It may come as a surprise to some, but one of the biggest historical culprits of environmental deterioration has been the food industry. Many of its practices, whether motivated by green or ignorance, has essentially put the world at risk for various hazards and disasters. In the second episode of a series with “Food Fix” author Dr. Mark Hyman, he and the Amens discuss what we can do to live healthier lives for ourselves and those who will be here when we’re long gone.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: I'm Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
Dr. Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information visit amenclinics.com.
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to brainmd.com.
Tana Amen: Welcome back. We are having such a good time this week with our friend, Dr. Mark Hyman. This time we're talking about his new book, Food Fix. It's fascinating because I was thinking, "Oh, how to fix your kitchen," when I first heard the title. But no, this is much, much bigger. You're talking about fixing the food industry. If you didn't hear our last podcast, you should go listen to it because he's really going after some big, big policies and big ideas. We want to talk about how people can get involved. We started touching on that in the last one. So, let's continue down that vein. How can people get involved? What can they take away? What are some practical takeaways from your book?
Dr. Mark Hyman: Oh, I talk about it. I have an action guide, and it was provided by one of the top 20 citizen food fixes.
Tana Amen: I love that.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Focus on eating for your health and the health of the planet, and that will have ripple effects.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Mark Hyman: I talk about that as a joke, something that he can diet, but it will help improve mental health, kicks cognitive and behavioral issues, helps social injustice issues. That's something you can do in your own kitchen in your own life. Then make sure when you buy food that you don't buy food that's from the industrial food system, whether it's glycosene ridden soy beans or whether it's high fructose corn syrup or refined soy bean oil. Avoid all the additives, chemicals. If you basically don't have it in your kitchen like azodicarbonamide or butylated hydroxytoluene, you probably shouldn't have it in your food. Right?
Dr. Mark Hyman: Try to seek out as best you can non-GMO foods or organic foods. It's a little more expensive, but there's great resources on how to do that. That keeps pushing the demand, the changes in what the food companies do.
Dr. Daniel Amen: [crosstalk 00:02:29] Can you talk just for a minute about genetically modified foods. So many of them are.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: There is such controversy around that. How do you think about GMOs?
Dr. Mark Hyman: Well, that's a great question. I think there's two issues. What is the effect of the gene insertion on the plant that affects human health? I think there's a lot of concern about that. I think the science is mixed. I don't think we know-
Tana Amen: Right. We don't know, right?
Dr. Mark Hyman: ... [crosstalk 00:03:01] controlled experiment on humanity.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Mark Hyman: The true genes that are really out there, it's not like a ton. One is the glyphosate resistant gene, so it's the herbicide resistant gene. The other is the Bt gene, which is cotton mostly which is a pesticide resistant gene. It's not lead to the promises that were made. So, there's no greater yields. There's in fact an increased of pesticides and herbicides, not a decreased use with GMO, which we thought would happen. Europe has not allowed it.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Imagine better yields and less use of chemicals and better outcomes. So, from that point of view, I think it's a challenge. It's also, the challenges of it are that it's a kind of agriculture that is inherently destructive that is driving climate change. So, just for that reason alone it's good to avoid it. The third is what goes on those GMO plants, which is the herbicides and pesticides. I think there's increasing evidence that glyphosate, or the Roundup or the herbicide that's the most abundant chemical used in agriculture is toxic. It's toxic to the microbiome. It affects epigenetic changes. It has been linked to cancer.
Dr. Mark Hyman: We just can't be putting this stuff in our bodies willy-nilly without really being concerned about it. So, I think those are the issues that we should be worrying about. I think if you're not getting a GMO food, you're getting food that's grown in a better way. So, maybe it even isn't the issue, but if you see a non-GMO label, probably isn't better for you and it's made from ingredients that aren't from industrial agriculture. It's will just help you and help the planet.
