Heart Health, Slave Food, Plant-based diet: A conversation with Dr. Columbus Batiste

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What are the ideal foods to eat for heart disease, for overall health? I sit down with Dr. Columbus Batiste to discuss his work on the Slave Food project, his upcoming book, and how to make lasting changes in your lifestyle.

Transcript

Sean Hashmi, MD

We’re bringing a leading expert in the field here today, Dr. Columbus Batiste. He is a friend. He is a colleague. He is a mentor. He’s a teacher. Columbus: I get to watch you grow, blossom, and do all sorts of amazing things in the community.  So, tell me a little bit about who you are.

Columbus Batiste, MD

Well, first, I’m someone who is humbled to be here with you because you, sir, are the leader, and you’ve done such phenomenal work within the organization of Kaiser Permanente and leading not only by example but by deed and by sharing knowledge freely. That’s educated, literally physicians. So, I mean, you fill that gap. Someone told me this many years ago when I entered into leadership, and they said, Columbus, listen, when there is a problem arises, a challenge arises.  You need to be able to figure out the solution and deliver that. That determines a leader. And so you’ve done that. We know that there’s a huge problem in understanding and educating health care professionals as it pertains to lifestyle and nutrition specifically. You’ve masterfully done an excellent job in creating this series that you’ve made that educates physicians. That now provides them the opportunity to deliver that to their patients.

So you, sir, have touched potentially hundreds of thousands of patients without you ever laying a stethoscope on them. That is a blessing beyond a blessing, and that’s who you are to me.

That’s why I shaved my head. I wanted to be like you because I wanted to be like you.

For many of you out there who don’t know who I am. I’m Columbus Batiste. I am an interventional cardiologist inside this Southern California area. I’m passionate about the heart. I’m passionate about our community. I’m passionate about leaving a mark before I leave this earth in terms of maybe impacting someone’s life. And that’s the reason why I think all of us do what we do, just trying to do whatever we can.

A cardiologist is someone who takes care of the heart. So cardiologists in reference to the heart. And so one of the things that we identify is everything that’s become so subspecialized. I always kind of say colloquially there are electricians of the heart, plumbers of the heart and body.

Our electrophysiologist deals with electrical circuitry. You have your plumbers like myself that unclog pipes and not to mention of your general contractors who do a little bit of everything at times. As a plumber, my job is not just to drop Drano down the drain. My job is to go in. When someone is suffering from a blocked artery’s effects, chest discomfort may lead to heart dysfunction. They come into the procedure lab to explore and identify the cause and decide the best treatment options: placement of a stent, a wire mesh that props the vessel open, or whether or not we need to take a little more aggressive terms in open-heart surgery or coronary artery bypass surgery.

We do that not only for patients who are walking stable but also for those with a major heart attack. Our job is to stop major throws of a heart attack when evolving in that particular moment. That’s typically when I see patients as an interventional cardiologist. As a general contractor, I see a little bit of everyone when I’m there in the clinic.  I may put a little and do a little bit of everything at times in those few moments.

Sean Hashmi, MD

What is your approach when you see patients that say they’re not where the drain is clogged already, but they’re heading that way? What are the things that you talk about personally with your patients? And more importantly, we know change is hard. What do you do to help them in that journey to move forward?

Columbus Batiste, MD

That’s a great question. Part of the thing that I do and I mislead you, folks. I told you that there are three strategies to treat patients. I told you about medications. I told you about stents. I told you about open-heart surgery. One area frequently discussed except in forums like this is the power of lifestyle. The power of lifestyle has been shown continually in exercise and nutrition to stave off disease progression.

It’s a misnomer of sense to say that someone who presents to me with the new-onset disease when we know the heart’s disease begins at an early age. In some instances, as early as age 10, if not before, and progresses throughout one’s life.  We see most heart attacks still occur from blockage areas that every doctor will ignore.  

It would never show up on an EKG, on a stress test. It would never, even during an angiogram an invasive procedure. We would not treat it. Those are the areas that lead to a heart attack. So our job is to stabilize that area as much as possible. As a physician, we typically know that the cardiologist implements certain medications to stabilize that inner lining called the endothelium.

But that also can be done through lifestyle. So when I talk to a patient, and they come into my office or, let’s say even better yet, when they’re in the cath lab with me. One of the first things I talk to them about is the case’s risk and benefits and describe the treatment options. So I make sure that I discuss the treatment options, including lifestyle medications, stenting, or open-heart surgery.

