Insightful Wisdom: Dr Jeffrey Bland Of Big Bold Health On The Power of Food as Medicine

Insightful Wisdom: Dr Jeffrey Bland Of Big Bold Health On The Power of Food as Medicine

Avoid sugar beverages.
Eat foods that have colors of the rainbow.
Eat organic foods from both animal and vegetable sources.
Eat foods rich in soluble and insoluble fibers.
Eat foods that have a low glycemic index.

Dr Jeffrey Bland Of Big Bold Health On The Power of Food as Medicine

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 Dr. Jeffrey Bland.

Dr. Jeffrey Bland, World-Renowned Nutritional Medicine Expert , “father of Functional Medicine”, and founder of Big Bold Healtha company on a mission to transform the way people think about one of nature’s greatest innovations — the immune system. Through Big Bold Health, Jeffrey is advocating for the power of Immuno-Rejuvenation to enhance immunity at a global level, often through the rediscovery of ancient food crops and superfoods. To get there, Jeffrey is building a network of small farms and suppliers throughout the US that take a clear stance on regenerative agriculture, environmental stewardship, and planetary health.

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?

Iwas raised in Southern California and was involved in science, music and athletics. I played the trombone in various bands and orchestras, was a college basketball player at University of California at Irvine, loved surfing (which I still do), and did research on marine toxins in high school and college.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

I was asked by two-time Nobel Laureate Dr. Linus Pauling to be the director of a nutritional research laboratory at the Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine in 1982–84. This was a transformational opportunity for me that had me give up my tenured faculty position at the University of Puget Sound and to start a company to teach physicians how to implement nutritional medicine in their practices. This led to my development of the concept of Functional Medicine and founding, with my wife Susan the Institute for Functional Medicine in 1990.

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 have never believed that a person makes a mistake, but rather learns from their experiences how to take the next steps in their lives to improve their successes going forward. I have told my sons since they were little that they will make decisions that they later learn from, but the key is to know how to avoid making a decision in the moment that can have adverse irreversible consequences. Exploration and adventure in life is important for continual growth but be aware of potential decisions that could have serious irreversible consequences.

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 that curiosity, a sense of confidence, and an appreciation for the learning opportunities that each day offers us are characteristics that help a person to fully realize their potential. I have used these guiding principles throughout my 77 years of living to chart my life journey.

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 totally consumed with developing a better understanding of how to help a person improve their immune health. We are learning so much about the immune system and how our diet, lifestyle, environment, and behavior influence its function. My goal is to help better understand these relationships and to help people apply them in their daily lives.

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?

In the early 1970s I was the first person with my research to find out how vitamin E influenced the aging of cells, and proposed the concept of oxidative stress and free radical pathology as mechanisms. These proved to be of general importance in understanding aging mechanisms and the role of cellular antioxidants. From this work we continued to look at many other nutrient influences on cellular biology including calcium and magnesium and bone loss, vitamin D and immunity, and omega 3 fatty acids and diabetes.

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?

The common themes that prevent people from making dietary changes and alterations in their food habits are taste, convenience, and cost. To overcome these barriers a person needs to reprogram their taste to get away from high sugar, high salt, high-fat foods and beverages. This needs to happen through measured steps over several months. The physiology of taste is such that reprogramming of taste will occur over several months. With regard to convenience and cost, an individual needs to find a different food culture to connect with. Visit the local Farmer’s Market, eat organic foods, find restaurants that serve fresh foods, hang out with “foodies” that bring the joy of eating to natural foods.

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.

There is absolutely no question that “food is medicine” and that our wellbeing is directly connected to what we eat. The present “Food as Medicine” movement that was born out of the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health in September 2022 has catapulted the food and health issue into the forefront of discussion.

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?

  1. Avoid sugar beverages.
  2. Eat foods that have colors of the rainbow.
  3. Eat organic foods from both animal and vegetable sources.
  4. Eat foods rich in soluble and insoluble fibers.
  5. Eat foods that have a low glycemic index.

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?

Getting the most health-promoting value out of our foods/diet is a process of learning how each individual responds to their diet. We each are very different in how we digest, assimilate, and use the nutrients in our food, and therefore there is no “one size fits all” approach to optimal nutrition. There are some general considerations of how to select, prepare, and consume various foods that are important to learn, but the most important lesson to learn is that food is information for our genes, and each person’s genes are different. Being conscious of the important role that food has in regulating how our genes express health or disease is the first step in improving our health.

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?

Ideally, it would be valuable for doctors to know how important food and nutrients are in promoting health and reducing disease, but in reality, this is not a major focus of their education. With this in mind, it is very important for doctors to see the value in nutritional counseling and coaching and to connect with the experts in these areas for integrated patient management.

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?

I believe that fresh, whole, natural foods are not inherently expensive. The problem has been that historically they have not been available in many food stores where they are needed. This has resulted in “food deserts” that make eating a healthy diet hard to implement. Good food does not need to be expensive. As demand increases for healthy food products and the incentivizing of ultra-processed foods is reduced, the market will shift to meet the consumer interest with cost-competitive healthy foods.

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?

The path to health is a stepwise journey that each person has the opportunity to navigate. The journey is a stepwise series of learnings that need to start in childhood through patterning by the parents and then travel through all the processes of aging. The best information is that which someone will actually use and introduce into their daily living and needs to start with small steps that make big differences in health outcomes such as limiting sugar-rich foods and beverages and eating more minimally processed foods.

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?

Nutritional science is exploding with new discoveries concerning bioactive substances in specific foods and their impact on cellular health. The connection between diet and brain health, immune function, regulation of the musculoskeletal system, and the microbiome and health are examples of the progress being made in nutritional science that translates to improving health.

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?

Education of the public on the connection between food and medicine occurs through the intersection of information provided to health care providers intersecting with information provided to health care consumers. Each of these channels has their own information delivery systems, but responsible and authentic information provided by social media, broadcast, print, and internet communications can work together to create a high impact on consumer understanding and put pressure on the food industry to make positive changes in prioritizing health in their product development.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Our work can be followed on,, and

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

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