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First of all, I want to thank each and every single one of you of my own purposelessness for making this show possible with every episode you listen to, one of my most important goals for the new year is continuing to shape and improve on purpose to be an inspiring and relaxing listening experience for every person who honors me by listening to make this show possible, we work with some truly incredible sponsors that me and my team spend hours ensuring are a good fit for the on purpose mission and the interests of my listeners.


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Hey, everyone, welcome back to On Purpose. I'm so glad you come back every single week to listen, learn and grow. And today I'm super excited to be interviewing a guest that I actually had on Instagram live a few months ago. And we weren't able to dive in even as deep as I wanted to in that Instagram, which was amazing. So I thought, why not bring them on to the podcast where I can really quiz them on the things that I'm interested about, the things that I know, insights that will really help you and, of course, get to know each other better.


So today's guest is none other than Dr. Mark Hyman. He's a practicing family physician and an internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator and advocate in the field of functional medicine. He's the founder and director of the Ultra Wellness Center, the head of strategy and innovation of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, a 13 time New York Times best selling author and former president for clinical affairs at the Institute for Functional Medicine. Now he's the host of one of the leading health podcast, The Doctor's Pharmacy.


I highly recommend listening to it and checking it out. Dr. Hyman is a regular medical contributor to several TV shows and networks, including CBS This Morning Today. Good Morning America, The View and CNN. He's also an adviser and guest co-host on The Dr. Oz Show. This is an episode I'm so excited about where we will dive deep into how to save our health, our economy, our communities and our planet. One bite at a time with a discussion about his latest book, Food Fix.


Welcome to the show.


I mean, that was so sweet. Thank you, Jay. So fun to be with you. It's so fun to be with you. I love Instagram. Like we were just sharing. We did that just before lockdown and the pandemic and everything kind of shifted. And I'm remembering back to doing it with you. And I loved it so much and I'm so glad we're actually getting to spend this quality time together now and really dive into this great book.


Thank you.


Thank you. It was a it was really the culmination of life's work to connect the dots between everything we love and care about and how they're connected in ways that we don't imagine, but that we actually solve the problem of food. We solve the problems of chronic disease, of the stress in our economy, of the disintegration of our communities, of racism, of environmental destruction, climate change, natural security, kids education. I mean, all is connected to food.


And it's really it's such a joy to be able to share how those things are connected and actually what we can do about it, because it's not called food apocalypse. It's called Food Fix. Absolutely. Absolutely.


And I can't wait to dive into all areas of that with you because I think we don't realize how powerful and influential food is not just in our bodies, not just in our minds, but in the world.


And I know that inside this book, you've gone into so many studies and so much research to really show the impact of food in the world. But I actually want to start somewhere a bit more personal with you because I was discovering some fascinating things about you. And this is one that last that I feel there's no better way to start this interview than letting the audience know that you are a yoga teacher before you are a duck.


That is true. I mean, fascinating. When I was I was like, wow, that's cool.


Yeah, actually, I mean, I majored in Buddhism and Asian studies in Asian religions in college. And I wasn't going to be a doctor. I was going to be a monk. And I actually decided, well, you know, I'm not sure I want to be a monk. Maybe I'll just try to be a doctor and be a service in that way. And it was really driven out of the notion of compassion and service that was so embedded in Buddhism.


And I learned about in college and I became a yoga teacher and decided to become a doctor after that. So I wasn't an afterthought when I'm still working at it. I love that. I love that. But when we get onto that, it means you're thinking like a month for sure. So I love that.


But tell me a bit more about that compassion piece that you were sharing there, because I think it's really interesting that, you know, people get involved in medicine for so many reasons. People get involved in being authors for so many reasons. But it sounds like you're you're kind of foundation was wanting to help people wanting to make a deal. Yeah, that was I mean, I think, you know, when I really studied Buddhism and obviously looking for answers as a young man of 18, 19 years old and what's the truth and what's the meaning of life.


And in it, I realized it was a description of how to heal suffering. And the focus of Buddhism isn't a religion. It's it's a methodology for healing and relieving, suffering and understanding the way our minds work that cause us to suffer so much and then begin to really focus on this notion of how we don't have to suffer and why we suffer. And and it was really that that led me to understanding that I could actually be in that space of service and working on healing through, not just being a monk.


But actually being a doctor and actually helping patients and people understand how to heal chronic disease, which is what I do, and so I think there's so much suffering in the world, there's so much burden that everybody suffers from, both psychologically, physically and so many different ways. And I was really drawn to doing something to help deal with that. And that's really what led me to becoming a doctor. And that's beautiful. Thank you for sharing that.


I think it's it's a really unique way of looking at it, because I think for so many of us, sometimes we can be dealing with physical or emotional pain or issues for such a long time before we even think that there's something we need to do about it. Yeah, sometimes people are living with chronic issues for such a long time and we don't really listen or hear from the body or from the mind of what we need to change. So when you look at it that way, that you can change what suffering you choose and mean, it's huge.


