Deanna Minich, Whole Detox: A 21-Day Personalized Program to Break Through Barriers in Every Area of Your Life
DR. DEANNA MINICH is a health educator and author with more than twenty years of experience in nutrition, mind-body health, and functional medicine. Dr. Minich holds Master’s and Doctorate degrees in nutrition and has lectured extensively throughout the world on health topics, teaching patients and health professionals about health. She is a Fellow of the American College of Nutrition, a Certified Nutrition Specialist, and a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner. Currently, Dr. Minich teaches for the Institute for Functional Medicine and for the graduate program in functional medicine at the University of Western States and doctoral program at the Maryland University of Integrative Health. Her passion is bringing forth a colorful whole-self approach to nourishment called Whole Detox and bridging the gaps between science, soul, and art in medicine. Her new book is called Whole Detox: A 21-Day Personalized Program to Break Through Barriers in Every Area of Your Life (HarperOne, 2016). Visit her at: www.drdeannaminich.com.
Since 2009, It’s All About Food, has been bringing you the best in up-to-date news regarding food and our food system. Hosted by Caryn Hartglass, a vegan since 1988, the program includes in-depth interviews with medical doctors; nutritionists; dieticians; cook book authors; athletes; environmental, animals and health activists; farmers; food manufacturers; lawyers; food scientists and more. Learn about how we can solve many of the world’s problems today and do it deliciously, here on It’s All About Food.
Caryn Hartglass: Hello everybody! Hey everybody I’m Caryn Hartglass and it’s time for my favorite hour of the week, It’s All About Food. I’m so glad you’re here with me now or whenever you’re listening to this program, thank you very much for caring about food and all life on earth really because that’s what we talk about here on this program. This is the last week of the current president administration here in the United States and Friday will be a transition and hoping to see you well on the other side. For many of you I know you’re experiencing a lot of stress, a lot of fear, a lot of discomfort, and one of my messages has always been that we can only control our self and what’s going on in our own lives and that’s what I will be talking about with my guest today, it is so important and it has to do with detoxing and there is a lot to cover when we’re talking about detoxing. It is a very very broad subject as you will come to find out in a moment. I’m going to bring on my guest Dr. Minich, who is a functional nutritionist and mind-body medicine health expert and author of the book Whole Detox. Now before I bring you on I want to make sure I’m pronouncing your name right, is it De-anna or De-na Min-ich?
Dr. Minich: Hi, it’s De-anna Min-ick.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, hi, thanks for coming on!
Dr. Minich: Good to be with you here!
Caryn Hartglass: So all good things come to those who wait and I tried to get you on this program for many months and due to scheduling and traveling and all kinds of things on both ends we’re finally here together.
Dr. Minich: Here we are, in the perfect moment!
Caryn Hartglass: It is, it truly is because not just because it’s the beginning of the year when everyone’s saying, “Oh I have to diet, I have to change, I have to do this,” this is a very very challenging time for many people.
Dr. Minich: Yeah it is, just like you were talking about I mean I think when life events occur as they do, especially on the global or even national level, it gets us to look at all different aspects of our lives and I like what you said about the only thing we can control is ourselves and that is something I truly believe too. You know, when we see the need for change on the outside it usually means we need to start shifting something on the inside.
Caryn Hartglass: Absolutely and it can be very frustrating with all the click-bait going on, with all the articles, and it’s important to know what’s going on but so many of them really get our fear level very high and there really is so much that we can do. I’m glad that there are so many protests going on and I’m glad people are becoming less complacent, you know it’s really nice to have if you work for a business you have employees that you trust that you can let go and let do the job you want them to do, it’s wonderful if we had a government that we could trust but governments have always been corrupt and whether they’re more or less corrupt depends on the time. There’s only so much that we can do. So let’s talk about what we can do as individuals and we’re going to be talking about detoxing. So to begin with let’s explain, or you explain because you’re the expert, what does detox mean to you as well as to many other people?
