… the foods that we grow, the relationship that we must have with the land is the most important relationship when it comes to healthcare because it all starts there. That’s the very beginning.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:14):
Welcome to The Doctor’s Farmacy. I’m Dr. Mark Hyman. That’s Farmacy with an F, F-A-R-M-A-C-Y, a place for conversations that matter. If you care about the state of our healthcare in America and the state of our agricultural system and how to fix it, this conversation is going to matter because it’s with Paulette Jordan, an extraordinary woman. She’s a member of the Coeur d’Alene tribe. She was the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Idaho, was the first woman nominated to the position by a major party in the state and the first Native American woman to be nominated for governor in the United States history, which is really unfortunate and way too long and coming. More Idahoans cast her vote for Paulette in 2018 than they had for any other Democratic gubernatorial or congressional candidate in Idaho history. She clearly hit a nerve there.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:59):
She’s a candidate for the US Senate, and she has been recognized in Idaho and across the nation as an incredible leader and also pretty audacious in her views. Today we’re going to talk about things she really cares about, which is how her upbringing on a reservation in Idaho in Native American tribe effected her view of health and healthcare and agriculture and how they’re connected. So Paulette, maybe you could take us sort of how you began to start thinking about these issues and what in your upbringing, really on your family farm in Coeur d’Alene on the reservation led you to think about land and preservation and to fight for the needs of your community and to fight for healthcare and how this growing up environment helped you shape your views and this connection to Idaho and the people who live there. It really has brought implications for the rest of our world too.
Yeah [inaudible 00:01:54]. First of all, thanks for having me, Mark, and that’s a very kind introduction. Thank you. I will tell you, growing up in the reservation in the rural countryside of North Idaho, it was a blessing in disguise, although it was very remote, and I would tell you that there were some challenges. I learned a lot of lessons from my elders because I was raised by my elders. But everything was connected to land, to healthcare, our way of life being fiscally accountable, all of these things. It goes hand in hand. So when you’re talking about healthcare, to me, you’re talking about food sovereignty. You’re talking about prosperity, and of course, even a cultural sustainability.
So for me, it is everything. It’s like we often say, water is life because of the local standing rock bottle that we’ve had. We often will have ceremonies around water in our sustainable use of our natural resources. So it is our way of life as indigenous peoples. Healthcare is on the top of that list because it’s connected to our environment.
Dr. Mark Hyman (03:00):
Yeah. You said something that was very interesting, which is a different way of framing how we learn from the past. In America, we call old people aged, which is kind of a pejorative, derogatory term. You talk about elders, which implies wisdom and connection to the past and understanding of the future. How do the lessons that they taught you about the land, about taking care of the earth about health and taking care of yourself affect what you’re doing now?
Wait. When you’re raised on a traditional landscape, meaning elders surrounding you and every day you wake up, they were talking about the relationship that you have with the land and elders and your ancestors had with the land, that’s all. Honestly, it becomes your everyday way of thinking. So it’s just commonplace. It may not be for everybody, but that’s just the way I was raised and many of the folks in my community were raised. I think that’s also why we as indigenous peoples hold such a high responsibility to enact what we were taught and ensure that we’re carrying this message forward. That’s really a big part of why we respect our elders so much.
Now, they have this vast wisdom and knowledge and sense of being. Because they are so hauled into their purpose here in this live spiritually, they pass that down on to us younger ones. So we then learn to find our purpose sooner than later and then adhere to that purpose, and now we have to teach our children the same thing. So they also remind us to pay it forward, and to me, it’s a very selfless way of being, but that’s what leadership is about. You just create other leaders and three other leaders in terms of being natural resource ambassadors, ambassadors of humanity, and ambassadors of peace.
Dr. Mark Hyman (04:59):
Amazing. You’re one of the few people in politics who I’ve even heard use the word functional medicine, and I heard you on a podcast with a friend of mine, James Baysinger, I was like, “Wow. How does she know about functional medicine and integrative medicine? How does that actually connect to the way she was brought up? Why are you so focused on this, and why do you think it’s such an important part of healthcare?”
Well, I’ve always been about people-first policy, and all of my legislation having served in public office. I would say that typically when I speak at healthcare, I’m talking about having a conversation about real coverage and being holistic and integrative. My community that I come from, we want our people that live a long life, and my grandmother who was a medicine woman. She also believed in holistic medicine. So it’s not new to us as indigenous peoples. We’ve always had practices that are about longevity, but now we’re working with a political system, and I’m working within a political structure that is open, and it’s challenging for all Americans who were looking for healthcare that truly works, and I’m not withholding to corporation. So you’re looking at someone who wants to fix the healthcare system for one that isn’t working but that costs too much for most people who in this country cannot afford it.
But I’m also about incorporating nutritional strategies, like many who are talking about food sovereignty. Now, as we’re dealing with COVID, now we’re talking about how important it is for us to understand that what we put into our bodies is really medicine. We have to ensure that what we put in is pure, is clear of contaminants or chemicals that are going to somehow destroy the DNA that we already have in place, and I think that these social determinants of health also impact our communities. Because I grew up from an area where we once cultivated the land and cultivated our own medicines and then being pushed to the reservation and having to live off of government resources that really did our people in terms of healthcare because they were giving us government subsidies.
