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Eating the Cure

Eating the Cure

Have you ever wondered, is this as good as it gets? Am I destined to feel the ravages of aging? Do I have to feel the nagging symptoms that I have come to accept as normal – a little more tired, a little more (or a lot more) belly fat, a little more trouble sleeping, a little more achy, a little more congestion, a little more indigestion and bloating, a lower sex drive? Or worse, are you suffering like one in two Americans with a chronic disease? Do you have pre-diabetes or diabetes (90% of which is not diagnosed)? Do you have an autoimmune, allergic or digestive disorder? Do you have mood, memory, attention problems or migraines? If so, the cure you’ve been looking for can be found at the end of your fork.

Disease is not a normal consequence of aging. Nagging symptoms, often heavily medicated, are not inevitable. They are the result of something very simple: Not following the basic laws of biology. Your body is a system, an ecosystem where everything is connected. When that system is out of balance, disease arises. And there are only a few ways the body becomes out of balance: Too much of the bad stuff (poor diet, stress, microbes, toxins and allergens), and not enough of the good stuff (whole, real fresh food, nutrients, movement, water, air, light, rest, sleep, rhythm, love, connection, meaning and purpose). These are the ingredients for a healthy human.

After practicing medicine for over 25 years, I am still startled to find how most of my patients do not connect what they eat with how they feel, thinking that disease is something that happens randomly, a thing that they get. Recent discoveries in the field of genomics, epigenetics and nutrigenomics provide a new paradigm for understanding how to treat disease. It is quite simple. Disease goes away as a side effect of getting healthy. You don’t have to treat the symptoms. Simply treat the cause and the symptoms vanish. Treat the system.

This past year, in partnership with Rick Warren of Saddleback Church and doctors Oz and Amen, we created a simple experiment: Teach people how to create health and watch disease go away. The 30,000 member church not only lost 250,000 pounds, but vanquished diseases – diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, allergies, asthma, irritable bowel, reflux, migraines, acne, low sex drive, fatigue and more.

The biggest lever to create biologic change is not a new wonder drug or new robotic surgical procedure, but food. The right food turns on the right genes, and creates biological signals that create health, while the wrong foods turn on genes that cause disease and create biological chaos. The average American eats 29 pounds of french fries, 23 pounds of pizza, 24 pounds of ice cream and consumes 53 gallons of soda, 24 pounds of artificial sweeteners, 2.736 pounds of salt and 90,700 mg of caffeine per year. Do we really think we can create health in that toxic environment? Conversely, we underestimate the power of real, whole, fresh food to transform our biology, not in months or years, but in days or weeks. What you put on the end of your fork is more powerful than anything you will ever find at the bottom of a pill bottle.

Dr. Dean Ornish has proven that eating a whole-foods, plant-based diet beneficially affects over 500 genes, turning off the cancer-causing genes and turning on the cancer-fighting genes. Even more startling is research by Elizabeth Warren, winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine, and Dr. Ornish who found that you could reverse the inevitable shortening of your chromosomes that accompanies aging simply by eating a whole-foods, plant-based diet. Telomeres are the little end caps on your chromosomes. They get shorter as you age. Eating real food lengthens them. There is no drug or any intervention other than food that has ever been shown to stop their inexorable shortening, shortening your life in the process.

Each meal is a chance to heal. The good news is that despite doctors’ confusion and media misinformation, the science of nutrition is quite clear on how to get extraordinary results and create health.

Here’s how to prevent, treat and reverse almost every chronic illness. It is based on what I call the “nutrigenomic index” or how to turn on all the genes that create health. Try it for one month and not only will you lose weight and boost your energy, but many of your chronic nagging symptoms will go away.


1. EAT REAL FOOD If it was grown on a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, avoid it. If it has a label stay away. As my grandmother said, “Buy fresh, eat fresh.”

2. EAT THE RAINBOW Colorful plant foods, the dark greens, blues, reds, oranges and yellows are all indicators of powerful plant compounds called phytonutrients that turn on anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, detoxifying genes.

3. GET AN OIL CHANGE Most Americans are deficient in Omega-3 fats that make up 60% of your brain, prevent heart disease and diabetes and reduce inflammation. Eat sardines, wild salmon, but stay away from the mercury laden tuna and swordfish.

4. CREATE THE PERFECT PLATE 50% low starchy veggies like broccoli, asparagus, salad fixings, 25% lean protein (chicken, fish, beans, nuts or seeds), and 25% gluten-free whole grain like brown rice or quinoa or starchy veggies like sweet potato.

5. BALANCE YOUR BLOOD SUGAR Learn how to create the perfect plate (and meal) to keep your blood sugar even. Banish sugar from all forms for one month. Eating sugar and flour products spike insulin, the fat storage hormone, leading to belly fat or “diabesity,” a metabolic disaster area that is the biggest cause of heart attacks, diabetes, cancer, and even dementia.

6. POWER UP YOUR DAY WITH PROTEIN Protein for breakfast (whole Omega-3 eggs, protein shake, etc.) boosts your metabolism and builds muscle.

7. DON’T DRINK YOUR CALORIES You don’t compensate for them by lowering your intake of solid food and they spike your insulin, too. That means sodas, juices and too much alcohol (more than one glass with dinner).

8. BEAT THE WHEAT Wheat has taken over our food supply. Our modern dwarf wheat has a super starch (amylopectin A), super gluten and a super drug which makes you fat, inflamed and addicted. Two slices of whole wheat bread raise your blood sugar more than two tablespoons of table sugar. Give it up for the summer and watch your health transform.

