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With all the information and misinformation surrounding nutrition these days, it can be really confusing figuring out what to eat. In this first episode of a series with best-selling author Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen go behind the food controversies and tell you how to know exactly which foods really are healthy for you, and which ones just pretend to be.
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.
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 imagining, to better target treatment and natural ways to heal the brain. For more information visit amenclinics.com.
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is also brought to you by Brain MD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceutical products to support the health of your brain and body. For more information, visit brainmdhealth.com.
Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast and stay tuned for a special code for a discount to Amen Clinics for full evaluation as well as any of our supplements at brainmdhealth.com.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome everybody. Just could not be more excited to share this week with you with our friend, Dr. Mark Hyman who is a good friend, who's our co-author in the Daniel Plan, who well, Tana and I think is one of our mentors.
Tana Amen: Definitely.
Dr. Daniel Amen: He leads functional medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. He has his own clinic in Massachusetts, He's Director of the Institute for Functional Medicine.
Tana Amen: He needs so little introductions.
Dr. Daniel Amen: The author of a brand new book called "Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?", because there's this[crosstalk 00:01:49] controversy around it. He's someone we dearly love and look up to, so welcome Mark.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Thank you so much.
Tana Amen: I have learned so much from you over the years, so it's so exciting for me to have you back. I'm thrilled. To death.
Dr. Mark Hyman: You guys always are a beacon of insight and learning for me, and I've read your books and just a great stake in the ground around how to take care of our brains better, which is something we don't really think about very often.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right, we don't think about it cause you can't see it, and that's what the imaging work we do...I mean, it just changed everything for me, cause I'm a psychiatrist, I got no training on food. None, even though I'm convinced now, 40 years into this, that food problems cause about of the mental health problems in the United States.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah, it's amazing. I mean, just a quick aside, I'm giving a lecture at the Martin Luther King rally talk at the Riverside Church-
Tana Amen: Oh interesting.
Dr. Mark Hyman: -I was sharing some of the data around violent crime in prisons, and I saw this research that showed that by changing prisoners diets in prison, who are already violent criminals, you could reduce violent crime in prisons by 56%. And if you add in a multi-vitamin you reduce the violent crime by 80% in prisons. What does that tell you about the effect of food on behavior and the mind?
Tana Amen: That's so interesting. I read one study about recidivism and where they planted a program that included radically changing the diet. They actually decreased recidivism by over 24%, or something crazy.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah, yeah
Tana Amen: It was just unbelievable that more people aren't jumping on board with this.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So food is medicine, or it's poison, so why did you write Food: What the Heck Should We Eat?
Dr. Mark Hyman: Well, like you and Tana, I basically get asked all the time by my patients about all the nutritional controversies. Should I go keto? Should I be Paleo? Should I be vegan? What about dairy? What about grains? Are they bad? What about lectins? And people are going crazy trying to figure out what to eat and it's getting worse, and there's a reason for the confusion, which is one, we have corrupt science and Marion Nestle's coming out with a book in October about how our nutrition science has been corrupted by the food industry. ["Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat"]
Tana Amen: Wow
Dr. Mark Hyman: We have corrupt public health organizations that are funded by Coke and Pepsi and a lot of the food companies- you know 40% of our main nutrition organization that provides all the guidance for our dieticians in America, 40% of their funding is from food industry. You've got the American Heart Association, 30% of their funding's from the food industry, they say Trix Are For Kids are a heart healthy food, despite that it has seven teaspoons of sugar in a serving and red dye, yellow dye, blue dye, and you eat it, you die.
It's got all this crap. And on top of that, nutrition science is, not even if it's done well, is challenging cause most of it's around population studies. We look at a group of people over many years, we ask them what they eat every year in a questionnaire, we see if there's a correlation...It doesn't prove anything, it just shows there might be an association, and most of the associations in nutrition science are really crappy. They're like a 20% increase, like bacon, four pieces a day, every day for your whole life will raise your risk of colon cancer by 20%. Well that means your colon cancer risk goes from 5-6%, on the background level in the population, but 20% in a correlation study is not really that significant. Smoking studies showed populations who smoked got cancer, there was a 20 or 30 times increase, not a .2 increase. You're talking like 100 times the increase, and you don't see that in nutritionist studies.
And there's limited randomized trials, oh there they are, and so it's really confusing for people, then the media jumps on the nonsense: "Coconut oil's bad! Coconut oil's good!" It's like meat's bad, meat's good, it's very confusing for the consumer. So I try to go through all of that data, sort of sort out the truth, and what are the controversies, and share what we know today, what we don't know, what are the controversies and how do we sort through them, and then what do we do. What the heck do we eat?
So in each chapter I go through the controversies and also the take-home of, if you're gonna eat meat, here's what you should know, here's what you shouldn't eat, here's what you should eat, right? You're gonna have dairy, probably better to have goat cheese than factory farmed cows because of the different casein, different levels of inflammatory foods and other things. So, there's really practical ways at the end of the day to figure out what the heck you should eat.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So where should someone start? When I think of brain health, I think it's super simple. It's three things, it's love your brain, avoid anything that hurts it, and do things that help it, and so I imagine for food it's sort of like something similar. It's what should you avoid and what should you eat.
Dr. Mark Hyman: You and I and Tana, were very involved in the Daniel Plan at the Saddleback Church, and I came up with this really simple principle which is "If God made it eat it, if man made it leave it." If it was made in a plant, don't eat it, if it was grown in a plant, eat it. It's basically eating stuff that's just food and people go "well what is food?" Well, people think Lay's potato chips are food cause they're made of potatoes, but they're not. They're a food-like product made by industrial food corporations. So it's really about getting back to just understanding simple foods. Like if it has a barcode, or an ingredients list, or a nutrition facts label, it's probably not food. It could be, but it probably isn't cause an avocado just is an avocado, there's no ingredient list, right? Twinkies have 37 ingredients, only one of which is food which is banana puree, at the bottom of the list.
