Ep.43: Become Your Own Health Hero with Dr. Nandi
I have a fantastic interview for you today. I’ve invited my friend, Dr. Partha Nandi, MD. He is the creator and host of the nationally and internationally syndicated medical lifestyle television show, Ask Dr. Nandi. And he’s reaching 95 million homes every day with his show. He’s the Chief Health Editor at WXYZ, ABC Detroit. He is a practicing physician, a gastroenterologist, and a renowned international speaker.
He collaborates with the Ministry of Health in Jamaica and India. He’s collaborated with the World Health Organization. He travels all over the world to speak and he meets with global health leaders on a quest to improve healthcare quality and access.
In this episode, learn how to become your own health hero!
LINKS AND RESOURCES:
Learn more about Dr. Nandi by checking out his website.
Read his new book 5 Steps to Becoming Your Own Health Hero!
Robyn: Hey everyone. Robyn Openshaw here with Your High Vibration Life, and welcome back. I have a fantastic interview for you today. I’ve invited my friend, Dr. Partha Nandi, MD. He is the creator and host of the nationally and internationally syndicated medical lifestyle television show. You may have seen it; it’s called Ask Dr. Nandi. And he’s reaching with his TV show, wait for this … 95 million homes, every day.
He’s the Chief Health Editor at WXYZ, ABC Detroit. He is a practicing physician, a gastroenterologist, and a renowned international speaker. His appearances include being on TEDx. He does college commencements. He collaborates with the Ministry of Health in Jamaica and India. He’s collaborated with the World Health Organization. He’s a passionate, inspiring speaker, speaks all over the world, and he travels to international conferences and symposia, and he meets with global health leaders on a quest to improve healthcare quality and access, and he’s a big advocate for the patient. His mission is to empower the world to be your own health hero. So, welcome to the show Dr. Partha Nandi!
Dr. Nandi: Hey, thank you Robyn. Thank you for inviting me and giving me the opportunity to talk to you and the people that are listening.
Robyn: Yeah, I’ve been really excited about this and about getting the inside scoop about your long-awaited, by your fans I’m sure, Ask Dr. Nandi book. And as you and I have discussed many times, we have the same publisher, of course. And you publish your book right before me, and so we’ve been comparing notes.
Dr. Nandi: Um-hmm.
Robyn: Our books are releasing at almost the same time. It’s going to be a very exciting fall of 2017. So tell me, what was the inspiration behind this, your first book, Ask Dr. Nandi: Five Steps to Becoming Your Own Health Hero for Longevity, Well-being, and a Joyful Life?
Dr. Nandi: Well Robyn, you know, thanks for that intro, by the way. It was very kind.
You know, the thing is that just like you, super passionate about everything I do, and anybody who listens to you could … you gotta ooze passion. And so I love what I do. I love practicing medicine, love treating my patients, and huge part of my life … but I also do something that gives me a lot of satisfaction, when I actually do something to find something that’s missing. Because, you know, as a physician, I give them prescriptions, I do lots of procedures, but I realize that even with that, there’s a lot missing. And people like yourselves, have really been able to help people, but a lot of people don’t know that, and so I wanted to understand, you know, why are people not thriving, why are they suffering? Even though they’re coming to see me, I need to realize that there’s more that they needed.
So, you know, my tribe and I lived a life that really was filled with purpose. And I say my tribe, not just my family, but in the friends, the people that really … that we share the same amount of passion. We live with purpose and made some real choices, and they’re simple choices, we felt, that yielded huge, amazing results.
So, I thought it was time that, you know … let’s do this. Let’s share the research, let’s share the experiences, to create an entire world, not just my practice or my city or my state or the country, but a world of health heroes really understands that there are small and realistic changes that can make your lives better. Not some gigantic thing … a lot of my patients often don’t want to do anything because they see like, Mt. Everest in front of them, and so they don’t want to climb it because they’re like, “Oh, it’s too much.”
So we want to show them small changes leading to big results. And I wanted to reach beyond my patients and help people to live really great lives, more joyful lives, longer lives, healthier lives, and so what this book will change … I wanted to make sure my patients understood, and that’s why I wrote the book.
And I thought it was the right time to reach as many people as we could. You know, we have a television show, we do a lot of work on our social media, and digital media, but I thought, “What a great idea to be able to share this in a book as well, you know where people can get at least an idea of how to do this as we have done, for our communities.”
Robyn: You know, I thought, when I started on my own health hero journey 25 years ago … I thought I was in it to turn my baby’s health around. He was a failure-to-thrive baby, he had fallen below the 5th percentile for weight. I felt like he was dying; he was in and out of emergency rooms.