Dr. Minich: Yeah, and you know I took a very non-traditional approach to detox. I’m not even a huge fan of how detox as a word has been played in society. It’s not something that I’m accustomed to doing or even do with other people. Typically when people think of a detox it could be anything from drug and alcohol detox and kind of the standard sense of how that was really created for mainstream. It can also mean something more nutritionally-based, so typically there is some kind of fasting or juice cleanse or some type of protocol that involves stringent means and using particular foods in order to get rid of things in the body that aren’t good for the body. So that’s kind of the different meanings of detox that are currently out there, and the way that I see a detox is it’s a way to remove any obstacles to your perfect health whatever that may mean for you. So it sometimes is not just nutritional, I define toxin in a very broad sense. So to me something toxic is everything from a toxic meal full of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) or food that is just nutrient-poor, so it doesn’t add anything, maybe fast-food, processed-food, but it can also be negative thinking, it can also be emotional baggage, it can also be being at a job that just feels like it’s sucking your soul. So there can be so many different ways that we feel our own cellular vitality being drained, and I don’t see us as just a physical body, you know we have those emotions, we have thoughts and all of those things really do play into our health and healing process.
Caryn Hartglass: You were talking in your book about the biochemistry of the body, and this is another case where you know the head bones connected to the… everything’s connected and there’s a lot of chemistry going on in our bodies and our thoughts create the chemical reactions, the chemicals that we excrete in different situations, and some of them can be toxic to us right?
Dr. Minich: Oh absolutely! So let’s just take the example of going to a movie, going to maybe a scary movie, or an adventurous drama, a thriller type movie, you’re sitting in your chair, you’re not doing anything you’re not actually engaging in anything physical but you’re watching this and you’re receiving all kinds of emotional and mental inputs and your body’s responding, even though you’re not moving! You’re just static in that chair, and so watching these images on the screen are potentially changing your heart rate, your blood pressure, the amount of stress hormone that’s floating through your blood stream in that moment, and maybe those images that you see in the movie have such staying power that you have a nightmare that night or you can’t sleep very well. And maybe that movie, I’m sure we’ve all seen movies like this, I know I have, where it kind of stays with you for an extended period of time and it really does have a mental, emotional impact. So what the science tells us is that there truly is no real division between the body and the mind and emotions, it’s all part of the same web, and we know this from the research studies that have been done, groups at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, a lot of the big, very reputable universities are now actually doing research on this, and there are even journals, scientific and medical journals exploring what we call psychosomatic medicine, in other words the placebo effect. You know if you think that something is good for you and you do it chances are it’s going to have a benefit, and if you think something is bad for you then chances are it’s going to be somehow negative and not having that same benefit. So it’s a real thing.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, I like to tell people who are struggling with diet and want to do better, which is most people, that in the moment when you’re eating and putting something in your mouth, that’s not the time to have a conversation with yourself about how bad you’re doing, that’s the time to say, “accept whatever food I’m eating, take the good, let the rest go,” because of that placebo effect. You could make a food that’s not good for you even worse.
Dr. Minich: Oh I completely agree, I’ve seen that over and over and it creates lasting stress, you know and that ramps up again and all of the stress hormones and that throws everything in a tizzy so you can’t actually even digest the food. So I do think, not to say that ignorance is bliss and that we should stay within the realm of just not knowing about certain ways of eating and the effects in our body, I think it really just involves awareness. People really being in touch with their bodies, their thoughts, you know we get so fixated on food and I know that I’m one of those people, you know I have a Ph.D. and a Masters in Nutrition, I’ve studied food all my life, but now I’m also seeing that it’s not just about what we eat it’s about how we eat, it’s about how aware we are of our bodies. There’s so much more to health than just food, and I know it’s strange for a nutritionist to say that but it’s really what I have seen to be the case.
Caryn Hartglass: You know the name of this show it’s called It’s All About Food, and I take that many ways on this program because so many things are related to food that we don’t realize are even food, politics and all kinds of things, but there’s more to the food that we eat and there’s more to our health than what we put in our bodies as nutrition. I know in my own personal life some of my friends, colleagues, family who eat really really well but because emotionally they are a mess their health suffers.
