The Buddha said: “To keep the body in good health is a duty … otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.”
You guys know that I am always grateful for my health, especially in a time like this. While things are slowly getting back to normal, COVID-19 is still very much a presence in the world, and people are still at risk.
In times of health crisis, we often turn to the internet to give us fast answers. And while some sources are certainly credible, others provide false information. And while it might have a catchy, clickbait-y title, false information can often be very harmful to your body. In the worst cases, bad online health tips have fatal consequences. My guest today is aware of this and is doing his part in educating the masses on what’s really true about their health:
“The absence of quality evidence-based physicians [and], the fear of being labeled ‘unprofessional’ has really allowed for misinformation to rise, and social media to become a misinformation superhighway.” – Dr. Mike
That being said, there are things you can do at home to improve your health. On The School of Greatness, I am all about giving you trusted information from the experts. On my last episode, I interviewed Dr. Rhonda Patrick, and we talked about the different foods, exercises, and vitamins you should prioritize to live a full, healthy life.
Today, we’re going to continue that conversation with Dr. Mike and talk about the things we can all be doing to take better care of our health. We’re going to dive deep into the power of the mind-body connection and discover how your physical health affects your mental health and vice versa. Then, we’re going to discuss some simple things we can all be doing to be proactive about our health.
We’re also going to talk through some popular health myths and discover how we can find the best information out there. And finally, we’re talking through some practical health tips I think we could all use in the midst of this pandemic. This episode has a ton of great information, guys, so let’s dive in!
Dr. Mike is a board-certified family medicine doctor practicing in the New York City area. He’s also a social media superstar, with more than 10 million followers and half a BILLION YouTube views. Dr. Mike’s mission is to serve and educate people, to dispel medical myths, and help people live healthy, happy lives. And in the process, he’s managed to crack the code for making health information entertaining.
“… Sometimes it means not even making medical content or at least not fully mounted. Like playing a Sims game and creating a medical character in it. You would think, ‘Why would a doctor do that?’ Well, guess what? Now all these young folks who play Sims watch that video and then get recommended the truth about COVID, and they’re able to educate themselves.” – Dr. Mike
Dr. Mike is committed to giving you verified information and debunking health myths we see every day on the internet, and right now, during this global pandemic, there is a huge amount of information out there that is misleading. We need educated and good-hearted people like Dr. Mike to help us navigate through these times, and I’m so excited for you to learn from him today!
Please share any new insight that you learn from this interview on health with your friends, family, and social media network! We got to get the good information out there, people!
One of the main things I wanted to talk to Dr. Mike about today was the importance of our mental health. It’s no secret that we’re living in a time of uncertainty, fear, and a lot of extra stress on our minds. I wanted to know how we can do a better job of taking care of ourselves! I asked Dr. Mike whether it’s better to try a holistic approach of healing the emotions to heal the body or if it’s all about medication, and he had some wise words to share:
“It’s mindbody. There’s no distinction between the two — It’s not mind and body, it’s not mind dash body, it’s mindbody. And the reason for that is we’re learning more and more that there’s this intimate connection that exists, that if you disrupt something in your physical system, it’s going to travel back to the health system.” – Dr. Mike
Our bodies and our minds are deeply connected — there’s no separating them. That means that when we put a lot of physical strain on our bodies, we’ll end up taking a toll on our emotions. And it works in reverse too — if we’re putting a lot of extra stress on our minds and our emotions, we’re eventually going to start seeing some physical problems.
“So how you feel in a given moment may not have a huge role as to how your physical health is. But if you’re constantly depressed, you’re constantly on edge and nervous and living in a society full of fear, … that will show physical implications over the long term, not just because of the neurological system, but also from the endocrine system.” – Dr. Mike
That means that our emotions can actually affect the ways our brains and hormones work. If we’re depressed, anxious, and afraid for an extended period of time, those negative emotions can start to have a negative effect on our bodies. Doctors like Dr. Mike see a whole range of serious physical health problems that result from long-term disruptions in our mental health. We’ve got to figure out a way to take better care of our emotions.
With such a strong connection between our mental health and our physical health, it’s really no surprise that the number one thing Dr. Mike thinks we all need is therapy.
“I think we all need therapy. … The form of therapy that I’m actually recommending is called cognitive-behavioral therapy. And it’s the modern form of therapy that has the greatest evidence behind it. … The whole premise behind cognitive-behavioral therapy, which we call CBT, is we, as humans are prone to irrational thinking — we call these … cognitive distortions. … [We] replace [cognitive distortions] with a rational alternative that may not completely replace their irrational thought, but it’ll take the power away, which will decrease anxiety symptoms [and] decrease depressive symptoms.” – Dr. Mike
Therapy can help everyone. Even if you don’t have a specific mental illness, therapy can help you work through your negative thoughts and limiting beliefs — and that’s valuable for all of us.
Those “cognitive distortions” Dr. Mike talked about aren’t just symptoms of depression or anxiety — many of us have them. Dr. Mike said that examples of cognitive distortions are thoughts like “I didn’t get a perfect grade on this test, so I’m never going to succeed.” It’s an “all-or-nothing” mentality that causes you to put way too much pressure on yourself. Therapy can help us all overcome that kind of thinking and develop healthier thought patterns.
