If you’re having trouble determining which foods are healthy for you and which are not, you’re not alone. There are tons of conflicting ideas about the “correct” way to eat. In the second part of a series with Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen break down the misconceptions about exactly which foods are good for you.
Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And 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.
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We're back with our friend Mark Hyman. And we are now going to talk about what should you eat? We're talking about his new book, Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? So, Mark, tell us, what should they eat? How do we simply? What are the principles? How do we simplify it?
Dr Mark Hyman: You know what, I was once. It's so confusing, right. Everybody's wondering and everyone's trying different things, and some things work and some of it doesn't. I was sitting on a panel with two friends of mine. One was a paleo doc, Frank Lipman, and one was a vegan cardiologist, Joel Kahn, who had completely diametrically opposed views, you know?
One was saying, "Well, if you eat like, you know vegan, you're gonna die." And it was like, "If you eat paleo, you're gonna die."
Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:01:36] Yeah. I've heard them both.
Dr Mark Hyman: They can't both be right. And I always end up going back and forth. And I was sitting in the middle, and I'm like a ping-pong ball. I said, "Wait a minute, guys, you can't both be right." I said, "You're paleo and you're vegan, then I must be a pegan." And just. I literally just made it up on the spot. And it like, became this meme and I wrote an article about it, and then it was picked up by The Guardian and by, you know USA Today, and all these outlets.
And I sort of thought about it. I'm like "Oh, wait a minute. This kind of makes sense." Like, one of the principles that are foundational that everybody agrees on, and I think they're pretty simple. One, is we should all be eating real food.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr Mark Hyman: When we can find that. And two, we should be eating a plant-rich diet.
Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:02:15] Yep.
Dr Mark Hyman: Not plant-based, but lots of vegetables and plants. Three, we should be eating a diet that's high in the good fat. Avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds.
Tana Amen: Yep.
Dr Mark Hyman: You know. Grass-fed saturated fats, coconut oil can be part of a health diet. And get rid of refined foods. Like refined oils, very low glycemic diets, are important. So, that means low starch and sugar, that's one of the biggest drivers of all disease, including dementia, depression, as well as obviously all the things like diabetes, and cancer, and heart disease, all driven by a starchy, sugary diet. So, that's really important. Whatever you eat should be low glycemic. Even if it's real food, right. You can eat 12 Idaho potatoes, but you could argue that an Idaho potato is not real food. Real food would be a traditional Peruvian potato, it's about this big, highly nutrient dense, very low in starch, as opposed to these hybridized modern versions of potatoes. So I would say that.
And then, we want to eat foods that are free of things that we shouldn't be eating that aren't food ingredients, right? 3000 food additives, hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, GMO. Nobody really disagrees with that.
But what about dairy? Well, dairy's controversial, and both paleo and vegan camps say that that's bad. And I think there are populations that may tolerate it better. And people who may tolerate it better, but for the most part I think it's a harmful food for most people, especially our modern hybridized cows.
Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:03:34] Right.
Dr Mark Hyman: Which are full of A1K, which is super-inflammatory. Lots of gut issues, acne, inflammation, cancer, doesn't help your bones, doesn't help you lose weight. I mean, it's not nature's perfect food unless you're a calf. So, I think if you're looking at dairy and you want to try and stay little bit off of it, but maybe cheaper goat is different. That has A1K, A2KC which is not as inflammatory.
So, we've got, and then meat and animal protein. Well that's a controversial area. So meat, and protein, and grains and beans are the areas of controversy and conflict. Everything else, Paleo and Vegan agree on. Right? So, if you're eating meat, I think everyone would agree that we should eat meat that doesn't harm the animals, doesn't harm the planet, and doesn't harm us. Right? Which would be animals raised through reneger agriculture that are grass finished, that are, help restore the environment. Sequester soil. Carbon in the soil. Hold underwater. 'Cause our soil drives climate change. People don't realize this.
Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:04:29] Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Dr Mark Hyman: But if you eat animals that are grown in traditional ways, it depletes our aquafers, it destroys our soils, which then lead to inability of the soil to hold carbon, and then we get high levels of carbon and climate change, which then, pollutes our oceans with acidification that then kills the phytoplankton, that then actually produces 50 percent of our oxygen. So we, we're basically gonna suffocate and we're gonna overheat because of how we're doing agriculture.
So, if you're eating animal foods it shouldn't be from factory farms. If you're eating fish, you should eat fish that's sustainably raised or harvested. You don't wanna over fish the oceans and we're doing that at an increasing rate. So, you want low mercury fish, low toxin fish. So we go through one of those. So whatever you're eating, same thing you know with poultry and eggs and so forth.
Then, of course, there's grains and beans. And I think people are super confused about them. You know there's a whole camp where they're like lectins are bad you should never eat them. They're so bad for you, and they're gonna cause all kinds of diseases and there's like people saying greens and beans are God's gift to mankind, and that if you want to live to 100 you have to eat a lot of beans.
So, what's the truth about that? Well the truth is that it depends on you, right? If you have an autoimmune disease, if you have gut issues, if you're obese or diabetic, grains and beans can be a problem. You know. one, cause they're starchy. And you know, to get the amount of protein you'd get from a six ounce piece of chicken or fish, maybe three cups of beans, with 100 grams of carbs. Now some of that's fiber, so that's okay. But there's that and then there's issues of inflammatory proteins, and they're lectins and phytate's. I think there's, they're not as big an issue as many people make them out to be, but I think they can be for some sets of populations.
And grains, you know, well a lot of us are eating grain as our main, grain is wheat and mostly the modern wheat, which is hybridized. Which means that they create a strain of wheat that has a very high starch content. It's got a higher glycemic index than sugar. It also, when they breed plants like wheat, they actually add the genes so you get more gluten proteins that are more inflammatory, which is probably part of why we've seen a 400% increase in celiac disease in the last 50 years. And then they spray it at harvest with lithoseen.
Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:06:33] Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr Mark Hyman: Which is, you see round up to exfoliate the wheat to make it easier to harvest. It's not being used as an GMO product, it's just being used as an herbicide like Agent Orange. And then, on top of that, they preserve the wheat flower, which weighs about 133 pounds a year for every person, which calcium propionate, which you may know, Dale, is a neurotoxin. And in kids with autism, you see very low levels of barbiturate, which is a main short chain fat produced [inaudible 00:07:01], and high levels of propionic acid. And in animal models, you can jet propionic acid into these rats, and actually they induced autism behavior almost immediately.
So what is that happening? Well, that's, we shouldn't be eating modern wheat. If you wanna try ichron wheat, if you're not gluten sensitive, you might be okay. Traditional rye, barley, maybe, but better stay away from gluten grains, mean, weird grains like [inaudible 00:07:21], buckwheat, black rice, emrant. Those are grains that are, tend to be more better tolerated and have more nutrient density. And if you're not super overweight or pre diabetic, you may be able to tolerate them. Or if you have auto immune diseases, you may be able to tolerate that.
So, all these new, there's nothing, there's a no food and sugar, you know sugars okay. Which is recreation drug. Right? It's not, says to me how.
Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:07:43] Right.
Dr Mark Hyman: As regular thing, like we have breakfast, lunch and dinner, sugar in America. Right?
Tana Amen: Yeah.
Dr Mark Hyman: Right. The cereal, we have like sugar in our salad dressing.
Tana Amen: I quote you on that all the time, I love it. Yeah it's a recreation drug. It's a legalized recreational drug basically.
Dr Mark Hyman: Yeah.
Dr Daniel Amen: [crosstalk 00:07:57] Fine. I mean, like I like tequila, but I don't have it.
Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:07:59] Right.
Dr Daniel Amen: For breakfast, lunch and dinner. I don't have like six shots of tequila, like one, two, you know fun night.
