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Marie Forleo: Hey, it’s Marie Forleo, and welcome to the Marie Forleo Podcast. I am so excited for today’s conversation. Look, if you care about your health, your family’s health, and you want to solve some of our biggest collective issues like inequality and justice and climate change, you have got to listen to this episode because I’m talking, once again, with my dear friend, Dr. Mark Hyman. And this time, it’s about his new book, which is spectacular, and, in my opinion, a must-read. It’s called Food Fix.
Now, if you don’t know Mark yet, let me tell you a little bit about him. Dr. Mark Hyman is a practicing family physician and an internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator, and advocate in the field of functional medicine. He’s the founder and director of the UltraWellness Center, the head of strategy and innovation of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, and get this, a 12-time New York Times best-selling author.
He’s a board president for clinical affairs for the Institute for Functional Medicine as well. He’s also got an amazing podcast called the Doctor’s Farmacy, and Mark is a regular contributor to several television shows and networks, including CBS This Morning, Today, Good Morning America, The View, and CNN. You name it. He’s been all over the place, so let’s dive into this conversation.
Marie Forleo: Mark, you are amazing. Thank you so much for coming back on the show.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Well, it’s a privilege, and I love talking to you. You’re the best, so it’s a no-brainer.
Marie Forleo: Well, let’s talk about this big, new book. I feel like in your heart, and, of course, what you’ve expressed as well in the book is that perhaps this is the most important one you’ve ever written. For context, you’ve been a New York Times best-seller 12 times, so…
Dr. Mark Hyman: Oh, yeah. There’s that.
Marie Forleo: Yeah, there’s just that little thing. Tell us, what is the thesis behind Food Fix, and why does this one, in particular, mean so much to you?
Dr. Mark Hyman: Well, Marie, I’ve been a doctor for 30 years now, sitting in my office, seeing patients. At some point, it feels like I’m just a guy with a big bucket bailing out a sinking ship because the flood of chronic disease just keep growing and growing and growing. Obesity, diabetes, the numbers are staggering. Six out of 10 Americans have a chronic disease. Four in 10 have more than one, and it’s projected to be 83 million will have more than three within 10 years.
We are just getting sicker and fatter than ever. We went from 5% obesity to 40% now, 75% overweight, and I’m like, “Wait a minute. Why are my patients so sick?” As a functional medicine doctor, I’m always asking why, why, why. Why does my patient have this symptom? What’s the root cause? I started thinking about, “Wait a minute. If I want to help my patients, I can’t really do it in my office. I can’t do it in the clinic or the hospital. I have to do it where actually the problem is.”
I realized it was the food they were eating that was making most of them so sick. Then it was like, “Well, what’s the food caused by?” It’s caused by the food system. I’m like, “What’s the food system caused by?” Well, it’s caused by our food policy. What’s that caused by? It’s caused by the food industry influencing our government.
I realized that so many of the rabbit holes I went down were all connected, that I had thought were separate. Yes, chronic disease and food for sure, as a functional medicine doctor, but then I’m like, “Wait a minute. The economic burden of that is staggering.” Right now, one-third of our entire federal budget is on chronic disease. Within five years, it’s going to be about half of every dollar that’s gathered by taxes from the government that’s a mandatory spending dollar, which will be for Medicaid and Medicare. That’s one out of every three dollars.
It’s staggering. It’s part of our $22 trillion debt. Then, I’m like, “What else is going on with food?” Well, it’s the number one cause of climate change. It’s destroying our pollinator species. It’s leading to the destruction of soils and depletion of our freshwater. I’m like, “What else?” I’m like, “Well, it’s causing all kinds of issues like mental illness is linked to food and the processed food we’re eating.” It’s linked to achievement gaps, where kids can’t learn because they’re eating all this garbage. It’s why we’re 31st in math and reading in the world, and Vietnam is 21st.
It’s even linked to things like violence and divisiveness in our society, and crime and homicide through the way it affects the brain. That’s not only it. Then it affects national security, which means that we can’t mount an army because effectively 70% of kids who apply for the military are rejected because they’re unfit to fight.
So I begin to sort of link everything together, connect the dots, and there’s a story here that no one’s told about how food is both the cause of most of what’s wrong with the world and also the cure. That’s the sort of happy side of this, is that it’s called Food Fix, not Food Apocalypse.
