Welcome back to the Healing Pain Podcast with Dr. Mark Hyman
You can eat whatever you want as long as you make the food yourself. If you want to eat cake, make one with ingredients that you can pronounce. Dr. Mark Hyman knows that functional nutrition plays a huge role in the natural healing process. Food has an enormous impact on our bodies which means eating isn’t just a personal choice. Food keeps the body healthy in the most natural way possible as long as it is not made from wheat, corn and soy. Learn more of the principles of healthy eating and clear up the confusion between food and nutrition.
I am so excited and honored and privileged to spend this time with you. Thank you for lending me your ear. Joining me in how we can help those with chronic pain, is an icon. He is someone who is inspiring thousands of practitioners and through that, helping to heal millions of people with this new approach to traditional medicine, which is now called functional medicine. At the root of functional medicine is functional nutrition, which is something that I’ve taught, something that I use with my patients every time I work with someone, W whether it’s someone with fibromyalgia or diabetes or osteoarthritis. Functional nutrition is one of the core tools that I use to help people. In this powerful podcast, I’m going to speak with Dr. Mark Hyman. We are going to talk about his new book. Most importantly, we’re going to talk about how important food is in your healing journey, what food you should eat, what food you should avoid. We actually talked about what Dr. Mark Hyman enjoys to eat and what he includes in his diet.
We actually talked about what Dr. Mark Hyman enjoys to eat and what he includes in his diet. I hope you enjoy the podcast like with every podcast. Make sure you go on to iTunes, Stitcher, and give us a five-star review. Share it out with your friends and family. If you’re a practitioner and nutrition interests you, log on to the IntegrativePainScienceInstitute.com where I will be launching and teaching a Functional Nutrition for Chronic Pain course. If you’re a practitioner, go on there, check it out. You can go to my website at DrJoeTatta.com or directly at www.IntegrativePainScienceInstitute.com. Please enjoy the podcast and we’ll see you next week.
The Impact Of Functional Nutrition As Medicine with Dr. Mark Hyman
Hi, Dr. Hyman. Welcome to the podcast. It’s great to have you here.
Joe, thanks for having me.
You have a new book coming out. We’re definitely going to talk about it in the podcast and it’s all about food and busting some of the myths around food so we can help people on their path and on their journey to health. Both you and I have a love and a passion for food. Why has nutrition and healthy eating become so confusing for people nowadays?
It is confusing because everybody hears different things on different days. One day you hear that eggs are bad for you, the next day you hear they’re good for you. One day you hear oatmeal is good for you, then you hear it’s bad for you. One day butter is bad, then it’s good. It’s enough to make anybody just give up and eat whatever they want. The fundamental question that we want to answer is what the heck should I eat? Why we’re so confused is a combination of factors that are all conspiring to keep us with our heads spinning like the exorcist trying to figure out what to do. The first is, at a big level, the ways in which the food industry has corrupted science and policy that drives a food system that makes us sick and fat and screws up our economy and has all these consequences. We think that science is independent but when you look at a lot of nutritional studies, they’re funded by the food industry. If you are the Dairy Council and you are funding a study on whether milk is good or not for you, the study’s going to find that it’s good for you. The studies that are funded by the industry 8 to 50 times are more likely to find that their product is actually not bad or is good. Coca-Cola funds a study on obesity and soda, and there’s no connection despite the fact that every other independent scientist says this is the major factor contributing to obesity. That’s one reason. The media also isn’t really great because the very few companies that own most of the media, if you look at a lot of advertising it’s basically Pharma and Big Food. They’re not going to go heavy against it. Then you’ve got our policies in the government that are giving us confusing information. For example, we are told by our government we have to drink three glasses of milk a day. There’s no scientific evidence that that’s true. When the National Academy of Sciences was asked by Congress to do a review of the guidelines process as to how our dietary guidelines are created, they found that a lot of it was corrupted. The members of the community that came up with the guidelines work for the industry like the Dairy Council. They ignored huge lots of data. For example, they ignored all the data on saturated fat, exonerating saturated fat.
