Sunil Pai, MD is board certified in holistic integrative medicine. He is a deacon of the House of Sanjevani Integrative Medicine Health & Lifestyle Center located in Albuquerque, NM, an integrated auxiliary of the Priory of Santa Fe. Dr. Pai specializes in custom formulations of dietary supplements including vitamins, minerals, ayurvedic herbs, medical foods and homeopathics using safe, clinically effective ingredients. He has been a consultant to various nutraceutical companies as well as functional medicine testing companies. Over the past 14 years, Dr. Pai has studied the processing of raw materials from farm to manufacturing and from the bench top research to clinical studies. His interest in the benefits of natural therapies led to the development of House of Sanjevani nutraceutical products.
Dr. Pai consults with integrative clinics in the U.S., Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Thailand, India and China on teaching his integrative cancer supportive protocols. He is also currently working on establishing a Sanjevani Integrative Medicine Health and Lifestyle Center in Costa Rica for education, products and services.
Dr. Pai’s recently released book, An Inflammation Nation, which includes a forward by Dr. Andrew Weil, describes the health benefits of plant-based diets and the use of natural anti-inflammatories for the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases and cancer.
Q: What was your motivation behind writing An Inflammation Nation?
A: As one of the first formally trained integrative medicine physicians in the U.S more than 16 years ago, I spent my career exploring thousands of patients’ diets, lifestyles, environments and mental states to uncover that the underlying piece that makes all health conditions worse is an inflammatory component. Thus, investigating those triggers, eliminating them and providing the natural anti-inflammatory Bosmeric-SR to reduce inflammation in their lives soon became a successful pathway of not only preventing and treating diseases but also reversing them.
The book reflects the information included in my initial integrative medicine consultation and I wanted to make this information available to as many people as possible. Many people may not have access to an integrative medicine MD like myself, so I wanted to provide a guide for people to follow to help them take back their health through dietary and lifestyle changes and the use of natural therapies. From my experience, if someone follows the 10 steps outlined in the book, most if not all of their health problems will be significantly improved if not reversed. Along with some guidance from their natural practitioner, most could achieve optimum health. And if a new patient has read my book, their consult with me will be so much more meaningful and productive for both of us.
Q: Why is inflammation the common link to all diseases and what are some of the triggers?
A: Almost every single disease has an inflammatory component. Some conditions ignite inflammatory processes and some continue the progression from an acute problem to a chronic disease. Inflammation in simple terms can be defined as “fire” or “flame” and scientifically as “itis.” Thus any word that has “itis” at the end of it means inflammation to that area. For example, arthritis is inflammation of the joints, colitis is inflammation of the colon, sinusitis is inflammation of the sinus, dermatitis is inflammation of the skin, etc. There are now 200 different “itis” conditions. However, almost every one of these conditions is treated separately by different specialist doctors. Each specialist giving specific treatments that only provide symptomatic relief but never dig deep enough to get to the underlying cause of why they have the dysfunction, imbalance or disease to begin with.
The majority of triggers that cause inflammation are dietary related, followed by environmental triggers such chemicals/pollutants, infections, injuries, smoking, alcohol and stress.
Q: In your book, you cover “10 Steps to Optimum Health & Longevity.” Please discuss the steps.
A: The 10 steps are basically a “program” that if followed will lead the reader to optimum health—as a preventive measure or as a return to health from any chronic inflammatory disease. The book is written for both health care providers and consumers. The steps I have outlined are easy to follow with examples, along with simple scientific explanations. For those who want further information, there are more than 700 references to the scientific studies and investigative reports that one can refer to if needed. The book provides each of the 10 steps in detail and each chapter could actually be an entire book on its subject. I wanted to show how all these factors contribute to health and why I haven’t just provided a magic bullet like so many other books on fad diets and the latest health crazes [claim to].
I will briefly describe them.
Step 1: Eating an Organic, Non-GMO, Plant-based, Anti-inflammatory Diet. This is the most important aspect. Putting the right type of fuel in the body is the foundation for health. I explain all the different types of fad diets from Paleo, Aktins, keto, low-carb, high-fat, etc., with evidence-based data to demonstrate why a whole-foods plant-based diet is the best. I also describe the difference between GMO (genetically modified organism) and non-GMO, organic and conventional foods, along with teaching the differences in each category, whether animal or plant, including how it is being grown and processed for our consumption. Many people will be amazed that the food industry is not as transparent as they think and regulations for their protection are not as strong as they should be. There is an entire section on the benefits of omega-3s, explaining in detail the differences in potency, purity, manufacturing and label claims.
Step 2: Testing What is Triggering Inflammatory Responses in Your Body. This step is key to finding out what foods trigger inflammatory reactions in the body specific to each individual. As a specialist in this area, I educate the reader on types of testing and which methods are more accurate, as well as giving guidance on natural treatment options to help desensitize the individual safely and effectively.
