Blood Sugar Balance: Maintaining stable blood sugar levels by including protein and healthy fats in every meal is crucial for long-term health. This approach prevents insulin resistance and the resulting inflammation, while also helping to shed excess weight, particularly around the belly — a win-win that not only boosts immediate well-being but also reduces the risk of diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
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 Nurit Raich.
Nurit Raich is an experienced holistic nutrition coach and accomplished food scientist who’s empowered hundreds of 40+ women to optimize their hormone health through her revolutionary approach of integrating food as medicine.
She also has decades of experience designing menus for A-list celebrities and global food brands such as Pret A Manger and Starbucks.
Through her online programs The Transformation and The Uplevel, women achieve their ideal weight, regain energy, improve their concentration, and find balance — enabling them to pursue their careers and dreams with renewed vitality.
Nurit has been featured in Forbes, Business Wire, Voyage LA and QSR Magazine, among others.
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?
Thank you for having me!
I grew up in Mexico City with a big culture around family and food, as well as the influence of different cuisines. My parents are both dentists, so science and medicine were common themes around the dinner table on a day-to-day basis (and no sweets or sodas allowed was the other common theme).
I always loved to travel, enjoy other cultures and food. One of the best experiences for me was when I got to travel to Israel and live in a Kibbutz.
As part of living there we had to work, and by chance one day I ended up working in the communal kitchen that would make the meals for the 400 people that lived and worked there. That is when I discovered my full-on passion for cooking, which hasn’t stopped since.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
Health and wellness have been an integral part of my life for a long time!
I grew up eating home-cooked meals made from scratch and having family dinners every day.
But that didn’t take away from me feeling chubby, not matching the images of the models in the magazines, not really the prettiest in my family, and with a slow metabolism…
…which led me to compensate by overexercising (aerobics, weights, dance — — yep! about 16–20 hours per week) and trying every single trendy diet there was out there (and being afraid of fat — how little did I know how important healthy fats are to our bodies).
I became really passionate about nutrition and I loved delicious natural food, so I ended up studying a BSc In Food Technology and a MSc in Food Science.
After my Masters I joined a company where I could clean all the ingredients from all artificial additives and work on developing natural food for years — taking me to incredible places like Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York and London.
Fast forward to a few decades later, I was traveling a ton for work, having a family, going through a lot of stress, getting older and —
I started to feel completely out of whack in my body (and having to wear the flowy tops to cover the muffin top- ugh!)
- My stress levels were super high
- My weight was the heaviest it had ever been
- My energy was non-existent
- My self-esteem was suffering
- My concentration was non-existent
- My 40+ age was not helping
I was trying to hold the world together on my own while sacrificing my own balance, health, and happiness.
And I knew deep within myself that I could not continue this way.
So I did the unimaginable… I took a three-day break on my own, which was life-changing.
It allowed me to get back in touch with myself and what I wanted out of my life — I realized that whilst trying to do everything and leaving myself last, I was just going through the motions and my life was passing me by.
The changes I made afterward (including joining the Institute for Integrative Nutrition) helped me become a better and happier mom, wife, and professional (yes, even after 40):
- I went back to my healthiest weight
- I got promoted
- I became present again
- My confidence was renewed
- I learned to prioritize myself every day
Once this happened for me, it has become my mission to help other women feel and look their best. Because I believe that this has an incredible trickle effect as their partners, kids, friends and family become healthier along the way too. I strongly believe that we shouldn’t have to check out of our lives to check into our bodies.
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?
This is something that is funny looking back (but honestly not while I was doing it, it was so frustrating). This learning has definitely allowed me to become more efficient with my time, my exercise and that of my clients.
Growing up I used to spend hours at the gym, one hour of some type of aerobics class followed by 1.5 hours doing weights I would do this about 5–6 times per week and then I would practice Israeli folk dancing of which I was part of a competing group 3 times a week for 3 hours.
I just could not understand why my body would not change and my sister who would do much less would have a six pack by sitting on the couch for half the time.
Now I know that I was stressing my body to the point that it went into fight or flight mode and when this happens, as a way to protect you your body tends to slow your metabolism and hold on to fat, which in turn did not achieve the results I was looking for.
Key learning: you don’t have to do all the things and spend hours at the gym to get the best results for your body and your health.
