Living a plant-forward lifestyle is something that Dr. Katherine Wehri Takayasu, M.D., M.B.A. (aka Dr. Katie) ,not only preaches, but also practices.
“Food truly is medicine, and it either helps bring us toward our goals or away from them,” says Dr. Katie, who practices integrative medicine with Stamford Health, serving patients both virtually and in-person at her offices in the Tully Center in Stamford. Her practice combines traditional Western medicine with acupuncture, mind-body medicine, supplements, nutrition and lifestyle optimization. “Every single thing that we put into our body is informing it of what we want it to do. Just like a car, if we want it to operate at maximum capacity, we need to give it premium gasoline.”
While Dr. Katie’s new book, Plants First, releases this month and is based on her medical knowledge, it is written from a uniquely authentic place. In the first chapter, she delves deep as she details her past battles with weight, body shame, mental health, sleep issues, infertility and managing chronic pain. Overweight and on a diet for many of her early years, Dr. Katie says she never felt truly comfortable in her own skin. Her struggles continued throughout medical school and residency and eventually began to impact her mental health, leaving her depleted, anxious and depressed. Dr. Katie’s then boyfriend (now husband) convinced her to try a yoga class one evening, and she quickly found herself feeling better than she had in months. It was then that she knew it was time to make some real changes. As she increased her workout routine over time and balanced her nutritional needs, Dr. Katie says she began to notice all of her ailments easing.
“It takes about two to three months of consistent efforts—not to be confused with perfection—to notice biochemical changes, which means your body righting the wrongs,” she explains.
Dr. Katie stands by massive amounts of research that proves that plants are the most nutrient dense foods to heal and fuel the body. When it comes to the way that the body responds, between the balance of fullness and nutrition, choosing plants is always going to be the most efficient and effective choice. Dr. Katie sees herself as a “co-healer” in wellness and aims to take into consideration the different ways that her patients really want to live their lives. Thus, her holistic approach focuses on the entire mind/body/spirit connection.
A plant-based diet can aid in healing of hormonal imbalances, inflammation and numerous other medical issues, she stressed. Eating the wrong foods can negatively impact both our physical and emotional health and by listening to what Dr. Katie calls our “wellness intuition,” we can learn to understand what feels good and start to honor it. We can all fall prey to patterns of all or nothing when it comes to diet and exercise, which tend to leave us exhausted and burned out leading to unhealthy decisions, she says. By learning to listen to our “wellness intuition” we can move more smoothly toward a lifestyle of moderation.
“You’re only as far away from wellness as your next choice,” reminds Dr. Katie. Speaking of choices, in addition to her book, Dr. Katie has also developed a detox program that is available in both five-day and 10-day resets with optional meal delivery and the goal of refreshing both our brains and bodies. For more information or to purchase the Dr. Katie Detox, visit drkatie.com/dr-katie-detox. Plants First will be available for purchase beginning on November 9 at Barrett Bookstore in Darien or on drkatie.com/plantsfirstmag.
Six tips to keep your health in check as you hit the holiday celebrations
Save room for dessert
Have Grandma’s decadent apple crumble pie or the rich sweet potato casserole with marshmallow topping. Enjoy it. Savor every bite. And then move on with your life knowing that you had exactly what your heart wanted.
Don’t drink too much water when eating
Dr. Katie recommends drinking most of your water in between meals, early in the day. Too much water at meals dilutes stomach acid and digestive power and leads to excess bloating.
Savor your ONE glass of wine or cocktail
Women’s livers can only tolerate one alcoholic drink a day, and more than that leads to poor sleep, hot flashes and weight gain, Dr. Katie says. “I know I sip my one drink so much differently if I know there’s not another one coming around the bend.”
Don’t over-exercise the day after to make up for your indiscretions
“I’m a proponent of working out at a level of 6/10 on the expenditure scale,” she says. “Super intense workouts where you are completely out of breath and dripping sweat release stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine that make it even tougher to manage blood sugar and energy because it sends the body into a state of stress.”
Take a walk within two hours of a meal
Studies are conclusive that movement after a meal enhances blood sugar metabolism, reduces insulin secretion and decreases weight gain. “At my Thanksgiving, we all takea nature walk in the woods behind my house,” Dr. Katie says.
Eat “linner” with an intermittent fast
If you want to dip your toe into intermittent fasting, instead of skipping breakfast and eating all of your calories late in the day, consider an earlier dinner instead. “One of my favorite Sunday traditions is a 3:30 p.m. family dinner, which allows me a 16+ hour fast until breakfast on Monday morning,” she says.
SPICED APPLE & GINGER TODDY
Cozy up and detox with Dr. Katie’s good-for-the gut non-alcoholic hot holiday drink of choice
1 bag honeybush, hibiscus, or turmeric tea
1 cup hot water
1 to 2 tablespoons unfiltered apple cider vinegar
Juice of ½ lemon
4 shakes ground cinnamon
2 shakes ground nutmeg
2 shakes ginger powder
Drizzle of honey
1 apple slice or lemon wedge
1 cinnamon stick
Using a 12-ounce cup, steep the tea according to the package directions, keeping the cup covered to retain heat if you’re serving a hot toddy. Add the remaining ingredients to the cup and stir. Garnish with an apple slice or lemon wedge and a cinnamon stick.