These foods are the most horrible foods you can imagine. They had no nutrients there. They were not nutrient dense, and of course, it did impact our community in so many ways to where we have chronic illnesses from left to right that are still plaguing our society today, and it’s now become a generational chronic illness and of course from cancers to diabetes. That’s why for us and for myself, I want to make sure that we’re taking action when it comes down to nutritional health and including this as a supplemental strategy where healthcare and healthcare going into the future. So we got to look into soil quality and the nutrients we put into our foods and make sure our foods are quality. But again, also sustainable use. We want to make sure that people can afford these foods, and of course, I’m looking at practical solutions when it comes to primary care.
Dr. Mark Hyman (08:16):
You unpack so many important things there. You talked about social determinants of health. You talked about food sovereignty. You talked about the commodity program on the reservations that has made those populations so sick. Looking historically what happened, not only were the lands taken away, but food sovereignty, meaning their ability to control and gather and hunt their own foods, their traditional foods was impacted. In order for them to be fed, they received large amounts of government surplus foods, white flour, white sugar, and white fat known as Crisco or shortening. These became the staple. I had a number of experience with a few Native Americans. One was a doctor. I went on a trip in Utah with my daughter. We were propelling down a Canyon, and we got stuck. It was a flash flood, and I got stuck for quite a while on this platform.
Dr. Mark Hyman (09:12):
This obstetrician, gynecologist was from Alaska and first nation people from there. He was telling me the story of how he was very overweight and very diabetic and was eating all the traditional sort of Western foods. He was a doctor, and he sort of thought he knew better. He said that he realized he wanted to not be like that, and he went back to, what were his ancestors eating? They were eating salmon. They we’re eating the wild foods and the wild plants. He literally transformed his diet and went back to being healthy. A few years later, I went on a rafting trip with the head of the UNATION and a Hopi chief on the Green River to bring awareness to the [inaudible 00:09:55] mining and the Tavaputs Plateau.
Dr. Mark Hyman (09:58):
One of the women was telling you about how they have a word for people in their community who eat a lot of these commodity foods, they call it [inaudible 00:10:11] which is a word to describe people whose bodies get really big and overweight from eating these foods. So it becomes such an incredible issue in these communities. It has led to an overwhelming burden of diabetes. For example, certain communities, native community in America, 80% get diabetes by the time they’re 30. Their life expectancy is 46. The Pima, for example, the second most of these population in the world, it’s not an accident, they weren’t like that a hundred years ago. Their food environment was changed, and their access to their traditional foods was changed.
Dr. Mark Hyman (10:50):
I think we’re seeing the same consequences in these communities with COVID. They’re having lack of access to care. Their underlying health conditions make them predisposed, and they’re not able to get the kind of care that they need, and these social determinants turn into a much bigger factor. So can you talk a little bit about this sort of issue of food sovereignty, and what do you mean by that and how those issues can be solved for community? Because it’s really a microcosm for what’s happened, not just to these data populations, but to all those populations. I was talking to a rancher the other day who grew up in the 60s, and he said, “When I grew up on a farm, we had dozens and dozens of crops. We had dozens of different animals. We ate from our farm. Everything was fresh.”
Dr. Mark Hyman (11:37):
Then now, most farms in America have one or two or three crops, and they’re big giant monocrop corn, wheat, or soy crops. The farmers don’t eat from their land, and they’re overweight, and they’re sick, and they’re unhealthy, and these rural communities too. So it’s not just a select population like the Native American. Everybody’s being affected by the loss of our food sovereign needs. So can you talk more about that, and how do you think about that, and how might we might solve that problem?
Now, one of them I think it’s always everything starts local. Our community is very rural. It’s really on the people to have the well within themselves to take action. So for a lot of our people, they are finding swats of land, and they’re building community. Everything is about community. Healthcare is only sustainable when you have community invested in. So there has to be this complete [inaudible 00:12:33]. It’s nice that people, because it wasn’t taught within the school system to remind it to folks gardening or… Cultivating your line was actually taught in schools when we were younger [inaudible 00:12:47] that in schools. So children are having to figure out for themselves, how do we garden? Of course, [inaudible 00:12:54] get back to that, myself, and I was, “We all have to relearn [inaudible 00:12:59] and grow our own foods.” [inaudible 00:13:01] is the way forward.
I look at this as a great opportunity, as people are starting to see that growing your own foods, you trust what’s [inaudible 00:13:14] the resources. You also can have farmer’s markets. It’s a good way for people to share in this community building and sovereignty. But I see that there’s a rise in communities growing gardens, whether it’s in the urban city centers or it’s in rural Idaho. Culture is starting to pick up and have people understand that growing our foods is better because we still don’t have a Congress or a legislative body who are going to adhere to people having transparency in the labels and knowing what is in their foods. [inaudible 00:13:48]. They still have the upper hand, and they’re still leading the way and having chemicals introduced into our food systems, and now it’s polluting our water and leading to our air. Everything is going to get more and more polluted. So the people have applied for complete integrity and the structure of the resources or the nutrients that they’re putting into their system.
Dr. Mark Hyman (14:12):
Yeah. It’s such an important point because I think, as I remember, I lived in Idaho for four years. I was a family doctor, worked in a small town, and they’re very conservative community. But people there were really focused on subsistence living. So they all sort of had jobs here and there, but they all hunted. I mean, there was a week, it was hunting season, a week off of work. It was a holiday. Then they all had big gardens, and they all grew their own food. They raised the animals that they hunted, and it was just part of the culture there. You couldn’t find a vegetable in the grocery store. So that was part of the problem.
