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Episode 93
The Doctor's Farmacy

A Fish Story: How To Improve Your Health While Protecting The Oceans

Open the Podcasts app and search for The Doctor’s Farmacy. If you’re viewing this site on your phone, you can just tap on the

Tap the subscribe button and new shows will be added to your library.

If you’re using a different device, our show is available on the following platforms.

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Fish is one of the most nutritious food sources on the planet, especially when it comes to protein. But I’m usually scared to eat it. 

That’s because some seafood is at risk for toxicity that can harm our health, not to mention certain aquaculture methods are contributing to declining populations and even the acidification of our oceans. It’s not all bad, but it is complex. 

There are several important things we should think about in order to reap the health benefits from fish and act as environmental stewards at the same time. 

To better understand seafood I sat down to talk with Paul Greenberg for this week’s episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy

Paul shares his expertise on fishing and aquaculture and breaks down the most important aspects to think about for health and environmental safety. To keep our oceans vital we need to support the entire food chain—the little fish are the ones that can pass nutrients from plankton onto the big fish we want to eat. Without balance, every part of the chain suffers. 

And there are many reasons fish populations are in danger. Monoculture is leading to dead zones; coastal fish farms leak nitrogen, antibiotics, and other toxins into the oceans; zooplankton that feeds the smallest fish in the food chain is suffering the most from increased carbon levels. 

But this doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy fish responsibly. Paul and I talk about the best resources for eating clean seafood and why certain things, like farmed salmon, are less nutritious than wild-caught. 

I hope you’ll tune in to learn more about enjoying fish more consciously. 

You can watch Paul’s TED talk right here.

This episode is brought to you by ButcherBox. ButcherBox is committed to humanely raised animals that are never given antibiotics or added hormones and since they take out the middleman you get extra savings. Right now ButcherBox has a special offer, get 2 lbs of wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon and 2 grass-fed filet mignon steaks for free in your first order PLUS $20 off your first box – just go to ButcherBox.com/farmacy. Make sure you order before February 25, 2020 to take advantage of this great deal.

I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD
Mark Hyman, MD

In this episode, you will learn (video / audio):

  1. Why I’m scared to eat fish and why Paul is optimistic about our oceans
    (4:03 / 6:55)
  2. Overfishing and the declining fish population around the world
    (15:05 / 17:57)
  3. How our monoculture is leading to the creation of dead zones in our waters
    (22:56 / 25:48)
  4. Pros and cons of aquaculture
    (24:34 / 27:26)
  5. The nutritional value and toxin levels of farmed salmon
    (28:45 / 31:37)
  6. The decline of our oceans from an environmental point of view and the death of phytoplankton
    (35:44 / 38:36)
  7. The most effective way to test for mercury exposure
    (41:18 / 44:10)
  8. The best types of fish for you to eat
    (50:21 / 53:13)
  9. Fish oil, omega-3 deficiency, and veganism
    (57:55 / 1:00:47)
  10. The issue of microplastics in the ocean
    (1:12:52 / 1:15:44)

Guest

 
Mark Hyman, MD

Mark Hyman, MD is the Founder and Director of The UltraWellness Center, the Head of Strategy and Innovation of Cleveland Clinic's Center for Functional Medicine, and a 13-time New York Times Bestselling author.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

 
Paul Greenberg

Paul is the bestselling author of Four Fish, American Catch, and The Omega Principle. A regular contributor to the New York Times and many other publications, Mr. Greenberg is the writer-in-residence at the Safina Center, a Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation and the recipient of a James Beard Award for Writing and Literature. He appears frequently on American and international radio and television programs and is the featured correspondent and co-writer of the 2017 PBS Frontline documentary The Fish On My Plate which, along with his TED talk, has reached millions of viewers.

Show Notes

  1. Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
  2. Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)
  3. Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP)
  4. Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch
  5. Greenpeace’s Carting Away the Oceans Report: 2018 Supermarket Seafood Ranking
  6. Seek out a “Community Supporting Fishery” or CSF through

Transcript

Paul Greenberg:
I want people to come to the fish conversation not feeling like all is lost. I want people to come to the fish conversation to know that the oceans are still extremely vital.
Kaya:
High everyone, it’s Kaya, one of the producers of the Doctor’s Farmacy podcast. Before we continue with this week’s episode, Dr. Hyman wants to share a little bit about his groundbreaking new book, Food Fix. Thanks for tuning in.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Hey, everyone, it’s Dr. Mark Hyman. I’m here to tell you about my latest book, Food Fix. Now everywhere we turn it feels like bad news. The future is bleak, climate is warming, the oceans are rising, the economy’s unstable, chronic disease, like diabetes and dementia are skyrocketing, but guess what? There’s actually a lot of solutions to these major problems and I put them all in my new book, Food Fix. We can stop the spread of preventable illnesses, we can reduce the burden of chronic disease on our economy, we can reverse climate change, heal the environment, and even create social justice. It all starts with fixing our broken food system. Together, we can fix it. Just visit FoodFixBook.com to learn more.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Welcome to The Doctor’s Farmacy. I’m Dr. Mark Hyman and that’s Farmacy with an F, F-A-R-M-A-C-Y, a place for conversations that matter. If you ever wondered if you should eat fish, how much you should eat, what you should eat, if it’s toxic, if it has microplastics, mercury, what we’re doing to the oceans, this is the conversation you should be listening to because it’s with Paul Greenberg who is a fisherman. Well, sort of that, but he’s much more than a fisherman, he’s a journalist, he’s got a curious mind about fish and the oceans and all things aquatic.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
He’s the best-selling author of Four Fish, which is about the four fish that we’re all eating, which is basically salmon, tuna, shrimp, and white fish, which is all kinds of different things, but mostly cod, and how we’re screwing it all up. He wrote a book called The American Catch, the Omega Principle about omega-3 fatty acids, which we’ll have a lot to talk about. He’s a regular writer and contributor to the New York Times, a secondary publication, but okay. All right.

Paul Greenberg:
Fake news.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Fake news, yeah, that’s right, fake news, many other publications. He’s a writer-in-residence at the Safina Center, a Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation, and a recipient of the James Beard Award for Writing and Literature. That’s amazing. He appears frequently on American and international radio and television and is featured correspondent and co-writer of the 2017 PBS Frontline Documentary, The Fish on My Plate, which along with his Ted Talk, which I would watch, has reached millions of viewers.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
He lives at Ground Zero in Manhattan where he produces, to his knowledge, the only wine grown and bottled in downtown New York. There must not be a lot of bottles made because it can’t have a lot of grapes growing down there.

Paul Greenberg:
Well, don’t alert the authorities. I don’t know if what I’m doing is entirely legal, but I do produce one bottle of wine a year down there.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
One bottle of wine.

Paul Greenberg:
Yes.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
From one grape vine.

Paul Greenberg:
Sometimes two, it depends. I call the wine Chateau [Nude 00:02:50], nude being zero. In French, if you want to call somebody a loser, you say they’re a [inaudible 00:02:55], so the wine-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Like, null, right?

Paul Greenberg:
Right, exactly. The wine is similarly vintage.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
All right. Well, let’s get into fish-

Paul Greenberg:
Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
… because it’s kind of a fish story.

Paul Greenberg:
Yes.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I really, as a doctor, would say fish is probably one of the most important sources of nutrients in our food supply. It’s full of omega-3 fatty acids essential for brain and heart health, neurological development, memory, mood, many, many other things, skin, hair, nails, you name it. It’s full of iodine, which we need. It’s got selenium, vitamin D, things you can’t actually get in many other places and, in fact, most of the human population evolved in coastal areas where the levels of fish in the diet were quite high.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
In fact, in the Northwest, the American tribes up there used the small, little, oily omega-3 rich fish to trade, as a trading currency. Fish is really, really important part of our history, both from an evolutionary point a view, a biological point of view, and we’re faced now with the fact that I’m scared to eat most fish because, one, we’re either over-fishing the oceans and destroying natural fisheries, we’re eating fish from an aquaculture that’s fish farms. It’s basically factory-farmed fish that has all kinds of health and environmental issues. We’re eating fish that is often polluted with mercury, not because it naturally has mercury, because we release so much coal into the environment that it pollutes the oceans and that gets into the algae and the little fish eat the algae and the big fish eat the big little fish and so on up the food chain. We’re the top of the food chain.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Then, we are also seeing problems now with microplastics, which are invisible plastics that come off from washing our… like polypropylene, polyester clothes in the washing machine, those microplastics get in the water, get in the fish, and create this level of toxicity. Eating fish to me is a scary thing now. I love fish, I think it’s great food, but we’re sort of stuck in a moment in time where our oceans are also being threatened, not just because of over-fishing, but because of climate change and the destruction of coral reefs, which are often the spawning grounds for much fish, our rivers are being dammed and destroyed, which natural fish can’t spawn, like salmon. We’re just experiencing so many crises around fish and I’m like, ah, what do we do?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You’ve been really fishing a long time, so you came at this naturally. You fished in Peru, in Norway, Alaska, off the waters of Long Island Sound, where you learned to fish with your dad when you were just five years old. When did you start to understand that this was more than just a hobby, that this was a calling and that over-fishing and other forms of harm to our oceans were causing far-reaching environmental issues? What is the story with fish?

Paul Greenberg:
Well, first of all, I mean, that preamble is very sad and-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I know. I’m so depressed.

Paul Greenberg:
… it doesn’t actually have to be that sad. It’s something of a point of perspective that you are bringing to the conversation that other people have different perspectives on. One thing I like to kind of throw out there just to start is that every year we take between 80 and 90 million metric tons of fish out of the sea every year. That’s the equivalent of the human weight of China taken out of the sea every single year.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
How many humans live in China?

