Dr. McKay is a life-long cook, lover of good food and good company, a bit of a science geek, and a devoted nutrition nut. She actually reads cookbooks for pleasure. She loved the intensive four-year training in nutrition that was required in naturopathic medical school. “Licensed naturopathic physicians are the best all-around nutrition experts you could ask for!” she comments. Her current favorite reference book, Nutritional Medicine by Dr. Alan Gaby, weighs about 10 pounds. “It’s too heavy to lift with one hand, and it is encyclopedic in its scope,” she says, “It’s just awesome. It is so much better to treat illnesses with real foods than with toxic medications.”

For good nutrition, your best bet is to keep track of what you eat, when you eat, how you feel, and whom you trust for good nutrition advice. Dr. McKay points out, “Your own body has so much wisdom, that if you really listen to it, you’ll naturally get healthier every day.”

Biochemically speaking, it is inescapable that “You are what you eat.” At the same time, what we think of as “me” is not just one single entity; the human body is a collective of organs and tissues, plus it’s an ecosystem, covered inside and out with commensal organisms — the friendly bacteria that do much of our digesting for us, and who coat our skin. Keeping this ecosystem in balance is critical to good health. So what we eat not only nourishes our own body, it also affects which micro-organisms live in us and on us.

One way to get a memorable perspective on healthy eating is to consider our biological heritage, our ancestral lineage, and the way our digestive tracts are designed — in other words, what did our hunter-gatherer, cave-dwelling ancestors really eat? Several popular books have brought this to light. Dr. McKay likes to coach her patients to create a quick drawing while in the clinic, bringing to light just what a healthy, well-balanced human diet looks like. Hint: We have exactly the same genes and bodies as hunter-gatherer peoples. Another hint: Cave people did not hang out at bakeries or soda shops.