Marie Forleo: Yeah. I have to say too when I started reading my galley copy, I was sitting in my bed. I was reading it in Los Angeles. I was like, “Whoa! This is big. This is heavy.” Jersey Marie came out. I got so angry. I’m underlining stuff. I’m yelling at Josh like, “Can you believe this?” I’m showing him the stats.
I’ll read this, one of the things that you share in the beginning: “Our food chain is plagued with corruption from seed to field to fork to landfill. We have a moral, economic, medical, and environmental imperative to fix it. The very survival of our species depends on it.” I love that you shared this.
Again, reading your own words. “Our most powerful tool to reverse the global epidemic of chronic disease, heal the environment, reverse climate change, and poverty and social injustice, reform politics, and revive economies is food.” I think one of the things that struck me most when I was reading the book is all these dots that you’re connecting. For anyone who’s been passionate about their health or looked at any of these other issues separately, whether it has been around chronic disease, climate change, inequality, and injustice, you might be familiar with some of these ideas. But to see how they all knit together with food is really a wake-up call.
I’m wondering if we can talk next because, again, for anyone listening, if you’ve got kids around, now is probably the time to put on your headphones because there may be a possibility that Jersey Marie comes out. Look, I think all of us need to wake up and understand how utterly corrupt and, frankly, ass-backwards our food system is right now. It feels like a deadly joke.
Let me read this one paragraph from your book. You write, “We also have a co-opted government. When I asked Ann Veneman, the former Secretary of Agriculture under George W. Bush, why we couldn’t have science guide our food policies and agriculture, or why we don’t stop the marketing of junk foods to kids, or have more transparent food labels, or stop subsidies for commodities turned into processed food, or create subsidies for fruits and vegetables, she told me it was the food and agriculture’s influence on Congress and the administration, meaning those industries.”
“Almost 73% of the members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, and 90% of the House Agriculture Committee received donations from Monsanto and Syngenta,” which I don’t even know who the hell Syngenta is, but they sound not so good.
Dr. Mark Hyman: It’s a seed company. There’s like four seed companies that control 60% of the seeds in the world, and they are just monstrous. I didn’t realize this, but the food industry is the biggest industry on the planet. It’s 17% of the world’s economy, and it’s run by a few dozen CEOs of big food companies, processed food companies, fast food companies, fertilizer companies, seed companies, Big Ag companies. It’s just staggering.
I think that the good news is, we’re seeing real change, like Kellogg’s last week, I think, announced that it was going to get glyphosate out of their supply chain, so no more Roundup in your Cheerios in the morning…
Marie Forleo: Yay!
Dr. Mark Hyman: Or your Frosted Flakes.
Marie Forleo: Progress.
Dr. Mark Hyman: They were outed, but it was because people like you and I and others speak out, and the average consumer says, “We don’t want this stuff in our food.” They were outed by Environmental Working Group saying, “You’ve got more glyphosate in Cheerios than you do have vitamin D or vitamin B12.”
Marie Forleo: Wow!
Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah, so they voluntarily changed it. General Mills committed a million acres to regenerative agriculture, which we’ll talk about what that is, but that’s a great thing, which is agriculture that restores the Earth, restores soil, reverses climate change, makes healthier food. It’s fabulous, and yet, this is all done because people are speaking out, people care, consumers care, and the big companies are listening.
Marie Forleo: Yeah, I’m going to just read a few more things because I would like my audience to get fired up because I think we can channel that being fired-up-ness, that anger, that outrage into healthy activism and demanding change. Guys, for those of us in America, “In America, only 2% of our farmland is used to grow fruits and vegetables, despite the fact that our government says 50% of our diet should be fruits and vegetables.” We don’t grow enough to even satisfy that minimum, and I thought, again, heart-breaking, 59% are commodity crops, corn, wheat, and soy that get turned into ultra-processed food that essentially kill us and destroys the environment.
I’m wondering if you can share, Mark, what you said when you spoke at the 2013 World Economic Forum, when everyone was talking about how to reduce healthcare costs? What did you come and say?
Dr. Mark Hyman: First of all, I’m this lowly family doctor, and I’m at this big meeting of all the big movers and shakers in healthcare. The head of pharma companies, the head of health insurance companies, the head of health systems, health ministers, government experts. We had deans of public health schools. I’m in this incredible panel of people up at the front telling you how do we fix healthcare.
It was, “Well, we’re going to make things more efficient. We’re going to reduce errors. We’re going to coordinate care better. We’re going to have better health technology and better payment systems.” I’m like, “All that sounds great, but it’s sort of like moving the deck chairs on the Titanic. How about we figure out why people are sick in the first place, so they don’t need the healthcare. It might be because of what they’re eating.”
