As a Functional Medicine M.D., Dr. Peter Kozlowski uses a broad array of tools to find the source of the body’s dysfunction: he takes the time to listen to his patients and plots their history on a timeline, considering what makes them unique and co-creating with them a truly individualized care plan. Currently he works with patients online and in person via his Chicago, Illinois and Bozeman, Montana based offices. Dr. Kozlowski did his residency in Family Practice, but started training in Functional Medicine as an intern. He trained in the clinics with leaders in his field including Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Deepak Chopra, and Dr. Susan Blum.
His recently published book Unfunc Your Gut encapsulates his collaborative, patient-first healthcare approach—in true research-based, conversational style, it offers a blend of medical insight and the experiential wisdom of his own healing journey through addiction recovery.
John Shegerian: This edition of the impact podcast is brought to you by ERI. ERI has a mission to protect people, the planet, and your privacy. And is the largest fully integrated IT and electronics asset disposition provider and cybersecurity-focused hardware destruction company in the United States, and maybe even the world.For more information on how ERI can help your business properly dispose of outdated electronic hardware devices, please visit eridirect.com.
John: Welcome to another edition of the Impact podcast. This is a very special edition because we’re so lucky to have with us today, Doctor Peter Kozlowski. Doctor Kozlowski is known and he’s just released his book – Unfunc Your Gut. Which I’ve read, as you can see. I don’t have any guess on that I haven’t read their books. Doc Koz, thank you for joining us today on the Impact podcast. It’s just a joy to have you on.
Peter Kozlowski: It’s an honor to be here and I’m very, very grateful. Thank you.
John: Well, you know Doc, I know you through some common friends of ours. My business partner has spoken so highly of you for years and I already feel like I know you but I really felt like I got to know you more after I read your book. But before we get talking about your functional medicine, practice, and all the great work you’ve done and your new book here, Unfunc Your Gut. Can you share a little bit about your back story? How did you even and why you even became a doctor? Not only just a doctor but one that specializes in functional medicine.
Peter: Yes, yes. I would have never guessed. Even when I started my residency, I would have never guessed. But yes, my story starts with my parents, I’d say. Like most of us. But my parents are both doctors and they were both doctors in Poland and they moved just due to the political climate there. They moved to the United States. Seven months before I was born. So I was born a first-generation American. And that’s a big part of my story, it’s just, what it’s like growing up being a first-generation American. But my whole life and then my grandfather was a doctor, my aunts are doctors. So there are all types of doctors in my family.
I never really wanted to… I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. When I went to college, I went to Arizona State for undergrad. I basically went there to party. I started as a pre-med student. But my chemistry class, my freshman year was Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 8:30 in the morning and I could never make it on Fridays because Thursday was our big night to go out. So pretty much all my friends were in business school. So I said, “You know what, I’m going to do business school so I don’t have to go to class on Fridays.” So when I was 18, that’s where my priorities were at. And that kind of led me down a road that people would uncover my book of recovery. So I ended up just dealing with my mental-emotional, spiritual health through alcohol. Through being a first-generation American. I created trauma in my own body from just never feeling good enough. From never feeling like I wanted to fit in. Or never feeling like I fit in.
And so I created this discomfort in my body and it was always taken away with alcohol. So I got my degree in Economics and Psychology. It’s what I studied as an undergrad and I had an internship that’s my summer, like between sophomore and junior year and then junior and senior year working in subprime lending. And there were tons of dollar figures in that business at that time and that’s what I wanted to do. And my parents wouldn’t let me. They’re like, “Listen, you need to go get more education.” Like, “This is a business that is no good.” It’s not going to survive. “Get more education.” I had no idea what I wanted to do.
So during my senior year of college, my best friend came back from spring break and was just feeling unwell. She’s like, “I don’t feel good, I’m sick, I have a rash.” “I don’t know what’s going on with me.” Over the course of two months, she got diagnosed with lupus. And the most aggressive form of lupus I’ve ever seen because she passed away one week after our graduation. So little, it was around two months from diagnosis to her passing. So that to me, kind of was like, the biggest thing I felt was helpless during her whole situation. I borrowed my mom’s medical books and I was trying to read about what lupus is. I had no idea.
