Dr. Cate Shanahan is a board certified Family Physician. She trained in biochemistry and genetics at Cornell University before attending Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. She practiced in Hawaii for ten years where she studied ethnobotany and her healthiest patient’s culinary habits.
Luke graduated from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and earned his MFA from the University of AZ. When not writing books and blogs with Dr. Cate, he works as a writing coach and does free-lance ghost writing.
Dr. Cate writes about the experiences that lead her to write Deep Nutrition and Food Rules:
In high school I competed in cross country and track at an international level and earned myself a four-year college athletic scholarship. But in college, my once-indestructible body started falling apart.
Sports Injuries I Suffered From
- Shin splints
- Achilles tendonitis
- Illeotibial band syndrome
- Patello-femoral pain
- Ankle impingement syndrome
- Pulled muscles
I was almost as intrigued with trying to solve the mystery of why I was the team member who kept getting sidelined by shin splints, tendonitis, and other sports injuries as I was frustrated by the fact of being injured. To learn more, after graduating I enrolled in Cornell University’s Molecular Biology program in hopes of somehow getting to the root of recurring sports injuries and being able to help competitive athletes like myself.
That was in the 1980s, when biotechnology was in its adolescence. I soon learned that genes are every bit as dynamic and alive as you and I, responding on a minute to minute basis to the world around them, and it was obvious to me that technology would never evolve to the point where it could keep up with the complexity of our inner biology. So I left graduate school to attend medical school in hopes of getting to the root of illness from the clinical angle.
Medical School Does Not Get to the Root of Illness
I started med school knowing that malnutrition could change human DNA, but by the time I left I’d learned so little about nutrition that I pretty much forgot about my goal of getting to the root of illness. I did learn that the problems I had could all be attributed to weak collagen in my joints and muscles, but had no idea why this problem affected me and not any of my parents or grandparents.
Only when I relocated to Hawaii, the state with the longest lifespan in the US, did I realize that I was immersed in a culture of healthy people who could teach me the secrets of what I’ve come to call “genetic wealth.”
Common External Signs of Genetic Wealth (Men and Women)
- Strong joints
- No grey hair by age 50
- Strong nails
- Limbs proportioned according to the Golden Ratio
- Long nose, high cheekbones, full lips, and strong jaw
Many of my patients were employed at the Hawaiian resorts. These women, in their 50s and 60s, worked all day long lifting, scrubbing, bending, reaching, and then when they got home they kept on going, making dinner for their husbands or chasing after the grandchildren they cared for. These women typically had beautiful skin, supple joints, and few if any grey hairs. Every last one had grown up in a rural area where they were raised as their parents and grandparents had been on home-grown fresh foods prepared according to simple traditional culinary techniques.
Traditional food is not what we think it is.
Everything I learned about diet in medical journals was turned on its head by my experience in Hawaii. Animals are actually easier to raise than vegetables, requiring only pastureland and water, and so many of my patients also raised their own goats, pigs, and chickens, and caught fish. I realized I was seeing firsthand the kinds of practical food-gathering, storing, and cooking solutions that our ancestors used throughout history; I was learning the foods that made us human.
Over the years I spent in Hawaii, I studied culinary traditions practiced by my patients, and found a world of delicious food and incredible sources of nutrients that is hidden from most Americans. I wrote Deep Nutrition to begin to draw the connections I’d discovered between food and beauty and genes and health.
Ironically, some of the poorest people in the world eat the best foods. We call them subsistence farmers and uneducated, but they are masters of self sufficiency and posses skills that few of of us educated in America can even understand.
Today, I work with Queen of the Valley Medical Associates in Napa, CA where I have the privilege of being able to bring the old-fashioned country doctor ideals from rural Kauai to a modern medical practice an hour from San Francisco. I enjoy teaching people to shop, cook, and eat according to the traditional principles our bodies have evolved to depend on. Every day after work I watch Luke cook up a delicious meal, and sometimes I wash the dishes.
If you are in the Napa area, make an appointment to see Dr. Cate by calling
Dr. Shanahan’s office adjacent to the Queen of the Valley Medical Center
1100 Trancas Street, Suite 350
707 251 3681
Frequently Asked Questions:
What ages do you treat? I see children and adults from age 6 and up. We are unable to store vaccines and so anyone who does not mind the inconvenience of getting vaccinated elsewhere who is already a patient of the practice may bring children under 6 as well.
What are your office hours? 8:30-5 Monday through Friday. On Wednesday, the office is open but I do not schedule appointments.
Will I see patients in the hospital? I work hard to keep you out of the hospital, but if you need to be admitted you will be well taken care of by Queen of the Valley’s excellent hospitalists. I often visit my patients during their hospital stays to provide additional continuity of care.
What happens after hours? If you have an emergency, please call 911. If you have an urgent medical question, the answering service will put you through to the physician on call. If you need medication refills, please wait until the next business day.