New Cure for Chronic Disease Discovered

by

Last year my friend, Chelsea Clinton recommended I read a book by the former head of the National Health Service in Great Britain called Turning the World Upside Down – about what we can learn from poor countries in the developing world about putting patients and communities at the center of health care, not doctors and hospitals.

It inspired me to find ways to build community based solutions for the epidemic of chronic lifestyle driven disease – an epidemic that now kills twice as many around the world every year as infectious disease. Chronic disease is a slow motion disaster, a tsunami of suffering whose global cost will be $47 trillion over the next 20 years.

I realized we had to decentralize healthcare, and put patients and communities at the center of the solution empowering them to create health, not simply treat disease.  I realized that if you were sick, the best place to create health might not be the doctor or clinic but your own community.

Our Global Obesity and Diabetes Epidemic

One in two Americans has pre-diabetes or diabetes—that is every other person in America.  Twenty five percent of diabetics and ninety percent of pre-diabetics are not diagnosed.  Caring for them will cost $3.4 trillion over the next 10 years. One in three Medicare dollars is spent on treating diabetes.

This is a global problem.  From 1983 to 2011 world-wide diabetes prevalence increased from 35 million to 366 million and is projected to grow to 552 million in 2030.  Ninety five percent of diabetes is lifestyle induced type 2 diabetes.  The world’s best-selling blockbuster diabetes drug, Avandia, has killed nearly 200,000 people from heart attacks since it was introduced in 1999 – the very disease that kills most diabetics. The solution to our diabetes epidemic will not come from within the health care system.  It will not come at the end of a pill bottle or the blade of a scalpel.  We cannot bypass the fact that this is a lifestyle disease and cannot be solved by better or more medication.

Doctors graduate medical school knowing more about treating malaria than treating obesity  — or what I call DIABESITY – that now accounts for most the patients they see. We need to rethink medicine and rethink health care.  When the collective cost of diabesity related disease – heart disease, cancer, dementia, strokes, infertility, depression and more is accounted for, it is the single biggest contributor to our health care costs and our national debt.  Seventy percent of our federal budget is spent on Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.  It is unsustainable.

In the face of those seemingly insurmountable statistics, I had an insight after working with Paul Farmer in Haiti where he built the model of accompaniment – community health workers and peer support that created the conditions that led to health.

The insight was this – that the community could be the cure.

I realized that getting healthy is a team sport!

An Unexpected Solution to Diabetes, Obesity and Chronic Disease

So one year ago, on January 15, 2011, in partnership with Rick Warren from Saddleback Church in Orange County and two other doctors (Dr. Daniel Amen and Dr. Mehmet Oz), we launched The Daniel Plan – a social experiment to learn if community support was more effective than medication or conventional medical care for treating and reversing disease and creating health.

The Daniel Plan is a wellness program delivered through small groups in the church. Rick Warren’s church of 30,000 met every week in 5,000 small groups.  That was the secret sauce.  The program is named after biblical story of Daniel and his small group of men who refused to consume royal food and wine. By eating vegetables and water, “they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food,” according to Daniel 1:15.

In the first month 15,000 people signed up, and over the last year they have lost an estimated 250,000 pounds – or the equivalent of 10 tractor-trailer trucks loaded with soda. Over 6,000 people spontaneously joined from around the country. There have been over half a million visits to our Daniel Plan website from 189 countries.   Hundreds of churches from around the country have called to participate and build programs for their own churches.  Rick cast a vision to scale this through faith based communities to 1 billion people.

The results appear to be more effective than conventional medical care for chronic disease. The program is based on functional medicine – a way of treating chronic disease through lifestyle based systems solutions – not just treating symptoms. It is the science of creating health, not treating specific diseases.  Disease goes away as a side effect of creating health. That delivered within small groups via The Daniel Plan was the lever than moved mountains – of donuts, ribs, soda and more!

Not only were there estimated weight reductions of 250,000 pounds but also equal reductions in medication use, hospitalizations and doctors visits. And it was free.

In a survey after 10 months of the program, participants reported the following:

  • An average weight loss of 13.5 pounds (and 18 pounds for those who said they followed the program closely)
  • 72% of those who wanted to lose weight did
  • 53% reported increased energy levels
  • 34% reported better sleep
  • 27% improvement in blood work
  • 20% reported improvement in blood pressure
  • 11% reported reduction in medications
  • 31% reported improvement in mood

Those who did the plan together lost twice as much weight as those who did it alone.