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?
a. Resourceful: In my early career, I faced unexpected challenges when the project leader left. I had to quickly learn how to cook unfamiliar dishes, make presentations, and lead the project. For instance, we were developing four Chinese Rice Bowls from various regions of China, so I studied Chinese cuisine extensively, tasted a wide range of foods, and even had others sample the dishes containing ingredients I couldn’t consume, like pork. One of those bowls ended up winning an award!
b. Passionate: My passion for clean, natural food has been a driving force throughout my life. Even in college, I challenged conventional wisdom when we were taught to use additives in the food industry. This inspired me to work for companies like Pret A Manger in the UK, where I spearheaded efforts to eliminate GMOs and embrace natural, healthy ingredients. My passion motivated others, and together, we made positive changes in the food industry.
c. Adaptable: I thrive in entrepreneurial environments where rapid innovation and adaptation are necessary. This adaptability extends to my work with clients, helping them navigate life’s challenges, whether it’s stress, self-doubt, or overwhelm, to achieve individualized, optimal results.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I’m deeply passionate about supporting women in perimenopause and menopause. During this time, I help them manage hormonal changes, shed stubborn weight, and boost energy and concentration, all while arming them with knowledge and resources to lead their best lives.
My approach combines the power of food as medicine with holistic lifestyle practices. This not only helps women achieve immediate changes but also serves as a long-term prevention strategy against conditions like dementia and cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in women. I’m super excited that I just relaunched my group program The Uplevel so it can be done by anyone anywhere in the world while still getting all the support and guidance they need.
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?
Nutrition, health, and diet have been ingrained in my identity for as long as I can recall. Growing up, I witnessed the transformative power of wholesome, homemade meals within my family, in stark contrast to the processed foods some of my friends consumed. Not only did this nourishment keep us healthy, but it also fueled us with boundless energy. Looking back, I’m grateful to my parents, who, being dentists, discouraged excessive sweets and soft drinks in our household.
Fueled by this passion, I embarked on an educational journey, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Food Technology, a program that delved into the realms of nutrition and engineering. Subsequently, I earned a Master of Science in Food Science, a pursuit I wholeheartedly adored. It was during this academic journey that I began comprehending the intricate relationship between food, nutrients, and their impact on our bodies.
And then through my career, I have gained decades of experience in crafting menus for both A-list celebrities and global healthy food brands, and now I am fully committed to elevating women’s well-being. This commitment extends to my online programs, “The Transformation” and “The Uplevel,” where I have helped dozens of women achieve their ideal weight, reclaim their energy, sharpen their concentration, and find balance. These transformations empower them to pursue their careers and dreams with renewed vitality, all achieved through harnessing the potent tools of food as medicine and the science of nutrition.
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?
We’re all aware of the importance of incorporating more vegetables and reducing sugar intake into our diets but making this knowledge a daily habit can be quite challenging. In my view, several key obstacles hinder us from effectively applying what we know:
Firstly, we live in a world where instant gratification often takes precedence. Take sugar, for instance; it provides an immediate sense of pleasure by triggering certain reactions in our body. The release of dopamine, often dubbed the “feel-good” neurotransmitter, gives us that quick satisfaction. Consequently, we tend to reach for sugary treats to experience this rush again. It becomes a recurring cycle. However, when we establish a stronger connection with our bodies, we can recognize the consequences of these sugar highs and crashes, which ultimately drive us to make healthier choices.
Secondly, there’s a palpable disconnect between us and our bodies. We often fail to connect the dots between what we consume and how it affects us. When we experience a slump in energy after indulging in sugary foods or processed meals, we may not immediately attribute it to our choices. It’s only when we become more attuned to our bodies that we grasp how nourishing, wholesome foods make us feel vibrant and alive. This newfound awareness enables us to initiate behavioral shifts.
Moreover, the food industry can be rather cunning. It inundates us with tempting, often unhealthy options that cater to our cravings, especially for sugar. These enticing choices are sometimes concealed in seemingly healthful products, like yogurt or granola. To navigate this, we must learn to bypass the flashy front labels, which are often riddled with marketing messages, and focus on the ingredient list. If the list is lengthy, filled with unpronounceable components, or contains items that you wouldn’t typically find in your pantry or your grandma wouldn’t recognize, it might be wise to steer clear of such products.
Lastly, there’s a prevailing belief that convenience trumps all, especially when it comes to food. Many of us opt for the quickest options, such as grabbing a pastry from a coffee shop during our morning rush. However, the reality is that a nutritious breakfast can be prepared in just five minutes and carried with you, saving both money and contributing to better health. It boils down to a shift in mindset, prioritizing our well-being even when we’re pressed for time.
