DR. Jaclyn Tolentino, - How Functional Medicine Leads to Systemic and Lasting Health | Brought to you by Mallama
Jaclyn Tolentino, DO is a Board-Certified Family Physician, an integrative and functional medicine practitioner, and a young breast cancer survivor. She has received extensive training in functional medicine through the Institute for Functional Medicine, and additional training in integrative oncology. Dr. Tolentino is deeply committed to creating opportunities for patients to make empowered and informed decisions about their health. Her practice combines innovative diagnostic tools, personalize lifestyle optimization, and a collaborative approach to cultivating the body's innate power to heal. A frequent contributor to publications including Vogue, Well+Good, CNET, and Bustle, Dr. Tolentino was also recently recognized by YellowCo as their October 2019 Do-Good Dozen winner for her work as an innovative healthcare provider. She practices a comprehensive, patient-centered approach to whole-body wellness as Lead Doctor at Parsley Health Los Angeles. In her free time, she can be found catching sunrises on the beach with her husband, and their chihuahua Cali.
Connect with Dr. Tolentino
If You Enjoyed This Episode, We Recommend we Check out, Our episode with Dr. Bobby Buka, CEO of Dermatology Specialists.
Rishi Sharma: [00:00:25] Hey, everyone. Welcome to take care of today's guest is Dr. Tolentino, the lead physician at parsley health Los Angeles. Which is a medical practice with a whole-body approach, combining nutrition, lifestyle, and cutting edge medical testing. She's also avid matcha any Chihuahua lover. Welcome, Dr T.
Dr. T : [00:00:44] thanks so much and so excited to be here.
Rishi Sharma: [00:00:47] We're just happy to have your hair too. So I'd just like to start the conversation with you and let the audience know a little bit about you. So if you could just tell them a bit about your background and what led you into a more holistic. Functional medicine approach.
Dr. T : [00:01:01] Great. Great. Yes, I'm a board-certified family doctor and I have extensive training in functional medicine.
I also have a specialty in hormone optimization and a special interest in integrative oncology work. So I think as of late, I've kind of encompassed a lot of different things blended into one. My backstory and where did my story begin? I've, I guess I would say that I've always wanted to be a doctor. But it's been a tough journey and a tough road to get there.
And I say that because there's just been lots of in-between and making decisions about making sure that this was the right choice for me. And that really started in college. So I did a bachelor of health science at the University of Florida. And then from there, it was the, okay, do I go into medicine? Do I decide this right now?
At this moment this is what I want to do, or do I just wait and kind of like go through the motions of understanding myself a little bit better first before I kind of dig, dig deep into this decision. So I ended up working at a doctor's office right out of college in Naples, Florida, and he was an osteopathic doctor who was fresh out of residency.
So it was really cool just to be with that was like and work in his office. As a secretary, I understood billing. I got to meet patients, I got to do a lot of things, and I decided that I wanted to apply to osteopathic school, so I was an osteopathic doctor. The philosophy is, again, it's more of a whole-body systems approach where the entire body is interconnected with every system.
And that's what I appreciated about it. What I loved about family medicine is the idea that you could see somebody throughout the course of their life and understand them through their lifespan. So you could see children, you could then see them grow up into adults. You could really dig into every decade of their life and also care for the elderly.
So family practice was one where you would be able to see patients of all different ages, and that's why I chose that. And digging more into functional medicine. I really started learning and understanding it more after my own breast cancer diagnosis. So in my early thirties, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and after that point, it really changed the way that I thought about myself and thought about my body, how my body works.
And that really dug into learning more about integrative medicine and functional medicine behind not just medications and things like that and diagnosing and treating, but also understanding that medications were only one tool of many tools in a toolbox to help care for and treat and nourish people.
So it was really like the experience of just facing my own personal serious diagnosis. It kind of like helped me embark on that whole healing journey for myself, which then, in turn, became a passion, a lifelong passion to be able to provide this type of care to our patients at parsley.
Rishi Sharma: [00:03:44] Well, thank you for breaking that down.
You know, I think that's a really interesting way of approaching the health and maintenance of someone so unsolved. I think there's a statistic out there that 60% of adults have at least one chronic condition and the majority of which are. Modifiable or reversible. So I think these types of practices where we're managing it for a systemic, secure, longterm benefit is a much better to approach than just subscribing something every time there's some ailment.
