On Today’s show my guest is a nine-time #1 New York Times bestselling author, and an internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator, and advocate for functional medicine Dr. Mark Hyman. We’re talking about fats, functional medicine and his new book Eat Fat, Get Thin.

Dr. Hyman has testified before both the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the Senate Working Group on Health Care Reform on Functional Medicine. He is the winner of the Linus Pauling Award and was inducted in the Books for Better Life Hall of Fame.

Dr. Mark Hyman is a practicing family physician and the Director the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine. He is also the founder and medical director of The UltraWellness Center, chairman of the board of the Institute for Functional Medicine, a medical editor of The Huffington Post, and was a regular medical contributor on many television shows including CNN, and The View, and The Dr. Oz Show.

[bctt tweet=”“Focus on the quality of the food and what you’re eating, and you won’t have to worry about it” Dr. Mark Hyman “] On today’s show we talk about the shift in diet trends from low fat to what we have now and how this has impacted the health of Americans. Dr. Hyman shares why Eat Fat, Get Thin was the hardest book he has ever written. And we talk about what we should be eating including what a typical healthy plate looks like.

Topics discussed today include:

  • We are in a big fat mess – 1 in 2 Americans are sick
  • We got into a diet path based on bad science that caused huge problems
  • The thinking was that fat was bad and fat made us fat
  • The thinking was wrong, the real culprit was sugar and refined carbs
  • Processed low fat indulgences usually replaced fats with sugar
  • We finally realized or are starting to realize that fats are good and sugar is bad
  • Saturated fat combined with sugar is still bad, fat with sugar and starch can be a problem
  • A whole foods, low glycemic anti-inflammatory diet is what we should aim for
  • Eat Fat, Get Thin was the hardest book Dr. Hyman has ever written because there is so much controversy on the area of fat
  • Dr. Hyman used to prescribe very low fat vegetarian diets for people, and they ended up feeling not that great
  • Eating whole foods and getting fats from as natural a way as possible is the goal
  • We should eat things like fruits and vegetables, grass-fed animal foods, nuts & seeds, whole foods, whole eggs things we would traditionally recognize
  • If your plate is 75% vegetables you’re doing good with a side of protein and a side of starch
  • Double down on the vegetables and skip the potatoes, bread, and rice
  • Unlimited non-starchy vegetables
  • Be aware of how much starchy vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash and root vegetables) you are eating because they can turn into sugar in your body try ½ cup
  • We talk about having a healthy balance and relationship with food – don’t obsess, find freedom by eating the right foods
  • Eating the right foods makes us not hungry and we end up eating less
  • Most of your diet by volume should be carbs in the form of vegetables, but most of your calories should be from fat
  • Your plate should be 75% veggies, 4 ounces of protein, and 4 or 5 tablespoons of fat a day. These are guidelines nothing rigid.
  • Stick with low glycemic fruits and avoid fruit juices, at least until you become more resilient to sugars
  • Avoid over heating oils (no smoke), stick with healthy oils like coconut, olive oil, and grass-fed butter
  • Simple cooking techniques and eating real food is liberating

Key Takeaways:

Don’t be afraid of eating real food. We need to get back to families cooking simple meals that consist of real food. No barcodes, no ingredient list – just eat real food.

Mentioned on today’s show:

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Dr. Cates: Hi there, I’m Dr. Trevor Cates. Welcome to The Spa Doctor Podcast. On today’s show, my guest is nine time number 1 New York Time’s Bestselling Author and an internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator, and advocate for functional medicine, Dr. Mark Hyman. We’re talking about fats, functional medicine, and his new book Eat Fat, Get Thin.

Dr. Mark Hyman is a practicing family physician and the director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for functional medicine. He’s also the founder and medical director of the Ultrawellness Center, Chairman of the Board of the Institute for Functional Medicine, and Medical Director of the Huffington Post, and was a regular medical contributor on many TV shows including CNN, The View, and the Dr. Oz show.

Dr. Hyman has also testified before the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the Senate Working Group on Health Care Reform on Functional Medicine. He’s a winner of the Linus Pauling award and was inducted into the Books For Better Life Haul Of Fame.