People like Chiquita Seals lost 125 pounds and Kendall Rock reversed his diabetes.  Others got off their insulin, heart disease and diabetes medication.  Hear them share their stories.

This past weekend at one of our rallies which highlighted healthy cooking demonstrations with pastors and doctors and chefs on stage, a man come up to me after the event and said that in the previous year he was in the hospital four times and on nine medications and this year he stayed out of the hospital and is only on one medication.

Here was the big insight for me: the community is the cure and the group is the medicine – not just a delivery system for health education.

We created an interactive curriculum delivered through multiple media – online education, videos, articles, recipes, webinars all done in small groups and community events. We did this at Saddleback by changing the culture – changed what was served at bible breakfasts, the menus in the refinery and even what people served in their homes and their small groups. People learned to create health together — to shop, cook, eat, exercise and play together.

We didn’t treat disease.  We didn’t create a weight loss program.  We taught people self-care and combining that with caring for each other they created a small miracle – something heath care or health care reform has not been able to achieve.  In the most unlikely place, a large Church in Orange Country, led by Pastor Rick Warren and a Christian, Jewish and Muslim doctor we showed that community based solutions are more effective at treating and reversing chronic disease than our health care system.  People helped each other create health.

As Chelsea Clinton suggested we need to turn the world upside down. We need a disruptive strategy from outside health care and conventional channels. This is the seed of a bigger possibility. In our own communities, in our homes and schools and workplaces and our faith based organizations we can support each other to take back our health.

Innovative community based models also can change our default choices for how we live, move, eat and play.  If the things that create health are easy to access and things that create disease are hard to get to, extraordinary change occurs. In Albert Lea, Minnesota a pilot project was created to create healthy choices or invisibly limit bad ones. For example, by not allowing kids to eat in hallways and classrooms their weight went down 10%. In Thailand, a community garden is irrigated by an old bike hooked up to a generator run by patients with diabetes. They get exercise and grow healthy food!

This model has been replicated across the world – including Peers for Progress that created pilot programs to treat diabetes in Cameroon, Uganda, Thailand and South Africa based on peer support. The peer support group models were more effective than conventional care intervention for improving the health of diabetics and health care costs decreased 10 fold.

This experiment that continues today at Saddleback may catalyze decentralized, community-based, systems approaches to health for corporations, cities, states and nations throughout the world.

An old African proverb says that if you want to travel swiftly travel alone but if you want to travel far, travel together.

In my next blog I will explore further ways in which we can collectively take back our health in our communities, how we can get healthy together.

My new book The Blood Sugar Solution, which comes out at the end of February is a personal plan for individuals to get healthy, for us to get healthy together in our communities and for us to take back our health as a society.  Obesity and diabetes is a social disease and we need a social cure.

My personal hope is that together we can create a national conversation about a real, practical solution for the prevention, treatment, and reversal of our diabesity epidemic.

To learn more and to get a free sneak preview of the book go to www.drhyman.com.

Now I’d like to hear from you …

What do you think about using community as a cure for chronic illness?

Have you joined with friends or family to take back your health? What has your experience been like?

What ideas do you have for us to take back our health in our homes, schools, workplaces, and places of worship?

Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below.

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, MD

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54 Responses to New Cure for Chronic Disease Discovered

  1. Mari January 27, 2012 at 7:47 pm #

    Great article! I welcome this approach to medicine. It makes total sense to try to figure out why instead of just treating the symptoms with drugs. I wish more doctors were on board with this!

  2. Owen Johnson January 28, 2012 at 7:04 am #

    What a great idea and now a proven solution to what’s happened to our collective health. And peer group support is the miracle that makes programs like this work.

    In 1935, two men got together to help each other and it grew into a group. That group then spread to other cities and in 2012, what was started by these two men desperate to stay alive, has grown worldwide and saved millions. Through peer support. It’s called Alcoholics Anonymous and it has done what doctors and hospitals can’t do – through peer support.

    I’d like to see the Daniel Plan model gain strength and spread like AA has. Then maybe we can all be as healthy as our grandparents were when medical science was a drop in the ocean compared to today and people didn’t need all those drugs that are now contributing to our problems and killing people. Our “health care system” has become anything but!