Dr. Mark Hyman (14:51):
But I think learning how to reclaim it, whether it’s an urban gardens or the farmer’s market, community, part of agriculture, these are all ways people could start to reclaim our food ways, and I think it helps sort of reclaim food sovereignty, whether it’s in the Bronx with African-Americans reclaiming their food or its on reservations or the Americans or whether it’s just people in their own homes and community gardens in their neighborhood making differences. It’s huge. The next thing that I sort of want to get into is this whole idea of social determinants of health because I think people hear the word. They hear about it. They don’t understand it. What does it mean? How does it relate? From a doctor perspective, 20% of health happens in the healthcare system.
Dr. Mark Hyman (15:32):
Yeah. You need treatment. I had recently had back surgery, and I needed to go in the hospital and get that done, and that was fine. That really helped me. But 80% of health happens outside the clinic, outside the hospital, outside the doctor’s office. It’s something that the healthcare system doesn’t really address. When I’ve heard you talk about healthcare, you have a more nuanced view than just Medicare for all or keeping things as they are or restricting or repealing Obamacare. There’s these two polarized views, and neither of them really solve the problem of why we’re all sick in the first place and why healthcare is so overburdened and why it’s so costly in the first place.
Dr. Mark Hyman (16:12):
So can you talk about how you think differently about this? Because I think it’s such an important perspective and how it links back to these social determinants issues.
Well, with the rising of chronic care, I see how the left and the right are getting into these dysfunctional [inaudible 00:16:29] what a healthcare should look like. But for me, I said to my tribal council when I saw [inaudible 00:16:36] that can be made when you invest more in youth activities, where when you invest more into community activities that are holistic and all incorporated. I mean that there’s other therapies that will help sustain an elder’s livelihood, as long as they’re not on some pharmacy [inaudible 00:16:57] and there’s differences that could be made. If my grandparents can live long lives, I know that this can work for everybody.
Speaker 3 (17:04):
Hi, everyone. Hope you’re enjoying the episode. Before we continue, we have a quick message from
Dr. Mark Hyman about his new company pharmacy and their first product, the 10-day Reset.
Dr. Mark Hyman (17:14):
Hey, it’s Dr. Hyman. Do you have FLC? What’s FLC? Is when you feel like crap, is a problem that so many people suffer from and often have no idea that it’s not normal or that you can fix it. I mean, you know the feeling. It’s when you’re super sluggish. Your digestion’s off. You can’t think clearly, or you have brain fog, or you just feel run down. Can you relate? I know most people can. But the real question is, what the heck do we do about it?
Dr. Mark Hyman (17:39):
Well, I hate to break the news, but there’s no magic bullet. FLC isn’t caused by one single thing. So there’s not one single solution. However, there is assistance based approach, a way to tackle the multiple root factors that contribute to FLC, and I call that system the 10-day Reset. The 10-day Reset combines food, key lifestyle habits, and targeted supplements to address FLC straight on. It’s a protocol that I’ve used with thousands of my community members to help them get their health back on track. It’s not a magic bullet. It’s not a quick fix. It’s a system that works. If you want to learn more and get your health back on track click on the button below or visit getfarmacy.com. That’s getfarmacy, with an F, F-A-R-M-A-C-Y .com.
Speaker 3 (18:21):
Now, back to this week’s episode.
My grandfather was also sometimes [inaudible 00:18:25] because he would be up and down the mountains every day. He ate really well. He normally relied on roots and berries. People would say, “God, this man is strong.” He was a workforce [inaudible 00:18:39]. But the fact that he was able to survive so long and be so strong in mind and body really I think proved to me more so what it takes to think about how you take care of your own system, your body, your health.
But I do see the adverse effects of childhood events, and I think they’ll have different effects in our lives, and I just see that especially [inaudible 00:19:06] my path really helps. So these sorts of therapies are very healing. That’s why we went back into our culture, and we really resort to our ceremonies because our ceremonies help us to stay focused on what’s important, what matters and not be distracted by all the elements in the world.
Of course, there are other therapies like acupuncture and chiropractic care and physical therapy. We actually utilize all of these different therapies within our community, and we’ve seen that functional medicine like this has really helped to bring longevity into our community, even cutting costs in healthcare. Primary care and preventative care that is to me the solution to helping really heal this country. A lot of folks don’t have access to primary care. A lot of folks don’t have access to acupuncture or chiropractic care, certain therapies, even just things like behavioral health, and we’re not investing enough into our youth. But to me, it’s about preventative measures. So why are we not investing in early childhood education? Of course, youth community programs.
Those certain aspects to a person’s development to me adheres to the overall healthcare program. That’s why I often will assimilate that early education is so important and is a big part of how a young child will see themselves and take their developmental portion into their physical development. That is a priority. We must start early and not wait until a person’s much later into their life.
Dr. Mark Hyman (20:51):
Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s so important to get the kids going on it. I think the other aspect that’s so I think unique about what we’re learning about these social determinants is that the power of the social connections that we have, the power of groups and community and ceremony, it’s been part of traditional native culture for thousands and thousands of years. They call it a try, right? Our biggest healthcare risk is loneliness. 40% of the elderly described themselves as lonely. I think that this is one of the biggest drivers of disease. People don’t realize that it’s actually a risk factor for death. It’s a risk factor for heart disease. It’s a risk factor for cancer, for stroke, diabetes.
