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Our recent interview with Dr. Fatema Bagasrawala, an experienced nutritionist, gut health expert, bariatric nutritionist, nutrigenomic counselor and co-author. She has been recognized by organizations for her extraordinary commitment to nutrition. For over 8 years she has been a noteworthy leader in the nutrition space. Here is some of what we discussed with Dr Fatema about nutrition and planned diets.

How do you help your clients in losing weight?

I give nutritional advice through my follow-ups. I teach them about portion sizes so that they know what to eat. It is especially important when dealing with issues such as obesity or being overweight because people tend to overeat. The food you choose to consume should not raise your excess calories.
The approach is multicultural, depending on each family, especially nowadays where the majority has a sedentary lifestyle. I plan the diet so that it’s easy-to-follow, practical and even more sustainable than just giving them some kind of plateau breaker diet or a fad diet, which might not work for the client.

How can vegetarians ensure that their diets are high in iron and what are the best sources of iron?

Usually, iron in India comes from two sources. Animal protein has a lot of iron, for example, oysters, fish, and turkey. Plant-based sources for iron absorption include fortified foods, which are iron-rich, as well as tofu beans, dates, and green leafy vegetables. Vitamin C also boosts iron absorption. So you could sprinkle some lemon juice on your food, or have citrus fruit every day.

Do you think nutrigenomics helps in the management of metabolic syndrome, and if so, how?

I have counseled more than a thousand patients based on their gene test reports. Knowing the genetic makeup of the patient helps us treat them much better for their particular lifestyle. We could help them get more adapted to a diet that is best suited. Genetics and nutrition interplay helps us to prevent, manage and avoid any metabolic disorders.

What are the challenges that you have faced as a nutritionist?

In general, people tend to trust what their doctors say or rather they respect what they say. While it is a good thing, there are certain situations where a dietician or nutritionist should be consulted. It would be better if the doctor and nutritionist collaborated. I faced a lot of difficulties here, to be honest. Also, people expect immediate results, even though it took time for that particular problem to emerge. Rather than waiting for the body to work naturally, they might opt for other treatments. Food is medicine in Ayurveda. You need food to stay healthy, and your body knows how to maintain itself. Initially, they are very skeptical when I want to introduce something new. But as they see the response, then they settle down and they’re like, okay, now I can move forward with this.

What is your approach towards a fad diet?

Fad diets are designed for specific purposes. They were made to address issues that have existed in the past. For example, Keto’s main purpose is to treat epilepsy issues, not to lose weight. In the short run, it may seem appealing, but in the long run, that is unsustainable because you are interrupting your body’s natural processes, just to reduce weight or lose an inch. In certain instances, we use it, but only under strict supervision.

What is the importance of Vitamin D?

That’s an excellent question. It turns out that most Indians are deficient in vitamin D as well.
This is due to our sedentary lifestyle. It sometimes depends on the body’s absorption. There have been some cases of clients genetically having poor metabolism. Vitamin D regulates calcium and phosphate absorption, strengthening your bones, preventing heart problems and cancer risk. Sunlight is a great source of vitamin D, which provides us with the ability to absorb food and make hemoglobin. I would recommend that our viewers get at least 10-15 minutes of sunlight per day.

What is the best piece of nutritional advice that you can give as a nutrigenomic counselor?

As nutritionists, we believe food is the best medicine. Nutrition was born before humanity. We eat to live, not live to eat. The food you eat will nourish you, make you happy, and help keep you motivated. Understand your genomics and eat right based on your genetic makeup.

What should one consider while designing a sustainable diet plan?

It’s a variety of things that we consider, ranging from medical issues to lifestyle, diet, exercise routine, allergies, and even stress. Other issues may include menstrual problems for women, and social habits for men. So we take into account the entire lifestyle of the patient to make a customized diet plan.

How did the report reading benefit you in your practice?

I got a better understanding of the reports due to the insights provided by them. If I have to change a person’s lifestyle, I need to understand the reports. The reports were fairly self-explanatory and I liked the color-coding. Green is good, red is bad, and yellow is moderate, along with the score. In the case of unfavorable genetic variation, I must prioritize it. In the case of a moderate one, I can leave it alone for a while. So, the report intrigued me at first, but when I used it in practice, I had no problem at all.

Did the Advanced Nutrigenomics course help you reach your goal?

Yes, I was already practicing as a Nutrigenomic Counselor before taking this course, but there were some things that I didn’t know. The course made me aware of conditions such as autoimmune disorders.
I am thankful that The Gene Box was able to provide me with this information.

It’s an immense pleasure to be associated with The Gene Box because it has helped me in my journey as a nutrigenomics counselor. As a result of that course, I gained valuable insights, which I later used in my practice.

 

In summary, it helped me tremendously. Not only with scientific knowledge but also with my professional development.