But for some people, the thought of scheduling an appointment with a mental health professional is overwhelming. I get it — It can be scary to ask for help with your mental health! I asked Dr. Mike what a simple first-step could be, and he said that developing a relationship with a primary care physician is essential.
“I love [it] when people have a good primary care provider because good psychological health begins there.” – Dr. Mike
Remember what Dr. Mike said earlier? It’s “mindbody” not “mind and body.” The first step to taking care of your mind can be taking care of your body, and finding a good primary care physician is the perfect way to do that. If you haven’t scheduled an appointment with your doctor in a while, it’s probably a good time to check in with them.
And by the way, Dr. Mike says that it really is best to have a physical with your doctor at least once a year! It’s important to check in and make sure you’re taking good care of your physical and mental health.
Dr. Mike had a ton of great general health advice in this interview. We must take care of our minds and bodies to maximize our health and function at our best from day to day. However, we’re dealing with a unique situation right now with COVID-19, and I wanted to get Dr. Mike’s best advice and perspective on how we can take better care of ourselves during a pandemic.
First of all — we still have to protect those who are older or who have preexisting health conditions that make them vulnerable to the virus.
“My advice is that if you’re over the age of 60, have any underlying health conditions, have an immunocompromised state, you should be treating this just like day one — Do not go outside, do not put your life at risk. And if you have someone at home like that, you should be keeping away from them if you are going outside.” – Dr. Mike
It may sound dramatic, but it’s true — older people and people who are immunocompromised really can’t take this too seriously. It’s still necessary to stay inside and avoid situations where you could be exposed to COVID-19.
And remember — someone could have the virus even if they aren’t showing any symptoms. It’s called being “asymptomatic,” and it happens when someone has just recently picked up the virus.
“Here’s what happens: People who are presymptomatic — meaning that they’re asymptomatic, no symptoms — they’re going to get sick in a week or two, but they’re already spreading the virus.” – Dr. Mike
Once you have the coronavirus, you’re already contagious and spreading it, even though it takes two weeks for symptoms to show up. That’s why we have to be especially careful when it comes to going out and being around people who may be immunocompromised. Make sure you’re still taking precautions to protect the people around you!
Okay, so we know it’s true that immunocompromised people are still at high risk from COVID-19 and that we can be contagious and spread the disease even if we aren’t showing symptoms yet. Those are facts, and we’ve proven them to be true. But there are still a ton of things we don’t know about COVID-19. And that leaves room for a lot of wild misinformation.
And that’s not only true for COVID-related news — There are myths out there about everything from diets to vaccines. How are we supposed to know what’s scientifically accurate and what isn’t?
“I think folks have to be healthy skeptics. … Approach [new information] with a healthy amount of skepticism. Read it, understand that there’s not one piece of research that can come out and change everything we do … and then have a trusted source …” – Dr. Mike
There are many health-related articles out there, and while some of them are extremely helpful, some are wrong and potentially harmful. So approach new health information with a healthy dose of skepticism. Think carefully — is this information coming from a trusted source? Does solid research back it up?
I’m reminded of my friend Dr. Mark Hyman. Every time Dr. Hyman publishes an article, book, or medical paper, I know I can trust that information because he’s got a list of 20 or 30 trustworthy medical research sources supporting his claims. If you’re reading something that seems true, but it’s only supported by one person’s claim instead of a wealth of medical research, it’s probably a myth.
“In fact, something I say on my channel so often is [that] ‘expert opinion’ is the lowest form of evidence because expert opinion is not guided by anything except your ego. … Expert opinion — I’ll say it over and over again — is near useless.” – Dr. Mike
Don’t trust everything you read just because some “expert” claims it’s true. Make sure that there are several solid sources of reliable researched evidence supporting anything you read. And if you’re not sure if something is real, ask your doctor! They’re an excellent source of reliable health information, and they’ll give you their honest take on the situation with the knowledge to back up their opinions.
Dr. Mike shared a ton of great information with me today! In a time where there’s a lot of uncertainty and a lot of medical misinformation flying around, it’s more important than ever to find trusted sources of information. I can tell you that Dr. Mike is one of my most trusted sources for health advice. And while I generally avoid going to the doctor — of course, it’s no fun — this conversation convinced me that I need to make my annual check-ups a priority.
Dr. Mike’s definition of greatness is short and sweet, and I believe he truly lives up to it:
“[Greatness is] to leave the world in a better state than what you came [into].” – Dr. Mike
Thanks so much for joining me on this episode of The School of Greatness! I hope you got as much value out of it as I did. Please take a minute to share this episode on Instagram, and make sure to tag @doctor.mike and @lewishowes. You could have a positive impact on someone’s life today just by sharing this episode!
And don’t forget to check out Dr. Mike on YouTube! He’s got some great content on there that is sure to entertain and teach you at the same time.
But don’t click away just yet! If you’re ready to learn how to take better care of your health, dispel some crazy medical myths, and learn how to survive and thrive even during a pandemic, stay right here and listen to Episode 968 with Dr. Mike!