Tell me one more thing on. Oh, sorry. What are you going to say? You say, you know, like, what's your mission in life? You know, it's like it's really to end needless suffering. There's some suffering you can't avoid, but there is a lot of needless suffering. And the place where I feel most effective is really helping people understand that, that they they can heal from chronic disease using a new strategy, which is functional medicine.


It's really an approach of using food as medicine, but it's understanding the root causes and understanding the body, the system. It's really helping restore and regenerate health as opposed to treat disease. And people suffer necessarily. And I think that's the goal of for my life has really been to sort of bring this way of thinking and and helping people into into a broader perspective. And that's really what I do at Cleveland Clinic, is where publishing research on this, it's really gratifying to see that actually that it's catching on, that people now understand what this is, that they understand that that our current medical paradigm isn't really solving a lot of their problems.


And, you know, I got there because I was I got very, very ill when I was young from chronic fatigue, living in China, mercury poisoning, and ended up having my body just collapse. And I had to literally reverse engineer my way to health using these principles of functional medicine, of how to restore my health. And I realized it was applicable to so many patients, people with autoimmune diseases and digestive disorders and mood disorders and Alzheimer's and autism and diabetes and metabolic issues, all the things that the people suffer from that we don't really deal well with traditional medicine is what I really focused on.


Yeah, that's that's incredible, and I love how so much of the good we do always comes from some sort of pain in our.


Yeah, it's it's amazing that you've been able to go and take it so far and nobody's taking far. You're really challenging the status quo. Let's start there. Are we in Food Fix? You know, I would take the time to actually think that the food industry has an agenda of their own making in some ways in which the industry is strategic, in how it advances its own goals.


The mission that's like, oh, boy, oh, boy, that's a can of worms. So there are a lot of unintended consequences that have led to our current food system that we're born out of good intentions. We wanted to feed the world. We wanted to have the ability to grow lots of food for a lot of people and quite a lot of calories at scale and modernize agriculture. And and that was happening in the 50s and 60s, which led to this commercialization of of industrial agriculture, which led to enormous amounts of of starchy industrial food being produced.


So we are all enamored with astronaut food and processed food and cans and orange juice. And unfortunately, that's led to a method of growing food that's produced the worst food on the planet. It's mostly ultra processed food, which is made from soy, corn and wheat and different extruded colors, sizes, shapes and forms. It's all deadly, but 60 percent of our calories. And it's also led to destruction of the environment through destruction of the soil and biodiversity of plants and animals and insects, and also stresses on our water and increasing climate change and all the pollution from the incredible amount of pesticides, herbicides.


And we use six billion pounds around the world of glyphosate, which is pretty toxic, and we use four hundred billion pounds of nitrogen fertilizer, which has all kinds of devastating consequences. So the way we're growing the food and the food that we're growing is devastating our health and devastating planetary health. And and so the problem is that the food industry is the biggest industry on the planet. Its 15 billion trillion with a T dollar industry that is now trying to maintain the status quo, unfortunately, which is not a good one.


So it was like they said, oh, we're going to make people sick and fat and we're going to destroy the environment. They just didn't know, but now they know. And so there's a very concerted effort to control our food policy, which is, you know what, as a doctor, why would I be caring about politics and food policy? But it occurred to me as I'm sitting in my office seeing patients one on one, but I can't cure diabetes in my office is cured in the kitchen, in the grocery store, on the farm.


And I need to sort of look upstream and look at the root causes and to begin to say what's causing the food that they're eating that's making them sick. Lots of the food system which causes the food system, it's our food policies. And why do we have the food policies we have? Because it's a food lobby that drives that.


And so they drive a lot of the status quo and that and they do it in they do it in government policy. And we spend half a billion dollars just on the farm bill in one year. Nineteen twenty five. The the GMO labeling law was defeated because the food industry collectively spent one hundred ninety two million dollars on one bill in lobby. And they do this by driving our dietary guidelines policy, our agricultural policies that promote the growth of these raw materials or commodities for all processed food.


They do it through controlling what we can say on food labels. They control the and the restrictions on marketing. So we can't actually limit marketing for junk food. And across the whole, you know, multiple ten agencies of the government, there's there's so many policies that are influencing our food system that are often at odds with each other. Contradictory, but they're in the interest of the food industry. So so that's happening. And then they're also corrupting science.


So the National Institute of Health spends a billion dollars on research for nutrition food and spends 12 million. Most of its propaganda, like the Dairy Council, says milk is nature's perfect food. While all the studies show that or Coca-Cola finds it when they fund a study that obesity has nothing to do with soda. So does it make sense?


They also fund groups that are front groups like the American Council on Science and Health, which sounds like a great, noble cause with crop life or, you know, the Group for Sustainable Agriculture. And they're all front groups for the food industry to propagate their agenda and create misinformation. And then there's the co-op public health groups like the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, Academy Nutrition Dietetics, 40 percent of their budget is from the food industry. So they're not giving independent advice.


And then they call up the social groups like the NAACP and Hispanic Federation and groups that are doing good in the world. They fund them. For example, I was I was showing a movie that I was in a number of years called Fed-Up, which is about childhood obesity and the problem we have with the food industry and sugar and starch. And I went down there and I met with the head of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, which is Martin Luther King's church, went with his daughter, Bernice King.


