Darshan Shah MD, Founder of Next Health, on Functional Health and Simple Steps to Longevity with Pamela Wirth

Darshan Shah MD, Founder of Next Health, on Functional Health and Simple Steps to Longevity with Pamela Wirth

Hi this is Pamela worth with the encourage your Wellness podcast and today I have with us Dr Daran Shaw and Dr Shaw you are so accomplished Wellness expert board certified surgeon published author entrepreneur founder of NEX health and super excited to talk not only about all the different uh surgeries and procedures and Trauma and reconstruction and all the wonderful things that you've done for so many people over the years but also talking about your world's first and largest Health optimization and Longevity clinic so thank you so much for being here.

Dr. Shah : yeah no thank you for having me Pamela I love the work that you're doing and honored to be a guest on your show

Pamela : awesome so tell us a little bit about how you I mean you're you became a doctor at the age of 21 I mean what what kind of started you on this journey and you've accomplished so much and and kind of what's in this next iteration of everything that you're work

Dr. Shah : yeah so I think I have a little bit of add in the medical world and I've had multiple careers in medicine so far but I did get started really early when I graduated from med school I was 21 years old I did my first surgical procedure when I was 21 and I fell in love with surgery so for many years I did surgery trauma surgery and then I did that for about 8 to 10 years and then after that reconstructive surgery and then I just I kind of found myself operating 14 15 hours a day five to seven days a week sometimes and so I was living this surgeon lifestyle just working a lot and working all sorts of hours not sleeping well eating whatever was in front of me and I found myself as a physician just getting really sick myself and so I was on multiple medications to treat high blood pressure to treat autoimmune problems I was also like 45 lbs overweight and about 10 years ago my actually 10 years ago today my son was born and I decided at that point in time as many of us do when we have our first child that we need to stay alive a lot longer so we could see these kids grow up right and I decided that moment also that I wanted to change my career number one to something where I could actually take care of myself but also I was kind of jaded with Western medicine I was just like you know no one's telling you how to stay healthy it's all about treating a disease with surgery or with pills so I decided to do the opposite number one to get myself well but also to help my patients get well without surgery without pills and I went down an educational pathway where I became a dietitian I became a certified personal trainer and I also discovered functional medicine and I learned functional medicine and that was a GameChanger for me and for your audience members that don't know what functional medicine is it's treating disease that is root cause so you never get into a disease state in the first place and all disease stems from a few common causes that we can treat or manage with good lifestyle choices and those are things like inflammation hormonal disturbances too much toxin exposure Etc and it's  miraculous how number one I got myself healthy within six months and I was able to teach my patients how to do the same thing without taking medications without having to undergo like weight loss surgery and things like that so when I was able to figure this out for myself I said I'm going to change my entire career into this and so I we started Nexel with our health optimization and Longevity clinics about 8 years ago.

Pamela : okay which is awesome. now there's so much there if you were to just chat with someone and say okay so here's kind of some easy things to start with to reduce inflammation toxic overload whatever that I mean that there's things that are easy there's things that are hard what do you kind of start with what do you like to kind of look at first

Dr. Shah : yes so I sit down with my patients all the time and we go over a specific kind of program that I have and it's a paradigm that I that I put together for them and it's a wheel and it's I called the wellness wheel and there's 12 aspects of Wellness so we start off with the basics like we don't if we can't get the basics right then nothing else is really going to work and we all know what those are those are nutrition sleep and our exercise routines and so really dialing that in and what I focus on is a 20% of the information that's going to give you the 80% of the results right and so really getting people to hone in and don't go down a rapid hole on these things let me tell you here's a five things that you need to do on each one of these that are going to get you in a good health routine a good health habits right and then once we get those down we then move on to the next three things which are how do we prevent you from dying so how not to die I call it and we all know that the top reasons people die in the western world are from heart attacks from cancer and eventually from Alzheimer's as well those are one if you look at the cdc's top causes top 10 causes of death those are right up there so we do diagnostics and mitigation of these three risks and it's actually same thing parto principle there's certain things you do that can prevent you from getting these diseases but also it's really about prevention and early diagnosis I always say if you could treat heart disease when you have your first narrowing of your blood vessel versus like really narrowed versus blood vessels or you could treat Alzheimer's way way way before it even becomes cognitive impairment or cancer being diagnosed at stage one Cancer's biggest enemy is being diagnosed at stage one right so we we put into Place Diagnostics to get them to make give us a sense of security that these reasons I usually take out most people and cause them to die are we could take those off the table pretty much completely believe it or not and then once we have that down then we go into functional medicine now we talk about how to really improve your health with healthy habits and we talk about hormonal Health we talk about detoxifying your life and your gut health and also part of this is emotional and mental health as well and then once we get those four parts of functional medicine right then we start introducing some of the latest stuff in longevity technology now now that we can add Health span to your life how do we add lifespan and add more years to the end of your life so that's kind of the whole Paradigm that we go through with our patients and it always starts off with getting some blood work getting some scans and really understanding their current state of health and then we can sit down and create a plan for them.

