Once we know the types of foods that are actually healthy for us to eat, the next step is to figure out what that looks like in daily eating habits. In part 3 of a series with Dr. Mark Hyman, best-selling author of the new book Food: What the Heck Should I Eat, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen talk about what his diet looks like on a typical day.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: I'm Tana Amen. Here, we teach you how to win the fight for your brain to defeat anxiety, depression, memory loss, ADHD and addictions.
Dr. Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we've transformed lives for three decades using brain SPECT imaging to better target treatment and natural ways to heal the brain. For more information, visit amenclinics.com.
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Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome back. We're here with Dr. Mark Hyman, his new book Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?, along with writing The Daniel Plan. One of my favorite books, from him, is The UltraMind Solution. I actually bought it for all the doctors here at Amen Clinics. It's really taking a functional medicine approach to mental health. It has just had a huge impact on what we do here at Amen Clinics.
Tana Amen: You don't know this probably, but I love that you become friends with all of these guys, because the minute that you bought that book and gave it to all of the people in the clinics, I'm like, "Oh yay. I'm going to use your relationship with him to meet him," because I've been following.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Yeah, no. I'm a rockstar. She doesn't care at all.
Tana Amen: I could care less. I'm a total geek. I follow you guys.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Mark is a rockstar.
Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:01:52].
Dr Mark Hyman: No. I had a very famous patient who was a rockstar, and she's like, "Man, you're a rockstar." I'm like, "No. You're a rockstar." She's like, "Okay. You're a docstar."
Tana Amen: I like that, a docstar. That's just awesome.
Dr Mark Hyman: So, yeah, you know, interesting. The book was an accidental book.
Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:02:15].
Dr Mark Hyman: I call myself the accidental psychiatrist because I never intended to do that, and I just was treating people's physical issues. And as a side effect, their mental issues got better. I'm like, "Oh my God. What's happening here? I didn't understand this before." I saw people with ADD change. I mean, I have this example in my book of this kid who is just so messed up and so sick, and I treated his physical issues, and his ADD went away, and his handwriting changed. When you see this handwriting example, it tells you the brain is so responsive to its environment. That's what you teach, Daniel, that take the bad stuff that hurt your brain and put in the good stuff that helps your brain. It's basically from [crosstalk 00:02:54]-
Tana Amen: Well we kind of do the opposite. We treat people for the brain issues and all of their diabetes gets better.
Dr Mark Hyman: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well ultimately, We treat whole people, which is what Mark does.
Tana Amen: But when we started out, we were doing brain issues, and we noticed, "Oh my God. They're out of pain. What's going on?"
Dr Mark Hyman: Right. It's bidirectional. Right. Yeah, it's fascinating.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So before we get into your diet, talk to us about your docuseries Broken Brain. I was in it, and a number of my docs were in it. It was wildly popular. I heard from people all over the world. Tell us about it.
Dr Mark Hyman: Well, I wrote The UltraMind Solution like 10 years ago, but I really feel like it was sort of a download from the universe, like functional medicine, the way I see things, the whole paradigm, and it kind of wrote itself like in three weeks. It's been, you know, a decade has passed, and really, it's almost been the decade of the brain. You've been a big part of actually helping us know that and learn about the brain. I feel like it needed kind of an update. And so, I figured, "Why don't I get 50 or 60 of the top world's experts in the brain including you, and why don't we have a conversation about what is going on in the science today about how we can fix our broken brains?"
That's what motivated me, and it turned out to be wildly successful. We had like 640,000 people sign up for it all over the world, like you said. I had so many people say to me, like, I was in this sort of Russian steam house the other day in New York, and he was like, this guy goes, "Thank you for doing that. I saw it, and I was able to get up my ADD medication." It was like really gratifying to see that. So I think that's why I created it.
Dr. Daniel Amen: That's awesome. All right. What do you eat?
Dr Mark Hyman: What do I eat?
Dr. Daniel Amen: Knowing everything you know ...
