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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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Episode 95
The Doctor's Farmacy

How To Fix Our Food System To Save Humans And The Planet

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

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It’s time we stopped thinking about the way we eat only in terms of our health—we need to recognize the global impact of food. 

We need to eat in a way that combines good science with common sense. We need to not just include our health in the equation but also the biodiversity of the planet and our ability to grow food for future generations. 

So how do we do that? We’ve all been told we should go vegan to save the planet, but even if you don’t eat animals conventional agriculture kills 7 billion animals a year through habitat destruction. Not to mention, massive amounts of greenhouse gases are emitted to produce processed soy foods even if you completely avoid beef. Then people preach Paleo or keto but eat lots of factory-farmed meat, which also produces massive amounts of greenhouse gases, and is not something you want to put in your body. 

Our food system is fundamentally flawed. That’s why I wrote my new book Food Fix that just hit shelves yesterday! To share all the solutions for creating a food system that helps both our bodies and the planet thrive. 

I’m really excited to tell you more about it. This week on The Doctor’s Farmacy we’re sharing part two of the conversation we started last week, with my good friend and business partner Dhru Purohit as the host. We dig into the problems that led me to write Food Fix and how we can all take action starting today. 

Regenerative agriculture is one of the most powerful answers we have to fix our broken food system. It’s a holistic land management practice using animals, sun, soil, microbes, and conscious farmers to produce real food without harming our health or the planet. It actually even helps reverse climate change through carbon sequestration (yep, even using cows). In fact, the UN said one of the very few ways we can actually arrest climate change is through regenerative agriculture. 

Dhru and I break down what this style of farming entails and how it’s being scaled to not only improve the food system but increase farmers’ livelihoods as well. 

We get into a lot of other fun topics throughout our discussion, too, like how I personally eat and stick to my diet during travel, why I cut back on my almond intake, why we should push for policy changes to protect our kids from junk food ads, and so much more. 

Food is a human issue, it impacts us all. So whether your concerns lie with the environment, public health, economic stability, education for our kids, or national security, you have to think about food. I hope you’ll tune in to hear more about Food Fix and join me in revolutionizing our food system. 

This episode is brought to you by Joovv and ButcherBox.

I recently discovered Joovv, a red light therapy device. Red light therapy is a super gentle non-invasive treatment where a device with medical-grade LEDs delivers concentrated light to your skin. It actually helps your cells produce collagen so it improves skin tone and complexion, diminishes signs of aging like wrinkles, and speeds the healing of wounds and scars. To check out the Joovv products for yourself head over to joovv.com/farmacy. Once you’re there, you’ll see a special bonus the Joovv team is giving away to my listeners. Use the code FARMACY at checkout. 

Now through March 29, 2020, new subscribers to ButcherBox will receive ground beef for life. When you sign up today, ButcherBox will send you 2 lbs of 100% grass-fed, grass-finished beef free in every box for the life of your subscription. Plus listeners will get an additional $20 off their first box. All you have to do is head over to ButcherBox.com/farmacy.

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 veganism isn’t the solution to climate change
    (2:35 / 6:17)
  2. What is regenerative agriculture?
    (5:30 / 9:12)
  3. The environmental effects an Impossible Burger vs a regeneratively-raised beef burger
    (6:37 / 10:19)
  4. The Pegan diet, and my principles for how to eat
    (11:20 / 15:02)
  5. Why I’ve cut back on eating almonds
    (15:25 / 19:07)
  6. My daily diet and how I practice intermittent fasting
    (17:18 / 21:00)
  7. How food pharmacies would save us money
    (26:46 / 30:50)
  8. How the food industry tricks consumers and keeps us sick
    (31:43 / 35:25)
  9. The good news and positive change in the food industry
    (37:08 / 40:50)
  10. Why I wrote my new book, Food Fix, available now!
    (40:52 / 44:34)

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.

 
Dhru Purohit

Dhru is the host of the Broken Brain Podcast, a top 20 health podcast with over 6 million downloads, that teaches listeners how to improve their brain performance and mental health through their diet, lifestyle and everyday biohacking. As an entrepreneur, Dhru is also the CEO Dr. Hyman Enterprises, Farmacy and the UltraWellness Center, a functional medicine based clinic that specializes in treating chronic disease through personalized medicine.

Transcript

Mark Hyman:
We need everybody on board. So whether you can just write a letter, whether you can change something in your life, whether you make a compost pile, whatever you can fit in, there’s something that you can do.

Mark Hyman:
Welcome to The Doctor’s Farmacy, this is Dr. Mark Hyman, and it’s farmacy with an F. F-A-R-M-A-C-Y. A place for conversations that matter. And today we have another very special guest, tell you about the future of food. And our guest is me. And I get to be interviewed by my good friend, partner, and CEO, Dhru Purohit. And guess what? The book on which this conversation is based, Food Fix: How to Save Our Health, Our Economy, Our Communities, and Our Planet One Bite at a Time, is out today. So go to your bookstore, please get it. It’s going to help spread the word. Buy 10 copies and give them to people you know. Give it to your congressman, senator, your state representatives, the governor. Give it to everybody, because we’ve got to change the food system.

Dhru Purohit:
Guys, it’s Dhru Purohit here. If my voice sounds familiar, I’m the host of the Broken Brain podcast. I’m Mark’s business partner, good friend, known him for a long time. And I’m going to pull in something else. I want to pull in a little bit of a guilt trip. If you’ve benefited, whether you just found out about Dr. Hyman yesterday, whether you don’t even know who he is and this is the first time you’re listening to this podcast.

Mark Hyman:
Some crazy friend sent you the podcast.

Dhru Purohit:
Whether you’ve been listening to him for the last 10, 15 years, since he’s been doing this work publicly, and if you’ve enjoyed any of his free content, I want to make a plea to you which is, this is the most important book that he’s written.

Mark Hyman:
It is.