Paul Greenberg:
That’s the weight of…

Dr. Mark Hyman:
If you weighed all the billions plus people, it would be that much fish?

Paul Greenberg:
That’s what we’re taking out of the sea.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You said that before [inaudible 00:06:36] show was like, what do you mean? He weighed China? He got China on a scale?

Paul Greenberg:
Yeah, I have a lot of assistants.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
No.

Paul Greenberg:
No, no, but to back up a second, all right, so-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Even now that China’s one of the fattest countries in the world or was that before they were?

Paul Greenberg:
Those numbers are from-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I’m just kidding, I’m just kidding. Go ahead.

Paul Greenberg:
Look at that perspective on that. Right? On the one hand, you could say, oh my god, what a horrible raping of the ocean. 80 to 90 billion metric tons, the human weight of China taken out of the sea each and every year.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Depends how much is there.

Paul Greenberg:
Well, yes, and on the other hand, that’s been stable for about 10 years, so the ocean, which people who come to this conversation just on hearsay and just, I’ve heard all the oceans, da, da, da, da, they think the oceans are dead, but the ocean right now, every year, is producing 80 to 90 million tons of wild protein that humans harvest every single year. On the one hand, you could say terrible raping of the ocean. On the other hand, you could say, whoa, the ocean, in spite of everything we’re doing to mess it up is still producing 80 to 90 million metric tons of protein every single year.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, but in your Ted Talk you’re like, “Oh, my team,” all your fish you used to catch aren’t there anybody. You only have four people on your team instead of a whole basketball team.

Paul Greenberg:
Yeah, I mean, to me that’s just an overarching thing. I want people to come to the fish conversation not feeling like all is lost. I want people to come to the fish conversation to know that the oceans are still extremely vital. We’re certainly kicking it around and we’re certainly kicking fish populations around, but there’s still a lot of abundance out there. Generally, a question, how did I get into all of this? Really, what brought me to fish was divorce.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Okay. Your dad’s or your own?

Paul Greenberg:
No, my dad’s. When I was three years old, my parents divorced and I started going on these divorced dad weekends. My dad was just like a Jewish psychiatrist from the Upper West Side, who really didn’t know anything about the outdoors or whatever thing. He had it in his mind that a father should take his son fishing. Like, that’s what-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Even though he never fished in his life. Right?

Paul Greenberg:
Not really and in fact, he always wanted his father to take him fishing, but the one time he took him fishing, my grandfather got horribly seasick and they never went fishing again. He took me fishing and, I don’t know, you have probably had this experience with your kids that when your kids really take to something, the parents just kind of get dragged along. I just took to fishing in this really intense kind of way and I became a much better fisherman than my father. My father to this day is a horrible fisherman. I always out-fish him. He’s like, as soon as he has a bite, he’s like… jerks the pole and whatever.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Loses the fish.

Paul Greenberg:
Most of the time he actually spends his time on these party boats out of Brooklyn in the front playing poker, whereas I went out to the rail to fish. Anyway-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Not throwing up.

Paul Greenberg:
No, no, no, no. He was inside playing poker and I was fishing.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Wait, I’ve got to tell you a quick story. I had the same divorced dad weekends.

Paul Greenberg:
Yeah. I’ll bet.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
My dad, I was five when my parents split, and we would go somewhere off Long Island on these giant boats and we’d go at night.

Paul Greenberg:
Yep.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
There’d be people barfing off the side of the boat all night.

Paul Greenberg:
That can happen.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
We’d catch a couple of flounder and my dad was like, “It’s okay. It’s good chum for the fish.”

Paul Greenberg:
Well, so there are certainly people who do that every once in a while, but for me, every single divorced dad weekend it was like, we’re going fishing and we really did it. Then, as I grew up, when I was with my mom, we grew up in a series of… she moved us around to a series of rental cottages in the backwoods of Greenwich, Connecticut. I say, I lived in Greenwich, Connecticut, but we rented, we didn’t own and we would always, my mom just followed my lead, and we always rented a cottage that was on a river or on a lake. During the week, I fished freshwater, in the woods of Greenwich, Connecticut, and on the weekends, I’d do big game with my dad in the saltwater.

Paul Greenberg:
I did all that and I was really just sort of blindly catching and killing fish, not really that concerned about it, but it was really, the thing that changed is that, so I would say that the urge to catch fish or to hunt and kill things is kind of inversely proportional to your desire to pursue individuals of your species of the opposite sex. I was totally into fishing until like 13, 14, 15, and then as I started getting into-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The surge of-

Paul Greenberg:
It started to dip and I started getting more interested in going out with women, so I abandoned fishing for about 10 years. Lived abroad, worked abroad, had various [inaudible 00:11:07] adventures, and then, well, as the interest in the opposite sex starts to wane, surprise, surprise, fishing starts to become interesting again. In my middle 30s, I started to fish again. After that long pause of not fishing and going back to my same waters, I found that there was remarkably fewer fish to be caught.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Paul Greenberg:
That’s when it really struck me, like wow, something has really seriously changed. This thing that was not just an amusement for me, but was like real passion… I mean, I think I said this maybe in my Tik Tok, but I was not a great athlete. Maybe it’s my… in the great tradition of Jewish athletes, I was not a particularly good athlete, so for me, my team were all the fish that came in and out of my waters every year. That’s where I really felt the allegiance, so when I came back to my home waters and saw things like winter flounder were gone from Long Island Sound, mackerel that used to come in past Greenwich not there anymore, all these different creatures that came in to Long Island Sound every single year-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Gone.

Paul Greenberg:
… gone or severely, severely diminished. That made me kind of want to find out what was really going on here.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, I remember took a hiking trip a few years ago in Newfoundland and the massive cod fisheries there.

Paul Greenberg:
Yep.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Massive. They had whole towns that were just focused on cod fishing. One of them I went to visit and you could only get there by boat and has this massive fish processing plant. It was a ghost town. We went to the fish dock and there was a couple of little fishing boats bringing a few tiny, small, little cod and they used to bring in these massive cod and just didn’t know what to do with all the fish.

Paul Greenberg:
Yep, yep.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Then, well, you mentioned your Ted Talk that it was McDonald’s fish sandwich, so it’s the Catholic’s fault because they wouldn’t eat burgers on Fridays, so the fish, they had to make fish sandwiches.

Paul Greenberg:
Well, I mean, so the cod-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
No offense to Catholics.

Paul Greenberg:
The cod fish is really, that’s the kind of signature story of the collapse of ocean life that I think is really ingrained in a lot of American’s heads. As you say, cod fish was really the bedrock of so much American coastal activity. The triangular trade of the slave era was in part fueled by cod fish because merchant vessels would bring manufactured goods to England, but then they would take dried salt cod down to the plantations of the south. That’s what actually fed slaves.

Paul Greenberg:
Then, going forward, this huge body of fish, these cod fish that were off of the grand banks of Newfoundland, off of Canada, there was a huge upsurge post-war in catching and freezing these fish. The freezing technology that allowed you to quick freeze fish, invented by Clarence Birdseye, allowed this whole array of industrial products to emerge. Fish sticks, fish tenders, and then as you say, the filet of fish sandwich that McDonald’s brought to us. I should say, that story is that when McDonald’s was on its initial rise in the 60s, there was a franchise owner in Cleveland who found that on Fridays nobody came into the shop to buy a burger and the reason being they were mostly Catholics in this community, so he went to Ray Kroc and he said, “Ray, I have this idea for a sandwich.” [inaudible 00:14:34], “Well, what’s the idea?” He was like, “It’s a fish sandwich and it will be on a bun and it will be called the Filet-O-Fish.” Ray Kroc was like, “Nah, nah, I got another burger. I’m [crosstalk 00:14:46].”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The [Maui 00:14:46] burger.

Paul Greenberg:
The Hula burger.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The Hula burger.

Paul Greenberg:
The Hula burger, it’s like, because it was the time of the 60s and Mad Men and pineapples.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Paul Greenberg:
He was going to put a slice of pineapple on a bun and that was going to be the solution to that no meat on Friday’s solution. Ray Kroc said, “Well, let’s go head to head and we’ll see who wins.” Well-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The fish won.

Paul Greenberg:
… the fish won.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Okay, so we’re in this situation now where we still harvest an enormous amount of fish, but the fish populations around the world are declining. Right?

Paul Greenberg:
Declining or if not-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Or changing?

Paul Greenberg:
… over-fished. I mean, so the world catch has quadrupled since World War II. We went from about 20 million metric tons to 80 million metric tons over the course of about 70 years. It has flat lined for the last 10 years, so we ain’t going to catch any more.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Is it harder to get them?

Paul Greenberg:
It is harder to get it. What’s called the catch per unit of effort has definitely gone done, so more effort to catch fewer fish and some people put it out there that the only reason that we’re maintaining this 80 to 90 million metric tons a year is because we’re fishing further out, deeper, there’s a larger fishing fleet out there trying to catch these fish, so that in fact, we may actually be mining deeper and deeper into our principle if you see what I’m saying.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. Is there anybody who has a sense of how much fish is out there?

Paul Greenberg:
I’ve tried to talk to different people about that and you should also keep in mind that the edible fish, the fish that we harvest, is actually a relatively small portion of all the fish that are out there. There’s all sorts of other kinds of fish that are either too small or too deep, too weird for us to eat. There’s this whole layer in the ocean called the deep scattering layer that rises and falls depending… sort of in sync with diurnal, with day patterns. That layer, which is normally below the level at which we fish, has a huge biomass of fish, but it’s mostly little fish, weird fish, things that we’re never going to catch. That’s sort of a dog leg.

