podcasts

Food and the Mental Health Connection – Podcast

By Jason Clayden on June 14, 2023

Research has increasingly shown a strong link between food and mental health. The nutrients we consume play a vital role in the functioning of our brain and the regulation of our mood. In this podcast, Dr. Ashok Nagella, a board-certified psychiatrist at LifeStance Health, discusses the importance of a healthy lifestyle in optimizing mental and physical health, and addresses the impact of food on our well-being.

Dr. Nagella provides valuable insights into the connection between nutrition and mental health, offering practical advice for listeners to improve their overall well-being.

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Nicholette Leanza:

Welcome to Convos From the Couch, by LifeStance Health, where leading mental health professionals help guide you on your journey to a healthier, more fulfilling life.

Hello, everyone, and welcome to Convos From the Couch, by LifeStance Health. I’m Nicholette Leanza, and on this episode, I will be talking with Dr. Ashok Nagella, a psychiatrist from our LifeStance Evanston, Illinois office, and he’ll be sharing his knowledge about food and the mental health connection. Welcome, Dr. Nagella.

Ashok Nagella:

Thank you, Nicholette. Thanks for inviting me to this.

Nicholette Leanza:

Yes. We know that there’s a strong connection between mental and physical health. Dr. Nagella, I really look forward to you telling us more about how food can impact both our mental and our physical health.

Ashok Nagella:

Sounds good.

Nicholette Leanza:

Let’s begin. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Ashok Nagella:

Yeah, so as you introduced me, yes. My name is Ashok Nagella. I’m a medical doctor and I’m a board certified psychiatrist. I’ve been in practice for just over 20 years. I specialize in child and adolescent psychiatry, but I’m also a board certified in adult psychiatry and see adults. I see people of all ages, and I’ve been at LifeStance since August of last year. Doesn’t seem that long, but time flies when you’re busy. I’ve worked in a wide variety of settings before that. I grew up in the Chicago area.

I still live in the Chicago area with my wife and 12 year old twins, who are a handful. My office is close to the lakefront, close to the Evanston, the Northwestern campus. We’re happy in this area. As far as my schooling and background, I went to Medical College of Wisconsin for my medical degree. There, actually, I had very minimal nutrition education and holistic medicine education, which was a bit disappointing, but I guess that’s the experience of most physicians, at least the people that trained in the nineties.

It was one hour, very superficial, and biased information about nutrition, unfortunately. I’ve learned a great deal since then on my own, in regards to nutrition and holistic practices. I completed my adult psychiatry residency training at Loyola Medical Center, Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois. That included a continuity primary care clinic at the Hines VA, which I did to expand my internal medicine and primary care knowledge to be a more well-rounded physician.

One of the key contributors to all these major health concerns per the CDC, which is the Center for Disease Control, is poor nutrition. What we call the standard American diet, or what I like to call the sad diet because it leads to sad results, unfortunately, and there’s also other major lifestyle factors that contribute to health conditions as well, inactivity, tobacco use, alcohol use, excessive amounts of substance use like that.

It’s not just nutrition, but nutrition’s a big one. What’s wrong with the standard American diet, you might ask? There’s a few different characteristics which I’ll list. Excessive saturated fat and cholesterol, insufficient fiber intake, which includes low intake of fruits, veggies, legumes, beans, whole grains, et cetera; excessive amounts of sugar. Again, all these are characteristics of why the standard American diet is not healthy.

Nicholette Leanza:

Right.

Ashok Nagella:

Excessive sugar that you see with, for instance, the soda, the candy, chocolate. You walk into a store like a Walgreens, what’s first? Those are the big sellers. Those are the most alluring. Not if you put a stalk of broccoli there, people would be reaching for it.

Nicholette Leanza:

Very true. Very true.

Ashok Nagella:

Yeah, unfortunately. Then processed foods, microwave meals, pies, box cereals, white carbs, we call them bad carbs, bacon, et cetera; excessive intake of inflammatory foods with high, what we call, omega six levels, much higher than the intake of omega threes, which are healthier.