We changed our diet; we got off of the processed food, the dairy, all the sugar and we got off of all processed meat, and my kid ended up being a 6’3″ MVP, led his team to State, hit two Grand Slams, 6’3″, and really, food was a big part of it. And I thought the journey was about turning my kid’s health around, and then I thought it was about the impact that I saw rolling out in my whole family … and now, talking to a quarter of a million people every week.
So, when you talk about being a health hero, what does that mean? Is it about I’m turning my health around? Does it mean I’m modeling that to my family? Does it mean I have more impact in this world in 2017 than people have ever had with others before? Tell me about health hero.
Dr. Nandi: You know, I think you hit the nail on the head. I mean, your story that you just told is the embodiment of a health hero. So basically, you’re a mom that says, “You know what? I’m not going to let my child not do as well as he wants to, or he could.” So instead of saying … you know, I talk to kids all the time, and they give me stories about … I say, “So, who’s your hero?” And they give me, “I like LeBron James,” or “I like a sports star,” or “I like Justin Bieber.”
And I tell them, you know, “It’s time to really make yourself the story of your life, the hero of your life, and especially with your health and wellness, you gotta make yourself your own health hero.” What that means is, through really conscious choices with food and also, purposeful movement, and having purpose in your life … doing things that really puts your mind into it.
One of the first things, I’m sure, that happened to you when you decided to go on this journey with your son was, to say in your mind, “I’m going to do this. Now I have an approach,” and you had a purpose, a goal.
Once you do that, I think, you start to then narrow your focus and understand what to do, including food, including movement, including mindset, and that’s what a health hero does, makes that the number one priority in their life.
It doesn’t have to take a tragedy. For me, it took a couple of events in my life. It doesn’t have to be anything that’s so unbelievably bad, or good. It can just be to pay your health forward, meaning even if you’re doing well now, you want to be able to do just as well in the future, as well as fight diseases, as well as, if you have diabetes, how do we reverse that? How do we get off a lot of our medications? And that’s what a health hero does; takes control of his or her health through choices that you can make every single day, just like you did for your family.
Robyn: So, you’ve been a practicing gastroenterologist for over 20 years now. What kind of patterns are you seeing in today’s world, because that spans quite a long time. What are you seeing in terms of illness and disease out there?
Dr. Nandi: What I’m seeing is, Robyn, that there are really a lot of chronic illnesses and disease. And I see people, really, even though we have all this technology, right? We have amazing stuff that we can give people, but they’re just not taking care of themselves. Instead of really following, sometimes simple advice … and we’ve talked about this before … it seems intuitive, but yet, what happens is that people are looking for a shortcut, quick fixes, and not following the same kinds of advice that they know what would really get them there. What happens is that people wind up chasing their tails and treating the symptoms instead of the issues that cause their symptoms, right? So an example I often give is a diabetic who wants to stop feeling tired, but doesn’t address what we call the root cause. You know, this person, if they could look at their diet, and what they put … and we just talked about processed foods and the kinds of things that they put in their mouth, they can’t understand why, even if they’re putting the wrong stuff in their mouth, they’re not getting the right results.
The good news is that there are really simple shifts that people can make to change their lives. Not overwhelming, not super monumental … it’s really important for me to keep it simple. And when people make the choice to implement these small easy changes, they get huge results, if it’s done on a consistent basis.
Again I’ll say it, they’re small changes, but they can get big results, and help them to get to the root cause of their disease and illness. And again, and I don’t mean to say that you just throw away all your medicines and just go for it, because there are certain diseases that you need medicine. But, how can we minimize that? How can we minimize the side effects? How can we work in concert with your medical doctor, your medical professionals, and say, “You know what? I do want to live the best life that I can, but what can I do that I can change, along with the medicines and the procedures to really live the best life and be my own health hero?”
Robyn: So you talk about five pillars in the book. Talk about the first one, because it’s a little bit surprising, but I think it’s really, really powerful. And you gotta start with the beginning, and I think you’re right there, at the beginning.
Dr. Nandi: No, absolutely, you know, what it comes from is … I always tell my family and my patients that I feel like I’ve been super blessed and almost been given an unfair advantage, because as you may or may not know, I was actually born in India and I came here when I was about nine, but I was old enough to get a lot of the stuff that is in Eastern medicine, so I don’t have to read about, or look at shows about, people doing Eastern medicine: yoga, Ayurvedic medicine, acupuncture … it was all around me when I as a kid. And so you know, mindfulness and prayer were part of my life. So I really, really understood at a young age what needs to be done, and what was nice was that I come over to the West, and get all of the advantages of Western culture and medicine.
