I’m a big believer in the farm to table movement, but with one major caveat: you can’t skim the cream! What I’m saying is that we can’t cherry pick when it comes to our crops, growing the same ones over and over (even if they’re grown organically), and assume that it is a sound ecological practice. Just like humans need a diversity of foods to get the right nutrients, soil needs a diversity of plants grown on it and even the right animal inputs in order to be nutrient dense, too. On this episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy, I’m joined by mastermind chef and regenerative agriculture advocate Dan Barber. Dan is breaking the conventional ways we eat, cook, and think about food. He is the chef and co-owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns and the author of The Third Plate. He also co-founded Row 7 Seed Company, a seed company bringing together chefs and plant breeders in the development of new varieties of vegetables and grains. Dan has received multiple James Beard awards including Best Chef: New York City (2006) and the country’s Outstanding Chef (2009).
Photo by Richard Boll
In college, I read a book called The Soil and Health by Albert Howard. Little did I know, that book would forever change the way I viewed the relationship between dirt, food, bacteria, and human health. Emerging research continues to reveal the powerful influence of the microbiome on our health. Our microbiome is comprised of the trillions of bacteria, fungi, and even viruses present within the body. The balance of these microbes can make or break good health, and you won’t be surprised to learn the food we eat, and more specifically how it’s grown, is heavily correlated to our microbial composition. Today’s guest on The Doctor’s Farmacy is Daphne Miller, a doctor bridging the gap between medicine and farming. Dr. Miller is a practicing family physician, Clinical Professor at the University of California San Francisco, and Founder of the Health from the Soil Up Initiative. She is the author of two books: The Jungle Effect: Healthiest Diets from Around the World and Farmacology: Total Health from the Soil Up. A pioneer in the “Healthy Parks, Healthy People” initiative, Miller helped build linkages between our medical system and our park system and writes her patients “park prescriptions” to get outdoors. She also developed a soil learning lab for health professional at Paicines Ranch in Hollister California.
The goal to age well and stay on top of my health led me to my guest on this episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy, Dr. George Shapiro. Dr. Shapiro has been a practicing physician for 30 years, specializing in internal medicine, cardiovascular disease, and age management medicine. Dr. Shapiro was the recipient of the 10th Annual Alan P. Mintz, MD Award, for Clinical Excellence in Age Management Medicine, as he has become known nationwide as an expert in age management medicine, and leads one of the most prominent age management practices in the country as president of Cenegenics New York City. He has long been known as one of New York’s foremost cardiologists, specializing in regenerative medicine and improving longevity, including the genomics of cardiovascular disease and congestive heart failure. On today’s episode, Dr. Shapiro and I discuss the world of regenerative medicine and what the science says about healthy aging. One major issue of aging for many people is a decline in the endocrine system, altering hormones and for some leading to a loss of libido and sexual function. An aging endocrine system also greatly impacts metabolism and can create an excess of dangerous, inflammatory belly-fat. Dr. Shapiro shares his experience in helping patients rebalance hormones to feel younger and more vital.
For so long, we’ve been told that memory loss and dementia are just a normal part of aging. Though we now know it doesn’t have to be that way, and that there are many measures we can proactively take to avoid cognitive decline with aging, there are still 6 million people in the US who have Alzheimer’s or pre-Alzheimer’s and that number is expected to rise to 15 million by 2060. But emerging research is helping us look at new ways to treat and even prevent devastating diseases like this, giving people a newfound sense of hope. Today’s guest on The Doctor’s Farmacy, Dr. Marwan Sabbagh, has spent the majority of his life pioneering this field. From the age of 8, he knew he wanted to be a doctor, and just ten years later at 18, he began researching Alzheimer’s. Dr. Sabbagh is a board-certified neurologist and considered one of the leading experts in Alzheimer’s and dementia. He is on the editorial board for the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and BMC Neurology and is now editor in chief of Neurology and Therapy and is the author of The Alzheimer’s Answer: Reduce Your Risk and Keep Your Brain Healthy, and The Alzheimer’s Prevention Cookbook: 100 Recipes to Boost Brain Health. Dr. Sabbagh’s latest book, Fighting for My Life: How to Thrive in the Shadow of Alzheimer’s, was just released.
Our food system is completely broken. The foods that nourish us, elevate our health, and prevent chronic illness are more expensive for farmers to produce and for consumers to buy than those that have been proven to create disease. They’re also destroying our environment and causing climate change at the same time. Children are being fed nutrient-poor sugary, starchy foods at school and we wonder why so many of them can’t focus and why they’re always sick. They are being led on a difficult, lifelong path right from the start. And then there’s the national economic burden of disease, which is only increasing as rates of type 2 diabetes and obesity do the same. In fact, one in three Medicare dollars is spent on diabetes and poor food choices kill 11 million people every year. Over the next 35 years, it’s going to cost the US a whopping 95 trillion dollars to deal with diseases that can be prevented by lifestyle and dietary choices. These are grim statistics, but the truth is that we CAN do something to elicit change. We can ban together to change the food system and promote better health for our global community. My guest on this week’s episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy, Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, joins me to talk about how we can change our food system, educational system, economy, environment, and public health with community-based solutions.
Years ago, I met a woman who changed my life. A mutual friend introduced us and we went to grab a cup of coffee; but I didn’t realize how life-changing that day would be. That woman was Lauren Zander, and though she’s now a best friend of mine, I was a bit scared in the beginning of our relationship. She saw right through my exterior persona and instantly challenged me to think about the things I didn’t want to address in my life—I was overworking, unhappy in my marriage, and worried so much about doing for everyone else that I wasn’t really being okay with myself. But those uncomfortable truths brought a lot of thought out in me, and months later Lauren finally convinced me to dive deeper into that darkness. Today, Lauren joins me on The Doctor’s Farmacy to talk about my own personal journey with life coaching—or what I call Functional Medicine for the soul—to discover happiness, success, and so much more. Lauren Handel Zander is the Co-Founder and Chairwoman of Handel Group, an international corporate consulting and life coaching company. Her coaching methodology, The Handel Method, is taught in over 35 universities and institutes of learning around the world, including MIT, Stanford Graduate School of Business, NYU, and the New York City Public School System.