Dr. Mark Hyman (21:38):
I think the traditional cultures often have these embedded community based structures, whether it’s the Okinawas and the Moai, which are their sort of little units that they form at birth with a group of four or five other little kids, and they stay that way for the entire life and are there for everything with each other. It forms that level of connection and community, and that is so powerful healing. I helped to start a program called The Daniel Plan with a church in Saddleback with Rick Warren, and we used the power of these small groups to help people transform their lives. We had 15,000 people lose 250,000 pounds in a year by doing it together in groups, not with a doctor or a nurse or nutritionist, but just each other, supporting each other.
Dr. Mark Hyman (22:23):
I think now this is part of how we’re going to have to disrupt healthcare, not just in the doctor’s office but actually in the community. I think I’d love to hear how you think we might be able to do that and when we can learn from traditional communities about how that can be done.
We’re not recreating the wheel here, which is nice. We have these wonderful ceremonies already in place. One of my office would often state that our community, our traditional people are about verbs and taking action versus the Western culture, which is all about nouns.
Dr. Mark Hyman (23:03):
I’ve never thought of that. You’re right.
When you hear that, it gets you thinking because it’s true. I thought this is the indigenous worldview, and it’s so beautiful to me but something we often take for granted. Now, here I am in the political scene, and I get to enact this way of life, this type of leadership, which is so unique to me. I say this way we think, and I hope that this will become a culture of changing people’s minds and lives, and now that we are going through so many crises, from the financial crisis to the epidemic that we’re facing, I think people are much more aware of how important community is, now that they’re being isolated, and people are suffering from not only behavioral health issues but their own personal medicinal issues because they have to isolate themselves for multiple reasons.
Then of course, people are struggling financially. So I’m starting to see all of these adverse effects, and it’s reshaping the way we think, and I’m hoping that this will get us back to this holistic worldview that we have indigenously, and I want us to get back to how important it is to think with community. Even the Cleveland Clinic had to affirm in this group study that group visits are in fact better than one-on-one visits. So scientists, researchers are starting to find out that people heal better when they’re healed as a community.
Dr. Mark Hyman (24:34):
Yeah. I’m not sure you’re aware of that, but that actually came out of my work at Cleveland Clinic because when I worked with the church, I realized how powerful this was, and I wanted to bring that model into healthcare. So we developed these groups based on this framework of peer support, and that’s what we began to found is that not only people get better, but they get better much faster, and we’re going to be publishing some of that data soon, which is pretty exciting to see. I think it’s going to underscore that it’s cheaper to deliver care that way. It’s more effective. The outcomes are better, and the outcomes are faster, and people actually get this extra medicine, which I call it love medicine. It’s the power of connection and community because it’s so desperately needed.
Dr. Mark Hyman (25:18):
I just want to sort of unpack a little bit about the social determinants because I think people don’t really have a framework for it, and it’s defined in many different ways. But it sort of involves pretty much everything outside of the doctor’s office or hospital that happens that relates to your health, including your conditions of birth or early childhood, as you mentioned, your experiences, your education, work, access to work, the social circumstances of your elders, transportation, housing, a sense of community self-efficacy, and even things like environmental toxins and gun violence, and of course, our food environment. All of these things are the social drivers, and they have enormous impact.
Dr. Mark Hyman (26:04):
Most doctors are very busy trying to treat things with incremental benefit. I’ll give you a drug to reduce your blood pressure, a drug to reduce your cholesterol or drug to reduce your blood sugar. But the magnitude of those effects is so small compared to the magnitude of the effects of dealing with these other factors in terms of life expectancy, and there’s something called the subway map, which is pretty frightening. It’s basically looking at people who reside in Midtown Manhattan compared to those who live in the Bronx, and the life expectancy differs by 10 years. So it’s six months for every stop on the subway.
Dr. Mark Hyman (26:42):
In Chicago, there’s, let me call the loop and then the West side of the city, which is more affluent and not affluent areas. So life expectancy is 16 years. So when you look at medical interventions, there is nothing that comes close to that. For example, if we completely eliminated heart disease, life expectancy would go up by four years, just a quarter of what it would be if we actually addressed these social determinants, and it’s affecting so many people. There’s 40 million people who are hungry. There’s 600,000 are homeless. There’s 2.3 million in jails. There’s 40 million in poverty. There’s 40% of our elders live in loneliness. It just is rampant problem that is seemingly ignored by most people in healthcare and most people in politics.
Dr. Mark Hyman (27:30):
It seems like if we’re really going to be serious about taking an evidence based approach to addressing the challenges of healthcare and reducing healthcare costs and improving the health of our population, we just can’t ignore this anymore. I mean, how do you see moving forward in making inroads and addressing those things?
Well, that’s why I’m running for Congress. I mean, you have an opportunity here to have a seat in the Senate, and I call that the fiscal stability of the United States will remain elusive until healthcare is actually fixed. I’m thankful that we have a great team, and our staff is very well aware of the fixes that can be in play for healthcare in this country. But you touched a lot of this.
Dr. Mark Hyman (28:15):
There’s a lot of stuff.