I put those in the context of the severity of the disease presentation, but never mutually exclusive.  Lifestyle intervention always needs to be a core component, but it may be the primary and sole component in some instances. And so I do explain that to folks where they can understand. I also explain that our goal is to start with the least harmful and then work our way up.

We start with lifestyle and get you moving.  Get you eating healthfully. We’re giving you medications and adjust the dosing accordingly.  If you fail that and there’s nothing else we can do, then we move over to putting stent. If you fail that, then we’re moving over to open-heart surgery. And folks kind of look at me, and their eyes are wide, and they’re scared. They’re saying, “you mean to open my chest?” And then I said, well…we could also go aggressive with nutrition. “You mean give up my meat?”; “You mean give up my burgers and fries?”

On the one hand, they’re scared about the idea of open-heart surgery. But on the other hand, they’re afraid about making the transition. My job is to settle them down in both instances and let them know that we’re there to help guide them and give them full recovery resources.

Sean Hashmi, MD

Looking at this stuff, in my practice, what I find is a lot of my patients suffer from information overload.  There was a time, at least for me growing up. I thought that it was tough to find information, and you had to dig. You had to go to this thing called a library. And my kids have no idea because they’ve been closed for a year. Nowadays, if they have a camera, every person can make themselves into an expert.

It is easy to cherry-pick the data. If I wanted to say the earth is flat, I guarantee you’ll find that study. When you see these patients, they have all of these preformed ideas about nutrition already. How do you help them go down that journey to an evidence-based lifestyle? Especially folks that grew up in poor neighborhoods. I can tell you when I was growing up, I had 50 cents for the day, and you could choose 50 cents for spending it on the bus ride home or having lunch.

Oftentimes, it was walking all those miles from Compton to Gardena was quite a lot.  I would say, no, I’ll take the bus ride, and I’ll skip the lunch. When I had food, Taco Bell was in Compton. We had Kentucky Fried Chicken. We had Burger King. And in those times, I mean, you could get so many tacos for a dollar.

Looking back in all those times on how I kind of grew up here when we first came here to America. Before that, when I was in Pakistan, we grew up in a little village. All of those habits are so hard to change. But change is possible. How do you get started?

Columbus Batiste, MD

When you mentioned that you grew up in Compton, I grew up in Compton. I grew up straight out of Compton. I didn’t know that about you.  So, you talked about my old stomping grounds.

Sean Hashmi, MD

I grew up in Gardena, and I stayed in Gardena.  I went to school at King  Drew in Compton.  At that time, it was a very violent area. You know, now people don’t realize Inglewood has million-dollar homes and multimillion-dollar homes.  We had meth houses where, you know, across the street from our house.  I came back from school. It was all blocked off, choppers, and the whole nine yards.

Now it has Space-X, which is two blocks away from us and all of this new stuff. So entire neighborhoods are changing. What’s not changing is the grocery stores andaccess to higher-quality foods. All of the terrible fast foods they’ve gotten just more manipulative. The menus have gotten more complex into understanding what is healthy and what is not.  And that’s why when we talk about change, I know people struggle.  I also know that what you do is you have the ability to reach people.  And that’s why I’m really curious to see how you help people start that journey?

Columbus Batiste, MD

That’s a great question. I appreciate that. You know, I’ll tell you, it’s hard. You have to meet people where they’re. You have to approach people with empathy and a level of love to understand where they’ve been and their circumstances. I think it’s critical. When you approach anyone with a sense of omniscient authority and speak down to them, that’s the easiest and quickest way to lose them.

I think first, is I validate who they are. What they’re doing?  Their culture? And I’ll tell you, you know, we can find healthy foods inside every culture. That’s not hard to do. So the first question I ask folks when they come into the office to see me, it doesn’t matter their race, their creed, their gender, any of that sort. I say, what are you eating for your health? I don’t ask them what they’re eating; I don’t ask them what their diet is; I don’t ask any of that. What are you eating for your health? And invariably, they’ll start to go off on some diversion of the try to either impress me or either to tell me about the particular dietary name that they’re using or whatever else.

I’ll ask them, what are you eating for your health? Invariably, we go back down to the basics: vegetables, fruits, some degree of grains.  And there may be a dispute over this and that, and we begin to have a conversation. I ask about, well, what’s preventing it? So I never forget having a conversation with someone.

