For those who don’t already know about you, could you explain a bit about your training and background?
I am a Medical Doctor with nearly 20 years experience of seeing patients. I am board certified in internal medicine as well as family practice and have trained in Immunology, Functional Medicine and movement mechanics.
I have my own BBC One primetime TV show, Doctor in the House, which has been shown across the world in over 70 different countries. In the show, I take a functional medicine approach to help families improve and reverse conditions such as type 2 diabetes, menopausal symptoms, mental health complaints, chronic back pain, opiate addiction, insomnia and gut problems using lifestyle interventions.
- Rangan, your book was only released in the UK 2 months ago and has already become one of the Top 10 Health books released over the past 5 years. Why do you think that your approach is proving so popular?
Frank, I have been blown away with the success of this book. I think the reason it has struck a chord with so many members of the public, is that what I recommend is achievable for absolutely everyone. Health has become over complicated, and my book aims to simplify it.
The way that we are collectively living our modern lifestyles is having a negative impact on the way that we feel. When we make small, consistent changes to what I call the 4 pillars of health, it can completely transform the way that they feel. I don’t ask people for perfection in any one pillar – I ask for balance across all 4 pillars. I think this is what makes my approach a little bit different.
- Tell us a little bit about your book and it’s structure.
I think that we have become far too reductionist around health. Many people are looking for the magic bullet in their lifestyle that will transform their health. But is simply does not exist. Food, for example, is just one component of good health. Many people are reducing food to simply being about fat or carbs. The truth is that food is more than fat versus carbs, and good health is more than just food.
I have actually found that many of my patients actually are doing pretty well with their diet, yet they are still struggling with their health and their weight. Food is just one component of good health. I recently helped a patient reverse their pre-diabetes by addressing their stress levels and not touching their diet!
I see many patients, particularly women, jumping form diet to diet, searching for the magic one that will help them lose weight. What many of them actually need help with are relaxation, sleep and the right kind of movement rather than diet.
Good health is the result of a combination of factors. The 4 most controllable factors that have the most impact on our health are Food, Movement, Sleep and Relaxation. My book gives every reader simple, achievable strategies in each pillar.
I think this is what is resonating with people the most about my book. I put all controllable aspects of health together in one book. 25% of the book is devoted to each pillar and there are 5 chapters in each pillar, each with a suggestion at the end. The goal is not perfection in any one pillar, it is balance across all 4. Instead of people scoring 5/5 in 2 pillars with a total score of 10, I would much rather they score 2 in each pillar, with a total score if 8. I am really pleased with the structure and format and I think this is what makes this book unique and I am so humbled by all the positive feedback.
The book is peppered with many real life case studies to illustrate how many different conditions can be improved by applying the book’s principles.
- What are some examples of the recommendations that you make in the book?
Frank, I think the best way to answer this is to give you one example from each pillar.
From ‘Relax’ – I recommend 15 minutes of ‘me-time’ every day. This intervention on its own can provide so many benefits in the fast paced modern world that we are living in such as a reduction in stress hormones such as cortisol. Stop treating ‘relaxation’ as something that you do – or, more likely, don’t do – when everything else has been dealt with. This is about choosing to relax. There are 3 rules for you me-time though:
-It must be something for you alone
-It must not involve your smartphone, tablet or computer
-You can’t feel guilty about it.
From ‘Move’ – Strength training is undervalued in society. One we past the age of 30, we can lose up to 5% of our muscle mass each decade. This is a serious problem as loss of muscle mass is a strong predictor of late-life mortality. My recommendation is to do my 5-minute kitchen workout 2 times per week. I have patients in their 20s doing this work out as well as patients in their 70s. It works for everyone. The best thing about it is that it can be done by everybody, it can be modified for all mobility and strength levels, you don’t need an expensive gym membership and you don’t need and equipment. It can even be done in your own clothes! You can see a video walking you through it here: https://drchatterjee.com/5min-kitchen-workout/
From ‘Eat’ – I recommend that people try and consume all of their food within a 12-hour eating window – for example, eat breakfast at 8am and finish your evening meal by 8pm. The benefits include better blood sugar control, weight loss and improved immune system function.
A key point to make is that people often ask me, ‘Can I get more benefits by compressing my eating window even more?’ – there is no question, that some people do. However, that is not the point of my approach. Instead of trying to max out this particular recommendation, if you are hitting 12 hours, I would give yourself a tick in this section and move onto another recommendation. My approach is about balance, not perfection.
The final pillar is ‘Sleep’ – In my experience, I have found that for the majority of people with sleep issues, they are unconsciously doing something in their everyday lifestyle that, unwittingly, is having a negative impact on their sleep. My book goes into detail of how to assess your sleep health (using my RATE sleep questionnaire) and then gives you a plan as to what you can do about it.
My top tip for sleep is what I call a No Tech 90. The idea is actually very simple – 90 minutes before bed, try and switch off all modern technology – this can be highly effective for 2 reasons. Firstly, these devices emit blue wavelength light, which can reduce levels of the sleep hormone, melatonin. The second reason is that you reduce the amount of ‘emotional noise’ you are being exposed to at night whether that be news stories, work e-mails, social media updates etc. This ‘emotional noise’ is one of the biggest reasons that people cannot unwind and go to sleep.
- Who do you feel would most benefit from the approach in your book?
Everyone! The reality is that almost everyone these days can feel better than they currently do. Many of us are walking around feeling tired, needing caffeine to get us through the day, alarm clocks to wake us up, jumping from deadline to deadline. The uncomfortable truth is that the way that we are collectively living our modern lifestyles is having a detrimental effect on our health.
This book is for everyone. If you already have a disease or complaint – this book will help you feel better. If you wish to prevent getting ill in the future, this book will help you. Or, if you simply want more energy, less brain fog – more vitality in your everyday life, this book will help you.
I wrote this book so that it is accessible and applicable to absolutely everyone.
- Achieving a work-life balance is a huge issue for so many people and yet is so crucial for wellbeing. How do you manage this?
This is something I really struggle with, especially since I started appearing in the media. One of my strategies to try and cope with this is to have some dedicated screen free time with my wife and kids several times per week. I find that the time spent with them is so much more productive and mindful when there are no distracting devices around. The other strategy that I adopt is to get up around 5am every day and have 30 minutes to myself before anyone else wakes up – I will go downstairs, mediate for 10 minutes, then brew my coffee and do some of my daily movement practice. This morning routine sets me up for a much more productive day both professionally and personally.
- Do you have a favorite meal?
Honestly, I have so many favorites, and they change every week!! My favorite one at the moment is my wife’s homemade buckwheat bread, which I really enjoy with olive oil, avocado slices and sea salt each morning. I have had hundreds of request on social media over the past few months for the recipe so am delighted to have finally put it up on my website here – https://drchatterjee.com/recipe-golden-buckwheat-bread/
You can buy the international bestseller ‘How To Make Disease Disappear’ here: drchatterjee.com/book
You can keep up with Dr.Chatterjee’s work here: