We have become a digital world that definitely has a down side with virtual realities. Too much e-behavior in front of monitors and not enough real activity. Put the devices down and put on some rubber soles and take your soul outside.
As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Roberto Tostado MD, ABAARM.
Dr. Tostado is Board Certified in Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M) and as a Fellow of Anti-Aging, Metabolic and Functional Medicine. He received his degrees from Columbia University, the University of Michigan Medical School and completed his residency at USC California Medical Center in Los Angeles. He founded The iBODY Medical Wellness Center in San Marino, California.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in wellness?
I was having a crisis with my conscience while working at an HMO as a family practice doctor. I no longer believed in what I was doing and thought there was a better way to help patients. Intuitively, I felt that I could do something better to help prevent disease but lacked the knowledge or experience to make it happen. I was overweight at the time and always felt tired aside from having abnormally high cholesterol levels. I was a product of our bad food/chronic-medicine landscape like many of my patients. What to do? I didn’t want to take lipid-lowering medication because of all the potential side effects to the liver, kidney and memory. It was a moment of reckoning for me to evaluate what I was doing for others as a doctor and seeing a disconnection. I wasn’t agreeable to taking these drugs but was prescribing them to others knowing the risks. This was not the situation I wanted to be in, since it felt out of alignment with my primary purpose learned in medical school of, “First do no harm.” The Hippocratic Oath was becoming hypocritical. There’s a point in your life that you have to pick a side and stand by what you believe. This was my time to let go of my ego and follow my gut to leave behind a career based on a model of managing with drugs. I had to learn what I didn’t get from medical school to feel aligned helping patients with a clear conscience. It was during this time that I attended a lecture on alternative medicine and learned that the 4th highest cause of death in this country was prescription medicine taken as prescribed. Apparently, I was a licensed killer. I will say that the U.S. medical system excels in emergent lifesaving interventions like surgeries, trauma care and cardiac arrests and even the need for medication, but that’s only a percentage of healthcare. It’s in the prevention and reversal of disease where we are broken. This is the reason I went into wellness, so that I could provide a pathway for patients to live without disease and have a sense of control in their life.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Leaving family practice was an impetus to articulate myself in different way, curse words included. I remember telling my wife that I was getting tired of hearing my voice saying the same things over and over, to one patient at a time, year after year. So, I decided to write a book to express what I felt needed to be heard on a larger scale to give awareness on what it takes to be healthy, and perhaps it wasn’t going to see your doctor. I wanted to share a practical perspective on living a life filled with energy, laughter and balance instead of what I had seen for 10+ years in family medicine with chronic disease, depression, hopelessness and frustration. After making this U-turn in my career, I started to write my thoughts over a few years, at one point losing my file from a computer implosion, fortunately recovering it two years later, which allowed me to reassess my thoughts and write a better book. I felt that a lot of health books were either too technical or imposed a restrictive diet that would end up discouraging the reader from adopting that diet as a way of life. And, I hadn’t seen any health book written by a kid who grew up in East Los Angeles with a name like mine. So, I wrote and wrote and rewrote, until I completed a book that dove into the heart, soul, body and mind of being a balanced, disease-free person. I wanted to make a connection with my expletives, experience and humor to inspire and educate the reader to understand that health begins in our head and in the kitchen. It’s not one-size-fits-all, since we are all unique and face different challenges. My editor thought I was a rebel for teaching patients about broccoli and forgiveness instead of prescribing cholesterol-lowering drugs. I told him food is our medicine and that’s where we need to start. That was the beginning of my book, “WTF is Wrong with our Health? A Rebel Physician’s Manifesto for Reversing Disease and Increasing Smiles.” We need to smile more, eat more broccoli and let go of grudges. WTF! You’ve got nothing to lose except your prescriptions.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
I was so passionate about my new life as a regenerative doctor, who was on a mission to help reverse and prevent disease that I scared patients (maybe a little) by venting about standard medicine. I would spend an hour with clients consulting about why they had to live with their disease and drugs under our medical system, and how people were being condemned to life terms of illness, rather than addressing the root cause. I would get that funny look from patients as if I were completely bonkers. I had to show more patience and give clients space to absorb the transition from managing disease to eliminating disease through lifestyle, nutrition, detox, hormone balancing and all things regenerative. After all, it was a new language they were learning after being exposed to allopathic medicine for decades. Once they understood that health is a choice and a responsibility, then the mad stares disappeared. The takeaway lesson was that I was a team member in their healthcare but from a different perspective. I help people get off medication as they learn to eat better, live better and create a quality life.
Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
My previous poor health and years of experience in conventional medicine was the negative contrast that I needed, but didn’t know at the time, to shift my approach to improve my health and the health of my patients. Being in an environment where patients went through a never-ending cycle of appointments-prescriptions-tests-more-prescriptions, and chronic frustration, was enough for me to take a massive step back and look in the mirror and be honest with myself, brutally honest. As I already mentioned, I shed my ego (not easy at all) and got away from thinking I had all the answers from my medical training. I didn’t want to be part of a machine anymore that was built on the premise of maintaining disease with pharmaceuticals when healing was possible with nutrition. The moment a doctor diagnoses diabetes, as I did many times, we automatically whip out the prescription pad and scribbly madly all the drugs that need to be started without hesitation, without ever considering prescribing a new way of eating. Except for the “eat healthy and exercise” cliché which rarely did anything. The revolving door of chronic disease didn’t appeal to me nor to my patients, so I left my comfort zone, in this case discomfort, and immersed myself in regenerative medicine. I needed to help patients understand that food is our medicine or poison depending which way we choose. And implementing, as I have, food detoxification, bio-identical hormones, stem cells and basic food education which is almost nonexistent in medical training. Helping reverse diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, chronic pain, chronic frustration and fatigue is my mission, so we no longer have to consent to chronic disease and unending pills.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful for helping to get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My wife Teresa was the catalyst to becoming the person and doctor that I am now. She believed in me when I was filled with uncertainty and doubt with my purpose in life. I was becoming more disaffected and disillusioned with traditional medicine where I found myself prescribing pills without healing patients. I told my wife that I was quitting medicine and her response was simply to do it my way. I took a leap of faith and followed my intuition to heal with food. In medical school, we do not receive any meaningful education in nutrition, perhaps an hour. When I left allopathic medicine, I became board certified in regenerative and anti-aging medicine and with Teresa, a nurse practitioner and culinary school graduate, created our wellness clinic allowing us to reverse metabolic disease like diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and chronic fatigue, which have become too common from the pervasiveness of processed foods. Together, we have been educating and helping people live stronger with more confidence and positivity. Health truly begins in our kitchen and not the doctor’s office. I am grateful for the inspiration and courage that my wife instilled to follow that little nudge in me to help others find a better way of living.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
The three main blockages, in no particular order, are ourselves, ourselves and ourselves! We are con-artists, liars and bullshitters to the person it hurts the most — you. And the problem is that as human beings we love to intellectualize to the point of paralyses. I was guilty. Until we make an emotional connection for our health, nothing happens. The lies continue. I was a carboholic for years, everything donut and fast food until I was 39. I was fat, tired and had high cholesterol. I would tell myself the same jaded excuse, “for sure tomorrow…” but it never came. We need to find a purpose to want to be healthy, not a goal. Once goals are reached there is a human tendency to fall back on old habits: I lost 20 pounds then regained it, I’m always dieting but can’t keep the weight off or I ate healthy during Lent but then went back to fries and Captain Crunch. I personally gave up Lent for Lent years ago, I highly advise it, because it’s a lifestyle shift that matters not a 40-day trial. Jesus had a six pack for good reason, he didn’t eat jalapeno poppers after his fast. Finding an inspiration is what helped me. My daughter’s birth years ago was my rebirth. I knew that I was heading down the fast track of heart disease or diabetes. And this is the crux: Health is a choice. I made that connection to my health because of my daughter, which no longer left me with any room for excuses or B.S. It wasn’t through dieting or exercising that transformed me, but eating wholesome foods that I enjoyed without counting calories or counting steps on a pedometer or Apple Watch. Life is to be enjoyed, not measured. But that being said, I stepped away from processed foods and heavy beer drinking and replaced it with fish, lamb, lentils, wild rice, garbanzos, avocados, eggs, almonds, spinach, asparagus, olive oil, garlic, ginger, cayenne, sea salt, fruit and some red wine. I was losing weight and feeling more energy without trying, without dieting, without exercising. I was in better physical shape compared to the years I worked out but ate crap. Exercise is overrated. If people focused more on their plates, they wouldn’t have to spend so much time and money on Pilates. I am not anti-exercise, but you can’t burn off pizza and fries every time you go to the gym. You’re only fooling yourself. Find an activity that requires movement like walking, Tai Chi, ping pong or dancing and do it regularly to help your blood circulate and allow your body to sweat off toxins. It’s about nourishing your body with good stuff while eliminating toxic stuff with activities you enjoy. Find your inspiration to be healthy and the rest will take care of itself.
Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Well-Being”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)
Laugh more, meditate, learn to forgive and let go, connect with nature and get your hormones checked for goodness sake!
- Laugh, no joke! I’ve met people that simply don’t laugh, smile or have a sense of humor. That is stressful to the mind and body since laughter and smiling have been researched and correlated with stronger immunity and better mental health. This is why I have prescribed comedies to patients over the years or have them practice smile therapy by looking into the mirror for 10 minutes daily and forcing themselves to smile, you cannot be in a bad mood when you’re smiling, unless you’re the Joker. Now I have you laughing!
- Meditate. This has become more prevalent in our culture in recent decades after it has been practiced for centuries in India and other Asian cultures. Meditation doesn’t mean shaving your head and wearing a bright orange robe either. My wife went to Thailand years ago wanting to learn how to calm her overactive brain. She met with a young monk in his robe and shaven head, luckily my wife came back with her hair, but still was at a loss with meditation. I meditate by being still in a quiet place whether it’s in my bathroom toilet, backyard, playing gong/relaxing music (not gangsta rap) or just lying in bed. I give myself those moments to release negativity from the day by focusing on a positive thought: peace, joy, laughter, nothingness, for a few minutes and this quiet action helps reduce blood pressure, blood sugars and cortisol to lower our mental and physical stress. You don’t need a mat, beard or robe, just a quiet space outdoors, indoors or wherever, to be alone daily to push that delete button in our mind. My wife finally found her meditation in cooking, her “ashram” is in the kitchen and her incense is the aroma of basil. Find your meditative place and feel yourself experiencing more joy.
- Forgiveness and letting go. This is BIG! If you think kale and Pilates is important, letting go of past grievances, hatred, grudges, emotional toxins, everything that keeps our hearts and heads calloused with anger toward family members, friends, colleagues, whomever, letting your soul detox will dramatically improve your wellbeing. How can it not? Being aware that our mind is connected to our body, I have seen in my own family and patients who hold on to toxic thoughts and emotional baggage, suffer from physical maladies that never seem to end. Forgiveness can be practiced in solitude without any form of confrontation. It has helped me reconcile past misgivings and toxic relationships. Thinking of the people in my life that I harbored bad feelings for, I would repeat in my head daily “I forgive you so and so…” until I no longer felt a negative connection. Over time, you start to feel lighter and more positive. Negative feelings affect our health that not kale nor any exercise routine can fix. We need to allow ourselves to let go of toxic thoughts and feelings because they harm us more than the person on the other end. Lastly, forgiveness doesn’t mean having to restart a relationship with that particular person, it just means you no longer allow that person to ruin your day or health.
- Connect with nature. This means putting your electronic devices down and surrounding yourself with a view of the mountains, the smell of your garden, a walk among nature, a trip to the beach (when open, during quarantine), anything that gets you out of your walls and away from your car or computer monitor. I believe that our digital life has detached us from the benefits of being outdoors. We are more enclosed than ever with virtual worlds rather than experiencing the energy of the universe available to us outside. The more detached we are from nature, the more detached we are from health. Make it a point to disconnect from your digital life to reconnect with the energy outside. And do this daily.
- Hormones become disrupted by processed foods, which contain what are known as endocrine destructive chemicals, stress and lack of sleep. Our hormones get hijacked from all these factors which then make us tired, fat, unmotivated, emasculated if you’re a man, and depressed. In my practice, I have seen younger and younger men with low testosterone, in their 30’s, from eating poorly, noticing less muscle, more body fat, decreased libido, anxiety, man boobs and even depression. Menopause and andropause affect people differently but the key is to get your levels evaluated by a wellness healthcare provider to help you reach physiologic normal levels with BHRT (bio-identical hormone replacement therapy), or nutritional counseling to help you normalize your hormones like testosterone, thyroid and cortisol to find physiologic balance to help reverse symptoms and prevent disease like osteoporosis, cancer and diabetes.
As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?
