Eat more fruits and vegetables; there is just so much benefit when you include more fruits and vegetables in your diet. More nutrients, more vitamins, more fiber. More fiber is going to help with regular bowel movements, and it can help your cholesterol levels, improve your gut microbiome, and help you feel full longer. Just so many benefits.
In an era dominated by pharmaceutical solutions, there is a rising consciousness about the incredible healing and preventive powers of food. As the age-old saying goes, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” But how does this translate in today’s world? Can we really use nutrition as a potent tool against sickness and disease? How does one curate a diet that supports health, longevity, and wellness? In this series, we are talking to nutritionists, dietitians, medical professionals, holistic health experts, and anyone with authoritative knowledge on the subject. As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Bryan Davis.
He is a special education teacher, along with being a NASM Certified Nutrition Coach. He also a master life coach in mindset and motivation. Nutrition is a key tool in how Ihe turned his life around and he believe it can do the same for other people.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
Ihad a wonderful childhood, grew up in a loving home, and was active outdoors. In my teen years, I discovered golf and pursued that for many years. Later in life, fitness and nutrition became my outlet.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
I’ve always enjoyed helping people; for whatever reason, people are comfortable talking to me. I started giving golf lessons by the time I was 18; that was probably my first introduction to teaching and how people can learn a new skill with the right guidance. Later, I became a teacher, working in special education and also in technology applications.
It has been said that our mistakes can sometimes be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I’m not sure it’s all that funny, but it is true. I was struggling once with my golf swing. I was trying to correct a minor mistake by trying too many things at one time.
The former head pro came by on his golf cart and watched me for a few seconds. Asked what I was trying to do. I told him. And bluntly asked me, “Why the hell are you aiming for off to the right?” It turned out that while I was trying to correct my mistake, I had made it worse and had forgotten about what had gotten me as far as I had. Which was the basics. That golf lesson has helped me more in life than pretty much anything else. You have to stick to the basics before you can grow.
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
I believe in actively listening to others, especially those who possess more knowledge and can convey their ideas in a simple and easy-to-understand manner. Being able to communicate effectively with others is about more than using difficult vocabulary to prove intelligence. Connect with people on their level, and avoid talking down to them.
I avoid toxic people, people who suck your energy. You have better things to do than be around people who take your energy or are just miserable.
I am constantly trying to learn something new, whether it’s about nutrition, the mental aspect, or something that might make me better at my work. Always be learning. When you stop learning, you become complacent.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I am constantly reading and researching new things that relate to nutrition, fitness, or how the mind works. I feel all three are tied together when it comes to trying to lead a healthy lifestyle. I am working on my personal trainer certification as time allows, along with a writing course, and have some psychology classes coming up in 2024.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview about cultivating wellness through proper nutrition and diet. To begin, can you tell our readers a bit about why you are an authority on the topic of nutrition?
I come from a different background; I have a degree in Agriculture, Agronomy to be exact. I learned how to produce crops with just fertilizer. This was before all the GMO varieties. Later, while dealing with some health issues, I decided to educate myself more on proper nutrition and fitness. This is what led me to start Mentally39.com and get my Nutrition Coaching certification. Learning all this information and keeping it to myself didn’t make sense to me. I like sharing information, and I’ve always wanted to try writing, so it will be worth it if it helps one person become better.
We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion, what are the main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know and integrating it into our lives?
To me, it’s several things: people really are not very knowledgeable about good nutrition, the cost of eating right, and time spent preparing foods. Being in public education, I see so many kids who have no idea how to eat properly. And it’s not their fault; their parents don’t have much idea on how to eat right or what is really in the food they are eating or feeding their kids. People go through the drive-through so they can go home, get online, and watch videos. Western society has lost the family dinner time to eat together and socialize.
Then you have the cost; it’s cheaper and easier to grab a frozen meal or pizza than it is to cook a whole meal with sides. Even if people did have the resources, they wouldn’t take the time to cook. This is ridiculous; cooking enough food for a few days doesn’t take all day. It might take planning, but you’re not always tied to the kitchen. People have their priorities mixed up, and their health is paying the toll.