It was hysterical because the whole room went quiet. It was like I just literally announced the meaning of life, and afterwards, the dean came up to me, the Dean of Columbia School of Public Health, who was moderating the panel. She says, “Mark, that was such a great comment. We hadn’t ever thought of that.” We’re all discussing this afterwards. I’m like, “Really?”
Marie Forleo: Yeah, but hey, this is the benefit of having … All of us, I think, can get so insular in our own industries, and we start like, “Okay, what do we work on?” It takes someone, perhaps, like you, who hasn’t been embedded in their particular worlds to just point out sometimes the obvious, which is, yeah, let’s look at what the Hell we’re eating that’s making us all sick in the first place.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah, and I think people just don’t understand the level at which food plays a role in our health. I think people say, “Oh, yeah, if you eat too much, you gain weight.” It’s like, “All right, yeah, if you eat too much of this or that, it might not be good for you,” but the scope on which it actually causes disease and the way in which you can cure disease is just so far beyond most doctors and the average person’s understanding.
The data came out last year that 11 million people die every year from eating, we call, ultra-processed food, which comes from basically corn, wheat, and soy that’s made into thousands of food-like science projects that are industrial products that aren’t really food like Twinkies or whatever, Doritos. 11 million people die every year, and I think that’s an underestimate. That’s the amount of people that died in the entire Holocaust in World War II.
It’s a staggering amount, and yet, no one really is talking about this. No one is saying, “Wait a minute. Let’s look at this as a crisis.” Look, we’re all scared about coronavirus. It’s killed a few hundred people. It’s terrible, but it’s not 11 million people, right?
Marie Forleo: Yeah.
Dr. Mark Hyman: The world’s up in arms. We’ve got viruses. We got tests. We got this. Nobody’s talking about this.
Marie Forleo: Well, I think, yeah, we human beings, right, are generally terrible at understanding long-term consequences, the things that we do every single day, that over time, destroy us. I think that’s one of the challenges, but I love that you are raising the alarm here. I just want to say too, in terms of most just every day, regular, normal Americans, normal people around the world –– we’ve got folks listening in from 195 countries –– that we just don’t recognize how important this is.
I want to give two personal points on this. One, several years ago, I almost lost my dad because his kidneys were failing. He passed out in a bank, cracked his head open on the marble floor. Type II diabetes, forget about it. He was just going in the wrong direction, and everything in his body started to fail. I had been trying to encourage the eating of the more green things called vegetables and all this stuff, but all of us, myself included, you only kind of wake up when you wake up.
I’ll tell you now, my dad’s in his mid-70s, completely cured of his Type II diabetes. He used to be on, I think, like 16 medications a day. I think he’s one maybe one tiny half of something. He works out five days a week in the morning, plus an hour on his bike every day. He’s more fit than most people I know. His energy and stamina is just out of the roof.
I’ll say this too, me, I know about a lot of this. You and I have talked. You’re a dear friend. I pay attention to these things because I care about my health and my performance. I just had a series of tests done, and I learned that I’ve developed a gluten insensitivity. That came out of nowhere. Just for the past few weeks, I’ve been like, “Okay, this is great.” I’ve been traveling a bit, so I have to go back and do a few more things to check out, make sure everything’s cool.
I’m sure it is, but even me removing gluten from my diet these past few weeks, I had called my doctor because I was feeling like a little bit of brain fog that felt unusual to me, and also feeling, in terms of my mood, my mood was off. I was like, “This doesn’t feel like me.” Honestly, Mark, I thought it was maybe hormonal. When I got all the tests done, it was like, “Oh, look at this. Something I was eating,” and I eat tons of organic food, was causing me to kind of go…
Anyway, I want to say that for everyone listening, even for people like, “Oh, I shop all the right things. I eat all the right things.” It’s like no one is exempt from this. No one.
Dr. Mark Hyman: No, it’s true. I think people don’t connect how bad they feel with what they’re eating because it’s just this low-level, “Oh, am I a little achy, or am I congested, or I got a little irritable bowel, digestive issues. Maybe I have a little sinus problem or headaches or whatever,” and they don’t connect the dots between what they’re eating and how they feel.
I think that is really the most powerful insight that people can get by doing a quick reset. We created something called the 10-Day Detox, 10-Day Reset. People can go on and figure it out, but it’s super easy, and it’s free. It’s just a way for everybody to have the insight that the reason they feel like crap is because of what they’re eating.
