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What is a Lifestyle-Medicine Physician?

Updated: Feb 24, 2023


Note: transcription provided by Otter.AI, which is a technology company that develops speech-to-text transcription and translation applications using artificial intelligence and machine learning.


Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Hey guys, welcome to today's special episode of physicians for Financial Freedom podcast. And today we have an extra special guest. His name is Dr. Jonar De Guzman, MD. He is an internal medicine physician, lifestyle medicine physician. He has a special podcast where he talks about a plant based diet. So today you're gonna hear all about the cool innovative things that he's doing. I'm going to bring up his bio. So Dr. Jonar De Guzman, MD is a board certified physician in internal medicine with lifestyle medicine certification currently practices as a hospitalist in Los Angeles, California Dr. Jonar helps patients make drastic life changes towards healthy living and as a frequent speaker on lifestyle medicine. A relatively new field that focuses on evidence-based lifestyle approaches to treat, prevent and potentially reverse chronic disease, which you'll hear about, is so important today as a doctor caring for sick hospitalized patients. During this pandemic. He became inspired to promote a healthier living to a wider audience and launched a podcast called the glass half healthy. Dr. Jonar helps to use his voice to challenge the way people think about health and inspire them to lead happier, thriving lives. So we're so happy to welcome Dr. DeGuzman on the show. Personally in his free time, Dr. Jonar is a longtime avid meditator, running aficionado and enthusiastic advocate for plant based nutrition. He earned his BA in politics in economics from NYU and his MD from Georgetown University School of Medicine. So without much ado, let's welcome Dr. Jonar De Guzman to the show.

Dr. Jonar de Guzman, MD: Thank you for having me on the show. I feel really honored to be a part of this. And congrats on your podcast. This is awesome.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Thanks. I'm so happy. Like we were talking before I brought this podcast on because it was more to bring experts and people outside of my expertise and people doing really cool new innovative things and really get the words out to the masses, raise awareness, speak out and offer advocacy. So we're happy to have you tell us more about yourself where you're from and how you started. And really this interesting thing about plant based lifestyle medicine. That's so fascinating. I've been reading a lot about it. And I just want to learn more and share with the audience.