9. DUMP DAIRY For the summer (or just a month), give up “nature’s perfect food” (only if you are a calf!). It can cause digestive problems, sinus congestion, allergies, asthma, eczema, and even acne.

10. NUTRIFY YOUR LIFE Take a good multi-vitamin and mineral, a fish oil capsule and vitamin D3 every day. Over 90% of Americans are deficient in one or more nutrients. And a multivitamin can even lengthen your teleomeres.

These ten simple, but powerful ideas are based on decades of nutritional science of how to create health. Collectively, they can vanquish the most dreaded diseases and nagging symptoms. Most of my patients say, “Dr. Hyman, I didn’t know how bad I was feeling until I started feeling so good.” That is my wish for all of you

Photography by Nathan Coe

Mark Hyman MD is the Medical Director at Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine, the Founder of The UltraWellness Center, and a ten-time #1 New York Times Bestselling author.

Comments (20)

    • Hi Robert,

      Thank you for your interest in Dr Hyman’s thoughts on the Hcg diet. Dr Hyman supports sustainable lifestyles that focus on whole foods and sensible exercise and stress reduction. He encourages people to consider the long term productivity of certain fad-like diets. In fact, by eating a low glycemic load diet such as that Dr Hyman prescribes in his Blood Sugar Solution, and getting the type of exercise he talks about in the book the body can raise Hcg levels naturally, without any injections or starvation plans!

      For more info on this program please see:

      • So eating well increases hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), a hormone found in the urine of pregnant women, naturally? Are you sure you’re not confusing this with Hgh (human growth hormone)?

  • Bravo Dr. Hyman! I use your blog articles to help teach my dental patients about caring for their entire body, not just their mouth. Our war against tooth decay and periodontal disease is raging on due to poor food choices and chronic inflammation. Many patients would rather give up their control over their oral health and simply have the dental treatment. My message over the years has been prevention and proper nutrition, a message I will continue to preach. Thank you for sharing your professional guidance in a clear, concise, and easy to ‘digest’ dose.

  • Vitamins are fractured and isolated elements that the body may or may not be able to assimilate. There are studies that showed singular supplements actually increased the rate of cancer! I believe there are some supplements that would be helpful for what you cannot get in fruits and vegetables–like D3 if you aren’t getting sun exposure, B-12, acidophilus. Some could be recommended to temporarily assist the body. I agree with the research that we are much better off with
    whole food supplementation, such as NSF Certified Juice Plus+.
    If you’d like more information, go to:
    God bless!

  • Dr. Hyman you offer the most sensible and actionable plan I have encountered. THANK YOU!

  • I would like to know if Dr. Hyman suggests eliminating nightshade vegetables if you suffer from arthritic pain…and thanks to Dr. Hyman for sharing all his knowledge with us!

    • Hi Tracey,

      Yes, you might try eliminating these to see if inflammation subsides. You can look at The UltraSimple diet for more help doing a complete elimination diet:

      For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to: OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

  • Good basic info, except Dr. Hyman mentions Dean Ornishes work that is plant- based whole foods, and then goes on to recommend animal products, fish and eggs. This would not fit Ornishes plan to save the telomeres and prevent cancer. Ornishes and Campbell’s work is PBWF, no animal.

  • Dr. Hyman recommends avoiding dairy. I’m wondering if this includes home-made greek yogurt, which I eat every morning for breakfast. It’s high in protein and good bacteria, plus I love it! No sugar except for the natural lactose present in the milk. I add chopped almonds & 1/2 c. of berries to 1/2 c. of this yogurt every morning. Tell me what you think.


  • I keep hearing all of the advantages of eating grass fed bison meat. What are your thoughts on the consumption of bison meat vs. beef on a regular basis? Thanks

  • I find it promising that there is some indication that diet can increase the length of telomeres. I can only hope that I’m doing enough, as I modify my diet, that I will benefit in all areas that a truly healthy diet can contribute to.

    Dietary efforts will be much less expensive than the products available [TA-65] that are specifically marketed as telomerase activators. The price tags on those products are far above and beyond what most of us can afford. Healthy eating is much more in my price range.

  • Step 1. states “if it was made in a plant, avoid it.” I don’t understand what that means. Please clarify. Thanks

  • What an excellent article. This is what I teach and with your permission, I will be quoting you at every opportunity. Thank you!

  • Pingback: Eating the Cure: Ten Tips to Change Your Life | Eusophi

  • I have asked this question before but I haven’t gotten and answer yet. I am from Saddleback and I am on the Daniel Plan. I grind my own non GMO wheat seeds and make my own wheat bread. Is this not good for me?

    • Hi Melodee,
      Whether or not you can tolerate gluten/wheat in your diet varies from person to person. The best way to determine if it is appropriate for you is to eliminate it for 3-4 weeks and then “challenge” it by eating it for 2-3 days to see how you feel. We recommend that you work with a healthcare practitioner trained in functional medicine for best results. To locate a doctor near you who practices functional medicine like Dr. Hyman, go to and scroll down to where it says “locate a practitioner” and enter your location. Progress accordingly from there.
      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • Hello, could you clarify Number 5: “Banish sugar from all forms for one month.”? Does this recommendation include eliminating whole foods containing naturally-occurring sugar, like fruits, for one month as well?

    • Hi Ashley,
      Number 5 refers to the elimination of all added sugars that are not whole foods. Whole fruits and vegetables should continue to be part of your healthy diet.
      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. Hyman Staff