Even the teachers I work with will go grab a high-fat, calorie-laden fast food meal for lunch. Then they wonder why they are gaining weight and are always sleepy in the afternoon.
From your professional perspective, do you believe that nutrition plays a pivotal role in supporting the body’s natural healing processes and overall well-being, particularly in cases of chronic diseases? We’re interested in hearing your insights on the connection between a holistic approach to diet and its benefits for individuals facing health challenges.
I fully believe nutrition and body healing go hand in hand. My health scare was diverticulitis, which I ended up having three surgeries. I had fallen into the same trap most Americans have fallen into eating fast food more than I should. Not watching how much I ate or drank, etc.… Speaking of diverticulitis, the number of cases since 2000 has increased by 50%. And what are the main causes? Not eating right and not exercising. Kind of makes you think.
My health has drastically improved since I started taking care of myself by watching what I eat and getting plenty of exercise. So yes, nutrition and healing go hand in hand.
Based on your research or experience, could you share with us five examples of foods or dietary patterns that have demonstrated remarkable potential in preventing, reducing, or managing specific health conditions? If you can, it would be insightful if you could provide real-life examples of their curative properties.
1 . Eat more fruits and vegetables; there is just so much benefit when you include more fruits and vegetables in your diet. More nutrients, more vitamins, more fiber. More fiber is going to help with regular bowel movements, and it can help your cholesterol levels, improve your gut microbiome, and help you feel full longer. Just so many benefits.
2 . Eat lean protein- Most people do not get enough lean protein like fish or chicken in their diet. If they do, it’s usually fried catfish; at least here in East Texas, it is. Again, the cost is a factor; buying salmon filets to bake or grill a couple of times a week gets expensive quickly. I go for chicken breasts for a large portion of my protein, with the occasional steak. People really should try to get 1 gram of protein per kilo of body weight. The RDA says .08g/per KG, I personally see that as too low. Especially if you are active and lift weights.
3 . Adopt a more Mediterranean diet style; eat more fruits and vegetables, a little cheese, a small handful of nuts, and some meat(not a lot). Try to get more seafood; even water-canned tuna would be great. Just more whole foods, cut out, or significantly reduce the refined foods in your diet. More whole foods mean you are decreasing your chance of heart disease, helps your skin, helps control blood sugar, and gives you more antioxidants. Plus the variety of fruits and vegetables keeps it from getting boring.
4 . Avoid HFCS High Fructose Corn Syrup has been linked to weight gain, increased cholesterol, cancer, and several other conditions. HCFS is in so many foods now you really need to read and check the ingredients. Being aware of and monitoring your sugar intake can really improve your health. Cut out the sodas and the sugary sweet mocha lattes with extra syrup. If you need caffeine in the morning to get going, and who doesn’t go for plain black coffee or green tea.
5 . Avoid Ultra-processed foods; think of white bread in the store, breakfast cereals, flavored yogurts, and fruit drinks. There is so much sugar and flavor enhancers in these foods and very little nutrition from the original products they started out to be. Ultra-processed foods have been linked to cardiovascular disease, strokes, and dementia, just to name a few.
Do experts generally agree that merely choosing healthy foods isn’t sufficient, but that understanding how to consume them is key to unlocking their full health benefits? (For example, skins on/off, or cooked/raw, or whole grain/refined grain) Could you provide advice on how to approach this and sidestep common errors or misconceptions?”
I think people should avoid frying their foods, which kind of defeats the purpose. Otherwise, eat them how you see fit. Some people can not tolerate raw vegetables very well. I myself can not eat bell peppers raw or cooked. That is fine if you can eat vegetables baked or grilled but not raw. The benefits outweigh the loss, in my opinion.
As far as the skin on or off, I opt for the skin on most of the time for additional benefits like anti-oxidants and additional fiber. However, you want to wash your vegetables thoroughly to get rid of as much dirt or pesticides as possible.
If you are going to have white potatoes, I try to leave as much skin on as possible, just cutting out the bad spots. Yes, even in mashed potatoes, keep as much skin as possible.
On sweet potatoes, which I eat almost every day, I just wash and bake the whole potato and eat all of it.
