Six Weeks To Fitness

Dr. Marvin Singh is the founder of Precision Clinic, and one of only a few integrative gastroenterologists in the United States. After graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, he went on to do his internal medicine training at the University of Michigan Hospital. After which he completed a gastroenterology hepatology fellowship at Scripps Clinic, Torrey Pines. He then went on to fulfill a fellowship in integrative medicine and was trained by Dr. Andrew Weil at the Andrew Weil Center for Integrated Medicine in Tucson, Arizona.  In addition to being a sought-after speaker and consultant, Dr. Singh had been featured on ABC News, Readers Digest, Sirius XM, radio, and many other platforms. And here today to talk about the keys to a healthy lifestyle and his new book, Rescue Your Health, is Dr. Marvin Singh. Dr. Singh, how are you today?

Dr. Marvin Singh:

I'm all right, how are you? Good morning.

Vincent Ferguson:

Before we talk about the keys to a healthy lifestyle and your new book, Rescue Your Health, tell my listeners and viewers where did Doctor Singh grow up and when did you know you wanted to be a medical doctor?

Dr. Marvin Singh:

Well, I'm an east coaster actually. So that's why I actually know what fall feels like. I was born in Virginia and grew up in Northern Virginia and lived there most of my life, all the way through college and medical school even. And then I started moving around a bit after I finished medical school and went on to residency at the University of Michigan. So, that's where I grew and I guess I always knew I wanted to be a doctor from a very young age.

Dr. Marvin Singh:

I always tell the story that our sixth grade elementary graduation had a theme and the theme was hopes and dreams. And I remember we had to draw our own silhouette. I don't even know how I drew that because I'm a terrible drawer, but I guess I did it one way or the other, my parents still have it. And basically you have your shadow and you draw your silhouette and then on the bottom you had to write, "My hopes and dreams are" ... and everybody had to fill that in. And way back then I wrote, "To become a doctor." So I guess from a very early age, I've always known that I wanted to do something that was able to help people and help people feel better.

Vincent Ferguson:

Wow. So do you have role models though, who basically gave you the feeling that you want to be just like them? A lot of us have role models that we want to be like.

Dr. Marvin Singh:

Yeah. I mean, throughout my career, I guess I've had different kinds of role models. But from an early age, obviously my parents are role models for me and taught me about work ethic and doing good things for people. I have a few doctors in my family, an uncle and an aunt who were role models to me early on. I guess that helped get me excited about medicine. My aunt and uncle both, I remember, I don't remember how old I was, but I must've been really young. I remember, you have to do these little reports or book reports and things like that on different topics when you're in grade school. I remember they used to send me little medical pamphlets and look at my reports and help me write them and stuff like that. So, from a very young age, I guess I had some influence from medicine, I guess.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh yeah. But you know, you're not just an average, regular, conventional doctor. You practice integrative medicine. What's the difference between the two?

Dr. Marvin Singh:

Well, as Dr Weil says, "Integrative medicine is just good medicine." And that's what I learned along the ways. When I started my career as a gastroenterologist, I realized that something was missing from how we practice medicine and in what we do for people. We were really good at saving lives and doing things like that when somebody is really sick, but what about the majority of people who have ongoing recurrent symptoms or issues? What about them? Why do they keep going from doctor to doctor, to doctor all the time? That was frustrating to me early in my career. I'm just realizing that you don't get that kind of exposure when you're learning or training or anything like that. But once you're out in the real world and you get a taste of what it's really like out there, I felt a little lost, actually.

Dr. Marvin Singh:

I found Dr. Weil and integrative medicine and started learning a little bit and then enrolled myself in the fellowship and learned a lot about a lot of different things that I hadn't known about before or really appreciated before. That really made a big difference on me personally, and on how I take care of patients, in general. Integrative medicine allows you to do whatever you're going to do normally as a regular conventional doctor, but then also have an understanding that the person in front of you, the person you're taking care of is a human. It's a real person with emotions in an environment, with a family, with stressors, with dietary issues.