But there’s nothing I could do, and that to me I guess inspired me to think about going back into medicine. At that point, I had already committed. My dad’s idea was for me to learn Spanish and so I had committed. I bought a one-way ticket to Barcelona, Spain. And after I graduated, I flew out to Spain and studied Spanish. Did all types of odd jobs, played on a semi-professional Rugby team. The best year of my life. While I was there, I started applying to pre-medical post bachelorette programs. Which are basically, you just do the science classes that you didn’t take during undergrad because I didn’t take science in my business training.
John: And Doc, you already had started recovery by then? Or this was…
John: No, not yet. Okay. I just want to understand the timeline.
Peter: No, I was definitely…I mean in Barcelona I worked in a bar.
John: I got you.
Peter: Barcelona. Working in a bar is a good place to work on your alcohol as well.
John: By the way, It’s also hanging out with other addicts. Perfect bunch.
Peter: Right. Exactly. So I went back. While I was there, I got into some pre-medical post-bachelor programs and I went into that. And I mean, I went from being a bartender in Barcelona to being in pre-med classes with like 18 year-olds at NYU and it was quite a culture shock, to say the least. I made it through. Took my medical, the MCAT. Applied to all the best medical schools and didn’t get into any of them. Just rejection after rejection and I was just like, “This is crazy.” So I got this book from, I think it was US news. The best medical schools in the country and the back was a section about Caribbean Medical Schools. So I looked at it. I was like, “What is this? ” And basically, it’s all-American students. I mean, over 95% of the class are kids from the United States or adults and the rest are from Canada. But you spend two years on the island which I chose the school in St. Martin. So lived there for two years which is also a great place to keep going without a drinking career and also medical schools. A great place to meet other addicts. I’d say as well.
And so I went to Caribbean Medical School. The first two years were on the island. The second two years were back in the U.S. working at hospitals around the country. With traditional medical students taking all the licensing exams and then applying for residency. And I got into a family practice residency. And it’s still at this point, In my whole thinking was just traditional medicine. I’m going to follow everything that I learn in school and not think outside the box.
And I also at this point thought I had it all figured out. I was just…I wasn’t a mean person, but I wasn’t…all I really cared about was myself, I think. And at the end of the day, that’s how I made the kind of most my decisions was just what was best for me always. Very egotistical. And when I got into residency as part of my medical license, I have had a DUI in my history and so I got into this monitoring program. To have a medical license, I had to do drug screens every week and they basically are like, “You can’t drink anymore.” And I had never tried to not drink and I wasn’t a daily drinker. I was a weekend drinker. I kind of had the attitude of getting my work done and then play hard, party hard is what I did. No suddenly. It was just overnight all of a sudden. You can’t drink and I had been partying since I was 14. I just had no idea how to deal with life. And so eventually it got to the point where I “relapsed”, I wouldn’t call it really a relapse because I never really tried to get sober. But it was looked at like that and I was recommended to go to treatment. So I had to take six weeks off of my intern year of residency to go to treatment. And that changed my life, obviously, in a lot of ways. But more than anything, it got me to functional medicine as well as for a career. Because treatment for my alcoholism wasn’t about the alcohol. It was about life and how to manage life. And there was nothing about alcohol. So I was so confused. I was there with all these other professionals and I mean, I just, I was so confused. None of it. I thought an alcoholic was a guy under the bridge and these are all successful people around me. I’m like, “What is going on here?”
John: Very high function. Very successful folks.
Peter: Right. Right. And so when I got back from treatment and went back to work at my residency program. There is this one doctor, his name is Doctor Batra, we’re still friends. He was one of our attending doctors and as a resident, you learn from your attendings. As a family practice resident, we would do different rotations every month. So we would do OB one month, outpatient one month, cardiology one month. Every month was different.
