Dr. Robert Graham of FRESH Med on Finding the Root Cause of Health Issues

Conventional medicine tends to have a “pill for an ill” mentality, in which disease treatment is the focus and prevention isn’t considered. But Dr. Robert Graham of FRESH Med in Brooklyn, NY, is working to change that in favor of finding the root cause of disease using a food-first approach. Graham sat down with WellBe to talk about FRESH Med’s unique, collaborative approach to patient care, including their five pillars of health and well-being.

*This is a short clip from our interview with Graham. Click here to watch the whole thing.*

You can also listen to an audio version of our interview with Dr. Robert Graham on The WellBe Podcast.

Dr. Robert Graham’s Journey to Founding FRESH Med 

Graham started out as an internal medicine doc and then got his Master’s of Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health while also completing a fellowship in Integrative Medical Therapies at Harvard Medical School. After his training at Harvard, he practiced at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, where he started the first education and edible rooftop garden at a hospital in a city. Both patients and employees got to enjoy the fresh produce, and the point of the garden was really to teach those giving medical care and those receiving it that food is truly the best medicine. The rooftop garden closed due to hospital politics and Dr. Graham decided to start FRESH Med, an integrative health and wellness center in 2016. 

Dr. Graham explains that at FRESH Med, “we have one goal, and one goal only: to get you healthier and happier.” As a conventionally trained doctor, Graham does incorporate Western medicine into the treatment philosophy of FRESH Med, but only when necessary. He and his team “cherry pick” the best of conventional, complementary, and alternative medicine, using evidence-based approaches that focus on finding the root cause of issues rather than just treating symptoms. 

At FRESH Med, Dr. Graham and his colleagues identified what they call the five pillars of well-being:

  • Food
  • Relaxation
  • Exercise
  • Sleep
  • Happiness

Throughout their practice, they’ve found that addressing those five pillars often eliminates or greatly reduces the amount of pharmaceuticals, surgeries, or other invasive procedures necessary, while also helping people find true healing rather than a band-aid solution. 

Addressing & Finding the Root Cause with Food-First Approach to Treat

It’s no coincidence that the first of FRESH Med’s pillars is food. Dr. Graham explains that FRESH Med takes a food-first approach, which stems from his firm belief that food is medicine. He grew up in a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural milieu, where he was exposed to traditional medical beliefs that helped him see the natural diagnostic and healing potential of food. “If you really understand traditional medical belief systems, food is medicine, simply because they didn’t have pills. They really knew how to identify the foods that really fuel you or feed you from both a nutrition, physiologic, and spiritual way,” he explains.

In today’s society, we’ve stepped away from this mentality. We don’t see the connection between our diet and the chronic disease epidemic, despite the fact that ubiquitous and life-threatening conditions like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease are all related to how and what we eat. Rather than finding the root cause and shifting diet and lifestyle choices, the conventional medical model relies on pharmaceuticals that may act quickly, but do not address underlying issues or dietary choices that continue to contribute to disease.

“If we actually flip that model and actually introduce healthy foods and healthy ways of eating, maybe we can actually reverse and prevent some of these chronic diseases that really are affecting 90% of our healthcare dollars,” Dr. Graham says. “Food is medicine and medicine is food.” To this end, he revived his earlier rooftop garden idea at FRESH Med, and the practice now grows nutritious, healing foods on-site that they can provide to both patients and employees.


Watch the full WellBe interview for more from Graham, including why the food system in hospitals is terrible, his goal to bring farms to more hospitals, how he believes we can reform the healthcare system, why medical school education needs to change in order to truly change the healthcare system, why self-care is so important, how health coaching helps patients, the perks of collaborative healthcare, the importance of evidence in treatment, and how to find a legit integrative doctor — plus, Graham’s predictions for the next 20 years of health and wellness.

You can also listen to an audio version of our interview with Dr. Robert Graham on The WellBe Podcast.

The information contained in this article comes from our interview with Dr. Robert Graham, MD. His qualifications and training include graduating from the School of Medicine at Stony Brook University Medical Center, a residency in Internal Medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital, a Master’s of Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health, and three additional fellowships in General Internal Medicine and Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies at Harvard Medical School as well as Medical Education at Mount Auburn Hospital. Additionally, he obtained his culinary degree from the National Gourmet Institute. You can learn more about him here.



  1. Donaldson, Michael S. “Nutrition and cancer: a review of the evidence for an anti-cancer diet.” Nutrition journal vol. 3 19. 20 Oct. 2004, doi:10.1186/1475-2891-3-19.
  2. Sami, Waqas et al. “Effect of diet on type 2 diabetes mellitus: A review.” International journal of health sciences vol. 11,2 (2017): 65-71. 
  3. Anand, Sonia S et al. “Food Consumption and its Impact on Cardiovascular Disease: Importance of Solutions Focused on the Globalized Food System: A Report From the Workshop Convened by the World Heart Federation.” Journal of the American College of Cardiology vol. 66,14 (2015): 1590-1614. 
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