In this On Purpose episode, Jay Shetty welcomed Dr. Darshan Shah. Dr. Shah is a health and wellness expert, surgeon, author, entrepreneur, and founder of Next Health, the world's largest health optimization and longevity clinic.

Additionally, Dr. Shah has performed over 15,000 surgical procedures in different specialties and has helped thousands of people with health optimization and lifespan extension. 

Why Next Health

Dr. Shah's personal health crisis led him to a significant career shift from being a traditional practicing surgeon to founding Next Health. Despite being a surgeon and an entrepreneur in healthcare, he found himself neglecting his own health. So, he became overweight, hypertensive, pre-diabetic, and also developed an autoimmune disease.

After this experience, Dr. Shah saw the benefits of helping people stay healthy and preventing diseases rather than just treating them when they arise. This realization inspired him to create Next Health, an establishment for people who aren't sick yet but want to maintain their health and prevent future illnesses. Next Health embodies a holistic approach to healthcare; it focuses on numerous aspects of health and wellness, not just traditional medical treatments. 

The Wellness Wheel

Dr. Darshan Shah explained to Jay Shetty that people should focus on a few critical health-related things rather than trying to fix everything at once. There is so much information that it can be hard to know what's valid or essential. Therefore, he suggests focusing on the basics first. By doing this, you can get the most significant results with the least effort. 

Dr. Shah's approach to health is based on functional medicine. He shares the term "wellness wheel" with Jay Shetty to explain the different areas of health that patients should focus on. The wheel consists of twelve points, beginning with fundamental aspects such as eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly. It then expands to include other crucial areas such as gut health, immune system, hormones, heart, and brain health.

Dr. Shah explains  to Jay Shetty how health is a three-step process:

1) Ensuring that your current lifestyle is not leading to imminent health risks like metabolic diseases.

2) Improving health span by maintaining good health for an extended period.

3) Incorporating advanced longevity science after mastering the basics.

Dr. Shah believes people should wait before jumping into fancy treatments. Instead, he suggests eating healthy foods and avoiding processed foods. It can make a big difference in your health with minimal effort.

Mindful Eating

Jay Shetty and Dr. Darshan Shah discuss the transition from traditional medicine to functional medicine. Dr. Shah emphasizes the significance of staying calm amidst the abundance of health information, much of which is not backed by science. So, he suggests focusing on the essential aspects of health to achieve significant results. One way to do so is by applying the Pareto Principle to gain the most benefits with minimal effort.

Over the last 50 years, food has suffered significant quality deterioration. Mass production, over-farming, and the proliferation of ultra-processed foods increased the risk of sickness. According to Dr. Shah, these changes have led to increased rates of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. So, he believes that the key to improving nutrition is to focus on consuming fresh, organic, whole foods and eliminating ultra-processed foods. This shift alone can bring about significant health improvements.

Dr. Shah also discussed with Jay Shetty how managing glucose response is critical in health management. Therefore, he recommends using a continuous glucose monitor for about six weeks to understand your personal glucose responses to different foods. This understanding helps personalize your diet based on your individual metabolic responses and microbiome differences. Moreover, Dr. Shah suggests starting meals with vegetables, then proteins and fats, and ending with carbs to manage glucose release. The Glucose Revolution is a resource that can help you understand how to manage your glucose levels better.

Additionally, adequate protein intake is paramount. Dr. Shah explains to Jay Shetty that many people reduce their protein consumption when dieting, leading to muscle mass loss, which can have negative health implications. Therefore, he advises the listeners to maintain muscle mass, especially as they age, through sufficient protein intake and strength training. He also recommends the H20N scale that measures skeletal muscle mass to track and maintain muscle health. 

Dr. Shah suggests aiming for one gram of protein per pound of body weight per day, divided over three to four meals. This is particularly important for vegetarians and vegans, who may need to consume even more due to the lower bioavailability of plant-based proteins. Pea protein powder is a suitable supplement, especially for plant-based diets.

Supplements and Vitamins

Dr. Shah underscores the importance of vegetable intake to Jay Shetty. A sufficient vegetable intake, around 800 grams or about a quart per day, can significantly reduce the need for supplements. This amount of vegetables provides necessary fiber, micronutrients, and phytonutrients and helps in feeling full and satiated.

However, some nutrients may be missing from our daily meals, which many replace by taking supplements. Dr. Shah is not a strong proponent of supplements but acknowledges their utility when dietary intake is insufficient. For example, he recommends essential supplements, including Vitamin D (preferably in vitamin D3 combined with K2), fish oil (or non-fish alternatives for vegetarians and vegans), magnesium, and creatine. Moreover, he suggests using protein powders as a convenient supplement, combining protein, resistant starch, and fiber.

"You're the CEO of Your Own Health"

Dr. Shah told Jay Shetty that everyone needs to become the "CEO of their health," which involves understanding and monitoring key health metrics, much like a CEO monitors business numbers. He highlights that people often manage their health based on symptoms without considering underlying numbers that could indicate long-term health issues.

Similarly, Jay Shetty shares his experience of discovering his vitamin D level was critically low despite feeling healthy and energetic. Yet this discovery was significant because issues like low vitamin D can lead to serious health problems like Alzheimer's, heart attacks, or hormonal issues if not addressed early.

Dr. Shah recommends that Jay Shetty regularly track key health metrics such as skeletal muscle mass, body fat percentage, and vitamin D levels. He also advises the listeners to monitor hemoglobin A1C levels, a crucial indicator of average blood glucose levels over three months. Moreover, Dr. Shah strongly recommends that you should not entirely outsource your health to your physicians but should actively participate in monitoring and understanding your health data. 