And we would do inpatient service. So taking care of hospitalized patients. And every time Doctor Batra came onto our team, he would start every patient on a multivitamin and vitamin D. And we thought it was ridiculous and a joke. And we would make fun of him. And we would be frustrated that we had to write these orders to put people on these supplements because nobody else did it. Nobody talked about it, nobody even considered it.
So one day, we were in the call room. It was 2 a.m. overnight on a Sunday night and I just kind of asked Doctor Batra. Doctor Batra, why are you weird? Why are you different? And he goes, “Well, I’m studying this thing called functional medicine.” and I was like, “What’s that?” So, he showed me the website and it’s all taught basically, outside of Medical School residency. It’s taught. You have to spend your own time and money to learn it, right?
And so there are different conferences and so I went. I signed up for just the general first conference and I was like, “Let me check this out because we had to do some kind of conference.” And from the first hour there, I knew that I could never look at medicine the same way and it was all taught from anatomy, physiology, biochemistry levels. So, this wasn’t, I mean, if you would ask me about alternative medicine, I would have laughed. Like, “That’s made up, that’s not even real.” Like, “They just make stuff up.” And this was all taught just evidence-based and I was just like this. And the other thing that shocked me was that this conference. I mean, I was, I think I’m pretty sure I was the youngest one there because I was still just an intern and in residency. There were cardiologists, ophthalmologists, surgeons. All these people there and I’m like, “What are you guys doing here?” “Why are you wasting the time and money to study this?” And just people I was meeting there were like, “This is the future of medicine.” If you’re here now this is where you should focus your career and so I did. I was just…I mean most of my friends and I think my parents even thought I was nuts. Like, “What you, you know, going to invest this time into this?” and it definitely turned out to be the best thing I ever did. Because I feel like I can actually help people get better.
John: Speaking, you know, when you think back to your best friend in college.
John: Now with what you know today, do you believe if a patient like that – that young, but that sick walked into your office, you’d be able to help them? Maybe even intermediate the very bad ending she had as well.
Peter: I don’t know. I would love to say yes.
John: Of course. Of course.
Peter: The…I mean, the nice thing is, I mean, I’ve worked with multiple patients with lupus that are now in remission. But the reason I say I don’t…I mean, it’s not everybody, and also I just never heard, seen, read anything about a progression that was that fast with that disease. So if we had time, more time, I think we definitely could have got it under control. Now with what I know now. But it’s definitely a blessing to work with people with that diagnosis now and offer them hope.
John: Lupus, if I’m not mistaken is categorized traditionally as part of the autoimmune disease category. With rheumatoid arthritis, MS, and other diseases similar to that. There seems to be a rise of those diseases in the United States, you know. And as you pointed out in your book, there’s a rise in just a lot of the bad things that we do to ourselves. The food abuse that we do and other stress levels that we have. And things of that such. Again, for our listeners and viewers who just tuned in, we’ve got with us today, Doctor Peter Kozlowski is known as Doctor Koz. You could find him at www.doc-koz.com. He also has his new book which I’ve read. We’re going to go into it now, Unfunc Your Gut. And you can find this in great bookstores around the world but also on amazon.com and other great online opportunities to purchase great books like this.
You know, Doc Koz, just a little background on myself. I’ve been a vegetarian since I’m 17. I’m 58 now. So that makes it about 41 years in about a vegan 14, or 13, or 14 years mostly plant-based eating. But I found your book so helpful because it spoke to me in so many ways in terms of stress, in terms of stomach issues that I’ve had no matter how clean I eat. There’s so much, other things that go into good health and also for health and bad outcomes and eating poorly at the wrong time and putting ourselves in a position to fail.
Talk a little bit about, first, your practice. Do people who have traditional doctors come to see you? Or they come to see you while they’re still semi-well and their bucket of illness you put in the bucket of problems. As you put in, the book isn’t filled yet and they just want to evolve and get better. And avoid catastrophe. Or do they come in when they’re fully broken down or on the way to breaking down? What or do you see a whole spectrum of patients in your practice?
