Put Out the Fire of Poor Health with Dr. Vimal Thomas George, Physician and Author of Health In Flames
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Consumerism and over-consumption isn't healthy for our bodies, our minds, our planet, or our pocketbooks. Dr. Vimal Thomas George, a physician and author, joins natural products industry veteran, Corinna Bellizzi and holistic nutritionist, Tia Walden to discuss his new book - Health In Flames: A Doctor's Prescription For Living Beyond Diet & Exercise. They discuss how we can pave a path to financial independence and shift to a more mindful perspective, spending less, while eating better, so we can all live our best and most meaningful lives.
They discuss Michael Pollan's book, In Defense of Food, and Dr. David Perlmutter's recent work, Drop Acid: The Surprising New Science of Uric Acid - They Key to Losing Weight, Controlling Blood Sugar, and Achieving Extraordinary Health.
01:44 Getting to know "Dr. Tommy"
05:30 Once you've met your basic needs, the best things in life are free
11:45 When luxuries become "essential" (it's a slippery slope)
22:00 Michael Pollan's recommendation: "Eat plants, not too much, mostly plants."
30:00 The problem of preventable diseases and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs)
35:45 The problem of externalities in m
40:00 Closing thoughts with Corinna & Tia, summarizing what we've learned
About Dr. Vimal Thomas George:
Vimal Thomas George, MD, MSc practices medicine at the Austin Diagnostic Clinic in Austin, Texas, where he lives with his wife and two children. With a medical degree, a master’s degree in healthcare quality and safety management, and experience as the executive quality director of his clinic, he has a unique and broad understanding of population health. Learn more at www.healthinflames.com.
Real-life Solutions To Put Out The Fire Of Poor Health with Dr. Vimal Thomas George (AKA Dr. Tommy)
Corinna Bellizzi: Welcome to Nutrition Without Compromise. I'm one of your hosts, Corinna Bellizzi, a natural products veteran who knows a fair amount about nutrition
Tia Walden: and I'm Tia Walden, a certified holistic nutritionist and author of obsessed with mindful eating.
Corinna Bellizzi: Today we have a great pleasure of connecting with a medical doctor who is going to help us explore the financial element of our health. But since we're talking about health Tia, what's that disclaimer, we need to know.
Tia Walden: The information on this show does not intend to treat, diagnose or cure and does not replace any medical advice provided by your personal medical doctor.
Corinna Bellizzi: That's right. I think the doctor joining us today will appreciate that. Disclaimer, today we are joined by Dr. Vimal Thomas George. He practices, medicine at the Austin diagnostic clinic in Austin, Texas, where he lives with his wife and two children. He has a medical degree, a master's degree and experience as the executive quality director of his clinic.
He has a unique and broad understanding of population health. He recently published a new book, which is what we're going to dig into today called Health in Flames, A Doctor's Prescription for Living Beyond Diet and Exercise. Welcome to the show Dr. Tommy.
Dr. Vimal Thomas George: Thank you so much for having me Corinna And Tia. I really appreciate it.
Tia Walden: We are excited to talk to you. I don't think it's every day that we get to talk to a medical doctor and also go down that path of financial advice. Right? So we would like to start there. How did you start traveling down that path of financial advice from being a medical doctor?
Dr. Vimal Thomas George: Yeah, that's a little different.
I, I, I think it's basically just kind of seeing what I was seeing, where I was in my practice, which is, over time in the U S and really even abroad, rates of chronic disease are increasing over time. So you could look at rates of diabetes rates of obesity, the cost of healthcare, and year over year it's increasing.
And what it comes down to is that, at some level, we all know that it's because of. People are not eating as healthy as we used to, and we're not exercising nearly as much as we used to. And so that's true at some level, but looking at what are the impediments for. Getting people off the couch. What I realized is that a lot of it has to do with the way we manage our finances.
Corinna Bellizzi: So let's talk for a moment about what it means to manage your finances. I mean, I'm hearing now there's a curriculum in many high schools that really come through on this particular point because people were graduating from college without any financial literacy whatsoever, and with a fair amount of debt, with no real idea of how to pay it off.
So, what is your perspective specifically on the type of knowledge that we need to just as a general populous have about financial health or just getting to a space where we can be a little bit more secure in that way? Yeah. Um,
Dr. Vimal Thomas George: We first have to explore, what is it about the way we manage our finances that's adversely impacting our health. And really, I think that comes down to many different things. One of which is the fact that we are dependent on our employers for our day-to-day living. Right? If you look at modern day employment, it's really unhealthy for us. And a lot of ways, which is, we're really kind of tied to a desk from eight to five, Monday through Friday.
And in addition to that, oftentimes sitting in traffic to, and from work. And so we really are kind of rushed with our meals and for the most part, we don't have much activity during those work hours. Right. And so what I propose in the book is that really there's a way to manage our finances better so that we're not stuck in this sort of a situation.