Dr. T : [00:04:14] Yeah. And I think it comes down to. Doctors being able to have the time to explain these things to patients. Right. So you know, when you're very quickly seeing patients in just a short amount of time, it's difficult to really distill it down to help them understand exactly what's going on with their body.
We take a lot of time at parsley to be able to do that, and I think that's one thing I love. I have the luxury of time to be able to spend with patients, to really talk them through and help them understand what's going on.
Rishi Sharma: [00:04:40] Yeah, that's great. I think the extra time to explain things to understand it on a systemic level is a lot better for the patient and the doctor.
So definitely the right move. So, I mean, you mentioned parsley several times. I mentioned in the intro just for people that aren't aware, what is parsley on orders? Your mission there.
Dr. T : [00:04:59] Yes. So parsley health, our mission is to bring the best of primary care and the best of functional medicine blended in to this new integrative approach to everyone everywhere.
And we're trying to hold to that, especially lately as we've expanded into our virtual, around leave, in seeing patients virtually for quite some time now. And we are now in more than 38 States across the country. And that's a big mission of the company, is to be able to provide this. Preventative whole person, patient-centered care.
That's really collaborative with patients. It's not just the doctor telling the patient, it's the doctor, a health coach, and the patient, almost like a care team. Being able to do this from many different locations. When in the past we weren't able to do that. We have offices in New York, Los Angeles, California, and San Francisco, so we've got three main hubs, but we also see patients virtually and more than 38 States now, which is exciting.
Rishi Sharma: [00:05:55] Yeah. That's fantastic. And when did the company start?
Dr. T : [00:05:58] We started in 2015 and then I was actually at the parsley health Los Angeles location for the past 18 months or so.
Rishi Sharma: [00:06:07] So you've got substantial growth over that time. I think there's definitely a demand of customers that are looking for these resources.
Dr. T : [00:06:14] You just.
Rishi Sharma: [00:06:15] Just so that people may be considering this and taking this different approach, what are some concrete differences that they can expect from visiting parsley or functional medicine office versus squint towards traditional medicine's office?
Dr. T : [00:06:29] Great question. So at parsley, where a board-certified in either family or internal medicine as a starting basis, a majority of our physicians are, and then we also have that added lens of functional medicine.
So functional medicine is this holistic whole body approach to wellness where we look at it. Yeah. Re aspect of health. You're looking at physical and mental health and you're trying to understand patients' bodies better. You're also discussing nutrition, you're discussing sleep, you're discussing movement, stress, hormones, GI health, digestion, and so forth.
So comprehensively we try to look for the root cause of problems rather than just treating symptoms. So that is one difference in the way that it differs from traditional medicine. The other way I think it differs is the fact that we spend ample amount of time with our members. So typically our first appointment is 75 minutes.
Patients spend more time with us over the course of a year. We spend, maybe, I think it's about like four and a half hours of face to face time. Would additional unlimited messaging, which is excellent for patients that also have questions about things they come across in their day to day. If they've heard a podcast, if they had read something at a blog or they saw something on social media and I wanted to ask questions of whether or not that's something pertains to their health, they have access to their care team.
Both myself, one of our doctors are also even their health coach, so having that continued access is really important. And the rhythm of seeing a parsley doctor is typically that you see your doctor and then your health coach, and then your doctor, and then your health coach, and it follows this rhythm over the course of a year so that at least every month you always have somebody who's connecting with you during one of your appointments, as well as all of the in-betweens, right.
We do check-ins and things like that. Our biggest, biggest emphasis is on the prevention. And this is very appealing to family medicine, right? Especially as you really do want to treat people throughout their lifespan, and you're trying to create and preserve this optimal wellness every stage of their life, starting from birth all the way forward.
So I think that. This type of medicine should be available to as many people as possible and educating people on the fact that there is a different way to approach it. It's definitely one of our missions. I am still a board certified family doctor, so I still prescribe medications if I feel like that's necessary.
And we talk about risks and side effects and benefits and short term use and longterm use and how I can support your body while you're taking these medications and so forth. So it's not that we've like let go of that practice. Added this lens, this functional medicine lens,
Rishi Sharma: [00:09:00] so that everything kind of integrates into a holistic system as opposed to not treating the root cause.
