Food Over Medicine | Interview With Pam Popper

Have you ever dreamed of having an opportunity to meet someone you deeply respect? Someone who might have answers to the topics you are still researching? Lucky girl that I am, I had such an opportunity–my nutrition dream come true.

I have followed the career of Dr. Pamela Popper, the author Food Over Medicine book, for over seven years.  Before Hubby and I became vegan, I had a chance to attend one of her information sessions… and I was smitten. Brilliant, no-nonsense, straight-to-the-point, she seemed to have answers to about any question I had and could answer me before I finished my sentences. “I want to be like her when I grow up,” thought the not-s0-little girl inside of me.

Imagine how blown away I was when I corresponded with Dr. Popper’s publisher, preparing for the book review.  I asked if I could send out a few questions to Dr. Popper. “Sure,” I was told.

“Do you think we could do a phone interview instead,” I ventured to ask, “so she would not have to waste her time typing up answers?” “Sure,” I was told again.

Why stop there? You have not because you ask not, is my philosophy. “I live only fifteen minutes from Dr. Popper’s office. I thank an in-person video interview would be even better,” I said.  “Let me check her schedule,” I was told. So, I waited.  The stars aligned–Dr. Popper cleared her schedule for an interview. The school girl inside me leaped with excitement.

food-over-medicine

This post is that interview–ready for your consumption. It is life changing. I am providing two formats–video and audio (podcast), to accommodate as many as I can. I know that some of you will need the transcript, so I commit to have it added to this post within the week.

Interview Topics

We cover a wide range of topics. I guarantee that some of Dr. Popper’s responses will blow your mind.  Here are some of the topics we cover:

  • Protein Supplements: Are vegan protein supplements dangerous? Should vegan athletes supplement?
  • Kidney Stones: Can vegans get kidney stones? What would cause a seemingly healthy individual to develop them?
  • Gluten: Is it as dangerous as we hear? Should healthy individuals avoid gluten products?
  • Medication: Learn if there are ever times you should medicate.
  • Supplements: Should a healthy individual take vitamins?
  • Are fortified foods a good idea?
  • Hormones: Are cruciferous vegetables really bad for us, or is it simply a myth to keep us from living healthy?
  • Should we supplement with iodine? Can iodine cause hypothyroidism?
  • Is salt allowed in a healthy diet?
  • How much and what kind of water should we drink?
  • Probiotics: Who should take them? In Food Over Medicine Dr. Popper suggests that people with certain health conditions, and those who had ever used birth control or antibiotics, should go through a prescription-strength probiotic treatment.  I asked Dr. Popper if I, seven years into my health quest, with six of those off birth control, should still consider a probiotic treatment.  Find out what suggested.
  • Health Insurance: How much of it do we really need?
  • Green Smoothies: Is there any truth to the rumors that they might not be good for us?
  • Does coconut oil have any healing properties?
  • Do you need to be vegan to be healthy?

And there is more!

Food Over Medicine Video Interview

Podcast Interview

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Have you enjoyed the interview? I know I did! Share it with others–social share buttons are above, under and to the side of this post to make sharing easy.

The book is just as amazing, covering even a broader range of topics.  Make sure to read Food over Medicine Book review and enter the giveaway, or get your own copy today.  Also, stop by Dr. Popper’s web-site and subscribe to her weekly newsletter–I enjoy her weekly articles regularly.

Thoughts or Questions?

What did you learn from this interview?

If you had a chance to ask Dr. Popper one question, what would it be?

Did you jot down any quotable thoughts? What are they?

Leave a comment; let me know.

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  • http://www.stephaniehoffpauir.com Stephanie Sherie

    I love Dr. Popper! This is a fantastic interview!

  • Pingback: 25 Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming Vegan

  • Lisa D.