I mean, we’re imperfect beings. We’re trying to be better each day than we were before. I never forget one patient as I kind of went in, and I was a little bit on my soapbox talking with him, his wife, about what they should do. I was talking more than I was listening. And at the end, he seemed frustrated, and he said to me, you know Doc, I live in an apartment.  We have cockroaches all around.

Those of you who don’t know what cockroaches are, they are black bugs that are kind of big and very annoying, and nothing kills them.  They love to go in the kitchen. They crawl around at night and so forth. My patient said I can’t keep any of that foodstuff. We begin to talk. As I sat there, and my soul crushed. Really? And I tried to reach him, and I said, listen,” ok, here’s what we’re going to do.” I completely shifted directions. I said, “that 99 cent store, I know you guys have inside your neighborhood. You’re going to go there. Go to the freezer section and get some frozen stuff is what I want you to get.”

I want to get some can beans. Don’t get me the pork and beans. Give me the can beans. Then what you’re going to do is put it in the microwave. We’re going to make a bowl. We’re going to get a frozen rice bowl in the bag, rice, whatever we have to eat in that way. You’re not worrying about cooking your meal, prepping.  I’m going to help teach you a way. Use tortillas. Use whatever to make food that you can have that will be cost-efficient; That’s going to be health-promoting and still make you better off tomorrow than you are today. That’s one thing that I begin to try to do to emphasize is a positive mindset instead of the negative one. When you tell someone, you can’t. I love this so much. I always give credit to you. I give talks, and I kind of glean things that the great Dr. Hashmi has said.

I had a guest on one of my on my show that, fortunately, you’re going to come on to as well, from England, Dr. Chidi. Dr. Chidi’s method is he never tells people they can’t. He says, “I’m not going to tell you you can’t have anything. I’m going to ask you to wait 30 minutes.” You can have whatever you want, but you’re just going to choose to wait 30 minutes, and then during that 30 minutes, you’re going to go ahead and have an apple or something else.

If at the end of the 30 minutes you still want whatever that thing is. Go ahead!  What’s likely to happen is that now all of a sudden, by eating something healthy, you have the nutrients you need.  That’s going to embolden you to put a wall up and force your willpower and help you. That’s the issue of not resisting. So those are some of the things that I try and tap into my patients. Into those who seek my help is focusing on what you are eating for your health.

I also focus on using SMART goals. Being very specific, not to say I’m going to eat more vegetables. What kind of vegetables are you going to eat? Is it broccoli?  Is it kale?  Is it red leaf lettuce? I mean, be very specific! Don’t be just detailed, but be measurable. How much are you going to eat? A whole head of lettuce, 12 ounces, half a cup of a cup cooked or raw?

It’ll be precise. Outline everything, make a plan. Studies have shown that when you make a plan, the likelihood of you succeeding increases exponentially. We want achievable things that are timely. We don’t set them on this timestamp forever and say, OK, I want you to eat rabbit food for the rest of your life. We’re going to go ahead and let’s do it for six weeks and let’s see how you feel.

If you feel worse, you tell me, and I will buy you a steak and eggs. We put a specific time stamp on it. The other thing that I attempt to do in this process to help guide them is to shift them in meeting them where they’re.

Sean Hashmi, MD

It’s fascinating hearing you talk. A study was done looking at biases and discrimination. People who are overweight or suffering from illnesses were asked where do they get the most negative information? Where do they get the most discrimination? It turns out that the number one place is your physician. It turns out physicians are the most judgmental people when it comes to talking about patients’ weight. They assume that everything is because the person is overweight and so forth.

The number two is their loved ones, their own family members. If you have the respected authority that you trust and you have your inner circle of people that are supposed to be your blood relatives, and they’re the closest thing to you are the ones who are shaming you, it makes it hard for you to have faith. This concept of meeting somebody where they’re, it’s so powerful. We, as physicians, have so much power that we don’t even realize. Our words impact people tremendously.

And that’s where what you’re referring to helps people arrive at specific goals, smart goals, making sure that they’re descriptive in their terms. In some cultures, including mine, people don’t like to be disrespectful in front of a doctor. Suppose you told me to eat five servings of vegetables. I would nod yes,  walk out and never do a darn thing that you said. That’s because I don’t want to sound disrespectful.