Dhru Purohit:
Our team truly feels that. Because it’s a book about how to save the planet, the economy, our health, how to reverse climate change, how to look out for those people who don’t have the ability to look out for themselves. And I couldn’t think of a more important time for this book to be out there, and for this conversation to be had. So if you’ve enjoyed any of Mark’s material over the last few days, weeks, months, or years, please pick up the book today. And that’s my little guilt trip for your audience.

Mark Hyman:
Thank you, Dhru.

Dhru Purohit:
Well, I’m excited to be here today for part two of our conversation, where we turn the tables and we talk to Dr. Mark Hyman, and we put him in the interview seat to talk about how he lives, how he eats, and the inside scoop about his new book and movement, Food Fix. Dr. Mark Hyman, welcome to The Doctor’s Farmacy.

Mark Hyman:
Thanks for having me, Dhru. I mean, thanks. I should thank myself for having me. I don’t know how [inaudible 00:02:29]. Thank you Mark. Thank you Dhru.

Dhru Purohit:
It’s super meta. Let’s jump right into the conversation. We ended off part one with talking about something a little controversial that’s been out there, which is this advice that we heard, many of us heard for many, many years and said that when it comes to food, if we want to help the climate, we should go vegan.

Mark Hyman:
Yes. 100%.

Dhru Purohit:
Talk to us about that.

Mark Hyman:
Yeah. I mean, it’s a really powerful meme out there. And there’s a lot of energy and a lot of media and a lot of people and celebrities talking about how important this is. And I think they’re right. But. And the way they’re right is that factory farming of animals is one of the most destructive forces on the planet. It’s horrible for the animals, it’s horrible for the climate and the environment, and it’s horrible for the people who eat it. So it’s a triple threat to everything that we care about. And I can go into all the details about how confined animal feeding operations contribute to climate change, to the ways in which we grow the food for them, for the deforestation, the destruction of the soils, the chemical intensive agriculture, the mishandling of manure and waste, the off gassing of methane. I mean, I can go on and on. But it’s a bad news story.

Mark Hyman:
However, that doesn’t mean that growing animals in a way that regenerates soil, that limits or eliminates the use of chemicals, that preserves water resources, that actually reverses climate change by sucking carbon out of the environment, is a bad thing. Now, you don’t have to eat animals if you don’t want to eat animals. I don’t care.

Dhru Purohit:
Yeah, you were a vegetarian at one point in time.

Mark Hyman:
I was a vegetarian, vegan, I’ve been everything. And I have no objection. I have many patients who are morally vegan, Buddhist patients, it’s fine. You have to know what you’re doing because you can also be a chips and soda vegan. So you have to be whole …

Dhru Purohit:
I was that growing up. Chips and soda vegan, vegetarian, that was me.

Mark Hyman:
Yeah. So you’ve got to be, yeah, Twinkies is vegetarian. So I mean, I think we really want to be smart about how we do it. But, people also don’t understand that conventional agriculture that grows plants is inherently very destructive. So if you’re having a corn tortilla or a soy burger, an Impossible GMO soy burger, it’s incredibly destructive to living things. How? Seven billion animals die every year from agriculture. From growing vegetables and plants. Why? Because you’re destroying their habitat. The moles, the rabbits, the birds, the insects. I mean, so, we’re not getting away from the fact that just being human on the planet, we’re going to be killing things.

Mark Hyman:
Now, you can have a regenerative farm or regenerative ranch, and use animals, which are essential, and I’ll talk about why. But you don’t have to eat them. But you have to have them. So to get rid of all animal agriculture is a mistake for environmental reasons and climate reasons. In fact, like I said, the UN in the last podcast, the UN said that one of the very few ways that we have to quickly arrest and slow down and reverse climate change is using regenerative agriculture. Which means the following. One, it’s specific techniques of farming. So, not tilling the ground, which erodes the soil. Using cover crops so there’s no bare soil so the soil can’t wash away. Using crop rotations that put different nutrients in the soil. It means no or limited use of chemicals and fertilizers. And it means special integration of animals through what we call holistic management or managed grazing or adaptive multi-paddock grazing. And what in English that means is you take animals from mob grazing that are in tight herds and you move them frequently around different areas of the farm to graze down half the grass, to poop and pee, disturb the soil. That generates soil. That is the only way to generate soil.

Mark Hyman:
So if you want to build soil, you can’t do it without animals. And whether you’re a vegetarian or vegan or not, it’s just the way it is. And I think when you look at, for example, the life cycle analysis that was done by Quantis, which is an independent life cycle group, looked at the GMO soy burger, the Impossible burger, compared it to a regeneratively raised beef burger. And the Impossible burger was way better than a factory farmed burger, from the climate change efforts. But, a regeneratively raised beef burger was better. In fact, one Impossible burger added three and a half kilos of carbon to the environment, whereas a regeneratively raised beef burger took out three and a half kilos. And that includes all the methane, everything. All the inputs. Life cycle, total life cycle.

Mark Hyman:
So you have to basically eat one beef regenerative burger to offset the carbon emissions of a soy burger. So the arguments can’t be oversimplified. It’s not vegan or not. It’s what meat. Someone said, I think Russ Conser, quoted by Nicolette Niman, said, “It’s not the cow, it’s the how.” It’s not the cow.

Dhru Purohit:
Yeah. [crosstalk 00:07:30] did a video on that. And it’s super important to get that message out there. And I think the other thing that you would say, and it’s part of your action guide, is that the one thing that we can all do is take a pledge to just avoid factory farmed meat.

Mark Hyman:
Yeah. 100%. That should be a zero tolerance policy.

Dhru Purohit:
Because that does make a difference.

Mark Hyman:
Makes a huge difference. Huge difference. And think about, people say, “Oh, the cows are contributing,” well, we had more ruminants running around this country than we do cows right now. Buffalo, elk, deer, antelope. And they were all pooping and peeing and farting and making methane and burping, and we didn’t have climate change back then. Why? Because they were building soil. And soil was sucking it all out of the environment. That’s how we got 40 to 50 feet of topsoil in some areas of the country, because of these migrating herds of animals. And people don’t understand that. People say, “Well, regeneratively raised beef sounds like a great idea, and maybe it’s an elitist thing.”

Mark Hyman:
But this guy named Allen Williams who’s a Ph.D., farmer, rancher, specialist in regenerative agriculture, said that if you look at how many cows are produced every year in this country, about 29 million cows are slaughtered for eating, that we could, if we took the US conservation land that’s not being used, if we took degraded lands that are left fallow, if we turn some of our soy and corn crops that are used for factory farming of animals to feed them, turn that into regenerative farms, we literally could produce over 59 million cows a year. Now, that’s almost twice what we produce now.

Mark Hyman:
So the argument that it’s not scalable just doesn’t make any sense. And the reason the cost is high is because it’s scarce right now, and not many people are doing it. And farmers aren’t supported to do it. They’re supported to do other stuff. But imagine if all the crop subsidies and all the agriculture supports went to transform regenerative ag? And that’s one of the things that I’m really working on, is how do we scale this? How do we get government policy to change? How do we create business innovation to make it work? I mean, there’s a great, I think it’s a private equity company called Farmland LP, that’s buying up conventional farmland, converting it to regenerative agriculture, and going from single digit profits to double digit profits. 40%, 50% profits. Their first fund had a 67% profit.

Dhru Purohit:
Wow.

Mark Hyman:
Right? From turning a regular old conventional farm into a regenerative farm. And, on top of that, they created what they call ecosystem services. So what are ecosystem services? Well ecosystem services are all the things that we use up from the earth. We basically borrow, or take, or steal, however you look at it, about $125 trillion every year from the earth in terms of goods and services. Now certain countries are paying farmers to create ecosystem benefit. In Costa Rica, for example, they pay farmers for making soil. For conserving water. For increasing biodiversity. And there’s movements around the world to increase these ecosystem service payments.

Mark Hyman:
Well, this Farmland LP, they actually created $21 million of ecosystem benefit on their regenerative farms while making a 67% profit, while the conventional farms made far less, like 3%, 4%, 5%, 6% profit. And actually cost us $8 million in ecosystem services.

Dhru Purohit:
Because we can’t keep on taking, taking taking.

Mark Hyman:
Right.

Dhru Purohit:
We have to give back to this earth, because it’s our home.

Mark Hyman:
Yeah, and it truly is, people are like, “Oh, it’s not economical, it’s …” No, it’s a super great business model. I’m like, I want to invest in that. And there’s billions and billions of dollars flowing into food and ag investments that are trying to solve these problems. So the government’s way behind the curve.

Dhru Purohit:
Yeah. And that’s going to change. All right. We’re going to-

Mark Hyman:
If I have anything to do with it. Which I do a little.

Dhru Purohit:
We’re going to shift, we’re going to take it a little more personal here. Because the foundation of the diet that you teach people inside of the Food Fix book is the pegan diet.

Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dhru Purohit:
You’ve been talking a lot about the pegan diet. Your last cookbook was about it. For those who aren’t familiar, give us the quick pitch on the pegan diet.

Mark Hyman:
Well, I mean, it came about as an accident. Kind of as a joke. Because the diet wars are ridiculous. I mean, I read an article recently in JAMA where based on a diet article about meat there was thousands and thousands of hostile emails that came into this medical journal when they reported that they thought meat wasn’t the problem based on the literature. There was a number of studies published. They said it was more violent communication than they’ve had for anything they’ve ever done, including when they published against gun violence from the NRA. So, I think there’s just such a conflict about this. And I said, we’ve got to stop these diet wars. We’ve got to work together to sort of come up with, what are the same eating principles that everybody can sort of agree on.

Mark Hyman:
And they’re things that are based on great science, and combined with common sense. And also I realize that we need to not just include our health in the equation, but the health of our planet. And the biodiversity of the planet. I mean, the way we farm has killed off half of all livestock species. 90% of all edible plant species that existed on earth. And about 75% of pollinator species on which we depend. So we kind of have to wake up to eating a diet that’s not going to do all that damage. So what is a pegan diet?

Mark Hyman:
Well, it’s kind of a joke. A combination of paleo and vegan. Right? And it became a thing. I just meant it as a spoof, like a parody, on these diet wars. And then I began to think, well, maybe there’s something to it. And I started thinking about well, basically what they agree on is far more than they disagree on. Right? These two separate camps which couldn’t be more extreme, right? They both agree we should be not eating any processed food. They both agree we should be eating only whole foods. They both agree we should be eating tons of vegetables and fruits and plant foods. Nuts, seeds, whole grains. I mean, paleo doesn’t believe in whole grains, but most of it’s pretty straightforward, right? No sugar, processed foods, chemicals, hormones, antibiotics. It’s real food.

Mark Hyman:
And the only difference is where you get your protein. Beans and grains or animal protein? That’s the only difference. I’m like, “Wait a minute. There’s a lot of commonality here. Let’s get on common ground.” And then began to think, well, if you’re eating, it should be thinking about your health and the planet’s health. And when you eat in that way, it’s a double whammy, right? So if you’re eating healthier protein, for example, regeneratively raised beef, grass fed animals, pasture raised poultry, if you’re having fish that’s sustainably harvested, or organically farmed …

Dhru Purohit:
Or wild caught.

Mark Hyman:
Or wild caught. But there’s a lot of overfishing. So there’s a lot of ways to learn how to actually eat fish that’s not part of the damage that we’re doing to the oceans, right? So it’s, how do you eat the right fish? The right chicken? The right dairy? And so forth. So dairy may not be all bad. If it’s grass fed sheep or goat, it might be fine. If it’s heirloom cow that’s [inaudible 00:14:30], that might be okay, if you tolerate it. Not everybody can. So I think there’s just really simple principles that are broken down in the book, and that tell you exactly how to eat well for you and the planet, where you use food as medicine and you use food as medicine to heal yourself and to heal the planet.

