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Why Cooking Can Save Your Life

Why Cooking Can Save Your Life

The cure for what ails us—both in our bodies and in our nation—can be found in the kitchen. It is a place to rebuild community and connection, strengthen bonds with family and friends, teach life-giving skills to our children, enrich and nourish our bodies and our souls.

Yet, in the twenty-first century, our kitchens (and our taste buds) have been hijacked by the food industry. In 1900 only 2 percent of meals were eaten outside of the home; today that number is over 50 percent.

The food like substances proffered by the industrial food system trick our taste buds into momentary pleasure. But our biology rejects the junk forced on our genes and on our hormonal and biochemical pathways.

Your tongue can be fooled and your brain can become addicted to the slick combinations of fat, sugar, and salt pumped into factory-made foods, but your biochemistry cannot handle these foods, and the result is the disaster we have in America today—70 percent of us are overweight, and obesity rates are expected to top 42 percent by the end of the next decade (up from only 13 percent in 1960).

Today one in two Americans has either pre-diabetes or diabetes. In less than a decade the rate of pre-diabetes or diabetes in teenagers has risen from 9 percent to 23 percent.


Almost one in four kids has pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes?

Yes, and, perhaps even more shocking, 37 percent of kids at a normal weight have one or more cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or high blood sugar, because even though factory food doesn’t necessarily make you fat, it does make you sick! The food industry taxes our health and mortgages our children’s futures. Obese children will earn less, suffer more, and die younger.

It is time to take back our kitchens and our homes. Transforming the food industry seems like a gigantic undertaking, but it is in fact an easy fix. The solution is in our shopping carts, our refrigerators, and our cupboards—and on our dining room tables. This is where the power is. It is the hundreds of small choices you make every day, choices that will topple the monolithic food industry.

We need a revolution. Cooking real food is a revolutionary act.* We have lost the means to care for ourselves. We have now raised the second generation of Americans who don’t know how to cook. The average child in America doesn’t know how to identify even the most basic vegetables and fruit; our kids don’t know where their food comes from or even that it grows on a farm. Cooking means microwaving. Food “grows” in boxes, plastic bags, and cans. Reading labels is supremely unhelpful in identifying the source of most foods—the ingredients are mostly factory-made science projects with a remote and unrecognizable lineage to real food.

We are brainwashed into thinking that cooking real food costs too much, is too hard, and takes too long. Hence, we rely on inexpensive convenience foods. But these aren’t so convenient when we become dependent on hundreds of dollars of medication a month, when we can’t work because we are sick and fat and sluggish, or when we feel so bad we can’t enjoy life anymore.

The average American spends eight hours a day in front of a screen (mostly the television) and spends more time watching cooking shows than actually cooking.

Convenience is killing us.

In fact, real food can be inexpensive. Choosing simple ingredients, cooking from scratch, shopping at discount club stores, and getting produce from community supported agriculture associations (CSAs), community gardens, or co-ops all build health and community and save money. Europeans spend nearly 20 percent of their income on food, Americans only about 9 percent. Food is the best investment in your health.

I believe in the power of collective intelligence. Within my community are hundreds, if not thousands, of unheralded chefs experimenting with food and creating extraordinary meals and recipes. Within our individual and our national communities is the cure for what ails us. We are the answer. We are the revolutionaries who will change the face of food in America and around the world.

The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook is the product of this collective intelligence. Truly, the community is the cure!

Yes, we need to change policy in order to change the food we grow and to subsidize real food instead of the walls of processed fat, sugar, flour, and trans fats that line our grocery and convenience stores. Yes, we need to end food marketing to children. We need to make schools safe zones for kids with only those products and activities that support healthy minds and bodies. There is no room for junk food or factory foods in schools. Period.

Yes, we need all that and more to take back our kitchens and our health. But each of us can start at home with a kitchen makeover. Three simple actions can change everything:

  1. Do a fridge makeover.
  2. Do a pantry makeover.
  3. Do a shopping cart makeover.

The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook gives you advice on what to keep and what to discard from your fridge, pantry and shopping cart.  It also provides recipes—gathered from our own community of health and cooking revolutionaries—to delight your palate, stimulate your senses, and nourish your body and soul.

The recipes are designed to be made, shared, and enjoyed with friends and family. Think of this book as a roadmap to pleasure and health.

Once you have taken back your kitchen, then you can start something really revolutionary.

Find eight (or so) people you would love to know better or spend more time with. Invite them to start a supper club—once a week or once a month. Rotate dinners at one another’s houses. Share the cooking by creating a potluck, or take turns choosing some favorite recipes from this cookbook and preparing a feast for all. At each dinner pick a topic—about food, health, or community—to discuss. Then let the juices flow. The stew of food and friendship will nourish you deeply.

In this way—one by one, kitchen by kitchen, community by community—we will take back our health together!