Pamela : that's awesome so what are some of your favorite Diagnostics to start with so that people understand here's kind of the data that I'm working with

Dr. Shah : yes so I always give people the tools and the ability to become the CEO of their own health and the example that I use is a lot of us run businesses or we help to run bu help to run businesses and we all are held to looking at kpis on a regular basis right so I give people what are the 15 kpis of your health that you need to know so so of those numbers tell us if we're going to get metabolic disease like insulin resistance or diabetes that that particular one is called the hemoglobin A1c heart disease is monitored by cholesterol levels cholesterol levels is the old way of monitoring risk for heart disease a new one is called apob. apob is a test that we use to monitor for for that and then for cancer we do the regular screening but we also have people do a full body MRI and and with with h cancer screening there's a new test out it's a blood test called a liquid biopsy and we get that on all of our patients as well and so this is just a few of the test that we use we actually do over 250 different biomarkers and genetic screening as well to really dive in but I think a lot of it is just empowering our patients to really understand what they can do and how they can affect these different biomarkers so giving them the tools to monitor those as well.

Pamela : so that's pretty interesting though so back to the cancer one I have to ask what is liquid biopsy I mean that's pretty awesome


Dr. Shah :yeah this is a revolution in cancer Diagnostics it's going to change the way we deal with cancer in the western world and all over the world so what we what we can now do with these rapid DNA sequencers it used to take months through sequence DNA now with recent discoveries you could sequence DNA pretty quickly and you can apply artificial intelligence to that to really look at each little bit of DNA that we find in your blood so it's a blood test and in your blood there's tons of DNA there's DNA being Shed from your organs there's DNA in your blood cells Etc but there also when you have a tumor the tumor sheds DNA as well and we can find these tumor dnas it's called cell-free DNA in your blood work with a simple blood test and within a week we get the results back and so we can find 50 different cancers at stage one or stage two if we're lucky we can find them much much earlier but also cancers that are typically very difficult to diagnose who can find way before they become symptomatic like a lot of cancers like pancreatic cancer for example most people find it way too late it's when they start having stomach aches and other symptoms then we finally start looking for it well with this test you can find it much earlier stage one or stage two

Pamela : That's pretty awesome it seems like everybody should do that twice or once a year 

Dr. Shah :  yeah you think like insurance would pay for this and you know like the rate rate of cancer would be and treatments would be you'd save so much money not doing radiation and chemo and everyone getting diagnoses to cancer at a late a stage so hopefully there's a time that comes soon where these tests are just you know a few dollars and everyone can do these on a regular basis

Pamela : Do you find that most of this has to be out of pocket because it's considered not necessary even though it kind of is necessary if you really think about it

Dr. Shah :yeah you know it's sad because I think Western medicine is just so disease focused and it doesn't pay for the stuff and and it's there's not a lot of money dedicated to preventive proactive medicine out of our entire budget and that we spend on Healthcare in the United States only 2% goes towards proactive medicine so none of the stuff people are paying for insurance is paying for it so people are paying for it out of pocket and you know a lot of people can't unfortunately can't afford this it's this stuff is expensive right now the liquid biopsy cost $800 the full body MRIs about $2,500 but I think what's really going to happen over the next few years is that this technology isn't get less and less expensive to where we're going to see exponential drop in cost of this and people will be able to afford this and you know I would say you can't really afford to be sick either right like you want to live as long as possible and be healthy in those years so the more you can do this preventative proactive it's worth the investment

Pamela :now that's awesome and with these with these clinics that do you call it a clinic or do you call it a center

Dr. Shah :yeah we call them clinics

Pamela : so you you've got them opening all over the world which is pretty amazing is it a membership model is it something that you can go to once or twice and understand more about it and then you know kind of dig in you know get get your feet wet a little bit so to speak and then go in further what does that look like

