INTV: Luke Coutinho on breaking hustle culture, emotional detox, and holistic health 

This year-end, we give you a comprehensive roundup on how to be fit as a fiddle with proven tips from prominent holistic nutrition and lifestyle – integrative and lifestyle medicine expert Luke Coutin
Luke Coutinho
Luke Coutinho

The new year brings with it a bucket list of goals and experiences to look forward to. From travel plans, meeting friends and family, and work goals to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, there are so many to-do lists that may leave us overwhelmingly bamboozled. Of them, the health checklist holds priority without a shadow of a doubt. This year-end, we give you a comprehensive roundup on how to be fit as a fiddle with proven tips from prominent holistic nutrition and lifestyle – integrative and lifestyle medicine expert Luke Coutinho.

Luke Coutinho
Luke Coutinho

The wellness personality has worked with Tollywood and Bollywood celebrities like Mahesh Babu, Shilpa Shetty, Hrithik Roshan, Shahid Kapoor, Vidya Balan, Tamannaah Bhatia and several others but despite his eminence, he stays humble to be a ‘fitspiration’ for millions. He, along with his team of expert nutritionists, clinical dietitians, medical doctors, yoga therapists, holistic life coaches, emotional health experts, and healthcare professionals at You Care — All about YOU by Luke Coutinho are set out on a mission to transform lives by offering personalised health and lifestyle programs for individuals. He’s equally popular amongst youth with his Instagram live sessions, posts and videos where he often talks on common and specific health topics. We spoke to Luke on how to nail the New Year with a newfound energy. He spoke at length on ways to de-stress, increase productivity, the importance of emotional detox, achieving sound sleep and staying disease-free. Excerpts:

Tell us what made you pursue Integrative Lifestyle Medicine and Life Coaching. Can you decode these heavyweight terms for us?
Despite the wealth of knowledge and resources available, why are people becoming sicker, and their quality of life diminishing? Driven by the desire to create meaningful change, I recognised that there was a critical gap in the way human health was being approached. The missing link was lifestyle, and it was time to shift the paradigm. About 13 years ago, my passion for human health and using an integrative approach towards health and sickness was born out of the belief that true wellness and longevity could only be achieved by addressing the root causes of disease and embracing a holistic approach to health. From cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and metabolic syndrome to obesity, autoimmune disorders, skin and hair issues, diabetes, thyroid conditions, cognitive and brain health, immune system disorders, inflammatory conditions, and rare syndromes, the word spread about our innovative integrative approach in dealing with issues, and more and more people began experiencing the life-changing impact of our signature wellness programs. At the heart of our philosophy is the understanding that our lifestyles profoundly impact the internal environment of our bodies, influencing how our genes switch on and off. Our approach transcends traditional healthcare models, offering personalised solutions. Our story is one of love, care, experience, knowledge, science, research, and transformation, and we invite everyone to become a part of it. Together, we are transforming the world, one empowered individual at a time.

When was the first time you realised you wanted to take up fitness and nutrition as a career?
The turning point for me occurred during my time in the corporate world. I couldn’t help but notice that even though working professionals held prestigious positions such as CEOs, VPs, and higher management roles, they were still falling ill, dealing with obesity, and developing lifestyle-related diseases. Despite having access to top-notch doctors, nutritionists, trainers, gyms, and superfoods, I realised that the missing piece of the puzzle was their lifestyle and their inability to lead a healthy life despite having all the resources. Fitness had become a mere checkbox item for them, consisting of occasional yoga classes with a trainer, annual check-ups, and sessions with gym trainers. There was a lack of focus on overall lifestyle. I identified a significant gap in their approach to health and wellness and wanted to address it.

Luke with Mahesh Babu
Luke with Mahesh Babu

What kind of lifestyle do you follow and believe in? Tell us your AM to PM schedule.
I do not follow a fixed routine or lifestyle due to the dynamic nature of my days, which often involve back-to-back travels for patient consults, events, and talks. However, certain basics remain constant for me, such as prioritising my sleep, workouts, meals, and spending time with my daughter. These are essential, and I plan my day, patient calls, and consultations around these. My day typically starts with a slow morning routine. Before engaging with my phone, I take time to connect with nature, soak up some sunshine, and do gentle stretches. I follow this with a yoga flow or a quick workout based on the available time. After a few patient calls, I break for breakfast and then resume work. I allocate time for another workout later in the day, usually around lunchtime. By 1:30 pm, I’m often live talking about a topic on health or learning I’ve had during my consultations, followed by lunch and work.