Mental uplifting, hormonal balancing, detoxifying the body are what exercise accomplishes beyond weight loss. Starting with the head, exercise releases feel good hormones including enkephalins and endorphins, which are chemical hormones that act on the same brain receptors as opioids, like heroin. People often refer to this as an ‘exercise high’ for good reason, it’s a feeling of mood elevation without the withdrawal symptoms of heroin! These mood blasting proteins also help decrease anxiety and decrease pain. That’s a bargain. I’ve never seen someone morose after a jog or dancing. Being outdoors while exercising increases vitamin D, which is vital for overall health and lifting our mood. Exercise also releases serotonin and dopamine which give a feeling of happiness and calm. Consider this a free anti-depressant. Other hormones that exercise unleashes is testosterone, epinephrine and thyroid. Testosterone can increase with resistance and more intensive type exercises. So, it’s advised to do interval type activities like a walk with short periods of a sprint or alternating speeds on a bike ride, from slow to bursts of high speeds for a few seconds. Epinephrine increases our heart rate and mental focus by allowing more blood flow to our brain and cardiac output for increased oxygenation. The thyroid gland is responsible for our overall body metabolism, so more hormone production from exercise can give our fat burning capacity a boost. Detox is a massive part of exercise that is often overlooked. When your body sweats it’s releasing the accumulated toxins that cause inflammation, liver congestion and disease. Movement of our body helps our major organs of toxic elimination like the liver, lungs, kidneys, intestines and skin function effectively to remove the gunk that makes us sluggish and sick. Bottom line, it’s better to be happy and sweaty for your mental and physical health.
For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?
Movement is the critical term when it comes to any exercise. Increasing and diffusing oxygen blood flow to our organs and getting toxins drained out from our lymphatic system, intestines, liver and skin via perspiration is what health is. One major deterrent to exercise is this device-filled world that has made us sedentary slackers. I prefer to use the word, “activity” since many people associate the word exercise to something that is negative or a nuisance. How many people have gym memberships and never go? Too many. I ask my clients to think about a physical activity that they enjoy doing without having to think about it. The response they give is what I encourage them to do on a regular basis whether it’s walking, dancing, gardening, hiking, yoga, shadow boxing, water aerobics, Zumba or sport, any form of daily movement helps our mind and body by increasing helpful hormones and heat shock proteins (hsp) that enable proteins to maintain high levels of physiological function for a better quality life. Adding any movement activity with regularity into our life benefits us in so many ways that boosts confidence, energy and a sense of wellbeing. We have become a digital world that definitely has a down side with virtual realities. Too much e-behavior in front of monitors and not enough real activity. Put the devices down and put on some rubber soles and take your soul outside.
In my experience, many people begin an exercise regimen but stop because they get too sore afterwards. What ideas would you recommend to someone who plays sports or does heavy exercise to shorten the recovery time, and to prevent short term or long-term injury?
Exercise at any level, but particularly demanding regimens, require more rest, hydration and more body replenishing activities as part of the routine. Injury occurs because muscle tissues, tendons and ligaments haven’t had proper time to heal from the micro-trauma that occurs from the stress of exercise. Pacing exercise so that the body has time to recuperate can reduce or prevent injury. So, implementing intervals of low impact exercise like walking or stretching or sleeping (napping) gives our body opportunity to rebuild tissue. Hydration is a given throughout exercise to prevent cramping and injury. Avoid sports drinks that are filled with artificial vitamins and sugars. Water is all the body needs to restore fluid loss but because minerals are expelled in sweat, a mineral supplement or foods like bananas, almonds and seeds as a quick snack after exercising can restore mineral loss. Integrating movement exercises like Tai Chi or yoga that have been around for centuries give rest to the mind and body to lower stress, lower cortisol (the stress hormone) to allow rebuilding of our immunity and create a stronger foundation for our body to help prevent injury. Nutrition is fundamental for exercise and our overall health. Feed your body real food not junk food to help build muscle and energy. You wouldn’t put cheap fuel in a high-performance car, so why not do the same for your body? Food fuel from plant proteins and good fats help with high energy production and testosterone building to grow lean muscle. If you are in your forties and have poor recovery from exercise or lack of motivation, have your testosterone levels checked. Most men are walking around with low T (testosterone) levels due mostly to EDC’s (endocrine destructive chemicals) in processed foods that suppress normal hormone production. Look for a doctor who treats low levels with bio-identical hormone replacement (BHRT) to help you increase fat metabolism, energy and shorten exercise recovery. Ways of maintaining higher testosterone levels include vitamin D from the sun, fatty fish, eggs or D3 supplements as well as sleep and exercise. Balance is the key. Play smart.
There are so many different diets today. Can you share what kind of diet you follow? Which diet do you recommend to most of your clients?