Dr. Marvin Singh:

I don't think we really ... I mean, I think we know this as doctors, but I don't think we appreciated or paused to think about it. We just usually are more in the go, go, go mode. Patient X is in front of you with X,Y,Z symptoms, so you're going to respond with A,B,C solution and that's the end of the story. "Adios, see you later." But that's the reason why a lot of people continue to have problems is because the actual problem is not addressed. And so integrative medicine allows us to do that.

Vincent Ferguson:

Wow. I know that in conventional medicine, I was always told, 'There's a pill for every I'll." But with what you're doing, it seems like you're looking to address the person holistically and really get down to the root cause of the problem.

Dr. Marvin Singh:

Yeah. Even if you need a pill for your I'll, right now, let's find out where that ill is coming from so you don't need the pill anymore, maybe.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes. Very good. Very good. Now here at Six Weeks of Fitness, we normally talk about the importance of exercise and nutrition if you want to achieve optimal health. But is that really the definition of optimal health, exercise and nutrition, or is it more to it than that?

Dr. Marvin Singh:

There's more to it than that. I think that's also part of the place where we get lost. I mean, as a gastroenterologist, we see people who have issues with their weight or fatty liver. I remember in my notes in the early days, the default is diet, weight loss, exercise, diet, weight loss, exercise. You just write that down and you say, "Hey, you need to get on a better diet, lose some weight and exercise." And that's literally what you tell people. And they're like, "Okay, I already knew I was fat. So, that doesn't really get me anywhere."

Vincent Ferguson:

Very true.

Dr. Marvin Singh:

You know, I'm big on personalization. So personalizing that approach is one part of it. But diet, what kind of diet? How are you going to lose the weight? Diet is important, obviously, exercise and movement is important, but somewhere a lot of other things. Your sleep hygiene, how you're reducing stress, how you're mitigating toxins in your environment and even how much fun you're having in life and what the status of your social relationships are. These all, believe it or not, can influence our gut health, our microbiome and our overall wellbeing. And these are all risk factors for a lot of chronic inflammation that many of us have.

Dr. Marvin Singh:

And so addressing those is also important and if you don't, you're missing the piece. I mean, I tell people, if you say, "Okay, I'm going to change my diet. I'm going to go vegan. I'm going to lose weight and for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I'm just going to eat broccoli."

Dr. Marvin Singh:

And, "Okay you went vegan, you're eating vegetables, good job, good job." But first of all, your diets not diverse so, that's not really good. And there's more to it than that. Because if you talk to the person and you find out that they're only sleeping four hours a night and they have anger management issues and a lot of built up frustration and stress over the years, they're not going to lose weight. It doesn't matter if they're only eating broccoli all day long. This is only part of the puzzle.

Vincent Ferguson:

Wow. So that, to me, you're giving me a list of things that you need to do in order to achieve a healthy lifestyle. So it's more than just diet and exercise. You said, it's sleep, it's social interaction, it's stress relief, all kinds of things.

Dr. Marvin Singh:

Because remember, what are we trying to lose weight from? Our body. What is our body? Our body is not just a singular issue. There are so many things happening inside of our body. I tell people what's happening inside of your body, just imagine you get a snow globe, right? And the snow globe has many snowflakes in it. And you say, weight loss, just like, what do they have those magic eight balls, when you say something and you shake it? You say weight-loss, and you shake this snow globe. You see all the snowflakes flying around everywhere. If you want to know how to lose weight, the answers are in all those snowflakes and how those snowflakes are interchanging with each other.

Dr. Marvin Singh:

So how could it just be diet as the only thing. Diet may be one snowflake, but there are other things going on there too. There are mineral, vitamin issues. There may be stress issues. There may be medications that you're taking or not taking. There's a lot of things involved and the relationship and the interchange between all of those snowflakes, that's what creates that new balance you're looking for. If you're not looking at all those things, you're missing part of the puzzle.

Vincent Ferguson:

Right. So you look at a diverse amount of things to come up with a conclusion of what it is, the problem with the patient.

Dr. Marvin Singh:

Right.

Vincent Ferguson:

Is that what you do at Precision Clinic?

Dr. Marvin Singh:

That's exactly what we do at Precision Clinic. We look at as many different elements of health and life as we can to try to personalize a program for somebody for optimal health.

