Interview
Dr Robin Berzin

Dr. Robin Berzin

Berzin’s practice, Parsley Health, is the new face of modern medicine.

They say “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but if your doctor is Robin Berzin, MD, you may want to reconsider the old adage.
Berzin’s practice, Parsley Health, is the new face of modern medicine.
Think: Hippocrates meets an Apple Genius Bar meets a really cool party. It’s just what the modern urban consumer ordered.

Parsley Health is tech-driven and subscription-based. It’s like Birchbox delivering you… a bill of good health every month.

Parsley Health is tech-driven and subscription-based. It’s like Birchbox delivering you… a bill of good health every month.
While most doctors will rush you in and out the door, Berzin will spend at least an hour dissecting your health history from the moment you were born to what superfoods you added to your breakfast on the morning of your appointment.
All of your health history, office visit notes from the doctor, meal plans, supplements and prescriptions are filed in an online patient portal so you can click and consult wherever you are in the world and even book appointments.

Berzin designed Parsley Health to be affordable health care for a young, dynamic – albeit sometimes burned out – crowd, at rates far lower than her functional medicine colleagues.

BWB’s Food and Wellness Contributor Rebecca Leffler spoke to Dr. Berzin about how she’s changing health care one kale stem at a time.

BWB: What’s the meaning of the name “Parsley Health”?

Parsley is a food that is everywhere, garnishing every dish, and is usually taken for granted, yet it has incredible healing properties and is crucial for flavor. To me it represents the idea that health is in the smallest things all around us – in the choices we make every day – and if we see them for what they are we have incredible power to transform our health and well-being.

I was in yoga class and I had this sudden life changing moment. I was in my body for the first time maybe in my entire life instead of wrapped up in my head. I was present.

BWB: Let’s start at the very beginning. What brought you to functional medicine to begin with?

For me it started in a yoga class at age 22. I was a bit of an anxiety case, good in school and at getting jobs, but paying more attention to what other people wanted from me than I did to my own inner compass One day, I was in yoga class and I had this sudden life changing moment. I was in my body for the first time maybe in my entire life instead of wrapped up in my head. I was present. And as simple as it sounds that for me was revolutionary and set me on a path to exploring the connection between the mind and the body, to becoming passionate about health, and ultimately to medical school.

BWB: What are your favorite “trends” in functional medicine?

The best trends in functional medicine are core to the medicine itself: One, food is medicine and two, mindfulness and stress reduction are as important as diet and supplements. I believe coaching is part of the medicine. We are also doing everything on a digital backbone.
We are a totally open source to our patients and that is where medicine at large is going.

BWB: What are your favorite healthy culinary staples that you recommend everyone always have on hand in their kitchen?

In my kitchen, we are never without organic almonds and walnuts, avocados, fresh lemons, wild Alaskan salmon and good espresso.

Our eating philosophy is Plant-Based Paleo.

BWB: We love labels here in the US. How would you describe your personal eating style?

Our eating philosophy is Plant-Based Paleo. It’s plant based in that 70% of your food intake should be plant based – veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole gluten-free grains.
It’s Paleo in that it’s focused on a high protein, high healthy fat and low sugar diet, whether for you that includes animal protein or it’s coming entirely from plant sources.
We are gluten free and we are dairy free for the most part and we focus on eating real unprocessed food 100% of the time.

BWB: Any predictions for upcoming health “trends” this or next year?

Cool trends I’m seeing in health and wellness are in self-testing meaning buying your own lab tests and knowing your own health data.
Also there is a big trend in self-tracking and wearables – FitBit is only the beginning.

We are seeing trends in genetics – whether it’s looking at telomeres, the microbiome, or epigenetics which is how your genes turn on and off in real time based on environmental cues like food toxins and stress.
All of these things are driven by cheaper, faster and smarter digital technology that is powering all of us to thrive in our daily lives.

BWB: What are your must-have kitchen or home appliances for staying healthy ‘chez vous’?

A vitamix, an aeropress espresso maker, and a Le Creuset grill pan.

My ultimate spot is probably Hawaii – the islands have incredible resonance and healing powers.

BWB: What are some of your favorite healthy travel destinations?

For me it’s anywhere where I can eat healthy and move a lot – some people go on vacation to eat the stuff they don’t let themselves eat at home and veg out; It’s an opportunity to hike, swim, do yoga, and to sweat as much as possible.
It’s also about eating clean delicious food and experiencing different culinary traditions. I love Oaxaca, the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica, and Martha’s – I just got to know Palm Springs and the gorgeous desert of Arizona which I find incredibly calming. But my ultimate spot is probably Hawaii – the islands have incredible resonance and healing powers.

BWB: What are some favorite healthy restaurants in NYC?

In NYC, I love Little Beet Table, Peacefood Cafe and Comodo .

BWB: Your clients are “busy” New Yorkers – does this make your job more difficult?

It actually makes my job easier.
At Parsley we are all about efficiency and we do everything on a digital platform – you schedule a visit with me like you do at the Apple Genius Bar. We don’t have a public phone number because that would lead to piles of voicemails and waiting on hold – instead you email us and we are back to you usually within the hour, at most that day.
As a busy New Yorker myself I want to create a wellness center that fits my life and therefore our Parsley members’ lives too.

My role models are Schuyler Grant the founder of Kula Yoga and Wanderlust who has been my teacher for a long time and who makes mother and CEO seem like a seamless combination.

BWB: Who are your role models in the wellness world?

Oh my gosh there are so many! My role models are Schuyler Grant the founder of Kula Yoga and Wanderlust who has been my teacher for a long time and who makes mother and CEO seem like a seamless combination. Indu Subaiya, the CEO of Health 2.0 who showed me how to be an incredible boss.
Dr. Mark Hyman for his leadership in functional medicine.
Anne Wojicki the CEO of 23& Me for pushing boundaries in health care and Heather White the executive director of the Environmental Working Group for doing the nitty gritty research and simultaneously creating huge awareness of how all of the chemicals in our environment are impacting our well being.

Follow us on Instagram @beautyandwb

BWB: Summer is in full swing. What are your favorite seasonal foods/ meals?

Cooling greens, summer tomatoes, jicama as a snack and fresh seafood!

BWB: You’re glowing on the outside too – any secret natural beauty tips to share?

Thank you! I use 100% natural skin care products, I don’t wear a lot of makeup, I prioritize getting good sleep and I make sure I keep my digestion moving.

BWB: What are some of your favorite beauty products?

I love Sunshine Botanicals skin care products and non toxic makeup by Christopher Drummond, Tarte and Jane Iredale.

BWB: What’s your favorite “guilty pleasure”?

A mezcal margarita. I don’t feel that guilty about it though!

I want everyone to have access to Functional medicine and to learn for themselves the tools they need to live healthfully and consciously.

BWB: Where do you see yourself…in one year? In 5 years? In 10? In 100? (hey, you eat a lot of kale, it’s definitely possible!)

Long term I hope to be a mother and grow our family. My husband and I are both only children so we have some work to do!
I also hope to grow Parsley into something that changes health care in America, if not the world, in a big way. I want everyone to have access to Functional medicine and to learn for themselves the tools they need to live healthfully and consciously. If I can make an impact there I will be happy.
Most of all I hope I’m learning right up to the end, and having fun doing it.

Rebecca Leffler

Rebecca Leffler is a writer, journalist and wellness consultant. She is the author of best-selling French book Green, Glam & Gourmande and follow-up title Green, Glam & Happy. Her book “Très green, très clean, très chic: Eat (and live!) the new French way with plant-based, gluten-free recipes for every season” was released in 2015. Follow Rebecca at Lafleurparisny.com.

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