Dr. Mark Hyman: So, there's a lot of other things you can do as well. I mentioned the community supported agriculture, the farmers markets, start a garden in your windowsill, your backyard or community garden. Choose restaurants that are more focused on this. There's increasingly farm-to-table restaurants and regenerative food restaurants. You can be changing your workplace by encouraging better practices and getting rid of all the crap. Like the Cleveland Clinic, we got rid of all the soda. Many institutions are really up regulating their quality of their food.
Dr. Mark Hyman: There's really simple things. Start a compost pile. Your food waste is a big issue. Most of us throw out our food. Food waste is ... 40% of our food is wasted. It's about 2.6 trillion dollars a year. If we were to be looking at how much land we'd require to grow that food we throw out, it would basically be the entire landmass of China. It's like buying groceries and coming home and throwing 40% of your groceries in the garbage. It's harmful to us because it's a waste of resources. It actually causes climate change when it goes to landfills and off gasses.
Dr. Mark Hyman: So, if it were a country, like I said, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US and China. So, that really matters and it's something we can do. Then you, like I said, turn up the heat on food companies. Turn up the heat on politicians. People make indifference. People care where there's ballot initiatives or donating to the right campaigns or lobbying with your local representatives, shift policies that you think are important.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Use the Food Policy Action website to learn about things. Maybe you'd want to get involved in regenerative agriculture in your community. Maybe you want to learn more about it. You can become educated. Watch films like Kiss the Ground and The Biggest Little Farm and people doing a big difference. There's even companies where you can invest your money. So, a lot of the times, we're talking about harm that we're doing to the climate through investments. The biggest venture or hedge fund, I think it's Blackstone or black something ... I'm not a big money guy, so I don't remember. It was one of the biggest money managers in the world, they said, "We're not going to invest anything that actually causes climate change," which is huge.
Tana Amen: Interesting.
Dr. Mark Hyman: I think you can support those businesses that are doing those good things and searching that out. I think those are all things that we can do as individuals. Of course, we can demand different kinds of healthcare where we activate policymakers to talk about food and including food as medicine as their strategies to pay for things that really work like dietary interventions, which we know now.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, speaking of that, you and I really bonded over The Daniel Plan. We knew each other before then, but when Pastor Rick Warren called us and said, "I'm fat. My church is fat. Will you help us?", back in 2010 we created The Daniel Plan to really get the world healthy through churches. I know you've personally been involved in launching it in many different places. Talk about the impact you've seen from ... I just think is a great model on how organizations can get involved in the health of the people they serve.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Absolutely. It's fascinating in that we did this whole thing in Cleveland. Then we worked to create together the six week program, the year long curriculum. It's all digital. It provides the information for pastors and their sermons. It provides fall group study guides and these videos on how to do it. We're all part of creating that. It's this incredible body of work that it's so powerful that it could be scaled across organizations and churches. Actually, in fact, we ended up having 27 churches in Cleveland where we implemented The Daniel Plan where we're 1,600 participants, and we're doing research on that.
Dr. Mark Hyman: We wanted them to do ... remember, Daniel? It's hard to convince a church to do research. Now we've got The Cleveland Clinic involved, we've got better luck with that. It's incredible to see all that these people have the power of love and community. I call it love medicine. Food is medicine, but love is medicine. That was the real secret sauce in The Daniel Plan was as people loved each other well. I think that's a missing ingredient in how we change behavior. I could talk all day about what to eat and you could too, and whether people do it or not, that's the problem. So, how do you get people to change behavior? It's really through the power of community and friend power. I think that's what's so great about The Daniel Plan.
Dr. Mark Hyman: We're doing that in The Cleveland Clinic. I think I told you, Daniel, we created something called functioning provider, which is a functional medicine group program kind of like The Daniel Plan has given up the same intellectual property of why food is medicine. We're seeing incredible results, just remarkable stuff. We're doing research on every single patient. So, we're looking at outcomes, and it's staggering the benefits we're seeing. Yet, people just don't take advantage of that.