Vincent Ferguson:

What is the connection between your gut and chronic disease?

Dr. Marvin Singh:

That's a great question. There's a big connection because our immune system is obviously the big controller of inflammation and a lot of chronic disease comes from chronic, low grade inflammation. And where does a majority of our immune system sit? The majority of our immune system sits in the digestive tract. At least 70% of our immune system is in the digestive tract. When we say digestive tract, we're not necessarily just referring to the organ itself, but what lives inside the organ? That's what the microbiome is called. The gut microbiome is the forest or ecosystem of trillions of bacteria that live inside of our digestive tract. And these little guys are the ones that manage all of these things. And so we take care of them in the proper way, and they'll take care of us back in the proper way.

Vincent Ferguson:

So how do we take care of them, Dr? I want to know, man.

Dr. Marvin Singh:

That's the magic question, right? So understanding what's going on with them and who they are and what their balance is, is part of the process, because it's hard to build a house without a blueprint, unless you're some genius or something. But you still need to know what parts you need and you have to order those parts and put them together in the right way, assemble them the right way. So, investigating your body and some of the different elements is part of the process. And then sometimes it's not really that complicated of a process. The body is very complicated, yet simple at the same time. That's what makes it cool. The microbiome responds to stress reduction, to optimal diet, to sleeping properly, to exercising. All of these things are associated with microbiome balances. So if you do these things, nicely, in accordance with what your body needs, then your microbiome will find a way to more of what we call a homeostasis or an even balance. When that happens, then good things happen to your body.

Vincent Ferguson:

Hmm. What are your feelings about probiotics?

Dr. Marvin Singh:

So probiotics are bacteria that we can take as a pill or a supplement form that could help keep or create a balance or improve the balance in your microbiome. Different probiotics may be appropriate for different people and sometimes probiotics are not necessarily the right answer at the moment for somebody. It really depends on what their symptoms are and what's going on. But I often do use probiotics to help create a balance in patients, in their microbiome, if their microbiome suggests that.

Dr. Marvin Singh:

The other thing is, you don't always necessarily have to take a pill of a probiotic, you can eat probiotic foods. And I like that as an option often, because not only do you get to fill your belly and eat something healthy and get the nutritional value of that food, but then you also give yourself a dose of good bacteria at the same time. So, sometimes that's a really good option as well.

Vincent Ferguson:

I remember reading a quote from Hippocrates that said, "Let food be your medicine and medicine your food." So is that what he was alluding to?

Dr. Marvin Singh:

Exactly, he also said all disease begins in the gut and, and I always joke and say he probably didn't know what in the world he was talking about, but he was totally spot on. This guy was way, way ahead of his time.

Vincent Ferguson:

Way ahead of his time. That's amazing. Now, and speaking of health nutrition, all that good stuff, can you determine what nutrition needs a patient has by their genetic makeup?

Dr. Marvin Singh:

We can start to do that now, yeah. We can do a genetic test that can help us understand what potential deficiencies you might be prone to, compared to the average person or somebody who doesn't have a particular genetic mutation. And if we have an understanding of that, then we can try to eat accordingly so that we can avoid those nutritional deficiencies. That's really one of the main things to underscore with regards to precision medicine. That it's really designed to help you prevent getting a problem or developing an issue later on. If you know that, "Hey, I have a gene that that's going to give me a higher risk for vitamin D and calcium deficiency," and, you know you may be at higher risk for osteoporosis or osteopenia later in life, then you're going to want to eat accordingly. You may want to make sure you really stay on top of your vitamin levels. You want to make sure you do weight bearing exercises. You can do all those things and then you can try to prevent and avoid developing osteoporosis later on in life.

Dr. Marvin Singh:

But if you never knew about it, then you're just going to go about doing whatever you were going to do. And then it's rolling the dice in whether something happens or not.

Vincent Ferguson:

Exactly, and speaking of vitamin D, I understand that's very important to immune health. What other supplements do you recommend?