I think you're asking what level of financial education do we need? You know, it really isn't that much. It's really just the very basics. You could read hundreds of books on personal finance and, honestly, you could summarize it in a couple of pieces of advice. One, live well within your means. And two, invest the rest of that money.
So that that money is growing over time. And over time, you'll get to the point of becoming financially independent.
Tia Walden: I think that's so important to boil it down to these bite sized pieces that people can actually take away and implement in their lives. And in the book you mentioned, on top of living within your means and investing the rest, that the best things in life are free.
I think that's also a really good thing to think about. Try to apply every day, looking for those little ways of exercise that can be free, right beyond the gym membership that you mentioned, what are some other ways that you suggest our audience look for that? Living within our means mentality and being able to find things that are either free or support our long term vision of financial independence.
Dr. Vimal Thomas George: Great question. So, you know what you just said -- that the best things in life are free. There's a lot of science that backs that up. It's kind of a deep discussion to get into all that, but you know what? Once you've met your basic needs, Then really after that, the best things in life should cost very little or even be free.
And so what a lot of social scientists have found is that those best things in life tend to be those things that engage the body, the mind or the soul in some way. Just to give you some examples, things that engage the body like exercise that is fulfilling in a way that many of the things that we spend our money on is not.
And the same with, getting good sleep, and adequate nutrition. Those things are largely free of cost or at least it shouldn't cost us a lot. Same thing with spending time with family and friends. That's not something that, you know, you need to make into a lavish affair. You could readily spend time with family and friends and setting goals and pursuing those goals.
Another thing that's again, largely free of cost. So the thing I want folks to take away is that once you have that mentality, Then really you're able to invest much more of your income than what the typical financial advisor would recommend. Right? Most financial advisors they'll tell you to put away maybe 10%, maybe 15, or if they're being really aggressive, 20% of your income, but you know, most folks and you know, of course this depends on your level of income, but a lot of people are able to put away much more than that. Maybe 30%, maybe 50% of your income, depending on how much you. But a lot of folks, certainly in the middle class on up are able to invest a lot more of their income once they adopt that mindset or way of thinking.
Corinna Bellizzi: So I want to bring up something that I have heard from many people who aren't necessarily natural shoppers.
They might say something like, oh gosh, you know, yeah. You go shop at whole foods and you buy all that expensive food. You spend an arm and a leg on that stuff. So they might not be ready to adopt what I might call a healthier eating lifestyle, a healthier nutrition lifestyle, because of the cost associated with it.
So I wonder if you could comment on that. What is your thinking as you wrote this book and as you advise your patients,
Dr. Vimal Thomas George: Yeah, I have to admit some of that is true. There are foods that are junk food that really is cheaper, at least at the outset, right. On the front end, anyway. What do I mean by that? Well, After years of eating that way, it's only a matter of time before we get to develop a very expensive to treat and hard to manage medical conditions that leave you in a state of being that's worse off. And so, if you make those smart investments. And again, you know, maybe you do have to budget a little bit more for some of the food expenses upfront.
Although, you know, honestly, there there's a lot that you could still get that that's relatively low in costs, but if you do prioritize fruits and vegetables over junk food, that's going to cost you a little bit more. And yet what we see is that at the same time, you don't develop chronic diseases. You go on to live a healthier, more active life, a much more fulfilling life.
And in the end, you're actually saving money. Right?
Corinna Bellizzi: Well, I think something to bring up too, is something as simple as using your yard. If you have a yard, you can grow healthy food by the trees you plant or something along those lines. I've planted plum trees and an apple tree in my yard, so it produces some of the fruit that we consume for sets of the year.
And you can even review sites like fallingfruit.org, where they've detailed, where fruit is in a public space that you can actually go and harvest, which is really novel. And it’s a really great way to consider having even a family activity. You could tell them “let's go find some fruit today in our neighborhood. I heard there's a strawberry tree over here.” And strawberry tree fruit is actually something that you can’t buy at the grocery store. But you can literally go to an industrial park where they've planted this bush and harvest a fruit that's really, really rich in vitamin C. It can be a fun little activity and something I do with my boys.
Dr. Vimal Thomas George: Now, there's a lot to be said about that Corinna, you know, we've lost some of our skills that are our forefathers readily had, right? Nowadays, most young kids coming out of high school and college, they don't really know how to cook. And so they are, you know, buying food out, which is oftentimes processed in the same way. We've also lost our scales of gardening and you know, what a beautiful thing to be able to do to be able to grow your own food and then to actually cook that food that cuts on costs. And at the same time, you have something to show for what you've done. I think that there's some element of fulfillment in that.
Tia Walden: I completely agree with that. And I live in a place that is cold for quite a few months over the year. And gardening year round is just not an option for us, but what is an option, our local farmer's markets and being able to find those activities that we can do with family and friends is actually really fulfilling.