Whole grains are much better than refined. Refined grains lose too much of their nutrition during the refining process. You lose almost all the fiber, iron, and b vitamins. Some people I’ve read mention that if it didn’t exist 100 to 150 years or more ago, then don’t eat it now.
With the recent prominence of nutrition’s integration into healthcare, what’s your perspective on the collaborative approach between medical professionals, health coaches, and nutrition experts when it comes to delivering holistic patient care? Can you please explain?
Nutrition needs to be first and foremost in people’s minds, yet it is not. Working with a dietitian or nutritionist can help you overcome a lot. Maybe not everything but it can help.
I am hoping to see more integration of dietitians and nutritionists working with doctors. Doctors are highly trained people. But let the people who are trained in nutrition help. Not every doctor knows everything. Just like a dietitian doesn’t know everything about anatomy. Fortunately, most insurance in the states will cover a dietitian now. Why not take advantage of that opportunity?
It’s been suggested that using ‘food as medicine’ has the potential to reduce healthcare costs by preventing disease severity. However, there’s concern about the affordability of healthier food options. What solutions do you believe could make nutritious choices accessible to everyone, ensuring that food truly becomes a form of medicine for all?
With the American economy the way it is right now, it is tough to eat proper foods. I have to plan everything I eat so I don’t waste money. I try to shop at local farmers’ markets when produce is in season. I know some people have gone back to growing and canning their own fruits and vegetables.
I also will buy in bulk, meal prep each weekend. I leave little to waste. What is left over, I freeze and make a stew or soup out of at some point.
Get used to eating leftovers.
If you need to visit a food bank. A lot of times, they have fresh vegetables; otherwise, you can get canned. Search out nutrition advice, educate yourself on nutrition, and what government resources are available.
Everyone’s body is unique, and what works for one might not work for another. How does one navigate the vast array of nutritional advice available today to curate a diet tailored to individual needs, ensuring health and longevity?
Get a digital scale and some way to track. Tracking what you are eating, how much. How many grams of proteins, carbs, and fats are you really getting? Most people do not realize how many calories they are really eating.
The more data you have, the better you can tailor your plan to your needs. I prefer an app on my phone, but a legal pad will do, heck if you want to create a spreadsheet or buy one online, go for it. Whatever makes you consistent with tracking. People need to keep in mind you’re not going to see huge changes overnight. I always advise to set SMART goals and take small incremental steps.
As our understanding of the intricate link between food and health continues to evolve, we’re curious to know which emerging trends or breakthroughs in nutritional science excite you the most. How do you envision these advancements shaping the future of healthcare?
Personalized nutrition planning is something people need to keep an eye on; it has the potential to really change how people eat. Especially if they are already leading a healthy lifestyle. And Artificial Intelligence could be a great tool for developing such a plan. You would be able to get a list of foods that are healthy for you while avoiding any triggers.
I am also excited about how much research and how many articles are appearing on the gut biome, along with the gut-brain connection. Your gut and brain are interlinked; the better one is, the better the other.
How can we better educate the public about the medicinal properties of food, and what role do professionals like you play in this educational journey?
People need to educate themselves more, so many people just rely on social media. You need to read or listen to trusted, certified professionals when it comes to your health. Someone who is not a twenty-year-old who is obsessed with bodybuilding and damaging their body, all while having a large social media following.
A lot of people now do not even have the know-how to cook a simple basic meal. I just don’t understand how you can not learn that skill, but it happens. Many of the students I work with have had few home-cooked meals. It is quite a shame.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!
About the Interviewer: Wanda Malhotra, a Certified Health Coach and wellness entrepreneur with 28 years of experience, is the visionary founder behind Crunchy Mama Box, a Mission-driven Marketplace promoting healthier, sustainable living. Committed to social engagement, Wanda supports causes like environmental preservation, animal welfare, mental health, human rights, and social responsibility. Through her work, Wanda writes passionately about clean beauty, wellness, nutrition, social impact, and eco-friendly living. She shares valuable insights, advocating holistic health and sustainability, and aims to simplify wellness with curated resources. Join Wanda and the Crunchy Mama Box community in embracing a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle at CrunchyMamaBox.com