomes biologically ingrained. Genetically imposed nutritional requirements have evolved from the long-term eating habits of people who live within the same geographical area. This evolution is confirmed by a research study in which scientists examined short segments of DNA of people around the world. The DNA samples revealed that those people living in the same region -- and who are therefore highly likely to eat the same kinds of foods -- have similarities in their genetic makeup. Thus the structure of the digestive enzymes is determined by the genetic code, whose instructions were inscribed by the foods consumed by a particular cultural group living in the same area for many hundreds or more likely thousands of years.

The genetic determination of our digestive chemicals is getting further recognition as a result of the mapping of the entire genetic code of human DNA. This research has given birth to a new branch of science called genomics, whose objective is to discover by way of genetic analysis what foods are best suited to the individual. Although the relevant data on genomic profiles of ethnically diverse individuals have yet to be assembled, several companies are already offering nutritional supplement plans that genomic scientists have worked out on the basis of individual DNA profiles.

"The structure of the digestive enzymes is determined by the genetic code, whose instructions were inscribed by the foods consumed by a particular cultural group living in the same area for many hundreds or more likely thousands of years."

An unintended double-blind study in which the "subjects," starving children in Africa, were first fed a European-type food and later a traditional food staple is further evidence that the long-term food habits of an ethnic group are hardwired into their genes. When the usual enriched biscuits and powdered milk fed to the starving children in Ethiopia, Zaire, and Malawi were replaced by a paste made of peanuts, the recovery rate rose from 25 percent to 95 percent. This startling turnaround occurred because throughout Africa peanuts have been a food staple for generations, so the peanuts caused no digestive problems that would have prevented the children's recovery. The compatibility of peanuts to the African digestive metabolism was confirmed by allergy tests given by Nutriset SAS, a French company that manufactures food for humanitarian purposes. Not one child in any of these African countries had an allergic reaction to peanuts.

Abandoning the Ancestral Diet Causes Health Problems

That the genes that determine the makeup of individuals' digestive metabolism evolved from the dietary habits of their antecedents is also evident from the health problems of people who give up their ancestral diets. The Masai tribes in East Africa who have replaced their traditional diet of cow's milk and blood with corn and beans are experiencing health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes, that were previously nonexistent in their society.

The East Indians and Pakistanis who replaced their grain-based diet and traditional spices with the typical meat-based American diet when they immigrated to the United States are also plagued with health problems, especially heart disease -- unlike those Indian and Pakistani immigrants in this country who continue to eat traditional foods. In a paper published in the Quarterly Review of Biology, Jennifer Billing and Dr. Paul Sherman conclude that a diet of highly spiced foods, such as that of India, requires different kinds of digestive enzymes than the traditionally bland diet of northern European countries. Thus people whose ancestors ate spicy foods probably digest food more efficiently when it is seasoned, particularly with the spices indigenous to their country of origin. Such spices may help supplement nutrients that are in short supply in the culture's traditional dietary staples.

The evidence that a radical change in diet causes health problems goes back thousands of years. George J. Armelagos, an anthropologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville, studied the skeletons of Native Americans who lived from a.d. 950 to 1300 in what is now Illinois. He found a sudden increase in the incidence of iron-deficiency anemia from 16 percent to 64 percent and a sudden drop in life expectancy from twenty-six years to nineteen years.

This deterioration in health and longevity coincided with the period during which the Native Americans in Illinois had given up hunting and gathering for intensive farming. The analysis of more than 12,500 skeletons of Native Americans from sites in North and South America shows a far greater incidence of infections, joint disease, dental decay, and anemia from sites where agriculture had replaced hunting and foraging. Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs, and Steel, writes, "The first farmers in many areas were smaller and less well nourished, suffered more serious disease, and died on the average at a younger age than the hunter-gatherers they replaced."13 Diamond believes the reason the upsurge in farming triggered infectious disease is because this lifestyle supported a much denser population than that of the hunter-forager. As a result, communicable diseases spread faster. He writes that with a nonmigratory lifestyle the same source of water is often used as a latrine as well as for drinking and cooking, "thus providing microbes with a short path from one person's body into another's drinking water."

