Functional Culinary Medicine

Episode 106

Strive for Great Health Podcast Episode 106 – Functional Culinary Medicine

There is a new healthcare paradigm making waves, and it’s called functional culinary medicine. Have you heard of it? It’s taking the food is medicine philosophy and taking it a step further by combining the principles of functional medicine. Dr. Monisha Bhanote joins us on the podcast to discuss how she uses the principles of functional culinary medicine to heal her patients.

Connect with Dr. Bhanote

Get Her Book

Nimbus Healthcare

Lifestyle Medicine

Episode Transcript:

Dr. Richard Harris MD  00:00

Welcome to this episode of The strive for great health podcast and on this episode I have a friend of mine Dr. Manisha Benoit, who has a really interesting medical career. We’re going to talk about that in the show. But we’re gonna be talking about functional culinary medicine. You’ve heard me talk about functional medicine, and culinary medicine. Now we’re combining the two together. Are you ready to boost your health, EQ and IQ? Cue the music?

Dr. Richard Harris MD  00:36

Join me Dr. Richard Harris as we strive to unlock the secret to the human body. Strive for Wellness strive for great health. Follow the show on iTunes, Spotify, Google and Android.

Dr. Richard Harris MD  01:02

And now a word from our sponsors. Our sponsor is Nimbus healthcare, the company that I co founded personalized medicine personalized results, I’d Nimbus we don’t believe that there’s a one size fits all when it comes to treatment. And the data is starting to show that there’s a large variety of how people respond to certain things. And we’re in the Age of Science where we can use things like genetic testing, and biomarkers to truly customize a plan just for you. And that’s what we do at Nimbus healthcare. We are in the hair loss and the hormone space. And what we do is we use lifestyle medicine, supplements, and compounded prescription medication to tailor and individualize a plan just for you. If that sounds like something that you’re looking for, you can check out Nimbus Or click the link in the show notes. One of the things I get asked all the time is Richard, how can I support the podcast and the best way that you can support what we do at the strive for great health podcast is to invest in your health, with our lifestyle medicine course. The course is essentially everything that I do for myself and my loved ones to keep us in optimal health. It covers nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress management, we also dive really heavily into mindset and do commitment into willpower, intentionality and habit change. This is something that has been life changing for me. And I really think if you want to support the podcast, the best way you can do so is invest in your health, or invest in the health of someone else around you. Through our lifestyle medicine course. It’s 4999. And as listeners of this podcast will give you 10% off using the code podcast now before we dig into the conversation with Dr. bonobo, we have an update. And this update is regarding cholesterol we have our truth about cholesterol podcast. And I started to change my mind on something and that is LDLC. Now if you look at Medela and randomization, Mr. Studies, these are observational studies that basically use genetics as a control. So people who have a genetic predisposition to higher levels of LDL C and lower levels and then look at outcomes. And if you look at these studies, it’s basically a lifetime exposure and higher levels of LDL C are causative, and he’s been dealing randomization studies for cardiovascular disease. Now, a recent Mendelian randomization study came out I believe it was in 2020. That looked to answer the question of further causality, meaning that a lot of the levels correlate with each other. So triglycerides and LDL concentrations C and LDL P, they all correlate with each other. And so it looked at April lipoprotein B. And we’ve talked about April lipoprotein B as being a better lipid marker, a better blood lipid marker for cardiovascular disease than the other ones. And in this video and randomization, they basically said that, yes, elevated LDL C and elevated triglycerides were at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. However, once it was attenuated for April OB that fell off. So basically, what this is saying is April, lipoprotein B is the most important marker when it comes to atherosclerotic disease for lipids. And so that is what I recommend that you get checked. Now, some people are saying with things like triglycerides and HDL, they’re more of a marker of metabolic state and metabolic function than they are for being prognostic markers for CHD or coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease. And I think there’s some weight to that now that can be used for other markers. We’ve talked about triglycerides and how elevated triglycerides are associated with risk of developing diabetes. We’re purely talking about atherosclerosis On a disease here, what’s interesting is HDL. Now, there’s some new evidence coming out about HDL and we’re starting to look at HDL differently. And in this dealing randomization study, having a higher HDL was associated with benefit, however, that was attenuated when you looked at a pro life or protein B. And then you have new studies coming out where people with very high HDL levels seem to be at an increased risk for cardiovascular events. And then you had another study come out recently, where it showed that amongst African Americans low HDL was not actually a risk factor, but it was amongst Caucasians. So what does this all mean? It seems to be that the actual answer on HDL is starting to get a little fuzzy, and we’re gonna need some more research to help figure this out that it may be different for different segments of the population. Now, in general, I would still want to see HDL above a certain threshold, and that’s different for men and women. But I wouldn’t want to see it too high now, because there’s starting to be some evidence that that could possibly be at risk. So we’re gonna keep an eye on this. It’s not something to freak out about, I would still recommend getting the same things we talked about in the lipid panel check getting that April lipo protein B check, and using this as an overall assessment of your metabolic function, in addition to the other things that we talked about. Now let’s dive into the episode with Dr. bonobo. Welcome to this episode of The strive for great health podcast with your host, Dr. Richard Harris. I have a friend and colleague with me on the show Dr. Manisha Benoit, who is really fascinating and really interesting, because she has invented a new form of medicine, functional culinary medicine, we’re gonna dive into that we’re gonna talk about her new book that just came out. But first, we’re podcasts about stories, right? And I think you have a very interesting story coming from your background in pathology to what you do now. And you’re like me, you do a million different things. So let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about your journey. How did you go from learning about the lab and laboratory processes to now helping people heal every single cell in their body, specifically through nutrition and cooking?