Dhru Purohit:
Was there anything that you had in your diet, or something that you would indulge in, or something that was part of it that, even if it might have been healthy or okay, you found out over the process of research, even if it’s been in the last few years, maybe not necessarily for this book, that you found that maybe it’s not the best thing for the environment. Maybe I shouldn’t have this in my diet as much as I did previously. Sometimes people talk about almonds and how much water they use.

Mark Hyman:
Oh yeah, yeah. It’s interesting, it’s true, it’s very true.

Dhru Purohit:
People talk about … Grass fed lamb and how it comes from New Zealand, a lot of it.

Mark Hyman:
Yeah, yeah.

Dhru Purohit:
And it’s flown over here on airplanes. Is there anything controversial like that?

Mark Hyman:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, it’s true. It’s true. It’s true. I used to eat a ton of almonds, and almond butter, and almond milk. And I really have cut way back. And the reason is not that almonds aren’t healthy. It’s that most of the almonds grown are in California.

Dhru Purohit:
Or at least the ones from the US.

Mark Hyman:
Yeah. But that’s most of the almonds in the world. And, they’re these huge orchards that have to be pollinated all at once, and bees are flown in from around the world on jumbo 747s, they’re released into the space, and they often are not doing well, they’re harming the pollinator species. It’s incredibly intense. And we talk about how much water we use to create beef, well, that’s only if you’re using feedlot beef. Because most of the water for grass fed beef is just rainwater, right? That’s not used otherwise. But not for almonds. It’s hugely irrigated, and uses huge amounts of water, and in California, I mean, there was huge droughts and floods. And it’s just sort of worsening the whole climate change thing. So I think I’ve been eating less almonds.

Dhru Purohit:
And also from a functional medicine perspective, is that they really, you, as a functional medicine doctor, I always hear from you or Liz, Dr. Liz Boham, who’s a past guest on this podcast and a doctor at the Ultrawellness Center, we kind of have almonds in all of our health food now. So sometimes that can be very irritating to the body. It’s almost like having coconuts in everything that we eat. Too much of even a health food can actually be challenging and irritating to the gut sometimes.

Mark Hyman:
Yeah. People die from too much water. When you look at marathon runners who get …

Dhru Purohit:
I think that’s an extreme version. I think the almonds and the coconut is a little bit more, everything has almonds now. Everything has coconuts.

Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dhru Purohit:
And are we really designed to have that much of that?

Mark Hyman:
Probably not. We used to eat 800 species of plants. That’s a lot of plants, when we were hunter gatherers. And the average person now depends on maybe 12, if you’re lucky.

Dhru Purohit:
So, when I look around and I’m out at different events with you and other things like that, the first question that people have is, “Dr. Hyman, what the heck should I eat?” The second question that they ask if, “Dr. Hyman, what the heck do you eat?” And everybody’s so curious. So I want to talk about today. This is a day that you’re traveling, you’re in LA, you’re doing press for your new book, which is out today. Foodfixbook.com. What do you eat on a day like this?

Mark Hyman:
Okay, well, I woke up early enough, so I had to go to a TV show this morning, and I woke up early. And I used my sophisticated technology, my iPhone, to Google a place to eat in my neighborhood where I was staying a friend’s house that was a good restaurant. And so I walked 20 minutes to this really good restaurant, I look at the menu beforehand, and I had red baked eggs. Which is a lot of vegetables, and baked eggs, and I had an oat milk latte. And that was it.

Dhru Purohit:
And what time of day was that?

Mark Hyman:
That was 7:30 in the morning.

Dhru Purohit:
And that’s pretty early.

Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dhru Purohit:
Do you normally eat that early?

Mark Hyman:
It depends. I knew I had a very busy today, and I had to have some energy. So I did. But sometimes I don’t, I do longer fasts. And then I had, for lunch I had a salad with grass fed steak, little bits of it, avocado, kale. I had some banana chips with salsa. Someone brought them for me from town. And I’m going to go to a great restaurant for dinner. So I’m usually pretty [inaudible 00:18:37] when I travel. And I think people kind of fall apart and say, “Well, when I travel it’s hard.” It depends. I was in Des Moines, Iowa, and I was struggling. I went to the hotel like, “Can I have some vegetables?” And they gave me green beans, which were from a can, with brown sugar sauce on it. It was terrible.

Mark Hyman:
But then I was like, “Wait a minute. I think Asian restaurants always have vegetables.” So I’m like, “Where’s the local Chinese restaurant?” And I went there before my PBS show, and I found this amazing place and I had Chinese broccoli and all these vegetables and really delicious food. So I’m a pretty good hunter and gatherer when it comes to figuring out what to do on the road. And also, I have a bag full of food. So in my backpack, I have enough food for a day. I have turkey jerky, I have grass fed beef jerky, I have nuts, I have nut butter packets, I have bars. So I have all kinds of stuff that keeps me going if I can’t get what I need.

Dhru Purohit:
So on a day like today, you recounted three meals that you had. Do you always have three meals a day? And how do you vary it and how do you incorporate things like intermittent fasting or time restricted eating into your schedule?

Mark Hyman:
Well, I do vary my diet. It depends on what’s going on. But I do like to go for 14, 16 hours without eating. And if I eat dinner and I don’t eat until 10:00 the next morning, it’s fine. And I often find that I feel way better doing that. So it’s not 100% of the days, but it depends on what I’m doing.

Dhru Purohit:
Does Dr. Hyman have any vices when it comes to food?