Dr. Marvin Singh:

Vitamin D is very important. A lot of us actually do have vitamin D deficiency. Doing a lot of genetics, a lot of people actually have a genetic mutation for vitamin D deficiency too. So perhaps there's a common thread in a lot of people there.

Dr. Marvin Singh:

What supplements somebody takes really depends on who they are, what their purposes are, what their goals are, what they need, what medicines they're on, what diagnosis they have. Because you have to take a lot of that into consideration because you want to make sure that you give proper treatment. I tell people, "Supplements, yes, they're natural therapies. Yes, they're available over the counter. Yes, you don't need a prescription for them, but you should treat them like medicines too." That's, I think, one of the things that sometimes, maybe people don't appreciate as much.

Dr. Marvin Singh:

You may just go to the aisle in Whole Foods where all the supplements are and be like, "Oh yeah, look, this says vitality. Let me grab one of those. Oh yeah. This says digestion. Let me grab one of that. Let me grab one of this." And then you walk out with five, six different things. And I see people all the time, it's not any wrongdoing on their side, it's just that maybe we don't appreciate it as well, and some of these things can actually cause problems to your body. Some of these things, when you combine them together, can actually cause problems. You may not have known that.

Dr. Marvin Singh:

For example, you may say, "Oh, I have anxiety, so I'm going to drink this kava tea. But I'm going to go out for some drinks later on this evening and I had my kava tea earlier this morning and I feel great." But you know what? Kava and alcohol don't mix together. You can really hurt your liver that way. So really, it's important to make sure you are taking something for the right reason. Just like you wouldn't go to the store and say, "Oh, let me grab some Lipitor while I'm there because I think my cholesterol is high." You want to make sure that you need it, right?

Vincent Ferguson:

Yeah, most definitely, most definitely. So how does one determine what supplements are good for them?

Dr. Marvin Singh:

Well, a lot of times it's good to do an evaluation with a doctor and see. Do you need particular kinds of vitamins? Do you have inflammation? Do you have joint aches or pains? It all depends on what's going on there. For general health, taking a multivitamin or a B complex vitamin, sometimes is helpful. A lot of people take vitamin C and vitamin D and things like that for their immune system. So those are some of the basics. A lot of times people may take turmeric supplements if they have arthritis or they're concerned about inflammation. So there are different kinds of things that people may use based on what their issues are, or priorities are.

Vincent Ferguson:

Excellent. Excellent. Now, if someone has, let's say cancer or heart disease in their family, does that mean that they are going to be predisposed to having heart disease and cancer themselves down the road?

Dr. Marvin Singh:

Well, it's a risk factor and life's all about risk and understanding the risks. Sometimes there's a genetic basis to things and sometimes there's not. Sometimes people can sporadically develop a malignancy and maybe there is no genetic basis. Or maybe they're the first person in the family who's going to have the problem, we don't know. But family history is important to look at because it helps us understand what your potential risks might be. If your dad had a heart attack at 40 and your dad's dad had a heart attack at 40, and his dad had a heart attack at 40, then it's probable that you have a family history or some genetic mutation in this family history that is contributing to this risk coming down the male line in your family for heart disease. And so if you understand that gene, if you do a test and you understand that gene, what the problem is with that gene, and then try to do some research or understanding, has anybody done any investigations into what things could be done in people who have that gene defect, then maybe you can try to mitigate that problem.

Dr. Marvin Singh:

And you can also understand what you can do to prevent that problem from happening. Because I tell people, "Just because your dad and your granddad had a heart attack at 40 does not mean that you have to have a heart attack at 40. It's not a life sentence." Our genes are basically our blueprint, but they're not our destiny. They don't dictate what must happen to us. There's more to it than that, interestingly enough.

Dr. Marvin Singh:

On top of our DNA is what we call the epigenome. And the epigenome is you can think of it as light switches on the genes. And just because the gene is there, just because you have the light switch on your wall, doesn't mean the lights on. Doesn't mean the light has to be off either. There are things that can turn these genes on and off and understanding the gene and understanding what you can do to switch the gene off or not, contributes to the development of a certain problem. That's the important part.

Vincent Ferguson:

Now let's talk about your book, Rescue Your Health, because even talking about now, I'm sure your book probably goes into more detail about it. What can my listeners and viewers learn from reading your book?