In essence, overcoming these obstacles requires a combination of self-awareness, informed decision-making, and a shift in our perception of convenience.
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.
Absolutely, without a doubt! Nutrition plays a pivotal role in supporting the body’s natural healing processes and overall well-being, especially in cases of chronic diseases. Allow me to shed some light on the profound connection between adopting a holistic dietary approach and its profound benefits for those grappling with health challenges.
Chronic inflammation, as substantiated by a wealth of studies, stands fundamentally linked to a host of chronic illnesses, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s, and dementia. When we subject our bodies to a steady diet of elements that offer no real benefits — such as excessive sugar, artificial additives, inflammatory oils, and foods that may trigger intolerances — we inadvertently stoke the flames of inflammation within us, impeding our body’s ability to function optimally and paving the way for these formidable chronic foes.
However, when we nourish our bodies with the right nutrients — think protein, healthy fats, whole-grain carbohydrates, and fruits and vegetables rich in phytochemicals — remarkable transformations occur. The body initiates a process of quelling inflammation, effectively steering us toward healing and restoration.
I’ve witnessed this transformative power in countless instances among my clients, as well as in my personal journey. By transitioning to an anti-inflammatory diet while conscientiously maintaining a balanced blood sugar level, we’ve witnessed tangible results. Laboratory markers of inflammation plummet, and with that comes weight loss, heightened energy levels, improved sleep patterns, enhanced concentration, and even the ability to reverse pre-diabetic conditions.
I can vividly recall a point in my life when my own lab results revealed alarmingly high blood sugar levels. Despite my commitment to a healthy lifestyle that included regular exercise, I was taken aback. Nevertheless, I embarked on a dietary shift, embracing a paleo approach while supplementing wisely with nutrients like omega-3. In just six months, I not only managed to reverse the situation but achieved optimal blood sugar levels.
Moreover, we can observe this phenomenon in action across the globe in the famed “blue zones,” where communities uphold the practice of consuming whole, nourishing foods and embrace wholesome lifestyle habits. These regions boast some of the longest-living, healthiest individuals on the planet.
In essence, nutrition plays a crucial role in helping our bodies naturally heal and stay healthy, particularly when dealing with chronic illnesses. Embracing a holistic diet rich in the right nutrients can be a game-changer, reducing inflammation, boosting energy, and even reversing certain health issues. What we eat can significantly impact our well-being, allowing us to live healthier and longer lives. Or how I like to call them longer healthspans.
Here is the main question of our interview. 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. Blood Sugar Balance: Maintaining stable blood sugar levels by including protein and healthy fats in every meal is crucial for long-term health. This approach prevents insulin resistance and the resulting inflammation, while also helping to shed excess weight, particularly around the belly — a win-win that not only boosts immediate well-being but also reduces the risk of diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
2. Whole Food Nourishment: Prioritizing whole, unprocessed foods provides essential nutrients that support overall health. Whole foods offer fiber, minerals, vitamins, and vital building blocks for a resilient body, preventing inflammation caused by artificial additives and ingredients our bodies don’t recognize.
3. Smart Sugar Choices: Eliminating added sugars from your diet while embracing naturally occurring sugars found in fruits and sweeter vegetables like carrots or sweet potatoes helps prevent energy crashes, blood sugar spikes, and provides essential antioxidants to combat free radicals, which can lead to diseases like cancer.
4. Protein and Omega-3 Boost: Adequate protein intake and omega-3 supplementation, particularly for women entering perimenopause, are essential. These nutrients support muscle mass, bone health, a strong heart, and cognitive function. Adding omega-3-rich foods like fatty fish and plant-based sources like hemp seeds can make a significant difference in one’s health.
5. Superfoods and Adaptogens: Integrating superfoods and adaptogens, such as lion’s mane for brain health, cordyceps for energy, and ashwagandha for stress relief, can enhance overall well-being. Adding a small amount to your daily routine, like a third of a teaspoon in your morning coffee, can offer long-term health benefits.
Here is the link to the 5 things video https://youtu.be/dNgPwY52Mw8
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?”