Marie Forleo: Eating, yes! Yeah. I was just in London speaking to people about Everything Is Figureoutable, my book, and we were talking about a bunch of things. I was thinking to myself too, “I want to pull these people aside and go, ‘Look, I can tell you all the things that you can do from a mindset perspective and from habits and perspectives, but we have to look at your biology and what you’re putting in your body, and how that is impacting how you feel and how you think and your energy and all that.
Marie Forleo: Anyway, moving on.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Well…
Marie Forleo: Yeah, go for it.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Well, it’s important because I think people don’t often understand why they feel bad, and we see so much depression, anxiety, panic attacks, behavior problems in kids, violence, divisiveness in society. People don’t get that that’s connected to what we’re eating.
I think you probably know David Perlmutter. He’s a neurologist, and he wrote in a book called Brainwash, where he explained how our inflammatory diet of ultra-processed foods decouples the adult in our brain from the reptile. In other words, the frontal lobe, which is our adult in the room that makes rational decisions, makes sure you don’t do something terrible, is what keeps us safe in a sense. Then the reptile brain is just reactive, and yelling, and fighting, and fleeing. It’s sort of the lizard brain.
Yet, the lizard brain is taking over, which is why we see all this violence and hatred and divisiveness, whether it’s the diet wars or whether it’s the Republicans and Democrats. It’s all so divided, and the reason is that partly, I think, because we are in a culture that serves food that makes our brains not work properly.
Marie Forleo: 100%. Again, my own personal experience of this, of just dipping my toe in and seeing the difference of how I feel on a daily basis based on what I eat, how I am thinking, how I’m reacting, all of it, it is absolutely interlinked. In fact, this is a great bridge. I want to talk about how big food companies are targeting certain communities, kids, teenagers, poor people, black and brown people, both here and around the world. Before we dive in, I have a few bullet points here. Again, all this pulled out of your book.
“Every year, Coke and McDonald’s spends $1.8 billion marketing their products to kids as young as two years old.” That’s criminal. “From 2013 to 2017, food advertising on black-targeted TV increased by 50%. Black teens viewed 119% more junk food-related ads, mostly for soda, than white teens.” As you explained a little earlier while this matters, all of our kid’s future is threatened by the achievement gap caused, in large part, by their inability to learn on a diet of fast food and sugar.
These two next points, Mark, I’m telling you, this is where Jersey Marie got so fired up, and I’m thinking, “How do I use my marketing smarts to tackle this.” That’s where my brain was going. The president of Coca-Cola international, Ahmet Bozer, said this to a group of investors in 2014. “There’s 600 million teenagers who have not had a Coke in the last week, so the opportunity for that is huge.” Obviously, the data shows us that soda kills.
Then, this last one, I’m like… Here’s basically my response right after what I’m about to read. I’ll read it first, and then I’ll tell you. “Nestle recruits thousands of women in some of the poorest towns in Brazil to go door-to-door selling candies and processed food as part of its goal to expand its global reach to a quarter-million Brazilian households.” Okay, so one of the things I’m shocked by, Mark, when I travel around, is how many different people listen to my show. I’m often sometimes surprised. Pundits and people that I admire, they’re like, “Oh, my God. I’m a fan.” I’m like, “Wow, this is amazing.”
If anyone right now works for Nestle or Coke or is connected to them, y’all, you need to get your shit together because I feel like what they’re doing is selling poison for profit. This is not okay. It’s not.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Here’s a problem is we basically have a food system that was created out of good intentions that’s had incredibly bad consequences. Yes, during the period of industrialization after World War II, we started using fertilizer, and pesticides, and herbicides, and industrial farming methods, and factory farming of animals, and it was thought to be a good thing because it was going to provide more food for more people, produce lots of extra, starchy calories, which we all thought were needed. And it was very successful at that.
But no one really understood the unintended consequences of when we made Crisco and trans fats or when we made high-fructose corn syrup. It was an attempt to try to do something good, but it turned very bad. Now, these companies are stuck in a legacy of products and businesses that need to adapt to a future that is going to be very different. Because if we don’t, we’re going to have no food. We’re going to have no water. We’re going to have no pollinators. We’re going to have massive levels of chronic disease, and of course, rapid climate change.
Dr. Mark Hyman: I think these companies are starting to get it, and they’re adapting their products. They’re taking out bad ingredients. They’re reformulating products. They’re buying up all the health food companies. They’re investing in regenerative agriculture and sustainability issues. It’s interesting to see that there’s this shift happening in the last couple years because…
Marie Forleo: Thank God. You just pulled me back from the edge because I was getting all mad at them. Yeah.
