Hey Servaas. Thanks for this interview! Of course, we have been following you for a long time but could you briefly introduce yourself to the people who don't know you yet?
With pleasure. And by the way, I have been following you for a long time too (laughs. My goal is to inspire as many people as possible to think proactively rather than reactively about their health. I started my career as a GP, but soon felt that it was not 100% my calling. That's why I started studying sports medicine as an additional degree, which led me into the world of elite sports. What struck me most during that period was the difference in mindset between my patients and the athletes I met. My patients wanted a pill to cure as quickly as possible. With athletes, the main question was "how can I stay as healthy as possible to perform optimally". And that's a question we should really all be asking ourselves. That insight sparked my passion for lifestyle medicine with which I help people live healthier lives in various ways.
Nutrition does not come standard in a doctor's training I would think. Why did you decide to put your focus on nutrition?
The importance of nutrition on health can actually be made from a scientific point of view: our gut is the body's largest contact surface with the outside world. Much of what is toxic enters the body through things we put in our mouths. Of course, all lifestyle pillars (exercise, sleep, mindset,...) are important for your health, but through the right food we can really make a huge and noticeable difference. There is already so much know-how about the impact of food and I want to turn those scientific facts into inspiring and easily applicable principles.
Besides being a doctor, you are also the author of several books in which you give a kind of guide to a healthier life, with nutrition in the leading role. What is your definition of "healthy food"?
Healthy food is food that is as close to nature as possible. We are all nature beings and we sometimes forget that. The more processed food we eat, the more nefarious the impact on our health. People who eat lifelong processed additives will consciously or unconsciously notice the impact on their health. Natural food, therefore, does not mean eating only plants. Animal food also has its place in a healthy lifestyle. Above all, choose balance. A simple principle: go for ¾ plant-based food (vegetables, fruit, natural grains) and ¼ "building blocks" (e.g. proteins from meat or legumes). There are of course other principles of a healthy diet, all of which I explain in detail in my books.
Delicious to hear! Food that is as close to nature as possible and its impact on your health is something we at Holy Berry are also adamant about. Our Açai berry, for instance, is also a truly primal berry from wild harvests. If you start your day with such a powerful meal, we are convinced you will get through the day with much more energy.
We are curious... what does your morning ritual look like
My first meal is rarely in the morning since I fast 28 out of 30 days. The meal with which I "fast break", around noon, is then often a meal from my book The Recipe: granola, an Açai smoothie, a salad with salmon or mackerel or sometimes meat. In the evening, I eat as light a meal as possible. Important here is that balance again. I live and eat according to the 80-20 principle. When I eat out, I pay much less attention. At home, I almost always eat healthy.
You wrote a book on immunity. If you could give a key takeaway around immunity and nutrition, what would it be?
Our immunity is the exponent of our lifestyle. Sleeping a night or two less? You feel that in your immunity and susceptibility to trivial infections. The same goes for exercising too much or eating too unhealthy. Your body tells you whether it agrees with your lifestyle. And certainly nutrition plays an important role in this: eating naturally is one of the most important pillars. "Eat the rainbow" I say: make sure you get all possible natural colours on your plate, because they have an active effect on your body. Açai, for example, gets its purple colour from polyphenols that are hugely positive for the body. And curcumin too, with its beautiful yellow colour, is a perfect example of the power of colourful food. If you follow the principle of eating natural food in as many colours as possible, you won't need to take many supplements to boost your immunity.
You recently released your book "The Recipe", for which heartfelt congratulations. What can people expect when they read the book?
Actually, I should have written my book The Recipe as the first book of my series, even before I wrote The List, 16:20 and Lent Cookbook. It contains all the info of what healthy eating is now. I had never described that in detail before. In The Recipe, I have made the principles of healthy eating as practical as possible: I have divided all available food into different groups so that people can mainly make their own choice about what is healthy or not. It is a manual to get started yourself, combined with concrete and delicious recipes.
In addition, I have just finalised my latest book, The Click, which will go on sale in mid-December. The idea for this book came about because people so often told me that they knew what to do, but therefore didn't apply it directly... until "the click" came. In this book, I describe how you can bring your mindset to the point where you get to that click yourself.
We peeked once, and our favourite berry Açai also appears a few times in the book's recipes. Of course, we love that Açai is considered one of the foods that contributes to a healthier life. Why do you recommend Açai so much in a healthy (and sporty) diet?
As I had mentioned above, purple is one of those colours that just have to be on our plates. If vegetables or fruits have that colour then you know they are just bursting with good ingredients. Açai is also unique in that it is super nutritious: it is not only packed with polyphenols but also provides fatty acids, saturates well, is low in sugar, contains fibre and is packed with antioxidants. Antioxidants are super for our bodies, both on the inside and on the outside. I always say if you want the best anti-aging, eat plenty of antioxidants!
Recipe from Dr. Servaas
Easy and delicious recipe!
This Açai Chiaparfait is not only going to tingle your taste buds, but it's also going to give a huge health boost to your body.
Of course, we are also curious about your favourite Açai dish. How do you prefer to eat Açai?
I'm a real smoothie man. During the day it has to go fast! I don't use a set recipe but just choose a combination of Açai and the fruit I have lying around, together with something from vegetable milk and occasionally protein powder. Sometimes I even add avocado as a natural thickening agent. With that, I create a delicious shake. It might sound weird but that purple-dark red colour of the Açai berry, you really taste that. You taste that you are doing something good for your body.