Paul Greenberg:
The fish that we focus on, the larger vertebrates that we’re eating, that 80 to 90 million metric tons, that’s what we’re talking about when we’re talking about what we take from the ocean. What is that as a proportion of the larger biomass that’s out in the ocean, I’m not sure anyone really quite knows.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I mean, are you worried about the oceans and fish?

Paul Greenberg:
I am certainly worried, actually.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
What are you worried about?

Paul Greenberg:
I’m worried about, so when you think about fish, it’s helpful to have metaphors and I think one metaphor that really works is a bank account. We in a healthy fishing situation, we should really only be eating the interest that our bank account is generating, so imagine there’s all these fish out there, large fish that are breeding, producing offspring, and every year there is something of an amount that we can take without affecting that principle, that base population. Different fishery scientists have different ideas of how much that percentage is, but in that huge upsurge in fishing that happened from World War II to the present, we really started eating into our principle. That’s what happened, like for example with cod fish off of the Grand Banks.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Paul Greenberg:
We have a situation with the Grand Banks where the overall biomass of cod fish probably went down by 90% to 95%.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s incredible.

Paul Greenberg:
Imagine if you had $100,000 in your bank account and say you were getting, whatever, 3% interest, you have 3,000 bucks a year, but if your principle went down to like $5,000, I mean, that’s pennies. You know what I mean?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Paul Greenberg:
That’s what I’m concerned about and that is the case in probably… it depends [crosstalk 00:18:27]

Dr. Mark Hyman:
What are the at-risk fish?

Paul Greenberg:
Sorry?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
What are the fish that are at-risk that we’re consuming?

Paul Greenberg:
Well, it’s hard to identify by species name because fish are kind of like, if you just say cod fish, there are cod fish all over the world. There are Pacific cod, which is a slightly different species, there are cod in the North Atlantic, off of Norway and the Barents Sea. Each of those different populations is like a nation of fish and each nation has a different degree of health, so Canadian cod fish off of the Northeast and North American cod fish off the Northeast, those nations are severely depleted, but cod fish off of Alaska, for example, Pacific cod are in relatively good shape. Off the Barents Sea where Norway fishes and where Russia fishes, those populations, because they’ve actually radically reformed their fisheries management, are actually in pretty good shape and if you notice now if you go to a Whole Foods, if you go to a supermarket to buy cod fish, chances are it will say Product of Norway, Product of Iceland because those fisheries are actually being managed pretty well. They are no longer dipping into their principle. They have gotten to the point where they’re harvesting a healthy [crosstalk 00:19:35].

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You say there’s over-fishing, so what are you talking about?

Paul Greenberg:
Well, so I would say about… the latest numbers I’ve seen is about 30% of the commercial fish stocks out there are over-fished. In other words, we’re dipping into the principle at this point. In a certain percentage of those, the over-fishing may have stopped and were stopped, the catch has been severely reduced and we’re waiting. We’re in a sort of rebuilding period, hopefully get to the point where we can take a certain amount every single year that is enough to be a decent commercial harvest for us, but the world population is growing. In countries that have the money to spend on good fisheries’ management, where you have observers aboard vessels, where you have a scientific approach to quota and so far like that, then these are the places like United states, like Australia, Norway, the countries have pretty good fisheries’ management in place.

Paul Greenberg:
If you’re looking at China, coastal China, coastal Japan-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Japan, yeah.

Paul Greenberg:
… Thailand, Vietnam, technically there are ideas of quotas and things like that in place, but they are in various depleted areas. Depending on the fishery, many areas have severely depleted.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
As I studied Chinese in college and in America they talk about abundance, being the land of milk and honey.

Paul Greenberg:
Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
In China, the same expression is the land of fish and rice.

Paul Greenberg:
Interesting. No, it’s interesting and China, meanwhile, is the largest harvester of fish in the world and the largest grower of fish in the world. Why are they the largest harvester of wild fish in the world? Well, it’s because they’ve depleted their coastal resources so much that they have a huge and expanding international fleet that is now fishing all over the world, buying quota from all sorts of countries, from Africa to South America, etcetera, etcetera, to satisfy that fish and rice jones that they have in that country.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. Do you think we need better international regulation of our fisheries to-

Paul Greenberg:
I think that we all need to get on the same page. The major fishing nations of the world have to understand that we can’t just endlessly delve into the principle. I mean, the problem and the frustrating thing about over-fishing is that country after country has been faced with this lesson and some countries have learned from it. The United States, I would say at this point, has kind of learned its lesson and we’ve, actually over the course of the last 40-50 years… actually the last 20-30 years, have rebuilt something like 30 different populations of fish around the United States and that was because of really progressive, great reform that happened in something that in 1986 was called the Sustainable Fisheries Act, which mandated that every commercial fish population in the United States had to be rebuilt by a certain date and we’re actually coming up upon those dates. Not every country has that policy and especially when you have developing countries, right, where you have just-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
They’re just hungry for food. Right?

Paul Greenberg:
Everyone’s hungry for food. Particularly hungry for protein and the horrible thing, which I’m sure… I know that you’ve written about is that there’s this idea that historical American levels of animal food consumption is somehow a sign of affluence and well-being and stuff like that. If everybody follows our model-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
No, bad idea.

Paul Greenberg:
… then the world can’t-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
What’s also more frightening is that the coastal areas where a lot of the fish are, are being decimated through not only pollution, but nitrogen pollution, which is run off from the fertilizer on the farms in the Midwest that go into the Gulf of Mexico and literally create a dead zone the size of New Jersey. They kill 212,000 metric tons of fish a year. There are 400 similar dead zones around the world the size of Europe killing all those fish that put the food for half a billion people at risk.

Paul Greenberg:
That’s right, and it’s a clear case, what I say it’s like we’re trading seafood for land food because what are we doing, why is that situation happening? It’s happening because we’re growing huge amounts of corn and soy, we’re taking out these really protective, stream-side ecosystems, forest ecosystems, putting down tons of soy and corn, which is typically a pretty leaky crop, so you put a lot of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer on that stuff, washes into the water, causes algal blooms in, as you say, the Gulf of Mexico where [crosstalk 00:24:00].

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Lake Erie.

Paul Greenberg:
Lake Erie. When the algae dies, the oxygen is sucked out of the water and you have these dead zones, you have these hug fish kills. In a way, we’re kind of trading this really healthy, wild seafood, for a less healthy option. I mean, saturated fat beef and pork and chicken that we’re growing on crops of corn and soy-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, not a good plan.

Paul Greenberg:
… when we could be having all this wild seafood that is high in omega-3s, as you said at the beginning, all these different nutrients.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Okay, so we have to sort of reform our fisheries and people often don’t realize that, they think aquaculture, farm fish, well that solves the problem, but not so fast. Right? What’s interesting and most people don’t realize is that there’s a whole concept of bi-catch. In order to produce… find the fish that we like, we kill a lot of fish and also, to get fish fed, we often use other fish, so we grind up other fish. We use maybe 10 pounds of fish from the ocean that’s ground up to feed the fish that we like, the ones we want to eat, like salmon.

Paul Greenberg:
Right.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You’re like, it’s not a very efficient process and it’s also taking away a lot of the important fish in the ocean. Right?

Paul Greenberg:
Well, so there is this thing that is invisible to most Americans and probably most people called the reduction industry and the reduction industry takes about one out of every four pounds of fish caught goes to this reduction industry, which does what it says. It reduces all of this fish biomass into meal and oil and that in turn gets fed largely nowadays to farmed fish. In the early days of aquaculture, the amount of fish that you needed to grow a pound of salmon say, was pretty appalling. In the early days, six pounds of wild fish to produce a single pound of salmon. The industry has changed in the last few years. It’s now probably about two to one largely because we’re putting all sorts of other stuff in [crosstalk 00:25:54]

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, I mean there was soy and corn.

Paul Greenberg:
Soy and corn, and we’re basically turning salmon more or less into a farm animal just like anything you would farm. Yeah, but the really important thing here, though, is all of those little fish that are ground up play a really important ecosystem role. The little fish are actually the way that solar energy gets converted into tissue energy, which then passes on to larger fish. You have creatures like anchovies, like sardines, they’re eating plankton that otherwise couldn’t transfer-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Plankton, right.

Paul Greenberg:
… on to the bigger fish. Without those, if you take all those little fish, if you take the anchovy, if you take the sardines out of the middle of the food chain, then you’re going to reduce the amount of big fish that are out there, which are the big fish, surprise, surprise, that we would like to eat.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Sure.

Paul Greenberg:
It can be a case of I’m robbing Peter to pay Paul. That said, I would be inconsistent if I just came out as some sort of huge anti-aquaculture person because I’m not. I actually think that our many fixes we could do to get us to a point where aquaculture is actually producing a net amount of marine protein for us.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
There’s a lot of problems with aquaculture. Right?

Paul Greenberg:
Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
They use antibiotics, there’s a lot of pollution, what they feed the fish is funky. Is it healthy for us? What’s the story with farm fish? You might farm salmon, is it healthy or not? What’s the level of omega-3s, what’s the level of toxins? What are the downstream consequences of these aquacultures on the environment? Tell us about that.

Paul Greenberg:
Just like every wild fish population has different degrees of suffering or different degrees of success or failure, there’s good aquaculture and there’s bad aquaculture. The worst aquaculture loads the coastal environment with nitrogen and phosphorus, just like any kind of terrestrial agricultural system would do.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Just to be clear, most aquaculture is penned areas in oceans that are on the shoreline.