Dr. Monisha Bhanote  07:26

Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much, Richard, for having me on the podcast. So my journey starts a little bit even before I went into pathology, because I started as an internist and internal medicine and really seeing patients come in and out of the clinic every few months and prescribing their their medications or in the emergency room for, you know, something that possibly could have been prevented if they understood what was going on in their body a little bit more. So that both for me and for the patient was a very unsatisfying kind of situation that was created. So I’m like, How can I help my patients a little bit better. And that’s where I went into pathology, which pathology is really the study of human disease and how it manifests in the human body from down to the different cells and what’s going on on a biological level. So I spent many, many years looking at cellular health and looking at everybody cells under the microscope, and people who were living, you know, pathology, we spent a lot of time working on the people who are living, looking at the disease, seeing how it’s progressing. But I came to this realization that we have a little bit of a misunderstanding of what we can and cannot control. So you don’t have to wait until you develop a disease to go on a medication. You do not have to wait until something happens because a family member had it. A lot of this stuff is preventable, including, you know, a lot of people think that cancer is genetics. It’s not in my family, it won’t happen. Yes, partly cancer is genetics. But that’s usually about less than 5% of it. And the majority of it is our lifestyle factors. So mutations that we acquire through how we’re living our lifestyle. And so I went on a deep dive of what is it that we can actually address? What can’t we especially, you know, when we’re looking at a functional health perspective, we’re looking at how the body is functioning, and trying to determine the root cause of disease. So when I started looking at that, I’m like, Oh, well, people are missing the basic ingredients that they need to make their cells function. So they’re walking around in this very depleted on empty, empty state basically. And you might not experience this in your teens per se, or maybe in your 20s But definitely by your 30s, you’re starting to have some symptoms. And that’s only when people start waking up is when they’re like, oh, I don’t have the energy that I used to have, or my brain is not as focused, it’s when they start seeing the symptoms. But if you just kept yourself healthier, all along, you wouldn’t even have to experience though. So then what I spent a lot of time doing is rebuilding their bodies from the inside out on that cellular level.

Dr. Richard Harris MD  10:25

That’s amazing. I actually think if I had to do it over again, I would have studied pathology. Because I think about things differently. No, I think about things from a cellular metabolism perspective. And so I started off functional medicine, and then integrative medicine. And then it was what am I really passionate about? I’m really passionate about optimizing function, and that cellular function, and then scaling that upwards from cellular function to organ function to muscular function to brain function, right? And how do we make these things work in concert, because you know, all cells run on the same basic principles, right. And that’s something that a lot of our colleagues, you know, especially in internal medicine, and then specialists forget about, because they’re so used to thinking about, Oh, the hearts just the heart, well, the heart needs, the liver, the heart needs, the kidneys, the heart needs the brain, it all needs each other. And so once you have these basic principles, you understand these basic principles, you can see how they can apply to different aspects of our health. And I think one of the things that people have a hard time understanding is are like, how well how does what I eat impact my brain? How does my nutrition impact my brain fog? Or why is that impacting my anxiety or my depression? Or you know, how come? What I’m eating can affect my kidneys? I don’t I don’t understand that. We understand that when you understand the cellular mechanisms, I think that’s really cool. What you’re doing in the functional culinary medicine. Let’s talk about that. So people are like, What the heck is that? And we’re talking offline about how you invented the term. And I’ve never heard that term until you. So what is functional culinary medicine? That’s a great

