Is Our Food Policy Driving a Disease Economy? PT. 4 with Dr. Mark Hyman

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

When we give in to the Standard American Diet (SAD) of highly processed foods, we’re contributing to the demise of more than just our health. In the fourth and final episode of a series with Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen describe the effects our food policy has on the environment and social systems we live in.


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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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Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast and stay tuned for a special code for a discount to Amen Clinics, for a full evaluation, as well as any of our supplements at

Well we're back with our friend, Dr. Mark Hymen, and his book “Food, What the Heck Should We Eat?” And this is gonna be my favorite segment, cause it's going to be very controversial and I like a little bit of an argument, so we're going to talk about-

Dr. Daniel Amen: Really?

Tana Amen: Yeah, I do.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Really?

Tana Amen: I'm not afraid of a fight.

Dr. Daniel Amen: After 12 years?

Tana Amen: I practice karate because I like to break things, come on. So-

Dr. Daniel Amen: She actually has two black belts, Mark, so I'm always very nice to her.

Dr. Mark Hyman: I have a black belt, I'm wearing it.

Tana Amen: So, we're gonna talk about food politics. I love this because you don't back down to this and I love this.

Dr. Mark Hyman: I think what most people don't realize is how our food system is itself is driving so much of what is wrong with our world. And I think I can kind of break it down for you but essentially we don't connect the dots; One, our food system, people don't understand, is causing our chronic disease epidemic. That's so barely well understood that our processed foods, sugars, starch. Hello to those people who debate this, are causing heart disease, diabetes, obesity. One in two Americans have a chronic disease. It's spreading across the globe but it's driven by our toxic process food system. Second thing is, our economy is struggling because the healthcare cost of this chronic disease is caused by food and going to account for 100% Medicare and Medicaid, 100% of our federal budget because of Medicare and Medicaid meaning there's no money left for roads, transportation, the military, anything except for chronic disease. Third, the way we grow our food, causes climate change and is also causing environmental destruction.

So one, the climate change is caused by the loss of soils, which then can't hold carbon, which then causes increase carbon in the environment. The methane from the factory farms, the cows, also a huge contributor. The transportation, I mean the food system is the number one cause of climate change, which most people don't understand. Three, it's also causing environmental degradation, pollution from pesticides, herbicides, run off, the nitrogen in the rivers and lakes is causing algal blooms which kill off all the life and basically suffocate the waterways leading to dead zones the size of New Jersey in the gulf of Mexico then we have the effect of food on our brains and our minds which you know all about.

We know that poor diets cause ADHD, depression, cause behavior issues; violence, homicide, suicide, all driven by our toxic food system. Of course there are other reasons for that, it perpetuates poverty and social injustice. It effects kids ability to learn in school, there's a whole achievement gap because kids are eating junk food. They go to breakfast of Doritos and coke and expect to learn and focus, they can't. I'm seeing increasing achievement gaps with kids who are eating this way and are sick, don't go to college, earn lower incomes, have shorter sicker lives than the rest of us. Of course, even national security can be affected because we have populations that are too fat to fight. In fact, there are almost no military recruits from the south now are admitted to the military because they're unhealthy and overweight.

So, all these are happening as a result, and the question is what's driving all this. What's driving it is our food policy. Our food policy primarily is driving a disease economy. The reason is, because we subsidize the commodity foods through agricultural subsidizes. One; corn, wheat and soy are the biggest ones. 60% of our calories come from those, and those who consume the most of these foods are government supported are actually the sickest. We know that we then pay for these foods through Food Stamps, there's 7 billion dollars a year just for soda, that's 20 billion servings for the poor every year and junk food is a ten fold increase over every other category in food bought with food stamps.

So we're paying for the food to be produced, we're paying for people to consume the food, and then we're paying on the backend for Medicare and Medicaid. We're literally triple taxing Americans and we're privatizing the profits that all go to the food companies and we're socializing the costs that we pay for and we have policies and dietary guidelines that don't match science that need to be changed. We have guidelines that don't reflect science, for example around saturated fat and around low carbohydrate diets or talk about the benefits of vegetables oils and all these ideas that aren't scientifically valid.

