Blood Sugar

#213: Rangan Chatterjee, MD – Carbs Are Not Evil, Healthy Habits and Pillars 4 Health

by Deanna Mutzel, DC



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About Dr. Rangan Chatterjee

Rangan is the star of BBC1's Doctor in the House and author of The Four Pillar Plan, an easily accessible plan for taking control of your health and your life.

He qualified from Edinburgh University Medical School in 2001 and have been practising medicine ever since. Initially, Rangan worked as a hospital doctor for 6 years and have spent the last 7 years working in General Practice. He holds a BSc Honours Degree in Immunology and am a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine in the United States where I have undergone extensive training.

Rangan passionately advocates and follows a philosophy that lifestyle and nutrition are first line medicine and the cornerstone of good health. I am dedicated to empowering my patients with the knowledge and motivation they need to achieve and maintain optimal health.

His integrative medical approach combines the best of nutritional science, conventional medicine and advanced diagnostics to find the root cause of illness. He investigates and treats many conditions including diabetes, autoimmune disorders, digestive problems, food allergies, skin problems, migraines and irritable bowel syndrome.


Books and Resources Discussed

The Four Pillar Plan: How to Relax, Eat, Move and Sleep Your Way to a Longer, Healthier Life

Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked

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Show Notes


01:30 On his BBC1 show, Doctor in the House, Dr. Chatterjee has been able to reverse diabetes in 30 days and sustained the reversal through functional/lifestyle medicine, which is just beginning to take off in the UK.

05:46 Dr. Chatterjee’s journey: About 6 years ago his oldest son was 6 months old. He had been exclusively breast fed until that point. While on holiday to France, the child became critically ill. Dr. Chatterjee was told that he had a hypocalcemia convulsion, secondary to a vitamin D deficiency. This drove Dr. Chatterjee to spend 4 to 5 hours a night trolling research on the internet, determined to get his son back to a healthy pre-convulsion state. He began to apply the same healing principles to his patients. Rickets is on the rise in the UK. Vitamin D deficiencies are on the rise as well. It is not well known in the conventional medical profession.

15:44 The relationship between calcium and vitamin D: Vitamin D works like a hormone. Every cell around the body has vitamin D receptors. Vitamin D ensures that calcium goes to the right places and enhances your immune system and helps it to develop. Vitamin A and vitamin D compete for the same resources.

18:05 Lifestyle Changes impact your biology in a profound way. In his documentary series, Dr. Chatterjee goes into people’s homes and sees what is going on. Processed food is the greatest culprit. Even people who were health conscious had cupboards full of processed food. This is still new information for people. Medical professionals need to share simple but profound dietary information, like what you eat impacts your mood.

23:09 The main skill of a healthcare practitioner is the ability to communicate with patients. Nothing will change unless there is a meaningful interaction. Patients need to know why it matters, in order to modify their behaviors. National Health Service in the UK is the largest employer in the US, perhaps in all of Europe. 53% of NHS employees are overweight or obese.

29:11 The environment is key to supporting healthful choices. Health should be the default option. Control everything about your environment that you can control. Get unhealthy foods out of your house. Keep your phone out of your bedroom. Set times when phones can/cannot be used.

34:34 Light is more powerful than any drug we have. It changes our biology. We evolved around the sun. Dr. Chatterjee changed his kid’s night lights to the color red and found that they slept much longer.

36:40 The Power of Balance book gives equal importance to the 4 pillars of health: eating well, moving well, sleeping well and relaxing well. One night of sleep deprivation will raise levels of catecholamine, change HPA axis, increase your reactive oxygen species, will change levels of adiponectin and leptin and change things like IL6 and TNF-alpha.

39:27 Switching off and meditation: The term meditation scares people, so Dr. Chatterjee calls it a practice of stillness. Our behaviors over the course of years bring us closer to a threshold where we exhibit symptoms of illness.

44:06 Low carb is not the answer for everyone. The gut microbiome may be the reason why people in certain areas of the world can thrive on high (non-processed) carb diets.  Processed and refined carbohydrates are the most inflammatory foods. Perhaps when people go on a low carb diet, they are cutting out the processed/refined carbs and switching off inflammation. We have demonized fat and we shouldn’t demonize carbs.

49:17 Type 2 diabetes is not a blood sugar problem.  Problematic blood sugar is only part of the picture. Dr. Chatterjee will have patients restrict carbohydrates while he investigates and treats the causes. Intestinal permeability/leaky gut and higher fat, higher meat diet can be a toxic mix. The quality of your food really matters. It isn’t all about carbs.

55:06 Good health is not as hard to achieve as you think it is. Wearables make some parts of healthy living easier because it is trackable and adjustments can be made accordingly. More benefit for weight loss comes from diet, but physical activity has many benefits beyond weight loss. Find one lifestyle change or movement goal that is achievable, like 10,000 steps. This can become a gateway to more movement and more lifestyle adjustments.

01:00:32 Dr. Chatterjee’s single favorite exercise is anything that activates the glutes. As a society we have sleepy butt muscles. Glute muscles are keystone muscles in our body. He likes exercises that do not require a lot of equipment.

01:03:42 Dr. Chatterjee’s ideal morning has him getting up at 5, sneaking down the stairs, and drinking 2 big glasses of water, perhaps with a bit of lemon. He meditates for 10 to 15 minutes using Headspace. While his coffee brews in the French press, he does glute activation exercises. He tries to stay off his phone, email and social media first thing in the morning. He finds that he has a better day because of it. If he has the time to do more exercises, his children join him.

01:06:53 Dr. Chatterjee’s desert island nutrient. His choice is magnesium. Lifestyle changes are more important than supplements.

01:08:40 Dr. Chatterjee’s elevator pitch: We are currently pouring money into a broken system. If you want to effect change, you need to go back to basics. Kids should be taught how to cook. Get junk food out of schools and hospitals. Every child should be taught mindfulness. What you do every day is what your health is.

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