Tana Amen: What I loved was the small groups. These people had an automatic built in accountability and support. So, it's when you're trying to do it by yourself, it's a lot easier. You don't have that accountability and support. But with a group, when they didn't know what to do, they had someone to reach out to. When they were going to go off the ... go off and they felt guilty ... I mean, all of the challenges that come up, they just had their group right there. I think that was one of the big reasons they made it.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, and for people that don't know, it's really based on five pillars. It's faith, which is basically why do you care. Food, fitness, focus, which was really brain health, and friends. We get better together or we get sick together.
Tana Amen: People are contagious.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: That's where the fastest way to get healthy is find the healthiest person you can stand, and then spend as much time around him or her as possible.
Dr. Mark Hyman: I love that. I mean, it's so true. If your friends are all eating crap and sitting on the couch, binging on doughnuts and-
Tana Amen: Beer and chips, you're more likely to do that.
Dr. Mark Hyman: So, if you're going to be so healthy but all your friends are drinking green juices and yoga ... Like when I went to your house and stayed there, it was amazing. I got green smoothies and I got all kinds of nut balls and-
Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:11:12] You're us.
Dr. Daniel Amen: [crosstalk 00:11:16] Nut balls.
Dr. Mark Hyman: It was awesome. It was like I was like ... I didn't have to be in some strange city and eating crap. I had a little Daniel Amen care package. It was the best.
Tana Amen: The nut balls, that's the best.
Dr. Mark Hyman: I still remember that like it was yesterday.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, you're welcome any time.
Tana Amen: Any time.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So, during the Super Bowl this year, rather than watch football, I looked at my database. So, I have this crazy database of 160,000 scans, and I-
Dr. Mark Hyman: [crosstalk 00:11:46] We've got to talk. If you're doing that on a Sunday night, we've got to talk.
Dr. Daniel Amen: But it was really interesting. You'll like this study. I have BMIs on 20,038 patients and their scans. There was a linear correlation in virtually all areas of the brain that as their went up, the function of virtually every area of the brain went down from normal weight, overweight, obese, morbidly obese was horrifying.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Wow.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Given that 72% of us are overweight, 40% of us are obese, just like you're saying, this is the biggest brain drain in the history of the world. [crosstalk 00:12:34] We've exported it to every other country virtually. So, if we don't get a handle on this, we're going to decrease the lifespan of our children and our grandchildren. All right, when we come back-
Dr. Mark Hyman: Before you go off of that, I want to sort of emphasize. What you do is so important, Daniel, because you connect the dots between food and the brain and we've seen the brain. What's really clear is that so many of our bad decisions are a result of bad brain function and poor choices. It's leaning to this epidemic of mental illness that's connected to food, of decisiveness in our society. What is all this conflict? I never remember all this while I was growing up. We're all hating each other.
Tana Amen: I so agree.
Dr. Mark Hyman: I mean, it's like we live in a-
Tana Amen: It's weird.
Dr. Mark Hyman: ... a civil war in America. All of that ... not only from the food, obviously, but a large part of it has to do with how screwed up the brain is from the food. I mean, you know David Perlmutter just wrote a book called Brain Wash. It's fascinating about how this is the limbic system, which is the fight or flight, reptile in the room, and the frontal lobe, which is the adult in the room, are not talking to each other because the inflammation from our diet. This just scared the crap out of me.
Tana Amen: That's huge.
Dr. Mark Hyman: I'm like, no wonder we're having so much mental health issues. In terms of chronic disease, in terms of [inaudible 00:14:04] years of life lost, it's a far bigger burden to society in terms of the economic impact than things like diabetes or heart disease. Even though those cause more death, it's like the people ... not being well functioned, being depressed-
Dr. Daniel Amen: That's right [crosstalk 00:14:20]. Your brain controls everything. When you damage it ... So, we'll talk more about that when we come back. Stay with us. We're here with Dr. Mark Hyman. We're talking about his new book, Food Fix, but also some of the other amazing things Mark is doing in the world. Stay with us.
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