And other ways beyond just finding that nutritious local food too. And so I think exploring what options you have in your area is really important. And there's even new companies coming out there that are trying to help reduce food waste with shipping food that is local to your front door. So you don't even have to necessarily leave your house to find these options that are affordable.
Dr. Vimal Thomas George: Absolutely things are moving in a direction where we can take advantage of eating healthy without having to spend a fortune.
Corinna Bellizzi: So now one of the things that I found a little surprising in the book was one of your points around the norm or the baseline when different cultures around the world might consider something like the utensils that you use to eat your food as luxuries. Here in the west, luxuries are things like maybe organic foods or something like caviar and champagne.
Dr. Vimal Thomas George: Basically. It's so there's a story in the book where I talk about, you know, when I grew up in the villages of India, where I'm from, no one in the entire village actually had any kind of utensils. And as it turns out, our hands are perfectly capable of bringing food from the table to our mouths.
Right. And so, coming from America, and visiting the villages. As a young child, you're, you're kind of fascinated by that understanding. And so, you know, the point is not to necessarily suggest that everybody should be eating without utensils. I use utensils. I'm not planning to give that up, but we do tend to over time, get carried away in what we think is essential.
And this is a insight that Adam Smith developed way back in the 17 hundreds.
Corinna Bellizzi: I knew you were going to do it, you're taking us into the economics of it. We're talking about economics on a nutrition show.
Dr. Vimal Thomas George: So the point is that basically over time, we get to thinking of things as more and more essential when just, you know, a couple of decades ago, it was not.
And so today we think of the iPhone as essential or the latest gadgets that we have, we can't do without. And yet there's a lot that we can rethink if we can rethink the use of utensil was essential in essence.
Corinna Bellizzi: Right. And I mean, I find myself thinking about all of the Asian families that I visited in high school.
My high school was dominantly from Asia. Like something like 50 to 60% when that was like 25 years ago too. I'm here in Cupertino area, Apple’s home and a technology Mecca. I remember being surprised that many people literally would cook with chopsticks as their cooking utensils. Stirring the stir frly, flipping the food in the pan.
It's like I cook in the kitchen. I mean, a stirring spoon, and then I'm using a fork and then I'm using, tongs or a spatula, and I'm using this and that. And by the time you get everything out, it's like I've dirtied half the dishes in my kitchen when visiting one of my friends from Korea or Japan, they dirty scissors used in cutting and a few wooden implements.
And so I think back to those moments and realize too, that it’s like I've forgotten, I've stepped away from those moments because it's been so long. Right. And started to just kind of look at my kitchen again differently since I read your book.
Dr. Vimal Thomas George: You know, if you want to take the ultimate example, it's our hunter gatherer ancestors, right? So believe it or not, for 95% of our existence, we were hunter gatherers only in about 10,000 years ago. Did we undergo the agricultural revolution? And then a couple of hundred years ago undergo the industrial revolution where things really changed.
But back in those days, people have gathered. And the point is not that we should go back to the stone ages. That's not the point that I'm trying to suggest to anyone.
Corinna Bellizzi: A lot of the diets are asking us to, they call them things like the paleo diet, and they're saying, oh, we'll just eat this way. And you know, you'll solve everything.
Dr. Vimal Thomas George: Yeah. You know, the point is that they did some things pretty well. In a way that we've kind of lost, right? We've kind of missed that opportunity. And so for example, they were much more active than we are. Right? Our hunter gatherer ancestors certainly were much more active. Even our agricultural ancestors were much more active than we are in the same way, but they ate much more nutritious food when food was available to them.
Granted, you know, starvation was a real risk in those days. Again, the point is not to go back to those days, but it's to say that, you know, we could have taken the good without taking the bad as well. You know, if we're thinking that we are advancing, you know, as time goes on, then in, in some real sense we have, right.
We've defeated a lot of the risk of sort of starvation, right? I mean, that was a real risk in those days. We've also largely. Read the world of many of the infectious diseases that were a real threat to humanity, but at the same time, now we're developing these diseases of chronic disease. A lot of these diseases of affluence, frankly, and again, we're spending much more of our money on healthcare costs when it didn't have to be that way.
Tia Walden: I think in the book, you also mentioned the correlation between consumerism and chronic disease, and also our diminishing happiness. You know, you mentioned the sizes of houses on top of getting storage units and the size of our garages and people still not having enough room to hold all of their things and people having this underlying belief of, well, once I have that item, once I have that new iPhone, once I have whatever it may be, we think that our happiness is just going to skyrocket.
And in reality, our happiness as a nation and just worldwide has really not actually skyrocket in the way that we would have hoped with all of these advances. Can you touch on that?
Dr. Vimal Thomas George: Yeah, there's a, there's a graph in the book where we actually show that happiness has actually declined, particularly in the United States since the 1970s.