    Owen

  3. Jill January 28, 2012 at 8:29 am #

    Hi Dr. Hyman,

    I love this idea! I was one of your 500 beta people for your new book. I’m a member of the United Methodist Church of Lenox and would love to start a community of wellness at my church and extend the invitation to the Berkshire community. I will read over the Danial Plan and see what I can get moving on. If you have any suggestions I’d be very open to any help.

    Thank you so much for all you do. I really mean that from the bottom of my healthy heart.

    Jill

  4. Debbie Gallaspy January 28, 2012 at 8:41 am #

    What a grand idea! I’ll be following your further blogs to see what develops!
    Debbie

  5. Joe January 28, 2012 at 9:19 am #

    This article is fascinating and a real eye opener. My friends and I run a loosely “community based” music support group to kelp encourage children on up to adults to play music and sing.

    What you are doing is world changing. Please don’t ever give up on the idea of getting people to eat right and make a concious effort to reduce the need for manuafactured foods and drugs.

    Keep this information coming.

    People like you and Dr Oz etc, are taking people down a road that can eliminate or at least reduce the level of poor health related misery that humankind must tolerate.

    Best of luck and keep the information coming.

    Joe

  6. lu weiss January 28, 2012 at 9:38 am #

    i think you are doing a wonderful thing! retired now but when i was an rn i worked in geriatics and found that giving pts support (with hugs and smiles, etc) really made them feel better, tho i could not do anything with diet. support gives people strenth and happiness. this is a subject close to my heart. good luck!

  7. Candy January 28, 2012 at 9:39 am #

    This is a much better approach than looking to the government to solve the problem. Have always said that your church and local community are the places for this. I am glad that you are taking this approach. Too many times people think that the government should mandate these choices. I hope that this program does not go that direction. This program helps build local communities and the health can be a benefit.

  8. Bridget Nichols January 28, 2012 at 10:13 am #

    I agree that creating health through a community is the key to prevention. I am excited to hear about such great results with the Daniel Project. It has inspired me to create a program here in my community and as part of corporate wellness programs to prevent chronic disease. Thank you for your work!

    Bridget Nichols
    Full Life Nutrition

  9. Mary Sloan January 28, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    Better together applies to family life as well as the community. We have lost family meals in the rush to reach goals and follow our kids. Some of us have signed our kids up for every event/activity and then as adults just follow them rather than planning time together. Family is a small group at its very root and we have given our small group away. Family mealtime is nearly lost. With a new understanding of healthy eating and valuing family we will be better together. Research tells us that youth who have 5-7 family meals together per week have increased school achievement, better nutrition, better communication and they use less alcohol, tobacco and marijuana. Family meals should be a part of functional health.

  10. DofG January 28, 2012 at 10:21 am #

    No! It’s not about turning the world “upside down” but right side up! It’s understanding that what’s happening is an unfolding enlightenment, of sorts, about health, and other concepts, that previously existed that the western world deviated from to “control” its enveironment, not be in harmony with it. It starts with understanding the basis of our national motto: e pluribus unum (out of many, one) This is a principle of Cosmic Law! It is a principle of physics and the etymological definition of the word universe itself meaning “all things turn into one” or all things turned by one! Thus, if we would only adhere to this principle of Nature rather than follow in the darkness of the human ego, we would have a better understanding of all that we endeavor to do. But for us to get there we must first challenge those concepts that have been given power to govern our cultural narratives that addict us to their utility but are inherently false.

  11. Amy January 28, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    Dr. Hyman, I’d like to see you partner with my employer, Whole Foods Market, to create something similar to the Daniel program for our staff. WFM already has connections with several forward-thinking doctors, so it might be worth looking into.

    Right now we have week long educational programs that we can attend, but we have to leave work and town for the week (WFM pays the air fare) and that’s hard for many people to do.

    And we already get incentives in the form of extra staff discount on our groceries for improving our health, so if we had in-house programs with weekly group meetings in each store, I think we’d have great success. Thanks.

  12. Ellen Palmer January 28, 2012 at 11:06 am #

    I am a Holistic Health Coach in Connecticut and run group programs as well as individual coaching and have found that groups meet their goals more quickly and easily. Thank you for your passion to find a solution through community- everyone wins when we help each other!!

