Interview with Doctor: Food as Medicine

Inspired by Victoria Boutenko with Raw Family
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This is a guest post from my husband, Jason Leake, and will be part of his new interview series for the blog. To learn more about Jason check out our team page or his post entitled “Real Food From a Man’s Perspective.”

Recently at a family reunion in Ohio I found myself in a late-night conversation so captivating that I didn’t go to bed until 2:00 AM. I was chatting with Adam Yanke, M.D. and Rupel Dedhia, M.D. who both practice medicine in Chicago, IL. Adam is Lisa’s cousin and is in residency to become an orthopedic surgeon while his wife Rupel is a practicing General Internist (which is definitely not the same thing as an intern, by the way!)

These photos are from a trip to the Himalayas where they provided free medical care to local people. They travel extensively and Rupel’s parents are originally from India, so while the young couple is very much at home in Chicago and have been educated in the US, they also benefit from a world view.

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Rupel Dedhia, M.D. and Adam Yanke, M.D. providing free medical care in the Himalayas

So why was I so excited to hear their perspectives? Well for quite some time I’ve wondered about the concepts of food as medicine and holistic care. But who to ask? Not all doctors are trained in nutrition, and can you really get an unbiased answer about, let’s say, acupuncture from a practitioner? How could I possibly explore unconventional therapies without turning my back on Western Medicine, which certainly has its place? And here I finally had a trusted source to ask! Once we got to talking I made Rupel promise to participate in an interview for the blog so I could share the conversation with you. Also be sure to catch the recipe for you at the end.

Here’s what Dr. Rupel Dedhia had to say about Food as Medicine:

JASON LEAKE: Tell us briefly about your professional credentials and practice.

DR. RUPEL DEDHIA: I graduated from Rush Medical College in Chicago, IL in 2007.  My Internal Medicine Residency was at Rush University Medical Center, and I started working in an Academic Outpatient Internal Medicine Clinic in 2010.

JASON: What sparked your interest in cutting out processed foods?

DR. DEDHIA: It was a combination of viewing documentaries such as Food, Inc. and participating in the 10 Days of Real Food Pledge. Our concept of healthy eating in the past revolved around consuming products labeled as “Fat-free, Low-Fat, Diet, Reduced Fat” and so on. After participating in the 10 Days of Real Food Pledge, we were forced to re-evaluate our diet. For the first time, we started viewing nutrition labels in a new way (switching from reading the fat/calorie content to reading the ingredients). We were astonished at not only the number of ingredients (many of which we could not pronounce) as well as the number of processed ingredients (specifically the various processed sweeteners). 

JASON: You mentioned that over time your approach to medicine has shifted away from that of “typical” Western Medicine somewhat.  What have you changed and why?

DR. DEDHIA: I would say my practice has evolved to incorporate nutrition education when taking care of my patients. As a General Internist (physician that treats adult patients), many of my patients have chronic illnesses such as Diabetes, Hypertension, Heart Disease, or Stroke. While I do believe medications are important to the management of these conditions, I do recognize the important role nutrition plays in the overall outcome/prognosis of patients with these illnesses. I spend a considerable amount of the patient’s visit counseling them on specific nutrition/dietary recommendations focusing on reducing processed/refined sugars or sweeteners and increasing consumption of vegetables (specifically green leafy vegetables). I encourage my patient to also look at the list of ingredients that they are purchasing so they can best follow these recommendations.

JASON: How do your patients feel about your change in approach? Could you share some success stories?

DR. DEDHIA: Many of my patients have reacted positively to the incorporation of nutrition to their treatment plan, and I have also seen positive changes in several of my patients as a result. For example, one of my patients is morbidly obese with Diabetes, Hypertension, and Sleep Apnea with poor control of these conditions complicated by poor dietary habits. He admitted to consuming a significant amount of sugary beverages and foods high in refined/processed oils/fats. During his office visit, we spent a great deal of time identifying dietary modifications that would benefit his health. We agreed upon eliminating all sugary beverages and incorporating green leafy vegetables in his diet. After 3 months, he had lost close to 25 lbs and noted improvement in his energy after removing sugary beverages alone, which allowed him the ability to exercise.

