A Conversation With David Friedman, Doctor of Naturopathy

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DavidFriedman-Post.jpgDavid Friedman, a former journalism major-turned-chiropractic physician and doctor of naturopathy, spent more than three years developing Chews-4-Health, what he calls the world's "first full spectrum super fruit, sea vegetable, antioxidant chewable dietary supplement." It sounds like a product you might find yourself buying late one night from an infomercial, but it was met with international success, and Friedman will be the first to tell you that weight-loss products aren't the answer. The best ones, he says, are nothing more than a step in the right direction.

In addition to running Chews-4-Health (Friedman followed the release of his flagship product with two other weight-loss chewables), Friedman also serves as a health expert for Lifetime Television and hosts the syndicated radio show "To Your Good Health." Here, he discusses why he thinks each one of us is worth about $45 million, the key to losing weight and keeping it off, and how a trip to the chiropractor after hurting his back put him on the path to becoming a chiropractic physician.

What do you say when people ask you, "What do you do?"

I tell them, "I am a full-time student in an ever-changing world." I am always learning, growing, and striving to help others attain optimal health and become the best they can be. As a chiropractic physician, doctor of naturopathy and former teacher of neurology with post graduate education from Harvard Medical School, I am the first to admit that 50 percent of what I learned in college is obsolete today. The textbook all doctors learn from is called Gray's Anatomy. It is now in its 40th edition. That means the doctors that learned from the first 39 versions were taught outdated information. The recommended daily allowance for vitamins changes every three-five years; a lot of what nutritionists told their patients in 2007 would be the wrong information today. Because we as a nation become more sophisticated regarding food and health every year, even the U.S.D.A. changes their guidelines on dietary recommendations. To stay up to date with this ever-changing world, I remain a full-time student above and beyond my role as a doctor and health expert.

What new idea or innovation is having the most significant impact on how people think about nutrition?

People are finally starting to realize that synthetic vitamins (man-made) are no substitute for whole food nutrition. I'll never forget the day one of my patients told me she didn't need to take any nutritional supplements because she already eats something daily that gave her all the eight essential vitamins and minerals, including riboflavin, niacin, copper, zinc, and vitamin A. After inquiring about what type of food would offer such a wide variety of nutrition, she told me she got all of these important nutrients from her Kellogg's Pop Tarts. Most of the vitamin supplements and enriched foods on the market use chemical nutrients created in a laboratory, and many of these are not good for your health. The Mount Sinai School of Medicine published research showing that vitamin C (ascorbic acid) supplements can cause genetic damage to your DNA. However, natural vitamin C from citrus fruits strengthens your DNA. Research from the American Heart Association published in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that vitamin E supplements cause an increased risk of dying from all causes. However, natural sources of vitamin E, like almonds, spinach, and olives, decrease your risk of dying. People are starting to understand that chemical nutrients created in a lab are no substitute for the health-enhancing powers of nature.

What's something that most people just don't understand about their health?

I think people put too many priorities above taking care of their own body. The Indiana School of Medicine did an interesting analysis on what the human body is actually worth. After analyzing the cost of a lung, heart, kidney, bone marrow, antibodies, mineral content, female eggs, male sperm, they concluded the human body is worth $45 million. Every person is a multi-millionaire inside, but most of us are not taking care of our net worth. So many people take better care of their $20,000 car than they do their own body, making sure it's polished, the tires are balanced, the right kind of oil and fuel is being used, and take it in for regular tune-ups. Your $45 million body requires the same attention for it to function at its optimal level.

Fifty trillion cells in your body die and are being replaced every day. Your entire stomach lining is replaced every three days, your skin is replaced every four weeks and your muscles every six months. You have a chance to bring these new cells back stronger and healthier, but in order to do that you have to eat the proper diet and give your cells the right nutrients to fuel them.

What's an emerging trend that you think will shake up the world of diet and nutrition?

An emerging trend is the declining access to health care in America and the wakeup call it is causing. For the first time in history, our nation is worried about the future of their health care, forcing us to look at natural and less expensive alternatives. When I'm interviewed on radio and TV shows, one of the most common questions I am asked is, "What is your opinion on the healthcare reform?" I always reply, "I don't have an opinion, but if you want to know the answer, look in the mirror. Health care begins with you taking care of yourself and not relying on the government or insurance industries. By taking control of your own health care in the present, you can reach optimal health in your future.

What's a diet or nutritional trend that you wish would go away?

Fad diets. The key to losing weight and keeping it off is twofold: 1. lowering your caloric intake by eating healthier choices in the present, and 2. burning off existing fat that was the result of eating too many calories in the past. There are many great weight-loss products on the market. In fact, I've even formulated one myself. However, no matter how great these products are, they can only push you in the right direction. There's a saying I've always loved, "If you do what you always did, you'll get what you always got." There's always the latest, greatest fad diet that can help you to lose weight. The key is keeping it off. To do that, you must change your attitude, improve your eating habits, and stop living a sedentary lifestyle.

What's an idea you became fascinated with but ended up taking you off track?

Every idea a person takes action on can open up a new door, taking them off track from their original plan. Sometimes it's life's failures that create our biggest achievements. While Thomas Edison was having trouble improving the efficiency of the telegraph, he noticed that the tape from the machine was making a noise that resembled spoken words when played at a high speed. He wondered if this could record a message. This new discovery took him off track and onto a new course ... the invention of the phonograph.

I started college as a journalism major, hurt my back and went to see a chiropractor. This led me on the pathway to becoming a chiropractic physician. While there, I taught neurology, which led to my writing a textbook on the topic. While teaching a board review seminar, a student asked me a question about nutrition that I wasn't able to answer. I realized I needed to learn more about nutrition and this desire lead to a degree in naturopathy, and eventually to me being the product formulator for my international nutritional company. I believe nothing takes you off track; Everything we encounter creates stepping stones for new beginnings.

Who are three people or organizations that you'd put in the nutrition Hall of Fame?

Dr. Samuel S. Epstein, for exposing the truth about big pharma, the dairy industry, the National Cancer Institute, the FDA, and the USDA. He objectively exposes the unbiased research that so many have been afraid to voice. T. Collin Campbell, author of The China Study: The Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long-term Health. And John Robbins, for showing America the behind-the-scenes look at how the food on our table is created.

What other field or occupation would you consider going into?

Law. In my life I've seen so many good people fall victim to the legal system and innocent people wrongfully sued and having to settle because fighting would have ended up costing them more money. Then there's the criminals that get off on a technicality or because their lawyer found a loop hole that made incriminating evidence inadmissible.

What website or app most helps you do your job on a daily basis?

Pubmed.org. The Internet is full of websites, blogs, and social media posts filled with opinions and misquoted science. This website offers the latest science directly from the horse's mouth.

What song's been stuck in your head lately?

"Wheel in the Sky," by Journey. "I don't know where I'll be tomorrow...."

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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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