    Hi Elena! Do you know if there are any pharmaceutical grade probiotics
    that we can buy without a prescription? I was on the pill for about 20
    years, and I’d love to fix my gut using the right kind of probiotics. I
    was using these (http://www.amazon.com/Essential-Formulas-Incorporated-Dr-Ohhiras-Probiotics/dp/B0038ELS8I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1390225231&sr=8-1&keywords=dr.+ohhira%27s+probiotics), but now I am wondering if they are doing anything. Thanks for your help! :)

  • Mandy

    This was really interesting, but being as food sensitive as I am I have to take this advice with a grain of salt… I am sensitive to most grains and all sugar right now, as I am trying to heal my gut and my fertility from years of birth control and antibiotics. What Dr. Popper said about what feeds good/bad bacteria is spot on, but unfortunately the sugars from grains also feed the ‘bad’ candida yeast (well, bad if too much is in the system). My hope is that after restoring balance, I will be able to return to those whole grain foods I love, but for now my food go-to is vegan triathlete Brendan Brazier (his Thrive books are fantastic). I think the only real area he differs with Dr. Popper is the oil issue (there are fewer grains/allergens in his diet plan, so there are more fats); he includes hemp, pumpkin seed and coconut oil in his THRIVE plan. Honestly, I have been high whole-grain carb vegan for most of a year and I have never felt better in my life than I have since cutting the sugars and grains last month. So, to those in a similar predicament, I recommend Brazier’s books.

    • http://www.vega-licious.com/ Elena

      Mandy, you are correct. Having candida limits a few things, but only until the time you get better. Have you started a probiotic treatment yet? I finally did. I am going to do one month for every year I was on birth control.

      • Mandy

        Yes, I am on a probiotic treatment as well as digestive enzymes and B vitamins (as I said in my other comments)…I wasn’t aware, but apparently a big job those good bugs have is making those enzymes that help you properly digest your food! I definitely don’t have enough of them, so I am supplementing for at least 1 year, between my candida and birth control/antibiotic use, I was a disaster. I feel WORLDS better now, my basal body temperature is higher (in the normal range), my formerly chronically cystic breasts have become smooth…I’m elated to see results so quickly! :) My fertility acupuncturist noted the difference in the ten days between visits.

        • http://www.vega-licious.com/ Elena

          Oh, my! You have a lot going on! I am glad you are off birth control. I had same issues with it. I recently found a connection between the “good bugs” and thyroid health as well. Who knew that we are that connected?! :) I am so happy you mentioned BBT, because I saw an improvement in with with probiotics too, and especially with B12 injections.

          How long have you been on this journey? I would love to hear more about it.

          • Mandy

            Sorry it took me so long to respond to this; it is rare that
            I have the time to sit in front of a computer and type at length, and I knew
            this would take awhile! ;) I am more than happy to share my journey with you
            and your readers… it all began as a teen when my irregular, painful periods led
            my mother to put me on birth control pills so that I wouldn’t be missing school
            every time my period came. I don’t blame her; we just didn’t know the long term
            damage we were doing. Then about 12 years ago when I was in college and
            diagnosed with PCOS. My androgen levels and FSH/LH hormone levels came back
            abnormal, indicative of PCOS. My menstrual history supported the diagnosis. I
            was worried, but put it to the back of my mind until I was married and ready to
            have a child and of course, not easily conceiving. When I suffered an early
            pregnancy loss in March of 2009, I decided to get help.

            With the “help” of the western reproductive industry, I mean “medicine,”
            I tried with Clomid and the prescription diabetes drug, Metformin. I was never
            warned that Metformin would deplete my B-12 and I should supplement. Metformin
            also gave me horrible vaginal yeast infections, almost every month. I was told
            this was not because of the Metformin, as it was not a side effect. Note that
            they started when I began the drug, and stopped when I quit. But it wasn’t a
            side effect. These treatments did a little to “help,” my cycles shortened and I
            did ovulate on Clomid. However, I did not get pregnant.