It's true that disease travels faster when people live close to each other and use the same water supply for all their needs. But if this was the only reason for the outbreak of epidemics, it would mean that communicable diseases existed in Stone Age cultures and all it took for them to become epidemic was more densely populated communities and the resulting pollution of water sources. In fact, the Stone Age hunter didn't suffer from contagious or degenerative disease, but from snake and spider bites, rashes, upset stomachs, and diarrhea caused by minor parasites and worm infestations. Infection by parasites is thought to have originated from the unintentional eating of insects. But infection would also have been caused by malnutrition because malnourished people are more vulnerable to infection. And malnutrition occurred in Stone Age cultures that lived in areas where the soil was mineral deficient or the rainfall was sparse.

Communicable disease first made its appearance in the Neolithic era, nine thousand to twelve thousand years ago. Researchers measuring the differing proportions of carbon in the collagen (connective tissue) in human bones dating from that time found that the abrupt shift in diet, from the Stone Age fare of wild animals, seeds, nuts, roots, and berries to cultivated plants and domesticated animals, had a harmful effect on health. (See the sidebar "The Beginning of Agriculture.")

Once a seasonal weather cycle developed after the end of the Ice Age, it was possible to grow crops. The majority of hunting-based cultures responded to this ordering of the climate. They gave up a life in which they met their nutritional needs by hunting animals that ran free and gathering roots, nuts, seeds, and berries for a sedentary one spent sowing seeds and cultivating crops. The seasonal cycle also lured most of the grassland cultures that had periodically picked up their goods and chattels to go in search of water and grazing for their cattle or sheep to attach themselves to one locale to cultivate or barter for grains to feed their animals during the winter. When this changeover in occupation took place and those who had settled in one place to raise crops had, by force of arms, taken away the hunters' domain of woodland and forest, the defeated hunting bands retreated into the mountains and agriculture became the prevailing way of life on the plains.

While cultivating cereals gave Neolithic cultures more control over their food supply, it had a negative affect on the health of the newly domesticated livestock, and ultimately on that of humans. As long as cattle, hogs, and fowl had lived off wild grasses, they were free of disease, but when they began to feed on cultivated grains, infectious disease broke out. By cultivating the seeds from wild rye, barley, and wheat plants, the agriculturalists converted wild cereal grains into new varieties that animals used to eating wild grasses weren't able to digest. The undigested domesticated grains fermented in the animals' digestive tracts, and the resulting acid waste became a source of nourishment for unfriendly bacteria. (See the sidebar "Standard Versus Natural Diet for Zoo Animals" for more information on the effect of dietary change on wild animals.)

It was at the point when the disease-causing germs in the bodies of domesticated animals became numerous enough to establish colonies and began multiplying too fast for the animals' immune systems to keep them in check that infectious disease in animals made its appearance. This fits in with zoologist Graham Twigg's contention that the Black Death was not transmitted by rats on merchant ships carrying goods from Asia to Europe but rather by European cattle herds that had become infected with anthrax.

Sometime after domesticated animals became prone to infectious disease, the phenomenon of host jumping occurred -- the crossover of disease-carrying viruses and bacteria from domesticated animals to man. (Close proximity, however, sometimes conferred immunity. Young women who milked cows seldom caught smallpox.)

Eating infected animal meat wasn't the only reason humans began developing contagious diseases in the Neolithic age. The changeover from a diet of game, nuts, seeds, wild roots, and berries to one of cultivated grains had the same inflammatory effect in the human body as it had in animals, and for the same reason: the digestive enzymes couldn't break down these new genetically variant grains.

The Challenge of Eating Right for Our Metabolism

Such factors as climate, geography, and an urban landscape can make it difficult for people to follow their ancestral dietary traditions. The tremendous industrial growth in the United States in the early part of the twentieth century attracted massive numbers of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe who in their native countries had, for the most part, worked on farms. In the United States they got jobs in factories and lived in urban areas where they had no access to the homegrown vegetables and fresh meat and eggs that were their daily fare in their native countries. Even immigrants who settled in rural areas couldn't grow their traditional dietary staples if the climate and soil were not comparable to what it was in their native countries. Peruvian Indians, fairly recent immigrants to the United States, can only grow quinoa, their indigenous dietary staple, if they happen to live in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, where the climate and elevation are similar to those of the Andes Mountains in Peru where quinoa is grown. (See the sidebar "Transplanted Diets" for the contrasting story of Italian immigrants to California.)