Dr. Marvin Singh:

Well, I wrote Rescue Your Health because I wanted everybody to know that precision medicine, number one, doesn't have to be a scary topic. I think people think, "Oh, DNA and imaging tests and microbiome. This is too much for me. It's hard enough for me to navigate regular doctor visits, but I can't do this one."

Dr. Marvin Singh:

So I really try to make it simple and help people understand that it doesn't have to be a scary topic. It can be very useful. It can be more useful than a lot of other types of things that we may do in medicine. And a lot of the tests that you can do to understand your body a little bit better, they're not necessarily these multi thousand dollar tests and some of these are quite affordable.

Dr. Marvin Singh:

One of the chapters in the book is My Top Five Tests and the reason why I have My Top Five Tests, I made a chapter on that, is because I wanted to show people that all these tests that are there are within a couple or $200-$300 range. And so you can do a lot of things for a pretty affordable price. We often go out and go to dinner and spend $200-300 on maybe a good meal, but may leave you bloated in with heartburn, but it might've been good when you ate it. But you could spend that $200 and learn about your genes and learn how to eat for your life and that could make a huge impact on how you live your life for the whole time moving forward.

Dr. Marvin Singh:

And so, you know, it's really about bringing realization to that process. I wanted to really simplify it and not make it scary. This book is for everybody. This is what I say in the opening chapters. If you're a human and you're able to hold this book, then this book is for you. There is something in it for everyone. I really help try to explain what are some of the different tests and then give some real life examples about different kinds of people who've come to see me over the years. What their issues were and how we're able to apply some of the principles that we're talking about here and earlier in the book and what happened with them as a result. So, that was really the main point in the book, is really to help people understand that there are ways that we can understand our bodies on a more meaningful level. The science is there, that we can now start understanding our health from a little bit of a different viewpoint and make some big impacts.

I tell people that there's two kinds of doctors. There's the kind of doctor that if you're in a burning building, this doctor is a firefighter. He'll run into that building, he's the first responder. Doctors were first responders too, on the healthcare front. And he'll go into that burning building and he will save you, he or she, will go and save you, pull you out of that building. And we need those doctors. We will always need those doctors because life happens. I practice that kind of medicine too.

But then there's the other kind of doctor that'll say, "Hey, look buddy, why in the world were you anywhere near that building in the first place, man? You shouldn't be there. And this is how I'm going to help you understand how not to be there. And this is how we're going to help you avoid being in this situation, in the future."

Now, which way do you think is probably better for your longevity? I think it's better to understand how you can avoid those burning buildings because the more burning buildings you're in, eventually over time, it puts a little extra wear and tear on your body too, right?

Vincent Ferguson:

Exactly. Yes, yes, yes. So, that is the key. How does your family feel about you practicing integrative medicine as opposed to conventional medicine?

Dr. Marvin Singh:

Well, first of all, I do both actually. I still practice as a general gastroenterologist. Go to a hospital and take care of sick patients there. People need that kind of help too. But the part that I am most passionate about, obviously, is the preventive medicine and the integrative part. They're very supportive, actually. Without my wife, I probably wouldn't have ever made it to this part because she's the one who helped me realize that the something that I was missing in the way that we practiced medicine was this. She was a little bit more forward-thinking earlier than I was.

Vincent Ferguson:

Ah, nice. That's how you know you married right. How can we order the book?

Dr. Marvin Singh:

Yeah. So the book is out. It's called Rescue Your Health and it's on Amazon. It's also on Barnes and Noble and a couple other places as well. But Amazon is one of the main places that the book is available on and it's out now. You can get on Kindle also.

Vincent Ferguson:

Okay, excellent, excellent. It just seems like a book that the timing couldn't be better. It couldn't be better than right now.

Dr. Marvin Singh:

Exactly. Yeah. I mean, I think COVID-19 has been real terrible on everybody in the whole planet. I think moving forward in the years to come, it's very important for people to understand that there are certain things in our body, risk factors that can potentially make us sick or be more prone to be sick. Not just for COVID, but for other things. But I think if you try to look at, was there anything that maybe came out of COVID that we can learn from, this is one of those lessons. One of those lessons is that, what's going on inside our body is a risk factor for who gets sick or how sick they could get.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes, yes. We've taken it for granted, it seems for many years.