Correct. And if somebody was assessing their overall wellness, what are some key things that they can do to see where they are appropriately just to keep it normal? Check-in with themselves?
Dr. T : [00:09:18] Yeah, that's a great question. To assess your overall wellness. You really have to take a step back and do these constant check-ins with yourself and like, just think about how your day is, you know, let's just start with there.
So if you listen to your body and you want to do an overall check-in, a great way to do this is to really go from the beginning of your day. To the end of your day. So if we just start with one day versus overwhelmingly starting with how am I doing in my life? So for example, when you wake up in the morning, how do you feel?
Do you feel exhausted? Do you feel energized? And as you kind of go throughout the day, how is that energy? Do you feel this afternoon slump after you eat, when you're exercising? How do you feel after you exercise? What about before? What about your motivation to exercise when you're eating? How do you feel with your meals?
Do you notice a difference in, man, I feel like my stomach and my digestion is really talking to me. It's crumbling a lot. There's a lot of gas. I'm noticing a lot of bloating. My bowel movements aren't regular. Those types of things. Just paying attention to those types of symptoms and then at the end of the day, do I have any issues with brain fog?
Am I having trouble sleeping. Am I having a lot of stress and anxiety that's difficult to control? How are my menstrual cycles if you're a female? You know? Just understanding that and just figuring that out. There's lots of little check-ins and little questions that you can ask yourself so that you can decide if those are symptoms of something that's bigger.
If there's a bigger picture to the fact that you're waking up feeling super tired or going to bed and feeling like, man, I'm just tired, but I just can't get to bed and I'm, I'm wired at night doing these little check-ins on like different aspects of your health, whether that's sleep, movement, stress and anxiety.
If that's your digestion, if it's your hormonal health, those types of things. It's almost like we sometimes glaze over it and we forget about how important those things, but those things are also the cornerstone and the way that we practice. Because those things are part of your day to day part of your everyday.
And sometimes you don't realize that one or two things can really be bigger problems. Thank you for
Rishi Sharma: [00:11:18] going over that. I think, yeah, it's a lot about a self awareness and self checking in, but you know, somebody that might want some more concrete examples. What are some pillars to a healthy lifestyle?
Putting into tactics for people.
Dr. T : [00:11:31]
Yeah. Movement, mind, body specifically, like managing stress is a huge one, and sleep, I would say, are great pillars of a healthy lifestyle, and these are the factors that determine like exactly how you feel on a day to day basis. I think there's so many misconceptions even about doctors and how we look at this sometimes, and sometimes you feel like, Oh, you know, the doctor's always supposed to know what's best for you, but ultimately.
The patient knows what's best because you know your body best. So I can use like my knowledge and my own personal experiences to help guide you to make the best decisions for yourself, but ultimately you're in the best position to know how something makes you feel. If something is working for you, if something's not working for you, if you're starting to notice that symptoms are getting better or getting worse, those are the types of things where we kind of like rely on that communication and constant feedback from each other.
Rishi Sharma: [00:12:24] Thank you for providing those pillars, but you mentioned misconceptions. Is there a particular misconception that you'd like to debunk right here on the podcast?
Dr. T : [00:12:33] Oh man. How much time do you have receipt? Like if you had more time, we could probably go through so many others. I think maybe just the biggest misconception right now is that when you go back to the pillars of constructing a healthy lifestyle and that sometimes you feel like.
Certain doctors or people know best. You have to really reflect on what's going to work best for you and that everything that's out there and the media in social media and people that are touting their own personal experiences, we all have to think of it in terms of each of us has a unique individual body.
And what works for somebody might not work for you, and there's plenty of reasons why that may be the case. It could be because maybe you have genetics at play. Maybe you have a family history that's different. Maybe you live a completely different life, but from a unique perspective. Every single person is unique, and you can't always say that just because something worked for somebody else, that that's going to be the same thing that works for you.
And there's so many different things that are coming out at us with lots of different articles on things that we should do and what we shouldn't. So trying to like guide yourself through the weeds and kind of like get through and make the best decisions. It's really important to have a supportive care team that can help make those decisions for you who really knows you at a level that needs other people and these other things don't.
