Dr. Deanna Minich is an internationally-known nutritionist with a unique approach to holistic health, food and nutrition. She combines the various facets of her background integrating her academic training in medicine with her study of energy work including shamanic healing practices, reiki, yoga and intuition, the results of which have been published in several books through Red Wheel/Weiser/Conari. Through her years of experience, she has uncovered the art and unification of what occurs when food is connected with spirit. Recently, I sat down to speak with Deanna to learn more about her practical applications and work to help people achieve what she describes as …‘bridging the gap between the earthly body of our being and the heavenly essence of our soul.
Kala: Deanna, wonderful to speak with you again. I enjoyed having you as a guest on the Explore Your Spirit with Kala Show where we discussed your book, Chakra Foods for Optimum Health .Today, I’d like to speak with you about your book: Quantum Supplements; A Total Health and Wellness Makeover with Vitamins, Minerals and Herbs. Deanna, what prompted you to write this book?
Deanna: When we think about nourishment, it is important to think about everything that we ingest. Of course, everyone eats food, and with many people wanting to take control of their health, they are also taking dietary supplements in some form or another, whether it’s a daily multi-vitamin, vitamin C tablet, or Echinacea if they feel they are becoming unwell. In addition, an increasing number of health care practitioners are implementing nutritional therapy in their practices, prescribing dietary supplements such as omega-3 oils or probiotics. As a result, there is more awareness about using supplemental nutrients overall.
Kala: How does nutrition affect the chakra system?
Deanna: Everything we do, say, think, and eat impacts our well-being. It is all “information” for the body to digest and transform. We have our physical body, which uses the nutrients from food as energy to live. In the ancient spiritual texts in India, they refer to more subtle aspects of our being – an “energy body” – which will respond to our environment just like our physical body. Our being is wired with paths for this subtle energy to travel on. There are certain places in the body where these “energy highways” coalesce – these intersections are the “chakras” or main energy centers. In Sanskrit, “chakra” means wheel, and, thus, this term is used to refer to the nature of these energy centers – they flux energy in and out of our being. In Western medicine, we might say that they correspond to the major endocrine glands of the body. Essentially, the way that I see chakras is as subtle and symbolic. Each of them connect to a specific aspect of our being: structure, emotions, power, love, authenticity, intuition, and interconnectedness. There is no doubt that food, supplements, and eating hook into each of these aspects of who we are. For example, instead of expressing our emotions, we may stuff them down with food. Instead of telling someone you love them, we may make them a meal. Rather than say what we want to eat, we may let someone else determine what goes in our mouth. Therefore, there are healthy and unhealthy ways to connect foods/nutrients/eating to these aspects.
Kala: How can the vibrational properties of vitamins, minerals and herbs help to balance our body and restore energy?
Deanna: By being in tune with what we need, we can use vitamins, minerals, and herbs to get us into balance. Just like foods, each vitamin, mineral, and herb carries its unique energetic signature. Minerals will be more dense and physical (think of iron, zinc, and calcium), vitamins act as catalysts (B vitamins are used for metabolizing carbohydrates), and herbs contain inherent information for healing (think of the origins of aspirin, white willow bark). I think it is beneficial to tap into supplements as needed. For example, perhaps we are living a stressful life. We are over-committed, over-tasked, and overwhelmed. What may happen is that our physiology begins to “mirror” our surroundings. We may start to feel on overdrive from within – our blood sugar may be erratic, our insulin levels may be overextended. Taking the mineral, chromium, or supplementing with herbs such as extracts from bitter melon and cinnamon, may help to provide the vibration we need to rope ourselves back into balance mode.
Kala: Are supplements enough to bring the body back into balance? For example, the american diet is so full of processed food, can one continue to eat processed food and maintain balance with the use of supplements?
Deanna: I don’t believe in “quick fixes” or “silver bullets”. Supplements are one therapy on a palette of many other options. They are potent substances, but also need the support of healthy, vibrant eating, movement, thinking, and emoting. Without everything else in combination, they may not be as powerful as they truly could be. I believe that the first approach to becoming well and maintaining balance is to look at one’s lifestyle. Are you overworking? Are you passionate about what you do and how you live? If not, perhaps some changes need to be made. Eating nourishing foods will be helpful, and eating them in a mindful, loving way will be even better at assisting one in finding balance. An individual’s surroundings may be so stressful that he or she can eat all the nutrient-dense food they want, but they may need added protection. An example would be living in a polluted city. In this instance, a healthy eating regimen combined with appropriate supplements can be of value.
