Dr. Nadja Pinnavaia Shares The Science Behind Feeling Really, Really Good

As we enter the New Year, Dr. Nadja Pinnavaia shares 5 insights for regaining control over our food & feeling good from the inside out. 

Dr. Nadja Pinnavaia Shares The Science Behind Feeling Really, Really Good

Dr. Nadja founded Plantable – a 28-day diet intervention program – after discovering the toll that the modern diet takes on our health. With a family history of cancer and a personal journey through preventative surgeries (read Dr. Nadja’s BodyTalk interview), she was inspired to craft a nutrition program that reduces the risk of cancer, while transforming the way one looks and feels. We asked Dr. Nadja about the connection between the modern diet and cancer, the science behind self-esteem, and how we can make lifestyle resolutions that really stick.

“Today’s diet is largely inflammatory, and that chronic inflammation draws upon our immune system. Think about it: when we cut ourselves, our bodies are on red alert. That’s acute inflammation. Chronic inflammation, however, is a result of lifestyle and the toxicity of our diets. Sugars, refined grains, GMOs – these are all toxins that create an inflammatory environment in our bodies, made worse by stress and lack of sleep.”

“The link between inflammation and cancer is well-known, dating back to 1863. Cancer arises from chronic inflammatory environments – colon, ovarian, lung, stomach, etc. Prolonged inflammation causes lesions and allows mutations to arise. Cancer cells provoke further inflammation, weakening the immune system so that it isn’t able to suppress those cancer cells.”

“This was the big ‘AHA!’ moment for me: inflammation is both the cause — and the fertilizer — to cancer. What we want to do is keep inflammation down. The nutrient-dense, plant-based diet we are delivering with Plantable reduces inflammation – with none of the side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs – while also boosting the immune system.”

“I’m a scientist by background. I have my PHD in quantum chemistry, so I’m pretty geeky. I had done all this reading about the effects of diet on our health, and thought, ‘I need to put this to the test What really happens when people do this? Go for 28 days with this way of eating?’”

“When we got the results from our pilot trial, I knew we were on to something. Everyone looks at weight loss. We all care about looking good and feeling good. But we also had blood work taken at the same time. What we found was an internal improvement. Internal health that was driving all the stuff on the outside that we get excited about. We say, ‘Oh, my skin, I’m glowing! It’s so great!’ That’s because of reduced inflammation, improved blood sugar levels, not stressing our bodies every day. After I found this out, I said, I’ve got to hire an executive chef and we are going to do this properly.”

“In a lot of ways, the psychological benefits of this internal shift are just as important – especially with women. We’ve been taught to be body-conscious, but the modern diet leaves us not feeling good about ourselves. Making these tweaks to your diet is not about the scale; it’s about restoring your self-esteem from the inside.”

“Today’s food is controlling us. We don’t realize that, but it’s like ‘the smoker.’ The smoker says I’m choosing to have a cigarette. I’m choosing to shiver outside in the cold. You’re not! You’re really not. It’s your brain! The basal ganglia saying, I want my hit! You want to go outside right now.”

“It’s the same with our food. Our food is controlling us. I get so much joy in giving people back that control; helping them choose to eat a certain way because they want to. I think people are worried they are going to feel deprived. But the ex-smoker does not feel deprived. The ex-smoker feels good, and back in control.”

“Freedom is not being controlled by exogenous substances – opioids, alcohol, cigarettes, sugar, electronics, whatever is controlling us. The brain is an incredibly complex, beautiful organ. But it can sabotage us. With Plantable, we’re giving people back their freedom. We’re helping them to reset and find time for themselves – to take back true control.”

“If you are going to make New Year’s resolutions around nutrition, you have to get the science right. And the science cannot be calorie restriction or starving yourself, because that is doomed for failure. You will fall off the wagon at the one month mark, sending you back to where you started.”

“It’s about switching. Get the science right. Go nutrient dense. Swap refined grains for whole grains. Cut the sugar and have an apple. Bring in more fiber. Reduce the animal-based proteins that don’t have any fiber and bring in the plant-based proteins, like beans, that are packed with fiber. You’ll be less hungry and more likely to be successful. It’s not a diet of deprivation. It’s a shift. It’s science. And we should all drink more water.”

“My lifestyle resolution tips are: let’s sleep! Let’s put the phone down, turn the Netflix off, switch the light off, and go to sleep. I’ve struggled to fall asleep since I started Plantable. I get in bed and think of all the things I have to do tomorrow. I’ve learned to put on a podcast for 10 minutes. It’s like someone reading you a bedtime story! Find whatever it is that gets you to go to sleep. It’s a massively important thing.”

“Build exercise in. It doesn’t have to be in the gym! We’ve actually started doing it in the office. I’ll say to my colleague, alright, we are going to do 100 squats a day. Every few hours I’ll stand up and say, ‘Alright, 25 squats!’ And we get there. We are doing our squats! Then, you start to feel better and maybe you do 10 pushups next. You’re motivated.”

“My resolution this year? I want to get physically strong. I’m turning fifty and I’ve already run a few marathons. Next year, I want to do a half Iron Man. I want to find the time – with work and family, it is hard – to pull it out. I think that when we are strong, we look better and we feel better. And that makes us feel more sensual. It’s all in our heads! All of this is in our heads. It’s not what the mirror says. If we feel good and feel strong, we feel sexy.”

Interview and Article by Molly Virostek. Photographed by Stephanie Lavaggi. Styled by Emily Newnam

Tags: bodytalk , support

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Yes, I am reading up on CUUP articles:) I am struggling with exercising and plant eating. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia a year ago and it’s like my body is shutting down. I was a runner, played volleyball, kayaked, and snowboarded up until last year; I was in so much pain!!!!! I love to do art therapy but now my wrist and thumbs are killing me and they can’t tell me why. I am working on switching to a more conscious way of living, but sometimes I get up in the mornings and I hurt just getting ready for work ~ I am not filing for disability because I like what I do and I love my life and I don’t want to let the pain control me. Great article!!!!!!


Jan 2020

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