Dr. Shah : yeah it's both I mean we encourage people to get memberships because we also have onsite Health optimization technology that's been proven to work so things like we all know like the benefits of heat sauna cold therapy the benefits of light the benefits of oxygen so we have we have led beds and we also have hyperbaric oxygen Chambers we have cryotherapy Chambers we have heat sonas so what a lot of people do is they get a membership and they come like on a weekly basis to do these Tech Technologies and they can keep themselves healthier and then we also do the diagnostic testing as well like I mentioned and we have doctors on site to review all the results and help you formulate a plan so yes we are a membership model but a lot of people come just one time in they do all the Diagnostics we can do all the Diagnostics in three hours and then by Zoom we can give them the results and a plan the keys the plan of what to do with these results I think a lot of times people go and get a bunch of diagnostic tests randomly and they don't know what to do with the information and so that's where we come in and we curate the information for people

Pamela : And then the doctors that you have are you are you teaching them the protocol do they have a certain lure and then it kind of talk to us a little bit because it seems like the medical professionist is changing?

Dr. Shah : Yes it is and so I mentioned functional medicine to you earlier so our doctors are functional medicine trained and we've come up with the protocols and yes we do make sure all of our doctors know the latest in medical technology and how to implement these treatments and we are constantly training and constantly learning more but is really important to have that functional medicine background so you know that we're not trying to treat a disease with a pill we're trying to prevent disease in the first place and so just having that right mindset I think is also very important now look doctors and Western medicine hospitals are great for when you're sick our goal is really to never have you go to a hospital in the first place and so we're trying to we're trying to take care of the 95% of us that are not sick that we don't have to be in a hospital we don't have to see doctors for chemotherapy and things like that but we don't want to ever get to that point in the first place and that's where we're focusing our efforts

Pamela : One of the biggest challenges I had when my son was sick and you know took a long time to find the right doctors that were integrative and functional in nature that was that were willing to work with us and and and fix him so to speak do you work I mean pediatricians are just really really struggling do you work with kids at all or do you have any suggestions on how to find you know doctors for kids or teenagers

Dr. Shah : yes there are a lot of functional medicine trained pediatricians now as well and so there's a great website called ifm.org The Institute of functional medicine.org and there's a physician finder on there and I believe you can search by age group as well so you can find a pediatric functional doctor

Pamela : yeah it's tough you're absolutely right. back to nutrition for a minute everyone has different opinions on food and what's good what's bad what is your take on all this and everything you've learned over the years and helped so many people


Dr. Shah : Yeah so so the one thing I will say for nutrition in general is there's no one plan that's right for everybody in the world okay but there are certain truths to nutrition that are indisputable you cannot dispute a few things one is process food is definitely Ultra processed food is definitely causing a lot of problems so refined grains sodas chips desserts anything in a box with a million ingredients and chemicals you should stay away from that eating a Whole Food's diet is definitely the way to go as much as you can 95% of the time right secondly we know for sure is is that more and more people are getting diabetes metabolic dysfunction insulin resistance so everyone needs to learn how to keep their sugar levels under control their glucose levels under control this really good technology now to help us learn how to do this it's called a continuous glucose monitor so I have all my patients get a continuous glucose monitor and wear it for six weeks and really educate themselves not just on what's causing their sugar to spike but also how to eat again so it there's if you eat your fiber before your carbohydrates your glucose doesn't Spike but if you do it the other way around it does and so like whenever you go to a restaurant right what do they give you first bread it's the exact opposite they should be giving you the veggies first so that that's the second thing about and then the third thing about nutrition I think everyone needs to know is that we're not getting enough protein in our diet so whether it's comes from animal sources or it comes from Beans and vegan sources you just got to focus on getting more protein in your diet and we try to aim for 08 milligrams per pound of body weight so you know whatever your body weight is divide that by 08 and and that's how much protein you need or multiply by point8 that's how much protein you need per day


Pamela : what about fasting that's a big a big thing right now helpful not helpful kind of a short-term versus a long-term fix there's so many different opinions on all of this I think

Dr. Shah :yeah but I think the science is more and more clear now though that also fasting is not great for everybody fasting is good for people that have problems with their overall caloric intake so you know if you skip a meal you cut your caloric intake by a third that's fantastic and then you lower your you know your weight your metabolic disease risk Etc however many people when they're fasting and their weight goes down they're actually just losing lean body mass not fat they're losing actual lean body mass and so if that's happening fasting is definitely not right for you I think women have a lot more problems with fasting especially in hormonal regulation as well so I find more women do worse when they're fasting versus better and also I think that there's a lot of people that need more protein like we were discussing earlier that shouldn't fast they should have a protein shake or eggs or something in the morning as well to supplement their protein especially as you get older fasting as you get older you're just going to lose lean body mass and that's a huge risk for decreasing your lifespan and your Healthy years as well as far as long-term a short-term fast long-term fast have been shown to clear what's called senescent cells these are zombie cells that live in your body they're dead but just toxic burdens to your body and so if you do like a Fed day water fast or like a prolong type of fast maybe once every six months or every quarter that can be very helpful for clearing these toxic cells from your body but the short-term fasts don't really do that so I think short-term fasts are are good for some people some people are super successful on it and love it but if you try it and you just are not successful on it or you're losing skel ofal muscle mass or you just find that you're low energy and your sleep is not good I would abandon it to be honest don't force yourself to do it

