Daily Expert: How a Top Prevention Specialist Never Gets Sick

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Men’s Health advisor David Katz, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.P.M., is the founding director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, a past president of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, and is the principal inventor of the Overall Nutritional Quality Index algorithm; and created the dietary intake assessment method called Diet Quality Photo Navigation. Dr. Katz is 55 and has authored roughly 200 peer-reviewed publications and 16 books, including leading textbooks in both nutrition and preventive medicine. He’s also a father of five and passionate equestrian. Dr. Katz hasn’t barely been sick over the past ten years, excluding a bout with tick-born anaplasmosis! Here’s how he stays healthy, mentally and physically.

What’s your eating plan?

A hybrid of Mediterranean, Pescatarian, and Vegan. It’s an overwhelmingly plant-predominant diet, but with some allowance for dairy, occasional fish and seafood, and eggs. I eat poultry once or twice a year on occasions like Thanksgiving- and only if locally sourced, reliably well treated, and fed. My wife is from southern France, or our ‘native’ diet is Mediterranean.

Describe a typical day of eating.

Late breakfast of mixed berries, whole grain cereal or steel-cut oats, chopped walnuts- possibly a bit of almond milk (unsweetened, plain).

If anything between late breakfast and dinner, fresh fruit, dried fruit (figs), raw almonds.

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Dinner: vegetarian or vegan entree with beans, chickpeas, or lentils as protein source- so, for example, beans, spinach, and other veggies over whole-grain pasta; vegan chili; tuscan bean soup . side cooked veggies- brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. heaping portion of mixed green salad with balsamic vinegar and EVOO. whole grain bread (Atticus is my favorite: 7-grain seeded porridge bread)

Glass of wine to pair.

What are you favorite healthy snacks?

Dried figs/other dried fruit, raw almonds, almost any fresh fruit, and diced veggies

Do you take any supplements?

Nordic Naturals omega-3 from algae: Unless you eat fatty fish very often, most of us get relatively too little; plus anti-inflammatory effects.

Peptiva probiotic: I developed some sensitivities to nuts that went away when I took a probiotic.

Vitamin D: Not out in the sun enough to rely on that as my source, alas.

Nutrex Astaxanthin: antioxidant boost/cytoprotection, and ‘internal sunscreen’ for when I am out in the sun.

Juice Plus Whole Food supplement: It’s a basic nutrient ‘insurance policy.’

Do you get the flu vaccine?


Do you drink alcohol, and if yes, why?

Yes, and for pleasure. I like a good beer (my favorites are amber ales)—but I consider fine wine one of the few reliable indications of intelligent life down here! A top-tier Bordeaux is one of life’s great pleasures- all the more so when paired with a great meal, and my wife’s great company.

I do believe you derive a health benefit from moderate, judicious alcohol intake—but that’s a fringe benefit. The primary motive is pleasure, pure and simple.

If yes, what kind and how often?

Red wine is #1; white wine and beer tied for second. I have a variety of favorite wines, chosen to suite the occasion and meal. I love microbrew amber ales, pale ales, and certain lagers and pilsners, but tend to be pretty fussy. I rarely drink any other kind of alcohol.

How do you stay active during the day?

Home gym, and an office at home. When my schedule allows, I work from home and can intersperse work and exercise. My standard daily routine includes 40 mins on an elliptical; 5 km on a rower; abdominal exercises, and weights.

I have 3 dogs I walk whenever my routine permits; and I have a horse I try to ride 2-3 times per week—although at odds with my fellow riders, I always consider that exercise for him rather than for me! (You do use your core muscles a lot for the kind of riding I do, but still much more work for Troubadour!)


How often do you exercise?

I rarely miss a day.

Do you have a personal fitness test?

I am measuring my performance every day in terms of kcal burned, distance gone per unit time, etc. I also ‘test’ myself periodically with a long hike 7 miles or more- or a day of arduous work (ie, >4 hours of splitting logs and stacking wood). For strength/weight ratio, I have tended to use chin-ups and pull-ups as a good metric (number completed in single, continuous sets).

How do you combat stress?

Being outdoors. Physical activity. Riding my horse. My wife’s company and touch. Time with my dogs, Barli in particular (she’s a goldendoodle, and the very essence of dogliness.) Recreation, especially with my family. Working on meditation, but I don’t have that pinned down yet!


Do you do any specific activities to avoid germs or sickness?

I wash my hands routinely—I think most docs are well-schooled in the practice. I try to get enough sleep. I get vaccinated. But mostly, I just take good care of myself overall so that my constitution is my best defense.

How do stay informed?

Massive flow through multiple in-boxes daily. News alerts via my iPhone. Read the New York Times every morning, and get news alerts from the Washington post. Extensive social media networks with selective monitoring of the feed. multiple channels that keep me informed about noteworthy additions to the peer-reviewed medical literature.

What book have you most often gifted to friends, colleagues, family?

The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins; other works by Dawkins.

Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell; Outliers, by Gladwell.


Are there any home health test kits you use e.g. genetic tests or specific cancer screenings?


What are you most excited about in your field?

My field—preventive medicine, lifestyle medicine—is the one area where medicine can do the most to focus on the overlap of human and planetary health. The recent Eat-Lancet commission report on sustainable, healthy diets is an example. That confluence is the urgent issue of our time.

What are you most concerned about in your field?

The same exact thing—because it is the urgent issue of our time, and are thus far doing too little, too late!

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