I had another patient that was on 5 medications for control of her blood pressure. During the last clinic visit, we reviewed her dietary habits and identified that she too was consuming a diet high in refined grains/oils. We agreed upon increasing fiber in her diet and minimizing consumption of refined grains. At her follow up appointment, she stated that she had started consuming several servings of vegetables and had reduced consumption of refined grains. We were able to reduce her anti-hypertensive treatment from 5 medications to 2 medications! 

JASON: Do you feel most Western doctors prescribe drugs without considering changes in diet first? How much emphasis was placed on the concept of “food as medicine” or nutrition in your formal schooling?

DR. DEDHIA: I think most doctors recognize the importance of nutrition to overall healthcare of their patients, especially in patients with chronic illness. Unfortunately, our training has not been as comprehensive during medical school.  But this is changing!  Most medical schools now require formal nutrition education for their medical students so I believe nutrition will become an important part of the doctor visit in the future.

JASON: Speaking from personal experience, I’ve sometimes been frustrated with doctors making decisions with relatively little information and treating symptoms rather than searching for root causes. I guess I’d prefer a more holistic approach, but I don’t know where to begin. Can you help me understand the options?

DR. DEDHIA: Honestly, this topic is quite broad. I can briefly describe Integrative Medicine which is a form of medicine often thought of as “healing oriented medicine” that takes into account the whole person including all aspects of their lifestyle. Integrative Medicine Physicians will generally focus on the physical, emotional, spiritual, social, and environmental influences that affect a person’s health. It is important to realize that Integrative Medicine is complementary to conventional medicine. It is not alternative medicine, which refers to an approach to healing that is utilized in place of conventional therapies. Integrative Medicine emphasizes the importance of preventive medicine to the overall care of the patient. For more information, I encourage you to visit to understand the differences between many of the complementary modalities that are utilized in Integrative Medicine including Acupuncture, Mind-Body Medicine, Energy Medicine (Reiki), Reflexology, and Nutrition. Many major academic centers have Integrative Practitioners or even Integrative Medicine Centers (i.e. Duke, Mayo, Northwestern, etc.).

JASON: So it sounds like Western and complementary medicines can coexist. I always thought they were mutually exclusive! How might a visit with a doctor trained in integrative medicine differ from one trained in Western medicine only?

DR. DEDHIA: A greater emphasis may be placed on incorporating lifestyle modifications in addition to conventional therapies. For example, we know both poor diet, lack of exercise, and stress can cause elevations in blood pressure. For a patient treated with blood pressure medications, a visit with an Integrative Medicine practitioner will likely incorporate aspects of stress relief through various modalities (either Mind-Body Medicine, massage, or meditation) as well as incorporating a comprehensive nutrition and exercise treatment plan in addition to medication treatment. A focus of this treatment will be on preventive care to prevent conditions such as heart disease and stroke (for which hypertension is a risk factor).

JASON: What is your best advice to 100 Days of Real Food readers so they may experience good health, balance, and happiness?

DR. DEDHIA: Read ingredient labels so you can eliminate refined/processed sugars! Also increase fiber in your diet…consider trying a green smoothie to incorporate at least 4-5 servings of vegetables in your diet. I’m sharing one of our go-to recipes for your readers (below).

A big thanks to Dr. Rupel Dedhia for sharing her perspective and recipe! I hope this interview makes you think. Please let us know your experiences with food as medicine or integrative medicine in the comments. And just for fun here’s a photo of us all in Thailand last year after a local cooking school. :)

Lisa and Jason Leake with Rupel Dedhia, M.D. and Adam Yanke, M.D. near Chiang Mai, Thailand in September 2011.

Before I share Dr. Dedhia’s favorite green smoothie recipe, I’d like to mention one of our repeat sponsors…Molly’s Suds! Monica, the owner and a mom, created the “cleanest” laundry detergent around that doesn’t contain any dyes, hidden perfumes, petrochemicals, formaldehyde, or sodium lauryl/laureth sulfates. It’s super concentrated so you only have to use 1 tablespoon per load. Visit their website and give it a try yourself; use our coupon code 100DAYS15 and save 15% off of your order.