Dr. Minich: Yeah, you know and I even talked about this in the Whole Detox book that we could be having the best most nutritious meal in front of us but if we have a mind full of toxic thoughts, negative beliefs, and different perspectives on ourselves that are not good for our health than you know that’s only a fraction of it. I think that we’ll see greater synergy if we put it all together into a more holistic picture for ourselves. And you know I do like food as an entry-point because food is the thing that we can easily change. It’s not so easy to change our thoughts, it’s not so easy to change our emotions, but what I’d like to guide people into doing is moving through seven different ways to do it, and food is first and foremost. I definitely think we need that good foundation. It primes our mood, it primes our behavior, it changes all of our decisions within a day just how we eat. So we have to be there front and center but many people continue to stick with food and continue to look for a solution when they’ve exhausted everything. And then I start moving them into looking at their thoughts, looking at their emotions like they would an ingredient label. You know we don’t have that same discernment when it comes to how we think about things. So it’s good that we’re getting educated on food, that’s again it’s the first building block in what I see as a sequence of steps to optimal health and it’s something that, we’re always always always engaged with eating, so it is important.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay you have the seven systems of health and I want to touch on them lightly, which you go into great detail in your book, you name them root, flow, fire, love, truth, insight, and spirit. Now those correspond to seven chakras, correct?
Dr. Minich: Well they do in a matter of speaking and that was one of my first points of inspiration, but then I went further into fleshing them out a bit more, into looking at lifestyle and foods and you know I made it a bit more complex than I would say the chakra system. I really got deeper into that including the color according to even scientific lingo and studies, you know what do these colors these associations mean. So I was a yoga teacher and was trained in yoga, I’ve been doing yoga for a couple of decades now and so when I learned about the chakra system I thought that’s a great framework to start basing everything else upon because it’s very complete, because I don’t even think we’re just body, mind, and spirit, I think we’ve got several layers to ourselves. So yeah I did leverage and use the chakra system as the basis for going further into the seven systems of health.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, let’s start with the root and I just want to share a funny story, not exactly related but kind of. A friend of mine, I’m traveling I’m in California, I live in New York and we’re doing some musical theatre projects here in California. We’re directing Fiddler on the Roof, my partner and I, and the producer made us what she called Gypsy Soup. It had a lot of root vegetables in it and my partner’s nephew came down, Kyle, and he’s a typical young adult not really interested in food and health and whatever but was hungry. And we were feeding him salad and the soup, and he said the soup tastes like dirt.
Dr. Minich: Haha, that’s common, I hear that from kids a lot!
Caryn Hartglass: And I was saying because it’s from the ground! From the roots, from the minerals… So let’s talk about that foundation, the root, that dirt.
Dr. Minich: Yeah, so the way that I look at the seven systems of health is I look at them in relationship to four different things in our lives. So the first thing about the root is I look at the body parts, and then the second thing I look at is the psychology, the third thing I look at is the lifestyle, and then the fourth thing I look at is food, so it’s all kind of related. So yes, you are talking about the elements of food so I’ll jump there for the root. So the root, I associate it with the color red, and the color red is appropriate because if you look at the science of color red evokes a response and so a root system is at our foundational level how we respond to stress. It’s fight or flight, it’s survival, it’s really making our way in this physical world. So the foods that are going to feed us at that level and you know I look at food in a variety of ways, yes I look at it biochemically and supporting us with certain nutrients, I also take more of an ancient traditional way of looking at foods in terms of its properties. So things that help us to stabilize and feel secure and safe in who we are as a physical being are going to be things that are high in protein. So protein stabilizes us, most of our structure, the things that give us structure like our skin, our immune system, our skeleton, these types of things are made of protein and minerals. And so when we eat those foods we fortify the systems in the body that give us strength, that give us that sense of security. So the root vegetables, I talk about those within Whole Detox because indeed they do grow within the earth, they do have higher amounts of minerals and things like certain fibers that allow us to eliminate properly, which is also part of this root system. And so you know think about it, what could really help to support our earth type of element system within us other than something that grows in the earth? So root vegetables, they give us that sense of being grounded even if we think of fall when we tend to have more of those root vegetables we’re tending to go more within and we choose those root vegetables they tend to act more as warming foods, as stabilizing foods, and that kind of gives us that cozy feeling to really anchor and hunker down into our physical body.