Peter: It’s a great question. 99% of people that come into me are broken down. And I’m their last resort. They’ve been to Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, the major University Hospitals and they are just not getting any better. Which is the worst time to see a functional medicine doctor. I always try to tell people when I get the question, “When should I come to see you?” And because I don’t have any symptoms. So why would I spend time seeing you?
That’s the best time because functional medicine at its core really should be preventative medicine. Usually people, and I know this from my own recovery. Won’t really get drastic until they’ve kind of hit their bottom, right? And so, to make significant changes as we make with people whether it’s with diet, lifestyle, supplements, etcetera. Usually, people have to be at their most recent bottom, right? And so that’s the majority of people. I would love to work with more preventive medicine. People don’t know about it, right? People don’t know that functional medicine exists. You go to your traditional family practice doctor once a year. They don’t talk to you about gut health. They don’t talk to you about toxins. They don’t talk to you about your diet unless you probably have diabetes. And this is all the stuff that we can work on to prevent the disease from happening in the future.
John: So interesting. So people come to your last resort and they come to you with all sorts of issues. Not only gut issues, but they come to you with obviously. Then the outcomes from their gut issues. And so you have to unravel both. You’re trying to help them get back into some sort of equilibrium in terms of their gut health. Which will then hopefully, on some form of…I don’t want to say, cure. But, an evolution of their symptoms from their previous poor gut health will start to unravel and hopefully fully unwind at some point.
Peter: Exactly. Talk a little bit about how bad are we? I mean, in terms of gut health in America today. Of course, this would apply to our listeners and viewers around the world but I have, I mean, including myself. So I’m not going to put myself out of this. A love-hate relationship with my digestive system.
And as you said, it starts in the mouth. As you point out in the book, it ends at the very back, our rectum and the backside. Even though I “clean” historically and don’t drink alcohol and don’t eat meat or other…and try to shy away from sugar. I have not been immune from gut issues which then create a whole host of other symptoms in my body.
And as you point out in the book – the worst thing that any of us could do…you had a great quote in there. I can remember the quote right now. But, and I’m guilty of this myself instead of going to a doctor or calling someone like you, the first thing that’s so many of us do, is we go to Doctor Google. And just totally freak ourselves out which then spins us in a wholly different…as you said something in the book when you want to really look up the symptoms that you have online, put down the computer and meditate. Meditate and practice good breathing and stuff of that nature. Which I found so on-point. Just for me, I’m guilty of all the things you point out in the book yourself and stress levels and everything else. And by the way, travel is also has been really… there’s nothing I’ve read, but I just know airplane, historically, pre-pandemic I travel 200 days a year and planes were not good for gut health. Ever.
Talk a little bit about why you decided to write this great book. I mean, obviously, I read it and I marked it all up because there are so many areas that I wanted to talk to you about. We won’t get to the mall today. But there are so many areas that struck me. Unfuc Your Gut. So you have this wonderful practice. What was the Epiphany that, “I better write a book and put this down into a book.” Because… fill out the because.
Peter: Yes. I think that it’s… I mean, I always had a dream of writing a book, so it was just always in the back of my mind and I think the time just happened where I worked with enough patients that I felt confident to be able to write it. I think that there’s a lot of misconceptions out there about our health and gut health. And a lot of things that are kind of misunderstood that I wanted to help clear up through my experience of working with patients. For example, chapter 7 is just about SIBOS – Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth.
The majority of people, majority of doctors aren’t even familiar with this condition. It’s the most common thing that I see when I’m working with gut health. And one of the worst things about it is that if you tell a friend or something that you have gut issues, they’re going to tell you to eat more fiber and take a probiotic. Those are the worst things you can do for SIBO, right?