Dr. Mark Hyman: It was interesting. It’s easy to be, “They’re evil out there, and we’re the good guys here,” but, over the years, I’ve gotten to meet a lot of these people, the top executive of Pepsi and Nestle and Danone, these companies where there’s a real interest in trying to figure this out, and getting at they’re killing their customers, and that they’re actually, by the very methods of farming that are being used to produce their products, they’re affecting their future success and their ability to grow because it’s just not sustainable.
I see there’s a movement. It’s not fast enough. They still are doing bad things, so it’s like left-hand, right-hand kind of thing. While they’re saying we want to do the right thing, some of them are doing very subversive tactics to drive policy change that’s in their interest like preemptive taxes where they’re forcing through various kinds of manipulation, bribery, and influence governors that pass laws to preempt any future taxes on soda or junk food.
It’s not 100% clean, and there’s still some bad acting in there, but I think things are shifting in the right direction.
Marie Forleo: Well, that’s good.
Dr. Mark Hyman: The marketing thing, though, is huge. We have the First Amendment in this country, which is a great thing, but it should not allow us to target children in ways that are manipulative, that are subversive, that are…
Marie Forleo: Predatory. It’s predatory in nature.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Predatory, yeah. This guy, Guido Girardi, who’s the vice president of the senate in Chile, was able to introduce a whole set of legislation in Chile with Michelle Bachelet, who was the president. They were both doctors, which is why I think this has happened because they knew what was going on. They basically did all this great stuff, like getting rid of marketing to kids. It showed a four-fold reduction in consumption compared to soda taxes.
They got rid of cartoon characters on cereal boxes. They put warning labels. All of it was great, and the guy said that he thinks that food companies are the 21st-century pedophiles. Now, that’s a strong statement. Not sure I agree, but I think it just speaks to the ways in which these kids are being targeted. Now, it’s not so obvious.
If you see an ad and a cartoon character, Ronald McDonald, on TV on a Saturday, everybody knows what’s going on. Now, there’s 5.4 billion ads just alone in one year on Facebook by the food companies. There’s millions and millions and hundreds of millions of ads on social media, and other things that are sort of stealth. It’s called stealth marketing. They have advergames where they literally create fun games for kids online that are on social media that are “free” but are embedded with McDonald’s and Oreo cookies and Wendy’s and whatever.
It’s unfairly targeting them, and they actually are not just so benign. They’re actually imaging these kid’s brains, so they literally put kids on an MRI machine. They can look at the blood flow, and they can see if the imaging they use in their advertising activates the emotional response they want so the kid will want to get it. Kids at two years old can name brand name products, and they probably can’t even name a vegetable.
Marie Forleo: So I’m back on my Jersey Marie kick. Okay. We got to, we got to… We do. We can absolutely applaud and celebrate moves in the right direction, and we can say, “It’s not enough, and there are certain things that need done.” I’m going to keep going. I want to talk about the loss of biodiversity in agriculture systems, and specifically, one of my favorite parts of the book, something I’ve been fascinated by recently and learning more and more about is regenerative practices and the difference between dirt and soil. Can you speak to that?
Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah. Okay, well, this is a fairly new field. We’ve heard about organic. We’ve heard about sustainable, and what’s really happening at a high level in our agriculture system is we’re farming in ways that destroy the soil. We’ve lost a third of all our topsoil in the last 150 years. We’re projected to lose all of it within 60 harvests.
It’s important because when you have soil, it’s rich in organic matter and carbon, and it basically sucks carbon out of the atmosphere. It can hold more than all the greenhouse gases that are in the atmosphere today. It conserves water, so you literally can hold for every 1% organic matter in the soil, you can hold 25,000 gallons of water. You can have 68% organic matter, which will prevent droughts and floods, and create resilience to weather.
It also increases the ecosystem diversity, so you get more pollinators and insects and good plants. It creates a whole healthy ecosystem for the farmer where he makes better food, makes more money, it’s more climate and weather resistant. He builds soil, actually doesn’t use chemical inputs, conserves water, and makes 20 times the amount of money as his neighbor, so it’s a win-win all around.