Caryn Hartglass: One thing I wanted to thank you for, I’m personally a vegan and I promote a plant-based diet and you have meal plans for all of the seven systems, that feature the seven systems, and you have recipes for omnivores and for vegans so nobodies at a loss here if you want to eat a certain way and I appreciate that focus.
Dr. Minich: Well yeah I mean just through my study I mean I’ve gone through gosh so many different ways of eating myself and you know vegan, raw-foodist, omnivore, paleo, I mean the whole thing and I’ve now come to the point that I really do think that the nutrition of the 21st century is personalized nutrition. The more I get into nutrigenomics, the more I work with people and see preferences and what makes them feel happy, I do think that there’s room for everybody. I do think that we need more unity when it comes to eating rather than division and categorization. So yeah, what I’m trying to do with Whole Detox is give them options and it’s definitely not welded to any dietary dogma. I try to steer clear of that and just focus on the person and whatever they feel good with.
Caryn Hartglass: Well I hope unity and less division is the theme for the 21st century because we need a lot of that not just related to food and diet.
Dr. Minich: We do!
Caryn Hartglass: Goodness. Now you have these questions for each system for people to answer to see if one or more of these systems needs some detoxing or some assistance, and what happens when you’re answering these questions and some of the ones you answer are relative to an underactive part of the system and some are overactive part of the system? How are those balanced out? Because you know we’re all individuals, right? And we’re all a little nutty, so…
Dr. Minich: So yeah there’s a questionnaire in the book that I call the Spectrum Quiz because again I do believe in personalization and I don’t think that every detox should be the same for every person, and in fact I have people that go through the program over and over again and each time they do it they might take it in a little bit of a different way which is appropriate because we’re in a different place. So when you do the questionnaire what you look for there is the thing that’s most out of whack. So out of the seven what thing comes to the top here? I don’t really get people too focused on okay is it underactive, is it overactive? I’m just looking for general imbalance because if something’s out of balance chances are it goes from overactive and underactive, and there’s probably a dynamic tension between the two. So what I tend to see, I’ve done some research on this where we’ve collected the data from people that have taken the questionnaire and I think at the time we did this about a year ago where we looked at the data for 2200 people and we saw that essentially people have a majority of their issues in two particular systems. Number one was the fire system, which is all about digestion and work-life balance, so really that’s no surprise, and then the second one was the root system which we’ve been talking about, and the root is all about goodness you know it’s a lot of different body systems and a sense of identity, a sense of having a community, a sense of being rooted in the physical world which a lot of people have a lot of fear around. So those two systems tend to be relatively more out of balance than most for most people, and of course most of the people that work with me are in the United States, I do have some folks in the international areas and on different continents, but this is very reflective of our society at large. You know the root, we don’t feel stable, we don’t feel safe, we don’t feel secure, and the fire, we’re working way too hard and we don’t have proper balance between having joy and having work, it’s almost like we have no division between the two anymore. So that’s where people tend to… we tend to see health issues in those two arenas specifically.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah I definitely see that. I had your book opened up to the underactive love and overactive love and you give some real good examples of different people who what their lifestyle is like and what your diagnosis turns out to be.