There are some specific examples where yes, cooking some vegetables like tomatoes, asparagus, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, etc. can allow for certain healthy compounds to be more active. Also adding vitamin C (aka lemon juice) to spinach for example will allow for the iron to be better absorbed. Also, not overcooking them is key as you don’t want to “kill” the vitamins they contain. And choosing brown rice or wild rice (unprocessed foods) instead of white (processed food) can add fiber and minerals that are really beneficial for us.
Having said that, my personal point of view is that first, we need to change the way we eat to include many more vegetables and whole foods in our diets. Making it the core of what we consume.
Once we get there, then we can look into the specifics of how to prepare each type of food.
My best advice would be to eat them in a way you enjoy them (without overcooking them or adding inflammatory foods like vegetable oils or batters), to make sure that half your plate is made of non-starchy vegetables and the rest is a good lean protein and a little bit of a whole grain carb. If you enjoy them, you are bound to eat more of them which is always a good thing.
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?
I absolutely love this collaboration between medical professionals, health coaches, and nutrition experts. This holistic approach allows for more comprehensive patient care by addressing the root causes of health issues rather than merely treating symptoms. Medical professionals often lack the time and specialized training in nutrition, which is where health coaches and nutrition experts can step in to provide personalized guidance, accountability, and actionable strategies. Together, we equip patients with the tools they need for a longer and healthier life. One of my favorite collaborations is with my OBGYN, who is a specialist in Menopause, and working with her patients to achieve exactly this.
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?
To make nutritious choices accessible to everyone, removing subsidies from harmful foods like corn, soy, wheat, rice, and sugar would be highly beneficial. Redirecting these resources toward local, whole-food initiatives would not only benefit individuals but also reduce healthcare costs by providing food as medicine in a more affordable way.
Additionally, individuals can make a difference by supporting local, growing their own food in small spaces, participating in community gardens, and embracing frozen fruits and vegetables, which can be more affordable while still offering nutritional value.
Lastly, shifting our perception of “perfect” produce and embracing imperfections can also reduce costs and waste.
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 fundamental principles we’ve been discussing — reducing added sugar, embracing whole foods, adopting an anti-inflammatory diet, and maintaining balanced blood sugar levels — serve as a solid foundation applicable to everyone. However, the real key lies in listening to our bodies.
Our bodies continually communicate with us through signals like bloating, anxiety, changes in sleep patterns, and fluctuations in energy levels. By paying attention to how we feel before and after consuming certain foods, we can amass invaluable insights into our unique bodies and what works for us.
For instance, my personal journey led me to discover my gluten intolerance. Every time I consumed gluten, I experienced uncomfortable bloating. This realization prompted me to reshape my diet to one that harmonizes better with my body in the long run.
For individuals facing more intricate and complex challenges, there’s the option of using in-home test kits to identify potential food intolerances or allergies. However, I consistently advocate for beginning with the first approach — tuning in to your body’s signals and adapting your diet accordingly.
Ultimately, the path to a personalized, health-promoting diet starts with self-awareness and observation. By heeding our body’s cues, we can curate a dietary regimen uniquely suited to our individual needs, paving the way for improved health and a longer, more vibrant life.
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?
I’m genuinely thrilled about the increasing focus on women’s health in nutritional research. Historically, much of the work has centered on men, and it often didn’t fully address our specific needs and circumstances. One area I’m particularly excited about is brain health, which I believe will gain more attention.
These advancements hold the potential to place greater emphasis on preventing conditions like dementia in women through dietary strategies, aligning with the principles we’ve explored here. I see these developments as a promising step towards a future where healthcare is more tailored and inclusive, offering enhanced well-being and longevity for all.
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?
Promoting the idea that health is within our reach and that a holistic approach addresses the root causes of health issues is crucial. We need a collective mindset shift, and this begins with conversations like ours, as well as through social media and other educational platforms. The more we discuss these topics, the better informed the public will become, enabling them to demand healthier options for themselves and their families.
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!
Thank you! It’s been a pleasure.
About the interviewer: Wanda Malhotra is a wellness entrepreneur, lifestyle journalist, and the CEO of Crunchy Mama Box, a mission-driven platform promoting conscious living. CMB empowers individuals with educational resources and vetted products to help them make informed choices. Passionate about social causes like environmental preservation and animal welfare, Wanda writes about clean beauty, wellness, nutrition, social impact and sustainability, simplifying wellness with curated resources. Join Wanda and the Crunchy Mama Box community in embracing a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle at CrunchyMamaBox.com.