That’s why even the guidelines are still providing confusing information. That is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s not hard to understand why we’re so confused. Then nutrition research itself is so difficult because it’s hard to do a study where you actually can get a real conclusion. You have to lock people in a room for 30 years, feed them different diets and control everything. It’s just impossible. It’s never going to happen. It can cost billions of dollars. Nobody’s going to do it. You have to go with shorter term studies. You have to go with population studies. Population studies are notoriously bad. We know that smoking is linked to cancer because of population studies. The effect was a twenty-fold increase, a 2000% increase in the risk. When you look at the nutrition studies, you might see a 30% or 20% increase, which is not really significant when you’re looking at the population data. It’s very challenging. You have to combine common sense with so many experimental data and population data, and put all the science together. That’s what I’ve done in the book, Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? I’ve given my own experience I’ve been doing this for 30 years, plus synthesizing all the research and coming up with what do we need to know in 2018 about what to eat, and what’s good for you and what’s not good for you and how to make choices in every category.
My clinician brain loves your work because I know you put a lot of effort into digging into the science and really discovering what the truth is behind all the topics that you research. You bring up milk, which is so interesting because when I talk to patients or trained practitioners on nutrition, I show them the USDA Plate versus the Harvard Plate. The Harvard Plate really advises you to drink water where our government is advising you to drink milk.
Three glasses a day by the way.
It definitely would not work for me and most of the patients I see with chronic pain. When you bring up milk, the first thing I think about are kids and how early some of these marketing around food is geared toward children. Can you talk about that and what you’ve seen and what you think maybe might be an answer? Food habits start when you’re so young.
This is part of the issue around the food industry. Every other major civilized and industrialized society restricts food marketing to kids. In this country, there are no regulations of it. The food that’s marketed is the poorest quality. If you look at the foods that have the most heavy advertising, they are of the poorest quality. They’re the worst cereals and the worst junk has the heaviest advertising. Kids, before they are eight, can’t really distinguish between fact and fiction. They think something they see is true. My daughter was about eight or nine. She’s like, “Daddy, how come when you see stuff on television, it’s so different than when you see it in real life? I don’t get that.” I’m like, “It’s exactly how they intended.” We have school lunch programs that are based on dietary guidelines that are corrupt telling them you can’t actually do school lunches unless you give every kid milk at every meal. They won’t give them whole milk, they give them skimmed milk. They won’t give them skimmed milk, but give them chocolate skimmed milk or low-fat milk, which is just as much sugar as much as a soda, which actually has been shown to help them gain weight. They are actually hungry because they’re eating low-fat milk, they’re not getting the fat. I think the whole issue of how we deal with our kids is critical on what we feed them. I always joke, I say, “There’s no such thing as kids’ menus in most countries.” In Japan, kids eat raw fish. In India, they eat Indian food. In Indonesia, they eat Indonesian food. They don’t eat chicken fingers. I think we really should just feed the kids real food and get them away from all this heavily marketed thing like Go-Gurts or Lunchables, Froot Loops, fruit box or juice boxes, and all the stuff that we think are foods that we should feed our kids. We wouldn’t feed it to our dog, why do we give it to our kids?
The packaging that you see and the marketing towards kids, it actually extends into adulthood. When you go into the stores as an adult and you see things that are low-fat, and go down the list of all the things, low-salt, low-sodium, reduced sodium, it’s very, very confusing. As far as packaging goes, what are the pitfalls that a consumer is not aware about that’s happening?