  13. Julie Rider January 28, 2012 at 11:16 am #

    I so appreciate your efforts to bring the responsibility back to the individual for wellness. I am involved in developing a Wellbeing program in my community that provides the individual to define their goals and gain the support of others to sustain changes that impact all areas of their lives including wellness. Together we can change the world! Keep up the good work!

  14. Dave January 28, 2012 at 11:55 am #

    I think that this is long overdue. I hope to have time to write about this in my blog this week.

  15. Mary January 28, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    Working in a hospital, I see that changing the culture of the workplace is a valuable tool for change. It needs to be important to management, dietary, employee health, and then it becomes important to the employees themselves. I would love to take this program out into my community at large as well. Thank you for all your guidance!

  16. Ainslie Kincross January 28, 2012 at 12:50 pm #

    Thank you! So glad to read this! It is great confirmation of something I’ve been thinking about and have begun to work on in my community, which I have been calling “self-responsible healthcare” — the point being to shift the focus away from medical care and toward individual and community responsibility through study and practice in various forms. I would be happy to share the 2-page proposal that I wrote (which has references to several programs that can be models) – just friend me on facebook and send me a message. I’d also love to hear from others engaged in similar efforts.
    I have studied and practiced (although not regularly!) Qigong form 10 years, and believe fully that the human body is designed to heal itself; that each on of the billions of cells has its measure of divine intelligence, and that our “job” is to be careful stewards….

  17. Lisa January 28, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

    Community centered wellness will work! Church is a good starting point, however, more people spend more time at their jobs than at church. Wellness at work could have a huge impact as parents carry their knowledge home and demonstrate it to their children who in turn should have it backed up at school! It should be everywhere we go! Nutrition education should be stressed to doctors at all their continuing education classes for their licensing as well!

  18. LINDA SCHWARTZ January 28, 2012 at 1:06 pm #

    THIS reminds me of the story of a guru whose disciple asks the Master,” Good and evil battle inside of me. Which one will win?”

    Guru: “The one you feed!”

  19. Fiona January 28, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    Dear Dr.Hyman

    This is fabulous! Sometimes it really does take a village! What better place to remind each other that our bodies are temples and we can come together and support one another in the efforts to return to that state of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health that we were designed for, than in our houses of worship. Humans are very social animals and when we assemble with a common purpose, miracles happen. Still not losing sight of the fact that it is still completely a function of personal responsibility that makes this happen, but the feeling of community it creates by doing things this way is a powerful motivator. We want to help one another and ourselves as well.

    I am excited to see what the ripple effect of this will be, especially how this translates into those involved taking this home to their families and/or bringing their families into the process, so we can avoid detonating the nuclear bomb of previously “adult” chronic health conditions that are now showing up in kids because of unhealthy food and lifestyle.

    With Highest Regards,

    Fiona

  20. Chuck Hartman January 28, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

    Thanks! This is great.

    ‘Each eldster with godparents and none shall be afraid’ is in the spirit of what you are doing.

    Here’s a BRIEF summary.

    http://godparentsforeldsters.blogspot.com/

    Thanks again.
    PS: The deep breathing from Ultramind Solution has really helped me.

  21. Leanne January 28, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

    I am going to send this article to the person who is overseeing a grant that is exploring a community based health clinic for our area. Your ideas are perfect for the kind of clinic they are hoping to build here. The area has a high poverty rate, and very high levels of diabetes. Reading your post gives me great hope for the future.

    Leanne
    Bemidji, MN

  22. Ashley January 28, 2012 at 1:31 pm #

    Dr. Hyman,

    As a Holistic Health Coach, this article is a testament of my work!

    This is a brilliant article but more than that, it’s a movement. You’re showing us a different path to living healthy, vibrant and happy lives and by doing it as a collective.

    Thank you. Thank you for not only inspiring me as a person, but as a professional in the health field. I have been working to expand my work in the area of group coaching, and this is fantastic inspiration.

    Bravo!

  23. Phyllis Poole January 28, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

    I think viral conditions are much more of a problem for humanity today than the ones you mention. Viruses aren’t curable and they are infectious.
    Diabetes can be prevented by not bringing in white sugar from Cuba and other countries. An over consumption of white sugar causes diabetes and baked goods are EVERYWHERE !! because they sell, white sugar is easy to use. You find even health magazines full of recipes of baked goods. And many unscrupulous doctors won’t help because these patients bring in money.
    Obesity is in the same slot. Let’s start a promotion of uncovering the cause. People can be addicted to sugar as well as alcohol.
    Sugar also depletes the B vitamins which cause alzheimers, nerve conditions etc.etc.. The B vitamins are also connected to diabetes and hormones. A deficiency in B 6 (which is a hormone) will cause blood sugar problems.
    Do more research on this and then let’s have another article with more facts.