I enjoyed a green smoothie during lunch today.

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  1. This was such an interesting and informative interview
    Would love to see more
    I think it’s something we all need to consider this way of eating
    We would feel a lot better
    Thank you for introducing us to the Doctor love her
    Concept of health

  2. I belong to an exercise and nutrition program designed for seniors, but could work for all ages. They recommend no processed foods, sugar, bread, pasta, just lots of veggies and fruit and protein. It’s been amazing to see members not only losing weight, but being able to go off meds for blood pressure, diabetes, etc, just getting healthy! – I highly recommend it!

  3. I might have missed this in a comment, but I am on the scout for a new family doc, and would love to know how to find one that does incorporate a holistic approach. Doctors don’t exactly want to waste their valuable time being interviewed; is there an organization or some means of finding like-minded MDs?

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hello, Amanda. Look for doctors who practice functional or integrative medicine. They tend to focus more on prevention, typically incorporate more nutrition, and encourage clients to be proactive in their own wellness. You could also explore finding a naturopathic physician. These links might be helpful: and

      1. My thoughts on the smoothy.. 1) a kitchen aid blender does the job just fine. Just blend it a little longer than usual to make the texture finer. 2) I used kale instead of spinach, I would not recommend it unless you don’t mind the stronger taste. 3) the raw carrots will do fine in the blender. 4) can I use soy milk instead of water? 5) can I juice it instead? 6) my kids hate it, Lol.

  4. I agree that food is medicine! The one thing I’m noticing in many of your recipes is the use of whole wheat. Even if a product is listed as 100% whole wheat doesn’t make it healthy. Wheat over the year has bee so genetically modified. It’s really not much better than it’s counterpart white flour other than it doesn’t raise blood sugar as fast. So many people are becomin allergic or sensitive to gluten-which is also wheat. It’s a cause of inflammation,can be linked to the obesity epidemic and much more. Have you thought of using coconut flour or other alternatives in your recipes?

    1. I’ve been confused around the wheat debate as well. I did a little looking and found wheat is not genetically modified, but it has been hybridized – crossed with other varieties of wheat. I’ve also been learning about better methods of preparing wheat/grains such as soaking and sprouting in order to remove phytic acid. Personally I have decided to continue to enjoy wheat but try to diversify the grains we use by including spelt, kamut, etc. and to begin soaking the grains. There is so much conflicting information out there it is frustrating sometimes!

    2. Sigh. You wheat haters all sound the same spreading your fallacies, probably from “that book” you read by a cardiologist who starts out by saying “wheat is bad, stop eating it” but then later tells you to just go ahead and cut out all carbohydrates. There are NO peer reviewed studies out there linking wheat to all our ills, unless you are celiac, so I really wish this nonsense would stop. Wheat got a bad rap because most Americans ingest the highly refined, sugar laden, chemically processed wheat. In addition, there are currently no genetically modified wheat plants, so I’m not sure why people continue to believe this. I will continue to make the yummy whole wheat recipes on this site and enjoy them.
      Loved this interview, BTW. As a public health researcher, it was right up my alley! I’ve just discovered your site and have been enjoying reading the articles while my little one naps. Thank you for your hard work!

  5. Just FYI…the world’s oldest woman died today, but when they asked her what her secret was in a previous interview she said…”I mind my own business. And I don’t eat junk food”. Nice.

  6. When I was diagnosed with Breast & Thyroid Cancer 5 years ago and then my husband was diagnosed with Type I diabetes, we really started watching all the food we put into our bodies.

    My husband and I have been making this green drink for awhile and love it. It is hard to get your veggies in everyday with salads. So we now have a 16oz green drink almost everyday. We posted a video of us making our Kolinek Green Drink.

    Our recipe has more items in it, but I like the idea of adding Chia seeds. We have not used a hard, seed like ingredients yet.

    Green Keeps You Healthy!