I think people are beginning to understand that this form of agriculture is far better and is actually necessary compared to what we have now, which is destructive and extractive agriculture where you till the soil, and you just leave bare soil, and you use chemicals and fertilizers and pesticides. This whole movement toward regenerative agriculture is, I think, one of the most critical things that’s going on now because if we start at the farm, we create better food, we reverse climate change, we create better working conditions for farmers, better conditions for the animals because they’re out there grazing, and people don’t have to become vegan in order to save the planet.
That’s certainly the message out there, but when you dig down deeper, actually, the best way to restore the climate and the best way to actually build soil is integrating animals into a regenerative farm. You don’t have to eat them, but you still have to do that. You actually build more life. You create more wild habitat for the natural animals in that habitat. Whereas, for example, if you’re having these big organic vegetable farms that are massive and are not done in a regenerative way, you literally are killing tons of animals.
There’s a study that came out that if you’re eating only vegetables and beans and grains, so forth, you’re literally killing seven billion animals a year through conventional agriculture. Whereas we kill about 29 million cows, which is a lot in this country, but seven billion… Even if you’re a vegan or vegetarian, you’re still in the cycle, or, as they said in the Lion King, the circle of life. And regenerative agriculture is just a much better way to actually do all the things we want to do, which is to create better food that’s better for people that reverses disease that reverses climate change.
Marie: It really is fascinating, and it feels like the way of future. It gives me such a feeling of hope and a feeling of returning us to more connection with each other and with nature and with everything that’s alive.
Dr. Mark Hyman: It’s true, and it’s scalable. People say, “Oh, it’s sort of elitist, and nobody can do it,” but the truth is, it is scalable. The UN said recently that if we took $300 billion, which is basically the military spending of the entire world for 60 days, so two months of spending on war, and we invested it to help convert the two million of the five million hectares of degraded land around the world to regenerative agriculture, we could stop climate change for 20 years. We literally could just press pause.
Marie Forleo: What?
Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah. $300 billion, that’s less than Medicare spends on diabetes in this country. It’s a solvable problem, and it is scalable. We have so much degraded land in the United States. We can convert land that it’s not usable for other things like growing vegetables or crops to using animals to incorporate into the ecosystem that actually builds soil. That’s how we got 50 to 80 feet of topsoil in America was we had 60, 80 million ruminants like bison and elk running around America and building all this soil.
They dig and eat and poop and pee, and the saliva would make the plants grow. They wouldn’t graze it down to the stubble. They would graze enough and then move on to the next fresh patch. It was such a win-win for everything. They weren’t causing climate change. It’s not the animals. It’s how they are raised. Russ Conser, who’s a regenerative farmer, said, “It’s not the cow. It’s the how.”
I think people think, “Oh, well, I’m going to switch to plant-based meats. That’s better.” Yes, it’s much better for the environment than eating conventional factory farming, but when you compare it in the life cycle analysis to, for example, the Impossible Burger, because it’s GMO soy and the soy’s grown in conventional ways. It degrades soil and all the things we talked about, and the herbicides.
Compared to a regeneratively-raised beef burger, you actually add three and a half kilos of carbon for an Impossible Burger, and you take out three and a half kilos of carbon for a regenerative burger. You literally have to eat one regeneratively-raised grass-fed burger to offset the carbon emissions of an Impossible Burger.
Marie Forleo: This is why your book is so important for people to read, to understand and to look at the science, and to kind of open all of our eyes to solutions that are out there that just feel right. I think that’s one of the most striking things about… For me, reading your book, it was like so much of this is common sense, yet none of it is common practice yet. There are people, of course, doing such great work, and we’re getting there, but I’m excited for everyone listening to get your book, and to read it, and hopefully, raise their voices because it’s necessary.
Just looking at climate in and of itself, if you kind of extract and just zoom in on that issue, again, everything else is so important, but pretty soon, we’re not going to have a planet to live one if we don’t handle it. I want to keep moving, though, because for folks listening and thinking about maybe they missed our earlier episodes, I think we should talk about how anyone can eat healthier no matter what their budget for groceries.
For anyone listening who’s thinking about, “Okay, well, what about my health? I might have some brain fog. I might have those bloated feelings or just, gosh, irritable bowel syndrome,” or just things happening that you kind of assume is, “Oh, this is my human body.” Well, maybe not. What do we start with? How can you give us some tips about where to get started no matter we live or how much we can spend?
Dr. Mark Hyman: Absolutely. In the book, I realize it’s a big ask I’m making to think about the whole system, but I have a whole action guide where the average person can do a lot. There’s so much that we can do to change our footprint on the planet to improve our health. The first thing is just think about when you’re eating, how you eat for the health of humans and the planet. It’s sort of a different little framework on it. It’s just not about you anymore. It’s about the bigger context.