So, to me, I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen better just from changing their diet a little bit and stopping their probiotics, right? If they have SIBO. So things like that I wanted to get out. In traditional medicine, everybody’s told that they have too much stomach acid. If you walk into a pharmacy, there’s an entire aisle of acid-blocking drugs. When you block your acid, you block your digestion, you block your ability to absorb vitamins and minerals. So even if your diet is fantastic, if you’re taking an acid blocker, you’re not going to be getting the nutrition you need. So we actually test which I explained in the book about how to test yourself for low stomach acid.
The microbiome, right? And kind of what you were saying. Things are getting so much worse and a quote that I always like. Hippocrates, a few thousand years ago, said, “All disease begins in the gut.” And what I always tell my patients is basically since he said that everything we’ve done is damaging to their gut. It’s the changes to our food supply, the changes to our environment, all the medications, the antibiotics. All of this stuff is destroying our guts and not everybody who has a gut is destroyed. Let’s say, is going to present with the disease, right? One person can have gut issues for three months and end up with an autoimmune disease, and the other person might have them their entire life and never know they had it.
So that’s where I use that bucket analogy. Where we fill our bucket with stress toxins, bad food, and eventually that bucket overflows into disease. And then the biggest point I wanted to make in my book is that the key to gut health is mental-emotional, spiritual health. And I learned that from my own recovery and learning that…I would have never guessed that was even an issue for me. Like before I went to treatment, I would have told you, I was perfect. I did tell my counselors. I was like, “I don’t need to be here.” “I’m only here because I have to.” And then it turned out that I had all this stuff I needed to unravel and still unraveling. So, the key to gut health is our mental-emotional, spiritual health. And from a science perspective, it’s because your gut and brain are connected. Your gut talks to your brain, your brain talks to your gut in a loop. There’s a nerve called the vagus nerve that runs from the brain to the gut. It also goes to the heart and lungs. That nerve runs on our autonomic nervous system. Our automatic nervous system.
So you don’t know it, right? It’s not like you’re nervous. So you’re turning that system on or off. It’s just constantly working. That nervous system has two branches -sympathetic and parasympathetic. And that is either fight or flight. Or rest and digest. So now that I live in Montana, the example I use in sympathetic responses is your hiking in the mountains and you have to run away from a bear. The blood is not going to go to your gut, the blood and energy are going to go to your brain and muscles to escape.
Peter: When you sit by the campfire, at the end of the night, and have a meal. That’s when you’re relaxed and in rest and digest.
People are living as if they’re running from a bear 24/7, right? We wake up. We go straight to our phones and see our emails and texts. And right away, the sympathetic nervous system is activated. And then it just gets worse for most of us throughout the day.
For many people that I’ve worked with, they don’t know it, but that’s damaging their gut. Being stressed out. Even if you’re not having bloating or diarrhea or abdominal pain. You’re not digesting your food. You’re shutting down your gut bacteria from growing. Your whole gut falls apart and the gut is the gateway into your body. It is a barrier. One of the most interesting things about the gut to me is that the inside of your gut is actually considered outside of your body. So it’s a long tube that runs through us. And the main job of that tube is really to decide what comes into our body and what stays out.
So I worked with so many people over the years with the same condition. Whether they have SIBO or candida or some other gut issue or food issue, and you could take 50 people. And 25 get better, and 25 don’t. And so, me, as a perfectionist, the only ones that I remember are the people that don’t get better. And the overlying theme, what I’ve found is that usually, it is the mental-emotional and spiritual.
Peter: I have people that are willing to do whatever diet. Not eat for weeks at a time. Takes whatever supplements, or whatever tasks. But, when I ask them to look at themselves, huge red flags go up, huge stop signs, and they don’t want to do it. And I get it because it hurts, it’s uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s still active. I mean, for a lot of us, it’s stuff that happened to us as a kid. But for many people I work with, it’s active relationships with family, etc. So it’s just really difficult to look at.