They're corrupted by scientists on the panel who are paid by the food industry, they ignore huge thoughts of science, this is a process undergoing revision now, thank god. We do food marketing to kids, there are no other countries except Syria, I think, that allows unrestricted food marketing to children of junk food. Chile, they banned it. They banned Tony the Tiger, they literally killed Tony the Tiger and all the cartoon characters on all the cereal boxes. They put warnings on the front of the boxing, this is going to kill you. Right, just like cigarettes. They eliminated any advertising of junk food or any processed food to children and radio and TV and cinemas. I was in watching a movie, Black Panther, the other night and this big ad come on in the beginning of the movie which Coke and Regal Cinemas are collaborating to create these movies, what is this? This is like, this is driving me crazy.

We then have food labels that are driven by industry, not by science, right? It should say green: this is good for you, yellow: eat with caution, red: this is gonna kill you. Istead it's like a bunch of numbers that nobody can understand even you and I who are experts in this look at it and go, “Oh, I don't know. Looks okay but I don't know” and then you have all of our guidelines policies that are driving school lunches and federal programs, it's just like a ripple effect. So we have all these food policies that are driving a disease state that are driving an economy that is crippled and is affecting our climate, that is affecting our children, affecting our national security and no one really connects the dots so we have to make change in these policies and we have to actually start to show that and it's going to be hard as long as money is in politics.

Tana Amen: So, slightly off topic but do you remember the article where Putin made the comment, Putin was basically saying, I think it was in 2016, he said that he wanted Russia to become, in paraphrasing greatly, but he said he wanted Russia to become the number one grower and exporter in natural and organic foods and he said that America was basically making its own people sick and killing them. All they had to do was pretty much watch it happen.

Dr. Daniel Amen: There's some controversy on whether or not he really said that but-

Dr. Mark Hyman: Well if he did that's probably the only thing he's said that's made sense.

Dr. Daniel Amen: That we would agree on. But we wrote the Brain Warrior's way, we basically started it with, Isis has nothing on our food industry.

Tana Amen: What we're doing to our people

Dr. Daniel Amen: The real weapons of mass destruction are highly processed pesticide sprayed, high glycemic, low fiber, food-like substances stored in plastic containers.

Tana Amen: But people get upset when we say it, but it's true. We are killing our country.

Dr. Mark Hyman: We're all upset about gun violence and it's a big problem and it's real, right? But 1.3% of deaths are caused by gun violence and two thirds of those are suicides. But 70% of deaths are chronic disease, Which are primarily driven by food. So our food system kills over 70 times the number of people that guns kill.

Tana Amen: But we don't hold the food industry accountable, at all.

Dr. Daniel Amen: [crosstalk 00:08:18] The lobbys are terrible. So what are some practical things our listeners can do, besides not supporting the companies that are producing toxic foods and, but if you look at Coke and you look at Pepsi, they also have their quote healthy lines but ultimately they're making the money from Pepsi and Coke.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah. Well, yeah. It's interesting, I was just recently with the vice chairmen of Pepsi and he's a doctor and only 20% of their income comes from, revenue comes from sugar sweetened beverages, and I think that's because Pepsi is a conglomerate of many food companies; Frito-lays, Doritos, you name it. Tropicana orange juice, they are a huge multinational global corporation. Much bigger than Coke, actually. But it's interesting, they're being push to change their behavior they're like, well how do we design packaging that allows people to have real food and preserves the food that doesn't need preservatives or chemicals, they're being pushed to change their behavior by the eater behavior. So I would say you vote three times a day with your fork and that's the most powerful-

Tana Amen: I like that.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Thing you can do with your health, the planet, the economy. Simply by choosing differently. [inaudible 00:09:35] behavior these big corporations, but it's tough. You've got populations that they go after like the poor minorities, African American kids drink twice as much soda as white kids, why? Because they're pushed it and they're like these junk food pushers.

Tana Amen: But I gotta push back on this for a second because I have a sister who had to be on Food Stamps and fortunately now she is not but while she was on Food Stamps, it's really hard to buy healthy food on Food Stamps when they make it so easy and you've got a bunch of kids and they make it easy to buy the really cheap stuff.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, one of the big push backs is-

Tana Amen: I mean, we helped her because we didn't want her to do that.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, eating well is expensive and what we often say is being sick is expensive.