  7. I’m kind of surprised that no one has mentioned Ayurveda yet.
    Actually, I’d never heard of it until i went through Yoga Teacher Training. It’s a medicine/science/lifestyle that originated in India, but it’s s.l.o.w.l.y catching on here in the US.
    I’ve been following an Ayurvedic “diet” for a little over 6 months now, and i’ve really seen a difference; i feel better, my teeth don’t get “yellow”, my awful gas has gone away, i rarely have indigestion anymore, and i’ve noticed many other positive changes, not to mention i’ve even been slowly losing weight.
    Deepak Chopra has some information about Ayurveda on his website, as well as the University of Maryland, the Ayurvedic Institute, NCCAM, just to name a few. Just Google “Ayurveda” and you’ll find *tons* of information.
    Love this site! I’ve made the Slow Cooker Chicken twice now, as well as the Chicken Stock, and am still eating leftovers of the Butternut Squash Soup. YUMMY!
    Thank you SO MUCH for sharing allllll this wonderful info! =-)

  8. I jump for joy every time I see a medical doctor embracing this kind of philosophy. With all the money and influence medicine has, the state of health in the US could change in a generation if they would lead this charge. Unfortunately, doctors like this are few and far between.

  9. Hi,
    I just found 100 days of real food this morning and was very glad to see this topic addressed. A few things I wanted to comment on…Dr. Dedhia’s smoothie sounds great but do you realize bananas are a genetically modified food? This is why they are all same looking; they have been “bred” to be this way. I cut them out of our family’s diet. Also, if using celery please be sure to buy organic. They are one of the worst foods to consume if non organic, they just soak up all the pesticides and non organic fertilizer. You will taste such a difference. Last thing, if you can find this Book ” A World Without Cancer” by G. Edward Griffin, you will never be the same. It is a 2 book set. At least mine is that way. You can eat “healthy” and still die of cancer if you are not getting the right nutrients. Here is a youtube vid to sum it up but the books are packed with so many revelations.
    Another great man whose findings are suppressed is Weston Price, a dentist who studied the Hunza peoples and discovered they lived to be in the hundred year old range, never got cavities or cancer and lived mainly off of their native apricots, even eating the seed – a practice most Americans do not follow. The seed is sacred food to them. If you are not going to plant it, then eat it. And for crying out load do not roast your seeds! (roasted & salted peanuts and cashews, for example are dead food like that box of cheerios.)
    Oh, and thanks for the site! We learn from each other.

    1. Christina – Thanks for your comments. I would like to point out that USDA certified organic produce is not genetically modified, so you can enjoy non-GMO bananas if you wish. I’ve pasted an excerpt from a memorandum on the subject below, which I got from this USDA webpage.

      Also for all of our readers out there, we do recommend buying organic when possible, but realize this may difficult at times due to availability or cost. The benefits of conventional produce outweigh no produce in our opinions, so we do the best we can and keep the dirty dozen list in mind (which does list celery to Christina’s point).

      USDA Memo Excerpt

      The use of GMOs is prohibited in organic production and handling. The NOP regulations prohibit the use of GMOs as “excluded methods” under 7 CFR § 205.105, “Allowed and prohibited substances, methods, and ingredients in organic production and handling.” Excluded methods are defined as:

      A variety of methods to genetically modify organisms or influence their growth and development by means that are not possible under natural conditions or processes and are not considered compatible with organic production. Such methods include cell fusion, microencapsulation and macroencapsulation, and recombinant DNA technology (including gene deletion, gene doubling, introducing a foreign gene, and changing the positions of genes when achieved by recombinant DNA technology). Such methods do not include the use of traditional breeding, conjugation, fermentation, hybridization, in vitro fertilization, or tissue culture. (7 CFR § 205.2-Terms defined)

      This policy memo reiterates that the use of GMOs is prohibited under the NOP regulations and answers questions that have been raised concerning GMOs and organic production and handling.

    2. You are certainly right, bananas are GMOs, if you consider anything where genes have been unnaturally altered through either breeding or biotech. But celery is a GMO, too, or are you exclusively eating the bitter, wild variety? Just out of curiosity, what are you eating if you cut out plants that went through breeding efforts? That might cut out as good as all plant-derived products and leaves you with meat, wild berries and mushroom hunting.