            At the time, I was eating better than many Americans—I always
            enjoyed fruits and vegetables, and had a definite emphasis on buying organic.
            Still, I was eating animal foods, eating out too much, and definitely too much
            sugar, and as I would later realize, too many grains for my body to tolerate.
            Knowing that a “low glycemic” diet was effective for PCOS, I tried it but
            failed…my sugar cravings were too intense to resist. I tried going gluten-free
            for 6 months when my mom figured out that she was highly sensitive to gluten,
            but it didn’t seem to help much. I didn’t feel very different, so I figured I
            had not inherited the sensitivity and went back to my sandwich and pizza eating
            ways.

            I divorced my ex a few years ago but was soon remarried. My
            current husband and I have been trying casually for over a year, knowing how
            unlikely conception was. After a full year passed, I decided to get serious.
            Wary of the reproductive endocrinology that had failed me so terrifically last
            time, I decided to go another route. I decided to try acupuncture and Nutrition
            Response Testing–a method some call pure quackery because of its homeopathic/eastern
            nature which is difficult to quantify; but I kind of fell into it and decided
            it wouldn’t hurt to try.

            My Nutrition Response Testing determined that I was highly
            sensitive to dairy, eggs, all grains except for rice, and most especially, cane
            sugar. I was already off of eggs and dairy and had been for over 6 months (I
            went vegan in February 2013), so I was surprised at this. My tester informed me
            that if you have ever had a food in your life, you can still be reacting to it
            on some level, depending on how sensitive you are to it. So I agreed to cut all
            sensitive foods out of my diet for the time being, to see what would happen. Sounds
            difficult on a vegan diet, but it’s really not—I do have to add more fats for
            the time being, but eventually I should be able to eat the gluten-free grains
            again. So for now I eat LOTS of veggies, 1-2 pieces of fruit/day, beans,
            legumes, nuts, wild and brown rice, and quinoa. Asian food is my friend! :)

            Going off of sugar cold turkey was relatively easy this time,
            and I credit my vegan diet with that. Eating more complex carbs for several
            months beforehand had helped regulate my blood sugar so that I craved fewer
            sweets, gradually getting my body un-addicted to that toxic drug—and make no
            mistake, that’s what it is, a highly toxic drug that will kill you. Slowly or
            not so slowly.

            My acupuncturist simultaneously referred me to the books The
            Infertility Cure and Making Babies, both of which explain fertility issues from
            an east/west balanced perspective. A million lightbulbs went off in my mind as
            I read. Looking back over the years and even at my mom’s health struggles, I
            suddenly understood “the big picture”. When my friend who had similar issues
            (repeated pregnancy loss, ADD/struggles to mentally focus, lots of food and/or
            supplement sensitivities) also told me that she had tested positive for a form
            of MTHFR mutation (not surprising, since 40-60% of people have it in varying
            degrees of severity; it is often asymptomatic for a lifetime). I got tested and
            sure enough—there it was. I needed B vitamins, and I needed them in
            bioavailable form, because my body struggles to methylate them properly. I had
            already been doing Jarrow 5000 B-12 for months, thanks to this blog—it had
            already done me worlds of good in healing my severe anxiety. I added Jarrow
            B-Right and 50mg P-5-P B6 from KAL. (Interestingly, for those familiar, my
            fertility “type” in Making Babies, though mixed, is predominantly “Stuck”. At
            the top of supplement recommendations for this type? B Complex.)

            This all happened very quickly. After 1 month of diet change,
            supplements, and acupuncture, I ovulated on time for the second time in my
            life. I have more energy than I have ever had in my adult life, and I sleep and
            wake at normal times. (At age 30, there was no reason I should be feeling as
            fatigued as I was.)

            At this point I am elated and grateful to God for leading me
            to the cure when the timing was right. I expect to see a positive pregnancy
            test very soon, and will update here when I do! :) Thank you, Elena, for being
            a part of my healing journey!!

            • http://www.vega-licious.com/ Elena

              Mandy, wow! What a story! I nearly cried reading about the pain you lived through, thanks to the “help” you got from your doctors. It should not be this way. However, I am so happy that you took a different route and have been patient with it. I have so many people with similar issues write to me, then they try this lifestyle for a few weeks and quit, because they want a change now. I personally learned that healing, just like getting sick, as we did, takes time, and we need to be patient to get to our ultimate destination.