I think one of the problems is our focus on ingredients. We focus on saturated fats, salt, fiber, whatever it is. The food companies are awesome at dialing up the ingredients to make it sound healthy. Now, whole grains are supposed to be good for you. What do they do? They put whole grain cookie crisp cereal out there, which is basically six teaspoons of sugar, a few flakes of fiber and is a bad food for you. The whole marketing issue is huge. I basically say, if it has a health claim on the label, don’t eat it. If it says, low-fat, it’s bad for you. If it says, gluten-free, it’s bad for you. If it says, high-fiber, it’s bad for you. Just assume that if there’s some marketing claim on the label that’s a health claim, it’s probably not okay. Honestly, we shouldn’t be eating just food. That’s the problem, we don’t eat food. 60% plus of the foods consumed by Americans are commodity-based food-like products that are made from wheat, corn and soy in the form of white flour, high-fructose corn syrup and refined soybean oil. All of which have been shown to be deadly and toxic. The people who consume most of those foods, according to government surveys, are the sickest, most obesity, diabetes, inflammation, heart disease, when you consume those processed-packaged foods.
Basically, most foods are just different sizes, shapes, colors and extruded versions of those commodity foods instead of eating real food. An avocado doesn’t have a label. It doesn’t have a health claim. It doesn’t have a nutrition facts label on it or an ingredient list. It’s just an avocado, so is an almond, so is an egg, so is a piece of chicken, so is a piece of broccoli. It’s really simple. I just want people to get back to eating real food in its original state as close as possible to what it looks like when it came out of the farm. If we do that, it’s going to transform the whole country and globally. The problem is these food companies are just expanding their products globally. We’ve seen a 25% reduction in soda consumption in the United States in the last decade, but we’ve seen a 25% increase globally in soda consumption.
In your book, you talked about food as being this nexus that connects our economy, our health, our healthcare, our environment or our climates. There are so many topics to talk about but what piece do you find that people are most interested with where we are at 2018 with the current administration in place? What do you find is resonating the most with what you’re seeing with the book?
I think that most people don’t realize that food is not just a personal choice. It has enormous impacts on everything. For example, you are eating some food product that’s made from wheat flour, from soybean oil and high-fructose corn syrup, you are doing a number of things. One, you’re making yourself sick. Two, you’re promoting an agriculture system that depletes the soil which removes organic matter through industrial farming. The soil can’t sequester carbon. It can’t sequester water and organic matter, and so it holds water. We subsidize those crops with government money, and then that leads to environmental destruction through the runoff of the nitrogen in the oceans, in the rivers. It depletes the plankton and algae so you end up with dead zones. It causes runoff of pesticides. It causes the inability to sequester carbon, which then leads to more climate change, which then actually leads to the acidification of the oceans, which then kills the phytoplankton which depletes our oxygen supply because half of our oxygen comes from phytoplanktons. Everything’s connected.
When you eat some bread with some high-fructose corn syrup and flour from industrial food product, you’re doing all these things. You’re also giving yourself diabetes. You’re also causing the healthcare system to have more burden. You’re burdening the economy by the cost of all that. It’s this whole vicious cycle where everything is connected. The food we eat determines what happens to our land, our soil, our water, our air, climate, to our health, to the economy, even education. Because we eat crap, we can’t learn in school. Even our security because they’re too fat to fight. 75% of recruits to the military are rejected because of poor health. This is all one story. Choosing the right foods literally can change all those things. What you eat is more important than the car you drive. You could drive a Hummer and be fine in terms of your effect on the environment than if you’re not eating real food. That’s actually not going to change this problem.
There’s a growing field of nutrigenomics. People are becoming very interested in looking at how food directly affects their genes, how it affects their biochemistry. Do you think that field would really affect the way we use food as nutrition or nutrition as medicine basically?
