Functional Nutrition and Whole-Self Health [Interview][Transcript]

Dr_Deanna_Minich_Functional_Nutrition_Whole_Self_HealthGuest: Dr. Deanna Minich
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: Dr. Deanna Minich is an internationally-recognized lifestyle medicine expert, creative visionary and teacher, and author of five books. Her extensive background in nutrition, yoga, and personal growth led her to create a whole-self, colorful approach to health called Food & Spirit. She developed the Certified Food & Spirit Practitioner Program to provide health professionals with a practical way to apply the Food & Spirit framework with their patients and clients. She is author of Whole Detox, a book based on a whole-life, whole-systems, whole-foods approach to detoxification.

Segment overview: Dr. Deanna Minich discusses functional nutrition.


Health Professional Radio – Whole Self Health

Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard, thank you so much for joining us today. Our guest in studio today is Functional Nutritionist, Author, Artist, Yoga practitioner and internationally recognized Lifestyle Medicine expert, Dr. Deanna Minich. She is here today to talk with us about her brand new book “Whole Detox: A 21 Day Personalized Program to Break Through Barriers in Every Area of Your Life.” And also to discuss Functional Nutrition, and currently she’s a fellow of the American College of Nutrition, Certified Nutrition Specialist, Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner and registered Yoga teacher. How are you doing today Deanna?

Dr. Deanna Minich I’m doing well, thank you so much.

N: Now you are a certified nutrition specialist, as I said you are Dr. Deanna Minich. Let our listeners know exactly what type of a doctor are you, as a food and spirit practitioner?

M: Yeah, I’m a PhD type of Doctor. So you got all different types of doctors, a doctor of research, a doctor of Medicine, and I’m a doctor of research and so I’ve spent 7 years in graduate school studying Nutritional Biochemistry.

N: Okay. And is this something that you were interested in just because you went to college and said, “Let me find out what I’m going to do with these student loans” or is this something that you’ve been interested in from the beginning?

M: It started when I was very young, and so I had this imprint about food, and eating, nutrition, thanks to my mom from a very early age and I always thought I wanted to be a doctor, a medical doctor, but when I started working for medical doctors, I just felt like that’s just not me – it didn’t feel fulfilling. It didn’t feel like there we’re a lot of answers from any patients and so I defaulted to what I was brought up with which was nutrition.

N: Okay.

M: And so I went to get my Masters in Nutrition and then I went onto my PhD in Nutrition.

N: Now you’ve got a new book out, Whole Detox: A 21 Day Personalized Program to Break Through Barriers in Every Area of Your Life. Are you saying that it takes 21 days to turn things around or it’s just 21 days beginning of the rest of your nutritional life?

M: There’s research that suggests that it takes about 21 days to break a habit. And so if we give ourselves that three weeks, the first 7-10 days of the program is probably the most tender time. So that’s when we come off of caffeine, we come off with sugar and a lot of the different foods that we’re eating. We start living differently and we start feeling differently and then we create that rhythm, we get that a little bit more anchored into our daily lives. And sometimes it takes a little bit longer. So I like the 21 days, I’ve used that most with patients, I think that for some people they can do it in a shorter time frame, and other people may need longer. But 21 days seems to be what is middle of the road for most people wanting to make changes.

N: Talking a lot about detox. Detoxing based on what you’re putting into your body, how do you couple exercise with that?

M: Oh that is huge. The ways of the body detoxes is through pooping, peeing, sweating, crying. (Laughs) All of these different things right? So sweating is part of that and we have to, most of these toxic compounds come out in sweat. And many people don’t realize, in fact most things come out in sweats that don’t come out in other places. So if we’re not sweating, we’re not getting our heart rate up, we’re not exercising our muscles, but most of all this is underestimated. I’m glad that you’ve mentioned it, we’re not detoxing. So if you go to the gym or you’re outside just think of this as a multifaceted activity. You’re not only helping your heart, you’re helping your whole body.

N: Okay, so I’m helping my whole body and I’m eating right, or at least I think I’m eating right because I’m on one of these diets that I’ve been convinced is perfectly wonderful and I can eat all the meat I want or I can eat all the bread or all the potatoes or the Mediterranean diet, the Ketogenic diet. What are all these, do they work or is it just one fad diet after another?

M: Many people are in search of the Holy Grail diet, what is the diet for them. And quite honestly I think that eventually it’s going to come down to a personalized approach. And I do talk about that in my book Whole Detox, that even though this is a 21 day program for most people – I like to personalize it so that not everybody is doing the same thing because what we’re learning, especially with the Human Genome Project which was completed in 2003, is that we’re all so different genetically. So we have different ethnic backgrounds and we’ve got different environments that we currently live in and we’ve got to look at the really the combination of how all those different features come together in our lives.

N: Are these approaches that can be taught even though we haven’t done them for most of our lives as far as, eating is one thing, you pick something out that’s healthier than the day before. But when it comes to changing how you think, what you believe, all of these based around the changes that you’re feeling simply by changing your diet. Is that what we’re talking about here?

M: It is. And Neal when I have had people change their diet, and we start letting go of certain foods and we start bringing in other foods, and people start feeling better, sometimes that’s enough of a hook for them to keep going.

N: Wow.