Rishi Sharma: [00:13:51] Thank you for bringing that down. I'd like to move to another topic, my other one of your specialties and discuss bodies, microbes and hormones. And so. We'll start with microbes and kind of put the importance of your bodies. Microbes are for people. Yeah,
Dr. T : [00:14:07] sure. The human microbiome, it's, I guess I would define it as all of the microbes in your body, and it's amazing.
So there's colonies of different types of microbes throughout your body and in the gut on your skin and your mouth, vaginal areas. So there's plenty of different types of microbes that live all over the entire body and each serves it. Purpose. Each serves a unique purpose. Microbes play a role in the immune response, digestion, your weight, even your mood and microbes also have the protective functions that can be impacted when there's some sort of an imbalance in the body.
So there's actually four, I think you had a question about the different types of microbes. Yeah. Yeah, so I think there's actually seven different types of microbes. You got the bacteria, the RKM, protozoa, algae, fungi, viruses, and even helmets. But when we talk about the human microbiome, we're generally talking about the bacteria, the fungi, the viruses, and protozoa.
But some of the most studied would actually have to be the bacteria and the viruses
Rishi Sharma: [00:15:08] too. How do they work together? Benefit. What are the benefits as a result? Or what are some negative things? There's overgrowth of certain microbes.
Dr. T : [00:15:17] Yeah, no, that's a good question. So some of the issues with microbes, it really just depends on what part of the body you're discussing.
There's different environments, right? So different environments with different types of microorganisms throughout the body. Sometimes different places also Harbor the same types of microorganisms. Chronic digestive issues. For example, you're having like chronic digestive problems. This could be one indication of issues with your gut microbiome.
And so we often discuss solutions to this lifestyle measures included as to really help incorporate different things. And sometimes this is helping patients understand, you know, the role of . Probiotics understand the role of fiber or prebiotics and how that improves digestion, understanding gut inflammation and irritable bowel, understanding bowel movements, and how important it is to have a regular bowel event.
So it really, it kinda just depends on like what specific issue that you're having so that we can help patients put it into context with chronic digestion being one example. Another example, for example, is a vaginal microbiome. You know, that can easily be disrupted. And you know, women have all different types of symptoms when they have a disruption in their vaginal microbiome as well.
So that's why it's like really important to be conscious about what types of symptoms your body is having. And typically, whenever we have some sort of symptom, this is our body's way of talking to you. So if you're having a lot of gas or bloating. This is your digestive track talking to you. If you're having problems with a bowel movements, same type of thing.
If you're having a regular menstrual cycles, this is your body saying, Hey, listen, something's going on. You know, if you notice that you're having brain fog and fatigue, and this is consistent on a regular, everyday basis, this is also your body telling you, Hey, something's going on, so it's helping your body understand and decide.
The symptoms, kind of tying it together with different types of bodily systems. And some of them are even over like they're all related. So there could be one that's affecting other systems as well, are ways where you can figure out maybe, for example, it is my digestion and my gut microbiome is off.
Rishi Sharma: [00:17:23] So you mentioned in the description about using probiotics and then now there's also prebiotics out there.
If you could just break down to people what the benefit of both of those are and what. To help those microbes.
Dr. T : [00:17:37] Yeah. So on a basic level, probiotics and prebiotics are both incredibly useful and helpful to help support your body's digestion, right? So I always like to think of probiotics as being the different microbes that will help flourish in the gut.
And I always like to compare it to like a garden. Have you ever gone to like Epcot or Disney? Whenever they have like the big garden, like conventions and things like that and there's all different types of flowers and then there's some weeds in there, but all different types of flowers. I always like to think of that as like the different types of bacteria in the gut.
And then I think of the prebiotics as fertilizer. Like what is like the nutrients that we can help give those flowers to actually flourish and thrive and grow properly. So prebiotics are like nutrients that you can use to feed, and probiotics are ones that you want to help build up that helps support your immune system, help protect your gut.
Rishi Sharma: [00:18:30] Thank you for breaking that down. So let's switch it over to hormones. And so kind of describe what hormones are for people that might not know, get said a lot about the media, but maybe people aren't exactly sure what a hormone does and its function, how it functions properly. So if you could just break into
Dr. T : [00:18:46] that.