I jokingly created something called the Pegan Diet, which essentially is combining whole foods and getting rid of all the diet wars, and eating a lot of plant-rich foods, low starch and sugar, lots of good fats, lots of nuts and seeds. If you’re eating animals, make sure they’re regeneratively-raised if you can. Whole grains and beans, not the flours. Get rid of sugary beverages.
Really simple things that I outline in the book about how to do this. I’ve written cookbooks. My last one was Food: What the Heck Should I Cook? It’s great. You can make such delicious food. Then, the other thing is think about ways just to drive the marketplace with your choices. Do we know GMO is bad for us? I don’t know. We can argue that all day long. We do know that what they put on GMO is bad for us, the pesticides and the herbicides. There’s no question about that.
Don’t buy GMO foods. There are a lot of companies now that are putting non-GMO labels on, so you actually know that they don’t have GMOs posted, which is the opposite of what we should have, which is putting a label on that it does have GMO. But that sends a big message. It changes the supply chain. It makes people buy different things, and companies produce different things. Campbell’s Soup got rid of all GMO in their food. Not that Campbell’s Soup is great, but …
Marie Forleo: Yeah.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Then there’s things that you can do simply like food waste. We didn’t talk about that, but we waste 40% of our food on the planet. That’s enough that it would have to be grown on the entire landmass of China. It’s a waste of $2.6 trillion a year. It would feed 10.5 billion people, and all we have to do is imagine going home and throwing 40% of our food out from the grocery store. That’s pretty much what we do in America.
So you can have a compost pile. Take your food scraps, and make a little compost pile. You can have urban composting machines that you can use in your apartment if you live in an apartment. And, in fact, when you do that, you’re helping to reverse climate change because when the food goes to the landfill, it releases methane, which is 25 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. If it were a country, food waste would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the U.S. and China. It’s a fixable problem.
Of course, people want to become politically active. They can do that. I think there is a little bit of a sense of defeatism there, but it matters. You turn up the heat on the politicians. You can go to foodpolicyaction.org, and they have a list of your congressmen and senators, what they vote on on the food and ag issues. People have been outed from Congress because of ag groups that’s actually created social media campaigns.
Maybe you want to advocate for a municipal composting ordinance in your town, or maybe you want to work with your schools to help improve school lunches like many examples I give in there. People can even get more serious about it by taking their money and only investing in businesses that are doing the right thing. Recently, there was a giant… I think it was one of the biggest investments for the blank… Was it the Blackstone or Blackzone, maybe? They literally have trillions in assets, and the head of that fund said, “We’re going to not invest in any companies that aren’t helping to protect against climate change or that are not stopping climate change.”
They’re not going to invest in fossil fuels. They’re not going to invest in factory farming of animals. They’re not going to do all those things, which his huge, and money speaks.
Marie Forleo: That’s right.
Dr. Mark Hyman: There is a company called goodmoney.com. I think a friend of ours, Gunnar, runs it, and it’s essentially the idea that you can choose where your money’s going. My daughter’s like, “Well, I don’t want to be invested in TD Bank because they fund the Dakota Pipeline,” and they were doing all this. I was like, “Wow, that’s an incredible way of thinking about how you can be empowered about what to do.”
Marie Forleo: I love it. For people listening right now too, who might be on their own health journey, and I think that there is a significant portion of our listening population who might be there right now working their best, getting as many veggies as they possibly can, looking to take care of their health, I’m curious if you can also tell us about the story of Janice, and what is possible. Because I think for some people… You mentioned this feeling defeatist, especially around our politics here in the States, and I think it’s true in other parts of the world as well.
Part of that is like, “Oh, nothing I do makes a difference,” could be tied back to your health. I know Janice, who was dancing with death at like 66 years old. She was severely obese, suffering from heart failure, Type II diabetes, coronary heart disease. What happened when she really woke up and understood that a food fix was possible for her?
Dr. Mark Hyman: Well, Janice was like many Americans who grew up eating junk food. She was actually fairly educated, but her family never really had a food culture. Everything was processed, packaged, or in a box or can. She just ate that way her whole life. By the time she was 66, she was 243 pounds with a body mass index of 43. Normal was like 25 or less. She had Type II diabetes. Her blood sugars were out of control, on tons of insulin. She had heart failure. She had kidney failure. She had fatty liver, and she had high blood pressure, and was on a pile of drugs.