Mark Hyman:
Yeah. I mean, I think it’s interesting. My wife and I, in 2020 we decided we’re going to start the year clean. So we ate only vegetables for a few days, we did a three day green juice fast, and then we came out of it really slowly. And I’ve noticed my energy’s way better, my taste buds are totally different. I don’t want alcohol, I don’t really want sugar. I’m not interested in even cheating on a piece of gluten free bread. It’s just, it’s interesting. My whole preferences have changed. So sometimes when I get on the road or whatever, or I want to cheat, I’ll have chocolate. I like chocolate. I like Hu chocolate, Hu Kitchen chocolate. It’s unbelievable. And, full disclosure, I’m an investor. And I only invested because I wanted to get free chocolate. But it’s really good. Of course, they deliver to my apartment, and my wife eats most of it before I get home. So it’s terrible.

Mark Hyman:
But anyway, it’s really good. And yeah, I don’t … It’s interesting, the more I take care of myself, the less things I want to do that are harmful. So last night I went to bed early, I slept eight and a half hours, I did yoga last night, even though I’m traveling, I got off the plane. I just try to do the things that I know take care of myself, because I have a lot of work to do, and I need to be a warrior to do it. And I’m training for a marathon. I think people, when I posted on Instagram that I was training for an Iron Man, I actually didn’t mean an Iron Man. I meant the Iron Man triathlon of changing food policy, making food as medicine, and transforming and regenerative ag. That’s the three events that I’m in.

Dhru Purohit:
Often times we become even more committed to our goals and dreams when there’s a risk of them being taken away. And you had a big wake up call that you’ve been very honest about with past podcast guests.

Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dhru Purohit:
You’ve talked about it with them, and the audience, and also in your Broken Brain docuseries.

Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dhru Purohit:
You got really sick.

Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dhru Purohit:
Like, really sick.

Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dhru Purohit:
Through a bunch of different events that were going on, including mold in your house and other aspects. How did that change your understanding when it came to your own health, and what did you start doing differently after you went through that bout and that period of time?

Mark Hyman:
I always thought I’d sort of take care of myself, but I was sort of lying to myself. Because I work too hard. And if I have any problem, it’s being a workaholic. Because I feel like there’s so much to be done in the world, and I feel so passionate about it, and I want to do it. And I try to eat well, try to sleep well, try to exercise enough, not probably enough, but I skim by. But most doctors, we were trained to gut it out. If you ever tried to work a 36 hour shift nonstop, it’s not normal for a human being to do that. And you learn to ignore your body’s signals, you learn to just push through and gut it out. Lunch is for sissies, and sleep when you die is kind of the way we learn in medical school, in residency. And I had mold in my house, and I had a cough for a year and I was really sick. And I didn’t, I just kind of kept pushing through it. Thought it would get better.

Mark Hyman:
And then I had a root canal and it went bad, got an antibiotic, which I shouldn’t have taken. I had steroids for my lungs, because they were all inflamed from the mold. Cleaned up my house. I mean, I gutted my house, did the whole thing, but I still got sick, and then I broke my arm, and everything just crashed. And I was in bed for five months, I couldn’t do anything. I literally was cognitively impaired, emotionally just absent. My body wasn’t working, I had severe pain 24/7 in my stomach, I had colitis, gastritis. I mean, I was just, I lost 30 pounds. And I was like, I could feel death hovering around. I literally could feel it.

Dhru Purohit:
And you were trying all the functional medicine tricks at the time that you knew.

Mark Hyman:
Yeah. I was.

Dhru Purohit:
And the hard part was that I remember talking to you during this time many times.

Mark Hyman:
I don’t remember anything.

Dhru Purohit:
You didn’t even know what was going on.

Mark Hyman:
No.

Dhru Purohit:
At one point in time we thought you were being poisoned by somebody.

Mark Hyman:
Yep. It was, yeah. That’s right. Probably.

Dhru Purohit:
Has the food industry finally gotten to you?

Mark Hyman:
Maybe, maybe they’re watching. They’re definitely watching, I promise you that. It was fascinating. I tried a lot of the normal tricks, and then I really focused on sort of what I call next level functional medicine. Which is the whole science of, how do you activate the body’s healing systems. I can give you a vitamin to replace deficiencies, I can give you probiotics. But when your system is so broken, you sometimes need to engage in more aggressive kinds of things that actually activate your healing mechanisms. I did ozone, I did stem cells, I did IVs, I did hyperbaric oxygen, and it was enough to shock my body out of the stuck inflammation that it was in.

Dhru Purohit:
Well, what’s cool about that is that as part of the Food Fix bonuses, you’ve created this longevity master class. And so many of those tricks that came during that time from you just being at your sickest that you’ve ever been, probably since the start of when you first got sick, how many years ago was that? 30 years ago?

Mark Hyman:
Almost 30 years ago, yeah.

Dhru Purohit:
In China, from heavy metals and the mercury that was there.

Mark Hyman:
Yeah, yeah.

Dhru Purohit:
This is the sickest you’ve been through that time. A lot of that you put into your masterclass.

Mark Hyman:
I did. I think if I pray about anything, it’s, “Okay, god. I think I’ve gotten ill enough in my life and had enough problems and discovered the solutions to help so many people. I don’t need to do it again. I feel good.”

Dhru Purohit:
Mark, we don’t need to make any more documentaries.

Mark Hyman:
I want to graduate. And now at 60 I feel healthier and stronger and fitter and more on purpose than ever in my life. I had to use all the functional medicine technologies that I know how to use to make it work. But I’m so committed to getting this out to the world. And I just, honestly, a lot of what’s driven me is anger. Is anger. Anger that we have solutions that are not being applied. Functional medicine isn’t everything to everybody. But for most of the problems that we’re suffering from, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, autoimmune diseases, digestive problems, allergies, depression, you name it, the list goes on. It is the best toolkit we have today, period. And it makes me angry that not everybody has access to it. That not everybody is trained in it in medical school. And that not enough research is being done about it. And that’s why I’m at Cleveland Clinic, that’s why I’m working so hard in Washington to change policies so we can make nutrition in medical school. So we can create a food is medicine initiative where when you prescribe as a doctor food it gets reimbursed and helps people. Where we can develop programs that are funded by insurance and health care that actually do better and make people healthier and save money.

