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Episode 31: How Culinary Medicine is Vital to Transforming Health and Outcomes

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 “I really need to understand how food is impacting the Krebs cycle and methylation and all that. So that’s where culinary medicine can get a little bit more scientific versus just looking at it from a macro point of view,” explains Shefaly Ravula, PA-C. Shefaly spent 20 years as a board certified physician’s assistant and then shifted over into the functional medicine world. After her father, who seemed outwardly healthy, suffered a heart attack, Shefaly realized she needed to learn a lot more about nutrition and the impact on cardiovascular health. Now, she has her own telehealth practice, Precision Metabolic Health, where she uses culinary medicine to improve her patients’ digestive and metabolic health. 

She also launched the Food Is Medicine Academy which is available to the public and provides educational resources about culinary medicine.

Having an understanding of the way nutrition impacts the body can help influence dramatic changes in a patient’s overall health and wellness. Nutrition has a large impact on the Krebs cycle and methylation. It impacts metabolic processes, our gastrointestinal health and cardiovascular health, yet often it is neglected in Western medicine. Ancient cultures used to view food as medicine and in other parts of the world it is still viewed that way, but in the Western world we have moved away from that. However, food still can be medicine and can be integrated together with Western medicine to create better health outcomes. 

Culinary medicine is a scientific way of looking at how food and overall nutrition impact the processes in the body. Although culinary medicine is not a replacement for traditional medicine, it can improve health and wellness outcomes when combined with Western medicine. Tune into this week’s episode of The Catalyst to learn more about how nutrition plays a role in metabolic function, cardiovascular health, digestive health, and virtually every aspect of our bodies.

About Shefaly Ravula, PA-C, Founder of Precision Metabolic Health:

Shefaly Ravula has been a board-certified physician assistant for about 20 years. She graduated from the University of Texas in Austin in 1997 and graduated from the University of Texas Southwestern Physician Assistant Program in 1999. After several years of working in Seattle in internal medicine inpatient care of oncology patients at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, she and her husband moved to Austin and she began working at Austin Gastroenterology. It was around this time that she began taking a deep dive into nutrition courses and this started a lifelong journey into nutrition education.

During a hiatus from medical practice while raising her small children, she began teaching cooking classes in Austin. She ultimately became a food writer, food-as-medicine instructor, and kitchen coach for patients. During this time she continued expanding her nutrition knowledge by attending nutrition conferences for medical providers, taking CME courses, and beginning the Institute of Functional Medicine certification process. Shefaly also worked in GI addressing gut health, IBS, inflammatory bowel disease, GERD and other gastrointestinal issues, using her nutrition knowledge base, up until the pandemic began when she decided to pursue her true passion of integrative and lifestyle medicine. She joined the Wellness center at NAU Urology and Armor Mens Health in 2020. She primarily worked with metabolic dysfunction, hormone imbalances, heart disease, insulin resistance, obesity and IBS patients in this unique position in that practice. After nearly two years, she decided to open Precision Metabolic Health, a virtual telehealth functional nutrition and lifestyle medicine micropractice, using culinary medicine for digestive and metabolic health. At PMH, she helps guide patients in a medical philosophy that is an intersection of lifestyle medicine, functional medicine, prevention medicine, and the burgeoning field of nutrigenomics. The foundation of it all is food as medicine and she simultaneously launched the Food-as-Medicine Academy, which is open to the public.

In This Episode We're Talking About:

  • What is culinary medicine and how to use it in any type of medical practice
  • Understanding that discussing food and nutrition with patients can be a complex multi-layered approach with no oversight given to eating psychology, human behaviors, hormones and habits, body composition, etc… it’s not only about weight management and macros!
  • The idea that what you practice can be your own Venn Diagram

Quotes:

  •  “I really need to understand how food is impacting the Krebs cycle and methylation and all that. So that’s where culinary medicine can get a little bit more scientific versus just looking at it from a macro point of view.” (8:21-8:34 | Shefaly)

 

  • “It’s not just protein, carbs, fats, fiber that I’m looking at. It’s a much deeper level. And so my Food Is Medicine Academy gets into the science piece of it a little bit more than just going to maybe a regular dietitian and saying, ‘help me lose weight’.” (8:35-8:53 | Shefaly)

 

  • “I love data, data drives behavior change big time.” (17:46-17:49 | Shefaly)

 

  • “If we at least shift the mindset, I think that they start thinking that way and realizing the importance of how much time it takes to do self work.” (23:08-23:20 | Shefaly)

 

  • “I think food is medicine, and it can heal you and be a source of vitality, and energy, and vigor and health to some degree. However, it’s not going to be the end all be all. You still need western medicine in some cases.” (31:33-31:55 | Shefaly)

Links for this Episode:

Connect with Shefaly Ravula, PA-C:

Connect with Dr. Lara Salyer:

Thank You For Listening!

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About The Catalyst Host, Dr. Lara Salyer:

I worked as a family physician for 15 years until burnout changed the trajectory of my career. I realized I wanted to start a holistic functional medicine practice in my rural hometown and made it happen. In addition to practicing functional medicine, I now mentor practitioners who are looking to change their paths in healthcare by using what I refer to as the “Catalyst Roadmap”. I share each step of this framework with listeners so that they may apply it to their careers, relationships, personal goals, and projects. 

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