The ideal ratio of omega three to omega six foods is one to four. In the US, it’s one out of 15, which is a huge issue.

Nicholette Leanza:

Wow.

Ashok Nagella:

That creates more inflammation, more illness.

Nicholette Leanza:

Right, which we’re going to get into that in a bit. We’ll talk more about that, the inflammation piece. Yeah.

Ashok Nagella:

Exactly. Yeah. Then there’s also the hyper-focus in this country and a lot, it’s not people’s fault that this is happening, the average consumer doesn’t know they’re being fed all this information in the media, and I hate to say it is propaganda, because there’s this hyper-focused on protein, calcium, “Hey, you can be big and strong-

Nicholette Leanza:

That’s true.

Ashok Nagella:

… If you eat a lot of protein and calcium and iron.” We’re hyper-focusing on protein, calcium, and iron, but we’re ignoring the importance as a society of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, minerals. Those are just as critical. Proteins are, they’re also found in lentils, beans, chickpeas, broccoli, nuts, seeds. There’s a lot of different protein sources that people just don’t even think about.

It’s just not just meat or fish or animal products that supply. Protein’s very important, but you can get them from other healthier sources. Calcium is also found in foods, such as figs, kale, and in fact, kale has more calcium per serving than cows milk.

Nicholette Leanza:

Wow.

Ashok Nagella:

Edamame, tofu, oranges. There’s a plethora of different sources of calcium and iron, different types of beans, chickpeas, dried apricots, tofu. A very common question that I get still is that when people learn that I’m more plant-based, that I’m plant-based, “Where do you get your protein, your iron and calcium? Where do they come?”

They’re like, “How do you survive?” I’m like, “I don’t look like I’m struggling, do I? I have plenty of energy and focus, pretty good shape. It is just, again, because that’s what the media pounds us with, that information. Sorry if I’m-

Nicholette Leanza:

No, you’re doing great. For those who can’t see, you do look very healthy. You do. You look very healthy. You definitely seem like you walk the talk in your knowledge you’re sharing, you definitely seem like you are someone who definitely follows through in eating healthy. I love the fact that you’re giving very specific examples of foods to eat as well. I very much appreciate that.

Ashok Nagella:

Oh, thank you. Yeah.

Nicholette Leanza:

Can we link this in, and in a bit, we’ll be talking about inflammation, but some of the food we consume, we can see the physical illnesses that can come from it, but share a little bit more about maybe the potential mental health symptoms that can come from our food?

Ashok Nagella:

Sure.

Nicholette Leanza:

When we’re not supplementing with the correct and the proper diet?

Ashok Nagella:

Sure. Yeah. I’ll definitely get into that.

Nicholette Leanza:

Sure.

Ashok Nagella:

I thought it might be helpful to look into, if you don’t mind, the different components of food and how they help?

Nicholette Leanza:

Yes, please.

Ashok Nagella:

Okay. Sounds good. I won’t be able to go into all of them because it’s beyond the scope of today’s discussion. That’ll be like a talk in its own. I’ll go over, for example, the essential food components and how they affect us physically and mentally. Fiber, cholesterol, saturated fat, and antioxidants. Again, these are just a few of the food, different categories and components in our diet.

Let’s go over fiber. Fiber is sorely deficient in the standard American diet. Per the National Institutes of Health, studies have shown that only about 5%, again, it’s 5% of Americans, consume sufficient fiber.

Nicholette Leanza:

Ooh, 5%. Wow.

Ashok Nagella:

It’s an incredibly low deficient amount, right?

Nicholette Leanza:

Yes, yes.

Ashok Nagella:

Where do we get fiber? We only get fiber from plant foods. It doesn’t come in animal products, preferably what we call whole plant foods. Whole plant foods meaning unprocessed or minimally processed foods. Fiber also comes in some processed plant foods, but it’s more ideal to get it from a whole foods plant [inaudible 00:07:59]. Why is fiber so important? For many reasons, actually, this is just a partial list.