  10. Thank you for the post. It is quite amazing how many doctors in America are prescribing medication without even thinking about going after the core issue, which is in a lot of cases nutrition and exercise habits. It is really great, that you look outside of your box and approach your patients about their nutrition habits.

    However, I am wondering why you want to solve the problem yourself and don’t take advantage of all the professionals around you (dietitians, nutritionists, food counselors, trainers, etc.) who have both the necessary training and experience in helping people change their diets. Some of your statements sound like you are having a very “MD-like” strategy in dealing with food habit issues: patient comes in, you review the food schedule, identify refined sugars & grains as culprits, agree to reduce both – problem solved. Medications are prescribed with that thinking, but unfortunately changing nutrition does not work like that. Getting rid of bad dietary and exercise patterns means you have to change your habits, and as we all know this is a very difficult and lengthy process. It does not happen over night and it is a life-long experience.

    Dr. Dedhia, I absolutely encourage your approach, but you might even be able to improve your services by looking what other resources are out there in your community. You have seen some success stories in your practice, but make yourself aware that your patients are at the easiest stage to treat (concerning eating habits). Loosing the first couple of pounds after a shocking diagnose is the easiest step, but keeping nutritional changes up for an extended period of time (years) is hard and unfortunately a lot of people fail at some point. If loosing weight/changing to a healthier diet and helping people to do so was as easy as you make it sound, then we would not have so many people struggling with it.

    I do not have an answer to the high obesity rate and bad food habits of most US Americans. I grew up in Europe, I know how to cook and I was never exposed to a classical American diet with tons of convenience food. But what I observed when living in the US was, that a lot of people don’t even have basic cooking skills and have a very technical way of looking at food. It is more about food labels and ingredients and less about enjoyment of cooking and eating. And in order to get out of the bad habits, the same logical black-and-white approaches are used. All the European countries I have lived in or have family bounds in (Austria, France, Italy, Germany) have a much lower obesity rate than US America, but i do not know a single person who is counting vegetable servings (how crazy is that?) and is considering refined sugars & grains evil (whole-grain is definitely not big in Italy and France).

  11. Great interview! We need many more doctors like Dr. Dedhia.

    I found your blog via the magazine, edible Charlotte (Fall 2012 issue).

  12. Hi Jason,
    I am a student of integrative nutrition and now a certified integrative nutrition health coach. After my own health crisis (being diagnosed with breastcancer at 42) I started an intensive search for information about Nutition and came across a nutrition school in NYC called Integrative Nutrition ( By the way I have absolutely no affiliation except having been a student.
    I think you and Lisa as well as many of your readers would really benefit from the courses they teach. It has truly been such a fantastic health journey both for me and my family. Integrative nutrition has taught me to look at the whole person – food being one piece of the puzzle.
    Just like one of the other respondents I too have radically changed my diet and that of my family. I personally have never felt stronger or healthier being on a plant based diet. I am constantly being told how beautiful my skin looks, how sparkling my eyes look… What is the secret to my glow… Not to mention my 35lb weight loss in 6 months. My answer is always plants!
    Just thought that as you and Lisa have this great website you two would really enjoy learning all about the holistic approach (dealing with the whole person as your two family Doctor friends seem to be doing).
    All the best,

  13. I went to a new MD to get my blood checked as I was experimenting with a raw diet and several other type protocols. I wanted to make sure I was getting the proper nutrition. I was told I needed a physical. All the MD could say is you need a mammogram, you need a colonoscopy. She could not advise me on any food choices. She said I had high blood pressure and was put on medication immediately. I never went back to that MD and since have consulted a Herbalist. I already was pretty knowledgeable about clean eating but I have learned so much from him. Right now I am considered gluten intolerant and GMO intolerant. I have tried different modalities like coconut oil and apple cider vinegar. I wish more MD were like you. Being consulted in diet should have been a first step before prescribing blood pressure medicine, especially on a new patient. Just a note: This is the first and only time I have ever had high blood pressure. Maybe the MD irritated me into a bad reading. She also did not run the proper blood tests. Herbalist stated I was low on a few things and once making modifications I am fine. Is there a way to find an MD who also is knowledgeable in nutrition? Are RD knowledgeable enough? Great interview!!

