Chances are you have already heard of Dr. Will Cole. He’s a best-selling author, co-host of Goopfellas, and has his own podcast The Art of Being Well. Plus, his Pittsburgh clinic is known around the world for Dr. Will Cole’s personal approach to functional medicine. He’s been in Vogue, on CBS, and in The Wall Street Journal. In short, Dr. Will Cole is “wellness famous.” His books Ketotarian (a term he coined that advocated for a keto plant-based diet), Intuitive Fasting, and The Inflammation Spectrum provide readers with a balanced and sustainable approach to healing protocols that can often be prescribed in extreme measures. Growing up in a family that practiced food as medicine, from a young age Dr. Will Cole understood that consistency and whole food diets hold the answers. However, he has gone on to take this foundational knowledge and add in the latest science and research to create plans that support people for the long road. We were very fortunate and excited to speak with Dr. Will Cole on all things food and healing.
Q: What drew you to wellness and becoming a functional doctor?
I grew up in a family which was into wellness before it was trendy. I was the weird kid in school in the 80s and 90s in rural Pennsylvania who consumed weird health foods and herbal tonics instead of pizza. Needless to say, my house was the last place my friends wanted to hangout because it didn’t have junk food or other good snacks. However, this laid the foundation for where I am today.
As I got older, I became really passionate about being a part of someone’s sacred health journey. And I wanted to do this by getting to the root cause of a person’s health problem and give them the answers and solutions they were looking for but not getting in mainstream medicine.
Q: When it comes to detoxing and fasting, a lot of programs can seem extreme. What are your thoughts on the efficacy of these approaches?
Extreme detoxing and restrictive fasting are usually never the answer in the long term because they aren’t sustainable. That’s why I wrote my book Intuitive Fasting, in order to find a fasting practice that works for you by understanding how to listen to your body. Once you know how to listen to what your body needs, you’ll be able to move through periods of fasting without feeling deprived.
Q: Your latest book speaks to intuitive eating. It’s a term that more and more people are familiar with but still often causes confusion. What are your recommendations for people trying to eat more intuitively?
Intuitive eating doesn’t have to be extremely complicated. It starts by taking time to slow down and chew your food thoroughly so you can pay attention to how each meal makes you feel. It’s about enhancing your awareness around food. Until you slow down, you might not even realize that a certain food bothers you each time you eat it, or that you crave chocolate at exactly 2:00 pm every afternoon.
Q: It also seems both the conventional and natural fields of medicine are increasingly waking up to the importance of good gut health. What are some natural ways to create a strong and healthy gut microbiome?
Gut health is foundational to your overall health. The biggest thing you can do is make sure you are eating a clean, whole foods diet that contains a wide variety of plant foods that are rich in fiber and other important nutrients for a balanced microbiome. Some other things you can do are incorporate fermented foods on a regular basis, lean into bone broth and soups, and manage stress, which can wreak havoc on your gut health.
Q: What are you seeing as the top hormone health challenges people are currently facing?
Hormone imbalance is something that I see on a daily basis in my clinic. Insulin resistance and other blood sugar problems are probably the most wide-spread hormone issue we face as a society in both men and women. But for women specifically, I have seen a lot of hormone problems happen after going off of birth control and needing to help rebalance hormone levels.
Q: Although we understand it’s specific to each individual, do you have nutrition and lifestyle tips on balancing hormones?
I believe that food is foundational. I always suggest working with a functional medicine practitioner who can help you determine the best diet for your specific needs as they will differ for each individual. Stress is also one of the most ubiquitous contributing factors to poor health and hormone imbalance, so I always suggest my patients start with finding sustainable ways to manage stress throughout their day. That can be anything from mindfulness meditation to deep breathing exercises.
Q: What themes and topics do you wish were more openly discussed in the wellness industry?
That there’s no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to health. I think we have definitely come a long way in understanding bio-individuality but we can certainly keep moving forward. Not every wellness trend is worth exploring depending on your health case and it’s ok if something doesn’t work for you. I also hope this concept is something that can be embraced in mainstream medicine as well.
Q: What is your personal philosophy when it comes to health and well-being?
You can’t heal a body you hate. We have to love ourselves enough to want to take our health seriously. That can mean different things for everyone, but until we love ourselves and our body, we are only sabotaging ourselves.
Dr. Will Cole is a leading functional medicine expert. He consults locally from Pittsburgh and remotely all over the globe. Named one of the US’ 50 functional-medicine and integrative doctors, he customizes treatment plans for a host of conditions from thyroid issues to digestive disorders. He is the bestselling author of Ketotarian, The Inflammation Spectrum, and the NYT Bestseller Intuitive Fasting. Dr. Will Cole is also the host of the new podcast The Art of Being Well, and has co-hosted the popular podcasts Goopfellas and Keto Talk. Be sure to follow him along on Instagram and Facebook!