So, when I put this together, I said, “The first thing that has to happen is that you have to have purpose,” meaning that you have to develop something that gets you up every day, and not just gets you up and you drag out of bed and say, “Ugh, It’s another day. I can’t believe it,” but rather, jump out of bed. And so for me, it’s to be able to empower people to really live the life that they can, meaning that … I tell my kids, if you can change one life for the better, if you can make an impact on one life, your life is worthwhile. And so that’s what motivates me, is that if I can make … like you talked about you’re reaching a quarter of a million people every week, and I’m reaching with my television show 95 million people every day and I’m trying to empower them to really change their habits, so they can, not only just live a longer life, but a better life.
The first thing that has to happen is purpose. You have to really understand why you’re doing what you’re doing, because until that happens, if you didn’t have the motivation of your child that was not thriving, it wouldn’t have been nearly as powerful for you to make those changes, to change your diet, change his diet. So I think purpose is the first step.
It’s not always easy, but you have to really do some soul-searching. If your purpose is to be the best high-school teacher, be the best softball player … whatever it is, you get that purpose and then everything follows, you know? I don’t ever have to tell my teenage daughter to check her phone. Ever. Ever, ever, ever, right? Because she’s got purpose. She wants to know what’s in that sucker, right?
And of course, we live in a … I’m trying to make an example, is that when you have purpose in your mind, when you have that … it becomes subconscious, you know what to do. And that’s the first step. It’s not easy. It’s one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do is to find, “What is it that I want?” It’s not the big house, it’s not the big car, it’s not the vacations, et cetera. It’s really about how can I impact my patients, my community, the planet. Man, that juices me up, and so that gets me going. That’s the first step of becoming your own health hero, my first pillar.
Robyn: Yeah, I love that you have so much passion and purpose, because that is where it starts. And I’ve always felt that my son almost dying, being in and out of ERs and on five courses of steroids in his first year of life, and all those things that I was desperate to get him out of … I wanted him out of standard of care medicine every week and you know, life-threatening crisis all the time. It was so motivating; it gave me such great purpose in the beginning.
And I’m glad I’m not outrunning a dragon, like I was back then, but I have come to believe that that was one of the greatest blessings of my life, because once I got him off of dairy and sugar, and we never had another steroid again. We never had another antibiotic. I mean, I just not have another antibiotic for my oldest son; I’ve never given any of my four children antibiotics since then, because I was so amped when we turned a corner and he started thriving again and he went from below the 5th percentile to the 50th percentile in six months. I was like, “There’s no stopping me. Just get out of my way. I’m going to learn everything that I can, and I’m going to teach it to as many people as I can.”
So, I love the five pillars. I love that you’re about giving people not just health, but vitality and joy is something that you talked about. Like, why stop at health, because health leads to High Vibrations, which is what we are all about on this show.
And I know that you’re not just a clinician, I know that you’re not just treating patients. You’re a deep researcher, so tell me about the research that you’ve done, and that journey and how it has led to these five pillars that you want to educate the world about.
Dr. Nandi: And so what happens is that … what you do is, just like with you, you find out that the stuff that you are doing is really effective, and not just effective, it’s life-changing. So then you say, “What is it that’s really happening?” That yields, but actually leads you to be also, “Okay, I want to go to the next step,” right? It’s when you get those life-altering changes. For me, I choose … you talked about your son and all the devastating things that were happening to him. You said, “I gotta do something.”
For me, two things happened. I almost died when I was six years old. I had rheumatic fever, which is, some people who may know, it’s a life-threatening illness. I went to so many doctors and they couldn’t figure out what was going on. And finally, I went to a pediatrician who really literally saved my life. It was Christmas Eve, and I go to this pediatrician and I’m expecting them to just sell me something and then me not getting better. I was just expecting that, because I’d gone to a half-dozen, not only traditional medicine doctors, I’d gone to alternative medicine doctors. I mean, I was covered in garlic for a day, because somebody thought that would help me. I went through everything as a six year old boy.
Then I went to this pediatrician, and he said, “You’ve got to go to the hospital today.” And I said, “Wait a minute, it’s Christmas Eve.” And he said, “Yeah. You’ve got to go today.” So I was expecting it to be a normal, normal day. And I actually end up in the hospital that day for 10 days, and then I’m on bedrest, because I had an illness that affected my heart. I couldn’t even get out of bed.
Needless to say, thank goodness for that person, that physician, that to me health hero who really led me … I came to where I was. And then, using all that experience and all that I learned from him and my family and my parents, that I learned, “Okay this is what I can do.” And when I saw the changes, I said, “Okay, what can we do?”
So many people really feel like their fate has been already sealed. I mean, if there was another mother, it wasn’t Robyn Openshaw, it was … that had that child that was not thriving, they wouldn’t do what you did, right? They would say, “Okay, this is my fate and I have a certain outcome.” And they think, “Okay, this is what’s going to happen to me.” And they just lay back. This kind of thinking, as you know, can paralyze someone’s will to live a healthier life.