Get started today!  Get your copy of The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook  today.  When you purchase this book from this link you will gain access to these exclusive bonuses:

  • $20 discount in The Blood Sugar Solution Store with your order over $100. It’s like getting the book for free!
  • Online access to the bestselling UltraMetabolism DVD
  • 10-Day Detox Diet—exclusive preview webinar
  • 10 Myths Sabotaging Your Waistline (and Your Health): an eGuide

Click here to learn more.

Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below – but remember, we can’t offer personal medical advice online, so be sure to limit your comments to those about taking back our health!

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, MD

* Pilar Gerasimo and her 101 Revolutionary Ways to be Healthy inspired the idea that cooking is a revolutionary act. To learn the other 100 revolutionary ways to be healthy, go to or check out the app.

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 (26)

  • I am flattered indeed to be mentioned here — thanks, Mark! And I couldn’t agree more: Cooking IS a revolutionary act!

    In fact, “Learn to Cook” is #26 of our “101 Revolutionary Ways to Be Healthy” (many of which were informed by stuff we at Experience Life magazine and RevolutionaryAct learned from YOU!). 🙂

    Here’s the Web version:

    And here’s how to score the free mobile app (which also suggests articles where you can learn more:

    We’ve gotten more than 100,000 downloads to date!

    Here’s to the healthy revolution, and thanks again for the super-nice shout out!

  • As a dietitian but also as someone who needs to take care of her own weight, I am totally in agreement with you! We, as a world community, have been relying too much in adds and silly recommendations that “foods need to be re-designed” with fat removed and/or replaced, with sugars removed and/or replaced, with this add and that removed to be healthy. As a science person, cause I work in research, I have learnt that there is no more perfect-designed thing that the ones provided to us by nature… when this fails, all the diseases we know appear… So I wonder almost daily where does the idea about “modifying” everything come from?

    I am with you in this cruzade from my modest practice in Buenos Aires, Argentina and my own kitchen in my tiny apartment!

    To our good health and the one for the generations to come!
    With appreciation,

  • What a great and important message Doc! I am a health pro and I admire you aot for your croisade! I will share this article will all my friends and collegues here and will even have it translated in french for those here who are not bilangual….Merci Beaucoup!
    Georges, quebec city, canada

  • I love your work. You are an inspiration to everyone who comes into contact with you. I always go away from your emails rejunvenated and hopeful about the truths you are getting across. Can’t wait to get this book as I need help in most of those areas and want to go gluten-free. Just need some confidence. Thank you again.

  • I have lived as you write my entire life. I met someone and visited his family; his mother is a nurse. I was in shock and terror. The kitchen was stocked with store bought cookies, cupcakes, cakes, chocolates. There was no fresh food anywhere in the house. Velvetta cheese, ice cream, sour cream and processed ham were the main meal items, oh, and tv dinners. The father was a walking, non functioning white zombie. He has chronic headaches, is a a foul mood constantly and his skin sags from his face. The younger brother who was 58 years old recently died of colon cancer. No surprise there. The way this mother, an educated health professional chose to raise and care for her family is pur child abuse. These people are out there, everywhere. I will show them how to eat.

  • I am changing my diet and learning all that I can to heal myself from MS . I am training to become a health coach and I really want to see things change. I am angry that my health and the health of my children has been damaged by the lies that are constantly fed to us for others to profit from. The food industry is no better than the drug pusher on the street, making money on the destruction of lives.

    Now that I can see the real issues and no longer just believe what the advertisers push, I cannot ignore the situation and keep a clear conscience. I eat less now and buy organic knowing that I am getting more nutrition than if I eat a ton of processed crap. It may be too late for me and my own children are already brain washed to believe if you question the status quo you must be a flake, but I have a grandson that has the gene for type one diabetes and I hope to be a positive influence in his life to make better choices. I am so grateful for people like you Dr. Hyman, I do believe that getting the truth out will change the world. With out good health we have nothing.

  • “The cure for what ails us—both in our bodies and in our nation—can be found in the kitchen. It is a place to rebuild community and connection, strengthen bonds with family and friends, teach life-giving skills to our children, enrich and nourish our bodies and our souls.”
    So eloquently said, Dr. Hyman.
    Having spent this life as a chef, teacher of healthy cooking classes and food blogger this has been my raison d’etre–and yet I hadn’t the words before today to describe what I do and why I do it. Ours is such important work with so much depending upon all of us getting this message out–and providing healthy recipes that inspire others to get back into the kitchen.
    Thank you for another excellent article.

  • I decided I was going to get containers and wash and cut up fresh fruit and vegetables as so I get home fom grocery shopping. The kids really enjoy getting healthy snacks from the containers. I also use the produce from the containers to make healthy smoothies. Our fruits and vegetables used to sit unused and rot before I started doing this.

  • Dr. Hyman,
    You continue to inspire me and give me hope! I am with you in Spirit! People are starting to listen, starting to wake-up. Those of us who share your philosophy and your beliefs about health and food are busy and active in our families and our communities spreading the good word….one person at a time. We’ll get there. Have faith! Thank you for helping us to stay inspired!

  • “The food industry taxes our health and mortgages our children’s futures.” Kind of like the government…..but this one may be easier to fix with education.