Dr. Jonar de Guzman, MD: Yeah, for sure. I'll tell you a little bit about myself before getting to the lifestyle medicine aspect. But I mean, a lot of it's very much intertwined. So I grew up in Chicago, Illinois, and I really actually did not want to do medicine to begin with. I had a completely different career path. You read my bio, right. So I double majored in economics and politics with the intention of going into international relations, international affairs. So even from high school from the get go, I'm like, I'm not doing anything science related. Like I took all my AP courses to pass out of my science classes. So my focus was primarily on economics and politics. I studied abroad in Japan, Spain, and I did internships in the Philippines. So I had a lot of international experience, even from high school. So it started with living in Japan. The thing that changed my mind though, is my dad was diagnosed with colorectal cancer back in 2000. And at the time, I was still in college, just finishing up and I told myself, maybe I should just put that career aspirations to the side and just stay with my parents with my dad in Chicago until he gets better. But unfortunately, he didn't. He ended up passing away in 2004. And so it kind of left me at this crossroads to try to figure out what I wanted to do with my life and was very involved with my dad's care throughout the whole chemo process, his surgeries, even up till the very end. So my sister who's actually a physician, older than me, she was like, you should just go into medicine. I think that you have a natural genuine compassion for others and think you do really well. And so I ended up doing that I transitioned to med school, but like I said before, I didn't take any science classes in college, so I had to go back and do all that stuff. While I was doing that I ended up working at Starbucks for 20 to 30 hours a week. To get one supplementary income to help pay for the classes, but to get health insurance, and so I was really focused, but at the same time, too, I was really struggling with the grieving that happened right after my dad passed away. And those two past years after he did pass away, I started experimenting with different ways of trying to heal my grief, but also helped me with my mind and my thought processes. So I mentioned I studied abroad in Japan. And in Japan, we were introduced to the concept of meditation. But you know, that was when I was still in high school. So I feel like I wasn't mature enough for that type of practice. But at the time, when my dad passed away, after that, I think my mind was really ripe for it. So I started just consuming all these different meditation books, Buddhism books, mindfulness books. So I ended up starting to do the practice of meditation back in 2004. And it has really changed my life completely. And I still do it to this day, and that was 17 years ago, that's crazy actually even think about saying it out loud. And I think from there, that kind of opened the doors to being open to other ways of practicing medicine and having other people be healed. And so, through med school and residency, I also struggled myself, like I did poorly in my classes, I think partly to deal with the prolonged grieving of my dad passing away. But you went to med school, so you know how hard it is. It's tough on any one person. Yeah, I dealt with it in different ways that did use meditation, I was incorporating mind body medicine practices, through one of the groups that we had available to us at Georgetown, where I went to medical school, there is a mind body medicine program for students set up to kind of incorporate not just meditation, but other forms of mind body medicine. And so I think I had really grasped that. But at the same time, through residency with all the stress and grieving that I went through with my dad having passed away, I turned to other avenues for stress relief. So I did a lot of stress eating, which I'm sure a lot of people can relate to out there. I found myself 40 pounds overweight, in residency. And I told myself, I'm treating patients and telling them to eat healthier. How can I be doing that? I'm not even doing that myself. I think it's very hypocritical for any one person, even outside of medicine, to just tell them one thing, but you're not doing it yourself. I don't think that's right. And especially as physicians we should be responsible for how we take care of our bodies, because if we don't, we can't take care of other people very well. So I went down this path of healthier eating. I started with a ketogenic diet, it helped a little bit, but it gave me a lot of mental fog. And so during that time, one of my med school classmates gave me a book called How Not to Die. I'm not sure if you're familiar with this book. No, actually, I'll put it in the show notes. Awesome. So it's by a guy named Dr. Michael Greger. And so he highlights the common chronic diseases that we're facing as a society, and how a lot of it is linked to our current standard American diet. And he offers solutions. And the solution is plant based nutrition. It just opened my mind to the possibility of okay, well, I've never tried this before, let me just give it a shot. And so I did and through those years, and so that was back in 2017, I lost all the extra weight that I put on a residency. Now, actually back to my high school weight. I'm actually under my high school weight and have maintained that since 2017. We didn't learn a lot about nutrition in medical school. There's this study done in 2013, on this survey of the different med schools across the country here in the United States, and only like a small portion of them, like less than 17%. Were meeting the minimum requirement for nutrition education, which was 25 hours. And so I don't think no one's at fault here. In terms of what we shouldn't be knowing about what's causing these chronic diseases, but it's often related to nutrition, our lifestyle choices, yeah. And I started becoming just a voracious reader and listener to podcasts. And one awesome podcast I was listening to was the Rich Roll podcast. And so this guy's awesome. He is a former alcoholic, former attorney, turned plant based Ultra runner and so he has all these just inspiring guests on the show. So one of the guests he had was a guy named Dr. Dean Ornish, who wrote the book on do it and undo it basically is lifestyle medicine in a book form. He breaks down lifestyle medicine to its essence. And so lifestyle medicine for people listening out there is The newer approach in medicine, it's a newer specialty that focuses on evidence based approaches to treat, prevent, and even reverse chronic diseases. Through stuff like plant based nutrition, like we just mentioned, stuff like stress reduction, you know, mindfulness meditation, the whole mind body medicine aspect, exercise, getting physical activity, and sleep is such an important factor for your overall health. So it focuses on those aspects to help people treat, prevent or reverse their chronic disease. So I was like, this speaks to who I am as a doctor. So I ended up doing the lifestyle medicine board certification. And that was a couple years ago. And so from that point forward, I started incorporating that into my practice as a hospitalist. So you mentioned it briefly, you know, when you were reading it, but I care for patients who are sick in the hospital, so I focus on those patients. And so, you know, I found that those moments when people are coming in, and they're at their most vulnerable are great conversations to have with having them rethink how they've been viewing their health, and really getting to the root cause of what their chronic disease has led them to hear in this moment in time. So a lot of time, it's kind of like this coming to be moment where they're open to change. And so I found that it's been very helpful with my practices to get patients on the path of healthier living through the pandemic, we've been going through this pandemic for a year, it inspired me to do this podcast, called The Glass Half Healthy. And so the glass is half healthy. My whole mission for it is to get people to challenge the way they've been thinking about health, and to inspire them to lead happier, thriving lives. That's the whole crux of it. But the backdrop to that is chronic disease has opened up the eyes of so many of us medical professionals to see that at the heart of the severe Coronavirus, infections, including death. Oftentimes, it's chronic disease that are the risk factors. And before the pandemic even hit, we've been facing this pandemic of chronic disease like diabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension, heart disease, obesity, all of these things have been festering for years. And it's not really changing its course, I'm in medicine. And I think there's certain things we do very well at treating acute issues. But I think the thing that we're lacking in is reversing this course of chronic disease. Each year, the numbers of chronic disease go up and up. And I mean, it's alarming stuff. Now that we have this pandemic on our hands with COVID, we have to really take action now. So that we can prevent ourselves from these chronic diseases, further escalating and causing us susceptibility to these acute illnesses like COVID. So that's kind of what my podcast focuses on. I've been doing it since last year, and it's been tremendous. We recently got nominated by board vitals as the 21 best medical podcasts to subscribe to in 2021. So I'm really thankful about that.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: I saw that you had a really interesting journey. And it sounds like life has taken you through these pivotal moments and yet to decide what's going to be your focus in your calling. And I like how you harness and leverage your personal experiences for the greater good. And it's wonderful. And you've mentioned a lot of resources or books and podcasts that we'll mention in the show notes. You also mentioned lifestyle medicine. In fact, a number of people have gotten board certified in lifestyle medicine. Can you explain? I know there's an Andrew Weill, MD program in Arizona. But yeah, explain more to the guests how they can use resources to get certified in this new field.