They're very excited to get behind this and have a screening at the King Center in Atlanta and I was excited about this in a few days later, I got a call. So we can't have this showing at the King Center. I'm like, why? So we'll CocaCola funds the food industry funds the King Center. So it's pretty frightening when you see all these different strategies to target certain groups, to put out wrong science, to support misinformation through these front groups, to influencing public health groups, through controlling policy.


And it's it's it's a really devastating effect, which has led to the fact that six out of 10 Americans have a chronic disease, that 75 percent of us are overweight, that forty two percent are obese and 88 percent are metabolically unhealthy. I mean, just take that in for a minute. 12 percent of Americans are metabolically healthy. I mean, 80 percent are not. And these people are more risk for covid-19 and other other chronic diseases. So we really have this this crisis moment here.


And I think we need to understand how all these things are related. And then we need to design a strategy to to both from a grassroots level, from a business innovation level, from philanthropy and from policy to change what's happening. Wow. I mean, that that is one news update in a great way. I was really the whole time, you know, when I hear that and I think about my community and my audience listening or watching Lance or anyone consuming this right now, it's like it can feel very overwhelming to individual for the individual that.


Yes. Doesn't have. The feeling of just like there's two things that come to mind, one is like. Do these people realize that they're actually destroying people's lives because, you know, almost at the end of the day, it's like you said, it's not a conspiracy theory. It's not like it started that way.


But now they're aware and we continue to fund it in that direction. It may leave people feeling quite helpless. Where is a great place for people to get started? Of course, this book for people to get educated, because I feel like the biggest challenge in making choices when you're like, oh my God, I can't trust the labels.


I just the the ingredients on the back.


Where do people trust? Where do they find trust?


Yeah. Well, you know, I spent a lot of time when I wrote the book Food Fix to dive into practical solutions both for individuals, for businesses policies. And I and I created a Food Fix Action Guide. It's free. They can go to Food Fix Book Dotcom and download. It essentially gives you 20 of the top things you can do as citizens and individuals to have an impact, to change your health and change society and change planetary health and drive policy and drive businesses.


And it works when when we change, we want to do. And we vote with our wallet. We vote with our voice, we vote with our fork, and we vote with our vote.


We see massive change. I mean, General Mills and Danone, which are two big food companies, are now funding farmers to convert their lands to regenerative agriculture. So they're literally stepping up and doing what the government isn't doing. And finding farmers to transform agriculture, to produce nutrient dense food in a way that restores the soil, restores the plant nutrition and restores human health. That that's groundbreaking. And it's because we can make those choices. So I talk about how do you become a genitalium?


How do you regenerate your own health and how do you regenerate planetary health and our social communities and their health? And it's pretty simple, right? It's eating real food is not buying into the industrial food that we're all eating, which is hard to do for some people. But I get real clear resources on what to look for, where to buy things, where to buy things that are not necessarily expensive because people think it's expensive to do this, but actually can be done really at scale and in a way that isn't going to break the bank.


To become a smart consumer, you have to read food labels. You have to seek out different sources of food, whether it's community supported agriculture or farmer's markets or online retailers that sell direct to consumer like Thrive Market or Mariposa Ranch, which actually sell originally raised beef and other animal foods that are really healthy for you. And there's things you can do if you if you get inspired in your own community, you can be an agent of change. Maybe you want to get your local government to start a compost ordinance, your compost, your food, because food waste is a huge problem.


Like 40 percent of our food is wasted and it's one of the biggest drivers of climate change. It's bigger. There's a bigger contributor of methane than cows. And it's all your vegetables are grown in the in the compost that I mean, in the landfill. And you can you can actually start to understand how to how to do these things for yourself and maybe have a compost pile in your in your group. If you want to become an active activist, you can turn up the heat on your politicians and and food companies by finding organizations that are doing it and supporting them or lobbying your representatives.


I mean, you can actually have an impact locally and you can decide maybe you want to work in your school and help the school lunch nutrition be better. And people have done that. And so in the book is just full of examples of actually how to take control of your own health and your own life and your own community. And it's working. I mean, it's why we're seeing the changes we're seeing. Yeah, absolutely.


And thank you for creating that action guide, everyone. That's food book dot com, if you want to go grab that, because I think that's what people are looking for. I really believe that people are looking for action guides because that's where they know they need to start. And one of the things I'm fascinated by when I was looking at the book and I've been looking at you, you talk about how I think it's like the average child between something like two and thirteen or fourteen, you say like sees on average like 10 to 11 junk food ads per day.


Oh, it's terrible.


I mean, the average kid sees probably ten thousand ads a year on television. Now we're seeing stealth advertising. So a lot of these studies were done on food marketing to kids. There's about seventeen dollars billion spent in 2004 when it was tracked on junk food advertising to kids in the worst. The food, the the more the ads and the worst ads were so.