Now genetics play a huge role in what we do, no doubt about it. But your environment, how you move, how you act, and what you put in your body … and I’ll also say, what you put in your soul, is critical. So the evidence that’s out there shows … listen, you know how your body acts can be based on your experiences. And we now know, those epigenetics and how your genes are expressed really makes a big difference.
I mean, just think about that. You’re not just the product of your genes; you can actually have control of the expression of the DNA. and that’s what I’ve found and that’s what I talk about in this book here … The power to do more and to shape a better outcome for yourself, and you’re living proof of that. Your kid, who was not expected to do anything, 6’3″, hitting home runs, and MVP … you know, that’s what it’s all about. You have embodied it.
The research is showing now that you don’t always just are going to be whatever you are supposed to be, quote unquote. That kind of thinking is going out the window, and that’s what I’m excited about sharing.
Robyn: You know, you mentioned epigenetics, and I want to go a little deeper with that. I had someone contact me a year or two ago, someone I know, and said … she was going through the three-surgery process that is now the standard of care for mastectomy. And she’s BRCA1 positive, and had a mother who died of ovarian cancer, and a sister who had ovarian cancer, and half the women in the family are BRCA1 positive. And she didn’t ask me, “So is there anything I can do? My DNA is dictating this to me.” And she was a stage 2C ovarian cancer patient when she caught it; they only caught it that early because of her sister and mom.
But she basically, she didn’t ask me what I thought, she just said, “Nothing I could do. I could do any of your nutrition stuff, doesn’t matter, because I’m BRCA1.” So she never expressed any interest in what I do or my own research, but can you speak to that?
I wanted to say, had she had asked me, I would have said, “Well you know your risk of breast cancer is only 65 percent.” I mean, that’s bad. But not everybody who’s BRCA1 is going to get breast cancer, even if they live to be 105.
So, talk to me about epigenetics, and are we limited by our DNA? How much does our DNA really dictate? What does your research say about that?
Dr. Nandi: The comparison is a great question. The comparison I’ll now give you is that you know, let’s say you have a house that’s … I’ll give a number, maybe 1500 square feet. And so what you can’t do with that house, normally, is to now make it into a 5000 square foot house, right? However, what you do with that house that you’re given to make it amazing, is really up to you. To me, that’s what genetics and epigenetics is about.
So you have the genetic predisposition, or increased risk for cancer, clearly. So this person that’s talking to you, absolutely they need to be proactive, absolutely they need to make some decisions about how to prevent it. But what I would say to them is that you’re not handcuffed by just your genes. Of course your genes are going to play a huge role, but … what you do with your mindset is clearly important.
So what I mean by that is … the big word called stress. When you produce increasing cortisol, increasing ACTH, then what you’re doing is … all of your body’s defense mechanisms, right … how is cancer actually created? When you have these rogue cells, based on whatever, either your genetics, your environment, a combination of both, that are going there … guess what’s supposed to get rid of those? Your immune system. And when you are, your body experiences stress, your body is producing these counter productive hormones and products, your body’s not going to be in shape to be able to fight off these cancers.
So from the very first step, even though your genetics may play a role in what you are doing, you need to do everything in your power to change that paradigm. And one step further, now we know that even though your genetics are a certain type, what products are expressed … remember, when it goes down from your DNA, what proteins are expressed, what products come out are not predetermined. We now know that your environment that you live in, that includes what you eat, what your mindset is, how calm you are. Doing exercises like mindfulness can actually affect you and help you. Meditating, praying can actually help you. To what you do with your tribe can affect you. They now can see spirituality … and this is going much deeper than what we’re talking about … spirituality can actually affect the expression of your genes. Now, can they prove it in the kind of studies where you have double-blinded, randomized controls? No, but there is more and more proof showing that there are factors beyond just your DNA that shows what’s being expressed.
So to go back to your example, absolutely they should be proactive, and if they think that doing the surgery and the treatment that they need, let them do it. But in addition, you can train your mind, train your body, train your intestinal system … which is one of the most powerful predictors of your health. The gut-brain axis, the gut-immune axis is tremendous. There are more immune cells in your gut than probably any other part of your body. And the neurological system of your gut is more complex than your brain, so again, what you put in your body, how you think, what your purpose is.
I had a guy who’s beat seven different cancers. In the time that I’ve treated him and that’s only been about 12 years. And he tells me and I thought, “How did you do this?” And I write about him in my book. I said, “How did you do this?” The first thing he said was, “My mind’s set. I said, It’s me against you, buddy. Me against the cancer, and I’m going to win every single time.” Well it’s not as simple as that. Of course isn’t but it’s a first step.