M: So I think about all the people that I’ve had in Whole Detox Programs. And before they start the program I have them do a questionnaire, a survey just to see how their bodies are doing. And I ask them about their emotions, their minds, how is everything. When they finish the program, on average we see a 50-60% reduction in a lot of the symptoms that they had. So in other words their sleeping better, they’ve got more energy, they may have lost some weight, their joint pain goes down, they’re able to digest foods better, so that’s pretty exciting. And for many people that is the impetus, that is the catalyst that keeps them going wanting to make these changes.

N: I understand that there’s not a lot of focus on nutrition in Medical School. Being focusing wholly on nutrition, what type of reception do you get from traditional practitioners when you’re focus is so much on nutrition as opposed to prescriptions?

M: Well I think that this is the age of teams of healers. I think that we can all work together, it’s also not just about food. There are times that we need acute procedures in medicine, there are other things that we need, maybe more physical therapy or exercise. So I really think that this is the age where people need multiple people to work with them in order to get them on track. Food is clearly medicine and we’re learning that food is information and it speaks to ourselves. But we’ve got to do more than that, it’s not just about finding the silver bullet diet and just making sure that we have that super pill in order to really affect the change, I think it’s only part of it.

N: Surely, yours is not the only method of detoxification focusing on the foods that we eat. Are you saying that this is a more comprehensive approach or are there different detoxification programs that you may recommend for someone, say who is diabetic or someone who maybe has cancer or some type of other malady?

M: There are many detox programs out there and a lot of them are pretty shady. How do I say so, just in terms of their validity, what they do, for some people they actually get worst in their health. So I look at certain things that involve extreme fasting or just drinking juices or having pills and only certain pills for certain days, and I had seen that some patients actually fare worst. And in the interim they’re told that “Oh you’re supposed to have this crisis”. I don’t think that you’re supposed to have such a crisis and get worst and get swollen and get worst pain and get worst sleep as a result of a detox. So there’s a lot of noise out there and I would be really cautious, very conscientious about the different detox programs that are available to people. There are also lots of nutritional detoxes out there that can be good for people and typically they do focus on nutrition. So they might do a food program, maybe some dietary supplements which is good, but over all there aren’t very many at all. In fact none that I can think of right now that are truly comprehensive and focused on everything. It’s really healing in a nutrition and lifestyle kind of way. So looking at what people are eating and then looking at how they are living. So there are 21 days to the program in a book, every day you can see “What am I supposed to do on day one?” So day one has meal set your eating, the shopping list, and then it has 6 other things that you can do that day. Looking at your emotions, looking at your thoughts, looking at your movement, I give movement prescriptions for everyday of the detox. Some of them are Thai-chi or Yoga, aerobic, maybe strength training so I mix it up because I think that, one of the things that I’ve learned being in the health field for 25 years, is that variety is medicine. Shaking things up and not doing the same thing every day can be really good for us so I give that variety in the program.

N: What about simply getting rid of stuff by not eating, is that a viable way being to do it?

M: That can work. That can work for some people absolutely, that would be called the elimination diet where people let go of certain things like gluten, their dairy, or sugar, or eggs, or alcohol, or caffeine, and sure that can help tremendously. But what I have seen in my practice is that it can only get people, most people so far. And what ends up happening is they typically return to their substances or foods, and they start living a life again we’re their not really optimal because they’ve never created a lifestyle change around those omissions in their diets.

N: Do you find that insurance companies are making concessions for people that change their diets? I mean in lot of companies now if you’re walking there’s a reduction in your premium, if you stop smoking because that’s a reduction in your premium. What about changing the way one eats in conjunction with those two things? Is that something that you’ve seen that insurance companies are jumping on as an incentive?

M: I haven’t seen a specific reference to foods and people eating certain things. But I have seen that they have certain restrictions if you’re a certain weight, or like you’ve said certain activity or whether or not you smoke. So if you’re doing certain measures that are known and demonstrated to change one’s health, then yeah, I do think that people should be incentivized for their efforts because it takes a lot of work to be healthy sometimes. Especially in busy lives as most of us have, we have to go out of our way to do these things and so it’s great to see that people are rewarded for that.

N: Now as we wrap up, as the author of Whole Detox: A 21 Day Personalized Program to Break Through Barriers in Every Area of Your Life, a young person is heading off to college and they’re considering Functional Medicine, what do you say to them?

M: Go for it. (Laugh) It’s the medicine of the future, Functional Medicine encompasses really looking at the whole person and there’s a certain teaching way of doing it through the Institute for Functional Medicine and I think it’s the way to go. It’s really looking at the root cause as to why people have certain things. So you go to Medical school, you get your training and then you focus on becoming more integrative or functional in your approach and that can easily be done.

N: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard. We’ve been in studio talking with Dr. Deanna Minich, has a PhD in Medical Sciences, Human Nutrition and Metabolism and an immense Human Nutrition and Metabolism, during her scientific study. She also studied ancient healing arts such as traditional Chinese medicine. Currently she’s a fellow of the American College of Nutrition, a certified nutrition specialist, a certified Functional Medicine practitioner and registered yoga teacher. Her passion is teaching a whole self-approach to nourishment and bridging the gaps between Science, Spirituality, and Art in Medicine. It’s been great having you here with us today Deanna.

M: It’s been awesome, thanks Neal.

N: Thank you. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at and also with and you can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes.

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