HYDERABAD: Luke Coutinho, Integrative Lifestyle expert and founder of You Care - All about YOU, was in Hyderabad recently, providing guidance and training to Tollywood star Mahesh Babu. CE speaks with the holistic lifestyle expert on the nature of his work and his experience of working with Mahesh Babu
Could you shed some light on the nature of your work?
I’ve been practising in the field of integrative and lifestyle medicine for about 13 years. It’s not alternative medicine. Most of our customers are cancer and diabetes patients but several movie stars also come to us to keep their bodies safe while they’re going through training, changes of diets, etc. based on their roles and their needs to transform quickly. That can be very unhealthy, losing weight too quickly, putting on weight for a role, and then of course, the roles where you need to build muscle and maintain certain images. If you do it the safe way, it’s fine, but a lot of people do it the unsafe way, and then they suffer. For example, we work with Mahesh Babu and his trainer and we’re always working together as a team. Mahesh’s goal is to be natural and do it most safely because he understands he has a family while his job is in the movies. We’ve been working with him for a very long time now for different movie roles, and also his general health and lifestyle.
Are there any forms of medicines or drugs involved?
There are no medicines used at all, especially when a person like Mahesh Babu, is very clear about his intentions. He respects his body and he wants to do it naturally. Now, of course, there are other industries that people select, steroids and quick fixes. I’m not judging them, but our job is to look after them even more because that has side effects on the liver and kidneys. With Mahesh, it’s very different. He came to us very healthy and fit. We look at nutrition, exercise, sleep and emotional wellness. We assess him and look at his blood work all the time to see how his liver and kidneys are doing and whether there are any deficiencies in vitamins or minerals. When there’s a transformation in a body, you can’t just look at the stomach or the abs, you have to look at the whole body.
How challenging is it?
It’s not a challenge because he is self-motivated, very passionate and very disciplined. It’s really about putting the plan together. Generally, it’s very easy because the human body is very simple to understand when you know the goal. There is a certain protocol based on the patient’s individuality. Some bodies are carb-efficient and some are protein-efficient. Once you identify and realise this is how the body works, then it’s just teamwork. Mahesh and I chat whenever there’s something that needs to be changed. He’ll tell me that in January there may be a role change. So let’s start putting ideas together. It’s teamwork at the end of the day. It’s not difficult, it’s easy, but it requires a lot of discipline.
What is the unique aspect that you have that other nutritionists and people in this field don’t?
We are always willing to learn. Science is changing, disease is changing, medicine is changing, and a lot of people are just fixed and don’t want to change. Our team is always learning, studying, researching, and re-certifying, and I think that’s our uniqueness along with passion and attitude.
Can you name some celebrities you have worked with?
Our first was Shilpa Shetty. We had great results with her. Then we’ve worked with Tamannaah (Bhatia), Anushka (Shetty), Shahid Kapoor, Vidya Balan, Hrithik Roshan and many others whom I can’t name.
What exactly inculcates the lifestyle changes that you are talking about?
Our doctors do the medical treatments. We manage lifestyle. You break down lifestyle, there are four verticals. Nutrition, movement, sleep and emotional wellness. If someone wants to lose weight, you can’t just look at nutrition and exercise. You have to look at sleep and emotional wellness as well. If a patient comes to us with cancer, you have to look at chemotherapy, how to manage the side effects, and what are you putting in the body that the chemo is depleting. So each case is unique and that’s why health can be personalised.
There are a lot of health apps these days but they cannot provide all this. How much time do you spend in nature? How do you make use of sunlight? How do you make use of family, love, emotions, laughter? All of these things that constitute the human spectrum are lifestyle medicine.
What do you find the most challenging today?
In general, I think the biggest challenge today is not a lack of knowledge. It is people being influenced the wrong way on social media and secondly, human behaviour. People are busy. People are confused. If they change their lifestyle, they can prevent disease and they can get better if they have a disease. The overuse and over-abuse of medicine are also becoming dangerous in India because a lot of people self-medicate. Awareness about certain lifestyles that can become deadly diseases if it’s not taken care of also needs to be there.