And what I really want people to understand is that your gut health is very easy to address. If you’re working with a functional medicine doctor. There’s good testing to diagnose what’s going on. But the most important thing that you can be doing is making your mental-emotional, spiritual health the focus of your health.
John: So interesting. You know, I’m guilty also of that too. I mean, look at the phone first thing and then the whole day is off to the races. And weekends, nothing ever stops. We live in this continuous loop of more is better. More text messages, more emails, more “productivity”. But, at what cost?
Peter: The cost is our gut health. A lot of people end up with autoimmune diseases or other chronic diseases.
John: You point out in the book and you made a lot of great points about holistically approaching in terms of breath work, potentially meditation, Bikram Yoga, and other ways of letting go. Including digital sabbaticals and things that such.
So, I mean, so it’s not just gut health and unfunc-king your gut. Isn’t just about the elimination of food and other items or abstaining or intermittent fasting. It truly has a lot to do with everything else that we do. Functionally speaking, therefore, functional medicine is what you’re doing.
Peter: Yes. I mean if you sum it up really well and it just kind of spurred a thought. Another point that I try to make is that with eliminating the foods, there’s a lot of very strict diets out there and they’re not the best for everyone, right? Like you mentioned you’re vegetarian. Vegan. And that’s a great diet for you.
Peter: On the internet, you can get convinced by your favorite social media celebrities that the paleo diet is the best. The keto diet is the best, the Mediterranean is the best diet. It might be for many people, but it might not be for you.
And what I try to tell people is, the worst diet for you is the one that’s causing you the most stress. And so, even if veganism is great for you, if it stresses me out to be vegan, then that diets not going to help. Because then again I’m activating that sympathetic nervous response and it doesn’t matter what I’m eating. I’m not going to get healthy.
Peter: What the internet, I mean, I obviously make fun of it quite a bit in the book. But, functional medicine wouldn’t exist without the internet, right? If people get, you know, or grew up getting these diagnoses spending five, ten minutes with their doctor, getting a prescription going home, and just being on that for the rest of their life. So they needed more meds. Now, you can go home and say, “Oh, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis!” And then, there’s all types of information out there about what people have done to heal.
So it’s definitely…I call the internet a blessing and a curse. My practice exists because people are searching for answers. But at the other side of it, I’ve just seen so many people that make themselves sick. Like, literally will be sick because they’re constantly worried about what could be wrong with them and you can go down any rabbit hole you want. So if you want to convince yourself that bananas are the worst thing for you. You can probably find somewhere someone that’s written something about the negative effects of bananas, right? Or if you want to convince yourself that a carnivore diet, just eating meat is the best diet for you. You can find that information as well.
So I just encourage people to find a practitioner that they can trust. And once you have that person, let go of the searching.
John: I love it. Doc, how is…in a world getting through and I’m starting to get on the other side of this tragic COVID-19. Prices[?] that stripped the world for the last 19 or so months. How is that change your practice, your view on medicine? The gaps that exist and how will your practice evolve post-pandemic with the lessons you’ve learned during these last 19 or so months.
Peter: Yes, that’s a great question. I’d say, the biggest thing I had changed in my practice personally is I now live in Bozeman, Montana. And I’m from shoot downtown Chicago, Illinois. And that’s where I lived and practiced. And a year and a half ago, living in a small town being a functional medicine practice. I don’t know that I would have survived because there’s just that people don’t know about it enough.
Whereas now I can live in Montana and work in Illinois. So, it’s amazing. A funny story to me is that I have an email from the publisher of my book from last February and she was traveling in India at the time of our first visit, er, our first appointment. And she emailed me and she’s like, “Okay, we’ll meet on Zoom.” And I replied and I go, “I don’t know what that is, but I’ll figure it out.” And that was last February and now I live on Zoom. So it’s just amazing how that changed. And that was what I learned is that I can do my job pretty much just as well as in person. I mean, I really prefer working in person with people.
Peter: But we’re still getting the same kind of outcomes. I mean, we’ve got a year and a half now of seeing patients this way and we’re still getting great outcomes. So it’s still doable. It’s just a little different.