Dhru Purohit:
You mentioned something. And we talked about it a little bit in part one of the podcast. You mentioned a little bit about prescribing food. Paint a picture and a vision for us of what it would look like to have food pharmacies in every hospital around America. And how that would actually save us money. We think about giving things away. And sometimes when people are libertarian, or, let’s say that they’re a little bit more like, “Everybody should pull themselves up, do the bootstraps, and they should really be able to figure it out themselves,” tell us how some of the solutions in the book, like having a food pharmacy in every hospital, would actually save us money.

Mark Hyman:
I mean, this is not my opinion. This is just well validated scientific data that’s been published around the world, and it works. And just for example, one model of incentivizing healthy prescriptions for people and disincentivizing bad food, right? So, cheaper to buy fruits and vegetables, more expensive to buy soda. Right? When you do that, and you put a 30% premium on soda and a 30% discount on vegetables, let’s say, if you did that at scale, it would save 3.1 million heart attacks and $100 billion in savings.

Dhru Purohit:
That is incredible.

Mark Hyman:
Right? Geisinger created a food pharmacy where they took food insecure people, gave them $2400 worth of food a year, and food for their family, and support on education and how to eat and [inaudible 00:28:13] so forth. In this group of food insecure type 2 diabetics who were poorly controlled, not only did their diabetes dramatically get better, but they saved 80% of their healthcare costs. Now, what that means is they were averaging, because diabetics are on insulin, going down to hospitals, amputations, blah blah blah. $248,000 was the average per head cost for these patients. They saved $192,000 per patient. That’s an 80% savings. I mean, that would solve our healthcare crisis right there. If we could cut healthcare costs for diabetics by 80%, I mean, that’s what the majority of healthcare costs are. That obesity and diabetes is collectively, indirect and direct cost, is $3.7 trillion a year. That’s about our total federal tax revenue.

Dhru Purohit:
In addition to that, I’ve heard stats that are 90% of what the insurance companies take in that they use to pay out on our health is spent in the last six months of somebody’s life. Right now we have a system that, right when somebody’s diagnosed with cancer or the later stages of dementia, or later stages of diabetes, and we’re throwing everything we can, the most expensive things to try to keep them alive. And that’s where a lot of our premiums are going, instead of prevention.

Mark Hyman:
Sure. I mean, 5% of the patients account for 50% of our healthcare costs.

Dhru Purohit:
And that’s why, for anybody who’s listening who cares about politics or our health system, it’s really, what Food Fix is about is that there’s a lot of merits and there’s a lot of things, and you’re not against universal healthcare, it’s that you’re saying that that’s not the solution.

Mark Hyman:
No, if we provide-

Dhru Purohit:
We have to get ourselves healthy. We have to create a healthy economy. Otherwise, as we talked about in part one, you’re going to run out of money.

Mark Hyman:
And it’s not just food as prevention, right? People are like, “Oh, you create prevention, I mean, there’s a huge cost to that.” I would say, forget about prevention. Why don’t we talk about food as medicine as treatment? Right? I mean, you take people with advanced diabetes, heart failure, kidney failure, liver failure, like this patient we had at Cleveland Clinic who I’ve talked about many times. She wasn’t needing prevention. I mean, other than prevention of death. I mean, she needed treatment. And the treatment she was on wasn’t working. The best medical care on the planet wasn’t working. Because what she had wasn’t a medicine deficiency, she had a food problem. And she was eating foods that were making her sick and fat and diabetic. And within three days, she got off her insulin. In three months, she got off all her medications. In a year, she lost 116 pounds and reversed every one of her diseases, and on no medication, and saved $20000 a year in co-pay.

Mark Hyman:
That’s what we need to do in America, is provide mechanisms for health care to change so that we reimburse that. And that’s a lot of what I talk about in the book. What are the national policies we need? How do we change our policies in health and human services and Medicare and Medicaid? How do we change our food policies around what we do for SNAP recipients? How do you actually change the labeling and marketing of foods so kids aren’t targeted? I mean, Dhru, it’s staggering to me. These food companies literally do advanced brain MRI functional imaging on children to see how to influence their choices, desires, and behavior. That should be illegal, but we do it in this country.

Dhru Purohit:
And it’s so pervasive that I don’t even think that people understand how challenging it is. Talk about the other things that the food industry does to boost their profits and really sort of trick us as consumers into staying in this sick care system.

Mark Hyman:
Well, the government has multiple agencies that are overseeing our food policy. And it doesn’t support health, it supports disease through the ways in which it allows the food industry to run rampant. Like I said, the agricultural and food industry is the number one lobby group in Washington. It is driving so many of our food policies. For example, to allow unrestricted food marketing to kids and everybody else. And we know that these children who watch these ads have no idea what they’re seeing. They can’t distinguish reality from TV until they’re eight years, from fiction, until they’re eight years old. The stealth marketing is staggering.

Mark Hyman:
I think last year there was 5.4 billion, with a B, billion ads on Facebook for junk food for kids. They are stealth advertising through social media, like adware games where kids are playing these free games on social media and they end up embedding McDonald’s and Oreo cookies and other things into it. So these food companies are very focused on protecting their profits. Again, they’re the biggest industry on the planet. They are the biggest employer in the country, the food and farm workers are about 20 million people in America. And they are producing food which is extremely harmful, and their existence depends on selling more of it.

Mark Hyman:
And so they form all these different tactics, whether it’s front groups that mislead the public such as the American Council on Science and Health, which says that high fructose corn syrup, pesticides, smoking, and PCBs and dioxin are all fine and safe for us. There are groups spinning the truth where they basically unduly influence the social groups, like the NAACP and Hispanic Federation by co-opting and funding … Coca Cola funded the NAACP $2.1 million, which is why they opposed, for example, the ban on large portion drinks in New York. They fund the Hispanic Federation. And they co-opt professional associations like the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics gets 40% of its funding from the food industry. And what was striking was that there was this woman who was running for president, almost got elected, Neva Cochran, who actually was in the pocket of Big Food and Big Ag. And consulted for McDonald’s and Pepsi and I think Monsanto, who knows what. And she ran for president, and she posted a tweet which had, I have it in the book, which was so striking to me I had to put it in there.