  24. Jennifer January 28, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

    I want this movement to get stronger. I see many diverse people and groups working on changing our health, when they meld together it will take away the confusion of which to follow and then the whole movement toward whole food and health will take a powerful leap forward. There is a law of physics that when 1% of the population are vibrating at a certain level ( focused on the same path) there’s a flip that happens that causes that vibration to be come the main way of thinking. This is how lasers are made. This is what will happen soon with the growth of this collective work you are doing. Thank you for your focus, determination, persistence and genius.

  25. Wm Visocky January 28, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

    Nutrition is a major key to health and I appreciate your article. I have some knowledge of quantum physics, psychology, memory and hypnosis. There are some awesome breakthroughs in these areas and if added to your great work it would put a dynamic to the healing process. Our subconscious mind does 90% of our thinking and learning how to reprogram it can solve many health problems also. It is exciting to understand and problem solve. These are great times.

  26. Bimbam January 28, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

    I also termed a new phrase for refined or improperly prepared foods.. CARB POISONING! Yep!

    Diabetes is caused by carb poisoning.

  27. Kate Campbell January 28, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

    How wonderful ~ you, Dr. Amen & Dr. Oz are heros ~
    My passion is learning how to stay healthy ~ I am 81
    and doing well so far ~ enjoy learning new things to
    do and not do. When I was 26 & my husband was 29,
    he was diagnosed with MS, and told that the medical
    profession could not offer him any help ~ but that some
    people believed that nutrition played a role, although
    the medical profession did not beleive that to be true.
    There was little information available when my quest began.
    My husband lived to age 70. Thanks to the research on
    Vitamin D3, and all facets of nutrition, we can learn how
    to lead healthy lives.
    My sincere appreciation, Kate Campbell

  28. SteveP January 28, 2012 at 5:27 pm #

    These testimonials are nice. BUT, I am in the position of not having the weight to lose. My bodyfat is around 20%…I find it really, really hard to see myself trying to become a scarecrow to make it easier to control my blood sugar.

  29. Leah January 28, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

    In my journey back to health (which I am still on) I found the absolute greatest resistance to the changes I made in my diet particularly the choice to eat Kosher and fast (bone broth not a water fast) once a week have been from people in the church family. The church has literally become idolatrous of food and I am so thrilled to see people recognizing it and putting food in its rightful place. It is a blessing from the Creator meant to nourish and heal us not be something we live for or need to keep us happy. It’s been an extremely hard change to make but in my family we are starting to reap the rewards of more energy, less sickness and a feeling of freedom that food no longer controls us or our moods we control what we put in our bodies and through our example friends and extended family are starting to make changes and also seeing the difference- I would love to start a small group at our church . Where do we get all the resources you mentioned for support if we want to lead one of these groups in our area?

  30. greathealthinspired January 28, 2012 at 6:03 pm #

    This is such a great article. And I agree that the peer support is so critical in a person sticking to a program. Also I too believe that the body is a miraculous machine and if taken care of can reverse many of the harsh effects of our current lifestyles.

  31. Michaela January 28, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

    Yes yes yes. Dis-ease is separation, health and wellness is integration, you can see that as you look at the behaviour of your cells. Health is empowerment; taking back the responsibility ourselves. Love this.

  32. james January 28, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

    Hello Dr Hyman.

    Firstly i must thank you and congratulate you all at once…….i have learned much from all you do……….this diabetes industry really needs to be reeled in……i am wondering if you have any interest in coming to ireland??……we need someone of your satature to kick start a new regime here……yes we have initiatives, but they are not so well thought out……my email address is, here, and if you are coming this way, i will work with you for some positive changes…….consider this as an invitation

    Keep up the good work.