And now Facebook, for example, last year had, you know, five hundred billion ads. For junkfood. On Facebook, it's just it's just unbelievable how much and there's stealth games for kids like adver games where there are literally embedded propaganda for food companies. So little McDonald's go to McDonald's store and go to, you know, get your Burger King, whatever. It is terrifying. So we see the biggest impact actually is this changes in food marketing. And in this country, there's a First Amendment.


You can't restrict people's right to free speech. But I don't think there's any law that prohibits us from protecting our children from these kinds of messages because they can't tell the difference between reality and ad. Tell her about eight or nine years old and they're targeting these kids. And in Chile, when they actually repeal the ability or remove the ability for these companies to market between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., there's a dramatic reduction in the use of these foods and dramatic reductions in obesity.


But this country doesn't want to do that because it's such a big moneymaker for these companies.


Yeah, that's that's that's really alarming because ultimately, the people the decisions are obviously aware that the food is not healthy for people and it's not going to benefit their body or their mind, but they still continue to invest in, you know, creating challenges for kids.


And I always, whenever I get asked randomly to invest or be a spokesperson for different brands or whatever it may be, and whenever it's something that's aimed at young people, I'm always just like, well, would you how old are you?


I always ask you how how your son or daughter and then tell me their age and I'll be like, would you recommend a business product? And the amount of times I've heard people say no, I quit, say, but I'm like, you're selling this like, you know, and I'm just so confused by that. Do you think that's the level at which we have to change it? Like it needs to change on the level where people go? My profitability is not as important as people's children.


Like, yeah, that's changing. You know, I was really excited to hear, you know, this group called the Business Roundtable, which is all the top businesses in America. They get together, the CEOs. And in the last meeting, they they made a stand. They said we have to look not only in shareholder value, but stakeholder value, meaning what is the impact of our company on our customers, on the workers, you know, on the environment, you know, who are the stakeholders in the products we're creating?


And it's not just about profit and shareholder value, which I thought was a big step forward. So I think we're seeing more movement towards conscious capitalism, but there's definitely entrenched companies that just don't want to change. And they're not they're not going to do it voluntarily. So there has to be sort of a parallel system that grows up that shows that this can happen. And I think we're doing it. And I wanted to happen faster, but I think it's I think it's happening.


And how much of it is also and I know you you know, the answer is that it's how much of it also is is our addiction and habits because of the way that its products have been created. So we also find it hard to let go of them. So I'll give you a personal example. You know, I grew up eating or sugar products a day when I was young and so sorry for chocolate products today. Sorry, not for, well, chocolate products today.


And so I would eat a chocolate biscuit, chocolate bar, chocolate ice cream and a chocolate yogurt, nearly my likes. And I was overweight as a child. I struggled with it, whether it was bullying or whether it was eating unhealthy.


And as I grew older, I started to realize that I was addicted to sugar, especially in chocolate. And I got so used to having it. And it took me to who I talk to you about before meeting. My wife was able to find me alternatives because that's what I said to my wife. I was like, I need an alternative if I'm going to shake this habit. Yeah. And so I ended up finding things sweet fruit and. Yeah.


And other things which have been amazing.


But that's good for you. Monck fruit. Right. I know how ironic. I do not have any affiliation really whatsoever.


But the intriguing thing to me about that is that there are alternatives that exist. But but I want to share this with the audience. It's like I get what it feels like to be addicted to a food that may not tell us about how much we're addicted to these.


I mean, this is a real problem. And I think most people don't realize it and they internalize the feelings they have about what they eat and blame themselves. Oh, why can't I stop eating this? Oh, I'm gaining weight and I just can't stop myself. And they they think is their fault that they're overweight or that they're sick. And that is just a bunch of nonsense and scientific nonsense, because when you look at the science of of these foods, these ultra processed pulverise foods that are high and starch and sugar, they're really designed to hijack our brain chemistry, our hormones and our metabolism in a very specific way.


And the these companies have organizations called taste institutes or they hire craving experts. The science of craving, and they design their products in a specific way to create the bliss point of the food. What is that perfect crunchy taste, sugar, whatever it is, salt is going to make you go home and have this pleasure sensation. And it's about dopamine. It's like heroin or cocaine, and it works in the same area of the brain. And it's not just a theory.


They know this. Of course they deny it. Although one of one of the top executives from one of the big soda companies said to me, Mark, you want to come to our lab and see see what we've done? We've actually been able to extract the taste buds from humans and we grow them in a culture in the lab, and then we can stimulate them and see what's happening. Like you do not want to go in there because I'm sure it this all over social media.


And it's a very scary thing. And so the science has shown, for example, that if you take a group of overweight guys and one day you give them a milkshake, it's a regular milkshake, and the next day you get a metric milkshake, which is exactly the same, except for the way in which the sugar is absorbed. So there's starch and there's the same carbohydrate, the same protein, the same fat, the same fiber, the same calories, exactly the same.


And they taste the same. So they don't know what they're drinking. When they found that, when they had the one that had the sugar that was absorbed quickly compared to the one that's absorbed slowly, it created this pattern in their brain that lit up the same area called the nucleus accumbens as heroin or cocaine. And you could see it on a functional MRI. So this is not just the theory that, oh, it's maybe addictive is not really a true addiction.