John: Did the move also inform you that your practice can be even bigger than you originally envisioned in just downtown Chicago? Really because under those conditions, as of someone who’s getting great outcomes and still doing it over Zoom, but sitting in Bozeman, now. You could literally have clients from Paris to Shanghai to Beverly Hills and everywhere in between and simply get similar outcomes.
So really geography doesn’t really matter as much as it did historically. Is that part of? Also, lessons learned?
Peter: Absolutely. And the biggest problem with that is that you still have to get a license. Medical license in each state. So until I get licenses in other states, I couldn’t work with people in other states. So I know, from what I’ve heard, there’s been a lot of discussions politically about making just a nationwide medical license.
I think that this pandemic has taught us that that makes a whole lot of sense. But I don’t know the politics of that and how realistic that is.
John: So right now it’s more constrained to Montana and Illinois?
Peter: Because that’s where I have my license.
John: I got it. One thing, another thing out of many, many things I love about your book is you not only talk about problems. How they manifest and then what some of the results are. You gave great examples of case studies, of unwinding some of the problems and addressing some of the problems. But then in the back, what you also gave is a solution. Not only solutions to the problems but in terms of diet. You gave great recipes and things that people can… Really great stuff. I read all the recipes and they all sounded beyond delicious.
Talk a little bit about fixing our diet. And how, as you point out – it’s people get into this thing. All meat or nothing.
John: All vegan. Plant-based or nothing. And we get stuck in these ideological loops that we think that if we break out or we veer a little bit off. Or enjoy a meal that someone’s grandmother cooked for us that wasn’t towards the diet that Kim Kardashian or Joe Rogan or somebody else some other influencers eating. That it’s going to be ultimately a disaster for us. Explain about opening ourselves up to foods that could be beneficial, but also as you say, in the book. Not getting stuck on the latest trend, the latest fad, the latest thing.
Peter: So, my favorite part about the recipes in the book is that actually one of my patients wrote those recipes. And it’s a woman that had rheumatoid arthritis that she’s been in remission for 6 years now. But she was a chef. So, when I started writing my book, I just wanted my book to be different than the rest of the functional medicine books out there. And that to me just kind of added a fun twist to it.
And she even wrote a little blurb in there about what it was like. What symptoms she had, what it was like to schedule a visit, come in for the visit, how she felt leaving the visit. So I just appreciate that part of the recipes and they are also pretty good, I think.
Yes, in regards to the diet, I think that a lot of people are just trying too hard, right? We just want to be perfect and follow the diet that sounds like this is going to be the best. And that’s fine if you can be perfect and it doesn’t stress you out, right? If you can be a perfect raw vegan and it doesn’t cause you any stress in eating that way, then that’s the right diet for you.
But if it’s stressing you out to figure out what to eat, how to prepare it, etc. It’s not going to be helpful. And if I could just give one dietary piece of advice to people. It’s to eat nine to twelve servings of vegetables and fruit a day.
A serving is about 1/2 cup cooked or a full cup raw as a serving. In the standard American diet, no vegetables for breakfast, right? It’s pancakes, it’s breakfast sandwiches, it’s cereal oatmeal. I don’t know. Oatmeal, I guess you could put some fruit in it. But, we start with no vegetables. Lunch, if you’re eating the standard American diet, it’s chicken sandwich, burgers, sub sandwiches with iceberg lettuce which is the one vegetable that has no nutritional value.
And so we’re two meals into the day and we haven’t eaten any vegetables and fruit. And the more research that comes out, they’re finding different micronutrients that are found in the different colors of food. So another thing to do and we frequently do this with kids, but we work with adults too. You should look at your plate and there should be all the colors of the rainbow on your plate. And if they’re not, then your meal is probably not nutritious enough. And for example, if you go to your favorite McDonald’s, Burger King, or whatever, the food is pretty much just brown and yellow, right?