Kala: There’s a huge debate about vitamins, some say that cold pressed vitamins don’t have much nutritional value. What are your feelings on the best way to absorb nutrients?
Deanna: First of all, I think it’s important to examine the health of the gut. Is your gut in a healthy state? I believe it’s better to start here so you can absorb everything you need to optimally rather than focus on the other way around – find supplements that can be absorbed in an unhealthy gut. There are a number of ways to heal an unhealthy gut – the first is to remove the offending substances that you eat. Find out what you are allergic to by working with a healthcare practitioner. Note that most of your immune system is in the gut, so if you are eating foods that you are allergic to, you will be creating an immune response every time you eat. You may also need to examine whether you are stressed when you eat, whether you eat too much, and if you are eating the proper amount at times that your digestion is robust (like eating a larger meal in the afternoon rather than in late evening before bedtime). Supplements such as pancreatic enzymes, probiotics, and fiber may be important in helping to heal the gut. Regarding absorbing nutrients, make sure you follow the instructions provided on the label. If it states to take with food, it’s probably because it’s a fat-soluble substance or it needs food to facilitate its absorption. There may be other supplements that are best absorbed and used by the body when taken throughout the day rather than in one dose, like calcium. Since we only absorb 20-25% of calcium on average, it is better to take smaller amounts throughout the day rather than one huge pill.
Kala: You’re also the author of: An A to Z Guide to Food Additives: Never Eat What You Can’t Pronounce. Sadly, I think 80 percent of what we see in products in the grocery store contain label descriptions that are difficult to pronounce. Why are our foods filled with such complicated ingredients?
Deanna: Our foods are filled with these “unpronounceables” because the majority of consumers want food to be convenient, cheap, abundant, and good tasting. As a result, the food industry responds to this consumer demand by creating additive-laden foods so they can sit on the shelves longer at a low price. As Michael Pollan has said, “We vote with our fork.”
We need to take the responsibility as consumers to demand high-quality foods by speaking out, and by not supporting the purchase of the lower quality items. We put our energy where our money is. If we want to change, we need to start with our next food purchase, food selection in a restaurant, and, ultimately, with the next bite of food.
I would say that your best bet is to shop the perimeter of the store where there are more fresh foods rather than face the complicated foods in the “guts of the store” that are disguised in cardboard, metal, plastic, and Styrofoam.
Kala: Are there some additives that you’d like to attach a red light to and say Stop! Never eat these?
Deanna: Absolutely! There are some additives that don’t do you any good to eat, and, in fact, may cause deleterious effects when consumed over a long period of time. One of them is TRANS FATS. Trans fats were created by the food industry to stabilize fats in a food. Now we know that they are awful for our cardiovascular system. They increase our bad cholesterol and reduce our good cholesterol, so not a good effect overall. As of 2006, it became the law to list trans fat content on Nutrition Facts Labels. However, if the content of trans fats is less than 0.5 grams, the food manufacturer can list the content of trans fats as zero! Therefore, you need to read the ingredient list, and if you see anything that says “partially hydrogenated” on it, be advised that it most likely has trans fats in it. The other “never” ingredient is ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS. I think that if we are eating a healthy diet, we will find these substances to be too sweet, and they may encourage cravings. Aside from potential cravings, many of them may have side effects, often neurological ones like headaches and dizziness in some people. I would avoid them at all costs!
Kala: Any tips you’d like to share with us on how best to shop and prepare our meals?
Deanna: The best way to shop is to make sure that you are not stressed when you are making food choices. Use the grocery store as a sanctuary. Enter into it in a meditative, purely calm state so that you can listen to what your body truly needs. In preparing your meals, do the same. Ensure that you like your kitchen, that you want to be in it – paint it a color that makes you feel creative. Orange is the color for creativity so that may be a good place to start. Light some candles, play some music, and create your meal. Whether you are shopping, or preparing or eating food, the most important part of all is that you feel your body and soul are nourished.
Kala: Deanna, a pleasure as always. Thanks for taking the time to share information on having a healthier lifestyle!
Deanna: The pleasure is mine! I enjoy getting the word out about healthy eating. If your readers want daily tips, please have them sign up for the “Food and Spirit Facebook Fan Page” or they can sign up for my newsletter via my website at www.foodandspirit.com. Nourishing wishes to all!