I first became interested in nutrition after discovering a new way of eating that completely reversed a number of perplexing health problems I had developed in my early 40’s, including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Migraines, and IBS. This experience led me on a quest to understand why the unorthodox diet that restored my own health is so different from the diet we are taught is healthy.
I became passionate about the connection between food and every aspect of physical and mental health, and began to read and study nutrition intensively in 2007. Before long it became obvious to me that our cells all require the same basic nutritional care, and that the vast majority of medical literature misses this fundamental point. Even more interesting to me is how little most of us know about the foods we eat and how they affect our bodies. Nutrition literature steers us wrong by focusing on the epidemiology of diseases rather than the biochemistry of food and of the human body. Nutrition is not rocket science, and the basic principles should not and do not change from day to day. I now apply what I’ve learned (and continue to learn) in my medical practice, and enjoy having a variety of therapeutic options to present to my patients.
Background and Professional Experience
I grew up in Newburyport, Massachusetts and received my B.A. in Biology from Carleton College in Minnesota. I then spent seven years as a laboratory research assistant:
- Carleton College Biochemistry Dept, Northfield Minnesota (Professor John Tymoczko)
- Joslin Diabetes Center, Boston, Massachusetts (Dr. George Eisenbarth)
- Institüt für Diabetesforschung, Munich, Germany (Dr. Anette Ziegler). Hallo an meine Freunde in Deutschland!
- SUNY Stony Brook Dept of Dermatology (Dr.s Gailit, Clark, and Tonneson)
I then went on to earn my M.D. from The University of Vermont College of Medicine. After completing residency in adult psychiatry at Harvard University’s Cambridge Hospital, I moved to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where I worked as a psychopharmacologist for Cape Cod Human Services and established a general adult psychiatry practice, both located in East Falmouth. I was also a consultation-liaison psychiatrist for Falmouth Hospital.
In 2007, I returned to the Boston area to accept a position as staff psychiatrist at Harvard University Health Services. In addition to providing traditional diagnostic and medication management services, I was the first and only physician at Harvard University Health Services to provide nutrition consultations to those interested in an alternative to psychiatric medications.
From 2008 to 2010 I was a staff psychopharmacologist and nutrition consultant at The Hallowell Center, which specializes in the care of people with attention disorders and related conditions.
In spring 2012, I completed a graduate course in nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health entitled “The Science of Human Nutrition”, taught by Dr. Frank Sacks and Dr. Clifford Lo.
In August 2013 I left Harvard University and closed my Cambridge private practice to become the psychiatrist for Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.
In June 2018 I decided to take time away from my college mental health work to dedicate 100% of my time to nutritional psychiatry. I now focus my efforts on studying, writing, and speaking about the powerful scientific connection between food and brain health.
- Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society
- Ancestral Health Society
- Paleo Physicians Network
- Physicians and Ancestral Health
At 52 years old, despite a strong family history of obesity, type II diabetes, high cholesterol, migraine headaches, anxiety disorders and ADHD, I have no health problems and take no medications. I will let you know if this changes!
In recent years, I have given a variety of presentations about nutrition and health to medical conferences at Harvard and elsewhere around the country. To watch a video of my most recent presentation at the Physicians for Ancestral Health Symposium 2016, click here:
I have become convinced that what we eat is by far the single most important factor in our mental and physical health. This is a conviction based not only on my own personal experiences with dietary changes, but also on the experiences of those of my patients who have been willing to try nutritional approaches to a wide variety of health conditions, including bipolar disorder, migraine headaches, ADHD, IBS, panic disorder, CFS, eating disorders, and many others), as well as on my extensive reading across all scientific fields related to food and health, including nutrition, medicine, botany, toxicology, anthropology, and biochemistry.
I am one of a growing number of physicians around the world who has come to believe that everyone who applies the truth about nutrition science to their diet can experience major improvements in their own health and well-being. Most people are surprised at the results they see and become just as excited and curious about the connection between food and health as I am! When you feed your brain and body properly, they will respond by functioning at their best. The basics of my nutritional philosophy are grounded in a combination of evolutionary principles and food biochemistry. While I am a huge fan of a primal /”Paleo” diet, I would argue that, just because a caveman or cavewoman or cavekid might have eaten something a million years ago, doesn’t necessarily make it healthy, and some of us may need to modify this basic dietary pattern to feel our best.
Even the most perfect diet cannot cure all diseases. I also believe in the power of modern medicines and continue to prescribe medications to those who are either uninterested in changing their diet or who do not achieve good enough results from dietary changes alone. It may be that many years of following misguided nutrition guidelines, and/or exposure to any number of other modern environmental influences does irreparable damage to the chemistry of some individuals, and/or that some people are born with medical conditions that diet cannot cure. However, even in these cases, a healthy diet will significantly improve overall health and may reduce the need for medications, perhaps allowing for lower doses or milder forms of helpful drugs.
I also believe that each person’s chemistry is unique. While there are some dietary guidelines which make sense for all of us, there are others that can be more flexible. Some people can tolerate dairy, some cannot. Some do beautifully with all kinds of vegetables, while others have to eliminate certain vegetables in order to feel their best. Some can include “safe” or “healthy” carbohydrates in their diet while others must eat a very low carbohydrate diet to be well. My goal is to provide you with the information you need to do your own dietary experiments so that you can design the diet that is best for you. I hope you enjoy the journey!