Tana Amen: So can I simplify that for one second for people, cause they still get a little confused, like you said. The Lay's potato chips, they've got chemicals and trans-fat and all these problems along with them. Acrylamide, I mean they're terrible. But when you want chips, and I know you do this because you're my mentor and I know we agree on this, if you want chips and you slice up a sweet potato and you put it in the oven and you bake them that way, that's fine. That's a real food.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Absolutely, right.
Tana Amen: So that's the difference, that's what we're talking about.
Dr. Mark Hyman: If you want French fries, make them yourself and deep fry them in beef tallow, you won't do it very often.
Tana Amen: The word "chip" confuses people and we just have to be clear on, if it's made in a plant where they're using chemicals, stay away from it.
Dr. Mark Hyman: I mean listen, if you can basically recognize what it is, and you have all the ingredients in your cupboard, then you can eat it, right? You don't have butylated hydroxytoluene in your cupboard to sprinkle on your vegetable, right? You have salt and pepper, but this is in our food. There's 3,000 food additives in our food, we eat three to five pounds of these a year and over 90% have not even been tested for safety.
Tana Amen: Right
Dr. Daniel Amen: So do you remember when we launched the Daniel Plan, we went to my Dad's grocery store-
Tana Amen: He's still there [inaudible 00:08:50]
Dr. Daniel Amen: -we did this video of shopping
Dr. Mark Hyman: That was the most fun ever
Dr. Daniel Amen: -in a food desert
Tana Amen: He's still bitter
Dr. Daniel Amen: We went by the corn dogs, they have 29 ingredients and most of them you couldn't pronounce, right?
Dr. Daniel Amen: So eat whole food.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Well the reason we went in your Dad's store, and you didn't actually tell him what we were doing, cause he probably wouldn't let us, is cause it was your Dad's store, but the truth is every other major chain wouldn't let you walk through and go "This is bad, this is toxic, don't eat this" and then we had to hunt and gather for the good stuff, which is all hidden on the bottom shelves, around the side of the grocery store...
Tana Amen: And there were a lot of good things, and I still have those videos, they still do incredibly well on my YouTube channel, and people just get, they're so sensitive. People are very emotional about what you say is good or bad for you. It's very interesting. You can see where people's attachments are to food where their addictions are.
Dr. Mark Hyman: It's true, and I think what happens, and I'm gonna speak on this at the Martin Luther King rally, is that we think these are our customs and our traditional foods, our family foods, and we get very attached to them, but you know the fact that flaming hot chips are your family food and staple, doesn't mean they're a traditional food.
I met this Native American guy who was a chief, a Hopi chief, very traditional Hopi elder. He was massively overweight. He was diabetic and we were on a rafting trip to preserve the Green River in Colorado, which is being destroyed by the Carson's mining, done by this big corporation in Canada that's sort of doing the pipeline, all that. And I said
"Howard, you don't have to have this. You can fix this."
He said "What do I have to do?"
"Well you have to give up sugar, and starch, and all processed food."
He's like, "well what am I gonna to do? We have our traditional Hopi ceremonies, and we have our traditional foods that we have to have?"
And I'm like, "What are those foods, Howard?"
He's like "cake, cookies, pie,"
I'm like "No, those are not your traditional foods."
Tana Amen: No, they're not, right. Those are the foods that Americans gave them.
Dr. Daniel Amen: They're still letting the white man kill them.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I got to consult to the Acoma Indian Nation, and when I just looked at depression, suicide-
Tana Amen: Alcoholism
Dr. Daniel Amen: -Alcoholism, obesity, diabetes, I'm like "you guys are letting the white man kill you, still."
Dr. Mark Hyman: It's a second genocide.
Tana Amen: It is. It's sad.
Dr. Mark Hyman: I was shocked. They have government commodities they ship to the Native American reservations, which is white flour, white sugar, and white fat, which is Crisco basically.
Tana Amen: It's very sad.
Dr. Mark Hyman: That's what their basic, foundational diet is.[crosstalk 00:11:23]
Tana Amen: And I can actually feel their pain. I grew up, I mean, look, frosting on cake is my crack. It's terrible. That's why I stay away from it still, cause I know growing up, that and my grandmother's Lebanese, the flat bread, the pita bread-type bread, she'd make that and we'd just smother that in butter and literally pour either honey or sugar over the top of it. And I grew up eating that! But it was terrible, my grandmother was diabetic. She died of complications from diabetes, so-
Dr. Mark Hyman: They have a word, in the Native American group, they have a word for what people who eat this food is. They get called "commod-bod". You have a commodity caused body, these big, fat, round bodies-
Tana Amen: That's great.
Dr. Mark Hyman: -called commod-bods, so they even have an insight that this is really driven from the food.
Tana Amen: Oh my gosh, that's amazing.
Dr. Mark Hyman: And so we have populations that are consuming these foods- African American, Latino populations- are disproportionately sick, and it's really, and the poor, and the food industry just targets them and keeps them confused and down. That's really the problem. So that's why really I wrote the book, was to help people understand what we know in 2018 about food, how to navigate all the controversies, how to come up with some simple principles that everybody agrees on, that are good eating.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Alright, so stay with us. When we come back we're gonna go through the simple principles in Food: What the Heck Should We Eat.