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5 Ingredients for Health: Starting with Food

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On Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg, Dr. Robert Graham—board-certified physician and founder of FRESHMed NYC—combines mainstream medical practices with therapies inspired by ancient wisdom: an integrative model of medicine. "My dad was a biochemist, so I grew up in this integrative model. One of the things that really stood out is my mom was distrustful about the conventional Western model. She still thinks she's the only doctor in the house, because food is such a powerful medicine, especially from her culture," said Graham.


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"I realized there had to be some new model of healthcare that honors the ancient wisdom or traditional medicine approach and incorporated, safely and effectively, into the conventional medical model," explained Graham. In 2016, Graham started FRESH Med, an integrative health and wellness center. Through his practice, he aims to address the root causes of today's diseases, rather than the symptoms of them, with traditional medical methods such as yoga, meditation, and healthy food. "I'm just a new messenger of an old story," said Graham.

At Graham's practice, however, science supports every treatment. "My three pillars of what I do, from food, to meditation, to positive psychology—whatever I recommend—I always tell all my patients: it has to be safe, effective, and evidence-based. That's what we call science," said Graham.

Food is Graham's first ingredient for health at the practice: plant-based diets can cure diseases for patients and the planet. In 2013, Graham created Victory Greens, the first edible organic garden on a rooftop hospital that provided patients with healthy food. Graham also recently completed culinary training and has taught more than 200 healthcare workers and medical residents how to prepare healthy meals—inspired by his belief that if doctors have healthy habits, their patients will too. "The best thing you can do for your health is cook your own food," said Graham.

With five new ingredients for health—food, relaxation, exercise, sleep and happiness—Graham is seeking to place the tools for healing directly in the hands of patients facing disease. "I don't believe hospitals are where health begins; it happens in our communities, our homes, our kitchens, and our gyms," said Graham.

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