Having a conversation and building that trust, I think it’s so important. That’s why I wanted everybody to hear how you approach things because I think it’s very sensible, it’s logical. And more importantly, it’s evidence-based. This is exactly how you get people to change. You don’t get people to change from the old school way, taking a hammer and beating them until they decide to change.

Columbus Batiste, MD

Exactly. We have to respect people. One of the things is that I think what’s essential is someone asked me this question earlier today. They said, so what are your thoughts about Diet X, which contradicts the research. They were asking about keto and paleo and everything else like that. And I said, you know, I’ll tell you that I find a lot of value in that diet because it starts you off by moving you away from the Standard American diet and hugely powerful. When you move away from the Standard American Diet, you will start to see beneficial changes.

You’re going to lose weight. You’re going to start seeing slight improvements in some of the metabolic profile from you losing weight. But here’s the catch. You have to ask yourself, what question are you asking at this moment? Is your ultimate question for losing weight, or is your ultimate question health? What can I do to invest? The biggest return on investment for my health, for my dietary approach in terms of overall? That may be a different question. It may lead you to a different pathway.  It’s up to you if you want me to share what my knowledge base is on that.

Sean Hashmi, MD

If you focus on weight, you only get weight. If you focus on health, you can improve your health, and the weight will follow. You will get improvements in how you look, you don’t regrow your hair, but everything else gets better. Focus on health, not weight. It’s the process, not the outcome. I love that.

I understand you’re involved in an amazing project, and you are also writing a book, which I’m excited about. I don’t know if you want to share some details about that. Tell me a little bit about the Slave Food project, how it came about? What was your sort of thought process? What is the work you’re doing? The great community involvement that you have with it.

Columbus Batiste, MD

So my question I have for you to ponder is, what was your first reaction when you heard the word the slave food? Now I’ll tell you how it began. When I decided that I would get engaged in adding to my repertoire of treatments for patients’ lifestyles. I realized that I was kind of giving a cookie-cutter message.

I was forcing folks to kind of fit into a particular area based on the information. I realized that I wanted something culturally specific. That was specific to my indigenous population, specific to my South Asians, my Hispanic Latino population, and my African-American population.

I knew I always wanted to do that. As I began to in my short time with patients and we’re fortunate within Kaiser Permanente to be able to have a little bit more time. There are colleagues on the outside who have minimal time to spend with patients. I recognize that I need to give patients information. I start by providing books. Probably 10 percent read the books.

Then I started thinking, OK, maybe it’s more visual. Our society has shifted. They want information that’s delivered to them in a slightly different fashion. So as we begin this process, I imagine I reconnected with an old friend who has a doctorate in public health. He is a medical doctor as well for urgent care.

That’s how this platform evolved.  We start looking at the aspects of stress and the social determinants of health and looking specifically at what causes the disparities. Looking at disparities and that, we chose first the African-American population, not just because I’m African-American, but because this is the country’s most desperate population. 2020 just revealed this, but this is something that’s been going on for decades that we’ve known about the disparities in health outcomes in the poor health outcomes.

The question begs to why. As we begin to do this and what was so interesting, we had I went to historically black college and university, which has gotten a lot of buzz since the new vice presidents in the office. We had dinner probably about five, six years ago. My wife had around the table these lawyers and doctors, all who graduated from there.

We’re talking all of a sudden one of my old friends is a lawyer. He said, what’s the deal with black people? Well, I turned around and looked at him, and he said, why? None of the white guys or Jewish guys get told that they have to have a prostate check or get a colonoscopy. But I have to get that earlier.

What’s the deal with that? That was the springboard for the concept of slavery. And that’s why we began to discuss where we are going to call it. All of a sudden, my colleague said, “slavery.” I was like, I don’t know if there’s going to be a lot of consternation.  I started thinking about it more and more. I was like, yes.  Those of you who have not watched any of the segments on slave food or anything else on YouTube.  We’re doing as part of nonprofit and other avenues. This is looking at the intersection between stress, discrimination, and nutritional stress.  Its role in creating health disparities.

Most people think only of the historical connotation of slavery. We talk about how we are enslaved to our environment. We spoke about growing up in Gardena, in Compton.  You said wonderfully in reflection on the fact of describing for folks essentially a food apartheid state. Some call that food desert or food swamp where you have an overabundance of nutritionally poor calorie-dense foods.

