With a brand new book, ‘The Toxin Solution’, just out, an already busy schedule, and an upcoming seminar for us in London in June this year, we were absolutely delighted to be given the opportunity to interview Dr Joseph Pizzorno recently. Far from what you might expect from someone whose incredibly successful career includes being appointed by President Clinton in 2000 to the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy and by President Bush to the MediCare Coverage Advisory Committee in 2002, Dr Pizzorno is refreshingly down to earth and was more than happy to give us his time. In this exclusive interview we chatted to Dr Joe about his new book, latest research, how he incorporates his own advice into his life, some insightful wisdom on the changes you can make that will make the biggest difference to your health and a ‘behind the scenes’ look at what he enjoys doing when he’s not working.
Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us Dr Joe. Can we start by asking, what are the key features of your own diet and lifestyle that help you to minimise the effects of toxins on your health?
As more and more research is documenting the devastating effects of life-long exposure to toxins, Lara and I have become progressively more careful about avoiding toxins. As so many of these are very difficult to detoxify (some with half-lives over 10 years), the best strategy is to simply not let them into your body. The research appears clear that the biggest sources of toxins are the foods we eat and the plastic packaging they are stored in. We developed these guidelines, which we follow very carefully and recommend in our writings and lectures:
1. Grow as much of your own food as you can. Of course, only use organic fertilizers and avoid all pesticides, herbicides, etc.
2. Only buy organically grown foods. If not available or can’t afford, use the guidance at www.ewg.org to determine which foods are least sprayed with pesticides so they don’t have to be organically grown (however, they still won’t have as high a nutrient content).
3. For processed foods (limited of course), only buy those in glass containers. If this is not possible, immediately transfer them to glass containers at home.
4. Throw out all your plastic food storage containers and replace with glass. In March, we discovered Pyrex makes glass lids for storage containers so we threw out all plastic lids.
5. Choose health and beauty aids low in toxins, especially phthalates. Research shows that these chemicals are major contributors to the diabetes epidemic being suffered throughout the industrialized world.
Make your own house cleaning supplies. Lara’s formula:
• 1/3 white vinegar
• 2/3 clean water
• Essential oils such as lavender or other preferred scent
There’s been much interest recently in ‘morning routines’ and the idea that having a habitual start to every day helps to keep the rest of your day on track. What does your typical morning look like?
We do have a routine! Lara makes us coffee with everything organically grown. She uses soy milk while I prefer coconut. Unfortunately, we can’t get these in glass, so we immediately transfer them to glass decanters in the refrigerator. We then take 2 tablespoons of fish oil. As part of the process, we also read through an inspirational “Creativity Unzipped” card deck created by Jan Phillips and Ruth Westreich.
Lara does not eat breakfast. I typically rotate between 3 (everything organic, of course):
1. Black beans (which Lara makes for us) with feta and hot sauce.
2. Blueberries with cashews, whey powder, ground flax seeds and coconut milk.
3. Granola (which Lara makes for us) with brewer’s yeast and coconut milk.
Is there one piece of research that you’ve come across whilst writing your new book that really stands out as ‘groundbreaking’?
There are so many, just identifying one is challenging. For example, as I will present in my lecture in June, research suggests that one reason women who breast feed have less breast cancer is because breast feeding helps get PCBs out of the woman’s body. PCBs are a major cause of breast cancer. Obviously, this is not good for her children.
What are your hopes for your new book’s potential to influence health on a global scale?
I believe there is a huge amount of unnecessary suffering and disease in the world due to the high and increasing levels of toxins in the environment. My hope is that increasing public awareness will result in demand for uncontaminated products that will induce growers and manufacturers to provide us with safer products. When I first got interested in organic foods half a century ago, the choices were very limited. In Seattle, there were only 2 small stores offering organic foods. The stores were funky, the choices very limited and the foods visually unattractive. Now we can buy organic foods in most grocery stores. Consumer demand is very powerful.
Could you share with us your top three tips (dietary / lifestyle) for reducing toxic load?
In addition to the above:
1. Sweat regularly. Does not matter how (except I don’t recommend steam baths), just that you perspire intensely several times a week. Sweat is high in metal and chemical toxins.
2. Increase dietary fiber. This is key to helping the liver get the toxins out of the body. We consume only 20% of the fiber we evolved on as a species.
3. Take 500 mg of NAC a day. This increases glutathione production which is very important for both protecting us from the oxidative effects of toxins and helping the liver get them out of the body.
What’s your ‘go-to’ meal or snack when you’re short on time but need to eat something?
Organic food bars with low sugar content.
And finally, we’ve heard on the grapevine that you’re a big fan of motorbikes! What’s your favourite way to relax?
Playing basketball and motorcycle touring! I play basketball 2-3 times a week and get up a good sweat. When lecturing internationally, Lara and I will rent a motorcycle to tour new countries. In June before our lecture, we will be touring Norway. Last fall we rode from Seattle to the Arctic Circle in Alaska—incredibly beautiful. We are hoping to get to the Arctic Circle in Norway.
About Dr Joseph Pizzorno ND
Dr Joseph E. Pizzorno Jr. appointed by President Clinton in 2000 to the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy and by President Bush’ administration to the Medicare Coverage Advisory Committee in 2002, is one of the world’s leading authorities on science-based natural medicine. A physician, educator and researcher, Dr Pizzorno is founding president of Bastyr University. He is Editor-in-Chief of Integrative Medicine: A Clinicians Journal and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM). Dr Pizzorno is the co-author of the internationally acclaimed Textbook of Natural Medicine, the best-selling Encyclopaedia of Natural Medicine. In 2007, he became the Integrative Medicine and Wellness expert for Web MD.