Dr. Monisha Bhanote  12:06

question. You know, when people ask me, what it what is it that I do? And I’m like, Well, I, I take my pathology, not knowledge with what I know the cells look like. And you can’t see that, but I’ve seen it. And I try and help you fix yourself. So if there’s a root cause I’m getting to say, we’re dealing with digestive issues, or we’re dealing with hormonal issues, I’m thinking about what’s going on in those actual cells that are healthy, versus the ones that aren’t healthy and what they need. So you can’t have your symptomology. And then that goes into what do ourselves at the end of the day, need? They need nutrients? Where do nutrients come from nutrients come from the food that we put into our body? So that’s where combining that functional approach to Alright, this is a root cause of the disease, but how can we replenish and address that root cause from a both functionality aspect on the cellular functions? But how do we incorporate that because food is fuel. And we have, as a culture become very disconnected with what food is and what foods purpose. So at the end of the day, food is really our fuel source, in order for our cells to function. And when we don’t give it that food that it needs to function, it becomes depleted, therefore, cellular health gets impacted. So for example, if somebody is experiencing immune issues, you know, they might be looking at Alright, why am I always more prone to infections when somebody else is not? So there might be a antioxidant deficiency of vitamin deficiency, like maybe they’re deficient in vitamin A, or they’re deficient in vitamin E, which is very important for immune health? So I will have the conversation with them is like, When is the last time you had an orange vegetable or fruit? And they just look at me go, well, not in a week. And I’m like, No, your body needs that, you know. So what we’re, we’ve come accustomed to is eating quick foods that are highly processed without the nutrients that our body or our cells need to function. And you mentioned, you know, where does it start? It starts with your cells, those cells make up tissues, those tissues make up organs. Those organs are what make our body function, and it’s a very complex system. So all of it needs to function in a synergistic way because it all relies on each other. It’s not in this isolated siloed oh, we’re only going to make the thyroid function. We’re only going to make the brain function are only going to make the gut function they are all very tightly interwoven. They communicate with each other the cells communicate with each other And cells are pretty smart. So it’s up to us to go, alright, am I listening to what my cells say? And when people come to me, and they’re like, Oh, I had this symptom, I’m like, oh, that’s because your cells are angry, you’re not listening to it when it tells you what what the message is, right? We eat something. And we don’t realize that 20 minutes later, we feel fatigue, low energy, maybe we have a headache, come on, we’re not listening to what our body is telling us and what we can do. So maybe that food isn’t the best thing for us. Or maybe that food took away from other cellular functions, where it could have gone to something else for our brain and focus, right? So that’s where bringing in What does food do? And then from the culinary medicine perspective, we’re also looking at, like culture, like, what are you culturally used to eating? What do you have access to? How can you bring that into better optimize it. So really kind of looking at everything?

Dr. Richard Harris MD  15:58

Yeah, that’s so important. And really, what you’re doing is you’re taking what we consider nutrition and then personalizing it. And we’re in this age of medicine right now, where we know that the same approach is not going to work for every person. And it’s the same exercise approach is not going to work, the same meditation approach or mindfulness approach, it’s just not going to work. And we as practitioners need to really work with our patients or clients. And that involves their effort, like, you have to put effort into this, to have me help you. Because if you don’t, then I can’t really help you. If you don’t know the signals of your body and listen to them, I can’t guide you, right, and then you’re stuck with the same cookie cutter, that didn’t work for you to begin with. I think it’s very important for people to understand at the basic level, your cells do two things. Number one, it’s moved nutrients. And number two, it’s moved toxins out. That’s that’s the essential function of cells. And a lot of people are not doing either one of them very well. And this is what’s leading to all that dysfunction and disease, and what you eat matters and how you eat it. When you eat it, and how you cook it. It all matters, it can all make a difference in your health. And I think that’s a component that gets lost in this talk about nutrition that you don’t hear a lot of these nutrition PhDs and dietitians talk about is how you cook your food actually does matter.