And so that's, despite the fact that homes are now more than, two to three times larger than it used to be just a hundred years ago. And we have evermore stuff and we have evermore spaces that we're renting out to hold that stuff. Right. And so, despite that, that should tell us that there's something not quite right.
One thing I didn't mention in the book, but you guys might know there's a famous economist, John Maynard Keynes, who he wrote in 1930 that, people in our time would only need to work about 10 to 15 hours per week. And sorry. And so, yeah, everybody actually believed that that was going to be the case, what we're talking about.
He's, you know, again, probably the most well-known economist at the time, but we're also talking about even presidents at the time everybody anticipated that this was going to be the case by our time. And obviously they were so wrong. Right. And so, you know, when you think about it, what happened? Right?
At one level, we had a lot of women that entered the workforce. So a lot of households became two income households. So it should have actually been easier to get to the point of becoming financially independent or working fewer hours to meet your needs. In fact, what happened instead is. The size of houses doubled or tripled, then more things accumulated.
And so what was apparently not foreseen was our, our tendency to spend mindlessly. And I'd say mindlessly, very purposefully. I mean that in the sense that it has no impact on our happiness, in fact, A lot of times adverse impact on our happiness. And so this mindless consumption is now adversely affecting our health as well.
Corinna Bellizzi: Well, I have a few things to say about that. Just for one, I want to take us back to the grocery store because I think even as we talk about things like staples and your diet and the sorts of things that people should be consuming or making room for when they are. The reality is we buy a lot of junk, you know, things that we consider staples when you had this food pyramid with all these grains based across the bottom, like that was supposed to be the foundation of our diet.
So the diet people of my generation. gen X-ers and Millennials, even grew up learning about, didn't really focus on foods that heal and nourish, the foods we really evolved consuming. They introduced a lot of carbohydrates and not necessarily sort of the balanced nutrition and fibers that we might've had. They told us to limit fats – even healthy fats.
And so ultimately. We're giving our bodies, this barrage of filler food. That's just what I call it. That's how I look at it now – as filler food – and focus more of my diet on things that you shop for in the periphery of the grocery store.
This means the healthy, lean meats or plant-based proteins, eggs, some of the yogurts and kefirs and things along those lines, a lot of vegetables, a lot of fruits. I think we all know that this is a healthier way to eat and yet it takes more time and preparation. You might have to shop a couple more times a week. I mean, I just wonder what your perspective is on that whole, when it gets to thinking about guiding somebody to really focus on leading their life in a nutrient rich way without compromising their morals or the health of our planet.
Dr. Vimal Thomas George: You know, I talk about this a little bit in the book too, but I think we make healthy living too complicated, right? Uh, healthy eating in particular. There's a book by Michael Pollan, who is a food journalist. And he writes a lot of things, a lot of good things about food. And basically what he says is eat food, not too much, mostly plants.
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
― Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto
Hopefully some of your listeners might have heard this before. And so, when he says eat food, what he means is that most of what's out there is not real food. It’s so processed it's changed in a way that is no longer the way that our bodies have evolved to digest this food. And so you point to grains, particularly refined grains, you know, they are stripped of the nutrient rich components and you're left with the part that’s going to spike your sugar levels and your insulin levels as a result. It's going to be addictive.
And so, you're going to want more and more of it, and you're going to feel less satisfied by it, and you're going to get hungry sooner. But again, eat foods. Eat real whole foods. In other words, in the case of grains, there, there are complex grains, right?
And so those are actually healthier options, but also fruits and vegetables, there's beans and lentils and legumes, seeds and nuts. And these are really the kind of things that we should be largely focused on eating. Second, not too much. He says, eat food, not too much. So it turns out it's not that hard to eat not too much. If you're eating whole foods, if you're eating processed foods, it’s a different story altogether. Processed foods are almost engineered to be addictive. Now I shouldn't say almost, it really is engineered to be addictive. And so you end up wanting more and more of it. And so you never really feel completely satisfied. Right. And so. Eat food, not too much.
And then he also says mostly plants. So yes, we should be eating a much more plant-based diet than the majority of us are used to, especially in America. And so, you know, the recommendation is a really a minimum of five to six servings of fruits and vegetables, daily and much more plant-based proteins, again, beans and lentils and legumes, much less meat.
It doesn't mean that you can't have meat. Just a lot less of it than we have been consuming.
Tia Walden: And also the quality out there really matters. One of my favorite parts that you mentioned in the book is the fact that we see these warning signs. We read blogs out there, like not to feed the wildlife junk food because it's bad for their health.
Like feeding them as bad when we feed them that food. Yet we go home, we feed ourselves this, we feed our families that we feed our children. And it's the same junk food. That's terrible for our health as well. I think that people don't really put those two and two together. They're like, I can't feed my animal that I can't feel the wildlife that, but I could feed myself that in my babies.
That that's fine.