It reduces and prevents constipation, flushes toxins, like lead and mercury, free radicals out of our system, reduces cholesterol, reduces risk of colon cancer by binding and clearing toxins out of our system. Again, I can go into detail about some of these, but we don’t have the time. Reduced obesity because there’s an increased satiety level. What happens is when we consume high fiber, products tend to go through the gastrointestinal system, our stomach, intestine slowly.

Foods are absorbed slowly from this fiber food. Because of the slow digestion time, we feel full. It kind of shuts our hunger center off in our brain, and we stay-

Nicholette Leanza:

Okay. That’s interesting.

Ashok Nagella:

Then we stay satiated. We’re able to stay full longer, so we’re not constantly hungry and overeating.

Nicholette Leanza:

Yeah, excellent point.

Ashok Nagella:

By the way, I mentioned free radicals. Free radicals are basically waste products, toxic waste products, that the body creates during oxidative stress. Sorry, I forgot to define that. Then also, you can reduce blood sugar spikes, so less diabetes when they’re having more fiber in the diet. For example, people always ask me, “Are fruits okay?” Fruits are fine, because if you’re eating the whole fruit, you also have the fiber slowing down the spike of the sugar into the blood, but also you’re having the minerals and vitamins that are surrounding it, and volume and water, all those things are really important.

Also, high fiber foods that are associated with, according to the research, with an increase in longevity. The “Blue Zones” research where they study the lifestyle habits and secrets of the centenarians, people that live into their hundreds. What they found is that those societies, they average about 90 to 100% of their diet is whole foods plant-based. They do eat, they consume animal products, but much, much lower level, a small percentage of what they eat.

Nicholette Leanza:

It’s good to know, good to know. If you’re looking to reach that 100 mark, you’re giving the guide of how to get there.

Ashok Nagella:

I should say also, it’s not just getting into your hundreds, it’s also having vitality when you’re aging.

Nicholette Leanza:

Yeah, for sure.

Ashok Nagella:

These are not people that are barely getting through life in wheelchair and a nursing home, or dependent on others. No, actually, they’re still having a lot of vitality. They’re contributing to their communities, communities that look up to them for their-

Nicholette Leanza:

They have a quality of their life.

Ashok Nagella:

Yeah, and they’re looked up to for their sage advice and great stories throughout their lives. That’s fiber.

Nicholette Leanza:

What’s next?

Ashok Nagella:

Then the next one is, the standard American diet is also high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Extensive research shows that high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol increase the risk of the following: in terms of mental health issues, dementia, depression, anxiety, intention, poor focus that you often see, for example, with attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; memory loss, and cognitive decline. Those are all things that are increased in severity and frequency with higher levels of saturated fat and cholesterol.

Then also physical illnesses, like heart disease, strokes, diabetes type two, cancer, obesity, shortened lifespan. These are all things that you see with, again, high cholesterol and high saturated fat diets. You might ask, “What are the sources of saturated fats?” As it turns out, animal products, so cheese, beef, processed meats, like hot dogs and bacon, especially cows milk, oils. Even vegetable oils, not just animal oils, oils have saturated fat.

There’s times where I go to the restaurant and I see them dousing down my food with olive oil, like, “Oh no, just a little bit is okay. Just a drop.” I think a lot of people are under an impression you can have unlimited amounts of olive oil. Oh, it’s supposed to be healthy.

Nicholette Leanza:

You’re talking to someone who’s an Italian American here. I grew up with that dousing of olive oils, and I have come to learn that is not the healthiest for you. I hear you.

Ashok Nagella:

Oh, don’t get me wrong, olive oil, as long as you have a little bit of it, just don’t go over.

Nicholette Leanza:

In moderation, of course.

Ashok Nagella:

Yeah, just like any oil. Then what are sources of cholesterol? Common sources of cholesterol are beef, eggs, chicken, shrimp, pretty much any animal product. You’re probably seeing a pattern by now, but…

Nicholette Leanza:

Yeah, I’m sensing, it sounds like definitely animal products.

