The first thing that’s noticeable about Dr. Deanna Minich is that she’s glowing. Even through a computer screen, bathed in the blue-green light of our video call, she was radiating. She was taking my call from a room with wooden ceilings, presumably that smelled of pine, a stack of brightly-painted canvases propped against a pale yellow wall. All this to say, Deanna lives glowingly, surrounded by color.
It’s no wonder that she—an internationally-recognized lifestyle medicine expert who holds a Ph.D. in Human Nutrition and Metabolism, and is a current Fellow at the American College of Nutrition—has applied her colorful approach to nutrition and wellness teachings. Through a framework that requires readers to investigate their own body, habits, and challenges, Deanna’s most recent book, Whole Detox, A 21-Day Personalized Program to Break Through Barriers in Every Area of Your Life, provides a blueprint to begin a personal journey to holistic health through the body’s energy systems.
This blueprint isn’t based on one singular modality. A Certified Functional Medicine practitioner as well as certified yoga teacher, Deanna is more interested in combining timeworn wisdom with modern science—finding something that works—than subscribing to a label or school of thought. Whole Detox walks readers through the seven energy systems in the body, to identify which may be out of balance and causing a more general imbalance within the body as a whole.
Yogis will recognize these seven energy systems as chakras, yet Deanna believes it’s important to be inclusive with language. When she’s lecturing to a medical audience, for example, she refers to the seven systems as the psycho-neuro-endocrine systems. “There is inherent truth of healing in these systems and everything that they can offer,” she says. “I’m not going to let language and ego stand in the way … All of the ancient systems embraced a really elemental way of seeing the body.”
Radical Self-Reliance of Integration
Deanna believes that the integration of several modalities is essential to getting a clear understanding of how our systems work—and how to heal them. “The construct is different,” she says, “but we’re all heading up the same mountain.” Whole Detox aims to look at the body, physically, psychologically, and even metaphorically, with a particular focus on food.
“If you have root, and immune system issues,” she says, “that tells me something about fear, boundaries, safety, and security.” In this case, functional medicine would propose the solution lies in fixing a leaky gut. Deanna would look at this and incorporate those treatments—alongside nutritional and emotional solutions as well.
Deanna recognizes, however, that exploration of all these different modalities can take daunting amounts of time and energy, and that this may cause many people to simply stick with the status quo.
“I have an aunt who has a number of health conditions. She’s a nurse, and so she’s aware of the shortcomings of the medical system. She wants to try other things, but she’s so encumbered by her … conditions that it’s almost like a little mini part-time job to really figure out all the things out there,” says Deanna. That’s why Whole Detox is so radical—it places the onus of not only exploration but experimentation on the individual.
Deanna’s emphasis on radical self-reliance extends beyond the prescriptions in her book—she encourages her patients to take their health into their own hands. With lots of free content available on the Internet, she says, this can be a great place to start exploring. People can attend health fairs to learn what’s out there, and take up chiropractors and the like on free first visits. Trusting oneself is a crucial part of the journey; though Deanna acknowledges that we all have blind spots. “Truth and trust are kind of like two sides of the same coin,” she says.
Takeaways from the Detox
Deanna, of course, has done the Whole Detox many times. When she first came to yoga—began “looking under the hood of ancient traditions,” she says—she had been suffering long-term from reproductive issues and irritable bowel syndrome.
“I had a lot of things that coincide with the flow chakra, or the sacral chakra, and it was really about my own sense of flow and feeling uninhibited and feeling feminine and feeling open to express,” she says. “One of things that helped me and led to Whole Detox was that in conjunction with nutrition and lifestyle, I started painting, and I got into my own sense of creativity.” Hence the paintings propped up behind her.
Painting—encouraging and indulging her creativity—is what led Deanna to a greater sense of holistic health, but she lays out seven things in Whole Detox to encourage people to balance their energy systems. They are:
- Emotional work
- Journaling and thought work
- Physical movement
When we examine our seven energy centers and attempt to find balance throughout, we begin to notice inconsistencies in each, and can better understand how best to treat those. Deanna notes that while nutritional or emotional medicine may work better for some, other imbalances may require a more physical approach, like walking in the forest.
An Evolving Approach
Walking in the forest is a treatment that may particularly help an imbalance in our fourth energy center, our heart chakra, associated with the color green. Engaging in this treatment in no way means, however, that we’ve solved all issues with that energy center. Whole Detox—and Deanna’s programs as a whole—consider the body in constant evolution. Where we may need help one day, we may feel completely healed the next. What we consider to be our greatest area of strength, can become compromised.
“We’re constantly morphing,” says Deanna—a fact that she takes into consideration with her opening questionnaire in Whole Detox, which allows the reader to begin creating that blueprint for personalized treatment. She encourages patients to retake the questionnaire every week, because as they move through the program, they’re making changes and shifts within their body.
“I could take it today, and I might come up as imbalanced in my root, maybe overactive heart, whatever it is. Next week, and I might be overactive insight or overactive fire. It could be very different, and so, it’s like, that’s like the beauty of this dynamic flow of seven systems is that they all kind of talk to each other and different things come up at different times to work on,” says Deanna.
Like painting, learning the body and how it responds to energetic wisdom and systems, is a creative exploration in colorful living. We’ll always be a work in progress.
For more on Deanna and her program, check out her website and her Food + Spirit Program. When you’re ready to make the commitment to holistic living, click here to purchase a copy of Whole Detox. Let us know how it goes for you in the comments below!
Lisette Cheresson is a writer, storyteller, yoga teacher, and adventuress who is an avid vagabond, homechef, dirt-collector, and dreamer. When she’s not playing with words, it’s a safe bet that she’s either hopping a plane, dancing, cooking, or hiking. She received her Level II Reiki Attunement and attended a 4-day intensive discourse with the Dalai Lama in India, and received her RYT200 in Brooklyn. She is currently the Director of Content at Wanderlust Festival. You can find her on Instagram @lisetteileen.