  • This is wonderful information and it needs to get to those in communities that have the most need. It is false and always has been that good food costs so much more. Its that we have been pushed to have less and less time for everything including eating, family time, etc. I do not blame industry. They have provided a product that was in demand. If you change the demand the industry will change or die. That can’t be done with legislation as in NY with pop but has to be done by educating those very people that you mention don’t know where their food comes from or what a green pepper looks like. Why don’t they know these things? Not enough time spent on educating. You seem to be doing your part but everyone needs to take that ball and run with it.

  • Thank you, Dr Hyman. I love to read your articles and pass them along to as many people as I can. You have been such a source of education for me and even my husband is starting to listen, which is a huge, major accomplishment. Why isn’t all this being taught in school???? I have your ultra metabolism cook book already and I am looking forward to the new one. I am originally from Spain and I grew up in a family that treasured food, good, healthy food. My mom always was a great cook and one to buy fresh, whole and delicious food. She had a gift to make wonderful meals out of that. I have been leaving in the US for 11 years now and when I look at her cooking habits and mine, I can’t believe how far I have departed from what I’ve seen her do my whole life. So it is my goal to go back to that way of cooking and I know I can do it with your help and your information, Dr Hyman. I am not a middle age woman struggling with those 20-30 extra pounds that won’t go away. My biggest problem is to get passed my psychological fear that when eating whole, healthy foods there is no need to count calories and starve myself, that it is the quality of the calories that counts and not so much the amount. There is something deep in my being that still refuses to believe that and that’s what I am working at changing. So please, keep these articles coming, because they are helping me change that slowly but surely.

  • What can I do as a parent to keep junk food out of the public schools (whether it be from other parents, teachers or the school lunch)? I just don’t know where to start and how to educate others without becoming known as the “party pooper”. People really just don’t understand the effects sweets have on their children’s bodies. Many think if their child is not fat, then there’s no need to worry. Almost every day my children have access to sweets when they are not in my presence. And when they are in my presence, I get exhausted arguing about how much they can have. I’m not even sure how I can get my own children (7 and 8) to understand how bad sweets and fast food are for them. How do you explain to a child that age the consequences of eating poorly . . . so that it really sticks? They know I don’t approve of junk food, and I’ve tried to explain why; but they want it anyway. I feel like they are already addicted.

    • Hi Karen,

      We are happy to have your support in the healthy eating revolution! Have you visited Dr Hyman’s Take Back Our Health? There are wonderful ways to get involved in your community and make a real difference in how your children eat. Visit:

      Try cooking fun, tasty and simple meals with your children to involve them in the process of nourishment. Dr Hyman’s new cookbook is a great vehicle to begin the journey with your kids in the kitchen!

  • Glad to see your advocacy for home cooking, Dr Hyman: it truly is the best medicine.

    Our own work at ChefMD and Chef Clinic show that people are ready for easy, healthy recipes which give them the power to control their health, feed their families and know what goes into their food…without extra chemicals, hormones and antibiotics that sneak in.

    The easier and more fun we make it for people to cook, the less time they’ll need to spend in my clinic, or yours. And some of the most fun I have is teaching people to cook!


  • Thank you so much Dr. Hyman for posting this article and for helping to educate people about food and true health. As a culture we have gotten so far off track with our diets and the food system and it is killing us. Thankfully people are waking up and many out there are committed to helping create change.

    I write a food blog and teach healthy vegetable and super food focused cooking classes that seem to be really helping people, especially mothers and father who are having trouble getting their kids to eat well. It feels great to make an impact and to see the change happening. Education is truly the answer and food is thy medicine. If real food is eaten, the cost of medical care diminishes. Eating well is the only way, and it’s a delicious way!

    Keep the good info coming, and thank you!

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  • This article assumes that all the meals eaten outside the home are fast food or junk food. My family “eats out” at either Thai or Indian restaurants, both places use lots of fresh veggies, and whole grains. My Thai place even has brown rice as an alternate to white.

    I eat well EVERYWHERE!!!! ♥

  • It ALSO assumes that food cooked at home will be healthy food. Not necessarily so. Most/many Americans live on food fried in nasty oils (fryer machines that reuse the same oil for weeks/months! UGH), or refined flour, lots of meats, too much salt & seasoning “blends” that rely on MSG. In those homes, eating out at a restaurant that cooks with fresh veggies would be an improvement!

  • I agree with you on food. It actually costs more to go out to eat than to cook at home, especially if you have a lot of mouths to feed. Just tonight I made Chicken Parmesan for dinner (everything from scratch including mixing breadcrumbs with seasonings and cheese) and it was so fast, I couldn’t believe it. Total cost was maybe $10 for everything and that was 2 full chicken breasts with whole grain spaghetti as well. It was delish ! I love cooking so this is no news to me, but I can’t believe how many people think that cooking is hard ! Was my first time making this and I nailed it ! :]

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  • (1) The emphasis should be on whole food plant-based (vegan) nutrition. (2) cooked food loses about 50% of its protein, 70-80% of its vitamins and minerals, and close to 100% of its phytonutrients.