Dr. Monisha Bhanote  17:29

Yeah, absolutely. So it’s, it’s not just a matter of how how you cook your food, because that certainly does matter, right. Because if you are cooking something, especially like, say, for example, animal protein, and you’re cooking it on high temperatures, we love we all love our barbecue and grilling. And so you’re you’re actually creating advanced glycation end products, which is toxic, it’s carcinogen for your body. So you’re creating that now, that doesn’t happen if you put vegetables on the grill because they don’t have the same protein changes that happen. So if you do choose to eat animal products, then maybe consider doing them at low temperature heats. So there is that cooking perspective of it. But then it’s also a perspective of how can we incorporate what the planet has given us like herbs and spices to flavor our food, instead of what industry has created, which is sugar, fat, oils, you know, like all the stuff that’s not going to be good for our body? How can we incorporate the many different green herbs, we have to naturally clean our body and help ourselves? How can we incorporate the site spices to get that anti inflammatory effect. When I talk to my patients, they’re like, I don’t even know what that is. And unlike but that’s, it’s in the grocery store, it’s on the shelf. So we’re really become like I said earlier, very disconnected from what food actually is. Even when you walk in a grocery store. There’s the produce aisles are pretty empty, everybody’s in the process quick, grab the cereals, grab that grab the crackers, grab this, or even in the frozen section. But that’s not real food. And that’s nutrient depleted food and that’s why your cells aren’t functioning because you’re not giving it to the basics. I mean, I do end up testing on my patients and most patients are missing their antioxidant, which we know antioxidants are critical for fighting off free radical damage and precursor to all our chronic diseases including cancer. Okay, so if you’re missing that you’re not able to find it off, they are missing their B vitamins are missing their fat soluble vitamins. They’re even missing their cofactors which are key minerals like magnesium magnesium is recent. answerable for over 300 chemical reactions in the body? If you don’t have that, how is your body supposed to do what it needs to do? It’s quite simple. Actually, you give it magnesium rich foods. Which one of the favorites when I tell my patients is eat dark chocolate, that’s a great source of magnesium. Absolutely eat your dark chocolate, but do not eat the, you know, the process. I know, we just came off of Halloween and this candy that’s out there is like, that’s not real, the cacao amount and the nutrients that you’re getting from that is not real food. Those are Franken suits. And what does Frankenfoods produce? They create unhealthy humans. Right? So, right. So think of it in that way.

Dr. Richard Harris MD  20:44

Yeah, absolutely. And I tell people listen, 8020 right. 80% of the time, all your your food should be single ingredient foods. And you know, what do you mean by single ingredient? I mean, things that you don’t need a label to clearly identify. You don’t need a label to know what blueberries are. You don’t need a label to know what a carrot is. You don’t need a label to know what an apple is. Those are things that are single ingredient foods. And then 20% of your calories. I like to say have a calorie budget, right? Like you would a fiscal budget. And you can have 20% of that be, you know, your comfort foods, right. And there’s starting to be some evidence that supports that there was a study out of Brazil, that showed that if you have 20% or more of your calories from ultra processed food, that’s when the dementia risk increases. Now me personally, I do like to present because, you know, I have irritable bowel, and there’s a lot of foods that I can’t agree with. But one of the things I hear all the time is, vegetables just don’t taste good. And I look at people and I like what do you mean, they don’t taste good? They taste amazing. What do you mean, they don’t taste good. And it’s like you talked about, they just don’t know how to season and use herbs correctly. To make the vegetables taste really good, because they’re so used to, you know, these processed foods that have a lot of ingredients in them that make them taste good, right? There’s no one’s gonna say processed foods don’t taste good. They taste great. They taste fantastic, right? But the vegetables don’t have that. So you have to add stuff to them to make them taste the way that we’re used to tasting certain foods. So do you have any tips that you will give your patients on? How did they can make their vegetables taste more appropriate and more use to what they’re they’re typically used to intaking?