Tana Amen: So, everything you're saying makes so much sense to me. It's why I followed you for so long, 'cause you're so rational. I remember one time being at a lecture, and hearing two of my friends, they're my friends. We've had them both on our show, they're both cardiologists, both functional medicine doctors. One is a vegan, like a rabid vegan and the other one is a rabid non vegan who goes after vegan, okay? He's like paleo guy.
Dr Mark Hyman: [crosstalk 00:08:29] Right, right.
Tana Amen: These guys are lecturing in the same block of lectures. Like I'm at a cardio, I'm at, like a cardiology type of lecture.
Dr Mark Hyman: Sure, sure.
Tana Amen: And it was so, I thought to myself "This would be just completely confusing for anyone attending this thing."
Tana Amen: 'Cause one is saying you're gonna die, just like you said if you eat any kind of meat. The other one's saying that is the most absurd thing I've ever heard, all you vegans are crazy, literally crazy. Like it's making you crazy.
Dr Mark Hyman: Yup.
Tana Amen: And so, I'm like "This is terrible." So, but what I did is I stepped back. 'Cause I, you're one of my main mentors, you and Dr. Proma are like my two main mentors. And I stepped back and I went "Wait, what's really crazy is I know them both." Both of them have huge followings of people who have incredible results.
Tana Amen: That's the crazy part. Their people.
Dr Mark Hyman: Yep.
Tana Amen: All of them get well.
Tana Amen: So what is it that they're both doing?
Dr Daniel Amen: Well, it's what Mark talk about is they avoid.
Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:09:26] Right.
Dr Daniel Amen: Poison, so everybody.
Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:09:28] Yes.
Dr Daniel Amen: Agrees on avoiding poison.
Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:09:31] And a plant rich diet.
Dr Daniel Amen: And a plant rich diet.
Tana Amen: That's what they're doing.
Dr Daniel Amen: Mark? But let's.
Dr Mark Hyman: [crosstalk 00:09:35][inaudible 00:09:35]
Dr Daniel Amen: Talk about vegans and depression. So there's actually a number of studies showing.
Dr Mark Hyman: [crosstalk 00:09:41] Yep.
Dr Daniel Amen: Correlation between depression and not eating meat.
Dr Daniel Amen: What do you think that is about?
Dr Mark Hyman: Well, I think that you know, first of all, veganism is the science behind it, and then there's the religion behind it.
Dr Mark Hyman: And we often get confused, and there was a movie recently called "What the Health?" Which so many people saw.
Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:10:05] Right.
Dr Mark Hyman: On Netflix, and I had very educated, smart friends of mine going.
Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:10:10] Yeah.
Dr Mark Hyman: "This is the truth, the truth with a capital T." And I said "Wait a minute, we have to look at the science of what you're saying." And there were, I think five or six vegan bloggers and then YouTubers who came out violently against this movie because they said it was [inaudible 00:10:26] the science. They said.
Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:10:26] It was.
Dr Mark Hyman: Yeah, Leo Barnard at the beginning of his show, saying "Sugar and starch and carbs have nothing to do."
Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:10:32] They don't matter.
Dr Mark Hyman: "With obesity or diabetes." And I'm like "Well, why is he ignoring, you know decades of research that show's this is true?" And he's almost just a vehicle for the fat to get it. And that's why. But I'm like no, that [inaudible 00:10:44] are [inaudible 00:10:45] that says, carbohydrates cannot be stored. They can only be burned. And I'm like "What basic bio chemistry class did he miss in."
Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:10:54] Right.
Dr Mark Hyman: "Medical school." You know? So, you have all this stuff happening and then, it kinda separates the whole mission a little bit. But, the truth is that we know there's never been a volunteer vegan society in the history of humanity until recently. Veganism was coined in, I think the 40's. And that, you know when you look at populations are eating a traditional Western night, and you switch them into Whole Foods, plant based diet, guess what? They thrive. They do better, they lose weight, their symptoms get better, they feel better. And you follow these people out, and this is where, you know I have a unique perspective because I am not just reading articles and theorizing about this stuff.