I mean, there’s an opportunity to fix what we’re talking about. There’s trillions dollars that are being extended into chronic care, and we can save these year after year, trillions of dollars just by talking more in implementation of preventative measures, preventative healthcare, holistic healthcare. I think that folks who are very much attuned to Medicare for all, it’s clear that even in red states like mine that folks want good healthcare, but they also just want access to healthcare.
Then of course, when they’re talking about the [inaudible 00:28:54] and the cost, it’s all variable. People want choice, but yet really, they want the most successful and the best healthcare. For me, it’s not going to be the pharmaceutical industry that should have the rains here. It’s going to be those who are more about the long-term care, and they’re not the ones who were being incentivized. They’re not the ones who are being reimbursed or covered under insurance. But we want to make sure that they’re included, and that should be the future of healthcare. This is our time. This is our time to re-engineer what healthcare should look like in this country.
I think that there are people who are on the left and the right. So you can agree with me that integrative solutions, like what we’re promoting, will certainly be the best option moving forward because we’re tired of the nonsense that the health insurance companies are bringing in, the pharmaceutical companies are bringing. People want to heal, and they want to feel safe and secure. Now, in this life that they’re not going to be fed more toxic chemicals that are going to make them sicker, but they’re also [inaudible 00:29:55]. Too much of our money goes down the drain. Spending [inaudible 00:30:00] both at this broken system that we call the healthcare of the United States of America as is.
So I think we’re taking a good, hard look. While the ACA is fundamentally built on expanding access and having the government pay for it, we have yet again, this opportunity to reform healthcare in America that certainly could be engineered from the ground up. This is what I stand on in my campaign.
Dr. Mark Hyman (30:27):
Yeah. I think that’s absolutely right. I mean, access, I believe is a human right. I mean, healthcare should be a human right? At some level, basic care shouldn’t be available to everybody. In most developed countries, it is. In this country, it’s not. It’s very tough. There’s a tiered healthcare system, for sure. But it also is really clear that we have an opportunity to deal with this chronic disease epidemic in a different way in a way that addresses the root causes of it. Just by expansion, I mean, I’m terrified by the expansion of Medicare and Medicaid. Why not? Because I don’t want people to have access because if we open the flood gates and let more sick people in the system, it’s going to be overwhelmed. We saw what happened with COVID-19. But when you think about the fact that six out of 10 Americans have a chronic illness, that 75% are overweight, that four out of 10 kids are overweight.
Dr. Mark Hyman (31:22):
I mean, we have such a burden. Unless we stop the flood of people into the system, we’re really not going to be able to solve this problem. We’re going to keep basically bailing the boat while the boat’s singing, instead of going, “Why don’t we plug the hole in the boat?” The plugging the hole of the boat has to start with dealing with why people are sick, in the first place, which is a lot of these social determinants, but a lot of them have to do with people’s chronic health conditions that are driven in large part by the poor quality of our food. I think there were 3% of the population 50 years ago that was chronically ill, and now it’s 60%.
Dr. Mark Hyman (32:00):
I mean, it’s staggering when you think about that number. So I think we have a real chance to start to reimagine that. It also has to do not just with our access and food but also agriculture. So we talked a lot about the social determinants and the need to change our food system. But you also address the issues around agriculture and how important that is as part of the continuum to solve this problem of chronic disease, that it really starts not just in the doctor’s office, but on the farm and the ranch. You grew up in Idaho, which is a rural farming community. You grew up on a ranch and a farm. You grew up with elders who were involved in planting and growing and raising food.
Dr. Mark Hyman (32:47):
How did that influence your view of what we should be doing, and how do you reimagine what our agricultural systems should be to solve some of these big crises, not just for food, but also some of the environmental and bigger issues around carbon emissions from our agricultural system?
No. The question is the best question I think I’ve heard. It’s been so many years because people [inaudible 00:33:08] understand that the foods that we grow, the relationship that we must have with the land is the most important relationship when it comes to healthcare because it all starts there. That’s the very beginning, what we produce and agriculture and what we’re able to cultivate on the land, the dark connection and relationship we have with the land via our roots, our medicines, that is one of the most important relationships. So many of our ceremony, these are built around the cultivation of our land.
I will tell you from my own childhood, watching my grandfather, looking over the family farm, there was always all of these fields that I grew up around, and there’s one large, vast field he would be overlooking as the sun would be rising. He would always be in prayer, and he would talk about just being grateful and speaking to the spiritual elements of land. So it wasn’t just, let’s just water here and water there, and let’s put some seeds down, and let it be done and then call it good. It was as a constant relationship who was often nurturing that relationship on a daily basis, and it was very intimate. It was almost like this was his partner. He had a love relationship, a love connection.
So I see he was talking to the crops, he was always talking to the crops with our resources in it the most beautiful way. I think it really drew out in him the sensitive side of him, to me, that inner spiritual elements of him that made him feel whole. So you can tell that this is why our farmers who are suffering right now, who are hurting, whether that’s the climate crisis or the economic crisis, that’s impacting them. Now, there’s so many of them who are suffering right now, but they have that direct spiritual connection with the land, and it’s so important and so beautiful at the same time and precious.
So I see what that’s like growing up, and I see how important that is for our farmers. But it’s also important that they are supported because they are also healers. They’re able to call the way the land and provide a resource to all of us to be healing. But it’s important that they are too cared for and protected. I say this because we’ve had some farmers who have been hurt and hit pretty hard financially. So thinking about the whole political structure, why we have to keep them in mind and not just for the sake of healthcare and going all the way back to nutritional care and food sovereignty and why farmers should be included in all of this, but just knowing that relationship that my grandfather had and understanding what that meant and what that looks like taught me a lot about [inaudible 00:35:52] we have to keep in mind that the foods that we eat or whatever we cultivate is medicines.