I do not follow any “diet” and this is what I advise to everyone. The key is eating from the vast array of wholesome foods and it’s up to each one of us to choose what foods from this selection to eat daily. But we need to get away from the ubiquitous “crap-food diet” (that’s the scientific term)! Whether someone wants to be plant-based, vegetarian, Mediterranean, ketogenic, etc., the point is to be balanced and feel happy, otherwise it defeats the purpose. We get too consumed by trends and popular diets rather than focusing on simplicity and basics to impact our health immediately with foods that have no ingredient labels. Too many people overwhelm themselves with diets that do not suit them and end up falling off to go back to the processed foods that got them in trouble in the first place. Instead, introducing fresh foods including vegetables, fruit, nuts, good fats and animal proteins that are high in omega-3’s to reduce inflammation is the way to go in this high stress, high-synthetic food world. This wasn’t an issue a century ago when everything was organic and pesticide free. Remember eating fruit as a child from your backyard or neighbor’s tree and how absolutely delicious tasting it was? Today, that is still the best organic food you can enjoy, the stuff growing in your own backyard. An occasional donut isn’t going to kill you either, we need a little fun along the way. It’s not about a regimen or calorie count or eating certain grams of protein and less grams of whatever. If diets worked, then why are we so fat and sick as a society? Many weight-loss diets focus on the wrong foods including low calorie pastries, whole wheat bread, diet pastas, low-sugar yogurts, which is a poor foundation for good health. These foods can be eaten occasionally so as not to feel deprived, but if eaten too often, they will keep you on a cycle of “trying to lose weight” since they are heavy in sugars, processed carbohydrates and gluten. Listening to your body is the best barometer for your health. If certain foods give you an unease, bloating or fatigue, it’s time to pay attention to these signs and avoid eating them. Glutinous foods and sugary foods are notorious for aggravating our bodies. I never believed in extremes when it comes to eating nor should you. Be a balance-aterian to include a variety of fresh foods to avoid boredom and ultimately decrease health risks. Again, all the processed foods got us into this mess so subtracting fake food and adding real food will hold you in good stead all of your life. The diet that most Americans eat is a processed-food diet and that is why we have 80% obesity in this country and high rates of diabetes, cancer, heart disease and stroke. Not a shocker. Cultures that previously did not see obesity like in Japan, are seeing a significant increase because of fast-food establishments infiltrating the food landscape. Too many of us eat omega-6 fats daily which promote inflammation including beef, chicken and pork. Even if it’s organic or pasture-raised, the problem is the fat type. Less omega-6, more omega-3 and omega-9 is healthier. Historically, the Mediterranean and Japanese diets have been considered the healthiest in the world because of high omega-3 fats in fish and lamb, high vegetable content and high mineral sea plant consumption along with legumes, whole rice and fruit. Red wine has resveratrol, a powerful anti-oxidant, and green tea has EGCG’s and L-theanine which promote a strong immunity and improve sleep, which regenerates natural hormone production for a healthier physiology and longevity. Rather than trying to fit into a diet, I prescribe finding the whole fresh foods that you love to eat and create your own healthy way of eating, a lifestyle. This is how I discovered my personal menu. Vegetables and fruit daily to take advantage of the powerful anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins in them and healthy fats like almonds, walnuts, avocados, olive oil, which are omega-9 and coconut oil, organic eggs along with wild caught fish, pasture raised proteins but making an effort to increase omega-3 fats and reducing omega-6 fats to reduce risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, stroke and all things metabolic. Just by eliminating processed foods and replacing them with fresh foods that you love, will immediately put you on the path to a cleaner, leaner and healthier body. That’s what happened to me (more on this later). Don’t be a chronic dieter; choose a fresh food lifestyle. Enjoy spices and herbs daily like garlic, ginger, shallots, chives, fresh chili peppers, sea salt, and cilantro, which add robust flavor and health benefits. This is what I call whole food eating, not dieting. Enjoy!
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
I was inspired by Rich Roll’s book ‘Finding Ultra” learning of his incredible journey from being an alcoholic on the verge of a heart attack to his epic transformation into a top-endurance athlete in his forties. His book inspired me to keep writing my book about my personal transition from unhealthy doctor stuck in the sickness model of medicine to a healthy person who discovered nutrition as a way of healing, and to inspire others to do the same. At times, I felt the task too daunting to actually write something that could evolve into a book.