Dr. Vimal Thomas George: Yeah. I mean, it's sad really. You know, that was a article that I was pointing to in the book where the journalist quoted a wildlife expert as saying not to feed the animals junk food, which was basically chips and stuff, because it's not good for them. So, and, and it's not meant for them, right.
And yet, somehow the article was completely blind to the fact that. Just as bad for us, right. It's not meant for us either. And so it's just something that we've kind of become accustomed to, to thinking that this is okay for us, but obviously it's not. It's a large part of the reason for the rise of a lot of the chronic diseases that we're seeing.
Corinna Bellizzi: I've been reading a little bit of Dr. Perlmutter's recent work. He wrote a book that is it's titled with the inflammatory and beautiful title of Drop Acid. Which of course will get attention on the shelf, right? But the surprising new science of uric acid, the key to losing weight, controlling blood sugar, and achieving extraordinary health.
It's a new book that he wrote and he's on kind of the touring circuit. Now I collaborated with him years ago when I worked in pioneering Nordic Naturals. He's a neurologist and neuroscientists out of Florida. I believe the, he is actually sharing the knowledge that. This connection between fructose and uric acid is one that we need to be very concerned with.
And that ultimately by consuming highly refined, fructose, including processed foods, we're tricking our systems into thinking that we're heading into winter because that's when those fruits would ripen, you'd eat them. And then your body would say, I need to retain all this. Bulk up basically for the winter months and that, because we're consuming these high levels of fructose, our uric acid acid levels come up, which kind of begins the cycle of destroying our metabolic health.
And I'm just seeing all of the connections are circling around and coming together with this whole conversation. Real, whole foods – minimally processed – should be the basis of our diet. So that means not eating chips that are fortified with salt, with fat, and often also dusted with sugar. I mean, I'm not kidding your potato chips have sugar in them in addition to the starches that are naturally present in the potato.
Right? So, if you stay away from that sort of filler food, that's not good for you in the first place, you're also not going to be as likely to enter this cascade of developing higher levels of uric acid, which then get tied to weight gain because your body isn't processing things the same way. If you eat all that fructose, and all that additional salt, you're preparing for winter, essentially.
And the other really interesting thing that he's talking about is the fact that dehydration is so connected to all of these things, because there are even species of animals that have evolved essentially to store water in their fat. Basically when they are dehydrated, they store fat and the fat is what they use to make water. Think of the camel, of whales as an example, because whales live in saltwater, they don't go to fresh water to drink it. Right. But they're actually able to turn their fat into water resources in their body. So, if we're not getting enough of clean, healthy foods, if we're consuming too much salt, the salt also inspires you to retain water.
Then what does that do? It's like this whole thing feeds, the same problem. So it's a topic I want to dive into more as I read through this book, but I think you might be interested in it. It just seems to tie to some of the work that you're doing.
Dr. Vimal Thomas George: You know, it kind of brings to mind the fact that, you know, a lot of these chronic diseases were nearly non-existent 200 years ago, again, prior to about the industrial time of the industrial revolution.
And it's really taken off in the last several decades, but, you know, we never saw a dime. Honestly, if you looked a hundred years ago in the literature, in the medical literature, it was a rare thing today. I see a diabetic every other day in my clinic back then, I bet the doctors that practice at that time might have had one in their lifetime.
That's again, just kind of points to the fact that. These are things that have arisen because of the fact that we're eating increasingly processed foods, right. And again, the same thing for our weight for thousands of years, our weight has been. I believe it or not, people are surprised to learn that, but only in the last few decades, how is our weight, our and our waistlines starting to creep up upward and expand over so rapidly.
So in the same way, you can also make the case for a lot of different Hunter's disease from hypertension to anxiety disorders, major depressive disorders. There's a lot of that is really tied to our lifestyle, that wasn't the case. Instead of advancing in terms of humanity and by advancing over time, in some ways we have really advanced, but in other ways, we've kind of taken on something that our ancestors really did really well.
And so we've kind of lost out on where we could have been on our potential.
Tia Walden: Right. I think that that's an important thing for people to realize. Cause something else that you put in the book, it was like we can live healthy lives up until death without chronic disease. It doesn't have to be a foregone conclusion.
Like many people have been led to believe nowadays. Right. I remember even just a couple of years ago looking and being like, wow, like the only thing that scares me about aging is the chronic disease that comes with it. And then like having that connection of like, that's not true, not everybody has chronic disease.
Why do I, why do I have that place in my head? And then realizing a lot of it has come down to the healthcare system. It's really not a healthcare system. It's more of a sick-care system that we're seeing in the United States. And I love that you are looking at the positive impacts of preventative care for your clients and your patients, because not many people are doing that.
And this book really does focus on that.