All of that, it’s a privilege for us. It’s a privilege for us to be connected to mother earth in this way, and we must honor that relationship, nurture it in return, because this is the [inaudible 00:36:12] way of reaching us. But we have to take care of that relationship. It’s not just the receive, receive, receive. It has to be a give and take. We have to do this back home in the same way.
Dr. Mark Hyman (36:22):
Well, it turns out what you’re saying, it’s based on a spiritual tradition of living in harmony with the natural cycles and with the ecosystem, which is how those communities have survived for thousands of years. But it turns out that scientifically, we’re coming to the same conclusion. In order to create a vibrant agricultural system, we have to work with nature rather than against nature. That means creating a model of agriculture that we’ve talked about called regenerative agriculture that regenerates the soil, that regenerates the water resources that we have, that regenerates the biodiversity, that regenerates the nutrient density of the food, that regenerates the health of the people that eat the food.
Dr. Mark Hyman (37:06):
That is such a foreign notion to how we’re actually doing it. It’s not a sort of feel good, nice to do new age thing that to happen. It’s actually a economic and environmental health and political imperative because if we don’t do it, according to the UN, we only 60 harvests left of soil, and we run out of soil, we run out of humans. So this whole model of these traditional ways of actually thinking about, how do we work with an ecosystems to restore them is really what we’re talking about, whether it’s an ecosystem of a community, whether it’s an ecosystem on the land and agriculture, all of it’s really connected.
Dr. Mark Hyman (37:54):
As a functional medicine doctor, I often think of myself in the same way as a regenerate farmer because my job as a functional medicine doctor is to restore a healthy ecosystem so disease can happen, right? So I don’t need to put in chemicals like drugs. So I don’t need to put in all these supports. In regenerative farming, you don’t need the chemicals and the fertilizer, not because you have an idea against them, but because it works better without them, right? Because you create a healthy farm environment. You create healthy food. The pest can’t show up, and it all works.
Dr. Mark Hyman (38:32):
It’s interesting it sort of takes us a while as humans to get it right. But I think if we understand that this is an economic imperative and a political imperative to address some of the biggest crises we face, then it’s just such a beautiful thing to think about. How do we create a regenerative healthcare and a regenerative agriculture system to solve so many of these issues, and I think it’s so exciting to hear someone talking about this and bringing this into the conversation, whether you’re Republican or Democrat. It doesn’t matter. I mean, I think we all care about our health. I mean, you have a body. Whatever you believe, you have a body. Whatever political party you join, you have a body. Whatever race you are, you have a body.
Dr. Mark Hyman (39:10):
I think we really have sort of ignored that this is not a political issue that. There are many ways to solve the problem, and there are controversies about how to do it. But I think you’re one of the few people I’ve really heard talking about a new way of thinking that actually gets to the root of the problem, which is not just more access or restricted access or whatever. It’s actually the right solution.
Yeah. I appreciate you saying that about regenerative agriculture because regenerative agriculture is starting to catch on as a culture in the community, and they’re starting to shift away from the heavy chemical companies that were weighing in so heavily, like Monsanto, on our local ag. But long-term sustainability is what we want. We want our farmers to be successful. So any which way that we can provide these solutions, the better. I appreciate that you’re connecting healthcare through ag in that way because I don’t think a lot of folks see that, but they I think they start having that conversation, and this needs to be a dialogue that everybody continues to to talk about.
Dr. Mark Hyman (40:20):
I want to sort of finish up on a topic which made me a little bit challenging. It’s something I think a lot about, and as a white guy, an old white guy, I don’t really have a good sense of it. But the thing that I find I see in some of these communities that are burdened, whether they’re poor white communities in the South, whether they’re urban African American communities, whether they’re native communities on reservations, that a lot of the problems have been internalized.
Dr. Mark Hyman (40:56):
I gave you an example of what I mean by that. I was on this rafting trip that I was on a number of years ago with this Hopi chief. He was very, very overweight. His wife was very, very overweight. He lived in one of the longest inhabited communities in America, over a thousand years old as communities, has been in Arizona. He was very, very unhealthy, very diabetic. But he was the keeper of the ceremonies. He got very sick on the trip. He had trouble just walking down the trail to the rafting boat, and he was throwing up and was just really struggling, and I’m just like, “You can solve this. You can get rid of your diabetes.” He was like, “Really?” He says, “How do I do that?” I said, “Well, you have to give up starch and sugar and the sodas, which is causing all the problems with your metabolism.” He was like, “Oh my God, well, I could. But how are we going to do our traditional Hopi ceremonies? Because we need our traditional Hopi ceremonial foods. I said, “What are those foods?” He says, “Cake and cookies and pies.”
Dr. Mark Hyman (42:02):
It sort of shocked me, and I was like, “Wow. I think he really feels like these are his traditional foods, like Indian fry bread.” There’s nothing Indian about fry bread. It’s something that was based on these government commodity foods that have turned these populations into the sickest group in America. So how do you see these populations, whether it’s the African Americans or the poor white communities or the native communities starting to break free from this internalized sense of this is their food, and this is what we know and to change that dynamic because it seems as though if these communities could say, “We want to reclaim our traditional food ways, if we want to go learn more about how our ancestors used to eat, because that’s what will make us healthy, it would transform everything.”