It actually is.


And when they looked at their other biomarkers or blood levels of insulin, sugar, adrenaline, cortisol, stress hormones, you literally sugar your stress hormones go up so you can be meditating all day. But if you're eating sugar all day, you know you're in trouble. And I think we don't understand how powerful these foods are and how they hijack our biology. But within a very short time, literally just 10 days or less, you literally can reset your biology, reset your brain chemistry, reset your hormones and your taste buds and get out.


And I remember I ran this course once in a yoga center near me. I know. Yeah. And and it was it was it was sort of a sugar detox. And this one came in like, there's no way I can do this. I'm an addict for sure. My whole time, my whole life, I'm never going to be able to get off this. I said just do exactly what I'm saying and just try to do this. And in a way that's going to reset your biology because food is medicine and saying, OK, I'll try it with to like I can't believe it any more cravings.


I don't want to know. I mean it I it's like my whole biology has changed. So I think people can be very empowered by by making those kinds of changes.


And does it just just dive into that slightly tiny bit more?


Should that change for people be extreme or is it incremental? So it's like let's say someone's listening because they are consuming sugar or they're having too many sodas or whatever. Is it like they should go the no sodas.


What's that? Almost that ten day program. Yeah.


So do you have like one ounce less of soda a day or twelve sodas is eleven. OK, you know, I think as a doctor and I want people to be able to have the experience of health, it's like an awakening. I want them to actually quickly be able to experience that. So I usually get convince people to do a dramatic change for a short time, like a week or ten days. And then their bodies tell them how they feel.


They go, oh, my God, my migrants are gone, my digestion is better, I'm sleeping better. My sinus trip is gone. You know, my skin's clearing up. My act is gone. I feel better. I don't cravings. My energy is good. And they go, wow, I'm getting the connection between what I eat and how I feel, as if I always like to give people that experience. And I created a program called The Ten Day Reset, and it's essentially giving them that opportunity.


I downloaded free get pharmacy, dotcom. It's just a simple way of eating in a specific time frame and the way it's going to really regulate your your biology, because every bit of food you take regulates your entire biology. It changes your gene expression, it changes your hormones, your brain chemistry, your immune system, your microbiome, everything, literally with everybody. And when you understand that and you can upgrade or downgrade your biology literally with every bite of your biological software can change.


You can really see rapid changes. And we've seen incredible things from people getting off insulin in three days, for example. So it's really powerful and people make the choice to try this. And I think, you know, tiny steps in tiny habit changes are good. And B.J. Fogg talks about this for some things. But I think if you really want to see the power of this short term, dramatic change can give you enormous benefit.


I'm completely with you on that. I think that when you experience something a massively in an extreme way, you're more likely to quickly feel the benefits of it and to recognize it's powerful. Now, that may mean you may go back to your own habit quicker, but you now know what you're trying to move towards as opposed to not having a tangible experience. So I'm totally with you. I wanted to check that with an expert that definitely I can totally relate relate to that.


Tell me about you talk a lot about in the book. And what I'm really trying to do for anyone is listening or watching right now is the book is just put and you can already tell Dr. Mark Hyman is a phenomenal storyteller. He's got a ton of great studies that I'm a I'm massively into studies into. And that is I get really fascinated, intrigued.


The book is full of the insights that the tools and the actions that you can take in each of these areas. But I do believe that the first step is education and awareness. I'm hoping that as you listen to this, the podcast is going to give you the insight about each of these areas of our lives that food impacts. But when you read the book, that's going to give you the full set of, you know, what part of you you need to change and where the action is.


So what I'm fascinated by the book is you talk a lot about how there's food, racism, and I think that this is so obviously relevant right now.


Yeah, I it's so important for people to understand because I think either we don't believe it exists or we're so consumed by it that we're not willing to explain that concept to us.


Well, I mean, I think we we have certain populations in this country that are so disproportionately affected by chronic disease and by poor health in the African-American community, Hispanic community and Native American communities. And when you look at covid-19, it is far and away hurting these populations more than anybody else. For example, in Louisiana and Chicago, African-Americans are 30 percent of the population, but 70 percent of the deaths are Native Americans are experienced the same thing. And they if you're African-American America, you have twice the rate of getting diabetes.


You have probably four times the rate of getting kidney failure and three and a half times more likely to get amputations because of diabetes. Your and your targeted more than the rest of the population. And food marketing is often more directed to minorities. And we see this this is from Yael's studies that have shown that we actually are targeting these populations more. So there is health disparities are huge. And there are a lot of reasons for I mean, we call it structural violence.


You know, we talk about structural racism, but there's a bigger concept, which is what are the structural violence, the social, economic, political conditions, environmental conditions that are driving disease. We see this with infectious disease or chronic disease. And this is what we have in America. We have this structural violence that has led to incredible amounts of disease in these populations. It's leading to these health disparities. And we have to understand why. And the reasons are complex, right?