Dr. Vimal Thomas George: Yeah. And you bring up an excellent point. Our ancestors, again, when food was not an issue, they really did leave a pretty full and complete existence without chronic disease. And this speaks to the fact that even the, you know, this is from the CDC, the CDC itself says that 80% of diabetes, 80% of many of the chronic diseases and 40% of cancer is completely preventable, completely preventable with lifestyle changes.
Right. And so we've kind of, kind of come to accept that this is just kind of normal as we age, but in fact, it's not common.
Tia Walden: Doesn't always mean normal, right? I also want to just add in the fact that like here on Nutrition Without Compromise, we believe it's never too late to start making those lifestyle changes in terms of personal health and health and nutrition, that also positively impacts the earth.
We had touched on a little bit prior to the animals and eating some animal meat and stuff like that, being okay. On top of a plant heavy diet. I would love to hear your perspective. So you kind of touched on it in the book too, like the treatment of the animals in the food system, because I think that's important.
Dr. Vimal Thomas George: Yeah. You know, I mean, anyone, you don't have to be an activist to, to really, you know, see this as a, such a foreign dichotomy, on the way we treat our animals. So, you know, in the book I talk about how farm animals are treated. Chickens, for example, are just packed together in spaces where they don't even have enough room to expand the wings.
Same thing with pigs. They don't have enough room to hardly turn around. And the same thing with a lot of these farm animals, a lot of them don't even see sunlight, their entire lives. And until it's their time for slaughter. It's just kind of tragic how we've come to accept that as, okay. I don't think that people really accept that it's okay.
I think that people just don't really know what's happening and how our farm animals are treated. And if they really saw that and understood the extent of that, it would be pretty horrifying. I think, you know, one thing about. Our system of capitalism, which again, I talked about in the book… I'm a fan of capitalism for reasons that I go into in the book.
But there's one thing about it is that it is very efficient and that efficiency is not necessarily a good thing when it comes to how we treat meat production.
Corinna Bellizzi: So what you're referring to is right. Concentrated Animals. Feeding Operations (AKA CAFO’s). And the reality is when animals are treated that way, they tend to also get sick more.
They have to have antibiotics and other things. So the quality of the meat that you're getting is always going to be different. The levels of fats that are present in them, the stress hormones, all of those things are going to be balanced differently and not for the better. I personally live here in Scotts Valley.
I went on my morning, walk this morning. On my morning walk, I go by the cow pastures that are on the other side of my fence. And in this case, I'm super lucky. This is an open space preserve, right? They have to have rudiments on the property because it's an open space preserve and they need rudiments, grazers, on the property in order to preserve the environment for a certain beetle, that hunts by sight, and also a grass species that's native to California. And then, I believe also, the California salamander. So we've got these three species making this open space preserve. And there are some very happy cows on this property.
I mean, they just, I saw a new calf this morning, like brand new baby, probably born in the last day. And it's whole little family there. They're like this family unit that gets rotated between all of these pastures. And I think that we as consumers have a picture in our mind that that's how the cows we eat are living, but it's not how most cows are raised.
Now, if you drive down to Southern California and you're on highway 101, you’ll drive through on of those CAFOs, a concentrated animal farming operation, and it is just not good. I mean, you see one cow standing on top of a pile of what looks like dirt, but it's just dung. They're in a dirt patch with a bunch of cow poop and that's their existence until they're slaughtered.
So. You know, if we think about these things and we think about the price of the meat, and you're looking at things on the sticker price, there's a reason you pay more for organic. You're paying more for that organic material that non-GMO material, because it's processed differently because that animal led a different life.
And ultimately, the food that you're eating from that animal is going to be less harmful to your body. It'll have better balance of omega-3 and omega six. It won't have the same antibiotics. It won't have the same stress hormones. So all of those things can really impact your health positively.
And I'm gonna step off my soap box now.
Dr. Vimal Thomas George: Yeah, I think you're right, Corinna. I think, you know, in the same way that, where I am, for example is processed nowadays. And so we have a lot of refined grains as we were talking about meat and it is unfortunately, nowadays really kind of processed in the sense that, you know, it's rare that we're raising animals in a way that it was natural, right?
As a result, as you mentioned, there's antibiotic overuse and they're fed grains that they were not used to eating. And so not the same sort of meat that our ancestors were eating. And so. Once again, that points to the fact that we really should be cutting down our meat, meat consumption. And secondly, as you mentioned, yes, 99% of those animals are not the kind that, that you see roaming about freely.
It really is. They're stuffed in cages and in factories and large feeding operations that, that produce tons of waste and pollute our rivers. And, unfortunately, a lot of those external costs. Are not incorporated into the price of that meat. And so that's something that from a policy standpoint, we really ought to be addressing, you know, to be able to incorporate some of the externalities associated with meat production that would then probably encourage people to shift to less of a carnivorous diet.
Corinna Bellizzi: Well, I'm coming up with an idea here, Dr. Tommy. I think you lobby Congress in Texas. I'll lobby in California.
Tia Walden: Yeah, I've got Minnesota.
