Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Uncovering the Secrets to a Happier, Healthier Life

Dr. Sanjay Gupta is on a mission to learn how to become as healthy and happy as possible.

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Journalism and medicine may seem to be two entirely different professions. But Dr. Sanjay Gupta, an Emmy-award winning neurosurgeon who regularly covers health-related topics for CNN, has proven that the two occupations can have very much in common. Motivated by a desire to improve the health of people around the globe, Dr. Gupta travels to areas of the world where people have the longest life expectancy and highest rates of life satisfaction to reveal how these cultures foster more healthy lives. Dr. Gupta’s medical expertise, combined with his personable, inquisitive nature, improves the lives of his global audience by teaching them about the little-known lifestyle practices that help to maximize their health and wellbeing.

Dr. Gupta believes in a holistic approach to health, as he considers the ongoing maintenance of one’s health to be just as important as treatment for specific illnesses. As such, much of his public-facing work explores healthy lifestyles and the cultures that promote them. Dr. Gupta hosts an original series on CNN, called “Chasing Life with Dr. Sanjay Gupta,” which focuses on the alternative medical practices developed by cultures in countries like Norway, Bolivia, and India, which he believes to have an underappreciated positive impact on one’s health. In Japan, for instance, one practice is to take a short bath in scorching-hot water, which is thought in some cultures to have a restorative effect on the body and soul. In another episode, Dr. Gupta speaks with the Dalai Lama about the art of meditation and how it can reduce one’s level of stress, which in turn promotes a person’s health.

Dr. Gupta was offered the position of Surgeon General of the United States by the Obama administration, but declined to focus on his family and career.

Dr. Gupta has been interested in science ever since he was a child. He was born in Detroit on October 23rd, 1969, where both of his parents worked as engineers for Ford. His mother was the first female engineer Ford had ever hired. Dr. Gupta received both his bachelor’s degree and his medical degree from the University of Michigan, completing his residency in neurological surgery in 2000. He is a general neurosurgeon at Grady Memorial Hospital and has published medical journal articles on brain tumors and spinal cord abnormalities. His career in broadcast journalism began in 2003 when he covered medical aspects of the U.S. invasion of Iraq for CNN. In Iraq, Dr. Gupta also performed emergency surgery on civilians and combatants. Since then, Dr. Gupta has traveled to various parts of the world affected by humanitarian crises, such as Haiti following its devastating 2010 earthquake and Peurto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Dr. Gupta acknowledges that while scientific research has led to the development of countless life-saving drugs, there is also a problem of systemic bias in medicine

In addition to his work as a neurosurgeon and journalist, Dr. Gupta has advised the federal government; in 1997 and 1998, he served as one of fifteen White House Fellows advising Hillary Clinton, and he was offered the position of Surgeon General of the United States by the Obama administration, but declined. Instead of working for the White House, Dr. Gupta chose instead to continue his work for CNN, where he works as a consultant and covers health-related news, including as the host of several documentaries. In 2013, Dr. Gupta’s experience in producing a documentary about medical marijuana caused him to change his mind on the public health benefits of its use, reversing his earlier position opposing laws allowing access to the drug for medical reasons. He issued a public apology, announcing that he now believes his previous opinion to be wrong after learning more about the subject.

Dr. Gupta is well-known for his open-minded approach to medicine. It is this perspective that has informed his opinion of marijuana; while he now believes that cannabis can be used as a medicine in some circumstances, he warns about products containing CBD which have not been scientifically shown to offer the advertised benefits, and may in fact not even contain the ingredients listed on their labels.  Dr. Gupta acknowledges that while scientific research has led to the development of countless life-saving drugs, there is also a problem of systemic bias in medicine, such as the preference towards studies designed to reveal the negative health consequences of marijuana rather than studies that investigate its positive effects, as well as the tendency towards prescribing opioids for pain, which are addictive and to which patients can develop a tolerance. Dr. Gupta warns of the dangers of the vaping trend, which is especially popular among teens, and emphasizes having conversations with young people about this dangerous habit. He seeks to promote lifestyle choices such as healthy eating, exercise, and meditation instead, using his platform at CNN in service of the public good.

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