Dr. Monisha Bhanote  22:27

Yeah, absolutely. So. So I do culinary medicine, cooking classes in the community. And most of the people who attend those classes classes are not necessarily plant based eaters, they just they’re used to the standard American diet and they want to incorporate a little bit more healthy. So I help them learn how to incorporate plants and vegetables and fruits, so they taste better. And they’re kind of surprised when they come to these classes because it doesn’t take much right. So some of the tips that I really give people is incorporating those herbs and spices in instead of thinking of herbs in a garnish fashion where you might go to a restaurant, you take the parsley and you pick it off and it’s just on the side or the cilantro and you pick it off is incorporate those herbs as sauces. So I will make a any green sauce, which whichever herb I buy on the lake, I’ll buy fresh herbs. I’ll pick one for the week, whatever looks like it’s in season or looks fresh at the store and take that herb and I might eat it fresh chopped up and lots of it not just like a little spread, but actually like a quarter cup, half a cup of that put on top of my vegetables. And then the next day I might turn that into a green sauce because we’ve all bought the herbs and they all go bad by the end of the week. And then we’re like I’m not going to buy these anymore. So the first one or two days I’ll eat them fresh the next couple of days. I will take whichever whether it’s parsley. I’ll turn it into a gremolata sauce or a maybe cilantro into chimichurri or most people know basil, turn it into a pesto right so office take those herbs simply put a couple garlic cloves and some high quality olive oil and stick it in a blender. Now now that I’ve got a green sauce to flavor my food, right? So that might go for another day or two and then I’ll be like, Okay, I don’t want to have this flavor anymore. And then that leftover sauce I stick in the freezer and ice cube trays. So then when I’m crunched for time I need something flavorful to cook with my veggies or with my beans or my tofu or whatnot. I’ll just pop out an ice cube and put that in the pan. And there is ways to kind of keep your you know, even if you have a busy, hectic schedule, how do I incorporate them you got to think a little bit you got to be intentional upfront so then your whole week goes smoothly and that That’s kind of where, you know, having this meal planning and kind of understanding the process of what are the different foods are the other thing is people find it challenging that, alright, how do I incorporate all of these in my meals? And I want them to kind of think of it, not necessarily on a day to day basis, because that’s really hard. If I tell you, you need to eat 10 fruits and vegetables in a day, you’re gonna be like, That’s not possible. I don’t eat that many meals, or I can’t figure out how to do that. So I will say, look at that. Look at it over a week span. How can you get it? Because maybe one day you have to eat for a work dinner? And you don’t? You can’t do that? Or one day you’re out of town. But how can you look at it? And an overall week spends over seven days? How many vegetables and fruits are you eating? How many whole grains are you getting in for your body? How many good quality fats and oils. So there is a little bit of flexibility. And an another significant part is really being in tune with what your body needs, right? So taking a moment when you sit down to eat 1am I hungry, right? Observe like, Am I hungry. Then the second thing is sure your food, we are not chewing our food as a society. We’re just putting it in and we’re on the go, we have our 10 Minute Meals and we’re eating at our desk. And digestion starts soon as you put it in the mouth. You have enzymes, amylase and your salivary glands that starts breaking down the food. So when people start incorporating vegetables, and they’re like, Well, you know, I’m feeling bloated. And I’m like, you haven’t even given your body a chance to use those nutrients. So they quit right away. They’re like, you know, ate broccoli, and I felt bloated, the but you didn’t give your body a chance to assimilate to digest, right. So start slowly, is also another thing that I recommend is okay, right now you are used to not having vegetables, start incorporating them one meal a day, you know, so there’s definitely ways to do it. And then other things to keep in mind is like I said, digestion starts in your mouth all the way down, right. So you need to keep your oral cavity and your oral microbiome healthy. You need to have those digestive enzymes starting. So whether they’re in your oral track for your salivary glands, or in your digestive tract from your stomach, but you got to also remember that the pancreas, liver and gallbladder are responsible for bringing in enzymes that are going to help break down the foods. So people who are missing their gallbladder, gallbladder surgery is a very common surgery these days, you know you’ve lost those enzymes there. So it’s possible that you’re not able to process certain foods. So you have to be conscious of that. People who have stomach, gastric bypass or any surgeries, there are now also missing some enzymes. So you have to know your body and what’s going on. And that’s why I like to teach patients about one tuning into, you know, becoming more self aware of your symptoms, what is your body’s saying to you? But then once you you know, alright, this is what my body’s saying, understanding how can I address that so it’s not a symptom. You brought

Dr. Richard Harris MD  28:11

up a lot of really great points there, me and my wife, we do the same thing with the pesto, we’ll get fresh basil, turn it into pesto, and it’s super easy. And we’ll do the same thing with chimichurri and get some cilantro, some olive oil, having those sauces, that makes a lot of difference. We love sauces, because we’re used to them you go out to a restaurant, everything comes with a sauce. So that’s a way that you feel more in tune and more comfortable with the change. Number two is have the right tools. A lot of people I’ll ask what cooking tools do you have in your house? What do you mean cooking tools? We have a ton you know we have a blender we have a food processor, we have a cast iron, we have an air fryer, I’m thinking about getting another air fryer because

Dr. Monisha Bhanote  28:48

as for tools, I’ve definitely got my kitchen full of tools and my latest addition has become a dehydrator. Which is pretty amazing. Because if you’re if you’re anything like me, like I will admit one of my weaknesses is potato chips. So I’m I was trying to figure out how can I do that with one less oil and still get the crunch factor because it’s really the crunch factor. So I discovered dehydrating. So now I can make my own sweet potato chips, my potato chips, even kale chips, but in a very easy manner. Right? It takes a few minutes you prepare it and then the rest you just let the device do so. Other important tools to think about that many people don’t is their pots and pans that they’re using right because some of the ones on the market have toxins in right so you definitely want to make sure that you have a toxin free plant pants meaning either something that’s made with cast iron as long as you don’t have an issue with iron levels. If you do have low iron levels, you might benefit from a cast iron pan or maybe Do something ceramic, where you’re not getting those chemicals in because when I’m testing patients, they have a lot of household chemicals and whether that’s from beauty products, cleaning products, even their cooking. So people who have been using aluminum pans for cooking, or aluminum, have access aluminum and aluminum is a heavy metal. So heavy metals is definitely a problem. It’s also a problem from your food supply and your water supply. So being aware of that, and how heavy metals can impact your cellular health and your cellular function. Because if you have them then guess what your body is not working the way it needs to be. So eliminating that mercury is another problem. So Mercury I see quite often arsenic I see quite often. And aluminum I see quite often.