Paul Greenberg:
Yes. These are like circular… they’re called net pens and you’ll see them sort of in like big constellations in coastal areas.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
They’re throwing all that crap into the ocean.

Paul Greenberg:
First of all, they pack the fish in fairly tight, they throw in all this feed and in some countries, you mentioned antibiotics, some countries don’t permit antibiotics, some countries do. Again, Asian countries tend to be a little… well, I would say a lot more-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Lenient.

Paul Greenberg:
… lenient on that kind of thing. Norway has largely moved away from antibiotics and moved to inoculating fish rather than putting antibiotics in the feed. It varies from place to place. It’s hard to say where do you want to come at this first. Let’s just take salmon for example because salmon is right now the most consumed-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Farm fish.

Paul Greenberg:
Well, the most consumed fish in America right now. Salmon are coming to us… farm salmon are coming to us largely from Norway and from Chile. Norway has, as I said, improved their antibiotic situation, increasingly they’re using less and less. Chile has recently made a pledge not to use antibiotics in their farm salmon. It’s a work in progress, I would say at this point. As I say, the feed has changed dramatically. It used to be that it was almost all fish going into the feed and now it’s a combination of soy and other kind of products going in, so that the amount of damage we’re doing directly to these little fish from salmon farms has gone down to some degree. That, though, and to your point about nutrition, has changed the nutritional profile of farm salmon.

Paul Greenberg:
It used to be that farm salmon were primarily a vector for bringing omega-3 fatty acids into our bodies, but now that you have soy and all these other kinds of agricultural additives to the feed-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
More omega-6s.

Paul Greenberg:
… you’re going to have more omega-6s, and as I think you’ve probably explored, omega-6s and omega-3s actually compete for space on the same enzymes, so that can then impact our ability to lengthen short chain omega-3 fatty acids from vegetable sources and it also possibly, and again, this is science that I think is very much on the edge, I’d be happy to hear your opinion on the whole thing, but there’s some that say that omega-6 tends to lead us down the pathway of inflammation, whereas omega-3s lead us-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Just need balance. Right? We need both, but it’s really the balance. We used to have 20 to one… I mean, four or five to one omega-3 to omega-6, now we have 20 to one, up to 20 to one omega-6-

Paul Greenberg:
That’s right.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
… to omega-3s in some people-

Paul Greenberg:
That’s right.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
… who eat a lot of processed food.

Paul Greenberg:
Right, and as you were saying, you would eat fish all the time in part because, right, it’s one way of locking in that good balance. Right?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.

Paul Greenberg:
If you made wild, oily fish your primary protein, you probably have a pretty good balance, but if you start putting in farm salmon, if that’s your go-to fish-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Then your omega-3s are not getting the bang for your buck.

Paul Greenberg:
You’re still getting quite a few omega-3s, like farm salmon has quite a lot of omega-3s in it, but they’re also going to be carrying omega-6s to you as well.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
What about other toxins because you hear farm fish have more PCBs and more environmental toxins and-

Paul Greenberg:
This is emerging and changing. The thing that really got people in a twist about farm salmon was something called The [Hites 00:31:23] study that came out in 2002. I believe it was funded by the Pew Charitable Trust. That study looked at farm salmon from around the world and looked at PCBs, polychlorinated biphenyls, which as you know are a byproduct of a lot of different-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Industrial, yeah.

Paul Greenberg:
… industrial manufacturing processes. Anyway, after they compared farm salmon samples around the world, from Norway to Chile and everywhere in between, they found generally speaking that farm salmon had significantly higher levels of PCBs than wild salmon.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Sure.

Paul Greenberg:
Now, that was 2002. Since then, I would say that that time probably in some way motivated by the Hites report, the industry has really changed and they’ve moved… Where were these PCBs coming from? They were mostly coming from these little forage fish, mostly harvested in the much dirtier northern hemisphere. The northern hemisphere just… parenthesis within many parentheses, the northern hemisphere generally speaking-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
More polluted.

Paul Greenberg:
… more polluted than the southern hemisphere. In the course of… since the Hites report was published in the 2002, to the present time, A, a lot of farm salmon producers have switched to sourcing their little fish from the southern hemisphere, like the Peruvian anchoveta, which is the biggest fishery in the world, by the way, 99% of which goes to reduction. That has become a real driver of the salmon industry and those fish are notably cleaner than the little tiny fish that they were harvesting in the northern hemisphere, so there’s that.

Paul Greenberg:
The other element is, as I said earlier, there’s a lot of other stuff in salmon feed other than fish now. All the soy, the corn, all the other industrial, agricultural, industrial product-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Probably have pesticides and [crosstalk 00:33:11]

Paul Greenberg:
… which might be pesticides. What I keep saying and I’ve said this to the Ministry of Fisheries in Norway and so forth, it’s like somebody’s got to redo the Hites study.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Study.

Paul Greenberg:
We’ve got to do it now. That was a huge epic study and when I wrote to Hites at one point, I said, “Care to comment?” He’s like, “No, I don’t want to comment on this. That was the most media-intense study I ever did, it was really unpleasant dealing with the whole thing because the industry got really angry,” but I would just love to see somebody do this again because the ocean’s dynamic, we’re dynamic. Before I’d go out and say, “All farm fish are laced with PCB’s,” I want to see it. I want to see the [crosstalk 00:33:55]

Dr. Mark Hyman:
They’re also grown in the ocean, so do they have more mercury, too?

Paul Greenberg:
Well, but so do wild fish. I mean, [crosstalk 00:34:01]

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Right. I’m just saying, has there been data on the difference in mercury content wild or versus-

Paul Greenberg:
So far as I understand, Hites did not look at mercury and I should say that generally speaking, when we have concerns about salmon… I’m sorry, when we have concerns about mercury, we’re not really talking about salmon. The mercury issue is-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
About wild fish or any fish?

Paul Greenberg:
Wild or farm salmon, mercury has not traditionally been a major issue. Why? Well, wild salmon tend to eat… The majority of the wild salmon that we eat are Pacific salmon and they tend to eat lower on the food chain, so sockeye salmon, for example, or pink salmon, they’re going to be eating little things like krill, really and some degree, other kinds of plankton as well. Krill, by the way, is what gives them, salmon, that orangy pink color.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Paul Greenberg:
Those fish, I’ve never heard of a sockeye salmon, a wild sockeye salmon, having a mercury issue. With farm salmon, the feed, generally speaking, as I say, PCBs have been an issue, but in all the different research I’ve done around the world, I’ve never heard either from the environmental community or from the industry, I’ve never heard of mercury being a significant issue in farm salmon.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. It’s hard to say. I mean, I know with wild salmon it’s certainly less than let’s say tuna, but I wouldn’t say it’s zero.

Paul Greenberg:
Right.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The reason I know that is because I had patients who eliminated all fish and only eat wild salmon.

Paul Greenberg:
Yeah. What were their levels?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Their levels are high.

Paul Greenberg:
Yeah. How often are they eating it?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Frequently, but it’s not a zero and I think that’s disturbing to me as well. I think, sort of the next subject I want to get into, before we get into that, I want to just ask you about the decline of our oceans from an environmental point of view because climate change is rising CO2 levels, acidifies the oceans. It’s our biggest carbon sink-

Paul Greenberg:
Yep, absolutely.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
… on the planet and the acidification kills the phytoplankton, which you mentioned before feed a lot of the fish and also produce half of the oxygen on the planet, which we breathe.

Paul Greenberg:
By the way, yes.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
By the way, so we’re acidifying the oceans, killing the phytoplankton, heating up the oceans, changing fish populations, can you explain that to people and what should we do about it?

Paul Greenberg:
Yeah. I mean, there’s a lot of things going on and there is a big concern about what’s going on at a microscopic planktonic level. My apologies if I get a little technical here.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Go. I’ll stop you and explain.

Paul Greenberg:
There are a couple of rungs between phytoplankton and the fish that we eat, so you have phytoplankton, which as you say, every second breath of oxygen you take is coming from phytoplankton, but then, the next level up from phytoplankton are what are called zooplanktons, zoo, from animal.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Paul Greenberg:
It’s called a zoo because it’s animal. Zooplankton eats phytoplankton. Then, you have little fish that eat the zooplankton, so this acidification issue you’re talking about is probably going to have the largest effect on these zooplankton. The zooplankton are the ones that tend to have calcium in their shells. There’s a creature called the copepod, for example, it’s a kind of zooplankton. If those zooplankton can’t form shells, if they can’t exist, then there’s no way for the phytoplankton to pass on-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
To the fish.

Paul Greenberg:
… to the fish. If we lose that middle layer-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
We’re screwed.

Paul Greenberg:
… we’re really, really screwed. Yes, the ocean is getting more acidic. This is one of these really dark… I think we began the interview with me trying to be optimistic and generally I am optimistic in terms of the ocean still contains a lot of life, but these big, big drivers, the [carbonification 00:37:48] of the ocean, as you said, the ocean is our largest carbon sink by far. At a certain point, we’re exhausting the resources of the ocean to absorb the excess carbon and when the ocean gets too carbon saturated, that’s when it starts to become more acidic and that’s when it becomes ultimately-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
How far are we from that?

Paul Greenberg:
We’re already seeing the effects. There have been significant larval failures of oyster crops in the Pacific Northwest. We’re starting to see that in the Northeast to some degree. I mean, I’m of the crowd that we really need to get our carbon situation in order pronto and we’re probably going to see it on an ocean level, on an ocean life level before we start to see it on a kind of [crosstalk 00:38:36].

