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Take Control of Your Diabetes Risk with Dr. John Whyte, MD, MPH

May 25, 2022

Today, I am blessed to have John Whyte, MD, MPH, with me. He is a popular physician and writer who has been communicating to the public about health issues for nearly two decades.

Whyte is the Chief Medical Officer, WebMD. In this role, Whyte leads efforts to develop and expand strategic partnerships that create meaningful change around important and timely public health issues. Prior to WebMD, Whyte served as the director of professional affairs and stakeholder engagement at the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

Whyte worked with health care professionals, patients, and patient advocates, providing them with a focal point for advocacy, enhanced two-way communication, and collaboration, assisting them in navigating the FDA on issues concerning drug development, review, and drug safety. He also developed numerous initiatives to address diversity in clinical trials.

In this episode, Dr. Whyte opens the show by speaking about his passion for policy issues in the medical community. One issue the medical community faces is accepting changes in innovation and technologies. Dr. Whyte explains how patients could be a solution to helping doctors keep up with technological changes. Then, Dr. Whyte dives into the importance of lifestyle changes on our health and how it’s one of the most significant causes of cancers. Tune in as we chat about optimizing sleep, navigating mental health, and Dr. Whyte gives exercise recommendations. 


Here’s What We Cover in this Episode:

[01:30] About Dr. Whyte and His Passion For Policy Issues In The Medical Community

  • Dr. Whyte was always interested in medicine, science, and working with people. 
  • In medical school, Dr. Whyte realized that he was interested in broader policy issues.
  • He uses media outlets to help translate information that could hopefully impact clinical practices.
  • Dr. Whyte likes to translate research into ways that the general public can understand and the clinical community can understand. That way, hopefully, we all live better and longer lives. 

[03:30] The Challenges That Arise With Innovation in Medicine 

  • There certainly has been a lot of innovation in medicine, both in terms of therapeutics and diagnostics.
  • Anyone in the medical community tends to be conservative in their thinking. In other words, they like to stick with what works. 
  • It's often years before new technologies, and new innovations are fully adopted. 
  • Patients also need to be their own advocates; they should talk with their doctors about trying new things. 

[06:20] How Dr. Whyte’s Practice Has Changed Over The Years

  • Lately, Dr. Whyte has been interested in preventive medicine and talking about non-prescription approaches.
  • Medications play a role for many people, but others may not need them. 
  • Dr. Whyte likes to talk to his patients about taking control of their own risks.
  • He likes to focus much more on total wellness and lifestyle changes. 
  • Plus, Dr. Whyte focuses on mental health with his patients; there is no physical health without mental health. 

[11:55] The Different Pillars of Health That Are Impacting Our Wellness

  • Environment certainly plays a role in cancer, and it certainly plays a role in diabetes. 
  • However, the environment is not Dr. Whyte’s expertise.
  • That’s why Dr. Whyte likes to focus on food, exercise, stress, and sleep.
  • Your health can’t just be exercise and diet. We need to recognize other elements of health. 
  • There is lots of great science and data about chronic stress and chronic sleep deprivation. 

[20:05] How Dr. Whyte Optimizes His Sleep Habits and Sleep Hygiene Tips

  • Dr. Whyte doesn’t check emails at night, and he also limits his phone usage after 7:00 pm. 
  • Emails usually agitate you a little, and you feel like you have to respond to things. 
  • Also, Dr. Whyte will minimize his social media time.
  • Another way that Dr. Whyte optimizes his sleep is by being consistent with the time that he goes to bed. 
  • Your bedroom needs to be dark and cool. Your body wants the room around 68 degrees. 

[32:55] Most Cancers Are Caused By A Combination of Lifestyle Issues 

  • About 30% of cancers are due to inherited mutations.
  • That means a combination of different lifestyle issues causes most cancers.
  • If cancer runs in your family, the cause could be shared behaviors. 
  • For instance, parents who exercise and are physically active often have physically active children.

[38:50] The Importance of Recognizing Mental Health and How To Navigate Depression and Anxiety

  • So many people don't recognize their depression and anxiety. 
  • Dr. Whyte loves screening questionnaires; he recommends the PHQ-9 for depression and GAD-7 for anxiety. 
  • Who wants to focus on healthy living when they feel lousy on the inside?
  • A gratitude journal is a great way to improve mental health. You need to write in it every single day. 
  • When you’re writing in a gratitude journal, you’re quieting down the amygdala, the limbic system, and areas of the brain associated with anxiety.
  • Remember, you can control your emotions; you can’t control the emotions of others. 

[43:20] 150 Minutes Each Week: Exercise Recommendations From Dr. Whyte 

  • The American Diabetes Association and The American Heart Association recommend 150 minutes of exercise a week.
  • Walking around your house doesn’t count as exercise. 
  • You have to sweat a little and increase your heart rate. 
  • If you can have a leisurely conversation while working out, that is not giving you a health benefit. 
  • If you can’t do 150 minutes of exercise, start with what you can do. 



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