Pamela :yeah and then what do you find are are good supplements for people to take on a regular basis I mean assuming you've got your your nutrition locked in you're doing as well as you can but you know it's my understanding that the food supply still doesn't provide enough vitamins even if you're eating 100% correct what do you like to supplement in just to make sure that the body is operating a little bit smoother

Dr. Shah : yeah that's a great question and there's a few supplements I consider very basic for everyone to have a ton of research behind them that I know everyone would benefit from and I I have all my patients taken one is vitamin D3 K2 you know 80% of Americans are deficient of vitamin D we just don't get out in the sun enough so vitamin D3 K2 is the form you want to take the second one is some sort of fish oil supplement and it's an omega-3 supplement either from fish oil supplement Krill or they have algae sources now for vegans and vegetarians thirdly I would say magnesialmost everyone needs more magnesiand it's great for your sleep your mental health and also your gut and fourth and fifth there's two supplements that I think have a lot of research behind them to show that they help you maintain muscle mass and and also maintain your mood and stress levels that's ashwagandha which I really like and also creatine so 5 to8 grams of creatine has been shown to help you maintain muscle mass and be protective for your brain as well

Pamela : so and so that's pretty interesting so I have I have a couple of teenage sons and you know creatine's obviously a big thing in the house in terms of making sure that they're building muscle mass but I hadn't really thought about that in terms of protecting the brain and so for women it's okay you're not going to get get too big too bulky and and how is creatine because from what I understand creatine helps the muscles absorb more water so how is that working on the brain

Dr. Shah : That's one of the mechanisms creatin is actually involved in many biological processes and a lot of the research being done around cre I don't think anyone really knows exactly how creatine is neuroprotective but it's been shown in many studies to be neuroprotective decreasing the rate of Mal cognitive impairment increasing your ability increasing multiple cognitive abilities actually so taking creatine for a week and doing the same test off a creatine like a placebo versus creatine people improve their cognitive abilities quite substantially

Pamela : And so when when you're doing it not necessarily for muscle mass but more for protecting the body do you prefer that in the morning or with a meal or what do you find because I because like my son I know he's he's got to do it you know at a certain time I I can't remember his formula but it's either before the workout or after the workout or whatever that looks like but different I'm sure here 

Dr. Shah : yeah I just make it as easy as possible for people I everyone has like a morning coffee or a morning smoothie or a morning glass of water you can just mix it into that and it's you just it's one scoop is five milligrams to 8 milligrams it's not a lot and it's you don't even taste it really and it's much easier I think you know people that are working out or going to the gym and trying to build muscle it's also beneficial do it pre-workout but some of them do it post-workout as well so it's the jury's out on that one but first thing in the morning

Pamela : Okay great what else am I leaving out in terms of longevity overall health and wellness what else would you love to share

Dr. Shah : yeah you know I think a lot of people don't really have a clear idea of what their hormones are doing and this becomes incredibly important after the age of 40 for both men and women women especially like the lack of estrogen after menopause is a huge risk factor for brain disease like Alzheimer's and other neurocognitive diseases and also we know weak bones Etc and for men having a low testosterone actually increases your risk for cancer increases your risk for Alzheimer's disease increases your risk for heart disease as well so I would say you know if you're over the age of 40 45 even especially 50 definitely go get evaluated get your hormones evaluated a lot of primary care doctors won't do it they'll just say you know you're fine it's normal to get old and lose your hormones and a lot of them will get the results back and say your estrogen or your testosterone is normal for your age and really that's not what you want you need it to be your hormone levels should be where they were when in your 20s not normal for your age so I I'm a big believer in hormone support and you don't have to take hormones to do that there's other ways of getting your hormones to be at a level that's protective through exercise through supplementation Etc but I would definitely you know dive into that a little bit and if you can't go to a doctor that specializes it in it so that you can really understand it and secondly you know gut health too is also extremely important we know now the gut brain connection the gut heart connection is very strong what's going on in your gut is affecting your brain and every organ in your body so if you're not in good gut health shape you're bloated you're having diarrhea constipation reflux disease all these things definitely work with someone to figure that out as well and lastly you have to detoxify your environment we live in the most toxic societ environment that has ever existed for Humanity it's in the air it's in the water it's in our food it's in the Cosmetics we put in our skin learn how to detoxify your environment and the principle works really well for that you only have to do a few actions to really cause a massive detoxification of your environment for your air getting an air filter in your bedroom and your work environment for your food eating organic for your water drinking out of glass bottles Reverse Osmosis System in your house and for your Cosmetics there's a great app called Think Dirty where you can look up scan the barcode of your cosmetics and your lotions and your soaps and it gives you a score of how many toxins are in this and it will suggest alternative products with less toxins so it's easy to do some of this stuff it's just you know it's a little bit of work up front but the benefits are they mount over time and so I would definitely look into some of this if you can