Dr. Mark Hyman (42:52):
So how do you see addressing that? Because it’s not just a native issue. It’s really across all these communities that are so impoverished. The ones that are traditionally now being more effected by COVID-19, the Hispanic, the Latin American communities and the African American native communities, these are the ones that are the most affected.
Well, yes, it affects all communities of color and all economically suppressed communities. But it really goes far deeper than just [inaudible 00:43:18] have to buy government foods and the tribal community because we’re talking about decades long systemic governmental system that impose themselves on a community that was the line on the lens. Plus it also impacted all of our natural resources. So we’re talking about a much greater issue, where all the dams that were put in place that restricted or choked out our river systems and cut our supply to omega-3, omega-6 foods, oils that would have been a huge part of our diet and the fact that we were not able to leave the reservations to go and hunt and fish, that restricted our access to have certain foods, amino acids that are dear, all of these supplemental nutrients that really would have helped us along the way that we arrived on for so many generations and being cut off to having access to all of this, including the simple elements, like clean water. All of our water was polluted.
So when you get that with the chemical contaminants, the toxic waste that was in our water system, yes, that’s going to greatly impact our health and then with the after effects. So we have all of these issues that we’re dealing with because everything’s been polluted for the sake of corporate greed and all these developments. But we’re trying to get back to that. Of course, the indigenous communities are fighting because we’ve always been natural resources stewards and ambassadors, and we know that our relationship to the land is really what is going to effectively heal us.
So we’re trying to come back to that healing way that healing relationship again, and it’s taken some time because our people, we held onto gathering our roots, our old medicines. We had still held onto those ceremonies. But now we got to come another step forward and get back to finishing our river systems because even those river systems are still affected, and we have not been able to get those numbers back up because that was a huge part of our diet, and it was the one laying out the wildlife populations that are getting sick or overwrought with disease because there’s a lot of issues, I would say. It’s all across the board. But that is [crosstalk 00:45:34]-
Dr. Mark Hyman (45:34):
I mean, is there-
… back to.
Dr. Mark Hyman (45:36):
Is there insight that the food is actually making them sick, that it’s the thing that’s causing the problem?
Well, if you [crosstalk 00:45:46]-
Dr. Mark Hyman (45:47):
Because I found in some African American [inaudible 00:45:49]. They don’t connect the dots between what they’re eating and why they’re sick.
I would say a lot of that is true looking at historically what has been taken away from our people as a simple diet structure. Then you fast forward to today. Yeah. Yeah. We were forced to eat government subsidized foods that were lacking all kinds of nutrients. You talked about the medicine man was eating these unhealthy foods into his ceremony, but that’s all he had. He didn’t have access to these other foods that were nutrient dense because he was restricted, and often that’s because of the placement of the government or the government cutting off those resources for the travel community.
Dr. Mark Hyman (46:37):
So he didn’t have access, for sure. But it almost like he didn’t realize that what he was eating wasn’t the traditional food. That was the part where it was this cognitive leap for him to go, “Wow, this is stuff that’s… It’s not our traditional. This is white people’s food.” Right? I think that was sort of shocking to me because it felt like, unless that internalized racism in a sense gets removed, it’s going to be hard for people to say, “We don’t want this anymore. We don’t want our sodas. We don’t want the fry bread. We don’t want whatever we’re eating.”
Dr. Mark Hyman (47:15):
I’ve seen this across poor or minority communities across America. I think it’s an obstacle from in my mind because it limits people’s feeling of being empowered to make a difference. They don’t see themselves as being victimized by that, that they just think it’s okay. How do you root that out? I think that’s the question I’ve struggled with a long time, and I’d love to hear what you think about it.
Well, I think it goes back again to reconnecting our people to the old ways. I think that’s why there are other communities you’re talking about this who where getting back to their roots. For those of us who have not lost that connection, we’re still going out to gather roots, and we’re still going out fishing and hunting, and we’re doing all these things to ensure that our systems are replenished and our needs are met. I see that while there are folks who still struggle with that, some communities, because they did adapt to certain foods like fried bread or sugary sodas, or there are other others who are just reclaiming their traditional element, their indigenous roots, and they’re getting back to that too.
So I cannot say that everyone is adhering to it because they’re starting to realize like, “Okay. This is hurting us more than helping us, making our children sick and obese.” We have to now get back to organic foods and growing your own, which is why the culture and the element of food sovereignty is growing in our communities, and people understand that we have to start either growing our own foods or buying organic foods and eliminate genetically modified foods from our system or eliminate more sugars or processed foods, understand that where many of our communities are, they’re often in food deserts, or they’re in locations where the grocery market offers very little produce and natural foods, and it’s all mostly processed fruits.
So a lot of these communities are really challenged by their geographical location. They have to drive an hour out to get to the farmer’s market or get to a whole foods market, where they’re able to have the sustainable foods that are going to be more healing than what the foods that they’re offered within their small community that’s very remote.