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I mean, the coral reefs are critical to all our fisheries and to-

Paul Greenberg:
To many of them, to many of them.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Many fisheries.

Paul Greenberg:
To tropical fisheries. Also, yeah, we are, because of ocean warming, it’s more of a warming issue than acidification with coral, but we could lose coral reefs within the next 40 or 50 years.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I mean, I remember when I was a kid in the 70s, going to the Bahamas and snorkeling around and it was just like an incredible display of color and coral and fish and… I’ve been scuba diving all over the world since then and just it’s all like gray and dead and a few little things here and there.

Paul Greenberg:
Yep. That’s, and of course, as things always play out in this unequal world of ours, where the greatest degree of poverty and actual fish dependence tends to be in these tropical latitudes and that’s where coral is. If we do lose those coral reefs, it’s really going to be first and foremost, people of lower income who are dependent upon wild fisheries.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s right. That’s right. Okay, so let’s talk about this other boogie man which is the pollution in the oceans around mercury.

Paul Greenberg:
Okay.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Now, you did an experiment where you decided you were going to eat fish every day, every meal for a year.

Paul Greenberg:
Yes, indeed.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
First, I want to know what fish and then I want to know what happened?

Paul Greenberg:
Yeah. Yeah, this was part of, I mean, was sort of a dare on the part of Frontline when I was doing this documentary called The Fish on My Plate and I just decided, yes, I would eat fish for every single meal for a year, including my snacks and so forth. I tried generally speaking to follow the non-profit Environmental Defense Fund puts out they have pretty good ratings of different fish and their mercury levels and I tried generally to follow their advice.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You’re eating lower mercury.

Paul Greenberg:
I was, I was. I was having wild salmon, I was having smaller fish, like anchovies, I was having mussels, things like that, things that nobody really tags as being super high in mercury, but however many meals later, 900 seafood meals later, I had really pretty high mercury.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
What was the number in your blood?

Paul Greenberg:
I think it was something like… from a hair test, which is obviously different-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Different.

Paul Greenberg:
… from a blood test, but I think it was up around six or seven ppm. Normally, it’s supposed to be below… below, well you said-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Nothing.

Paul Greenberg:
Nothing. Exactly.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s pretty high.

Paul Greenberg:
I know, it was pretty high. I remember-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You didn’t know what your blood test was.

Paul Greenberg:
The blood test actually, I did do the blood test. The blood test showed pretty much normal, and that’s what’s interesting. I mean, I’d be curious to hear your opinion because I think that people who go and just simply get a blood test are not really getting the real information about what their mercury because your hair… isn’t the hair the true record of what you’ve been eating?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yes. The blood test looks at 90 days of consumption, so if you stop eating fish for 90 days, you’d probably be close to zero.

Paul Greenberg:
Yep.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Your hair test is about six months or so and does register, but again, that’s dependent on your current exposure.

Paul Greenberg:
Right.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
If your hair grows out and you haven’t eaten it, it’s going to be zero.

Paul Greenberg:
Right, right, right.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The best way to tell and one that is not part of traditional medical care, but should be, is what we call a challenge test, so you take a pill that chelates or binds to the metals and pulls them out and you collect your urine.

Paul Greenberg:
Ah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That is the most effective way to see what your body burden is. There are other more sophisticated tests. For example, for lead, like bone lead levels, but those are only used in research.

Paul Greenberg:
Interesting.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I think our just blood levels are just where we can look easily, but it’s not where the money is.

Paul Greenberg:
I mean, honestly, I had my blood tested several times in the course of the year, I never had a high reading on the blood. Hair, though, consistently-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Paul Greenberg:
With the hair, so it was interesting. I was actually at the same time working on a story for Audubon Magazine about mercury in birds, so I became friendly with a guy named Dan Crystal at the University of William and Mary who is doing a very long, interesting study that was particularly of settlement with DuPont over a mercury spill in the Shenandoah Valley. He happened to have a little mercury test tester, so I would just clip my hair… because I was on a budget, but Dan was saying, he would always say to me, “Send me more hair.”

Paul Greenberg:
I remember at the time, I mean, I think the test you’re describing is generally not available to a lot of people and even when I was at the Department of Health in Alaska, they weren’t using that test.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
No, no.

Paul Greenberg:
They were doing hair tests, but what I will say, though, is when my hair test… actually happened to have gotten some hair tests from Dan at William and Mary while I was in Alaska and I was actually sitting in the office of the Alaska Department of Health and I said to the guy from the office, “If somebody sent you a hair sample like mine and you saw these numbers, what would the State of Alaska do?” It’s like, “Well, we’d send somebody out to your village and tell you to stop eating so much whale and walrus.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yes. Right.

Paul Greenberg:
I was high even for an Alaskan native.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
High, yes. Yes.

Paul Greenberg:
Which goes to your point, which is that-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Did you have any adverse effects from it?

Paul Greenberg:
I didn’t notice any, to tell you the truth, but I wanted to just underline one point. You said you looked at wild salmon and yes, there’s mercury in wild salmon. Well, that’s the thing about seafood. There’s a little bit of mercury pretty much in all of it.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
All of it. Especially rivers and lakes in this country.

Paul Greenberg:
Especially rivers and lakes.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, so if people think, “Oh, I’m going to have lake or river fish,” not a good idea.

Paul Greenberg:
I mean, that’s incredible. I grew up going to the Adirondacks and my grandparents had a house up there. Then, you look at the health advisories for Lake Placid or Mirror Lake, which look at like these pristine, beautiful bodies, they’re actually worse than the ocean. Why? Because we know from the EPA, the solution to pollution is dilution.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Right.

Paul Greenberg:
These water bodies, meanwhile, that are in the direct lee of all these smokestacks in the Midwest-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yes, right.

Paul Greenberg:
… they’re… thanks very much President and administration for removing their [crosstalk 00:44:35]-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s not acid rain, it’s heavy metal rain.

Paul Greenberg:
It’s heavy metal rain coming from burning coal.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Lead and mercury from coal. Right.

Paul Greenberg:
Yep.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s really what it comes from is the coal industry-

Paul Greenberg:
That’s right.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
… globally has driven up the levels of lead and mercury in the environment and in the oceans.

Paul Greenberg:
Yep. This is one thing, which again, repeats or… this is one more thing that I think we need to study more. As far as I understand, a farmed fish where the feed is inspected and found to be relatively mercury-free is not going to have the mercury issues of a wild fish. I mean, that’s the real key issue.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Are you worried about any farm salmon or farm fish?

Paul Greenberg:
Generally not. I mean, I’m not… I wouldn’t say that all farmed fish-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Like tilapia from China.

Paul Greenberg:
I’m not into eating… I generally avoid fish from China. I mean-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Why?

Paul Greenberg:
… because I just don’t entirely trust even… I just don’t trust the level of inspection and certification. There are major food companies who do source from China and do audit directly and like, for example, maybe a Chinese tilapia filet that’s sold by Whole Foods, where I know Whole Foods, for example, I know they do farm by farm inspection and auditing. That I might eat, but just like some random low rate supermarket that says, “Product of China,” not so into it.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
They usually don’t say where it’s from.

Paul Greenberg:
They don’t usually say where it’s from, but when it comes to farm salmon, on the other hand, from a health perspective would I eat Norwegian farm salmon? Yes.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
There are organic aquaculture farms. Right?

Paul Greenberg:
They are.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Are they substantially different?

Paul Greenberg:
It has to do, again, the feed, it’s going to have to come… if there’s agricultural product in the feed, it’s going to have to come from organic sources, so if there’s soy, it’s going to have to be organic soy, the fish meal in fish oil is going to have to come from, I think, sustainable fisheries. There’s something out there called the Marine Stewardship Council that’s certifies fisheries as being sustainable and they’ve most recently gotten into certifying, not the fish that we eat, but the forage fish that are fed to other fish. Believe me, there’s a huge amount of controversy in that because some people feel like, well, what’s sustainable about killing fish to feed to other fish that we’re going to eat?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Right.

Paul Greenberg:
That’s a whole-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Are there better forms of aquaculture that are land-based, that can be done differently, that are integrated into regenerative farms? I mean, what is the future of aquaculture?

Paul Greenberg:
Yeah, so most aquaculture is done in these open net pens in the sea where all the waste can go into coastal waters and cause all sorts of problems. There are increasingly aquaculture operations that when you take fish out of the ocean entirely, put them in tanks, raise them in tanks, and treat their wastewater, and potentially that could have a better environmental impact, at least in terms of nitrogen and phosphorus.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Paul Greenberg:
On the other hand, take a bunch of fish, put them in a tank, you’ve got to heat that tank, you’ve got to run filters, so there’s a huge energy cost and pretty much every single, what’s called recirculating… they’re called [recirc 00:47:46] facilities. Every single recirculating aquaculture facility that sent me a press release to announce how wonderful their fish farm is, by the time, like you, like me… I, like you, have a huge email backlog. By the time I get to that PR things, like come see our amazing recirc facility and I’ll click on it, then the website goes dead and they’re out of business precisely because they have this whole added cost. Right? The reason salmon farms are able to continue to make money is because they’re outsourcing the cost of waste management to the environment.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Right. Yeah. They’re right. The ecosystem services that we-

Paul Greenberg:
The ecosystem service, so-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
… steal are not a [inaudible 00:48:23]

Paul Greenberg:
As long as we allow that, as long as we allow that, there’s no way most of the time that a recirculating aquaculture system that’s out of the ocean can effectively compete. Interestingly, I don’t know if you’ve followed the whole debate around genetically modified salmon at all?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yes.