  33. MichaelB January 28, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

    I think this kind of plan where functional medicine is applied will work best after we can somehow keep the government out of our lives telling us how we are suppose to live, eat and take care of our selves. We also need to remove all the dead wood and cronies that work in the FDA and USDA who have a huge conflict of interests who used to work for big pharma and various food companies and get fiscal kick backs to enforce policies that are unhealthy for us. Just a simple example is that the USDA food pyramid is not based upon making us healthy but is based on various lobbying kick backs from certain aguraculturial groups and food companies to promote grains and carbohydrates in such very disproportionate amounts which will make it almost certain if followed for the development of type II diabetes, celiac diseases and many autoimmune disorders as starters. Overall, we need to make functional medicine and Dr Hyman’s views on disease prevention legitimate to the views of the FDA and USDA so that this can go totally viral and become a common house hold icon to follow such as in TV commercials, schools and all other commercial outlets otherwise the average person will get confused as to what is correct or never hear about these life saving concepts.

  34. Lisa January 28, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

    Right on, MichaelB! Big Pharma hasn’t cured anything yet! My Type 1 diabetic family has been waiting for 45 years for their promise of a cure. Instead we received glucometers, test strips and the pump. New tools are always welcome but the real cure is in preventing and doing away with.

  35. BodyNBrain January 28, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

    This is so true. If the focus is on treating the pain or illness, it also enforces the negative vibes and ailments we want to get rid of. Remember: your thoughts attract the very things you want to get rid of.
    I see the same in the field of health and movement/exercise daily: instead of focusing on “getting rid of a bad back or knee pain” – again the reinforcement of the unwanted elements- focus on what you want to achieve. Focus on the positive outcome. Rephrase negative self-talk. Look for ease. Give yourself time to heal.
    The magic power of the brain :-) So simple, yet so elusive. I personally combine NLP with Feldenkrais(R) Method approach to improve a person’s well-being. Very rewarding!

  36. Cedar Wilde January 28, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

    this approach makes more sense than anything else I’ve heard for many a long year. I think that we had more “community” when I was a child growing up in Britain than we have now. It seems to me that we now have a culture of finger- pointing and criticising others instead of looking at why we feel the need to do so. The whole world seems to be invog the same and I can’t help feeling that the media and our own feelings of inadequacy are to blame. Maybe if we can stop worrying about not being good enough and accept that we ARE good enough despite our failings we can start to change organically rather than by buying books on personal growth which rarely work. (I’m not talking about books on healthy eating by the way, which can have a lot of good information in them. Everything is easier when you have someone to share the load with. I even notice this at home when doing my chores, if there is someone to talk to the work goes faster and the effort is mostly unnoticed!

  37. Cedar Wilde January 28, 2012 at 11:15 pm #

    The phrase that looks peculiar above should read “The whole world seems to be involved in doing the same……”

  38. Mimi January 28, 2012 at 11:46 pm #

    Totally agree! Have been in communuties of support with healthy ideas for years and am much healthier for it! However, that seems to come naturally for us females. I’m thrilled to see that you 3 doctors, men, are encouraging community support- hopefully my husband will catch on to the idea and release some of his dependance on medicine, finding other men with whom to get healthier. He has diabetes, is 50+ pounds overweight, high b/p, etc, etc., taking 7 medicines and now they want him to have his gall bladder removed.
    Thank you again for your faithfulness to common sense and to people instead of institutions or your personal wealth! May your tribe increase!

  39. NANCY lITCHFORD January 29, 2012 at 11:24 am #

    Right on again Dr. Hyman. I love your weekly insight? Let’s do it and see how many others we can get to join us in taking back our health, and our lives.

  40. abonadea January 29, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

    i have celiac disease, including hypothyroidism, and i incurred multiple Traumatic Brain Injuries in an accident on june 26, 2002. on my own journey to health, recovery, and renewal, i grew tired of living a chemical existence. when i approached my own doctor about getting off as many meds as possible, he told me “you’re not taking anything that bothers me.” that response led me to looking for answers on my own. i became acquainted with dr hyman through his book “the ultra-mind solution”. even though i still take more meds than i would like, using “functional medicine” as described by dr hyman, by eating good food and taking whole-food supplements, i’ve been able to cut the number of chemically laden meds in half. i am fortunate to belong to, and volunteer at, my local food co-op which buy’s as much produce as possible from local, organic farms. i also belong to an organic, community garden in the park behind my apartment. between the garden and co-op i have access to affordable, real food. they also give me access to a community that i would otherwise not had. life improves, one day at a time.