Dr. Richard Harris MD  30:51

Yeah, depending on where people grew up to you can see lead as well, mostly in kids that adults don’t see that as much. But a lot of my pediatrician colleagues say that they’re seeing a lot of lead levels still in kids. So that is something to be aware of. And that whole taste thing. I tell people give it a chance, right? I’ve seen some evidence showing that it takes about 30 days for your tastebuds to kind of reorient, but they will reorient. And so things I used to hate, like brussel sprouts, I now love. And then you also mentioned the gas and the bloating. So when you don’t eat stuff, you mentioned this earlier, your body smart, your body is not going to waste time making the tools it needs to break down certain things, if you’re not eating them. Yeah, and it will increase the the amount of the tools it needs to break down the stuff that you’re eating. So if you go from eating no vegetables, to all of a sudden eating hundreds of grams of vegetables a day, you’re gonna feel like right, you’re gonna feel like you have bricks in your stomach, because your body’s not used to that. So incorporating the more vegetables slowly allows your body to respond and start increasing the ability to break those down correctly. And what you mentioned about the chewing is important, because we’re so used to the processed foods which basically dissolve in your mouth, they don’t really have to chew them. So we’ve gotten out of the habit of really chewing our food and breaking that down. So the less work you do with your mouth, the more work your stomach acid do. And then you compound that with the fact that we tend to overeat. And then you’re wondering why you have so much acid reflux, and it’s not an acid problem. It’s a mechanical problem. your stomach’s too distended, you ate too fast. It’s like overfilling a balloon, what’s going to happen, that this has got to come out somewhere, right. And in us, it goes up. So these are things that I work through people with all the time. Now let’s talk about your book. And kudos to you for writing a book. I keep getting people telling me I need to write a book, I just haven’t sat down to do it. It’s on the to do list. But what went into that what was the the onus and the reason behind wanting to draft the book for you.

Dr. Monisha Bhanote  33:00

There’s plenty of health and wellness books out there that there’s there’s no doubt about that. But my my message in the book is really about becoming more intentional with your life and kind of just waking up going off of autopilot and going, alright, this is what I need to be my best version of myself. And I the way I walk us through the book is really starting with habits, like what are our habits? And why do we do the things we do. And taking you from understanding our habits and our cues that we have to go into those habits because for me, I always think of habits in a negative connotation. I mean, you can have good habits, but most people have bad habits. And that’s where the focus is right. And going from there to being increasing a little bit more self awareness and intentionality to routines, like maybe have a routine going to the gym, or you have a routine going out to dinner once a week, right. But those become a little stale, and we kind of burn out from them. And they might not serve the purpose that we want. And I introduce rituals in the book. And those rituals are really for a place of taking all of your well being all aspects of it, whether that’s physical, emotional, nutritional, environmental, sleep, basically your entire spectrum of everything that makes up your body. How can you put those rituals into 24 hours of your day? Because if you think about it, we did 24 hours, there’s quite a bit of time, but how much of that time? Are you spending being really intentional for it? This is serving my body best. And I walk you through the anatomy at play. So how the human body works like what does your brain need to optimize itself? What does your gut need to optimize itself? What does your physical body need? I will tell you most people aren’t doing half these things if you start doing even one thing In the book, you’re gonna start feeling better. It’s a book that gives you ideas and allows you to build your own plan because one, I’m teaching you how this works. And then two, you decide, alright, is this what I want to start with? Is this what’s going to help me today? Because there is science behind all of these things, whether that’s science behind breathing, whether that science about optimizing your nutrition or science behind why you want to sleep better, it’s there. And I explained to you how you can make that more practical so you can apply it

Dr. Richard Harris MD  35:30

awesome. Those things are very important. And we’re in the same line there. Because whenever I used to work with people, one on one, I would always start with the habits. Always start with the mindset because unless you unlock your mindset and your habits, and you figure out the why you’re stuck in a certain loop, nothing will change. And one of the things I always mentioned on the podcast is in people always ask me, Well, how are you so successful? It’s because I spent a lot of time being very introspective. A lot of time figuring out what works, what doesn’t work, listening to my body, going on those cues, and really, not being so rigid with the plan. Like today, for instance, today’s Thursday, I usually deadlift on Thursday, I was working a bunch of 12 hour shifts in the clinic the last one or two weeks, right, not sleeping as well as I normally do. And I got to the gyms. I can’t, I can’t do normal bar deadlifts. So I’m going to do cable deadlifts today, because it’s a little bit easier, less mechanical load. And so that’s what I did. And I still got a great workout still feel fine. Today had little baby deer legs coming out of the gym, like usual. But that’s what happens when you listen to your body, I have a plan. But if I’m not capable or not up to or, you know, I’m not feeling as well, I modify the plan on the spot. And then some days, I feel fantastic. And I’m like, I’m gonna go Conan the Barbarian in here today, because I feel great. And I’ll push myself really, really hard. And so these are the things that you’ll learn to do once you learn yourself and learn your body. Now, where can people find your book?