"If the diet doesn't suit their metabolic type, however, any beneficial results will be short-lived."

Most people who immigrate to the United States abandon their traditional eating habits and take up the typical American diet of hamburgers, pizza, muffins, chips, cold cereals, cookies, and frozen foods. These nutrient deficient, inappropriate foods have created a population that is not only the fattest in the world but also one of the unhealthiest among the industrialized nations. The problem in a nutshell is that most people in this country eat foods they can't digest, so the foods stay in the digestive tract and deteriorate into highly acidic putrid or rancid acidic debris. This explains why it's hard to find anyone who isn't suffering from one symptom or another -- arthritis, ulcers, insomnia, menstrual problems, chronic fatigue syndrome, and high blood pressure -- all of which can lead to more serious degenerative diseases.

Some people recognize that the foods they're eating aren't right for them and begin following a program of so-called "healthy" foods. If the diet doesn't suit their metabolic type, however, any beneficial results will be short lived. If nutritious foods can't be broken down in the digestive tract into a form the body can use, not only are the nutrients in the food lost, the undigested food mass increases toxicity in the body instead of reducing it.

Eat Right for Your Metabolism : How the Right Foods for Your Type Can Help You Lose Weight by Felicia Drury Kliment,


Lose weight and prevent disease -- without dieting!

You've tried low-fat, low-carb, and high-protein diets, but you can't seem to keep the weight off. Why? As nutritionist Felicia Drury Kliment explains, all digestive metabolisms are not the same, and your friend's diet miracle could be your diet disaster. The fact is, when you eat right for your metabolism, your body automatically regulates your food intake.

An easy-to-follow, customizable diet based on metabolic type that helps you get rid of excess fat and enjoy a healthy life. A diet that produces amazing results for someone else may fail miserably for you. Why? Researcher and nutritional consultant Felicia Drury Kliment explains that since people have different metabolic types, eating the wrong foods can lead to poor digestion, which causes weight gain and ill health. In Eat Right for Your Metabolism, you'll learn how to determine your metabolism type and customize a diet that helps you meet your goals for weight loss and long-lasting health.

Along with nutritional information, this book contains menu plans as well as delicious recipes for all metabolic types.

Eat Right for Your Metabolism : How the Right Foods for Your Type Can Help You Lose Weight by Felicia Drury Kliment,


In her early years as a classroom teacher in the public schools in New York City, Felicia Drury Kliment was determined to find the cause of the three disorders that plague the inner city school child: obesity, learning disabilities and behavioral disorders. The cause of all three, according to a research study she conducted with a colleague at City College, was diet. Since that time Kliment has focused her research, writing, and consulting practice on customizing diet for individuals of all ages and walks of life.

Kliment has been widely published, including articles in academic journals during her tenure at City College. Among them are: Beyond Psychoanalysis: The Case for Nutritional Remedies for the Learning Disabled and Emotionally Disturbed, The Clearing House; Linking School-Based Diet with Behavior Disorders, Using Nutrients to Improve Brain Function in the Mentally Retarded, Thyroid and Health: A Fresh Perspective on the Consequences of Low Thyroid Function, Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation Nutrition Journal; Using Nutrition, Exercise, and Air to Heal the Lungs, New Living. Kliment was also a nutritional columnist for The Amsterdam News, the most prominent black newspaper in the New York area. She is the author of The Acid Alkaline Balance Diet published by McGraw-Hill/Contemporary in 2002.

Kliment did research on how the philosophy of yin (acid) and yang (alkaline) became the basis of Chinese medicine. The results were incorporated in a series of papers published in the International Journal of Comparative Religion and Philosophy.

Kliment is currently a nutritionist in private practice.

Eat Right for Your Metabolism : How the Right Foods for Your Type Can Help You Lose Weight by Felicia Drury Kliment,