Dr. Minich: Yeah I can meet somebody and basically tell what’s going on for them. You know I meet them, especially seeing them in person I can observe a lot physically, and then I hear how they talk, I hear what they talk about, I might even share a meal with them and I get more information, I can basically size them up as one of, often times we carry each of these seven systems but there’s one that could be dominant, and we carry kind of a personality around that. So yeah the profiles in the book help you to discern what personality type are you because there are strengths and weaknesses or challenges you know opportunities for growth for each of those. You know a fire type, let’s just go with that one for a second, you know the brilliance of the fire type is the entrepreneur, the one who just… it’s almost like the Midas touch where, and this is the color yellow anyway, this is about they have an idea, they carry it through, they make it successful, it helps people, they feel good, there’s abundance and you know maybe it’s just abundance of just even ideas so that person is really in alignment with their fire. Now the dysfunctional fire type is the type that’s enslaved to their day to day, they’re working at a computer, their body is hunched over, they have digestive issues, they forget to eat and when they eat they’re eating lots of sugary snacks to give them energy because they don’t have any energy, their fire’s out, so they’re not digesting. So yeah there is this polarity, you can imagine that that entrepreneur can easily become the workaholic, so there’s a fine line and a spectrum that runs between each of these systems when we start looking at these more psychologically in terms of personalities.
Caryn Hartglass: You’ve probably heard of these products. There are a few start-ups that are coming up with these food products to help these over-stressed entrepreneurs not to focus on eating. They’re like these drinks that are supposed to have all the nutrients, I mean they’re a disaster! I can’t even imagine that they can nourish these people because I’ve read some of the ingredients and you know they’re not made with whole foods and their just like a select bunch of nutrients, they’re a disaster. Those entrepreneurs will need the Whole Detox! Now what happens, this is a 21 day personalized program, as you say it’ll break through barriers in every area of your life, what happens on day 22?
Dr. Minch: So we continue the program actually a little bit beyond that. So the action steps of seven things per day is that 21 days but then that final week of the program, if you’re doing this online with me, and if you’re not doing it online with me you can check out I believe it’s chapter 12 in the book where it’s whole detox for life and I talk about the different things that you can do. So you know I believe in small steps to make huge changes, and so in that final week after where we’re actually done with the 21-day program I ask everybody the, I think, most important question which is what is the one thing, what is the one thing you’re going to take from all the different things you’ve just been exposed to? And how are you going to carry that into your life? Maybe it’s just eating more colorful foods, maybe it’s just getting a little bit more activity per day, maybe it’s taking a nap twice a week, maybe it’s being on the phone with a friend one time a week on Sunday, you know I just want people to commit to one small thing based on what they’ve experience because obviously it’s just too high of a bar to say that you’re going to continue this program. And the program’s not intended to be you know carried on over throughout, I mean you certainly could do that but I really want to create a new template and we know that every 21 days or so you can create a new habit and that’s really what I’m looking for is power of the small because of course the science is, as we were talking about earlier on in the show, if we can change our thoughts we are going to change our decisions, we’re going to change our actions, we’re going to change our behavior, we’re going to change our food choices. So if I can change one thought pattern in somebody it’s as relevant as somebody trying to make a dietary change and just trying to get more vegetables in every meal. That’s how I see it. So that’s what I strive for with everybody that works on the Whole Detox program is, what’s the one thing? What’s the small change that’s going to make the big difference?
Caryn Hartglass: I think too when you acknowledge one thing and you make that change it’s a sense of accomplishment that will inspire you to go further perhaps in your next cycle.
Dr. Minich: That’s right, that is absolutely right and in fact even the people that come back and do Whole Detox, they talk about what they signed up for and what they committed to and now they’re ready to go onto the next rung of the spiral of change. But I think again if we have something that’s too high, too insurmountable… I like to offer that buffet and then people can chose. You know not everything’s going to resonate with everybody, so that’s why having options is good.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah especially when your fire is out you can’t imagine just biting of this huge mountain in front of you of change, so small steps can definitely be inspirational and lead you in the long term to excellent health.
Dr. Minich: Well good, that’s right.
Caryn Hartglass: Well thank you for joining me Dr. Deanna Minich to talk about your book Whole Detox: a 21-day Personalized Program to Break Through Barriers in Every Area of Your Life. I enjoyed reading the book and I enjoyed talking with you today!
Dr. Minich: Oh it’s been a delight, thank you so much for having me on the show!
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, be well!
Dr. Minich: Thank you!
Caryn Hartglass: You’re welcome! All right, shall we take a little break? I think so, and then I’ll be back to talk about more food-related topics.
Transcribed by Lydia Dearie, 2/1/2017