Dr. Monisha Bhanote  37:05

Yeah, absolutely. So my book is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble all retail booksellers it is called the anatomy of well being right here. So anatomy of well being intentional practices to embrace your body’s unique design and revitalize your health. And I think you made a great point there, Richard is that the more we know about our body, the more it becomes easy to understand what we need to do, and definitely have some flexibility in your lifestyle. Right. So creating rituals, and daily practices should totally be flexible. It shouldn’t be seasonable, it should be where you are in your stage of life, what you need most. So when you become rigid about how you’re going to live your life, that’s when things start to get challenging, because then you fail. And when you fail, you don’t feel motivated to do something else. So be flexible, be curious, try things out that you didn’t think you know, and just continue to learn because you’d be surprised. Like, once you kind of embrace that aspect, things just kind of start opening up and life gets easier. And there is nothing without your house. Because the worst thing is when I get patients who I see, and they’re at that tail end of a health issue, and they’re like, Gosh, I wish I would have known earlier about moving my body and not being sedentary. I wish I would have known earlier that what I put into my mouse would impact my overall health. I wish I would have known earlier that getting quality sleep would impact the way my focus is. Well, you do know you do know now if you’re listening to this podcast, you absolutely know right now that you can start today. With even a small thing. You know what you’re gonna put on your dinner plate today. Think about it. Don’t just go through that drive thru. Think about is this nourishing myself? Or is this compromising the functionality? It’s that simple?

Dr. Richard Harris MD  39:09

Yeah, absolutely. And it’s all a choice and you make that choice with every single moment of every single day. And are you choosing to promote health? Or are you choosing to ignore the signs and the symptoms that there’s dysfunction going on in your body? Or have you become completely desensitized that you’re so used to feeling bad that that’s your normal, it’s normal for you to have a headache every day. It’s normal for you to have acid reflux, it’s normal for you to have constipation or diarrhea. It’s normal for you to feel anxious or depressed. And that’s you. That’s just your normal

Dr. Monisha Bhanote  39:41

that my friend is not normal. That is your cells talking to you. Your cells are angry and it’s up to you to wake up and listen to them and go what am I going to do about this?

Dr. Richard Harris MD  39:53

Yeah, and even one small change can make a quick difference. And I even tell people, okay, We’ll start walking more. And even then you’ll start to notice a big difference. If you’re someone who’s getting like 1000 steps a day and you go up to even 5000 steps a day, you will notice a dramatic improvement in multiple areas of your mental and physical health. So just pick somewhere and start.

Dr. Monisha Bhanote  40:19

Absolutely, absolutely, you just reminded me of something I do a lot of walking, walking is one of my rituals. And one of the neighbors said to me, the other day, she goes, you know, before you moved in this neighborhood, nobody would walk when they started you, seeing you walking, now people are walking the neighborhood, I’m like, It’s not that hard to go outside. You know, if you live in a place where it’s safe enough to walk in the neighborhood, get outside, get some sun, move your body, the body was meant to move, the body was not meant to be sedentary. Moving, that body helps yourself because it’s sending blood flow it’s sending nutrients is sending oxygen to your cells, which they need in order to function. So ABS absolutely start with something small, don’t make it more difficult than it has to be. This is where it’s like, you know, the New Year’s coming around. And you’re like, I signed up for the gym, and I’m gonna go every day, how many times have we seen that fail, right? So do something that makes you happy that you can enjoy doing and it’s not a chore or a task. It’s just something you want to do for your health and be intentional with it.

Dr. Richard Harris MD  41:27

Absolutely, you bring up a really interesting point about oxygen delivery, it’s kind of crazy, because if you’re not moving, or if you have excess body fat, you have literal parts of your body that are starving for oxygen that are hypoxic. I mean, they’ve done the biopsies, you know, this is a pathologist where you can take biopsies from fat tissue and see the D cells are hypoxic, they they’re not getting enough oxygen is the same thing. If you’re being sedentary, we said it’s about moving nutrients and toxins out. Part of that is blood flow, right? You need the blood flow to move things in and get things out. And you need to deliver oxygen to every single cell in your body for it to do its metabolism. So these things are complex, but you can make it very simple. And the actions that you do to help your body if you think about it, oh, I need to recharge my cells, I need to I need to get out there get some sunlight gets the energy you’ll sunlight is energy. It’s an energy formula. It’s a wavelength that energy. And so why do you think you feel better when you’re on the sun, you’re literally getting energy from the sun. It’s kind of esoteric when you think about it. But it’s also true. Same thing when you’re out in nature, when you touch the ground.