She literally was about to go out. She really wasn’t going to last much longer. She came to our program at the Cleveland Clinic called Functioning for Life, which is a group program where people do stuff together. It’s always better to do stuff, and that’s why your work is so great because you get people together on programs and approaches that really help motivate them.
Within three days of changing her diet, essentially what I talk about in the Food Fix book, the 10-Day Reset, she got off insulin in three days. In three months, she normalized her blood sugars. Her heart failure reversed. Her kidneys got better. Her fatty liver got better. Her blood pressure normalized, and she got off most of her medications and lost 43 pounds. She kept going, and after a year, she lost 116 pounds as a completely different person.
It’s just striking to see how powerful food is because we think, “Oh, well, food is good. It’s prevention. If I eat healthy, I won’t get sick in the future. Actually, that’s true, but it’s also true that food is probably the most powerful drug on the planet to reverse most chronic disease if you know how to use it.
That’s what was so inspiring to me about Janice. It’s like, here’s someone at 66 who’s really about to check out, and look at what happened to them, just very, very, quickly by changing their diet and actually following these principles that food is medicine, and choosing the right stuff. It’s available to everybody.
Marie Forleo: Yes, and we won’t go back because we won’t go tread over material that we did before, but hopefully, when people read Food Fix and understand just how the systems are preventing so many people from having easier access to those things. Individually and collectively, we all got a lot of food fixes to make.
Mark, I adore you. Is there anything else besides getting the book, which, of course, I recommend everyone do and share with their family… Anywhere else you want them to go and check out if they are passionate about this topic?
Dr. Mark Hyman: Absolutely. I created a website called foodfixbook.com, and there’s a lot of great free resources on there, including my video, Five Steps to a Healthy You and a Healthier Planet. And, also, our action guide, which gives actions for you, for policies that need to change that you can be vocal about, and business innovations that can happen. Then there’s a whole bunch of wonderful bonuses if people get the books. They can just go to foodfixbook.com.
I’m also creating a campaign, which is a nonprofit and an advocacy group because I was with Sam Kass the other day, who was the senior policy guy in the White House under Obama for food, and he said, “You know, everybody came from the industry with all these regulations and laws and legislation written and policies, and these briefing books, and they would give them to the lawmakers, but nobody came for the good guys. Nobody came for advocating for what we really need to do.”
So that’s really where I’m working now, is really build a grassroots movement and advocacy campaign to change these policies that are driving some of us wrong. How do we support regenerative agriculture? How do we deal with the food marketing to kids? How do we deal with producing better quality food? How do we subsidize the right stuff? I’m really excited about it, and it’s probably going to be foodfix.org is the URL when it comes out. But stay tuned. You’re going to hear more about that. This is not a book. It’s a movement, and hope you all join.
Marie Forleo: Yeah, you’re awesome. Well, I’ll just say this. I’ll say it publicly. I’ve been thinking as time goes on, I keep wanting to use my very genius marketing skills, because I’m really good at what I do, to continue to create good in this world. So consider me a pal and a friend because I feel like we can do some really fun campaigns. I think marketing on the right side of the change we want to see can really some of that support too. Thank you for the work that you do in this world. You are amazing. I have so many dear, personal friends that are like, “Oh, my God. You’re friends with Mark? He’s the best.” We love you.
Dr. Mark Hyman: I had the same comments. “You’re friends with Marie? She’s amazing.”
Marie Forleo: It’s a lovefest. We adore you. Thank you for writing this book. Thank you for being a champion and for what we all need, which is greater health and a more peaceful, just, and equitable world. Thanks for coming on today.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Thank you, Marie.
Marie Forleo: Oh, my goodness. Was that not an incredible conversation or what? We talked about a lot of things. Mark and I, of course, would love to hear from you. What is the biggest insight or takeaway that you’ve gotten from this conversation? And most important, how can you turn that insight into action? What steps are you going to take for your own food fix starting now?
Again, I do highly recommend the book. Now, as always, the best conversations happen over at the magical land of marieforleo.com, so go there and leave a comment now. If you’re not yet subscribed to our email list, what’s going on? You should be. I send the most amazing emails, usually once a week, so go over there, hop on the email list. You’ll get some exclusive content, special giveaways, and some personal updates that I just don’t share anywhere else.
Stay on your game, and keep going for your dreams because the world really does need that very special gift that only you have. Thank you for tuning in to this episode of the Marie Forleo Podcast, and I’ll catch you next time.
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