So epigenetics tells you what you can do with your environment. That doesn’t mean just not smoking. That doesn’t mean just being in an environment that doesn’t have pollution, but rather, what you put in your mouth. Like you talked about, getting rid of the processed foods out the window. And taking out dairy, if that’s something that is effective for you. It’s not always for everybody, but for many, many people it is. You do those things and that can affect the expression of your genes.
It’s never been a more exciting time. I mean, I’m just super juiced, because this is going to change the entire planet when we go deeper into this subject and people actually put real money into research and find out how you can make those changes.
Robyn: You know you have such a unique background … Very, very different than the other MDs I know because you started in all that great Ayurvedic, Eastern stuff. And so you’re basically the real life collision of East meets West; you’re this American doctor but really you’re Indian.
I know you spent your childhood in Calcutta, and then you moved to the US. You went to Ohio State. You were an All-American Homecoming King, you were a Rhodes Scholar candidate. What’s that like, and what did you learn from both Eastern and Western cultures? What’s that blend look like; how does it show up in your medical practice?
Dr. Nandi: Well I mean, I just feel like I’m super blessed. I feel like the guy who goes to the company bowling outing and I’m like the PBA guy, that comes through. I just feel like I’ve just been blessed by getting advantages.
And what I mean by that is number one, my parents. Their unbelievable, unwavering support, helped me to really understand who I am. Because what can happen when you have these varied backgrounds, as you know, you can get lost, because you don’t really know who you are, because … Robyn, really I had two lives in the beginning. I had this whole Eastern kind of background that lived in my house, and then walked out of the house and then I became this American kid and American young adult. So what was nice is that I had that great fundamental background of Eastern medicine and Eastern cultures and all the practices, but I had to really adjust to the West. My parents really helped me with the fundamentals. They understood the importance of prayer, meditation … all the stuff that we talked about. And so when they instilled that pride in me, my mom and my dad, especially my mom talked to me all the time about it, they gave me that pride to understand where I came from but really have the flexibility to learn where I’m at.
And so what I’ve done is to really incorporate that into my practice. So, for example, a woman with Irritable Bowel Syndrome comes and tells me, “I need a little bit of Xanax, Dr.” She comes in and sits down. She doesn’t tell you what her problem is. She tells me her chief complaint when we talk about medicine is that “I need a Xanax.” And I tell her, “It’s okay. Talk to me about what’s going on?” And then when she tells me, I say, “Have you ever thought about five minutes a day of meditation?” And she said, “No.” And that person, over the course of the year, is off of every medicine that she was on.
Dr. Nandi: Just because she was able to control her life. This is real life, everyday patients that come into our office, and I’ve been able to give them the things that I write about in my book … How can you then take these beautiful pearls of Eastern medicine, as well as the amazing knowledge of the West and then make it come together?
I, again, have been really blessed with a great background. My mom, when I come here … I was born Hindu, and we don’t eat meat. And my mom, the first thing she said was, when we stepped into this country, was “Eat a hamburger.” And at that time, I didn’t know what that meant and I was like, “I don’t want to eat this.”
But it was so symbolic, and why that’s important is that it’s being open. She taught me how to be open and understanding. I don’t find a lot of colleagues who are open, I’m talking about MDs, that are open, because we’re kind of just stuck in our box of what we know about. And so, my mom loved the Indian culture but she also knew that the American and the Western culture was important. She gave me the skill set to be able to do what I do now, which is take the best of both worlds and put them in a marriage. That marriage is kind of to me the metaphor that we have.
But in real life, I’m married to a woman who grew up in the West. And we have really built a great life. And she’s a huge, huge part of who I am. My wife Kali has also really shaped me in our marriage to be who I am, be able to understand people in ways that I’ve never been able to understand them, and so I can treat my patients, our community, and even the planet better, because of those relationships: my parents, my children, and my wife. So, that’s what it’s been. It’s been an amazing journey and I just cannot wait for the future, but I love the present every single day.
Robyn: Well let’s back up two seconds. I love that you brought up food, because we’ve both been talking about how foundational nutrition is, and I know your book has a nutrition plan, and you’ve got a lot of great recipes. And that you’re strongly against dieting, which I love because I think that diets are so industry-driven, and we’re actually making a documentary about that in 2018, because my research in sort of like 25 years of watching this, shows that virtually all of the diets that currently millions of Americans are on … ketogenic is trending, paleo is on its way out. They’re just driven by profit industries, and they have little or nothing to do with what’s actually good for you, so I’m excited to hear your take too, because you’re bold in taking a stand that diets aren’t going to save your health. And I’m probably going to ask you to be in my documentary, FYI … how about that for putting you on the spot, but-
Dr. Nandi: Oh, I’d love to.