Yeah. Hormones, hormones are chemical messengers, and they talk to different parts of the body from different glands and different areas. And so hormones come from the brain. They come from other parts of the body, different endocrine types of glands, and they're important because they're helping your body communicate.
So when people have these hormonal issues, they can be really, I mean, they're huge. They can be variable. There's so many different types of hormonal imbalances because there's several different hormones in the body. For example, thyroid hormones or thyroid problems are among the most common, most common types of symptoms that people have.
When you're having issues with thyroid hormones include weight gain, fatigue, hair loss. You know, cold and tolerance cause the thyroid gland is sitting right in your neck and it's almost like your body's thermostat. It's helping to control the way that your body metabolizes things. And also to a lesser extent, controls mood.
It also controls some of these other things. So hormonal issues are never usually just because of one particular area of the body. It students signaling pathways that are coming from the brain to different areas.
Rishi Sharma: [00:19:49] So how does somebody know it's a particular hormone imbalance versus like some other lifestyle thing that's creating an effect?
How would one go about doing that?
Dr. T : [00:19:59] Yeah. Well, you know, if you talk to your doctor and explain what are some of the types of symptoms that you're having, people have. A lot of different symptoms that could be hormone related, but they could also be related to plenty of other things. So it's typically not always just one cause or one reason for why somebody is having an issue.
So many examples of hormonal issues, things like fatigue. Fatigue is a big one, and fatigue could be for many other reasons, but one of the main reasons that happens for a lot of people isn't it has to do with issues with cortisol and thyroid, right? It's sleep problems, not sleeping well. It's usually also a hormonal issue as well.
It doesn't always have to be, it doesn't always have to be the main reason, but. You can talk to your doctor about helping to dig into whether or not your sleep problems or your fatigue or even your digestive issues are related to your hormones, right? If there is huge hormonal imbalances there and they can help diagnose and help decide if that's the case, and typically we use advanced diagnostic testing to help our patients understand our hormones better.
Rishi Sharma: [00:21:01] Okay. And are there any tips that people can do in their everyday life without consulting their doctor to better function certain hormones, or is there any particular over the counter supplements that you recommend?
Dr. T : [00:21:13] Wow, if we just go back to those pillars of health. Right. So the pillars of healthy lifestyle, focusing on clean nutrition, focusing on movement, helping your body manage stress.
And prioritizing sleep. Those are huge things. So in a context of like what can people do to help support them, mr really just focused on those pillars and then when you need additional advice or you feel like you're stuck with trying to figure out how to optimize and focus on those things. That's where dr parsley can really help you kind of like hone down on it.
We do specialized testing just to help confirm and help patients understand that even if beyond all of the sleep hygiene things that they're doing, if there's something more than, that's what we help them find out.
Rishi Sharma: [00:21:57] Thanks for breaking that down. So I'd like to now transition to some of the final questions.
We like to break down all our guests, their routines, habits, rituals that they may have. So just wanted to ask, do you have a morning routine or any rituals or habits that you're religious about that. Making see patients and kind of reviewing all this information more.
Dr. T : [00:22:16] Sure. Morning routine. I feel like my morning routine has been evolving.
It hasn't always been the same morning routine, but I can at least tell you a describe what it is now. Typically, I like to wake up at the same time every morning and I wake up pretty early between six and seven. Just help start my day. And then I usually start with about five to 10 minutes of just breath work.
And I wouldn't say it's necessarily to be like meditation, but for me it's just focusing on breath work and just kind of like for about five minutes or so. And then after that I wake up, I open the blinds, I take Cali out, my Toowamba. So the morning light's really important. No, I tried to like make sure that we just hop outside and let her out.
She'd go to the bathroom and then exposure to them. Morning light is really good to help kind of boost your cortisol and kind of like help your body get going. Next, I usually will make a cup of macho. Macho latte is like my GoTo as of recent. And sometimes I alternate that one with like a parsley rebuild, shake, or kind of like put together a couple of things and make a good smoothie.
So I think that during the time of like making that morning macho or making the morning smoothie as a time that I also reflect and think about how I'm going to like work throughout the rest of my day. So just putting my thoughts together. And I think a lot of people use that morning time to just gather their thoughts.
Either they're making coffee or making tea or something like that. So that's the way that my morning looks and then I get started, I guess. Get ready to rock and roll after that.