There's the racism issues and the segregation we had and the lack of access to education, housing and opportunity and funding. And there's a lot of issues. But the problem with food is that is it it drives these populations to be more sick, less able to learn school, less able to succeed in life, and more likely to get disability and chronic disease as they get older. So we see this sort of dismantling of these populations in scale in ways that we don't see in other populations.


And it's it's really heartbreaking because it's so fixable. And I've seen this happen know, I went down and even if you're poor and you're white and a lot of these things are still evident and it's part of the movie Fed Up, I went down to this little town and easily South Carolina. There was a family of five living in a trailer on food stamps and disability. The father was 42, already on dialysis from kidney failure, from diabetes. The mother was like overweight, two plus one hundred pounds.


The son was diabetic at 16. And I said, listen, I'm not going to lecture you. Let's just cook a meal together. Here's what's in your kitchen. Like, here's all the junk. And I showed him everything that they were eating they thought was fine. The cool whip, which said zero trans fat but was all trans fat because the FDA left a loophole that said if you have less than half a gram per serving, you can say no trans fat, but it's all air.


So it's just like it just all the food industry influence. And they were like horrified. And then I said, let's cook a meal of turkey chili. Let's create a nice salad with olive oil and vinegar dressing a salt pepper. That's sufficing asparagus. Let's roast some sweet potatoes. Simple, simple meal. It wasn't expensive and they actually loved it. They never cooked in their kitchen anymore. And I just get a little bit education. I say, here's a guide on how to eat well for less good food on a tight budget from the Environmental Working Group.


And when I'm on the board and I and I give him a cookbook, I said, you can do this. And they did it. And within the year they lost 200 pounds together, the father was able to lose enough to get a new kidney. The son lost fifty, but then went to work at Bojangles, which is a fast food restaurant down in the south. And so I'm facing a job for these kids there. And he gained 50 pounds.


It's like it's putting an alcoholic to work in a bar. And then he figured it out and he lost one hundred and thirty eight pounds and he got into medical school and he asked me to write a letter of recommendation so people can can actually come out of this if they're given the right education tools. But I worked in these communities and populations. And they just don't know, they just are unaware of this sort of level of food, racism and food and food, even apartheid is happening in these communities where you see the lack of ability to access food and lack of ability to find quality ingredients because they're buying food at the gas station.


That's where they get their food. Thank you so much for raising awareness about this super important issue, because I feel like it's it's just not talked about it now and know it's internalized.


You know, like I went on a rafting trip and I read the story in the book with a Hopi chief who's a Native American chief, and he lives in one of the oldest inhabited cities in America, Robbie, which he's lived in there for over a thousand years. And he was very, very overweight and he was just struggling to get down to the raft and threw up because he was so out of shape. And we got on the raft. We kind of got to know each other.


You know, you can actually fix this. You can get rid of your diabetes. So what do I have to do? He said, well, I said, well, you have to get rid of the starch and driven your diet sodas and sweets and all that. He's like, wow, well, OK, but what are we going to do for our traditional Hopi ceremonial foods? We have these traditional Hopi ceremonial foods. I'm like, what foods?


It's like cookies, cakes, pies. I'm like thinking to myself, those are not your traditional ceremonial foods. And what's happened was that the government put everybody on renovation's. They cut off their food supply in their traditional ways of hunting or fishing or even growing food. They diverted that herd of their water so they had no access to rivers anymore. And then they piled in these commodity foods, flour, sugar and shortening. Right. And that became their diet.


And these government commodities were the staple. So they made Indian fried bread and Indian tacos. Those nothing Indian about that. And these foods are so, so toxic. And now that's why we see 80 percent of them have diabetes by the time they're 30. And life expectancy in some of these communities is forty six. And it's terrible. And it's not just in American communities. But he's internalized this this food concepts that he thinks are his traditional foods.


And this is an true in the African-American communities and Latino communities. And, you know, I think in Chicago there's something called the Chicago Loop. If you live outside the loop, your life expectancy is 16 years less. If you take a subway from midtown Manhattan to the Bronx, which is a very poor African-American communities, your life expectancy is goes down six months for every subway stop to Harlem and the Bronx. So these things are are really not talked about much.


And I gave a lecture a few years ago, was on the fiftieth anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination at the Harlem Riverside Church. And it is really about food, oppression. And, you know, I was a little intimidating for me because of mostly African-American community. I'm a white Jewish guy from New York. And what do I know about it? But it was Governor Cuomo spoke there. I spoke and and I just was able to share what I was seeing from the science and from the data about how these kids were being affected.


And it was it was an incredible response. And people really resonated with a very short time to talk. You can find it online just to himan through depression. You'll find it. But it sort of is really catapulted me into really trying to raise these issues because we can't we can't resurrect our communities unless we have resurrect our health and we can't resurrect our health unless we resurrect our food. And we can't resurrect our food until we fix the food system and fix agriculture and sort of pull that thread that connects everything together.