Paul Greenberg:
We can get to that, too, but those guys say to me, “Hey, we’re actually incredibly environmentally sustainable because our fish, our genetically modified fish, grow twice as fast, which means that you have to keep them half as long in those tanks, which means we use less energy.” They say, “it’s the only way we’ll ever make out of ocean aquaculture financially feasible is by using genetically modified fish.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. Their argument for that is when they escape and get into the natural fisheries.

Paul Greenberg:
Yes, and that’s a concern. All the people who are working on genetically modified salmon have assured me that they will only ever be grown in tanks, they will never be farmed in the open ocean, but to me, all it takes is one very persuasive Chinese entrepreneur to say, “Well, maybe we could grow these genetically modified salmon in a net pen in the ocean.” Then they escape and then we’ll see what happens.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, they’re doing that, though, aren’t they?

Paul Greenberg:
As far as I know, there is no genetically modified salmon being grown in an open net pen. I mean, the whole situation is so kind of bizarre right now. Right now, the genetically modified salmon, which by the way has just recently been approved by FDA for American consumption, so the eggs are produced in Prince Edward Island, they’re flown to Panama and grown out in Panama with the idea then they’ll be harvested and fileted and then sent to the United States. Talk about carbon footprint.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Wow.

Paul Greenberg:
The reason is because while the GMO salmon has been approved for consumption in the US, it hasn’t necessarily been permitted for production in the US.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, oh my God.

Paul Greenberg:
Hence, the eggs in Canada and the fish in Panama. That might have changed since I last looked at it, but that was the way it was the last time I [crosstalk 00:50:21].

Dr. Mark Hyman:
What fish should we eat?

Paul Greenberg:
What fish should we eat? All right, so just to start, let’s go to where we’re already at because I always find it’s hard to move consumers away from things that they’re familiar with. I’m always good with wild sockeye salmon, wild Alaskan sockeye salmon, wild Alaska pink salmon, I often say to people… people ask, what’s the one switch they could make that would be better for them and better for the environment? Number one change, swap in pink or sockeye canned salmon for your canned tuna.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yes.

Paul Greenberg:
Because your canned tuna, as you probably know-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Very high in mercury.

Paul Greenberg:
… very high in mercury and the pink and the sockeye salmons can be much lower. The pink and the sockeye’s also going to be higher in omega-3 fatty acids.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
yeah.

Paul Greenberg:
Maybe the first couple of times you try it you might find it a little strong. There is the whole issue that when you… it’s really funny. Have you ever been to an Alaskan cannery before? I mean, literally what they do is they take this fish and they go bump, bump, bump, cut slices out of it and fit the slice literally right into the can and it goes into the cooker. If you notice when you open up a can of salmon, they’ll often be like the-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Bone.

Paul Greenberg:
… remnant of the backbone, but that will actually, with a fork, will dissolve-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Dissolve.

Paul Greenberg:
… and it seems… Americans are so squeamish. I mean, you lived-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The bones are a great source of calcium.

Paul Greenberg:
Exactly. You lived in China, so hi America, welcome to some hands-on eating, but-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Right.

Paul Greenberg:
… if we could just get past that, we would just have this, A, much healthier for us, B, just much more sustainable product.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I mean, is there enough wild salmon to go around? That’s what worries me. If we all ate as much wild salmon as we do salmon, we’re going to run out.

Paul Greenberg:
I mean, it’s all relative because in this country, we export 80% of our wild salmon.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, you talk about that, the great fish swap.

Paul Greenberg:
Yeah, yeah. 80% of our wild salmon goes abroad and meanwhile, we’re importing… nearly all the farm salmon is coming [crosstalk 00:52:18]

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Why do we do that? To make money?

Paul Greenberg:
I think there are weird economies of scale that got going to some degree. Salmon, I think Americans like farm salmon because it’s fattier. When you go to like… you want to have lox on a bagel. Right? That sort of striped, fat striped beautiful orange thing that you like on your bagel, that’s a farm salmon. I mean, sometimes you can get like a wild king-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Wild.

Paul Greenberg:
… salmon-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, yeah.

Paul Greenberg:
… will resemble a wild farm, but the wild king smoked is going to come in at $30-$40 a pound, so people are mostly not going to do that, they want the cheaper farmed salmon that comes in at like $15 or $20 a pound for the smoked variety. Do Americans have enough wild salmon to go around? Yes. If we kept all of our wild salmon in this country and didn’t import farm salmon, we could be self-sufficient in salmon.

Paul Greenberg:
The other weird thing that goes on with salmon, though, is a certain amount of salmon that we catch, it’s caught in Alaska, frozen whole, sent to China-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Processed and sent back.

Paul Greenberg:
… defrosted, boned, and then sent back, and it comes back double frozen.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
How does that make sense?

Paul Greenberg:
Well, it’s interesting because shipping something frozen is actually not that costly because once you’ve got it down to temperature and you’ve sealed the box, you’re just floating it back and forth and it’s actually not that intense, even from a carbon perspective, but-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
On the ships with all the super tanker fuel?

Paul Greenberg:
Well, but you can put a lot of stuff on a super tanker and it’s floating. You’re just sort of pushing it along. The bigger concern, I think, is do you really want to eat something that’s been twice frozen? I remember, I was talking to Terry Gross about it and she was like, “My mother said never to eat food that was double frozen.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Right.

Paul Greenberg:
That’s right, Terry.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Why is that?

Paul Greenberg:
Well, I mean, you have it does introduce the possibility of pathogens being introduced, but, I mean, granted in the miracle of the industrial food world, they have figured out a way to more or less have pathogen free. On the other hand, though, if you freeze and defrost, freeze and defrost, what happens when you freeze is you bust cell membranes because water, as we all learned in grammar school, expands when it freezes and ice crystals form, they break the cell membrane. Then you refreeze it, you freeze it again and defrost it again and the cell membranes are just going to get-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The textures going to be different.

Paul Greenberg:
… it’s going to get more and more rubbery. Again, qualifier, sorry, fish are full of qualifiers, freezing technology has actually really improved and now, they actually can free fish so quickly, to such low temperatures that for a once frozen Alaskan salmon, you can actually get flesh quality that is quite similar and some would even argue, better than a five day, six day old fresh salmon that’s been air freighted-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Sure.

Paul Greenberg:
… across the country.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, amazing. Besides salmon, what should we eat?

Paul Greenberg:
Okay, beyond salmon I am a big fan of the anchovy.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yes. My wife hates them, I love them.

Paul Greenberg:
Yeah, it’s like… it’s definitely a Mason Dixon line in the kitchen, but when you consider that the world’s largest fishery, the Peruvian anchoveta, 99% of this huge fishery gets reduced and turned into salmon feed. Right? Consider that all of that is actually perfectly good human food.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yes, the best.

Paul Greenberg:
How can you-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Low in mercury.

Paul Greenberg:
Low in mercury.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Full of omega-3 fats.

Paul Greenberg:
Full of omega-3s, yes, low in mercury. Generally speaking, the lower you are on the food chain, the lower your mercury. I like them, I do this sauce at home I call two can sauce. It doesn’t involve a bird, but it’s two cans. One can of anchovies, one can of tomato sauce. I don’t know about you, but I hate having open cans in the refrigerator, so what I do is I take the anchovy and I generally prefer to have anchovies that are packed in olive oil.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
In a glass.

Paul Greenberg:
Glass would be great and… right, because you don’t want to have… although the BPA thing I think is… I think we’re somewhat past that, I don’t know.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Meaning we’ve taken it out of the cans or it’s not a problem?

Paul Greenberg:
More that we’ve taken it out of the cans. I don’t know. I mean, I’m not up to speed on that. You may be more up to speed than me. Anyway, what I like to do is, anchovy packed in olive oil, drain the olive oil into your pot, mince up some garlic, then take the anchovies out, mince up the anchovies. Once the garlic has just fried for a little bit, stir in the anchovies until they dissolve-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
They melt.

Paul Greenberg:
They just melt and then you take your entire can of tomatoes and you put that in. Now, like Marcella Hazan and all the Italian cooks will say, “Oh, two filets of anchovy.” Nah, the whole freaking can.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Paul Greenberg:
It’s $1.50 at Trader Joe’s and you’ve got this amazing sauce that my son, who doesn’t like fish, will totally scarf down a two-can sauce.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Okay, well I hope my wife doesn’t listen to this podcast, but I make this incredible sauce and it’s supposed to have anchovies in it. It’s like pasta puttanesca and I’m not going to tell her next time. I’m just going to do that trick and see if she likes it because she actually, I think, has it out for anchovies. I bought some fresh, white anchovy the other day and they were sort of… I was so excited to eat them and she unpacked the groceries and she put it in the cupboard. Then, she’s like, “Oh, I’m sorry. I left them in the cupboard and they went bad, so I threw them out. I hope you don’t mind.” I’m like, “Yeah, I mind.”

Paul Greenberg:
Oh, man, but does she like any fish?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, she likes fish, but she’s not a big… She’s an interesting lady, she’s incredibly cultured, but she grew up on the ocean, on the beach, on an island, and hates fish.

Paul Greenberg:
It can happen, it can happen.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Let’s talk about fish oil-

Paul Greenberg:
Yes.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
… because you wrote a whole book about this.

Paul Greenberg:
I did.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The Omega Principle.

Paul Greenberg:
I did.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
As a doctor, I think that omega-3 deficiency is a huge contributor to all sorts of problems my patients have. Over the years I’ve tested thousands, tens of thousands of people for their levels of essential fatty acids, including omega-3 fats and I found significant deficiencies across wide range of populations, especially vegans.