Step 3: Detoxification—Clearing the Toxins. This naturally occurs by following the first two steps, along with some natural products that I discuss in the book. I also recommend Pancharkarma, a specialty detoxification program that we offer at Sanjevani.
Step 4: Avoid Smoking. Seems self-explanatory, but we have an increase in smoking again with young people, especially with e-cigarettes. I provide the data to explain why even this “healthier” cigarette is still very harmful. Smoking is the second most preventable lifestyle change we can make to prevent cancer, the first being diet related.
Step 5: Avoid NSAIDs—The Unknown Dangers. This is my soapbox subject that I preach, daily. This chapter will shock the reader as I provide the full data on how NSAIDs (non-steroid anti-inflammatories—i.e. acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, celecoxib, etc.) are one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. By understanding what a black box warning is in detail and the life-threatening side effects along with legal risks, health care providers and consumers will be very cautious to recommend or use any of these products again.
Step 6: Decrease Inflammation Through the Use of Bosmeric-SR. In my clinical experience, Bosmeric-SR is the best natural anti-inflammatory available that I believe every person should be taking daily. I will describe this in more detail later. Step 7: Increase Immune System Functioning. Along with reducing inflammation through diet and lifestyle changes and taking Bosmeric-SR, strengthening the immune system is key to assisting the body to be able to fight disease and repair from it. I recommend how to take vitamin D3 and what levels are best. In addition, other immuno-modulators, such as our Sanjevani Glucan 300, will provide the most potent response compared to other beta-glucans on the market. Finally, using Sanjevani Complete Probiotics will help strengthen the immune system by improving the gut microbiome.
Step 8: Maintain Healthy Glucose Levels and Avoid Excess Sugar and Salt. This is a major problem in the U.S. I describe not only the current problem, but also our history with sugar. In addition, I provide detailed studies on the link of sugar to a variety of health conditions—diabetes, heart disease, behavioral and learning disorders, and the metabolic link to cancer growth.
Step 9: Stress Reduction Through Meditation and Yoga. We all live with excess sympathetic stimulation (fight or flight responses) through our stressful lifestyle both with physical, mental and emotional stressors. In fact, the cover image on my book is a great representation of what is happening to the entire country on all levels—environmentally, socially and politically. The key to reduce all this inflammation is in the first eight steps, but if one learns to develop a yoga and meditation practice, it can be used as a medicine in itself. Many people think yoga is exercise and mediation is only settling the mind, but I provide a whole list of clinical benefits with scientific evidence, as well as tips on the financial savings one can gain utilizing such simple lifestyle practices. I also dispel many of the myths that people may have about yoga and mediation.
Step 10: Love, Happiness, Social Relationships, Faith and Spiritual Practices. “All you need is love,” said John Lennon, and there is much truth to that statement. Healing is not only from the foods you eat, the supplements you take or the place you live, but comes from the love in your heart and the community around you. Developing a positive attitude, living in the present, helping those less fortunate and developing community are key factors to optimum health. At House of Sanjevani, we encourage our patients to utilize whichever faith, religion or belief system as an integral part of their healing. We have found that when this vital component is combined into the overall program, wonderful and amazing outcomes can occur.
Q: How much of an impact do the foods we eat have on the body? What should we be eating and what should we avoid?
A: The foods we are eating are the building blocks of our health or disease. Currently the standard American diet (SAD) is the major culprit for the reason there is so much disease in this country. We now rank 46 out of 48 industrial nations on our outcomes of all diseases A through Z. Our diet is full of high amounts of animal proteins, sugars, salts, unhealthy fats, which not only lead to inflammatory processes, but also make us addicted to fast, processed and convenient foods. People have forgotten how to cook real fresh and live foods and instead microwave meals or eat out regularly. The processing and contamination of our foods, along with conventional and GMO farming, is extremely harmful to our health, increasing inflammation that triggers cholesterol that sticks inside our arteries, increases cancer, diabetes and causes all “itis” conditions to worsen. How these dangers are occurring in each food group, both animal and plant, is detailed in my book. We must be eating an organic non-GMO plant based diet with whole fresh live foods and stop eating the SAD.
Q: When, how and why should we detox?
A: At our center, Sanjevani Integrative Medicine Health & Lifestyle Center, we specialize in the “original detoxification program” from ancient India called Panchakarma. Panchakarma is usually done at the change of seasons with the supervision of a qualified ayurvedic practitioner or doctor. Detoxification of any kind is not recommended when one is in a debilitated state or poor health. Detoxification is part of an overall cleansing of the mind, body and spirit. There are many preparations to help build up the body before and after to prevent depletion. Most detox products on the market or health center programs are limited to a colon cleanse product or program, but Panchakarma is an actual ayurvedic medical specialty.