Absolutely. One of the tenets of functional medicine, in which I’m a practitioner, is that food is medicine. It’s not just calories. It’s information and it provides instructions that affect your gene expression, that affect your hormones, that affect your inflammation markers, that affect your gut microbiome, that affects literally almost everything that’s going on in your body in real time every minute. Everything you eat actually controls all of your biochemical processes and it’s fast. We can take people who are on insulin to change their diet and they don’t have insulin in a week. That’s how powerful this is. There’s no drug that’s going to get you off insulin in a week. We really have the ability to use food in a powerful way. I think that’s something people don’t understand and how effective it is, how quick it works and how powerful it is. I had a woman who did my program She started part of it which is in the book which is a ten-day detox. She said she was scheduled for two knee replacements. She had to cancel them because her knee stopped hurting and she lost 30 pounds and she’s sleeping for the first time in her life. Another guy came up to me and says, “I was diabetic. My A1C was 10.4,” which is just off the chart. Anything more than 5.5 is bad. He said, “I lost 60 pounds and I got my hemoglobin A1C down to 4.8 which is better than almost everybody.” It was just food. There’s no drug that can do that. People go, “Food is not as good is medication.” It’s actually far more powerful when used correctly.
What percent of your time, when you’re working with patients, do you spend talking about the topics we’re talking about talking about food with them? You’re doing a physical exam, you’re running tests and looking at other things, but how much of it is just education based with the patient?
A lot of it is. Finding what are the root cause of their issue and how to fix them. A lot of time has to do with food. No one can see me here at Cleveland Clinic or any of our doctors here or my practice at the UltraWellness Center in Lenox without having a nutrition appointment. It’s just part of the intake. It’s part of the initial visit. If food is medicine and then I’m not using my prescription pad, I need a nutritionist to help patients start to implement this.
Looking at things like RDAs, one of the things that I’m always talking to patients about are omega-3 fatty acids because there’s abundancy of research on how they’re anti-inflammatory, especially how they help inflammatory factors as it relates to chronic pain. We really don’t have an amount that we’re recommending to patients. How does that affect, one, how we practice, and two, how patients perceive something like an omega-3 that could turn around many types of chronic diseases that they struggle with?
I think omega-3 is a great example. People need to be optimizing their omega-3 levels, which 90% of Americans aren’t. There are tests you can do to actually check to see what your omega-3 index is, a fingerstick often at your doctor. I do think that the amount depends on the person. Usually one gram to two grams a day is adequate, but someone who have chronic pain, they might need four or ten grams a day as a more therapeutic agent. It really varies. The average of one gram or two grams a day on average is probably good for most people.
There are people going online and looking for your book. They want to know what do you follow as far as your diet. “What do you eat? What do you not eat?” They’re going to want to know what Dr. Hyman is having.
I basically eat food. If it’s not food, I don’t eat it. If it came from a factory, I pretty much don’t eat it, unless it’s something with a couple of ingredients. If it says sardines, olive oil, salt; if there are things that I recognize as food. If it has words that I can’t pronounce, if it has things that are in Latin, if it has things that are food-like substances, I just stay away. I’m good. When I cheat, it’s more like having chocolate or having real food treats as opposed to some industrial food pack. You’ll never see me with a Kit Kat bar or McDonald’s hash browns. You just never see that. If it’s food, I’ll eat it. People are going to have whatever they want to eat if they make it themselves. You want French fries, go ahead. Make it yourself. If you want a cake, make it yourself with real ingredients that you can pronounce that are in your cupboard. Butylated hydroxytoluene in your food, what is that? Would you have that in your cupboard as a little jar saying, “Add this to your stir fry?” No. That’s what we eat all the time. We eat three pounds of food additives.