Ashok Nagella:

Yeah, can be toxic and especially if consumed in a great amount. Again, in these Blue Zones cultures where they live great, healthy, long lives, they’re still eating that, but it’s in a very small amount compared to everything else they’re consuming.

Nicholette Leanza:

Got you. Got you.

Ashok Nagella:

What are the best foods to consume? The whole foods, plant-based kind of foods: whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruit, veggies. The only thing you would have to add if someone went completely, decided to go completely plant-based foods, is B12. You can pretty much get everything else in this plant-based diet.

Nicholette Leanza:

Okay.

Ashok Nagella:

Protein, calcium, minerals, vitamins. B12 is the one thing that is deficient in that diet. A simple multivitamin, or fortified cereal, or fortified nut milks, like soy milk. Then last but not least, the standard American diet is very deficient in antioxidants. What are antioxidants? Antioxidants combat and prevent damage from harmful, we talked about, free radicals.

Nicholette Leanza:

Yeah.

Ashok Nagella:

Antioxidants actually bind free radicals and they prevent that those free radicals from wreaking havoc on our body. These toxic wedge products can increase the risk and severity of mental and physical conditions, reduce life expectancy. Where are these free radicals more prevalent in? What kind of foods? You might have guessed it: processed foods, refined sugars, excessive oil use, animal products.

The research shows that the lack of antioxidants can cause or worsen depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, heart disease, cancer, strokes, Alzheimer disease, a long list of things, but diabetes, arthritis, this is just a partial list.

Nicholette Leanza:

No, and I appreciate there you are pointing out the mental health symptoms and the physical health symptoms we can have by, if we’re just sticking to that sad diet, the standard of American diet, that’s where we’re going to see increases or exacerbations of bipolar disorder and things like that.

If we now include into our conversation the inflammation part, how can inflammation have adverse health effects, and what foods can cause inflammation?

Ashok Nagella:

Sure. Do you mind if I, there’s a couple other things.

Nicholette Leanza:

Oh, sure.

Ashok Nagella:

Sorry about that.

Nicholette Leanza:

You go, you go. Please share.

Ashok Nagella:

No problem. Yeah, so just to summarize what antioxidants, they clear these free radicals from the body, which when you do that, you improve mental and physical health and longevity. I forgot to mention what the best source of antioxidants are. Again, you might have already guessed the whole foods, plant-based foods: fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts, tea. I didn’t mention teas before. Green tea has antioxidants, spices have antioxidants, whole grains.

Also, the other thing that I think is very critical that a lot of people overlook is antioxidants are also critical in boosting our immune system. Why is that important? We can kill microbes more easily. We can prevent devastating infections, such as COVID, flu, strep pneumonia. I’m proud to say that my family and I have, knock on wood, we’ve been completely COVID-free despite being very social and not always following the mask mandates everywhere we go.

When we had to, we did, but otherwise, we’re not strict about that. None of us have gotten sick, thankfully. I think a lot of it is what we eat, how we eat. Americans get less than a half the amount of antioxidants that are needed daily.

Nicholette Leanza:

Half?

Ashok Nagella:

Yes, 50%. Yeah.

Nicholette Leanza:

Wow.

Ashok Nagella:

Very low. We could do a lot better as a country with antioxidants. Strong antioxidants are only found in plants, unfortunately. It’s not like I have a bias against animal products, it’s just, this is what the research is showing.

Nicholette Leanza:

Gotcha.

Ashok Nagella:

Vitamins A, C, and E are strong antioxidants. You were asking a great question-

Nicholette Leanza:

Yeah, about the inflammation. Yeah.