Tana Amen: In a day.
Dr. Daniel Amen: What do you typically eat in a day?
Dr Mark Hyman: So I typically focus on fat, a little protein and lots of veggies, just as a theme. What I do for breakfast, I have a couple options. So I have a couple eggs poached, for example, or [inaudible 00:04:56] sauteed, with ... I slice up an avocado, slice up a tomato. I'm kind of lazy, so I don't want to take a long time cooking, so it'd take me five, maybe 10 minutes at the most. Salt and pepper, olive oil. So it's like fat on fat on fat. I have fat from the eggs, fat from the avocado, fat from the olive oil. And then I put maybe the vinegar on if I want, and that's my breakfast, or I'll make a fat shake, which I put in a lot of nuts and seeds.
I don't put in protein powders usually, although sometimes I might, like a bone broth protein powder or collagen protein. But mostly just nuts and seeds, almond butter, coconut butter, lots of berries. I use wild blueberries because they're lower glycemic or blackberries which are lower glycemic and more vitamin, nutrient dense. Little macadamia nut milk and that's my breakfast. Or for lunch, I'll make a fat salad off, and I'm pretty lazy, so I'll just buy washed arugula, washed cherry tomatoes. I'll open up a can of sardines or wild salmon. I'll throw olives in there without pits. I'll just make it really easy for myself.
I'll put in some pumpkin seeds. So, I have fat salad, which is fat from pumpkin seeds, fat from olive oil, fat from sardines or salmon, fat from avocados and the salad, and that keeps me going. And then for dinner, I'll usually have a piece of protein, maybe four to six ounces of grass-fed meat or organic chicken or a piece of fish. And then I'll have two or three servings of vegetables. So the meat is a side dish and the vegetables are the main dish. So, I'll make a salad again, or I'll have stir-fried broccolini. I'll have broth with mushrooms. I'll have a sweet potato.
So, that kind of stuff, and it's pretty simple. When I go out, I eat pretty much the same way. I travel all over the world. And sometimes, it's harder, but often, you can eat really well if you focus on low glycemic. I'll leave the bread. I'd leave the rice. I'd leave the starch, and it's just super easy.
Dr. Daniel Amen: When you go to a restaurant, you feel empowered to have them adjust the recipes.
Dr Mark Hyman: Yeah. Well what I recommend to people is be in charge. I am the guy who picks the restaurant, because I want to bet it. I look at the menu. I just have an algorithm that I go through my head. I'm like what is a safe place to eat. And then I find great places, so that my friends know me as a restaurant whisperer, and like nobody's ever unhappy. I use my Zagat app to screen through the quality of the food, and it usually works. Sometimes it's bomb, but usually, it works pretty well. And then I also bring food with me, and you can be annoying. It's fine to be annoying, say, "I don't want this. I want that. Leave this."
Tana Amen: I'm totally annoying.
Dr Mark Hyman: It's like ... My sister was like that. She was like, "Can you hold this? Can you put that? Can you do this?" I'm like, I told her, "I'll take you out to the most expensive restaurant New York in only one condition. You can't ask any questions, and you can't change anything on the menu."
Tana Amen: Oh yeah ... would not forget it.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I remember when we were doing-
Tana Amen: That's not happening.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... publicity for The Daniel Plan, and we were eating at a restaurant in New York, and the first thing they did was bring a lot of bread. And Pastor Warren was having trouble sort of figuring out what to do. We've done a gazillion interviews, and he was really hungry. As soon as they brought the bread to the table, I went, "Take that away," because we make one decision, not 30, because you develop a relationship with whatever crappy food is on the table.
Tana Amen: Oh yeah. You're flirting. You're having affairs. You're slathering butter on your body.
Dr. Daniel Amen: What about dessert? Tana is a total sweet freak. Actually, I'm worse, because my grandfather was a candy maker.
Dr Mark Hyman: Yeah, I remember you told me that.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And so, sweet things are like love. At BrainMD, our other company, we make sugar-free, dairy-free chocolate and chocolate and coconut. What do you do for when you have a sweet tooth?