I only eat for breakfast, a couple of breakfast foods For my staples, I’ll have what I call fat shake which I put in nuts and seeds like pecans, almonds, maybe walnuts. I’ll throw in some seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, some wild blueberries or blackberries. I’ll throw in coconut butter, some nut milk like macadamia milk and I’ll blend it up. That would last me for a long time. Sometimes I’ll just have a whole pasture-raised eggs, farm eggs basically, with olive oil, avocados, tomatoes, salt and pepper. That’s a great breakfast. For lunch, I vary but I often will have what I call fat salad, which is basically I throw in some arugula, some cherry tomatoes, stuff that’s all pre-washed easy. I’ll throw in some pumpkin seeds or maybe an avocado or canned artichokes, olive oil and vinegar, simple dressing, salt and pepper. Maybe I’ll have a can of sardines or salmon with it. That’s it. Then dinner is just usually one piece of protein as a side dish like salmon or grass-fed meat, organic chicken and then three or four side dishes of vegetables. Occasionally, I’ll have a whole grain like black rice or I’ll have a sweet potato. Often, I’ll just be enjoying vegetables and I try to get at least ten servings a day of vegetables, which is half a cup. Five cups of vegetables and fruit is really important. If you don’t consume that, you’re not providing what your body needs to function. What happens is your body tends to start to change and reverse chronic illness. I’m almost 60 and I feel 30. I think it’s really important to understand you don’t have to, “I’m going to take my shirt off and I’m like, wow.” It’s not the exercise. I don’t do that much exercise. It’s the food. I see 30-year olds with flabby bodies and guts and I’m like, “This is unbelievable.” It’s what you’re eating. I do exercise. I wish I could do more, I work too much. I think it’s really the food that keeps me healthy and functioning.
What’s the one big takeaway you’d like people to really know about your book? Like three months from now the book is running and you’ve done all the podcasts and TV shows and people have read the book, what’s the one hope you have people can take from the book?
I want people to have this as a resource, something they can keep in their bathroom or by their bed. You can pick it up, read any chapter. Do you want to learn about me? Do you want to learn about what vegetables you should and shouldn’t eat? Do you want to learn about dairy, grains, gluten? It’s all really chunked down. It can be read in any particular order. I really want people to understand the principles of healthy eating. It’s not a diet or a program. Here’s what the science is in 2018 based on also my 30 years of clinical experience, testing everybody for nutritional status, working with people to reverse chronic disease and here’s the basic foundational principles. I call it the Pagan diet. A friend of mine was a cardiologist, a vegan, and another one is a Paleo doctor, and they are fighting. I’m like, “If you are Paleo and you’re vegan, I must be a Pagan because I’m someone in the middle here.” I realized you don’t have to be exclusive. If you believe what the Paleo folks says if you’re a vegan, you’re going to die. If you’re a vegan and you eat like the Paleo folks, you’re going to die. It’s all like who is right? You can both be right.
It’s the simple principles in each area. What grains are good and what grains are bad? What beans are good and what beans are bad? What vegetables should you not eat and what should you eat? What meat should you eat? What dairy should you eat? People don’t really know. Do they know, for example, the difference between and ?One is inflammatory and causes a lot of gut issues and acne and inflammation, and the other doesn’t. One comes from our monohybridized cows, the others come from heirloom cows or from sheep or goat, which have very different qualities in the dairy. If you want to eat some cheese, what should you eat? You shouldn’t eat American slices. They can’t call a Kraft cheese, cheese. They call it cheese because the government says it has to have more than 51% cheese. If it doesn’t have 51% cheese, it’s got to be called something else. The stuff you got in a McDonald’s burger, that isn’t a cheese. That is a cheese-like product.
I have cousins in Italy. When I go to Italy and I visit them, it’s amazing that I don’t really see the things that we have here, which doesn’t exist on the shelves and it certainly doesn’t exist on top of their hamburger which I have seen them make for dinner. I have been speaking with Dr. Mark Hyman. You can find out more about his book, Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, all the retails, as well as in stores. You can find out everything that Dr. Hyman is up to on his website at www.DrHyman.com. You can find the book on his website as well. I want to thank Dr. Hyman for being with us. Hop on to iTunes, give us a five-star review, and share this episode out with your friends and family in social media. We’ll see you next week.
About Dr. Mark Hyman
Dr. Hyman is a practicing family physician, a 10-time New York Times bestselling author, and an internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator, and advocate in the field of Functional Medicine. He is the Pritzker Foundation Chair in Functional Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine and Director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine. He is Founder and Director of The UltraWellness Center, chairman of the Institute for Functional Medicine, medical editor of The Huffington Post, and a regular medical contributor in the media for CBS This Morning, Good Morning America, CNN, The Dr. Oz Show, and more.
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