Food deserts are an absence of health-promoting foods. We know that grocers can set the prices of the vegetables and things of that nature that may differ. We know there is a lack of quality vegetables and fruits in many of these underserved areas. Living in these environments, you also have government subsidies that play a role inside. Some of the fast-food establishments and bodegas and the foods sold there, it’s reported. Those who are financially troubled, reliant on SNAP and WIC, and their use of many of these same food substances lead to their demise. As we begin to look at this, is it a choice? Do I have a choice when I’m living in these crucibles of conflict? And now that’s all around me? I have five burgers for a dollar and everything else that I have because of historical redlining and other aspects. And I’m limited with how many groceries I can carry. There were even restraints on using things like delivering groceries if you had WIC before.

So all of these limitations play a role and lay the foundation. Revealing that to individuals doesn’t eliminate personal responsibility. Still, it’s giving an overriding explanation as to things that have been laid that may lend itself towards this idea of health disparities.

There is a great movie back in the day called Trading Places. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen that movie. Trading Places, for those who haven’t seen it.  It had Eddie Murphy. A young Eddie Murphy and a young Dan Aykroyd. And what these brothers, these billionaire brothers decide to do as they said, I’m going to bet you, Mortimer, a dollar that I can shift the outcome of a person’s life by changing their circumstances.

And they demonstrate this through humor inside this movie, but this is a reflection of society. And what we faced with. We’re looking at people and saying. Why don’t you do better? But they’re given a challenging situation to succeed, and they’re living sicker and dying sooner than everyone else.

That’s where we’re impassioned in delivering the message, slightly different than perhaps has been delivered out there in telling more details in terms of the historical connotation, socioeconomic and beyond, social determinants of health. Political determinants of health, beyond political determinants of health. A moral determinant of health that is lacking nationally to change the model and the outcomes.

Sean Hashmi, MD

Wow.  It’s such a fascinating area to study. I’ve seen so many people, and yes, you can be the hardest worker in the world, but when you create so many obstacles, and the person doesn’t even know what lies on the other side, it makes it so difficult. So kudos to you for looking at this and looking at a way of thinking that will help people understand how many biases exist. It’s so simple to say, you know, so-and-so group eats fast food, and that’s why they have high blood pressure because yada, yada, yada.

What causes them to eat fast food in the first place? Did you realize that they’re working three jobs to put food on the table? And in those three jobs, the only access they have to food may be the one that only costs a dollar or less. Because if they spend more, they’re taking food away from the children. I’m sure you come from a family where your parents sacrificed so much. And I can tell you, my parents did. I mean, the stuff they did for us to have that chance is them losing years and years of their lives.

You and I owe it not just to our parents but to so many others around us. We’re blessed that we have this opportunity, this talent, and the skill to share with people. And now we’re both in a position where we can give back. Yes. You know, it’s not the life that we make for ourselves. It’s a life that we create for others. That’s the impact in the world.

That’s the stuff that our children will see. Every time I talk about nutrition and tell my daughters what I do., I try to share why I’m doing what I’m doing. Why is Daddy waking up at four-thirty every day to write articles, do nutrition, and do research and stuff? It’s because that’s how I know how to give back.

Columbus Batiste, MD

First, I have to ask you, so what were your thoughts when you first heard slave food?

Well, I get a ton of responses, usually from folks, and it varies until they listen or until they have an opportunity to have me explain.

Sean Hashmi, MD

I had no idea. I hadn’t looked at any of the stuff. I heard the name. Immediately I started thinking of the research so far.

So here I’m thinking, the addictive nature of food. So essentially, whatever food is highly absorbable, of course, that causes the spikes, and so forth that’s loaded in salt, sugar, and fat. It has such an addictive nature to it. My mind immediately went to science. “Slavery” is all going to be about the addiction to food. It’s not so much even that it’s in our control, that it’s just the environment we’re in.

As a result of it, that essentially addictive nature of it then turns into habits that are so ingrained that we can’t break them.  We essentially become slaves to the environment in the food that we have.

Columbus Batiste, MD

Love that man. I’m telling you, that’s why we’re brothers from another mother. You go right away.  That was such a value-add because I even skipped over that when I was explaining slavery. I didn’t even delve into the food industry’s role and crafting and making the food neuro addictive. The research that’s been shown resonates there. Fat and the excessive amounts that are located in specific areas compared to others.