Dr. Marvin Singh:

Yeah. In many of us, integrative and preventative medicine doctors have been talking about this for a long time, but I think that this was just a rough lesson that helped bring the understanding to the whole world, all at the same time. I think everybody knows now that vitamin D deficiency and antioxidants and these kinds of things, being overweight and diabetes and heart disease and your diet and exercise levels and all those things, I think we all know, universally essentially, that these things are risk factors for getting sick at the most basic level. Because we're seeing it in real life, in front of us.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes and it's time to do something about it.

Dr. Marvin Singh:

Have to do something about it.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes. I also understand, Doc, that you do some charity work for an organization in New York, my hometown. Talk about that.

Dr. Marvin Singh:

Yeah. So this is really fun. There's a wonderful organization called Bottomless Closet in the city. They help women who are coming out of tough, difficult situations. Women who are in need of assistance in getting a job and getting back on their feet. I became the health advisor for Bottomless Closet, and I do free webinars for groups of these wonderful women and teach them about health and wellness and what they can do to get back on their feet as far as being healthy. Because it's hard to get a job, be successful at a job and try to turn your life around if you're not feeling well and you're sick. So health is very important part of that process too.

Dr. Marvin Singh:

And then also, if there's somebody who needs help from a doctor, I also donate my time to help that person as their doctor, free of charge and I help them get these precision medicine testing done through various different companies. I give a shout out to Microbiome Labs and Nutrogenomix, helping donate free testing kits to these patients. Several different companies have also helped me get free supplements for these wonderful women, as well. Enzymedica I have to give a shout out to as well, because all I have to do is just type out a list. This person needs this, this, this, this, and this, and they mail it to them.

Vincent Ferguson:

Wow. So that's amazing. Now you do this virtually?

Dr. Marvin Singh:

Yeah.

Vincent Ferguson:

That's amazing, but that's also wonderful that you do that. That you give back like that, I know you're very busy with your schedule, with so many people in need. Just showing how much humanity matters.

Dr. Marvin Singh:

Yeah. Everybody deserves to have access to this level of care, to understanding their body this way. And if certain people really need it and they can't afford it because of their personal situation, I mean, if they can barely afford to eat, you know, we want them to not spend all their money on that. They need to focus on their life and getting back on track because all that other stuff will follow. But to help them be healthy, I can at least do that part. That's the part that I can play. If they get on track and start feeling better, then they will do better.  So you feel better, you're more motivated, you have more energy, you're less stressed, you're sleeping better, than you're going to perform better at your job. You'll be able to excel in your position and you can climb the ranks that way. So if I can help somebody do that, that makes me feel good because that's what being a doctor and a healer is all about.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes, it is, amazing. How can my listeners, find out more about you and Precision Clinic?

Dr. Marvin Singh:

I'm pretty accessible online. So a website for Precision Clinic is precisionclinic.com. Our contact information, email, phone number is all on that website. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, my handle is @Dr. Marvin Singh, so I'm pretty accessible that way, as well.

Vincent Ferguson:

Well, we need to access you, that's for sure. Dr. Marvin Singh, on behalf of Body Sculpt of New York, my nonprofit and Six Weeks of Fitness, I truly want to thank you for coming on this show today.

Dr. Marvin Singh:

No problem. Thank you for having me.

Vincent Ferguson:

And to my listeners and followers and viewers, I truly hope this program was informative, encouraging, and inspiring. And you will continue watching and listening in to our Six Weeks of Fitness program. And if you have any questions or suggestions for the show, please leave them in the comment section below. And don't forget to subscribe so you don't miss any future episodes. And remember “you don't stop exercising because you grow old, you grow old because you stop exercising.”

You can reach Vince Ferguson at vince@sixweeks.com. You can also visit his website at www.6weekstofitness.com.

Direct download: Episode_178_-_Dr._Marvin_Singh.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:42am EST

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