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graduate education from Harvard Medical School, I am the first to admit that 50 percent of what I learned in college is obsolete today.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 That means the doctors that learned from the first 39 versions were taught outdated information.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.

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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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