Robyn: What do you think attracts so many people to these fads and trendy diets?
Dr. Nandi: First of all, everything that you’ve said was absolutely true, and I’d love to be part of your documentary. I think what people are looking for is the drive-through through life. Every single part of people’s lives, they just want the drive-through. They just do not want to take the time to just do what’s needed.
So, what I’ve noticed is that it’s one trend after another, from the last … as long as we can remember, the last 30, 40, 50 years. The key feature is that often … to be honest, these diets are meant for people to get on a diet and then probably buy a bunch of stuff and then go to the next step and the next. It’s forever for you to be on this stupid wheel where you’re losing and gaining weight, so that you can sustain an industry and it’s product-driven.
You know, I’m not against people trying to coach folks and make them healthier, but I think that the word diet … to me, I call myself the un-diet Doctor, because I think diets should be renamed in the dictionary as a synonym for failure, because the moment you give somebody the word diet, what happens to your mind? You know that that means deprivation, that I am going to be miserable. It’s all been trained. Something’s going to happen, that I have to avoid something. I have to do something that I don’t like.
Well, we talked about in the beginning, that if you want to succeed in anything, you have to have the mindset, you have to have a purpose. And that purpose can’t just be “I want to get into a dress,” or “My shirt has to be so great, and my physique … ” Because that only gets you to a certain level, and then it fades, because once that is done, what keeps you going?
So, the word diet means fads come in because people just want a quick fix. But it’s not accidental, because we are being trained every single day to think that way, to understand that way. Why make it hard? Why even spend any energy or time doing anything? You can have it today. Or in five days, you can lose this much weight. So what I say to people is, “You have to do something that you enjoy.” There’s no absolute one way to be able to do this, meaning that you can do it many ways.
To me a couple of things are … Number one, do as well as you can eating a plant-based diet. That doesn’t mean never you never have a burger. I mean, I enjoy a burger every once in a while. It’s okay if you don’t, but I do. And you don’t have to always be on your best behavior, so what I say is, if you can just give me an 80-20 commitment … so what does that mean? I say, well 80 percent of the time, you absolutely do what we think we should, and what I’ll teach you in this book. But 20 percent of the time you can kind of enjoy yourself. You know you have kids, you’ve got to go to a birthday party. You can’t say, “well. Do you have a gluten-free cake there? Can I just bother you guys, because I can’t have anything that you have.” People are like, “Oh my gosh, we’re never inviting this guy ever again.” Or you go to a work party. You know, there’s never anything good. I’m not saying go insane all the time, but leave 20 percent so you can be yourself and do whatever you want to, but if you can give it 80 percent, you can almost always reach the goals that you want to.
The second rule is the anti-buffet rule. So, in the United States, and probably everywhere else there’s a buffet. You know when you get into this damn buffet, what happens is that it’s a war. You go in there and it’s me against the buffet; and I am going to win. So you think that that’s the whole mentality. But really what happens … you may win that little Chinese buffet battle, but you lose the war. So I tell people eat until you’re two-thirds full. The Okinawans have taught us that, and all the evidence has shown that if you can eat before you’re completely full, I’d say about two-thirds full, you will be able to reach a lot of your nutritional goals.
We give recipes on how you can do this pretty easily, where you can get really whole foods and not foods that are full of crap and empty calories, and that’s really where you have to go. But the key is you have to get there with your mindset. You gotta like it, because if you don’t like it, it’s not going to work. I mean, I don’t believe in this thinking in this thing that you’re miserable and that it’s going to work. It just doesn’t work. And the rest of your body suffers. You may look great, but your soul looks like crap. And if your soul looks like crap, guess what? It doesn’t really matter how you look. That’s transient. So that’s kind of my real outlook and then in the book I talk about evidence that really backs that up, and how you can really achieve your goals fairly simply, as long as it’s consistent.
Robyn: Well I love the anti-buffet rule, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be using that, but I’ll always quote you, don’t worry. I’ll always give you credit.
Dr. Nandi: You can use it. You can use whatever you want.
Robyn: Yeah, I think I’ve lost the war against the buffet so many times. And we always tells ourselves, “Well I’ll just eat this,” then you leave and you’re just like, “Yeah, that didn’t happen.” Buffets are just deadly, and buffets are just so dang American. Everything has to be so unlimited.
And you mentioned being raised Hindu, which means you’re a vegetarian, and I wonder what you think about … I get asked all the time, because it’s fairly well-known to my community, at least, that I eat a plant-based diet. And by that, I don’t mean vegetarian, because there’s an occasion … I might go a month eating no animals. I prefer not to eat animals. Eating animals, I’ve done it so little over the last 25 years, that it’s not super appealing to me. Barbecues don’t smell good to me.