Dhru Purohit:
It’s a cartoon, right?

Mark Hyman:
Of a cheerleader from the ’50s, Jenny, who basically is a cheerleader and runs around all day and she says, “Jenny needs a sugarless drink, soft drink, like a beetle needs a hairpiece. 2-4-6-8, who do we appreciate? What do we appreciate? Sugar.” I’m like …

Dhru Purohit:
Crazy. Which was an actual ad.

Mark Hyman:
Ad. And then she writes in her tweet, “Teens can get their calories from soda and sports drinks,” and blabbity blah blah. “And sugar is the bomb.” And I’m like, “Whoa.” So there’s so much going on in the dark that we don’t even know about. And of course the lobbying. There was something called the Cheeseburger Bill, which was introduced, that prohibited food companies from being sued, like McDonald’s for being sued for creating obesity. And why the food companies are terrified about that is called discovery. Because it means that once there’s a lawsuit, they can actually go in and see their emails and see their internal documents and expose what they’re doing.

Dhru Purohit:
Just like they did with Big Tobacco.

Mark Hyman:
Exactly.

Dhru Purohit:
And they found out they actually knew.

Mark Hyman:
They knew.

Dhru Purohit:
They knew.

Mark Hyman:
They knew. The CEOs were all lying to Congress. They knew it was addictive, and they were creating false science. And the food industry spends $12 billion a year creating false science. $12 billion. 12 times what our government spends on nutrition research. And so you’ve got all these incredible manipulative techniques that the food industry uses to confuse the public, to co-opt professional societies, to create front groups, to co-opt social groups. I mean, it’s a coordinated mass of campaigns. So this Cheeseburger Bill, the attempt was to block it, to actually promote it. It actually passed in the House, believe it or not.

Dhru Purohit:
Wow.

Mark Hyman:
And the guy who was behind it was a, [inaudible 00:36:20] Rick Scott, from Florida, who it turned out was, through super PACs and stuff was given $300000 from the food industry. From McDonald’s and Wendy’s to his campaign, to donate. And you can say, “Oh, well, it doesn’t really matter where they get their money.” It does matter. Trust me. It does matter. And I can tell you, as a doctor, the research is so clear. When a drug company comes in your office with a drug rep and they give you a pen or they give you a cup or they tell you a good story, guess what? You’re more likely to actually prescribe that drug. It’s just the way it is. Whether doctors think it or not, the data proves it, and the same thing in other industries. So I think we have to be just really smart about how coordinated, deliberate, methodical they are in trying to subvert doing the right thing. Before I finish with that, the good news is that there are companies now that are smelling which way the wind’s blowing. And they get that people care about regenerative agriculture. They care about climate. They care about-

Dhru Purohit:
That consumer behavior is changing.

Mark Hyman:
They care about sustainability. They want organic. They want whole foods. And so they’re changing. In fact, the GMA, which is the Grocery Manufacturers of America, one of the most pernicious trade associations responsible for the anti-GMO labeling and much more, were trying to block everything. Soda tax, whatever they could. And four companies bailed. Called Nestlè, Danone, Mars, and Unilever all bailed from that group. That group ended up disbanding because everybody left. And it now has some other name and has recreated itself in another form, but is much weakened, because I think food industry is getting that they need to be part of the solution, not just part of the problem. And that’s a good thing.

Dhru Purohit:
Because a new tide is also coming.

Mark Hyman:
Yes.

Dhru Purohit:
There’s new managers that are coming in, new VPs.

Mark Hyman:
Sure, sure.

Dhru Purohit:
New individuals. And a lot of those individuals …

Mark Hyman:
Millennials are taking over.

Dhru Purohit:
Millennials are taking over. Gen X.

Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dhru Purohit:
They’re listening to your podcast.

Mark Hyman:
Yep.

Dhru Purohit:
They’re doing your diet.

Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dhru Purohit:
They’re waking up and realizing, “Well, if I don’t eat this way and live this way, why am I selling it?” And, they’re buying up and coming new brands.

Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dhru Purohit:
Companies that you’ve invested in. Companies that others are creating that are out there. And we actually do need Big Food’s help to change the food system.

Mark Hyman:
We do.

Dhru Purohit:
And the way that we get them to pay attention is we have to first understand how pervasive the challenge is and the problem and how they trick us in all their different ways.

Mark Hyman:
Yes.

Dhru Purohit:
And then spread the word and, most importantly, vote with our dollars.

Mark Hyman:
Absolutely. Absolutely. And I’m sort of skeptical of Big Food. And I’m like, “Oh, they just, whatever.” But I’ve been in these conferences and I’ll be talking to General Mills. And they committed a million acres to regenerative ag. We’ve got a whole regenerative and ag group in Danone. And Nestlè is focused on this. And they’re really working on getting the junk out of their ingredients. Junk ingredients out of their food. So I do see change happening. It’s not fast enough for me, but I think it’s in the right direction.

Dhru Purohit:
I mean, I would never wish economic failure to people or anything else like that, but one sign of that change being super telling, it’s all over social media, is that there’s a lot of traditional dairy farms that are going bankrupt because milk sales are down incredibly.

Mark Hyman:
Yep. Yeah.

Dhru Purohit:
People are shifting to plant based milk, not having milk at all, and that just happened in the last few years. In fact, the milk association, the organization around milk and the dairy farmers that was out there tried to use Congress to subvert the growth of plant based milk and non-dairy milks that are out there, like cashew and almond milk.

Mark Hyman:
There was a whole thing if you could call it milk or not.