I hoped I could find a voice to help inspire people to live healthier. When I lost my file after writing for about a year, I was devastated. After months of distancing myself from the book, I started to write again and noticed that my writing voice had taken a less angry tone. That hiatus allowed me to process what I had written previously to edit out what was a rant to construct my story that had disappointment, laughter, inspiration, lessons, empowerment and hope. Sometimes I wanted to give up on the whole project, but I wanted people to know that they had a chance to get out of their diagnosis and disease. The mind is powerful and determines who we are at different moments of our lives. At one time, Rich Roll was an alcoholic lawyer who lacked purpose; he later found it and now shares that positive message with the world. I feel in many ways that I found my purpose: To help people understand healing through food nutrition after seeing how it transformed me. Finding one’s purpose can be challenging, but choosing to do it is all we need to make it happen. We all have journeys, obstacles and quests, and I hope that my book will continue to encourage others to make a shift away from a “sick” mindset to a healthy one.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
A food movement is what we need! I discuss in my book how our food industry has decimated our health with pesticides, preservatives, gmo’s and hormones without end. The food in our kitchen defines our health. If we could establish more food-detox clinics where doctors integrate food as medicine and teach people the value of wholesome foods for disease free lives, as we have adopted at our clinic, a movement like this would promote health. I’ve expressed that health is a choice, but if our choices are limited as in poorer communities, the challenges become insurmountable. The current pandemic has made us think about the way we live by putting a microscope on our culture. Viruses don’t discriminate but societies do. If we want to create health, we need to explore the healing properties of natural food that can be sustained at home and become part of our daily existence. This is the type of education we need as chronic disease has become a “natural” part of life because of decades of synthetic foods, which damage our lives. Likewise, doctors need to educate themselves on nutrition since culinary medicine isn’t going to be part of any medical school curriculum soon. As physicians, when we learn to put the prescription pads down and give grocery lists instead, healing will begin. I don’t see the food industry in this country changing any time soon for the better, so it’s going to take one family at a time, one garden at a time, one neighborhood at a time, one community at a time, for a movement to take place. Ron Finley, the gangsta gardener, started this organic garden movement in South Central Los Angeles on sidewalk medians (sometimes called road verges) creating “street food” that is healing the community similar to the neighborhoods I grew up in East Los Angeles. Educating people on how to eat and giving access and empowerment to all communities and in particular, disadvantaged communities, is one power punch against processed foods and sets deep roots for nutritive lifestyles. This is the type of movement we need if we want to create a generation of regeneration.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
My father would often tell me, “No hay mal de que bien no venga,” meaning, good will come out of anything bad. This statement echoed throughout my life and gave many life lessons. In 2008 during the recession, we lost a lot materially but gained more spiritually. Many businesses were closing as the economy collapsed and we could have easily been a casualty. We struggled as many others did taking our losses with mounting anxiety, uncertainty and fear. The crumbling financial landscape taught us to appreciate and be grateful for what mattered most, our life together with our young daughter that allowed us to keep going. That bond of love was reinforced and instilled a positivity in our lives knowing she was the ultimate gift in our life. This energy force as a family, which perhaps had been overlooked as we worked tirelessly for years, brought us back into perspective to what we gave value. From that moment, we saw our life differently, creating a life for us on a deeper spiritual plane and seeing the good that came out of a dark time. We didn’t allow the outside environment to define our core values and we refocused our lives, redefined our clinic, letting our persistence guide us through the challenging financial obstacles. Something wonderful came out of those difficult times.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Oprah. She has been inspirational to millions of people when it comes to health. The approaches we have taken at our clinic, The iBody Medical Wellness Center, with food detox to give people the awareness that health begins in the kitchen and not the doctor’s office creates a tectonic shift in thinking and eating and health. More fresh foods from the market, home gardens or planting edible gardens will help people restore health and wellbeing. We are living in a time when obesity and diabetes have become epidemic, and children are becoming a generation of degeneration from the processed foods that have invaded kitchens in every household. This is the pandemic that is ignored and continues to proliferate. The current viral climate has exposed our human fragility and compromised immunity from a steady diet of processed foods, and a medical system that manages disease with drugs instead of healing with nutrition. Our poor communities and people of color have been hit the hardest living in food deserts with protracted illness. We have become vulnerable to infection, disease and death from this affliction of bad food and bad medicine. However, this quarantined existence has given us pause to reassess our habits and choices to create a healthier lifestyle for ourselves and loved ones, and not have to consent to chronic disease and poisoned foods any longer. We have been weakened and debilitated by our own industries with diabetes, obesity, cancer and heart disease becoming normal. And we have accepted abnormal-as-normal for too long. We can shift this paradigm and make disease shrink by choosing foods that are healing and start rebuilding a stronger community in order to create a sustainable future.
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Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!