I don’t count the ketchup and the pickle as colors in that example. So if you eat nine to twelve servings of vegetables and fruit, you don’t have room for the other junk, right? So you’re going to be satisfied without eating crap. So that to me and I mean over and over again, I just try to help people keep things simple and not overcomplicate things. And that’s one way that I found it just to be easy…it’s not an easy switch, but it’s a simple switch that people can understand and make.
John: You talked about supplements in the book. And I’ve been guilty myself of engaging and I want to say, dabbling in various supplements or the latest trend. But the one supplement that I never give up is a multivitamin and vitamin D every day. Or two vitamin D’s depending on how I’m feeling.
Talk about what your go-to are, your go-to supplements are. For those who want to try to at least fill any gaps that they might have in their system.
Peter: That’s exactly it. Multivitamin, vitamin D, and maybe a fish oil. But when it comes to fish oil, you have to look at the EPA DHA concentration of your Omega. The Omegas are great for brain health, heart health. Vitamin D, we’re pretty much all deficient in it unless you’re supplementing it.
My first practice, I mean, I’m from Chicago. And when I first started practicing. I actually open a practice in Florida. And in Florida, I thought everybody’s vitamin D would be good there, right?
Peter: Nobody had sufficient vitamin D unless they were supplementing it. Didn’t matter how much time they were spending in the sun. So, yes, people think that I’m going to be putting them on a whole laundry list of supplements. But in the majority of my patients were usually working to get them off of their supplements.
John: Got it. I got it. Doc, this has been great. Are there any final thoughts that you want to talk about before I let you go today? Again, for our listeners and viewers. This book is Unfunc Your Gut. Any final thoughts or takeaways that you want our viewers or listeners to come away with before we have to say goodbye for today?
Peter: Stay in the present moment, right? And that there’s a quote from Chris Herren, page 137 that I love. Yes, there’s…
John: Explain what you mean.
Peter: Yes. There’s a philosopher who said, “Anxiety is worrying about the future. Depression is worrying about the past.” So what’s the treatment? The present moment, right?
And that’s not how we live. We are constantly worrying about the next meeting. We have the next e-mail, we have to respond to the next patient I’m going to see or there’s someone in recovery. I mean, I can look back and just get really down about a lot of mistakes that I’ve made in the past. Right? And all of that goes away when I just focus on what’s in front of me, Right? And that would heal so many people if we could just stay in the present moment and it sounds like something so easy but it’s so difficult.
Peter: It is a difficult thing to accomplish.
John: Right. Also, you made a great point in the book. I want to point out that part of why you enjoy being you. And what your practice is, as you said, when you are helping others, you really…everything else fades. Fades out a little bit.
Peter: Yes. And that’s something I learned from recovery. I see relate to in my patients that are in recovery. It’s like, we’re never worried about ourselves, we’re worried about somebody else, right? So helping people is, I mean, in recovery, it’s the 12 – step. But just in life, it’s the best way to get out of our own hats because…
John: You said, be of service.
Peter: Right. [crosstalk] The worst place to be.
John: Right. But that’s so wonderful. It’s a great message for all of us. Just to be of service. Because it not only makes the world a better place but it also just makes us better functioning people. It’s really wonderful. Doc, this has just been tremendous. I can’t wait to meet you in person. I felt like I’d known you already for years because of our common friend, Brendan.
For our listeners and our viewers, if you want to find Doctor Koz, if you want to go to him. He said he could work with you now over Zoom. If you’re in Montana, Illinois, you can go to www.doc-koz.com or buy also his book, Unfunc Your Gut. Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble. Other great bookstores around the world. It’s a wonderful book. I’ve read it from front to back. So much to learn here. I learned a ton. I’m going to change around some things I’m doing myself because of you, Doc. Doc, thanks for not only making us healthier people. For making the world a better place. Everything you do is going to that. And you’re making huge impacts. And I’m just grateful for you spending time with us today. Grateful for you writing this great book.
Peter: Thank you so much.
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