Ashok Nagella:

Okay. How could inflammation have adverse health effects? That’s an excellent question. What chronic inflammation does is it could damage our body, our physical body, our nervous system, and our vital organs. The effects of inflammation, specifically according to the research, is that chronic inflammation leads to, again, this is a partial list, excuse me, a shorter lifespan, increased cardiovascular illness, increased lung disease, increased rate of cancers. The ones that they’ve studied the most in terms of connection to this are colon cancer, liver, breast, prostate, because those are leading killers, unfortunately.

An increase in diabetes, diabetic risk and severity with increased inflammation. Then with the nervous system, it also affects the nervous system, including mental health conditions too, not just physical conditions. Increased rate of depression. The standard American diet increases risk of depression according to research studies, up to 35% more-

Nicholette Leanza:

Whew, wow.

Ashok Nagella:

… Than a plant-based or healthy diet, like the Mediterranean diet, or whole food plant-based diet. Yeah. You also have worse attention and focus, which again, is implicated when we’re trying to treat ADD or ADHD. By the way, if anyone wants copies of these studies, I’ll be happy to provide them so you don’t think I’m making this stuff up.

Nicholette Leanza:

I know this is all based in research. This is definitely where you’re drawing from.

Ashok Nagella:

Yeah, exactly. Not opinion. Then you also see increased anxiety levels when your nervous system is inflamed, impaired memory formation, dementia, increased ADHD risk, your executive functioning skills go down, the hippocampus, which forms long-term memories, is impacted. Interestingly, this is what I found very interesting, there’s an increase of risk of psychotic symptoms, where we’re finding more and more, that inflammation affects psychosis and chronic conditions, like schizophrenia, for example.

There was actually a research study that showed high aspirin doses to augment antipsychotics significantly reduced symptoms of psychosis compared to using antipsychotics alone.

Nicholette Leanza:

Wow.

Ashok Nagella:

Significantly, yeah. That’s just reflects the inflammation, the inflammatory component of psychosis, since aspirin is an anti-inflammatory medication. We’re finding out more and more that inflammation not only affects us, our body, which there’s a lot of research to show that, but again, our brain, our nervous system, psychosis, mental health issues, cognitive issues, which is exciting that we have other ways [inaudible 00:18:53].

What are the most inflammatory foods? Foods with what we call arachidonic acid. If there’s omega six fatty acid that we talked about before. Unfortunately, arachidonic acids probably come primarily from animal products.

Nicholette Leanza:

Okay.

Ashok Nagella:

Again, chicken, beef, fish, turkey, pork, lamb, eggs, cheese, cows milk, anything from animals pretty much. It’s interesting that most patients and colleagues I speak to state that they have always assumed from their education, what they’ve been exposed to in the media, what they were taught, that lean proteins, like chicken, turkey, and fish are benign.

Hey, as long as you stay away from the other meats, you’re fine, but that’s actually not true for research. They can be just as inflammatory.

Nicholette Leanza:

Wow. Actually, you’re right. That’s often what I hear, stay away from the red meats. Here you are saying that’s not necessarily true.

Ashok Nagella:

In fact, there’s a lady, Ruth Heidrich, who I encourage people to look into her story. H-E-I-D-R-I-C-H, Ruth Heidrich, diagnosed with metastatic stage four breast cancer. They had given a very poor prognosis. It was at the age of 47. She was already doing marathons every year. She was super fit doing Ironmans, just incredible athletic feats. Then she was shocked that she was diagnosed with this, because she said, “Hey, I was just doing whatever my doctor recommended, like plenty of lean proteins, getting exercise, sleep.”

Then she found out that after consulting with three oncologists, three or four oncologists, cancer doctors, who all recommended getting chemotherapy after her mastectomy, after she had her breasts removed from cancer, she refused to go that route because she didn’t want to stop running. She was afraid of all the different side effects with chemo. She didn’t want to lose her hair and system.

She actually consulted Dr. McDougal, who was the last doctor she saw, and he said, “Hey, it’s about the diet. There’s some research to show if you just change what you eat.” She walked out of that office, overnight, she became a raw vegan, meaning raw food, and she actually completely reversed her cancer, never came back. They could not believe it.

Nicholette Leanza:

Wow.