They turn to food and other aspects. They’re there to think somehow that will give them relief because the food has been crafted to provide you with a short surge of dopamine and serotonin. That gives you this sense, but it leaves you empty, wanting more, and you come back for more and more and more, searching for that same feeling that you never can replicate. Searching for that feeling of a void will never be filled by no matter how many of whatever your thing is. So there’s so much power that’s there in this food.

And that level of this point is a friendlier term than addiction. It’s, but it really, truly is that, and I’ll tell you what resonated with me was years ago. So I shifted and crafted. So I’ve been a vegetarian. I was vegetarian for years, really more appropriately described as a junk foodaterian. When I went to be much more intentional about my nutritional intake, I remember being at the grocery store, you know, and I have all this good stuff in there.

You know how the lines are at the grocery store. You see what surrounds the isles of the checkout line. At that last moment, I turned, and I grabbed whatever was on there, and I put it on the conveyor belt and the checkout clerk. I’ll never forget it. I can still remember the look on the person’s face. He said, man, I thought you were the healthiest person I ever saw until I realize you’re just like the rest of us.

He scanned the candies I had purchased. I never forget that and the power that it had over me. For me, despite my decision to do it, to eat healthily. Despite my understanding and knowledge of the detrimental effect that I could have on myself from repetitive uses of it. I still chose to purchase it. There’s a control that’s there. In the end, it’s a balance, and I understand in terms of not everyone has the same level of control as everyone else.

Everyone’s going to have their burdens and cross to bear in terms of things that they can be more tolerable and have small amounts and be fine and others less. But you know, Sean, I use this as an analogy for patients in my clinic. An awful lot is that when I’m treating a patient for whether it’s heart failure or hypertension or whatever it may be, the dose I give one person is not the same as the dose I give another the second person. One person, the smallest quantity I have of the smallest dose, may send them into an array of symptoms, and they’re like, I can’t tolerate this.

I give the max dose to another patient, and they still are like, I need to provide a second and third medication to them. If we only had the same sort of barometer for food, knowing the ill effects of food in our body.  I would know the precise nutrition, the exact amount for whatever that junk food or pleasurable food that I can have that won’t cause ill effects in my body.  That would be phenomenal.

But we’re not there. Unfortunately, what happens is that we’re late. We have the potential to lay the groundwork for the disease that festers underneath the surface, that grows and heats until it boils over the top. And now we realize that that part was scalding hot the whole time, and we never knew it.

Sean Hashmi, MD

Wow.  That’s so interesting. That’s precisely it.  When you’re trying to influence people, how much does it take to influence somebody? And sometimes you say the smallest thing, and you find out you changed somebody’s life. And then there are the others where you spend your whole life trying to change them, and they can’t change. In nephrology, I think the saddest part of what I do is all of the sickest patients with cardiology, oncology, you name service, and their sickest patients eventually come to us.

Every week that I’m on call, I always have one or two patients that pass away. Nephrology is one of those devastating professions where you lose so many people. The hardest thing is you always wonder about your patients, and you ask yourself, could I have done something more to convince them of the right path? Could I have done something to change their life? Yeah. And it eats you up.

Some people aren’t that attached to their patients. I’m the opposite. This is like a psych issue with me because they’re like my family. I get so attached.  When I was younger, and I started at Kaiser Permanente, I would go to the funeral when a patient passed away. I can’t.  There’s no way. I would be the last guy who’s still crying after their whole family has left.

It was just devastating to me. I would come home and tell my wife and I said, you know, I wish I had yelled at them. I wish I’d done something different because if they had listened to me. But, you know, those were the things, but we have to make the differences where you can, how you can, when you can, and that’s what you can do. So what are you hoping for with this project?  What is the ultimate goal of yours?

Columbus Batiste, MD

Ultimate goal? To be honest with you is to reach more people than I can reach by doing a lecture in front of a thousand people. We were traveling, and we were giving lectures in different cities across the United States over the past three or four years. Covid changed that. The silver lining was that it forced us to go into the virtual world.  Now we’ve had up to five thousand views in terms of some of the lectures and everything that we’ve done and the guests that have come on board.

So our reach is greater. That’s the ultimate goal to reach someone where I can just change just one person. That reached to hear something if it resonates. I describe this.  This message and this power of lifestyle can be wrapped. It’s like telling them it’s like a movie. There are many different superhero movies Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Black Panther. They’re all good guys versus bad guys.