Dr. Monisha Bhanote  42:42

If you think about in the winter, the plants all die, right? They don’t have the sunlight, they don’t have the temperature and and even for the people who are like, well, I don’t really grow plants, but you may have been gifted a plant or you buy a plant. Well, if you don’t give that plant water, you don’t give it sunlight and you don’t give it nutrients, what’s going to happen it is going to die and you’re going to throw it out. Right. But that is slowly what is happening inside our bodies. We are slowly dying and some people earlier than others. You know, that’s the aging process. It all goes back to the nutrients if you give it the nutrients and that requires a lot of different things. But really diversity creativity when it comes to that. And back to that nutrition perspective. It’s we have 21 meals a week, it’s not about eating the same three meals every day. For seven days, we need that diversity. So another tip there is always go seasonal, right? So whatever’s in season, in the grocery store for that time buy that it’s also going to be probably costing less because it didn’t have to travel far it’s going to have more nutrients and

Dr. Richard Harris MD  43:48

so if you can afford it those boxes like imperfect food, stuff like that, it’ll make you eat stuff that you’re normally not. And I think that’s a cool way that you can practice. You know, functional culinary medicine, me and my wife we do that we’ll get some stuff occasionally. Like how do you cook radishes? I have no idea. Well let’s find the recipe and figure it out

Dr. Monisha Bhanote  44:09

and I have plenty of recipes on my website. I have a biohacking plant based gluten free cookbook that you can download available at Dr. you can grab that then there’s some other recipes on my blog, but if you’ve ever tried roasting radishes, they get quite sweet. So if you haven’t tried that, but that’s a good one to

Dr. Richard Harris MD  44:31

have not next time we get some radishes I’ll try that and listeners I’ll report back to you guys back to me see if you like

Dr. Monisha Bhanote  44:37

the roasted but you know it comes back to what why am I saying diversity? Why am I saying eat as many different things it’s because each of those different colors so those foods has phytonutrients in them. All right. So those phytonutrients is what’s going to fight disease right? So for example, like cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable but it’s a soy ciated with a reduced risk of cancer, it’s associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. So, incorporate cauliflower. If I asked somebody when they call for their, like maybe a month ago. I mean, what I, at the end of the day, I want to know what, Ed, because you’re not eating things to make you healthy. You’re actually eating things to make, like create harm. And you wouldn’t put, you know, pour gas into your car or pour oil. You know, when your car needs oil or windshield wiper fluid or something, you do it. Why don’t we do that with

Dr. Richard Harris MD  45:34

our bodies? Absolutely. The body has a wonderful capacity to heal. I tell people all the time, I’ve seen all kinds of miracles that you wouldn’t believe. It’s just about putting yourself in the right position to succeed. And surrounding yourself with people like you mentioned. Now everyone around your block is walking, what you do. echoes in ways that you can’t possibly understand and people are watching. They’re mirroring. You start a health journey, you’ll be shocked at how many people will start one with you, maybe even in silence, but they’ll reach out at a time when they feel comfortable about how you’ve helped them. Anything you want to say before we close the episode out?

Dr. Monisha Bhanote  46:12

No, thank you so much for having me on your podcast. I really enjoyed our conversation. I’m glad to be alongside you as a colleague helping to change the face of health care and not sick care. And I’m on social media, Dr. Ben Odom pretty easy to find him the only doctor been

Dr. Richard Harris MD  46:29

cornered the market. Yeah, then all the links will be posted in the show notes. So thank you for coming on the show really appreciate you and your dedication and everything you’re doing to keep people healthy. And to all of my listeners. Thank you for listening to the strive for great health podcast with your host Dr. Richard Harris. Have a blessed day. Thanks. Thank you for listening to strive for great health podcast with your host Dr. Richard Harris. It’s our mission and goal at the podcast to impact as many lives as possible to empower individuals to take control of their health, and live a life full of joy and purpose. You may help us achieve this mission by leaving a five star rating and review on your preferred podcast platform. And by sharing this podcast with anyone you think it may help. If you want to support the podcast, the best way is to invest in your health or invest in someone else’s health through our five pillars of great health lifestyle medicine course. A link to that courses in the shownotes Thank you for listening and God bless

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