  41. Bonnie Pickhardt January 29, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

    I suspect you have done as much good in reinforcing a sense of connectedness, with your inclusionary outreach in the name of healthier lifestyles, as you have in improving individuals’ blood glucose levels. It ‘s awe-inspiring that such a degree of awareness and change has happened in such a short time. Our hats are off to you three doctors!

  42. David Dressler, BA, RMT January 29, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

    Dr. Hyman,

    I am astounded at this solution Chesea Clinton proposed. It makes me slap my head and say why didn’t I (or someone) think this before! There is a tremendous population base of individuals both in the US and Canada (from which I write) who are disappointed for the quality of medical diagnosis and medical care and who in reaction are searching for solutions of other kinds, including those taking supplements and seeing naturopathic doctors, massage therapists, etc. But although they share a common goal they are individuals and not a community. To get them together into a community, while at the same time removing the MD from being the center of control, is a remarkable idea. The idea that the community IS the caring, and that it worked medical “miracles” is tremendously inspiring. It would seem that the isolation and “lostness” of individuals who are ill and seeking, but not finding–that very lostness and aloneness–is a source of chronic illness. Wholeness is healing–wonderful! I wish and wonder how something like the Daniel Plan could be created here in Canada. Any ideas?

  43. Casey Alin Schwab January 30, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

    You inquired about what to do for your places of worship? As an outsider, my experiences with churches of Christian and Catholic faith are that people dress themselves in ways they do not for friends and family to sit in a building and hear stories about tragedies, travesties and how displeased their deity is with humanity, and the primary, most reliable interactions from the attendees involve standing to sing or pray about how wonderful it was that Jesus not only died for their sins, but did most of the setup work for us and gave us a gift of his flesh and blood which are supposed to be magically cleansing and redeeming if consumed; oh, plus there’s gathering to eat afterward. The dynamic is “Sit in guilt, feed your resentment by hoping for redemption, and stuff your sorrows while looking as good as you can to those around.”. these demonstrations occur to an outsider as alien, debasing and value-destroying, both physically and psychologically,

    What possibilities may instead come from engaging folks to participate in self expression? Perhaps small poems or haikus on any matter of significance relating to the focus of the worship. Getting folks out of the pretentious formal clothing and on invigorating walks into nature for Sunday worship where they can stimulate their fitness levels, feed their physiology and psychology with novel sustenance for value-creation and joy TOGETHER, all while inadvertently giving thanks to their creator for the world and bodies they inhabit by treating both as temples, might just inspire some community-driven ambition to make a difference in health. It isn’t hard at all, and it isn’t outlandish; I witnessed some very kind Amish folk do this together nearly daily for the entire summer that they were here in Whitefish, so I feel I can conclude that the behavior aligns itself well with Judao-Christian ideology. The two activities may even be blended together, where participants are asked to express what perceptions and observations they’d made while on the outings, sharing interperetations and solidifying ways in which each relates to the other.

  44. Parvin January 30, 2012 at 3:43 pm #

    I am speachless. This is absolutly the most wonderfull community I have ever heard of. I will check the website and will encourage people to check it out too. I am a vegan vegetarian and don’t have any of the problems caused by standard american diet, but alway interested to make other people feel beter, although they laugh and make fun of my way of eating. This is what we needed for years. Thank you Dr. Hyman, Dr. Amen, and Dr. OZ.

  45. Wanda Bedinghaus, MD January 30, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

    It’s obvious from all the wonderful comments that this idea of the community fostering better health and support for healthier life styles. I just forwarded your blog to several of my minister friends here in the Denver area. My dream for the past 35 years has been to create and build a spiritual healing center with appropriate holistic therapies to begin the healing process. It would included an organic garden, area for meditation, classes for ongoing education of what it means to be an alive, healthy, vibrant, joyous human being who is free from the ravages of chronic disease.
    At the center of the facility is where all the people from all over the city can come and celebrate and rejoice in their healing.
    Jean Houston inspired me years ago with the idea that those who came to the ancient temple of Aesclepius where people came for healing and did not leave until they experienced their healing. The dream lives on me to this day, and I am going to do everything I can to see that it is fulfilled.
    Thanks always for your inspiration, Mark.
    Wanda Bedinghaus, MD

  46. Rhana Pytell January 30, 2012 at 10:34 pm #

    This is absolutely amazing news! The life changing results for the participants can be scaled. Thanks for proving that! We could find ourselves in a very different world in a decade if we can stop allocating so many of our resources to disease management. There is long wish list waiting for those trillions of dollars!