Yeah, absolutely. And what I'm trying to do in our interview today is, is really understand the role of the individual educating the individual, because I feel like if the individual is educated, then we'll start to see this real change. Tell me about we've talked we've definitely tapped into this. We talked a lot about how it impacts our physical health. But I know in the book you also talk about how nutrition and food can be medicine for our mental health.


Yeah. And I think that this is this link again, I feel like what you're doing in the book is just topics that I at least I can be honest and say I'm not hearing about in a non conspiracy theory.


If I hear about some of this stuff, it's always loves conspiracy theories. I don't love conspiracy theories. I like I like data and I can discussion and change the nation.


And so that's what I think you do so well. But let's talk to me about the connection between mental health and our diets.


And, you know, it was it was a surprise to me. I was practicing functional medicine, working with patients may come up with these physical complaints. They have an autoimmune disease or they would have some digestive issues or whatever was going on or they'd have and whatever. And I and I would I would treat them and restore their health by dealing with restoring these basic biological systems. Your gut, your immune system, your detoxification system, your hormones, all the things that we we do in functional medicine and and a lot of it's using food as medicine.


And then they would report back. Dr. Hyman, I. What happened. But my depression is gone. My panic attacks are gone. My it is better. My memory is better. My brain function like what's going on here, and I began to really investigate what was happening and I sort of jokingly call myself the accidental psychiatrist because I was treating people's body and their brain was getting better. And I began to realize that, you know, let's just take depression, for example.


You know, depression turns out as an inflammatory disease, which we don't think of. It's like, you know, it's like a sore throat, but it's in your brain and your brain doesn't hurt, but it can be depressed or feel sad or be anxious or have OCD or 80 or whatever. And and so it has different ways of expressing that information. Whereas Alzheimer's even is an inflammatory disease, autism is inflammatory. And the question is, what's driving the inflammation?


And it's our primarily are inflammatory process, nutrient poor diet. It's this industrial diet. It's lacking the nutrients in our bodies and our brains need to function. And I just saw case after case after I started, people on a Whole Foods dive to cut the processed food, got rid of inflammatory foods like gluten, dairy, got rid of sugar, gave him a moment to sort of heal and then put in the nutrients that their bodies needed. Miracles would happen.


And and I began to sort of go, wow, the body is so connected to the brain. And so, yes, there's a mind body effect, but there's also a body mind effect. And that body mind effect is worth fixing because you can do something about it if you want to deal with your mental health issues, if you want to become enlightened. It's a lot easier to do it if you deal with the problems first. And if your if your gut is healthy, if you are not low fibroid functioning, if your nutrition levels are vitamin D is to your V12 levels, good.


It's much easier to actually get to what you want to do in terms of your spiritual goals or your personal goals if you are feeling good. Right.


It's a lot harder to get enlightened if you're mercury poisoning or have some nasty game going on in your body. And so so this really was the genesis of this book, the ultimate solution about how we fix our minds and our bodies by fixing our body first so that we don't have to work on our minds as well, because that's that's that's your lane. But but it's it was it was such an insight for me to go, wow, there's so many people suffering from mental health issues that are driven by physical issues.


No, it's it's one thousand percent. It's all interconnected. And even I find, like, sometimes people need their minds help to change their body and they need their bodies, help to change their mind. You know, and I think the fixation over either war or where do I start? It's almost like we need to be absorbing all of it. I found that. And I can identify with what you were saying, that I was someone who focused a lot on my mind and was able to find a lot of peace and calm in my mind.


But then I found that I'd neglected my body. And almost like real alignment in your life is felt when your body and mind align, right. You can't have a advanced mind and a neglected body. That's not alignment. That's going to constantly cause friction in your life.


And it's the same with what you were saying, where if people are feeling mind fog or struggling with a mental health illness and they're not taking care of their body and like you said, they're great. Yeah. Then then again, you can switch that. So I totally see the interconnectedness. And I hope more and more people listening will realize that when you read the book fanfics that you'll be able to start making those tweaks that you need to in your lifestyle, even education you only talk about in the book and how our kids are so impaired.


I mean, you know, one in ten kids has added kids have learning difficulties, dyslexia challenges with academic performance. And the CDC put out a report that I talk about in the book on the influence of nutrition, on academic performance. And it's massive. You know, how do kids learn when they're eating junk food and going to school in the morning with flaming hot chips and a coke? They can't function and they crash. And so providing good nutrition can have radical effects on kids, academic performance and clothes, what we call an achievement gap.


And I think it also affects behavior. And, you know, we think about mood. But one of the things I was shocked to discover is that is in violence and violent behavior and aggression are also connected to our diet and in prison. Studies that I talk about in the book, prisoners who are fetti, who are violent, who are fetti, Whole Foods, healthy diet in prison. Can you reduce violent crime by fifty six percent? And if you had a multivitamin, it goes down by 80 percent.


If you do it in kids in juvenile detention centers, these kids, 91 percent reduction in bad behavior and violence, 100 percent reduction in suicides. I mean, this is a staggering and if there was a pill that can do that and we're going to be taking it, there'd be a giant pharmaceutical company marketing. And we don't hear about these issues because they're they're not something that's going to create billions of dollars in profit. But unfortunately, it's whether it's whether the real effect can be.


Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Everyone, I want to recommend that, you know, to go listen to the doctor's pharmacy podcast.


But you also check out the book Food Fix that makes me write. Again, huge recommended recommendation for the book to get educated, become aware of what's really happening, what's working in the background, that's going to give you enough confidence and enough of a reason and a way to go and actually make the changes in your life. It's really easy to live in ignorance and in the pain and just allow for it to continue and feel like it's only because something outside is impacting you.


But actually take responsibility for our health and our futures is huge. And if not for yourself, then at least your children, the future generations.


And Dr. Mark Hyman, I believe you do such a great service. Honestly, you really are in reading all of these issues in all areas, the depth of the research and the lengths you've gone through to to share this with us. I'm super, super grateful. Thank you.


We end every interview with something called the final five, which are your first five round, which is on in one word to one sentence maximum. OK. And Ivan, these are your final five. So question number one, what's the best change you've made in your diet?


The best change I made was to dramatically cut out starch and sugar. I don't eliminate it, but I really don't eat any flour products. And if I eat sugar, it's usually part of some whole foods. Maybe I'll have a whole huge chocolate, which I love, which is, you know, very low glycaemic. And I think that and getting rid of industrial food is been the best thing that I've done. I love them, of course. Adding in all the good stuff, of course.


Super. OK, great. Second question, what do you know to be absolutely true about health that a lot of people would disagree with you? Wow, that's a good question.


No one's ever asked me that. I think that the biggest thing that people don't understand is that, you know, the way we define disease is completely wrong. So our normal conception of disease is completely flawed because it's not based on causes. It's based on symptoms. So I think people just don't understand that. And so if you focus on causes, not symptoms, and treat that the root cause, people get better. I love that. Great answer.


All right. Bad question. What gives you the biggest hope for the food industry?


I see I see hope because I see these food companies waking up. I see companies like General Mills and Danone and other companies and Nestlé really understanding that this can't go on, that their their survival depends on transforming our food system. So I see the they see the culture shifting and people demanding more consciousness about their food. So I'm excited about that. Awesome. Question number four. What's the biggest lesson you've learned in the last 12 months?


Wow. I've been traveling for twenty five years and on the road and covid has has locked me down. And I've realized that having a rhythm and stability and quiet and time to think is actually a good thing. And and I and I think I've I really learned that it's time, my life to to shift how I'm doing things so I can actually cultivate more of that. It's brilliant. And your fifth and final question is, if you could create a law that everyone in the world would have to follow, will it be, oh, a law that everyone have to follow?


Well, I think it would be it would be a law that would be that all governments would implement that that would influence every single policy around food, which would be quality is king. So no food policy can be made unless it's putting the quality of nutrition and nutritional density first. And every single thing we do, whether it's dietary guidelines or what food we grow or what food market or whatever it is, it's going to transform everything if we can do that.


I love that. That's people. I'm actually going to ask one more question. Does this come to my mind? Do you think that it's possible to create healthy food that's affordable? Absolutely.


I mean, the studies are really clear that it may cost 50 cents more day to eat healthier. And like I said, there are guys like good food on a tight budget that are are actually incredibly effective in helping people eat well for less. It's good for them, good for the planet, good for their wallet. And I think we get caught up in leadership about eating healthy. But it really is family in South Carolina that lived on food stamps and disability for a family of five, and they were able to do it in one of the worst food deserts in America.


So it's really more about education and awareness than it is about money. That's great to hear.


Awesome. Dr. Mark Hyman, thank you so much for being a guest on On Purpose. What I'd love for everyone to do is tag me and Dr. Mark Hyman on Instagram with your favorite insights, your favorite thought or idea or concept or fact that Mark Hyman stated today that stayed with you and how you were going to experiment with your diet. I'd love for you to. Think about what is that deep dive experiment you can do for the next seven days, what could you remove from your diet or add to your diet based on the insights in the book, based on the guidance in the book that you think is going to make a massive change.


Try an experiment for just seven days, for one week and see how your life changes. And as I said, go out and grab a copy of the book.


We'll put the links in the podcast description so you can go straight to Amazon and grab your copy.


Dr. Mark, is there anything that I haven't asked you that you love to share that nothing other than I think, you know, we're in this moment where everybody can focus in on their own health. And by doing that, they will literally help us get through this covid epidemic and help solve so many of our global problems. Because what we do to ourselves, we do to our communities and our families and what we do to ourselves, to the planet.


And so understanding that is a circle and that we can actually impact that by making those small changes in ourselves, I think is very a very powerful message for people. Understand. Thank you so much. This is great. Thank you, everyone, for listening. And I'll see you again next week. This podcast was produced by Dust Light Productions, our executive producer from Dust Light is Michelle Yousef. Our senior producer is Juliana Bradley. Our associate producer is Jacqueline Castillo.


Valentino Rivera is our engineer. Our music is from Blue Dot Sessions and special thanks to Rachel Garcia, the dust like development and operations coordinator.