I would like to start with your journey from South Africa to the USA... Can you tell us about this journey?
After receiving my basic education in South Africa, where I was born and raised, I worked in a clinic for almost two years. During this process, I had the opportunity to meet and spend time with the traditional healers of South Africa, called "sangoma". I learned about alternative methods other than western treatment methods. They inspired me a lot. I came to the USA in 1984 and started working at Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx, New York. The hospital's rehabilitation center immediately caught my attention; Here, they treated patients with methods from Chinese medicine and practices such as acupuncture. The positive response of the patients to acupuncture made me realize the potential of eastern and far eastern treatment methods.
Throughout my education life, I was told that I should focus on the disease rather than the patient, so at the beginning of my career as a doctor, I listened to the symptoms, not the basis of the disease, and carried out my treatments in this direction. However, being dissatisfied with the temporary results of this type of treatment, I embarked on a journey in search of a formula for a permanent healthy life. I received training on nutrition, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, functional medicine, herbal medicine, meditation, biofeedback and yoga. And finally, I brought them all together in my own clinic.
Eleven Eleven Wellness Center has been building bridges between different treatment methods for years. What path does the clinic follow?
Eleven I founded the Eleven Wellness Center in Manhattan in 1992; It was one of the first clinics to offer alternative treatment methods. Here, we bring together Western treatment methods with Eastern and alternative methods, and we proceed by discovering the right formula for each patient so that the body, soul and mind can be healthy together. Our experienced and highly successful practitioners are instrumental in moving Eleven Eleven Wellness Center to a different point. I should mention that I also have a lot of patients from Turkey.
What treatment methods are used in the centre?
We have consultants working to get to the root of the disease. When deemed necessary, they create a special nutrition plan for the patient, supplementary foods can be given, or they initiate changes in the patient's lifestyle. However, we offer intensive anti-aging treatments. We also have body-focused practitioners, such as our nutritionists and acupuncturists.
Can you talk about the concept you call "Good Medicine", which is also applied in your clinic?
This is a method where East/West synthesis treatment methods and practices meet, and its focus is to get to the root of the disease. The main thing to do is to understand why the patient has this disease, what factors cause this disease, and to deal with these factors with the right methods; suppressing symptoms with medication and not ignoring the underlying triggering cause until it relapses again.
So what is your general opinion about Western treatment methods?
Western treatment methods are ideal for acute patients, what I call crisis care. For example, these techniques work great when you have a heart attack, pneumonia, or break a bone. However, when it comes to chronic diseases, these methods cannot be said to give permanent results. Therefore, I personally do not hesitate to resort to western treatment methods when necessary, and to use alternative treatment methods when it is insufficient.
You determine the ideal treatment by listening to the patient. Can you talk a little bit about this process?
I take care of each patient personally. I listen to their stories, what happened to them in the past, and the symptoms they are complaining about. Everyone knows their own body best, and starting from this, we make progress not only by looking at the test results, but also by observing how they feel at every stage.
You cannot follow a fixed procedure because you have to pay special attention to each of your patients. Is this a compelling factor?
Definitely not. I've been practicing medicine for 40 years, so now I can predict what's appropriate for patients. Although we go for a special treatment process for each person, some patients may have similar symptoms, and if the conditions are suitable, we can quickly put the treatment into practice.
As a doctor who is always open to alternatives, do you give a chance to new methods and trends that are frequently on the agenda in the medical world?
Of course. I regularly review new methods and trends. After these methods are validated and approved by scientific studies, I start trials.
When it comes to healthy living, we are more aware than ever before because of Covid-19 that proper nutrition is extremely critical. Despite this, what nutritional mistakes are most common in line with your observations?
Definite excessive consumption of carbohydrates. Discomforts due to excessive carbohydrate consumption, which I observed especially in my middle and elderly patients. Although consuming more carbohydrates than your metabolism can handle does not always cause obesity, it can pave the way for different ailments.
You are also very strict about sugar consumption. Can you talk about the symptoms that many people experience but are unaware of due to carbohydrate and sugar consumption?
The rate of sugar and carbohydrates that the metabolism can easily digest changes with age, first of all it is necessary to be aware of this. Therefore, the rate of carbohydrates consumed should decrease with age. Apart from this, some signals given by the body that people do not find strange may actually be symptoms that occur due to carbohydrate and sugar consumption. These include drowsiness after a meal, trouble focusing, itching, constant hunger or the desire to consume sweets. If you cut out sugar and carbs, the symptoms will also go away. Even reducing it provides relief from chronic ailments; hypertension, obesity and diabetes are just a few of them.
How can we tell if we are consuming more sugar and carbohydrates than necessary?
It may be helpful to ask yourself these five questions; Do you gain weight from the middle part of your body and face? Do you have difficulty in controlling the carbohydrate and sugar density of the foods you consume or in consuming them in a controlled manner? Do you tend to consume carbohydrates and sugar when you are unhappy or depressed? If you don't eat every three or four hours, do you have irritability and trembling in your hands? Does your energy go up or down significantly during the day?
If the answer to these questions is yes, how should we proceed?