              Your body will be that much a better environment for your little munchkin, once you conceive. You are taking care of yourself, and in turn, your baby will benefit from that long-term.

              Thank you for sharing your story. I cannot wait to hear what happens next.

  • Sheena

    This book is so great!
    Thank you so much for posting about it here!
    She has such a great common sense approach which I love. I like to know why and how people have come to their conclusions and although I agreed with this type of diet already, she has provided a lot of proof and facts gained from studies that back this up.

    • http://www.vega-licious.com/ Elena

      Sheena, yes, that’s the reason I lover her–just common sense, without fluff and sales pitches.

  • Liz Pagán Lugo

    This was GREAT. My mindset was totally wrong, I’ve been prioritizing fat and protein in my vegetarian diet, thinking that was I should do. Awesome interview.

  • Tatiana

    Did you end up going on prescription grade probiotics? Also, I know a big thing of hers s low fat…what about for babies? A lot of vegan parents are concerned with what fats to give their kids since they are not having whole milk. What do you think? Should we be stressing about giving them fats?

    • http://www.vega-licious.com/ Elena

      Tatiana, I am planning to do it soon for sure. As for kids and fat–same applies to them as to us 10-15% of daily intake. Sprout is just fine and just eats the way we do. The concern and the fears is not substantiated. Fat is a macro-nutrient, but we do not need as much of it as some tend to think. If you take fat content in breast milk, it is about 3-5% (average), yet babies thrive on that. So, there is no concern with their low-fat intake of 10-15%.

      • Tatiana

        Oh yes, I think I read that about the fat content in breastmilk…13 month old is still breastfeeding pretty regularly, but not the best eater yet. I just can’t get over the push for whole milk you know? Ugh.

        • http://www.vega-licious.com/ Elena

          It’s a marketing scheme! Cow’s milk grows her offsprings by hundreds of lbs in a year–apparently not meant for human babies to consume!

  • Deb Kloosterman

    …Thank you for this great interview!…I didn’t quite catch her take on reverse osmosis water, I thought she said it wasn’t necessary on a regular basis? …it is what we have but I wonder if we should have a different filtration so we don’t miss out on the healthy minerals in water?

    • http://www.vega-licious.com/ Elena

      Deb, she said such water is ok occasionally, maybe in a case of a cleanse, but long term you want to avoid it–it is missing minerals, so, with time, it could add to creating kidney stones in some.

    • http://www.vega-licious.com/ Elena

      Oh, and I am checking around on what filtration is best to install too.

      • Deb Kloosterman

        Thank you! That was my next question too :)

  • Amber K

    I think I love her. She’s got a no BS approach to diet that actually makes sense. And as weird as it sounds, when she said dogs should be eating meat, it further proved that she knew what she was talking about and that I could actually trust the advice she was giving. That and she’s got some great political sense!

    • http://www.vega-licious.com/ Elena

      Amber, that is how I feel–totally “head over hills” :).

  • Lisa D.

    Thank you for this interview. She is so knowledgeable, it was great to listen to her. :)

    • http://www.vega-licious.com/ Elena

      Glad you enjoyed it.

  • Betty Harbour

    wonderful interview. Learned so much. Thank you

    • http://www.vega-licious.com/ Elena

      Betty, hopefully you will listen to it again and again, like me :)

  • Diane

    Yup, I could keep listening too, great questions great answers! I’m even going to go replay it now as I was *ahem* “multi-tasking”…
    It was also reassuring to hear her refer to resources I’m already familiar with, I’m obviously relying on info from the right places ;-) Thanks for sharing, Elena!

    • http://www.vega-licious.com/ Elena

      Diane, isn’t it good to know when you are heading in the right direction?

  • Sophia

    AWSOME interview, only wish it were longer!!!

    • http://www.vega-licious.com/ Elena

      Longer than 45 minutes? You already listened to it all?

      BTW, I wished for that too. I could have done another 3 hours.