How do you unwind?
I aim to return home before sunset to enjoy the evening sun from my balcony. The rest of my evening involves dinner, downtime, quality time with my daughter, music, reading, prayers, and winding down for the day. I make it a point to disconnect from all gadgets two hours before bedtime, prioritising sleep as it significantly impacts how I feel the next day.

We’re living in times of extreme hurry to build careers and homes, often leading to stressful conditions. Tell us some proven ways to de-stress in life.
The hotter the flame, the faster it burns. Read that again. Yes, everyone seems to be caught up in a rat race, but remember, it’s a choice. No one mandated us to rush through life; it’s our belief that achieving success, love, wealth, and a home sooner equates to happiness. However, this belief is illusory. If this were the only recipe for happiness, the world would be a much happier place. But it’s far from reality. It’s perfectly fine to aim for more, but also prioritise healthier choices. Make time for better eating habits, exercise, schedule sleep, and moments of relaxation. Slow down — amazing things can unfold when you do. Slowing down doesn’t hinder progress; in fact, it often propels us forward. Your body’s recovery has its own wisdom and pace. You’re not wiser than that. Burning out or glorifying a hustle culture isn’t a testament to control; it’s a sign of losing it. Observe nature — it never hurries. We, too, are products of nature. Hence, ‘rest’ and ‘slowing down’ are among the most powerful ‘drugs.’ Take life one day at a time; build your business, success, and empire gradually. Prioritise sleep. Plan your day considering 24 hours minus eight hours set aside for sleep. Respect rest days and weekends. Set boundaries at work. Cultivate relaxing rituals after work. Allocate time for hobbies. Create moments of relaxation amidst work, even if brief — like enjoying a song between calls or taking five deep breaths. These actions signal your body that it’s in a safe space.

Luke Coutinho
Luke Coutinho

What can one do to achieve a sound sleep?
The first step is learning how to disconnect. It’s impossible to fall asleep with an overly active and stimulated mind. Consider what social media, artificial light, latenight dinners, late-night socialising, and extended work hours are doing to us — they all stimulate the brain, much like coffee does. Sleep is a natural process, but the issue lies in not creating the right environment for this process to kick in.

And where do you place emotional detox?
Emotions are meant to be expressed, and expressing them is the initial step towards emotional detoxification. I don’t expect anyone to ignore feelings of anger, sadness, guilt, envy, fear, and the likes. These emotions are human, and experiencing them is natural. However, what matters is how we choose to express and address them rather than suppress. Expression can take various forms like discussing with a friend, partner, or a trusted professional, writing or journaling, sitting in quiet contemplation to process emotions, or simply confiding in a spiritual belief. Suppressing them can be harmful at a cellular level.

A lot of us work from home and barely get any sun exposure. How badly does this affect us?
Today, even science and research emphasise the significance of maintaining adequate Vitamin D3 levels in the body, impacting not just bone health but also hormones, immunity, cognitive well-being, and more. Conditions such as cancers, Alzheimer’s, ADHD, and immunity issues have been associated with low Vitamin D3 levels. Just 10 minutes of morning sun exposure can trigger the production of biologically active Vitamin D, reducing the risk of diseases like multiple sclerosis, heart disease, and specific cancers. Additionally, sunlight offers benefits beyond just Vitamin D3; it’s good for boosting mood, reducing inflammation, and more. Sitting indoors while basking in sunlight isn’t effective as one needs direct skin exposure. Sunlight passing through glass windows isn’t adequate as it’s the sun’s UV rays that stimulate Vitamin D synthesis within our bodies.

Luke Coutinho
Luke Coutinho

How can we maximise productivity with the right diet? What nutrients should we take and what’s their source in foods?
Productivity isn’t just about maintaining the right diet; it also involves adequate exercise, proper sleep, effective time and energy management, minimising distractions, reducing social media usage, and approaching each day with clear intentions. When it comes to nutrition, it can vary for each individual, but it’s crucial to recognise certain foods that either dull or stimulate our brain and body. Foods that dull the brain and mood include: white refined sugar, excessive consumption of high glycemic index carbs like refined flours, overeating rice, pastas, breads, biscuits, and commercially made french fries, artificial sweeteners, fried and deepfried foods, low-quality fats such as trans fats, palm oil, and dalda and overindulgence in fruits. Foods that enhance brain function and mood consist of items rich in omega-3 fats, fruits, colourful vegetables, dried herbs, iron-rich foods and fermented items.

Twitter: @RanaPriyamvada

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