Ashok Nagella:

The doctor, she was seeing. She went back to running marathons and winning, senior gold medals and just an incredible testament to someone that reversed her condition. They did follow up MRIs, CAT scan. No one can find any trace of this.

Nicholette Leanza:

Wow. That is incredible. Definitely incredible.

Ashok Nagella:

Yeah.

Nicholette Leanza:

You shared with us some of the most inflammatory foods. What about some of the least inflammatory foods?

Ashok Nagella:

Excellent. Yeah, that’s actually what I was going to-

Nicholette Leanza:

Oh, perfect.

Ashok Nagella:

… Discuss next. You must have been reading my mind. Whole foods, which again, are minimally processed or unprocessed, from the plant kingdom. Again, probably no surprise, but things like turmeric, lemon, garlic, flax seeds, walnuts, berries, could be blueberries, cranberries, all sorts of different berries.

They’re all very healthy. Kale, pineapple, they’re all great sources of anti-inflammatory foods. What’s the benefits of low inflammation foods? Improved cognition, memory, mood, circulation, less anxiety, less, again, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, strokes.

Nicholette Leanza:

Well, let’s talk about neurotransmitters. Okay. We’re going to introduce that to our conversation here. Can you help us understand what neurotransmitters are and why they’re important? Are there certain foods that help build the neurotransmitters?

Ashok Nagella:

Yes. Sorry if I interrupted you there.

Nicholette Leanza:

Yeah, no, you’re good.

Ashok Nagella:

A neurotransmitter is a signaling molecule secreted by a neuron, which is also called a nerve cell, for those that are unfamiliar with what neurotransmitter means. Then that nerve cell affects another cell across the synapse. It’s basically sending a message across the synapse, a connection to another neuron, or muscle cell gland, et cetera.

The three neurotransmitters that are implicated in depression and anxiety that are deficient in depression and anxiety are serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. In terms of ADD, ADHD, the two neurotransmitters that are implicated in that that are deficient are dopamine and norepinephrine. Serotonin, which is also called five hydroxy tryptophan, primarily affects mood and anxiety. It also affects appetite and sleep cycles, and pain perception. A lot of people forget that.

In fact, serotonin is converted to melatonin. The precursor to melatonin is actually serotonin, which makes sense.

Nicholette Leanza:

Interesting.

Ashok Nagella:

If you think about how many people really struggle with their sleep, they’re anxious.

Nicholette Leanza:

Yep, you got it.

Ashok Nagella:

Makes sense.

Nicholette Leanza:

Yeah, it makes total sense. It does.

Ashok Nagella:

There’s nine essential amino acids in our diet. Tryptophan and tyrosine are two of them. Tryptophan is actually what forms serotonin. You remember I said serotonin is five hydroxy tryptophan. Tryptophan’s a precursor to that. It just gets hydroxylated to form serotonin.

Nicholette Leanza:

Okay.

Ashok Nagella:

Then tyrosine is another amino acid that’s found in our diet, and it forms dopamine, and then dopamine gets converted to norepinephrine. What happens is we have food that we’re consuming, and food has different percentages of different amino acid mixes. The foods that actually increase the availability of tryptophan to be able to cross into our brain efficiently are the ones that have a higher percentage of tryptophan, compared to the other amino acids in that particular food.

Nicholette Leanza:

Okay.

Ashok Nagella:

Let’s say a food has 70% tryptophan, and then the rest of the amino acids in it compose 30%, that food is going to be much more likely to help you increase your tryptophan levels in your brain more quickly and efficiently, and have a greater chance of crossing into the brain across the blood brain barrier.

Nicholette Leanza:

Okay.

Ashok Nagella:

Which means that once that tryptophan gets into your brain, it can do its actions, it can start forming, turning into serotonin and having its therapeutic effects.

Nicholette Leanza:

Got you.

