Dr. Marc Bessler is assistant professor of surgery at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and director of the Columbia University Center for Metabolic and Weight Loss Surgery. He is also the director of the Minimal Access Surgery Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. A fellow of the American College of Surgeons, Dr. Bessler's clinical specialties include surgical management of morbid obesity, gastroesophageal reflux disease, laparoscopic surgery of the stomach, esophagus and hernia surgery, and natural orifice surgery. His research interests focus on hormonal, oncologic, and immune responses in laparoscopy.
He earned his medical degree from New York University School of Medicine, and completed his residency in general surgery and his fellowship in surgical endoscopy at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.
Question: How can foodies eat healthy?
Marc Bessler: Yeah that’s a big problem because restaurants tend to put things in that make food taste better and food that tastes good usually is somewhat fatty. A lot of places have their calorie counts of foods and the protein etc, contents, avoiding fried things, steamed etc. using sauces not heavy sauces and not so liberally to take a food that’s say high protein, not flavored with fats and oils and putting some small amount of flavorful sauce on it that’s not fat based. Unfortunately a lot of cream sauces and things like that, butter, comes along with cooking. So, you know, picking the right foods, vegetables steamed, not buried in lots of cream sauce, fish, meats etc. that are relatively lean and being careful with the carbohydrates that you pick, the bread on the table, probably something to stay away from but the wild rice on the menu probably okay. The mashed potatoes maybe not as good as, you know, the sweet potatoes or like I say higher Glycemic index or picking the right types of foods, educating yourself about what and then asking questions about how things are cooked.
Question: Is it healthy to be vegetarian or vegan?
Marc Bessler: I think healthy means well balanced to some degree, I think you can do vegetarian or vegan well as long as you know what you’re doing and you’re careful about it. You can get all the protein sources and vitamin sources you need from the right combination of vegetarian materials absolutely. It’s hard to be pure vegan and get in the right protein mix unless you really know what you’re doing. So if you’re gonna stay away from fish, eggs, meats, cheeses, milks, you gotta be really careful with your balance of nuts and beans and corn and rice and things like that to get the right protein mix in because there are certain amino acids that the body can’t produce but that are necessary and if you don’t get those in it won’t be healthy. The right amounts of fats can also be gotten from a vegan diet, as long as you pick the right foods.
Recorded on: 6/16/08