Dr. Mark Hyman (49:33):
Yeah, no. I lived on two reservations. I lived on the Hopi Reservation for a while and the Nez Perce Reservation. It definitely was a food desert. I think that was sort of shocking to me that it was really difficult to find real food and that there was really no access to things that were going to help them promote health. I had to drive 50 miles each way to get quality food. You do that once every few weeks. It was really challenging. If you don’t have the access, you don’t have the resources, you don’t have a car, I mean, it’s, it’s really pretty challenging. So I’m sort of encouraged to think about bringing these conversations into the political discourse because once we start to talk about them, we force people to talk about it.
Dr. Mark Hyman (50:17):
I think the other day, Joe Biden had a town hall with Jose Andres, who’s a chef, talking about the issues of food and food insecurity. I think it was the first time really that I’ve seen in a political campaign the issue of food is really brought to the forefront. To me, it’s one of the most central things because food connects to agriculture and health, and you put all those things together, and you’ve got some of the biggest issues in America and also some of the biggest solutions, which is so exciting.
Yeah. I think that’s great that he did that because right now, when people are stuck in their homes, they’re talking about the COVID diet, and most people are watching this having gained 20 pounds or more. [crosstalk 00:50:58]-
Dr. Mark Hyman (50:58):
Yeah. The COVID-19, they call it.
Yeah. I find it interesting because I know people are now thinking more about what they’re putting into their bodies now more than ever because they’re starting to see that, okay, I have to cook mound fluid, and I want to cook it on a holistic sense and then get back to eating healthy and not having to be on the go and driving and not having much time. All our time really does get spent being in transit, going somewhere to and from. But it’s nice to be home and get to focus on what you put on your plate. I think that really does things the way we think too, though, it is a blessing in disguise in some ways because we’re starting to take a healthcare and think of food in a whole different sense, and we’re rebuilding that relationship up in a positive way as I am with my own kids. But yeah, that portion of wanting to have or cook organically, that’s become a staple here in my household.
Dr. Mark Hyman (51:58):
So yeah. So how has this whole COVID-19 pandemic changed you and your family and your thinking about your own health and the world itself?
Well, I guess what it does ultimately is it humbles us. It helps us to refocus and to get back to square one. So for me, it’s starting to be a more of a reminder to slow down and then to recenter so that we can connect spiritually. That’s not the easiest thing to do. But for us, being out in nature, that’s why we connect more with nature. I feel like that’s what this is doing. It’s slowing everything down so that we can get back to focus. Once we are able to focus again, then we can start to see what our real purpose is here and look at everything that’s happening.
I think that’s really what has been the problem is we’ve all been distracted from the hectic work life to the drama and politics and everything else, and now we’re able to slow down and see the beauty of this opportunity of being here on this planet, in this lifetime and taking care of each other and loving one another and being able to be forgiving and to be healed by nature. I’m just thankful for this time. It’s a good time for all of us to be grateful. But that’s [inaudible 00:53:27] that I’ve been experiencing with my own son’s [crosstalk 00:53:30].
Dr. Mark Hyman (53:29):
Yeah. It’s almost like God gave us all a big time out as humanity for misbehaving, and we got to go to our room and think about what we’re doing and how we need to maybe rethink what we want to be after because I don’t think we want to go back to what was normal. Normal wasn’t good for any of us. So it was crazy way we’re living, the rapacious way that our economy was going, the growing disparities, the increasing burdens of disease, the economic impact of it. I mean, all these problems, just now it becomes habit.
Dr. Mark Hyman (54:00):
I heard stories of people in Brazil, where the water’s clearing up, and dolphins are coming back, and animals are coming back. It’s almost like when Trenoble happened, everybody left. Now, there’s this amazing documentary with, I think David Attenborough about how Trenoble has become this incredible lush ecological system with animals all over and trees, and it’s like a nature preserve. It’s pretty wild. I don’t throw all glowing in the dark, but it’s amazing how it’s no stopping for a minute, we can kind of look at what we want as humanity going forward. I think this is a very important moment for us historically. I think voices like yours are really important to bring these issues out there, talk about things that really matter, about community, about food, about the social determinants, about healthcare, agriculture. These are things that I think are more and more important in the political conversation, and I’m just so happy that you’re out there talking about these things.
Dr. Mark Hyman (55:00):
I think whether you’re Republican or Democrat, it doesn’t matter. These issues need to be talked about. They affect of us. It doesn’t matter who you are, and I think I just appreciate that we’re going to be able to have these conversations going forward over the next months, and I want to thank you for your dedication and service because it’s not easy being in politics these days. So I’m really grateful for you.
Thank you, Mark. You’re absolutely right. I’m thankful that you understand what the world really could and should look like with everything that we’ve discussed from healthcare to our natural resources and the environment and the fiscal impacts, everything that’s in place right now. But getting [inaudible 00:55:38] I’m happy to be talking about it and bringing this conversation to politics. People need to know that politics now more than ever impacts their lives. So leadership matters, and that’s why I’m here. Politics is not fun for anybody. But when you look at it, it does impact a lot of good things, and we want to make sure that we’re protecting nature and protecting humanity. That’s really what it comes to.
Dr. Mark Hyman (56:06):
Well, thank you for talking about these issues. We need to talk more about them. I’ve been out there with our Food Fix Campaign, trying to get politicians to really understand these issues, and I’m excited to be able to sort of have these conversations. So thank you so much for being on The Doctor’s Farmacy. I hope you’re listening, love this conversation, and if you loved it, please share with your friends and family on social media. Leave a comment. We’d love to hear from you. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, and we’ll see you next time on The Doctor’s Farmacy.