I've been seeing patients for 30 years, and you have ten more years on me Daniel but, and I've been seeing what happens to people over time. You may think these people four, five years out, and you're questioning about depression and veganism, what's the deal? What happens is these people get nutritional deficient, and the data's really creviced, because the fiction on Omega 3 fats and B12 and iron in many other nutrients that are critical for health. And so, while they're initially well, over time they do less, and their protein issues are real. They actually, as they age they lose more muscle, they begin. The muscle is the single biggest, most important.
Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:12:06] Yes.
Dr Mark Hyman: Thing, you know, organ that's ignored and neglected as we age. Because muscle [inaudible 00:12:11] your metabolism, determines your hormones, determines your level of [inaudible 00:12:15], it determines so much about your health. And when you don't have adequate protein as you grow you can't synthesize muscle in fact, so this is a challenge. I mean, you need eight cups of beans to get your daily protein requirement, and whose gonna eat that much? If you're an active, elderly person.
Dr Daniel Amen: [crosstalk 00:12:31] Nobody would want to be married to them.
Dr Mark Hyman: So. Yeah probably right? They'd have to sleep in another bedroom. So, I think that, and my opinion is it can be okay for a transition, but then over time you know, you have to have a diet where you have to supplement. That makes me worry, you know? Like if you're not, I mean yes most of us do need supplements for other reasons, but with, this is a diet that I've seen people over time become very interested. And I test people, I do their blood work, I look at their levels of Vitamin D and Omega 3 fats and iron and B12 and zinc, and they're low.
Tana Amen: Hm.
Dr Daniel Amen: I published a study last year on Omega 3 fatty acids and we looked at the Omega 3 index, and then we looked at blood flow to the brain.
Dr Mark Hyman: [crosstalk 00:13:14] Yeah.
Dr Daniel Amen: And the lower the Omega 3 indox, the lower blood flow was to the hippocampus, which is one of the major.
Dr Mark Hyman: [crosstalk 00:13:23] Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr Daniel Amen: Memory structures in the brain. So, optimizing, and you can't get good sources of EPA and DHA from plants. The conversion is not good from something like.
Dr Mark Hyman: [crosstalk 00:13:40] Yeah.
Dr Daniel Amen: Flax seeds, and it's.
Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:13:44] Yeah.
Dr Mark Hyman: We can get algae, but that's DHA. So you miss the EPA.
Dr Daniel Amen: [crosstalk 00:13:47] Right.
Dr Mark Hyman: And there's.
Dr Daniel Amen: They're coming out with some new products that are higher.
Dr Mark Hyman: [crosstalk 00:13:50] Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr Daniel Amen: In EPA, but it's hard.
Dr Daniel Amen: And expensive.
Dr Mark Hyman: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr Daniel Amen: To do that.
Tana Amen: Yeah, I'm with you. I am really tired of the food fight. I don't see the reason for it. It, this should really be about getting individuals healthy. I agree that we should all be conscious of the planet, but getting individuals healthy and we're with you on that, and so that's why we test every person individually. It's individualized. What does your body need? Are you headed in the right direction?
Dr Mark Hyman: [crosstalk 00:14:17] Yeah.
Tana Amen: We just want you to be healthy.
Dr Mark Hyman: [crosstalk 00:14:18] And there. And there's a lot of variation, right?
Tana Amen: Right?
Dr Mark Hyman: Like there are people who would thrive more on a vegan diet, and you have always these stories of the outliers or the.
Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:14:25] But look at the numbers. The numbers don't lie, so.
Dr Daniel Amen: [crosstalk 00:14:28] Yeah.
Tana Amen: You know, that's how we know.
Dr Daniel Amen: [crosstalk 00:14:29] They're important health numbers. So stay with us, when we come back, we're gonna go through Dr. Hyman's diet. And we'll talk about, well what do you eat at breakfast? And what do you eat for snacks and what do you eat for lunch to try to make it really practical for people. And then, stay with us for the last podcast, where we're gonna talk about the politics of food.
Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:14:50] Oh that's gonna be fun.
Dr Daniel Amen: Stay with us.