    1. You need an ND! A naturopathic doctor (who has graduated from a four-year medical school program similar to an MD program but with a different fundamental basis and training in botanical medicine, homeopathy, nutrition, counseling, and physical medicine) is a primary care physician who can help guide you in all aspects of your health. Check out for more information and to find a doctor near you.

      1. AO
        A million thank yous for this link. My fingers are crossed that there are pediatricians listed & in my area.

  14. I would love to try the green smoothie (this or another version) but was blown away by the cost of the vitamix blender! I am sure it is an amazing tool and probably very worth the cost, but is there some version of this that is doable in a regular blender? I am not sure mine could accommodate all these ingredients and get anywhere close to smooth! Has any one had luck with this?

    1. You could use steamed veggies (I’ve added broccoli, carrot of beans leftover from the evening meal)… know lots of people don’t like cooking it, but it is better then not at all!). Also look into the Omniblender. It still isn’t cheap, but there is lots of comparison tests and it does quite well for a lot less money. The vitamix is too steep a price tag for our family as well and our regular blender just died under the smoothie pressure we put on it. I decided to go for an Omni…. hopefully it is as good as people say it is.

    2. I have a Waring Pro blender (it was about $70 and made in USA). It does a good job, but struggles on some ingredients, like carrots, so I usually grate a big batch of carrots for the week in the food processor, to have on hand to add to smoothies and salads.

    3. Hi Amy,

      I recently started to make veggie and fruit smoothies and I didnt have much money to invest in it yet. I’ve been using the magic bullet and its been great! I recommned this first then you can see if you want to invest in something bigger. Good Luck!

      Linda S.

  15. I’m a pediatrician who works extensively in the field of childhood obesity, and I advocate transitioning to a whole food diet as both prevention and treatment of obesity for all of my patients. It is a challenge for many of them because I work with low-income families, but many are having success eliminating or reducing comorbidities like diabetes and high blood pressure.

    Stacey, I can’t believe a pediatrician never asked you about your kids diet! I rarely get 2 minutes into a visit without starting the conversation.

    I agree that small, doable steps are key to any behavior change and have found motivational interviewing where physicians create a framework for patients to set their own goals is really key.

    Thanks for the great article, it’s great to hear from other health care professionals who are working towards similar goals. It’s great to know I’m not alone!

  16. Thanks for the posting today – I have had enormous success losing weight while gradually switching from processed foods to whole foods. It is pretty common for me to have 8-10 fruit/veggie servings a day now – almost no processed foods. lots of lean protein, olive oil , nuts etc… I have lost almost 80 pounds in 9 months – from a BMI that was morbidly obese to just 15 pounds away from healthy. My husband has lost 50 pounds and has brought his blood pressure down to normal. But what is even better is that my mood and energy level has changed. I just feel younger and more energetic. I love to walk and jog now – I can keep up with my kids. Knee pain and plantar fasciitis are both gone. No more back pain. And despite having 4 kids who get the usual colds, stomach bugs, I haven’t been sick since I started emphasizing fresh veggies. It is amazing what changing the food will do!!

  17. When I was diagnosed with Cancer, I began to change my whole diet. I saved my life by taking the chemotherapy treatments. While also taking changing my diet to support the treatment process and continuing to cutting processed sugar out of my diet so my body would be less inflamed. I take supplements to support my diet, but not to replace my diet. My oncologist always supported my extra supplements and told me he wish he had more patients like me. My husband who is a Type I diabete and I make daily green drinks. We get tired of salads and cooking vegetables. So a green drink helps us to get our greens in for the day.

  18. If you are already on the food as medicine path, I highly recommend reading Thr China Study and watching the movie Fork Over Knives. My family just started change our diet to a vegan one. Seeing my older relatives suffer various chronic diseases has motivated me to try to prevent the onset of them. And just recently having kids has made me think about wanting to be healthy and vital when I get older.

