Along with his wife, Catherine, Katz developed the Nutrition Detectives and ABC for Fitness programs, both active in hundreds of schools throughout the U.S. and abroad. Dr. Katz is a prominent voice in medical media, serving as an expert source for many leading newspapers, magazines, health periodicals and professional journals and he contributes a monthly column to O, the Oprah Magazine. Dr. Katz recently visited with the Best of You Today.
BOYT: Please tell us about your integrative medical practice and why you chose to study nutrition and weight loss.
Dr. K: “All the king’s horses, nor all the king’s men,” nor all of modern medical technology can fully put us back together again once health has been lost. Preserving health, in the first place, really is a higher calling. That led me to my second residency in preventative medicine with a focus on nutrition. The focus on nutrition is simply a derivative of the fact that everybody eats every day. It really is the combination of dietary and physical activity patterns that seem to exert the most fundamental, most universal modifiable influence on heath. So, my career moved in that direction, and I’ve never really looked back. What landed me in this space was simply the fact that I take care of patients. It’s my job to make them better. All too often, I would do everything that the textbook said to do and the patients quite simply weren’t all better. The simple reality is that the needs of patients go on when the evidence from randomized medical clinic trials starts to run out. I really try to blend this commitment to helping patients who are hard to help with my evidence-based medicine inclinations. Patient need pushed me to where I find myself practicing evidence-based integrative medicine. When you put the two together, you have a greater capacity to help more of the people more of the time, but you have to put this together responsibility. That’s what we’ve tried to do.
BOYT: Do you think that it is better for a doctor to be trained in both evidence-based integrative medicine and alternative medicine?
Dr. K: I don’t think that alternative medicine, just because a lot of the remedies are natural, is better. I think that nature holds a lot of wisdom and healing power, but frankly, you can’t count on it to always do the benevolent thing. Everybody needs to understand the best way to make choices and how to collaborate. I envision a day when the interaction between well trained naturopaths and well trained internists or pediatricians is just like the interaction between an internist and a rheumatologist. We’ll actually talk to one another, because we all want the same thing. We want the patient to get better.
BOYT: How did you recognize the need for NuVal?
Dr. K: It long ago occurred to me that what we really want and need is a GPS for the food supply. When the government didn’t take action, I decided to see if I could get this done myself. I convened a panel of some of the top nutrition and public health experts in North America. We worked together for two years. We took all the relevant science and our expertise and built the Overall Nutritional Quality Index algorithm. The system generates a number between one and a hundred. The higher the number, the more nutritious the food. It’s overwhelmingly helpful. The number goes on the supermarket shelf right where the price goes. It’s incredibly simple. Everybody is a nutrition expert with this system. You can go to NuVal.com, and there are representative scores. My understanding is that the entire database should soon be searchable.
BOYT: Can you explain the link between varied flavors in food and overeating?
Dr. K: If you’re full, and you go from salty and savory to sweet, you suddenly have room again. We, and others, have done some testing where all we manipulate is the distribution of flavors over the course of the day, preserving dietary balance, preserving the balance of macronutrients and not cutting fat or carbs or anything silly like that. We’re preserving a variety of foods, just distributing them in a reasonable, sane way and avoiding foods that have all these additives in them. Not only was there significant weight loss, but significant weight loss without hunger, because when you address this issue, you reduce the number of calories it takes to feel full.
1. Eat close to nature. Find me the person who can blame obesity or diabetes on eating fresh fruit and I’ll give up my day job and become a hula dancer. That’s one strategy.
2. If you have NuVal, eat high up on the scale. The higher numbers are less processed and more wholesome. Among the properties considered that influence the NuVal score are those things that lead to satiety on fewer calorie
3. Visit The Nutrition Detectives, a free program on my website, davidkatzmd.com, that gives five clues that teach you to be eating foods that will help you fill up on fewer calories and will be better for you.
4. Look for inappropriate ingredients. To cut sugar out of your diet, you don’t need to even think about desert. You can start with foods that aren’t supposed to have added sugar in the first place and get all that sugar out. The next thing you know, you won’t have quite the same cravings f or desert you had before. Similarly, salt. You don’t have to start by cutting out the salty snacks you enjoy. You can look at your breakfast cereal, which is probably saltier than any potato chip you’ve ever had and choose breakfast cereals that don’t have an excess of added salt.
BOYT: If there was one piece of advice you would offer our readers, what would it be?
Dr. K: The master levels of medical destiny are feet, forks and fingers. Use your feet well in physical activity, use your forks well by choosing good foods, use your fingers well by not holding cigarettes with them. With just those three things, you can reduce your risk of any major chronic disease by as much as eighty percent, and you can bestow those same health benefits on your children by engaging them in the same kind of lifestyle. I think the greatest gift a parent could give a child, is a long, healthy life. It’s not effortless, but what worthwhile thing ever was?
For more information on Dr David Katz please visit his website at http://www.davidkatzmd.com/