And people are constantly asking me, “Well where do you get your protein?” And that’s just kind of a question that I’ve probably answered hundreds of times. And one of the things that I always say is that, “Well, you know there’s millions of Hindus. You know that there’s people all over Costa Rica and Okinawa and parts of Africa, and a lot of the reasons that they’re vegetarian or plant-based at least, is just that they’re poor.”
Can you live a whole life without eating animals? Where do they get their protein?
Dr. Nandi: Absolutely. And your question about being Hindu … for many, many years … I call myself a selectarian. What we do is we eat very little, almost zero, red meat. The only time that I eat red meat, is when I go to Kali’s parents, my in-laws. And they love them a little barbecue, so anybody’s birthday, we get a little filet and we eat it. So I eat it. It’s all right.
I eat a filet every so often, whenever I go there, probably about three times a year, four times a year. And the rest of the time, fish and chicken … probably maybe, I don’t know, three or four times a week. Twice a week, we are completely vegetarian. We’re not vegan, we’re completely vegetarian. And we just have completely plant-based foods. And often, as we are pursuing our lives, my wife and I actually, those are our most favorite days, because we actually enjoy that food even more, and less and less are we … you know, we talk about eating meat.
My son, by the way, my five year old, he eats what’s called dal and rice. Dal’s basically another word for lentils, which in India … it’s a staple food called D-A-L, dal, just lentils. And his favorite other food is broccoli. With just that, he gets enough protein for a little boy that can sustain himself. And we’ve now taken him … he doesn’t eat as much rice. He loved rice, but now we’ve converted him slowly to eating quinoa. Not a source of protein though, but a whole food that we can enjoy.
And what we do also is this: I believe in looking in your food so you know what the heck’s in it, because we’re in such an age of convenience, we throw everything out the window. And we’ll spend umpteenth amount of time … I love these people who’ll research, for example, the car that they’ll buy, every component. They’ll know like, oh yeah, 3.2 liter 15 valve … I have no idea, whatever it is. But they have no idea what the heck they’re putting in their mouth. Zero idea, because they assume that everything’s the same. What we take is the reverse approach. I have no idea what my car is, but we know exactly what we’re eating. We cook almost every day without exception. So we trained our kids in a way that it’s basically painless. They don’t have to think they’re being deprived of the protein. They don’t feel like they have to have a steak or they have to have meat all the time to have protein. They can have many sources of plant-based protein and they have it every single day.
The other thing is that, I think, a little caveat to this, it’s again it’s a mindset … we almost 100 percent of the time eat as a family, so we can instill some of these beliefs. This stuff doesn’t just happen by accident. My mom and my dad sat down with me and showed me how to eat, and they showed me what to do, and now I’m doing the same thing. And I think it’s really important for people to understand, you can’t expect your kids to eat well if you don’t. Like, you’re a great role model for them, Robyn, I’m sure your kids eat very well. But you have to teach them. This is what it is. My daughter and I go grocery shopping, and she learns which of the foods have vitamins, what they do, et cetera.
So, I think that’s how I’ve been able to do it. Even though I’ve been raised Hindu, now … we have a room in our house that basically acknowledges every faith and every religion. So even though I’ve been raised Hindu and Kali was raised Christian, we have Buddha, we have Islam, we have Christianity, we have Judaism, every single religion, because we want people to have faith. But why that ties into food is because then you’re not limited by the fact that the religion dictates what you eat, but rather you understand that all faiths have some commonalities and you need to nourish your body and your soul. That’s the mantra we give. It’s nourishing food, not just stuff that fills you up so you can bloat away.
Robyn: Yeah. Good, good, good advice. I wanted to know what you and Kali eat, and how you’ve managed that. That makes me laugh that you go to the in-laws and have some red meat. When I’m out with somebody and they have red meat, I take a bite of somebody’s red meat, about every other year, and I always say, “I’m just hedging my bets, just in case I need some B12 from that source.” It’s so foreign to my mouth anymore, and I usually end up spitting it out in a napkin, but just like I said … hedging my bets.
So I have one more question for you Partha, and that is-
Dr. Nandi: Okay.
Robyn: You know, when I was on lecture tour for six years, spoke in 450 cities … people stand in line and I felt this vibration from so many people that they just felt like they listened to my lecture and they said, “I’m just too far gone. I’m too sick.” They just didn’t see themselves getting healthy.fvvfr
And I just have noticed that there are so many people in our culture because of our habits and the way we eat, and eating out of the drive through and so many other aspects to American culture that really need turning around. They’ve just been sick and overweight for so long that they don’t even remember what healthy and light feels like.