There’s some conflict, maybe a love interest. In the end, the good guy wins unless there’s a sequel. Right? That’s generally the script. The issue is, is the fact of how can we craft different movies of different people? How can we truly prepare this message of hope, this message that’s tied to wellness and the simple things of life to people that will resonate and that’s applicable that they can go ahead and make a shift and a change to something better.

That’s the goal. The goal is to spur on a grassroots effort, not about the Standard American Diet, vegan style.  Not about standard American diet, gluten-free style, but about eating real food, whole food, health, promoting foods in their natural state as much as possible to augment your health. That’s the goal.

That’s what I espouse to my patients and those who reach out to me.

Sean Hashmi, MD

So tell me, where can people learn more about what you’re doing is your website, YouTube channel? Where can people find out more?

Columbus Batiste, MD

Well, until the book comes out, I’m working as much as I can between clinical practice and fathering and other things like that. But, you know, we’re on Facebook at slave food is where you can find us on Facebook, on YouTube, Slavery Project, or Slavefood.org, the nonprofit that I am associated with. It’s called My Healthy Heart Nation. And it’s myHHN.org. And I am looking to begin the process of being a factor in the change movement.

This is why it’s such an honor to be in this battle with you. I’m not sure what the new census will tell us, but there are roughly three hundred and twenty million people in the United States. That’s more than enough work for all of us to do to get on this in this battle, put up the fight, and craft a message that may resonate with people.

Sean Hashmi, MD

What would you say are your top three or four tips? You would say towards a healthy heart, healthy life.

Columbus Batiste, MD

Start outside the kitchen. I tell you to encourage folks to take time for what irrespective of your belief system, prayer, and meditation. It’s been shown to increase your prefrontal cortex and your thought process for you, everyday things that you want to do, a form of a keystone habit. The second thing that I encourage folks to do is ensure that they move and get NEAT with non-exercise activity thermogenesis. That you’re moving as much as possible is essential to your body and your well-being.  If you can as much outdoors as possible if you’re in that environment.

I think another thing that I recommend to folks is getting rest. There are power and rest. There’s a level of trust that has to happen at rest because we always do in this fast-paced society that there’s more that I need to do and trusting that what I’ve done is good enough. What happens when you allow yourself to rest. The amount of neural connections that are made and the cognition and the hormonal balance that begins to take place that can help augment your desires to improve your health and wellbeing, especially as it relates to weight loss, is powerful.

The next is hydration. I believe many of us walk around dehydrated. We’re eating or drinking caffeinated beverages that cause us to lose. I’m a speak to nephrologist trying to quote, throw stuff to him, free water, making us in this chronic dehydrated state, losing electrolytes and not replacing it, not replenishing it with hydration. That’s valuable.

So those are our four things. The next thing I do is try to challenge myself. To go ahead and see what green vegetables can you add, what colored fruit can you have? Berries? Can you have what beans? What grains can you have and be very intentional with that? Small amounts, I believe in small steps, atomic habits. You want something the most actionable thing to do. So when you choose prayer, meditation, or deep breathing, choose for 30 seconds or a minute.

I could do that. No problem, Doc.  OK.  Next thing when you were choosing to sleep people say I’m too busy. I can’t sleep. OK, go to bed ten minutes early. Just ten minutes. OK, I could do 10 minutes. Ok.

Got to ten minutes consistently, and every quarter you’re going to increase. Next you’re going to do exercise just five minutes. Five minutes just do a little something. Choose something small and actionable. Then here’s the last thing. Get yourself an old-school calendar, not the phone. Get an old school calendar, and hang it up on your wall. Whatever it is that you choose as your goal put an X on that day when you complete it.

Every time you do it, and you visually look at it, your goal is not to miss more than two days in a row. If you can start to begin a sequence, you’re not going to want to stop it. That’s your reward. That’s your reward is not to break the chain. You don’t want to be the weak link. So set your goal achievable and have something visual that you can go ahead and assign to understand that you’re succeeding in this.

Sean Hashmi, MD

I love it.  I’m so grateful to you for taking the time, sharing all of this incredible stuff. I can’t wait for the book to come out. Thank you.  There is so much stuff that we can do. There’s so much good. And what Dr. Batiste talked about is the SELF Principle: Sleep, exercise, love, and food.

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Sean Hashmi MD
Articles: 56

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