Rishi Sharma: [00:23:43] Sounds complete. Sounds great. So what does personal care mean to you?
Dr. T : [00:23:47]
Personal care. That means learning to develop the skills that are necessary to listen to your body, give it what it needs and what it's asking for, and understand that that's fast.
Listening to your body is actually a skill that you have to develop. And that requires constantly checking in and like you said, being self aware, being intuitive, and asking yourself, how does this make me feel if I do this thing? How does it impact me if I eat this? What type of nutritional benefit am I getting from it?
How does it make my body feel after I eat it? And that requires time and effort to really just understand yourself to that level and to be able to like reflect and create that self intuition is something that we all continue to practice. And even myself, I continue to practice that over and over again.
I like to stay connected to my doctors so that we've developed this relationship where I can explain these types of changes and as she's gotten to know me, addressing whether or not those changes are new things or things that are evolving into something else. So personal care just really means developing the skills to listen to yourself and understand yourself better.
Rishi Sharma: [00:24:50] Thank you for breaking that down. So if you were to have, to get back to the nutrition aspect that we brought up, if you were to have a dinner party, what are three foods that you would serve during that.
Dr. T : [00:25:01] Three foods at a dinner party? Well, I'm Filipino and my favorite dish is Dinnigan and it is like a kind of like a bone broth type do and it has a lot of vegetables in it and it has bones and we usually put some sort of like a grasp at short rib and things like that.
It takes maybe about an hour to cook, but it is my absolute favorite meal that my mom made growing up. And then, of course, I've kind of like tweaked it and made my own little recipe out of it and started to add my own little bits of spices. So that's definitely one thing because there's so much nutrition there.
The next thing I would have is to make sure that we have some extra scene vegetables on the side, right? So more vegetables. Then I usually try to have at least two or three different types of each meal. So usually what I'll have is like if it was having that dinner party, I would have a synagogue, which has the bone broth.
And has the beef and also has vegetables, but I would also have a side of vegetables on the side. A third thing to have at a dinner party is to make sure that I would, man, that's a tough one. I mean, typically I eat just those two. I ended up eating city gag and I always have loved vegetables on the side, so I'll stick to those too.
Rishi Sharma: [00:26:14] Okay. Yeah. I guess somebody from Kim brings something if they bite somebody. So you mentioned matcha is your go-to right now, is there a particular place here in Los Angeles she recommends.
Dr. T : [00:26:26] Man, there are so many places that have really excellent Macia. There's a place in Abbot Kinney in Venice. Have you been to Shuhari?
Rishi Sharma: [00:26:34] I have to myself, yes.
Dr. T : [00:26:36] Yes. I love that much of the cafe cause it's just so simple, right? It's not a million things on the menu and some things that you're like, Whoa, you'd never think that that would go with macho, but it's just straight matches straight from Japan. I love the ceremonial grade matcha. So after I started going there frequently, I just started buying their matcha and.
Kind of like creating that own ritual and routine at home, which I love. Yeah. So which one do you like? Is there another place you like?
Rishi Sharma: [00:27:02] Yeah, so there's a place, it's called the green door. It's both a coffee and a tea place. It's close to mid-city and Beverly Hills area and there macho is quite good as well, so I recommend that place.
Dr. T : [00:27:14] Awesome. I'll have to try it. It's probably close to our West Hollywood office.
Rishi Sharma: [00:27:18] Yeah, it is actually, it's just down the street from Beverly center, so he has pretty close. Yeah,
Dr. T : [00:27:22] yeah. I'll take it out.
Rishi Sharma: [00:27:24] So thank you so much for taking the time on this. I think the audience got a ton of value from this conversation, but if somebody wanted to reach out and connect with you online, what's the best way to
Dr. T : [00:27:33] connect?
Sure, yes. My social media handle on Instagram is dr Jacqueline Tarantino, and also I am part of Parsley health. So at parsley health at dr Jacklyn's s email. You can learn more about the way that we practice medicine and functional medicine and parsley health and our model and mission on our firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rishi Sharma: [00:27:55] Thank you. Thank you for being here, and I think the audience will definitely appreciate everything you had to say here. So thank you.
Dr. T : [00:28:01] You're welcome. Thank you. Rish.