Ashok Nagella:

Same thing with tyrosine. Once that gets into the brain, same thing. You want to have a food that’s has a higher percentage of tyrosine in it compared to the other amino acids in it. Give it a chance to get into the brain to do its job. There’s other amino acids that it competes with, like I was saying. Just a few examples, valine, histidine, leucine, iso leucine, there’s other amino acids out there that our foods are made out of. Those are just some examples.

As a result, when we’re having more efficient conversion of tryptophan to serotonin, that’ll lead to improved mood, reduced anxiety, improved sleep, reduced pain perception more rapidly and efficiently, bottom line. Actually, the research is showing that.

Nicholette Leanza:

Okay.

Ashok Nagella:

Plant research objection, but that is corroborated there. Which ones have the lowest ratio of tryptophan? Which foods have the lowest ratio of tryptophan to other amino acids? Might have guessed it: whole milk, salmon, beef, chicken. What happens is they have a slower and lower production of serotonin to rely on foods to produce the serotonin. Now, people that consume that are not going to get the efficient production of serotonin. These foods are not ideal for mood, anxiety, sleep, pain perception.

Even turkey, which a lot of people in the lay media, they’ll say, “Oh, yeah, turkey has a lot of tryptophan.” It does, but percentage-wise compared, again, when you compare the tryptophan content, it’s a lower percentage of that food compared to the other amino acids. Again, that tryptophan can’t compete with those amino acids as well. It’s not going to get into our brain as efficiently. Again, turkey as a result, wouldn’t be a great food for optimizing mood, anxiety, sleep, et cetera.

Nicholette Leanza:

Gotcha. Let’s jump to, are there other benefits to eating healthier?

Ashok Nagella:

Sure, yeah. In fact, there are, actually. There’s significant benefits, other benefits in addition to the health benefits that we went into detail about. Bottom line is if someone goes more and more plant-based, what the research shows is if everyone went at least 50% plant-based in their diets, that can go a long way in achieving drawdown of greenhouse gas emissions, and significantly improve our planet and help us fight climate change, and hopefully win that battle against climate change.

The other thing I want to mention too, another reason why, another benefit, is many of my younger clients, they’re animal lovers, and they’re increasingly aware that there’s a lot of animals suffering and neglect that occurs in animal agriculture, unfortunately. They want to save more of these animals and they treat them like pets.

Nicholette Leanza:

Yes.

Ashok Nagella:

They’re happy to know that if one went completely plant-based for a year, that you could save 365 farm animals per year, so pretty much like one a day according to the Humanely UK. When I share that information to these kids that are very idealistic and compassionate on animals, that’s another big reason that they stick with this, or they transition to their diet, not just for health reasons. I’m just going to go over quick takeaway points.

Nicholette Leanza:

Yes, thank you. Please do.

Ashok Nagella:

Yes. There are many wins with this kind of approach to a healthier diet, transition to a healthier diet. Again, better physical health, improved longevity, improved cognition, improved mental health, saving critical environmental resources, like water, land, rainforest, helping to fight climate change, reduce healthcare costs, greatly reduce healthcare costs, preventing devastating illnesses, and saving our animal friends, among other benefits.

Nicholette Leanza:

Yes. Oh, my gosh. Your passion for this topic, I respect greatly. The wealth of knowledge you’ve shared, I know we definitely need to have a part two to give you more of the platform to dig in even deeper, because I know you have a lot more to share. Thank you again for being on, and I look forward to our next part of our conversation on this topic.

Ashok Nagella:

You’re welcome. Sorry if I got into too much detail there.

Nicholette Leanza:

No.

Ashok Nagella:

This is something I could talk about for probably hours.

Nicholette Leanza:

It reflects your-

Ashok Nagella:

It’s such a vast topic.

Nicholette Leanza:

It reflects your passion. It really does. I respect your passion about it, because you’re trying to educate, and I can always respect that for sure.

Ashok Nagella:

Exactly.

Nicholette Leanza:

All right. Thank you again.

Ashok Nagella:

Thank you. Thanks for your time. I appreciate it. Thanks for inviting me.