Be Active

Another key factor for maintaining good health is incorporating exercise into daily life, mainly through social activities and avoiding sedentary behavior. Jay Shetty shares his experience of making his social gatherings activity-based, like playing pickleball with friends, hiking, or doing other physical activities instead of just sitting and eating. This approach transforms exercise into a fun and social experience, making it more enjoyable and less like a chore.

Moreover, Dr. Shah emphasizes the significance of continuous movement throughout the day. He warns against the dangers of sedentary behavior: sitting for long periods significantly increases mortality risk. To compensate for the long sitting hours, he suggests taking "exercise snacks" every 45 minutes, which involve getting up and moving for about 10 minutes. This method reduces the health risks of prolonged sitting and helps break eye strain and stress cycles.

Short, Regular Exercise

In a corporate or sedentary work environment, exercise and movement must be incorporated into daily life. Jay Shetty suggests reducing meeting times to allow for breaks to stand, hydrate, and look into the distance, which helps your physical and mental well-being. He also suggests breaking old, rigid structures that don't contribute to health.

Dr. Shah highlights the importance of avoiding sedentary behavior and moving regularly throughout the day. He introduces the concept of "exercise snacks" – short, regular breaks for movement every 45 minutes to counteract the adverse effects of sitting for prolonged periods. He also suggests using tools like treadmill desks for desk-bound jobs.

Moreover, Dr. Shah suggests prioritizing strength training, especially after age 40, to prevent muscle breakdown and frailty. Both anaerobic and aerobic exercises are equally important. It is essential to make exercise accessible and manageable, like having equipment at the office or home for brief, consistent workouts. So, Dr. Shah advises focusing on positivity and starting small, building habits gradually rather than trying to overhaul everything at once.

Sleeping Patterns

Sleep plays a vital role in overall health and well-being. Jay Shetty emphasizes the impact of poor sleep on mood and energy levels. He created an environment where he could rest peacefully and not visually or auditorily disturbed. Moreover, he is using a sleep tracker to analyze his patterns.

Dr. Shah agrees on the benefits of sleep tracking but cautions against becoming overly anxious about the data. He suggests using tracking tools mindfully for specific periods, significantly when changing sleep habits. Moreover, it is essential to address sleep apnea, a common but often undiagnosed condition that can severely impact your health. Dr. Shah suggests using the STOP-Bang questionnaire as a preliminary assessment for sleep apnea and discusses various treatment options.

Sleep Like Our Ancestors

Jay Shetty and Dr. Shah debate the impact of evening activities, such as watching intense or disturbing content, on sleep quality. Be mindful of your sensitivity to such content and its potential effects on your sleep. 

Additionally, Dr. Shah underlines that the sleep routine begins when you wake up. Exposure to sunlight in the morning sets your circadian rhythm. Then, in the evening, he recommends winding down and avoiding electronic devices two hours before bedtime. This routine, eating dinner earlier and avoiding late-night meals, helps align your body's internal clock. For long-term benefits, you should implement these changes gradually.

Gut Health

Symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, and constipation can indicate gut problems. Still, often significant damage occurs before symptoms appear. Therefore, Dr. Shah suggests monitoring a biomarker called HS-CRP (highly sensitive C-reactive protein), which indicates inflammation in the body. Elevated levels of HS-CRP can often originate from gut issues, as the gut is a significant barrier to external toxins.

Dr. Shah explained to Jay Shetty that the gut is crucial in protecting the body from external environments, as it has a larger surface than the skin. When this barrier is disrupted, it can lead to inflammation: the immune system becomes overactive and starts affecting various body cells. Dr. Shah notes that inflammation is the root cause of many major diseases.

Addressing gut health may involve eliminating inflammatory foods like gluten or dairy and following a gut-healing protocol. Additionally, poor oral health can also contribute to systemic inflammation, linking to issues such as dementia and heart attacks. Dr. Shah urges the listeners to consult a functional medicine doctor for comprehensive gut health management.

Moreover, Dr. Shah told Jay Shetty that knowing your apoB (apolipoprotein B) levels from a young age is important to keep heart health under control. ApoB is a marker of harmful cholesterol forms, and monitoring it can help manage heart health proactively. Other essential checks involve LP(a) or lipoprotein(a), a genetic form of cholesterol not influenced by diet, exercise, or traditional cholesterol-lowering medications. Early detection and treatment of these markers can prevent heart attacks and strokes.

Prevention Techniques

Dr. Shah shares two significant advances in cancer diagnostics with Jay Shetty: the full-body MRI and liquid biopsy tests. The full-body MRI can detect various abnormalities, including tumors, while the liquid biopsy tests for DNA fragments from active tumors in the blood. These tests, especially the liquid biopsy, represent a significant leap in early cancer detection, potentially diagnosing difficult-to-detect tumors at early stages.

Moreover, there are other routine cancer screenings like colonoscopies, mammograms, and PSA tests for prostate cancer. These screenings are crucial for early detection and can lead, in some cases, to immediate treatment of pre-cancerous conditions.

Beyond diagnostics, Dr. Shah stresses cancer prevention through lifestyle choices: getting adequate sleep, eating whole foods, exercising, and reducing sedentary behavior. Another critical factor is minimizing exposure to toxins in everyday environments, such as air, water, food, and skincare products. Therefore, he recommends using air purifiers, reverse osmosis water systems, eating organic foods, and choosing non-toxic cosmetics..

To prevent health conditions and detect them early, you need to take a proactive approach. Lifestyle changes, nutrition, and adjustments in the home environment are helpful tools in achieving this goal. Jay Shetty highlights the importance of being open-minded about these health recommendations and shares how personal experiences can change perspectives on health.

More From Jay Shetty

Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “3 Step Process to Reset Your Gut Health and Reduce Inflammation & Why Sitting is Increasing Your Mortality Rate by 10%” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at

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