There has been much ado about health supplements and dietary plans, but people tend to not give too much importance to lifestyle. Sensing this disconnect, Luke Coutinho, Holistic Nutrition and Lifestyle - Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine, Founder of You Care - All about You has built a brand for himself and is often known as the wellness aficionado. In an exclusive interview for World Health Day 2023, we at Edugraph caught up with Luke Coutinho as he elucidates on the importance of lifestyle correction, how to achieve holistic living, wellness, and simplicity. Also, read about his experience of how he became a health coach. Excerpts from the interview.
1. How did you get started on this journey of holistic health?
The shift happened when I was in the corporate world and I noticed how working professionals with higher designations like CEOs, VPs and higher management levels, in spite of having great jobs, positions, and perks, were falling sick, getting obese and developing lifestyle diseases. While they had access to the best of doctors, nutritionists, trainers, gyms, superfoods and so on, I realised the gap was - lifestyle, and the inability to live it right, despite having everything.
Fitness was just a tick in a box - one yoga class with a trainer, annual check-ups, and sessions with gym trainers. There was no focus on lifestyle. When I observed this, it just didn't make sense to me. I identified this huge gap and worked in this area to fill that gap. That is how I moved into lifestyle medicine and holistic health.
2. You have recently been in the news for helping Mahesh Babu get in shape. Please share some learning insights from your experience.
For personalities like Mahesh Babu, being in the showbiz industry where the glitz and glam reign supreme, it is important to build a good physique. But, it is equally essential to do it the right way without resorting to fads, trends, unregulated supplements and adopting extreme measures. That's where integrative and holistic health comes in.
Mahesh Babu worked with us not just to achieve a good physique, but also to achieve it the right way and create a well-rounded life that nurtures him both now and in the future. This means focusing on crucial aspects of wellness and prevention like healthy DNA, angiogenesis, prevention, immunity, gut health, mindset changes, handling stress on a day-to-day basis, and overall achieving fulfilment in his personal life.
It has been a great journey so far, and we have a lot more ahead of us.
3. You have diversified your offerings into multiple buckets now with You Care, You Care Lifestyle, CancerCare, UCare and all of this across boundaries. How long did this take to build?
All put together, it took over 9 years to reach where we are today. But I am also looking at thousands of patients we consulted in these years. It is honestly that that brought us here. What started off with just a team of 5-6 people has now grown into a beautiful team of 160+, and I couldn't be more grateful.
Luke Coutinho Source: Official
4. What were some of the challenges during the course and what kept you going?
The toughest challenge has been changing the wrong attitude of people and working with them on this so they can actually recover. Sometimes it only takes correcting that to improve health. The ego, pride and wrong attitudes can be so strong that it comes in the way of their healing and often becomes an obstacle.
Another significant challenge was during the pandemic, I missed physical contact with my patients. In the line of integrative and lifestyle medicine, I prefer to see my patients and closely observe physical aspects that signify health like - skin and hair quality, the warmth of their skin, body language, where their body has accumulated fat the most, eyes, oral health, and so on.
While all of it can still be observed online, it's more powerful when done in person. I am also a huge believer in energies, and a physical presence of a doctor or nutritionist allows an exchange of energies which can benefit a patient.
But, when you are focused towards your vision and work, these challenges seem too trivial.
5. How has social media as a tool helped you in your career?
What I have built is out of sharing my learnings, experience, and knowledge. My journey first began with going live on Facebook, and talking about common issues like acidity and constipation because this is what most of my patients were going through. I realized that these were prevalent problems that many people were struggling with.
That's when I decided to help by offering simple lifestyle tips to manage these issues. Since then, I have been sharing my insights and reflections on a daily basis across various platforms and mediums.
Through social media, I can reach out to people far and wide, and I am grateful for the positive response my work has received. It's fulfilling to see how people have embraced the concept of integrative and lifestyle medicine. I am grateful for technology to expand our reach and presence and enable people to use it to look after their health.
Listening to your body and cultivating mindfulness is another mantra. If you are mindful, you know what your body needs, making living a healthy life more effortless. Source: Shutterstock
6. What are the 3 fundamentals or habits you would recommend for working adults and youths to stay healthy?
The three most important fundamentals would be - Discipline, Consistency, and Simplicity. No matter what the goal is, its success revolves around these three.
7. Can you tell us more about the five pillars of wellness (Balanced Nutrition, Adequate Exercise, Quality Sleep, Emotional Detox and Spiritual wellness) and why are they so important for a healthy lifestyle?
The five pillars of wellness are what our entire platform of healing, recovery and prevention is based on.
These are like 4 wheels of a vehicle, where each wheel has to spin at an equal speed for the vehicle to move forward, or else it will slow down. Just like that, wellness isn't just about eating superfoods, salads and soup. While doing that is great, an equal focus has to be drawn towards nurturing your emotional health, physical movement, sleep, rest and recovery and building a connection with your inner spirit.
Similarly, you could be engaging in heavy and intense workout programs, but if your nutrition, sleep, rest, recovery and emotional health are not in alignment with the kind of workout you do, it can be crippling to every part of your system, immunity, muscle health, recovery and inflammation.
Holistic health teaches how each of these can be built in a way that works for you.
8. How can a wellness enthusiast build a career in Holistic Nutrition and Integrative medicine?
To build a career as an integrative nutritionist, having a nutrition background is a must, but it's just the beginning. Integrative nutritionists are trained to do more than just create diet plans. They also need to understand how all aspects of lifestyle, including exercise, sleep, emotional health, and environment, impact an individual's health.
There are many reputable courses available that offer training in integrative lifestyle medicine. Our own educational arm, LSI, offers education and certification programs for budding and aspiring nutritionists.
However, knowledge alone is not enough. To be effective in this field, essential coaching aspects like compassion, patience, care, and understanding are also necessary. Without the ability to coach clients, even the best knowledge is useless.
In summary, to succeed as an integrative nutritionist, you need a strong foundation in nutrition, as well as an in-depth understanding of how lifestyle factors impact health. Additionally, developing good coaching skills is essential, with qualities like compassion, patience and care.
8. You have been renowned globally as one of the best Integrative medicine practitioners, how do you deal with failures?
Failures are great learnings. I like to reflect on them and take lessons. Also, an understanding that failures are a part of the journey, helps a lot. Our suffering with failures comes the moment we feel entitled to not fail. Each day I wake up and tell myself that I will be the best version of myself and do things with the best of my intentions. If I do not succeed, it is okay. Success is not in my control anyway, so I surrender to the results.
A lot of times failures also mean divine redirection, and changing my belief system gives me the strength and courage to move forward.
9. Advice for the youth and people wanting to start their wellness journey.
My mantra is to keep it simple, always. The body is unique, so every day is different, and so are its needs. For example, today, your body might need more carbs, and tomorrow, maybe less, so one needs to find out what works for them.
Listening to your body and cultivating mindfulness is another mantra. If you are mindful, you know what your body needs, making living a healthy life more effortless.
10. Who were your initial mentors/coaches and what principles did they instil in you?
I do not have one single mentor because that limits me from learning about all the goodness that exists. I take away my learnings from many and grasp what makes sense to me. It could be a patient, my mistakes, life experiences, my successes and failures, my daughter, my parents or even my team members. I learn from everyone and at every instance of my life.