Paul Greenberg:
Yes.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I mean, they’re like zero.

Paul Greenberg:
Yes, yes, yes.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That affects mood, brain development, nerve function, regulates inflammation, heart health, brain health, dementia, depression, cancer, I mean… and yet, so many of the studies that have come out that have been published recently have seemed to debunk the idea that omega-3 fats are beneficial for heart disease or cancer or anything else.

Paul Greenberg:
Right.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The population is left confused, as usual, by nutrition advice because we’re all told that fish is healthy. If you eat fish, looking at the studies on fish, you will have better health outcomes, but then there’s all this contradictory information that if you eat omega-3s from pills, it doesn’t do anything. What’s the deal?

Paul Greenberg:
Where are we at? Okay, well, first of all, let’s just clear the air about fish. Fish is just great because it’s a lot of protein per calorie, it’s a lot of nutrients per calorie and if you’re eating fish often for dinner, you’re not eating other bad stuff. Right? If you swap in fish for beef, I think generally speaking you’re going to be ahead of the game. That’s just sort of my generally opinion on this. You may differ from me.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, I would say… I would qualify that saying in a perfect world, yes-

Paul Greenberg:
Right, but in a-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
…. in a world of factory farm meat and pristine fish, a hundred percent.

Paul Greenberg:
Yep.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
In a world of, we generally raise grass fed meat versus polluted ocean fish, I’m not so sure.

Paul Greenberg:
Right, right. Okay, but let’s keep in mind what the average American is doing. Right?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Sure.

Paul Greenberg:
The average American is having feed lot meat, and if they have a choice between say cheapest wild fish they can pick up at the market, versus that feed lot beef, I think they’re ahead, so there’s that. The omega-3 question I think has a lot to do with what people called the threshold effect. It’s very true that if you go on a vegan diet that your omega-3 levels are just going to plummet and I know this personally because actually, I have been experimenting with the vegan diet. My body is a laboratory, but for the last-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You have no omega-3s, but no mercury now.

Paul Greenberg:
Right, exactly, exactly, and my… I went to OmegaQuant, which is one of the tests. It’s just like a finger prick test and I had below 5% omega-3 blood lipid levels, which I would say you would qualify as being deficient. Right?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. Are you more depressed?

Paul Greenberg:
That’s a whole other story, but when I was eating fish every day, meanwhile, for three meals a day, my omega-3 blood lipid levels were 11%-12%. Somebody said to me when they saw that, probably similar to those of a Sicilian fisherman circa 1890.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s right. Exactly.

Paul Greenberg:
Probably what we should have had-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
For sure.

Paul Greenberg:
… in the Neolithic times. In between vegan and fish every day though, I think that there’s a compromise, which is equivalent to about two portions of oily fish per week and that if we do that, I think we’ll probably hit that threshold [crosstalk 01:01:33]

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Couple of cans of wild sardines.

Paul Greenberg:
A couple of cans of wild sardines, a couple of cans of wild salmon, I think we’ll probably hit that threshold effect. Now, where it gets sticky with the omega-3 supplements is when they start to do some of these randomized control trials around omega-3 supplements, I think a lot of times they don’t necessarily take into account who’s eating fish and who’s not eating fish and they throw the supplement on top of everything. Like, most recently, there was the vital study, which came out of Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In that case, they actually did keep track of who was a fish eater, who wasn’t, but across the whole spectrum, they showed pretty much a null effect of when it came to coronary heart disease. Right?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Paul Greenberg:
From five years of taking a gram of omega-3 [crosstalk 01:02:18]-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Correct.

Paul Greenberg:
… every single day for five years. Pretty significant null result. I should qualify that by saying that when they took out strokes, they did show something of a degree of effect on heart attacks overall. That was my reading of the [crosstalk 01:02:33].

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, and there’s been other studies that have shown benefits for people who’ve had a heart attack, preventing second heart attacks, like the [crosstalk 01:02:38] study and others, but yeah.

Paul Greenberg:
Yeah. Anyway, when, though, you start looking… when they started separating out people who had a couple of portions of fish a week from those who didn’t, the people who didn’t, did show significant effect on cardiovascular disease and most of-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The ones who didn’t eat fish and took the fish oil supplements got better.

Paul Greenberg:
Right, because they crossed the threshold.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Right. Right.

Paul Greenberg:
That omega-3… and what’s really interesting was that as you look at the [crosstalk 01:03:05]

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That didn’t come out in the headlines.

Paul Greenberg:
Didn’t come out in the… do we have to talk about headlines?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I don’t know. You’re the journalist.

Paul Greenberg:
Well, I don’t write the… you know what? I don’t get to write the headlines. All I do is write the stuff and they stick the headline on top, but then I thought was really interesting and I was surprised that there wasn’t more agitation in the African American community, where they showed huge effect was in the African American community.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
A benefit.

Paul Greenberg:
A benefit of omega-3 supplementation. I think there are two reasons for that. One, I think that that population is probably not eating oily fish. If they’re eating fish, they’re probably eating like… frankly, it’s an economically lower income stratus, so they’re going to be eating things like tilapia, they’re going to be eating things like catfish that have-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Lower levels of omega-3.

Paul Greenberg:
… lower levels of omega-3, so they’re not getting it. The other thing is, I think that generally speaking, the African American community doesn’t get adequate attention from the medical community.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
No.

Paul Greenberg:
Just the mere fact of having regular contact with the medical community-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Sure.

Paul Greenberg:
… I think had a calming effect. I think it did something, but nevertheless, I think that those two results, that the non-fish eaters in the African American community both showed more than a null result, to me doesn’t necessarily mean that the whole thing was a waste of time, it showed that there is this threshold effect.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, that’s what I say. If you don’t have a headache, an aspirin doesn’t do anything. Right?

Paul Greenberg:
Correct. Correct.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s like, well, if you have plenty of high levels of omega-3 fats in your blood, you’re not going to see an incremental benefit.

Paul Greenberg:
That’s right, that’s right.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
If you have zero, you’re going to see a significant benefit.

Paul Greenberg:
That’s right and that’s why like my own personal experience, when I went and ate fish every single meal for a year-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You banked your omega-3s.

Paul Greenberg:
Well-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Then you-

Paul Greenberg:
No, but prior to that I was a fisherman and I ate fish twice a week. Just, that was part of my thing, so I the rise in omega-3 blood levels that I achieved as a result of that diet, in the end, I saw no change in cholesterol, I saw no change in blood pressure, none of the typical things that are often associated with omega-3 supplementation. [crosstalk 01:05:10]

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Depends on what else you’re eating.

Paul Greenberg:
Right, right.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s the other thing with these studies is like, okay, well, if everybody’s eating the standard American diet, and you throw in a little fish oil pill, it ain’t going to do anything.

Paul Greenberg:
It ain’t going to do it.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
If you’re eating processed food and sugar and starch and… yeah, you’re not going to have a reduction in any disease.

Paul Greenberg:
Which brings me to what I think is the ideal diet.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Okay.

Paul Greenberg:
I’m going to roll it out for you.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
All right, let’s go.

Paul Greenberg:
Which is that, so I’ve been on a vegan diet for the last eight months and I have seen my LDL cholesterol plummet, I’ve seen my blood pressure go down, I’ve seen my weight go down, all these different things. I did see my omega-3 levels drop significantly to the point of actually, I actually did start an [algaloil 01:05:51] omega-3 supplement to bring my levels up. I believe that the ideal diet would be mostly vegan with a couple of portions of oily fish per week. I even have a name for it.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Pescatarian?

Paul Greenberg:
[Pescaterranian 01:06:05].

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Pescaterranian.

Paul Greenberg:
Yeah. Pescaterranian because when you think about it, like I’m actually writing an article right now for Eating Well Magazine, where I went to Crete this summer, I took 15 students from Northeastern to Crete and we retraced the steps of the Mediterranean diet.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Paul Greenberg:
I’ve been spending the last few weeks at the Rockefeller archive in Sleepy Hollow looking at the results of the original [inaudible 01:06:26] numbers out of Crete. You look at their diet, right, it’s mostly legumes, mostly… well, first of all, it’s mostly soluble fiber, barley, whole grains in their bread. Then you have a lot of legumes, a lot of nuts, and a little bit of animal protein. What I would suggest, given the state of our industrial meat sector, if you had that little bit of protein, two portions a week that was really well-sourced fish or shellfish, things like mussels, for example, which are a really good choice, that that would give you anything you needed. You wouldn’t have to take a B-12 supplement, like this… I mean, I’ve been struggling with veganism all year because I feel like-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Why do you do it?

Paul Greenberg:
Well, partially because-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Writing another book?

Paul Greenberg:
No, well, you know what happened is I’m 52 now, so all those mid-life crap that you start to see showing up in your blood numbers bothered me, so my cholesterol was high, my blood pressure was borderline, and then I had a calcium score-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s [crosstalk 01:07:29].

Paul Greenberg:
… and my calcium score was 90.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Oh.

Paul Greenberg:
I don’t know how you would… I don’t want to-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s not terrible and it’s not great.