Dr Mark Hyman: Well a couple things. One, there's a couple of interesting worlds. One is you have to frame it as a recreational drug. It's a treat; it's not a staple, right? If your overall diet is low glycemic, you can tolerate that depending on your biology. If you're on insulin, type 2 diabetic, do you want to reverse it? No, right? Until you get fixed. So more often we have what are called metabolic degrees of freedom. You lose those freedoms when you are assaulting your body with junk food your whole life and you have diabetes. So you have less freedom.
If you're someone who's running five miles a day and doing yoga and eating basically a plant-rich, low-glycemic diet, a little bit of sugar once in a while is not going to bother you. So it's really the dose that makes the poison, and I think that what I recommend for people is to eat stuff not only on an empty stomach, but mostly with a meal. The reason is when you have high glycemic foods at the beginning of a meal, like bread or on an empty stomach, it actually is far worse for you than if you eat it in the context of a meal. So having a little bit of dessert at the end of a meal may not be the issue.
And then what desserts do you have, right? So, last night, I went to this vegetarian restaurant in New York, and they had roasted pineapple with macadamia nuts and some like chickpea whipped cream. It ended up being pretty sweet and I couldn't finish it, but the pineapple itself, roasted pineapple is pretty sweet, but it's a fruit. It's full of fiber. It's got antioxidants. It's more nutrient dense. Well choose that. Chocolate is a great option.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr Mark Hyman: I think Stevia probably is okay, although I'm not sure the whole world is in on that yet. But there are a lot of data that artificial sweeteners are really a problem, and I think sucralose has just published the data on sucralose looking at how it adversely affected cells and causing some resistance and look at issues and activate all these disease pathways by using an artificial sweetener even though it had no calories. So I'd rather people had sugar. I rather have people have a little bit of real sugar or honey maple syrup. That's okay. It's not the sugar you add to your food. It's the sugar that's added by corporations.
Tana Amen: The first thing I did when I started learning how to cook and writing cookbooks was figure out, because it's one of the things people struggle with. So a few, like a little bit of fresh organic berries, with ... I create a sauce with full fat coconut milk. You take the fat off the top and blend it up with some macadamia nuts. It's sweet, and you put that over the top. It's actually really tasty.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Really good.
Tana Amen: Or avocado gelato.
Dr Mark Hyman: Yeah, coconut whipped cream.
Tana Amen: Yeah, with some raw cacao and avocados. It's delicious.
Dr. Daniel Amen: How do you sweeten that?
Tana Amen: So I use a little bit of Stevia, or you can use ... I will use like a tablespoon of honey. It doesn't need much. People are really surprised.
Dr. Daniel Amen: No, no. Right, right.
Dr Mark Hyman: Or just so addicted to sweet.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Children love that. Children the avocado-
Tana Amen: Because the cacao makes it rich.
Dr. Daniel Amen: What about juices? I was at a health club yesterday, and they had all these juices, all these smoothies that were loaded with fruit juice. So, talk to us your thoughts on fruit juice.
Dr Mark Hyman: Well fruit is okay in moderation, if you're overweight or diabetic, because it does spike insulin a little. But it's not the fruit that's a problem. You wouldn't have five apples or six oranges, but you can easily drink that one glass of juice. I think most green juices or healthy juices often have huge amounts of sugar. If you go to the store, and you look, there's a green juice, and you look at the label. It often will have more sugar than a can of coke. People don't realize-
Tana Amen: They usually put in a couple of apples in it or whatever, and that spikes it like crazy. I get like no fruit in it.
Dr Mark Hyman: So green juices are fine. So you can make kale and cucumber, celery, ginger, lemon. All that's fine.
Tana Amen: But then you don't like it.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Because it tastes terrible.
Tana Amen: No, it tastes good.
Dr Mark Hyman: I make a smoothie or a vegetable smoothie. So I'll throw in everything like celery, cucumbers, ginger, lemon, spinach, kale, whatever.