  19. I just got a vitamix and i LOVE it. Adds a whole new dimension to the smoothie because you can really get anything to mix up super smooth. I just tried homemade almond milk this morning and it was amazing. I soaked a small handful of raw almonds (just reading about soaking nuts and grains to remove phytates and other naturally occuring chemicals) overnight in the fridge in a little filtered water. Drain that water and put them in the vitamix with fresh filtered water (I used a little over a cup). Turn it on high and let in blend for about a minute. Voila! Almond milk! You could strain it through cheesecloth too for a smoother consistency. Yea food as medicine!!!

  20. Thanks for a great blog post and green smoothie recipe! Do I need to steam the carrots first if I am making it in a high power blender or food processor or do I put them in raw?

  21. I loved hearing about a doctor promoting real food. I’m going to search for a doctor near me that practices integrative medicine. This was a great article!

  22. Great info! I keep hearing about green smoothies. Does anyone know if they are beneficial for people already eating plenty of vegetables. What I mean is, are they just a way to increase veggie intake, or is there something else particularly important? I haven’t ever gotten into the idea because they all seem to call for banana, and I’m allergic. But this one has lots of substitutions handy, so I’ll have to try it.

    1. Bananas are NOT required. Try making this with a pear and 1 cup of blueberries instead of the banana. Bananas sweeten it, and thicken it. So if you leave out the banana, use less water, or sub in some 100% fruit juice to sweeten it if you need that. I usually make my smoothies without a banana. I add in some yogurt sometimes.

    2. In my opinion smoothies are good because they can increase veggie intake as well as variety. For example, while I will eat cucumber I’m not crazy about it, but I downed half a cucumber in my two servings of smoothie yesterday! You can always throw in something new or out of the ordinary. Also there’s the convenience factor…while I try to set aside time to consciously eat and enjoy my food, there are of course times where I have to grab and go. Regarding substitutions, check out the Raw Family link in the recipe. They have lots of smoothie recipes and resources, like iPhone apps.

    3. I also like using a handful of frozen fruit which makes it nice and thick. If your blueberries are frozen they are super sweet and make the smoothie thick and milkshake like!! YUM. Frozen grapes are a great sweet fruit too. If it doesn’t taste sweet enough try a little splash of REAL vanilla extract. Seems to enhance the sweet flavour without actually adding any sweetener/juice.

  23. It is so refreshing to hear from a doctor who realizes how important diet is in managing health. I have two children with sensory processing disorder and one with numerous food allergies. He could have been spared years of grief (and now an eating disorder), if I had only kept him on a real food diet. There has yet to be a single pediatrician that has asked about what they eat. Education needs to start with our children and their parents so that each generation has a chance at a healthy life. I’m looking forward to reading more!

  24. Great article! I think it’s wonderful that Dr. Dedhia has incorporated nutrition into her practice. Especially by asking her patients to take small steps instead of jumping straight into an entire real foods based diet, which likely would be hard for most Americans. I too am a physician, as well as majored in nutrition in college. My family and I recently plunged full force into a real foods lifestyle and I can’t imagine going back. We thought we were eating healthy before (i.e. low fat but actually highly processed), but now have realized the benefits of real food. My practice(emergency medicine) doesn’t allow as much time to educating about diet or preventative measures, but I still try to encourage small steps too! I love this website! is an inspiration!

  25. Integrative and traditional medicine can co-exist. As a matter of fact I think it should be the standard. I thank you for sharing this interview that I found very helpful and reinforced the path I am on – clean eating. I hope to see more insightful and relevant articles from you. Kind regards.

  26. Also I did NOT know that about integrative medicine, and finding a Dr is terribly difficult so thank you! I really believe most doctors are just no good at identifying the core issues in the body.

  27. Our very first baby step toward getting off the SAD diet (standard american) was drinking one green smoothie a day. My husband’s chronic and terrible heartburn went away immediately and he has not had it in almost 3 years! I believe his knee and joint pain was also linked to poor diet and if we stop drinking smoothies it comes back.

    We have had lots of other steps along the way and now I can’t believe the diet I used to eat, but that has remained the pivotal part of all our changes. Drinking them caused me to (over time) begin to CRAVE vegetables. It’s a MIRACLE for this former life long junk food junkie!