You probably need to cut back on the sugar and carbohydrates you consume. There are different ways to measure your intolerance, one of them is the hemoglobin A1c test; If the result of this test is above 5.4, it means you need to be careful. However, if there is no problem with blood sugar or the values of the test I just mentioned, if other health values such as blood pressure or triglycerides are above normal, this may again indicate that the body is having a problem because it is busy with insulin more than it can handle.
Compared to as little as five years ago, many people are now much more conscious, gluten-free, sugar-free; Is there an adaptation process that those who want to switch to this diet should follow?
Abruptly removing sugar and refined carbohydrates from your diet does not pose any health risks. However, it is perfectly normal to feel tired in the first three to seven days.
One of the biggest problems caused by the pandemic process we are in is inactivity. Even if we eat healthy, what kind of problems can the transition from an active life to a sedentary life cause?
Inactivity is definitely a problem, but a short walk is extremely beneficial for the body and mind. We need to shape our expectations according to the situation. People's intense workout routines are now and obviously won't be viable for a while. Walking, stretching, or gardening are exercises we can manage until we return to our “normal” routine.
Going back to normal, continuing to explore the world is what everyone longs for the most. Did you travel often?
Yes, we used to travel a lot before the pandemic. As a matter of fact, my wife and I had a very enjoyable time in Turkey years ago. We took a car ride in Istanbul, Ephesus and then along the coastline, it was really enjoyable.
How to deal with the stress and anxiety created by uncertainty about the future while deprived of all these pleasant moments?
During this period when we take care to stay at home, every day can feel like the same as the next, so spending at least ten minutes in meditation when you wake up will significantly improve the quality of your day. It is very beneficial to start the day with a clean mind and positive energy. In the world, instead of checking the developments in your country frequently and keeping the news channels open all the time, you should check once a day; It reduces the factors that will trigger the anxiety that drags you into stress.
Clear your mind with simple breathing exercises in the middle of the day. Take a walk, even for a short time, by wearing your mask and taking care of social distance, it will definitely be good to get fresh air and spend time in nature that comes alive with the season. Doing things for others can also make you feel good; this may be walking your elderly neighbor's dog, helping with her shopping or having a short chat every day, especially with your loved ones who live alone. Finally, the “ubuntu” philosophy of African culture also contains advice to be inspired in this period; This philosophy, which is based on the sentence "What makes us human is the humanity we show each other"; reminds us of facts such as caring, respect and empathy, perfect for connecting with people at such a time.
In this process, what should we do to keep our immunity strong and our body and mind healthy?
In eight steps, you can have a strong body and a healthy mind.
1-Get a positive perspective. Concepts of social distancing, quarantine or social isolation may be making you feel negative. You have lost the comfort of your normal life, but these concepts are on the agenda to return to that comfort. Remind yourself that you are fighting with everyone, not just for yourself, but for your loved ones, healthcare workers, your country, and even the world.
2-Exercise will increase your mood. According to studies, exercising reduces depression and other negative thoughts. Create a gym routine at home or put on your mask and go for a walk.
3- Meditate regularly. Under the palm trees, the smell of iodine in your nose and the warm grains of sand touching your feet may be the formula for relaxation for you. But since we won't have access to a similar vacation for a while, try to relax by thinking about the good times and the ones you will meet soon.
4-Good sleep is extremely important. For this, stop watching the news a few hours before you go to sleep, you can't get a good sleep when under stress. Engage in activities that relax you before sleep. Finally, take care to sleep at similar times every day, the mind loves stability.
5-A healthy diet routine is vital at this point. Eat plenty of non-starchy vegetables. Prebiotics and probiotics are also extremely necessary for the body. Avoid sugar and flour. If you have difficulty digesting dairy products, reduce them as much as possible. Processed foods should be excluded from your diet. You should also reduce your alcohol consumption, a glass of wine every few days is enough. Finally, make sure that your heaviest meal is at noon, and have a light and balanced diet in the evening.
6-Think of spices and herbs as medicine. Red pepper, coriander, parsley, cinnamon, black pepper, rosemary and turmeric are among the things you should consume frequently.
A unique time for 7-Intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting allows your body to keep insulin levels and blood sugar low, while also engaging fat-burning mode. However, the body takes extra protection during this process; which means it is more resistant to diseases and viruses. What you need to do for intermittent fasting is to eat only for a period of 8-10 hours during the day; having a late breakfast and an early dinner.
8-We need nutritious vitamins and supplements. In addition to vitamins A, C and D, quercetin, zinc, N-Acetyl, cysteine and elderberry are among the supplements you should consume.
As an experienced doctor, what are your implications on Covid-19 and the bodies it is effective in?
If there is one thing that the pandemic has revealed clearly, it is those who have low immunity and do not have a healthy metabolism; that people with obesity, diabetes or heart disease are the ones who get the most from Covid-19.
Rather than the strength of the virus, it is necessary to talk about the weakness of the bodies. Therefore, everyone needs to review their diet and lifestyle-related illnesses to guard against potential future viruses. So, how do you evaluate the way the world is dealing with the virus?
I cannot say that I find it very successful, especially in the USA, there is not a very bright picture.
Focusing on the future, what should governments pay more attention to and invest in after this global health crisis?
Of course, in the healthcare industry. They should also pay more attention to climate change issues. They should get to the root of the problems.
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