Pamela :yeah know that's a great those are great suggestions back to the hormones for a minute so what are some foods that you can because so that's one of the big things and in my family we've got a history of cancer and so there's always been this big push for women in the family not to take hormones and but true it creates other issues and so what kind of foods do you like or dislike in terms of making sure that people are protecting their hormones?

Dr. Shah : yeah I mean there's certain superfoods out there I think a lot of phytochemicals and phytonutrients are important so getting 500 to 800 grams of high fiber low starch vegetables per day that are organic and well sourced or from your local Farmer Market is good and 500 to 800 gram of vegetables a day I that's a lot right that's that's like two full salads so really getting those in that fiber is so protective against colon cancer and many other forms of cancers because it feeds your gut bacteria so just taking that in supplement form is not going to be it's helpful but it's much more helpful to get the fiber in with it so I would definitely focus on very colorful vegetables and leafy greens as much as possible and it's you know believe it not too spices add spices to every meal everything you cook things like curcand oregano all of these all the spices have are very helpful in protecting you from inflammation and also cancer

Pamela : What about testosterone for men I mean does that need to be taken through a a strong form so to speak or are there certain foods or supplements that can help supplement men

Dr. Shah : Yeah ashwaganda can definitely help you raise your testosterone level there's a few other supplements that have been shown to raise testosterone levels I would say though that you know no one has to do testosterone supplementation but I could tell you that most of the men I see their testosterone is tanked due to stress due to you know poor quality sleep and you really want to get your testosterone up with lifestyle modifications so sleeping eight hours a night also making sure that you're lifting heavy weights through three to four times a week that really helps get your testosterone up but if you can't get it up with your lifestyle modification then definitely I would consider testosterone supplementation I myself am on testosterone supplementation I'm a big believer in it. it's protective against almost all forms of chronic disease

Pamela : Yeah that's super thank you for sharing anything else I missed

Dr. Shah : No I think you got it I mean you know we talked a little bit about some of the stuff we do at next out for longevity there's so much coming out in the next few years in longevity technology to really reverse biological aging and I think people really need to keep their eye on eye on this because it's going to make a massive difference the technology is just getting better and better and and if you are not doing sauna therapy cold plunges or cold showers and light therapy you should really think about adding those to your day day daily Health routine

Pamela : How often should you do something like that

Dr. Shah : Every day if you can I mean light therapy is as easy as going out in the sun first thing in the morning and spending 20 minutes outside and go for a walk or something cryotherapy or cold therapy is easy as taking a cold shower in the morning and you know if you can get a sauna in your house that's fantastic there's a lot of companies selling home saunas now as well.

Pamela : That's super where where are the clinics now and where are they coming?

Dr. Shah : yeah so we currently have three clinics in Los Angeles one in New York and one in Maui actually the Four Seasons Maui but we have about 20 to 30 locations opening next year we have two locations opening in Dubai we have a few locations opening in Canada some more in California Miami, Florida, Texas the Carolina so we'll be in a lot more places and people will be able to find us there next health is the name of the brand the website is www.next-health.com and yeah you can find me on my Instagram which isign Daran Shaw MD

Pamela : Thank you and I'll be sure to add all of this into the notes too so thank you so much doctor I really appreciate having you on today

Dr. Shah : yeah this was a lot of fun Pamela and I know we covered a lot of ground here but I talk about a lot of this on Instagram I also have my website Drshaw.com there's a lot of my blogs on there as well that people can read to dive in deeper

Pamela : Great thank you so much doctor.

Back to blog