Dhru Purohit:
Yeah, you can’t call it milk anymore. And you can’t have it in the milk aisle. And then grocery stores were part of the group that said, “Guys, listen. This is what our customers want. We’re not going to support this.” And they didn’t go with ag in that area.

Mark Hyman:
Yeah. Yeah.

Dhru Purohit:
With the dairy farms. And that’s how we ended up in that situation.

Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dhru Purohit:
And this all just happened in the last five years. Change is possible.

Mark Hyman:
Yeah. Borden Milk just went bankrupt.

Dhru Purohit:
It’s crazy.

Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dhru Purohit:
But also a sign that we can make a difference, we can vote with our dollar. We have to get educated, we have to see what’s out there.

Mark Hyman:
Absolutely.

Dhru Purohit:
Mark, what’s your message that you want to end off with? It’s book launch day.

Mark Hyman:
Yes.

Dhru Purohit:
The book is out there, Food Fix.

Mark Hyman:
This is it.

Dhru Purohit:
We talked a lot about the problems that are out there, we did incorporate some solutions. But give us a closing message for the audience.

Mark Hyman:
Well, I think the great news is there’s a lot of things citizens can do, business can do, government policy makers can do, philanthropists, non-governmental groups. And everybody’s working on this problem in one way or another. I mean, I see this happening. And I am super hopeful. So, after talking to dozens of experts, reading what’s happening around the world, this is a problem people are waking up to. And the reason I wrote Food Fix, the reason I wrote this book that’s out today is to tell the story, to give hope, yeah, to look at the problems, but also look at the solutions. And that’s why it’s called Food Fix, not Food Apocalypse. Right?

Mark Hyman:
And I think as part of the book we’ve got this action guide which is all the resources and things that you can do in your life, step by step, what you can do to help advocate for policy change, what government policy makers should do, what businesses need to do to innovate, and how we actually can fix this. Because we all need to fix it, and we all need to be part of the solution. And I’m really excited. Because most book are great for me and fun and help me help so many people get better from all sorts of chronic issues. But this one is not just a book for me. It’s a mission. And it’s a movement.

Mark Hyman:
And I’ve been really lucky to collaborate with some incredible experts who helped launch and strategize Bono’s ONE campaign that raised $100 billion, almost, from Congress to address AIDS and poverty in Africa. And they’re working on this problem with me, bipartisan group, Republicans, Democrats, policymakers, strategists, messaging people, grassroots coalition builders. And we are building a movement. It’s going to launch May 2020, called the Food Fix Campaign. It’s going to be both grassroots and also an advocacy group. So the good guys can do some lobbying and educate congressmen and senators about these issues. Because they really don’t know.

Mark Hyman:
I mean, I sat on a boat this summer with a very prominent senator and spent two hours talking to him about this, and his mouth was hanging open. He wasn’t aware of these issues. He wasn’t aware of these problems. He knew bits and pieces and fragments, but he didn’t know this as a story that all fit together that has a solution. And I’m so excited about this solution. I’m so excited about this book. And the truth is, we need everybody on board. So whether you can just write a letter, whether you can change something in your life, whether you make a compost pile, wherever you can fit in, there’s something that you can do. You can donate to an organization that’s doing good like Kiss the Ground, you can donate to the Food Fix Campaign. Whatever you want to do, you can be a part of this and make the change happen. Because we all can, and we all need to. And it’s what we have to do, otherwise we’re really screwed. So I’m super excited about this and I’m just grateful for everybody who’s been part of my podcast, who’s listened, and who cares about these issues with me and is willing to fight the fight. So, thanks for listening.

Dhru Purohit:
Thank you for being on your own podcast. Dr. Mark Hyman, it’s an honor to interview you here, and I want to also give you a note of gratitude. I’ve seen you take a lot of crap from every different group that’s out there who disagrees with your thoughts and ideas, especially as you’ve been getting into social injustice, as you’ve been getting into climate change.

Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dhru Purohit:
As you’ve been talking about how certain diets help the environment, how they don’t always help the environment, how you’ve been busting myths, and I want to commend you for staying true and continuing to put the message out there and fight through the noise, even though it’s not popular. Even though it’s not always exciting to you. You’ve saved the course, and you’ve published a book that really is the path for us to fix our economies and the planet, and our own bodies.

Mark Hyman:
Yeah. And I don’t have all the answers. I’m just beginning the conversation. I’m bringing together all the people. If you’re listening, if you’re an activist, if you can do something, if you’re a member of some big food corporation and want to get involved, I mean, you can. I met with a guy who’s a top guy at Cargill, and now we’re working together. Which I thought was the enemy, right? Because they’re one of the biggest food companies in the world that’s doing a lot of destruction. But they’re interested. They’re listening. They care. And by having these conversations, like I said, we’re all human first. We all care about our families. We all care about the communities we live in. We all care about our nation, we all care about the world at some level or another. And I think that’s what we have to appeal to. That’s what’s going to bring us together, and that’s what’s going to save us from the army of the dead.

Dhru Purohit:
The book is out there. Foodfixbook.com. It’s in stores, today’s book launch day. Please go pick it up and get all the incredible bonuses, including, if you heard the earlier part of the conversation, Mark’s longevity masterclass. See his tips and tricks that he got into when he got really sick, because he wants to live a long time to get this message out there. You can find it at foodfixbook.com.

Mark Hyman:
And the action guide.

Dhru Purohit:
And the action guide, too.

Mark Hyman:
And the five steps to heal the planet and yourself.

Dhru Purohit:
All the good stuff that you get from pre-ordering the book. Be a part of the campaign. We would appreciate it. And you can find Dr. Hyman on social media, on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, @drmarkhyman. That’s Dr. Mark Hyman. Mark, thanks for being a guest on The Doctor’s Farmacy.

Mark Hyman:
Thank you so much, and thanks for listening everybody. And if you love this conversation, we’d love to hear from you. Share your thoughts in a comment, subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. Share with everybody you know, and we’ll see you next week on The Doctor’s Farmacy.

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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