Dr. Jonar de Guzman, MD: Yeah, yeah. The guy you mentioned actually heads integrative medicine, and that's a little bit different from lifestyle medicine. Okay. The Lifestyle Medicine certification. It would be through the American College of lifestyle medicine and American Board of lifestyle medicine. Oh, I see. So yeah, you know, it's recent that they just launched this certification. I think it started back in 2013, I believe. So it's only been around for several years. But it's a combination of completing coursework online, making sure that you go to one of the yearly conferences before I got my certification when Coronavirus wasn't around so I was able to go to an in-person conference. But since COVID, it is allowing you to do virtual conferences too. So it's those two things. And then you also have to do a case report. There's like basically three things you would need to do to get the certification done, but I'm telling you if you do it, it really reinvigorates your passion for practicing medicine. You don't even need to be on the primary check like internal medicine or pediatrics. You can print Practice this no matter what specialty you're in, I've met some fantastic people through the online community who are ophthalmologists. They've been doing these surgeries, there's a guy on my show, who's an orthopedic spine specialist out of Dallas, he actually lives in Texas, he practices lifestyle medicine. So it's just all these innovative ways of practicing medicine that can really reinvigorate your passion for helping others.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: You brought up a lot of good points, because nobody's really at fault. It's not intentional, it's just the way the system was designed. And we're sort of boxed into the sort of types of pathways and different treatments. But it's good to see people doing different things and pursuing alternative ideas, merging of the east and west ideas and starting to incorporate a lot of holistic and very homeopathic and also a lot of variety of different modalities into their practice and also into their lives.

Dr. Jonar de Guzman, MD: That's a great point. You know, I feel like with Western medicine, allopathic medicine, there's so much focus placed on pills, medications, and procedures and surgeries. And like I said, those things have a time in place, I wouldn't have a job, if I didn't believe in that stuff. We do a great job of treating acute illnesses, but it's those chronic diseases that I'm talking about, that we're not doing a great job on. And you have to get to the underlying cause. And a lot of times, it's linked to our lifestyle choices. And like you mentioned, there's all these other ways in which you can better your health. And that's what we really need to try to move towards, because they have been practicing for 1000s of years, some of this stuff. And you know, plant based nutrition isn't some new thing we develop, for example, Buddhists have been doing that for years and years. You know, like, these aren't new concepts. It's just we need to reintroduce them because our modern society has drifted away towards what we as humans should be doing on a daily basis.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah. I love that. For the listeners. What's the best way to get in contact with you website? email, social media handles? I know you have the podcast?

Dr. Jonar de Guzman, MD: Yeah. Yeah. Great question. So I'm most active on Instagram. So you can find me at Dr. Jonar Guzman, MD, and that's my same handle on Facebook. But also, I'm on LinkedIn as well under Jonar De Guzman. Feel free to contact me and say what's up if you have any questions on lifestyle medicine, or just want to say hello. Oh, and then one real quick thing. The podcast is exclusively on Apple podcasts. Right now. We're trying to expand to other platforms. But right now, it's only available on Apple podcasts or my website, which is

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Awesome. We'll put all those links in the show notes. And what's your final parting words, inspiration or any advice for Louis's listeners out there?

Dr. Jonar de Guzman, MD: Yeah, I would say I know that your focus is financial freedom. You can't practice financial freedom, if you don't have your health, you can't enjoy the things that you love doing, if you're not healthy yourself. And so what I would just impart to people out there listening is you have a choice, either you're going to do it one day, or today is day one to change things around. It can't be pressed enough that chronic disease is such a big threat to us as individuals but as a society as a whole. And being able to do that and address those things now in this moment is so important. So I hope you can do it and stay healthy.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Awesome. I love that: energy, life, and a healthy, vital life. Thanks so much for coming on the show and we look forward to having you back in the future.

Dr. Jonar de Guzman, MD: For sure. Thanks again for having me on the show and congrats on your podcast.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Many thanks again for being here. If you're new, you can find me online at Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD, where I have links to other episodes or links to online resources that will support you on your financial literacy journey. I'll see you there in on next week's show. While I bring you thoroughly vetted information on this show regarding a variety of financial topics, I cannot promise you a one size fits all solution. This is why I caution you to continue to learn. Educate yourself and seek professional advice unique to your situation. If you want to talk to me, I welcome it. Please reach out via email at I read and personally respond to all of my emails. Talk soon!

About: Dr. Jonar de Guzman, M.D., is a board certified physician in Internal Medicine with Lifestyle Medicine certification, who currently practices as a Hospitalist in Los Angeles, California. Dr. Jonar helps patients make drastic life changes toward healthy living and is a frequent speaker on Lifestyle Medicine, a relatively new field that focuses on evidence based lifestyle approaches to treat, prevent and potentially reverse chronic disease. As a doctor caring for sick hospitalized patients during this pandemic, he became inspired to promote healthier living to a wider audience and launched a podcast called the Glass Half Healthy. Dr. Jonar hopes to use his voice to challenge the way people think about health and inspire them to lead happier thriving lives. In his free time, Dr. Jonar is a long time avid meditator, running aficionado, and enthusiastic advocate for plant-based nutrition. He earned his B.A. in Politics and Economics from New York University and his M.D. from Georgetown University School of Medicine.


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