A Wavemaker Conversation With Dr. Sanjay Gupta

On optimizing your health during - and after - the pandemic; why exercise builds a sharper mind at any age; the brain surgery he performed in the Iraqi desert with a Black & Decker drill; and more...

Whenever I have had a conversation with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, or read one of his books, I’ve walked away with actionable intelligence — insights that I can’t wait to incorporate into my life and share with my family.

That’s partly because he does not just tell us what’s good for our health. He clearly explains the why — the medical science behind it.

Sanjay and I got together a couple of weeks ago, in part to talk about his new book, which is coming out on October 5th, called World War C: Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic and How to Prepare for the Next One.

But before we get to the full conversation, I want to share a two-minute excerpt which contains one of the most remarkable stories I’ve ever heard.

Sanjay Gupta & The Devil Docs

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, neurosurgeon and CNN’s chief medical correspondent, was in the Iraqi desert in 2003, embedded with a U.S. Navy medical team called the Devil Docs.

A Marine lieutenant had just been shot in the head and needed emergency surgery. Sanjay was the only neurosurgeon in the area.

He did not have the proper tools to perform the lifesaving operation. But he improvised, in a way you are unlikely to forget.

He shared the details with me in the following clip from our Wavemaker Conversation. Click play below to listen.

Highlights

In our full conversation, which you can watch at the bottom of this newsletter, we explore territory that will help you optimize your health and inform your decision-making processes, both during the pandemic and beyond. Among the areas we cover:

  • How Sanjay assesses risk versus reward — for himself and his family — in the face of Covid.

  • Which Covid protocols would make him feel comfortable entering, say, a crowded theater.

  • What he learned from his conversation with Maria Konnikova, the best-selling author with a Ph.D. in psychology who became a professional poker champion, about making decisions in the face of uncertainty.

  • What he learned about parenting while at home during the pandemic.

  • His obsession with how — and why — exercise is the most powerful tool that we have to strengthen our brains, well into old age.

  • Why brisk walking is even better than running for building new brain cells. In fact - that one is too time-sensitive to save for the full conversation. Click play below to hear Sanjay’s 79-second explanation.

Booster Shots?

And on another time-sensitive question, Sanjay explains in the clip below why he thinks, at this moment, booster shots are right for his parents, but not for himself. I’m sharing this excerpt now because of the context he provides about breakthrough infections and how the Covid vaccines protect our lungs.

“Promise Me You’ll Get Vaccinated, Dad”

One more thing before we get to the full conversation.

I asked Sanjay about the difficulty of protecting public health in a climate of distrust.

And that is when he told me this story — of the air conditioning repairman who came to his home a couple of weeks ago, and, on his way out, asked Sanjay for advice.

The story is both heartbreaking, and hopeful.

It may save a life if you share it.

Into The Woods

And now, our full (actually, lightly edited) Wavemaker Conversation. If you’d like to read along with subtitles, click the cc at the bottom of the video player.

We begin with a lesson on Japanese Forest Bathing — the science behind why a simple walk in the woods is a stress buster.

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To purchase Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s new book, World War C, from an independent bookseller, click the cover.