Tana Amen: Avocado, right.
Dr Mark Hyman: On the blender, avocado. Throw in the blender, and it's like a Vitamix. They're expensive, but it's the last blender you'll ever need. Trust me. It's like a lawnmower engine on that.
Dr. Daniel Amen: All right. So kill the fruit juice. Vegetable juice is great.
Dr Mark Hyman: Yeah, but if it-
Dr. Daniel Amen: What about snacks? What do you do for snacks?
Dr Mark Hyman: But even vegetable juice has a lot of fruit in it.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Yeah, well, and people think of tomato juice as a vegetable juice when it's really a fruit juice.
Tana Amen: It's a fruit.
Dr Mark Hyman: Right, and it has sucralose. Like V8 for example has sucralose in it. It's just, why do they put sugar in an already-sweet drink? I think it's because, you know, Americans are being so addicted to sweet taste that anything that doesn't taste sweet doesn't taste like food. So, we have, you know, for example, artificial sweeteners have a thousand times the sweetness of regular sugar. So our taste buds have literally been hijacked. I do these detox retreats and after I don't tell people what I'm doing, I just say, "We're eating really good food. It's amazing delicious food. There's no sugar. There's almost no starch."
And after a week, we give them a treat, which is coconut cream, blueberries, raspberries, no sugar. They're like, "Oh my God. This is so sweet."
Tana Amen: Right. Blueberries start to taste sweet again. It's crazy.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right, because-
Dr Mark Hyman: You got to retrain your taste buds. I think it's really important that people actually have whole fruit and not fruit juice, and especially even green juices have a lot of fruit juice in them, which is not great.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Okay. One more, snacks. What do you do for snacks?
Dr Mark Hyman: Snacks-
Dr. Daniel Amen: Now, I know you and I both take stuff with us when we travel.
Dr Mark Hyman: Yeah, right.
Tana Amen: I have a whole bag just for food.
Dr Mark Hyman: Yeah, I basically have a day's worth of food in my bag at all times. As I joke, I never want to be in a food emergency. And most of the snacks in America are carb snacks. They're sugar. They're chips. They're starch snacks. I have protein and fat snacks in my bag. I have little packets of cashew butter and almond butter. I have nuts and seeds. I have bars. I have my Tanka bars. I love ... There are Bison bars.
Tana Amen: I like those too.
Dr Mark Hyman: I have protein, fat, very low glycemic. I'll use sometimes Primal Kitchen bars, which are sort of gooey, but they're collagen and nuts and seeds. So, I find that I don't really have to worry. Sometimes I'll have like jerky sticks on beef jerky, grass-fed, or I'll have salmon jerky. I'll keep that in my bag. I have elk jerky I bought in the Denver Airport.
Tana Amen: Sounds like [crosstalk 00:14:49].
Dr Mark Hyman: They have this great jerky there. It's called Climax Jerky, and they have elk and bison and deer. It's pretty awesome. I put that in my bag, and it's always there. I'll show you right now. I have it.
Tana Amen: It just sounds like my bag, actually. It's really funny.
Dr Mark Hyman: This is my buffalo jerky that I have in my bag, which I keep all the time in my bag. So, I had protein and fat snacks that are pretty dense and pretty awesome, and they just keep me going, and I don't have to worry about being in a food emergency. So I have to go eat some crap, but sometimes, there's nowhere else to get food, then there's junk.
Tana Amen: One of my favorite things is my coconut wraps. My bag sounds just like yours, but I keep coconut wraps in there because they're basically fat and fiber. And so, I keep those in there with the little nut butter packs. Just spread that on there, roll it up. It's like the best.
Dr. Daniel Amen: On your website, you actually have a list of snacks.
Tana Amen: A list of snacks, and it sounds just like yours.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So stay with us. When we're going to come back, we're going to talk about the food fight and food politics.
Tana Amen: I'm excited about this one.