  47. Ethan January 31, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

    Great article! Thanks, Dr. Hyman. Chiquita Seals and Kendall Rock are amazing inspirations. I found a website that chronicles Chiquita’s health journey and tells more about the “friend” she mentioned in the video linked in this article. http://www.totalpurpose.com

  48. Jody January 31, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

    It’s always about losing weight. PLEASE tell me how to gain weight on a healthy diet. I keep losing. Am down to 107#

    • Profile photo of Mark Hyman, MD
      Mark Hyman, MD February 1, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

      Hi Jody,
      Thank you for sharing your concerns re: weight gain. Being underweight can be related to many factors, therefore you should work with a qualified health care practitioner when making weight changes. Increasing your daily food and calorie intake is required to gain weight. It is important to get these calories from wholesome food to ensure good nutrition.

      Tips for increasing calories:

       Eat frequently throughout the day.
       Gradually increase portions of food eaten.
       Start each meal by eating the entrée and the most caloric foods first.
       Include small amounts of high quality oils, nuts, and seeds with each meal. Use Avocado as a snack, meal supplement or spread.
      Things to Avoid
       Drinking liquids during and immediately before meals.
       Foods that produce strong odors.
       “Empty calories” such as sugar and sweets that provide calories but few nutrients.
       Caffeine

      To locate a doctor who practices functional medicine like Dr. Hyman, go to http://www.functionalmedicine.org and scroll down to where it says “locate a practitioner” and enter your zip. Progress accordingly from there.

      To make an appointment at Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, MA please go to: http://www.ultrawellnesscenter.com/becoming-a-patient/ When you are finished reading through the material you may call the office at After you have reviewed this, please contact our office to make an appointment. By phone, (413) 637-9991; by email, office@ultrawellnesscenter.com

      In good health!
      Lizzy

  49. Edith Samambwa February 6, 2012 at 9:09 am #

    hi, you might be interested to know that the ‘Daniel’ plan has been practised by the Seventh Day Adventist Church Community since 1863 when God gave one of the church founders a vision on living healthily. In the vision Ellen White was shown that abstinence from animal products, tobacco, stimulants and intoxicating substances is the best way of living. She was also shown that sunshine, water, exercise and sufficient rest were important for total health. At that time doctors were still using tobacco to cure Asthma! As a result of what God revealed to the church then the church adopted a global approach of encouraging a plant based diet, healthy living and abstinence from tobacco and intoxicating substances and today members are among the longest living in the world.

  50. Nancy Taylor March 14, 2012 at 11:06 am #

    You have struck upon a real winning strategy. By using the community aspect, you are on the road to creating the political will to end diabesity. There is nothing more powerful than the power of a committed group of people focused on a common goal ( ala Margaret Mead / Jean Houston). They feed and nurture one another in all practical and spiritual ways. Their success spreads the program exponentially. Hurrah for your stroke of genius and your persistent efforts to create this net of support. I’m starting my group within my family. I’ll keep you posted as to the results.

    Onward,

    Nancy

  51. Trish March 20, 2012 at 10:49 pm #

    I think I have read the word tsunami in just about every article posted here now, and in the book. It might be time to try out a new word. I’m starting to think this is just a line repeated over and over with not a lot of substance behind it other than the obvious; veggies, good; fried food, bad. Duh!

  52. Beth April 21, 2012 at 8:59 am #

    I have realized this since 2004 and having been living the lifestyle – although I did not have a community. I just had me and some wonderfully intelligent people on the internet, which Dr. Hyman has always been one of. I focused on the “science of creating health not treating specific diseases Disease goes away as a side effect of creating health” part – and boy does it work. I went from crippling couch-bound for over 8 years to an active life!

    By concentrating on the entire body and not on any specific symptom I really think our society could heal and / or prevent the majority of illnesses. I think disease is the side effect of our lifestyle. I would say chosen lifestyle but I don’t think the majority of people would choose it if we had not been kept in the dark about the real stuff that has gone into our food supply. I sure didn’t know. I thought if it was sold as “food” it really was food (in the nourishing sense). The corporations and the government have not been protecting or helping the citizenry – they have only ever been protecting their bottom line and we have helped them get rich while we get sick. Eating real food at home is the only answer. Cheers, and keep up the good work!

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