Corinna Bellizzi: So I actually wanted to, before we close, offer you the opportunity to talk about the collaboration that you're looking for, the website that you've built, and some of the resources that are offered in the book that you've created to help guide this conversation.
Dr. Vimal Thomas George: The book is called Health In Flames: A Doctor’s Prescription for Living Beyond Diet and Exercise. I hope you guys read it and share it with your family and friends. There is a website https://www.healthinflames.com. There's a place on the website where it says get involved and where you can register to be in contact with me so that we can hopefully kind of come to collaborate on some of the policy prescriptions that are recommended the book to push that forward. And so, I hope some of you guys will join me.
Corinna Bellizzi: Well, I have to say I've just thoroughly enjoyed the conversation. I am going to give people a little detail about a tidbit from Dr. Tommy's book that you should be aware of each section. He kind of gives you a pop quiz. But what that does is it helps you ingrain what you've learned and really kind of take it to the next level. Now, since I first started reading the book a few weeks, I did go ahead and open my first index fund, Dr. Tommy. So you had an impact on me.
I, like many of you, probably just had my savings sitting there in a savings account. That was probably only earning 0.25. I went ahead and I invested a chunk of it. So I chose an S & P 500 style index fund, and then a few others that were somewhat diversified, but following tech companies and then healthcare and a couple of other sets, so more like mutual funds.
I don't have to sit there and learn. Thinking about a specific company and whether or not it's a good investment, but ultimately it provides me with the potential to have a greater return on investment with some risk. I will say, since I opened them, there's been a mild drop in the market that is reflected across them. But the reality is I know that those things also turn back on their head. And so if I continue contributing with time, I'm going to be more fiscally healthy. Hopefully, I'm able to retire one day earlier like that too.
Dr. Vimal Thomas George: And it's true. And I wouldn't necessarily tell folks that retirement is to go, right? What I'm hoping is that once you get to that level of becoming financially independent, that's when life gets to be really interesting, right? You get to start your own projects and work on the things that you're passionate about and, you know, possibly that's a new business or possibly, that's just a hobby that you've been wanting to, to spend more time doing.
It's giving you a chance to live a more fulfilling life that I think anyone would be readily willing to sign up for. Right. And so there really is no downside and just completely upside. And realizing that over-spending and managing our finances through debt is probably very unhealthy for us both financially and from a health perspective.
Corinna Bellizzi: Or perhaps they'll decide to take a page from your book and relocate. I think what was what you wrote in your epilogue – relocating to Costa Rica – and starting life as an ex-pat right. There you go. But their dollar will go further and they can live a little bit more of the good life, a little slower than what we've grown accustomed to.
Well, thank you so much, Dr. Tommy. Now I love to stay connected. We will share all these incredible links in our show notes. Of course. So people can find you the work you're doing your website and your book, and we just appreciate your time so much.
Dr. Vimal Thomas George: Thank you guys so much. I really appreciate it.
Corinna Bellizzi: So I've met quite a few doctors in my time, working in the natural channel, some of whom I've collaborated with, including Dr. Perlmutter, who I mentioned a little bit earlier and what I will just say about Dr. Tommy, he is an extraordinary and interesting person with a completely different take than I expected when he first reached out to me to come on a podcast and talk about a different perspective on health and wow.
Tia Walden: And I, I just love how he breaks it down for people, you can tell he has the background. He knows exactly what he's talking about, but he makes it so manageable for everybody to understand and take away and actually try to live out.
Corinna Bellizzi: Well, what I'm going to tell people is that. You know, I think a lot of what he shares in the book about living within your means – like we all know this it's common sense, but what do you want to do every five years?
Go get a brand new car, if you can, or move from your house to a bigger house. I mean for me when I was working to pay off my college debt, as soon as I paid off my college debt, I didn't go to just sitting there and saving a bunch of money. I was like, oh, well, I can afford a condo now because this money that I was spending every month, I could go live in a condo and granted buying a condo is a good investment.
I mean, this is an investment, right. But. That's I think how we think across the board as our income grows, what we spend grows, and it can just tend to move you to an overextension that can become unhealthy. You don't get to a space that’s fiscally independent as early as you might want to. You're more a slave to the job that you're in because you don't have the financial freedom to say, I don't like this job anymore. I'm going to go do something else. And I think that there's power in that. And that's exactly what the point of his whole book is about. Take back some of that power. Don't sit there and over-consume and overspend. For one it's not good for your financial freedom. And for two, it's really not good for your health either. So I mean, it’s just common sense.
Tia Walden: Right? I agree. And I think that's what is so powerful. And it's about taking back the power into your hands. I think whenever you feel empowered to be your healthiest self, that's when you actually want to make those changes. And in his book, he mentioned this new way of living and helping people really meet all of their obligations of, you know, family work, sleep, exercise, and even personal interests.