And I’d love for you to give someone who’s in this boat, somebody who’s really struggling … I’d say, what, most of Americans now have some kind of autoimmune disease. Give them some encouragement. What’s one thing you would say to someone who’s in pain, who’s struggling, who’s feeling hopeless? And where to start?
Dr. Nandi: What I’d tell them … the first thing is that … and I’d really sit down and talk to them one on one and say, “You know what? There’s absolutely hope. There’s absolutely hope.” And I’d tell them that I’ve seen people in their position really take a step at a time and really achieve all their goals and thrive. Not just get better, but thrive.
You know, a lot of people go to see doctors and what happens is that … one of my directors on my television show he said, “You know Dr. Nandi, you know what my favorite part, when I get most comfortable when I see a doctor?” I said, “What is it?” He goes, “when I’m driving away from the office.” I’m like, “Great,” because what happens is that we have a system of medicine set up where people just feel disappointed when they leave us. The whole system is just uncomfortable and it gives them the sense that there’s really not any hope. We give such complicated health plans, and people don’t even know where to start. Like I talked about, they feel like they’re Mt. Everest in front of them.
So what I tell them is that I want you to get rid of these unrealistic plans. The key to me is implementing small changes. So set your goals so that you can make small little increments. If you can get your pain scale, if you’re in pain, from a nine to an eight this week, let’s go there, let’s do it, and we’ll do it together and we’ll start there. I always say, “Give me five minutes of whatever it is that I think they need at that time. Give me just five minutes a day.” You look at your phone at least that much time, you watch TV at least that much time. Turn those off and give me five minutes, and then let’s move forward. Whether it’s purposeful movement, whether it’s meditation, whether it’s eating in the way that I think really will help you, let’s do that.
And let’s watch the numbers. So if you’re a diabetic, easy, you can watch numbers. If you’re hypertensive, you can watch numbers. If you’re in pain, you can give it a numeric scale. I really believe that you can watch your numbers and your outcome. It makes such a huge difference. You knew that your son was what percentile. You could see, man, now he’s the 50th percentile. Now he’s the 95th percentile. Yeah, buddy, I’m not going to stop. And that’s what I give them.
I give them incremental changes, but give them hope, showing that their numbers are changing. And then once that happens, the motivation kicks in, just like it did with you Robyn. You said, “Heck yes, I’m going to do this. I’m not going to stop until I reach the top,” and that’s what typically happens. You know and once it kicks in, your mind is strong enough, you can really move mountains. It’s amazing what can happen when you just make small changes.
And not everything is the same for everybody. I have to custom make it. If I have a patient, for example, with liver disease, and they’re weak and tired, and amazingly bloated, that’s a totally different approach than someone who has, for example, acid reflux, and they feel every day that they can’t figure out what to eat. So, it’s a not one size fits all, but it’s again the same approach. Small changes, huge results, done in a consistent way.
You talk to anybody, in any filed, whether it be health or otherwise. You know, you can talk to Tony Robbins, right? He’s one of the most successful motivators of all time and he’ll tell you about these small changes that seem pretty intuitive, but if you do it on a regular basis and do it consistently you can make tremendous changes. That’s what I tell my patients. Don’t ever give up hope because you just have to chip away at it. And eventually, you can break out of that prison. You just every day, you get that nail file and you make a little hole, and boom! You’re gonna bust through. And when you bust through man, you are going to thrive. And that’s what I tell them. And I just want to tell them from conjecture, but research-proven. We talk about it in the book … it’s research proven and it’s what I’ve done seen with my patients again and again.
Robyn: That’s so perfect for our show, because we talk about how energy is always in motion. We’re not ever sitting still, energetically. There’s momentum to upward movement in your energies, and there’s backsliding.
And so, that was so inspiring. I’m really, really proud to tell our audience about your brand new book, Ask Dr. Nandi: Five Steps to Becoming Your Own Health Hero for Longevity, Well-Being, and a Joyful Life. So, tell us where they can get it, and where they can find more from you.
Dr. Nandi: Absolutely. So they can go to our website, and actually go to askdrnandi.com/book. You can get it from Amazon as well, and it’s going to be a book published by Simon and Schuster. And I’d love for all of you to really take part and look at some of the solutions we give, and see how you can change your lives. Every single person that reads this book I believe will change your life for the better.
So again, it’s askdrnandi.com/book, or you can go to Amazon and get the book there as well.
Robyn: We will put that in the show notes as well. Askdrnandi.com/book. And Partha, it’s been such a delight to have you. You’re such an inspiration. Thanks for being a health hero to me and so many other people.
Dr. Nandi: I feel the same, Robyn. It’s been such an honor and a pleasure to be on your podcast. Thank you so much for having me.