Tana Amen: Right but there does need to be a better solution because we ended up helping her because we wanted to eventually--

Dr. Mark Hyman: I agree. I think that there's ... This is an interesting conversation because the food industry is very deliberate-

Tana Amen: Yes and it's not fair. [crosstalk 00:10:27]

Dr. Mark Hyman: They say one, it's difficult to eat well. It's expensive, it's elitist, it takes too much time, it's not convenient. You guys know and I know that's not necessarily true. That you don't have to eat a $70 grass fed steak, right? And you can't always eat everything perfectly organic but you can cut out processed food and eat real food. And there are plenty of guides on how eat well for you, eat well for the planet and eat well for your wallet.

One of them is the Good Food on a Tight Budget by the environmental working group but I gave that to a family of five who live in a trailer, on Food Stamps and disability who are vastly overweight, sick, one in renal failure, one with diabetes, one was severally hypertensive and very obese and they lived in one of the worst food deserts in America. I gave them this guide, I showed them how to cook one meal. I went through their kitchen with them and I literally made a house call. And rather than telling them what to do I said, “Look, let's look what's in your cupboards, let's look at what's really in there.” They thought it was healthy, that cool whip was healthy because it said zero trans-fats on the label but it was all fats, right? Or they thought that their peanut butter and salad dressing was good because it said “Low fat salad dressing” but it was all sugar, right? High fructose corn syrup.

Tana Amen: And chemicals.

Dr. Mark Hyman: They didn't, and chemicals, they didn't know. So I showed them how to make a simple dinner, I gave them this guide, they were able to lose hundreds of pounds. The son lost 128 pounds simply by having this one meal. So I was like, wow, we're one meal away from teaching America how to actually save themselves. But they don't really know and I think it is possible to do it for less. You're not going to be eating the best cuts of this and or organic imported that and all this but there is basic foundational points of getting rid of the junk.

And I had one family that went down, they lost 335 pounds as a family, in Florida and was a part of the Dr. Oz show. And they were massly overweight even the 11 year old kid was like, could not believe it. She probably weighed more than I did. And I went to their kitchen and they had coconut oil and they had avocados, they had almonds. I was like, listen guys, isn't this expensive for you? Because they were on a very fixed income and they're like, no, actually, it's cheaper. I said, “well, how?” Because, we used to buy everybody a case of coke in the family a week. We used to buy huge things of chips and we don't do that anymore and I was like “Wow! That's interesting”

Tana Amen: Yeah so I ... What you're saying makes complete sense, but what I'm trying to say is and the part that frustrates me after being with someone who is on Food Stamps is that they target them and they make it easier to buy those products. [crosstalk 00:13:00] So we have a lot of work to do, in order to educate these people.

Dr. Daniel Amen: This is the whole reason that we titled our program, The Brain Warrior's Way.

Tana Amen: You have to be a warrior.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Because it's a war and if you're not armed, prepared and aware, you are going to lose what ultimately is the fight of your life which is a fight for your health.

Tana Amen: I never got more angry than when I was working with her and she's like, I can't buy that, I'm on Food Stamps, so I'm like, no you can. Like you said, she can't do it 100% but I'm like, if you do it 80%. So we spend a lot of time in the grocery store but I gotta tell you, it was kind of a battle just educating her against what they had, what they're targeting.

Dr. Daniel Amen: And we have to stop but that's why people should go out and buy right now, Food, What The Heck Should We Eat. It's an amazing book by someone we hold very dear to us, by Mark Hymen. It can change your life and not just your life, from what Mark and I have seen and you, too. Is when you change your life, you then become agent for change for the people in your life.

Tana Amen: Oh yes, by the way, the sister I'm talking about now has two jobs, she is no longer on Food Stamps, they eat very healthy because she can think better, because she eats better.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Right

Tana Amen: So, thank you, my friend.

Dr. Mark Hyman: For sure.

Tana Amen: This was awesome.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Alright, Food, What The Heck Should We Eat. Thank you, we'll talk to you soon.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Thank you so much, guys. Great to have this conversation with me, I appreciate it.

Tana Amen: This was fun.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Great, bye, love you.