And I love that he included the aspect of personal interest because I don't think a lot of doctors including. In the aspect of health, nor does the greater community or our government doesn't include that in the aspect of our health either. Right. We just think of our obligations of work. And when we think of why we need to work, it's always money-based and it's always to live this certain lifestyle that we're ever reaching for, and somehow never actually reaching.
Corinna Bellizzi: Well, that's the holistic nutritionist perspective. Isn't it?
Tia Walden: It really is. I was actually gonna say that when he touched on that, that was really why I personally was attracted to and ultimately chose to pursue holistic nutrition.
Corinna Bellizzi: Right? Well, the reality is we are whole people.
We're not just. There's this part that's work and there's this part that's play. And there's this part that's, you know, acting as a good daughter to my dad or whatever. We are whole people, we have complex lives. And so if we get the right nutrition and we treat ourselves right, then we're going to live a longer, healthier, and more productive life.
And it's not all about productivity and working 40 plus hours a week. It's about pursuing your passions and having the time, the energy. And also the economic stability to be able to do so because not all of us are born with a golden parachute and the ability to do whatever the heck it is, we want. I think the point he's making is that if we take that kind of financial perspective into our own hands, level-one more frugally, we give ourselves some of that financial freedom. That we can do what we choose to in our mid to later years and be more whole. So I just, I think that's great. And he's just such an inspiring character. And I look forward to inviting him back on the show so we can explore this topic in different ways.
Tia Walden: I agree. I really look forward to it too, because I think that he really does embody that overarching theme that we have of Nutrition Without Compromise. Nutrition, without compromising who we are and our happiness, especially, I think that's so important.
Corinna Bellizzi: I'm pleased that we also got to talk about CAFOs, because the reality is, if you're out there shopping for foods, please, please, please try to make educated decisions. Buy products that are responsibly made
Tia Walden: Yeah. Touching on the aspect of out of sight out of mind is not a great way to live and is not a great way to shop for your food, right?
Corinna Bellizzi: That's right. So, you know, when you're searching for eggs that you might want to buy my buying the least expensive, isn't always the best option for you. A yolk of an egg should be orange. It should be really bright and colorful.
It shouldn't be a pale yellow. That's a key indicator. How well the animal was raised and how nutritious that egg is. The higher in color it is, the higher and pigment, the more carotenoids, and the more nutrients. All of that is indicative of how healthy that egg is, and how healthy the chicken. And so I have my favorite local person that I get my chicken eggs from and, oh my gosh.
They're divine. It is literally a treat for me. I feel almost like it's dessert, when I go to make myself an egg.
Tia Walden: They really do taste different. And I think once you notice the difference in the food tastes, it's hard to go back, right? It's hard to look at the cheaper option and even be pulled towards that because I think on some level for people out of sight, out of mind, applies to how it feels in your body.
Sometimes. We don't notice the impact on our food has on our health until 10 years later. And in reality, if we focus on that preventative care, feed ourselves, the healthiest version of food that we can now, we're going to be better off later.
Corinna Bellizzi: Well, I'm just so pleased with the show today. This has been an awesome conversation, Tia, and I will just say that heck, people can come to Nutrition Without Compromise, and listen to these shows. We're going to have a ton of guests on here. A lot of doctors, PhDs, and other professionals who know a lot about their core area of expertise. With this constant focus on what it means to put your nutrition first, without compromise. And this episode, people got to see me on my soapbox and they got to hear your holistic perspective.
So I think we delivered today.
Tia Walden: Ya. I think we did too. I think we drove home the point of what nutrition without compromise means, and even with a relationship to finance.
Corinna Bellizzi: So that was the unexpected part of today. Now, as mentioned earlier, we're going to include links and show notes. You can find out more about Dr. Vimal Thomas George's book, Health In Flames. And we encourage you guys to connect. You can come to orlonutrition.com and see show notes for the entire episode or any podcasting platform that you listen on. This is sponsored by Orlo Nutrition. So visit the site, take a peek around. There are several informative blogs.
Here's to your health!
- Health In Flames: A Doctor's Prescription For Living Beyond Diet & Exercise by V. Thomas George, MD, MSc
In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan
- Drop Acid by Dr. David Perlmutter
- The Financial Solution To Your Health Problems: How Financial Independence Affects Your Health With Dr. Vimal Thomas George, an interview with Corinna Bellizzi on her podcast, Care More Be Better.
- Ethan Welty On How Urban Foraging Could Change Cities Forever an interview with Corinna Bellizzi on her podcast, Care More Be Better.
About Dr. Vimal Thomas George
Vimal Thomas George, MD, MSc practices medicine at the Austin Diagnostic Clinic in Austin, Texas, where he lives with his wife and two children. With a medical degree, a master’s degree in healthcare quality and safety management, and experience as the executive quality director of his clinic, he has a unique and broad understanding of population health. Learn more at www.healthinflames.com.