Paul Greenberg:
It’s not great. Right? They immediately wanted to put me on statins and they wanted to put me on blood pressure medication. My blood pressure was varying between say 130 over 80 and 140 over 90, so again, da, da, da, da. I was like, I don’t want to go on blood pressure medication, I don’t want to go on statins. I’ve heard good things about a vegan diet. I want to see can I address these things through a vegan diet. I did and largely, my cholesterol went from total cholesterol was like 260 to about 185.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Paul Greenberg:
My blood pressure more or less normalized around 130 over 80, you know-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Paul Greenberg:
… your blood pressure goes all over the place. Calcium score’s obviously not going to change, although the Ornish study say that, right, maybe it will relax my veins and arteries and blah, blah, blah, I don’t know, but my one struggle that I had with a vegan diet is like how can the fricken diet be good if I have to take a B-12 supplement and I have to take-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And vitamin D and iron, omega-3 fats, and many other things.

Paul Greenberg:
Exactly, so that’s why I thought a pescaterranian diet, basically vegan, but having a couple of portions of [crosstalk 01:08:43]-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Paul Greenberg:
… might be [crosstalk 01:08:44].

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That makes sense. I call it the Pegan diet, which is sort of paleo-vegan. I think there’s something called the vegan honeymoon. When people go from eating a traditional American diet to eating a whole food, plant-based diet, because Coke and chips are vegan. Right?

Paul Greenberg:
Absolutely.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You can be eating pizza and pasta all day if it’s a fake cheese, you can certainly be vegan and that is not healthy.

Paul Greenberg:
Right.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
When you get over this vegan honeymoon, over time I see these massive nutritional deficiencies, B-12, iron, zinc, vitamin D, omega-3 fats, and it has serious health consequences.

Paul Greenberg:
Yep.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I think that, I’ve written a lot about this, I think the question is, is grass-finished regenerative beef harmful to your health? I think the evidence just really isn’t there. There’ve been massive large reviews of the data and when you look at it objectively, there may be some signal of harm from some studies, not for other studies, and it’s not a robust signal. In other words, with smoking, it was a 20 to one effect. Well, this is a point two, or point three, or point four, which is does it mean anything in an observational study? Probably not that much.

Paul Greenberg:
Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I think that it’s the quality of the food we’re eating that matters.

Paul Greenberg:
For sure.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I think if we’re eating a little bit of grass-fed meat in the context of a plant-rich, mostly plant-based diet, which is what I do, I think that makes sense.

Paul Greenberg:
How are your numbers?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yes. I-

Paul Greenberg:
I shared mine. What are yours?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I mean, my blood pressure is like a hundred over 70 or 60.

Paul Greenberg:
Wow, amazing.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
My lipids, my HDL is very good. My triglycerides are low. I think I’m one of those people, it’s called lean mass, hyper responder, so if I eat too much saturated fat, my LDL goes up, but I think it really is very individual.

Paul Greenberg:
Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Some people I put on a butter and coconut oil diet and their lipids drop like a stone.

Paul Greenberg:
Really, interesting.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yes. I think there’s a lot of heterogeneity and variation genetically in the population [crosstalk 01:11:02] respond to different foods and diets. There’s no one perfect diet for everybody. Some people need more carbohydrates. If I eat no carbohydrates, I’ll end up looking like I came from a concentration camp, so I need… so I had a big sweet potato last night, so I had some starch, but I think it’s really individual.

Paul Greenberg:
Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I think the last question I want to ask you is, and I think the take home for me is check, check your omega-3 levels, see what your ratios are, see if you have trans-fat in your blood, if your omega-6s are high. Look at what’s going on with your levels and then do something about it.

Paul Greenberg:
Absolutely.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Eat anchovies… I call it the smash fish, wild salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and herring.

Paul Greenberg:
Yep. I would throw mussels in there.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Mussels, I love mussels.

Paul Greenberg:
High in omega-3s, super cheap, by the way.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yes.

Paul Greenberg:
Also, did you know mussels have a carbon footprint lower than lentils.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
What about the whole idea of these being filter feeders and gaining high levels of toxins?

Paul Greenberg:
I mean, there are… it depends… there’s the old Yiddish expression, don’t [inaudible 01:12:06] where you eat. Right?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Right.

Paul Greenberg:
To me, mussels and all the shell fish that are out there are kind of a reminder to us that the ocean should be a food system and not a waste disposal system. Of course, nobody wants to eat something disgusting, but it’s the constant reminder that we need to keep our waters clean.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yes.

Paul Greenberg:
There are clean waters out there. Mussels are grown in suspension on ropes, so they’re not sitting in the sediment. They have the potential to be super clean and good.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Has anybody measured?

Paul Greenberg:
They do measure. There’ve been some heavy metal issues coming out of the Pacific Northwest. Actually, not cadmium, which is not actually… it just has to do with what’s naturally in the sediment out there.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Paul Greenberg:
Different waters in different ways, but-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
To end on a happy note-

Paul Greenberg:
Yes, yes, yes.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
… what about microplastics?

Paul Greenberg:
I love microplastics.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
For those people that don’t know, tell them what these are and why we should worry about them.

Paul Greenberg:
Microplastics are everywhere in the ocean at this point. They’re coming to us from when you wash your fleece, when the water goes out the other side of the washing machine, all those little microfibers are going into the ocean. Yes, it’s getting implicated and involved in the marine food web. They can get ingested by little fish, it may be having… I was just talking to a marine scientist, might be having a really damaging effect on larval fish because microplastics are buoyant. Right? When you’re a larval fish that’s sort of swimming in suspension, there’s only a very small zone which is safe for you, but if suddenly you have this buoyant object in your body and you float out of that zone, boom, we could lose a lot of larval fish.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Wow.

Paul Greenberg:
That was really interesting to me. From a human health standpoint, oh boy, it’s just like very controversial stuff. I was on doctor-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
What do we know?

Paul Greenberg:
I was on Doctor Oz the other day and then like-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Doctor Oz you talked about microplastics?

Paul Greenberg:
We did a bit and then the seafood lobby said Greenberg says horrible, he’s totally wrong about microplastics because we’ve never found any plastics poisoning anyone ever anywhere. Well, the fact of the matter is, I think the jury is out. We don’t really know what the human health effect is going to be. We do know that plastic is sticky from a chemical point of view, so things like PCBs have the potential to stick to plastic microfibers. The plastic in and of itself may not necessarily be a health threat for us.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
There’re petrochemicals, we eat it, what happens? Must get-

Paul Greenberg:
I mean, it’s a question of like how large are these product… how large are these objects? Are they just passing through a fish’s alimentary canal and it’s never passing it to the flesh? More concerning to me is that if these microplastics are chemically sticky and they’re getting PCBs stuck to them, that on a chemical level to me is… I mean, again, I’m a journalist, not a scientist, but to me is more apt to pass through cell membranes than an actual chunk of the petrochemical degrading and passing into the fish.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I mean, I read that birds, big fish-eating birds can have up to a third of their body weight being microplastic.

Paul Greenberg:
Yeah, and that’s in their gut and that’s hurting them and that’s killing them clearly. It’s a real, real threat. Unfortunately, I was just talking to this really great plastic, ocean plastic specialist in Chile about this and he was like, “Why is it that people are just like, well, if it doesn’t hurt me, it’s okay, meanwhile, it could be having huge, huge ecosystem effect?” The fact of the matter is, when it comes to human health, we don’t know yet.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Do we take the risk?

Paul Greenberg:
I mean-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Would you feed it to your kid?

Paul Greenberg:
I would feed the list of fish that we’ve discussed I would feed to my child. Yes. I also think that there’s research out there we’re getting microplastics through the air, we’re getting-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
We’re just screwed.

Paul Greenberg:
We are fairly, fairly screwed, but if I were to have to live in a world where I was just staying away from all fish, all the time, I mean, I’m not sure that’s a world I would want to live in, so I’m going to try, in spite of your trying to bait me, so to speak, with a pessimistic ending-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
No.

Paul Greenberg:
No, no, I’m joking, but I would like to end on an optimistic note, which is that what have we learned here? Ocean’s a food system, not a waste disposal system. Going forward, we can’t treat it like a place where we can put our nitrogen, our plastic, our human waste. We have to see it’s the source of life, it’s where we came from, and if we can’t enter into a respectful, balanced, healthy relationship with the ocean, then we’re cooked.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
We can still eat fish, but eat small fish, eat mercury-free fish, eat fish from sustainable fisheries, and aquacultures that are organic or-

Paul Greenberg:
Organic’s not a bad choice if you can find the stuff that’s grown in containment out of the ocean. That’s an interesting and not a bad choice. At the very least, look for Marine Stewardship Council, sorry, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, ASC, you’ll see a label on aquacultured fish more and more. There are a few other certifying agencies out there that are making sure that farm fish are antibiotic free, so look for those. Maybe I’ll give those names to you for your website.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yes, yes. For sure.

Paul Greenberg:
Look for those and just be careful and know what you’re eating before you eat it.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s good advice. Well, I’m going to give you a copy of my book, Food: What the Heck Should I Eat, where I do actually provide all the resources for exactly those references on how to find the best fish to eat.

Paul Greenberg:
Great.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Thank you, Paul, for your work in educating us about fish and breaking through some of the controversies. I’m not sure whether to be optimistic or not, but I think I’m still going to eat fish.

Paul Greenberg:
Yeah, yeah. Me too when I get done with the vegan.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s been really a pleasure talking to you. I encourage everybody to watch his Ted Talk, The Four Fish We’re Overeating and What to Eat Instead. Check out his PBS Frontline special, The Fish on My Plate and read the Omega Principle, seafood and the quest for a long life and a healthier planet available on Amazon or wherever you get your books. It’s been great having you and if you love this podcast, please share it with your friends and family on social media and subscribe wherever your podcast, leave us a comment. We would love to hear from you and next time we’ll see you on The Doctor’s Farmacy in about a week.

Paul Greenberg:
Thank you, Mark.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Thanks, Paul.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

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