On today’s show, we talk about the shift in diet trends from low fat to what we have now and how this is really impacting the Americans. Dr. Hyman also shares why Eat Fat Get Thin was the hardest book he has ever written and we talk about what we should be eating including what a typical healthy plate looks like. Please enjoy this interview with Dr. Hyman.


Dr. Hyman, it’s so great to have you on my podcast.

Dr. Hyman: I’m so glad to be here, thanks for having me.

Dr. Cates: Yes. We are in a big fat mess aren’t we? How did we get into this big fat mess?

Dr. Hyman: Well, we are in a big fat mess. One in two Americans are sick with the chronic disease, one in two have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, 70% overweight, 40% of kids are overweight. What happened? This all exploded since 1980. What happened was we got on a diet path that was based on really bad science, but ended up causing this huge problem which is that we thought that fat was bad, that fat made you fat, that fat caused heart disease so we should all eat low fat.

The government said it, we were told in the food pyramid from 1992 to eat six to eleven servings of bread, rice, or pasta a day. Can you imagine eleven servings of bread as a healthy diet?

Second, the Food Ministry jumped on board and they created all these low fat products like snack bar cookies. Maybe eating lower fat isn’t terrible, but when you actually add all the starch and the carbs, that’s terrible. That drives insulators, it drives belly fat, it drives all of the diseases of chronic agents.

We got into this whole mess because some was bad science that told us that fat was bad, it was some population studies that were really not well done. I review all that in the book. And then there was the government policy, then the other associations like American Diabetic Association, American Heart Association, American Nutrition Diabetic Association. They all jumped on board because it was all math problems like fat is more calories than carbs and proteins, if you eat less fat you lose weight. My metabolism is not a math problem, it’s a hormonal problem.

We got into this mess and it just accelerated. Finally, it’s changing. Finally, we’re actually waking up and realizing that oops, we got it wrong, and that the meal culprit was not fat, it was sugar and refined carbs. The government in fact timely said that. In the 2015 Dietary Guidelines, they were like hey, you know what, we kind of got it wrong. After 35 years of telling you to eat less fat, we’re removing any restriction on total fat in the diet. Guess what, we’re also removing any restriction on cholesterol because we got that wrong too, we thought that it was actually a problem with heart disease but realized it’s not. And then you actually don’t have to worry about it, which is quite funny given all the dietary cholesterol and egg white omelettes.

[00:02:24] we should reduce sugar in our diet to lessen 10% of our calories, which still seems like a lot but it’s a lot less than Americans are eating. That’s about 5 or 6 teaspoons of sugar a day, the average American have 22 teaspoons of sugar a day. Some kids are having 34. It’s all moving in the right direction, but it’s still hard for people to get their hair around the fact that how can fat not make me fat because it looks like that fat on my body, it’s the same word, it’s got more calories, it’s all about calories in calories out. That whole story is just a myth.

Dr. Cates: I certainly remember it so well in the 80s being in college and everything low fat, no fat, and I remember those snack well cookies as well, I loved those cookies. I thought oh, this is a healthy indulgence. We can eat as much as we want of these because it doesn’t have fat. But then, I started to learn about how they’re replacing fat with sugar. Anything that said low fat had twice the amount of sugar.

That’s when we first started to realize, maybe this isn’t’ the best thing. And then, there was just this complete transition to wow, fats are actually good for us, which is so amazing that we could go from one extreme to the other. Did you see this as a gradual thing, or a drastic?

Dr. Hyman: Well, I wrote a book in 2003 and I wrote a section there called fat’s not a four letter word because we all were at that era still it’s almost 15, 16 years ago. We’re all really worried about fat. I realized looking at the literature even then, it was clear that nuts and seeds were healthy, that olive oil is healthy, that olives were healthy, that fish oil was essential. Fats were not all bad, that trans fats were bad, and saturated fat I thought at the time was. Now, even saturated fat we’re trying to shift our thinking. I’m just stunned at the changes in the literature that are happening.

I just saw a study that was published a couple of years ago looking at 72 studies, 19 countries, 600,000 people. They found there was no link between total or saturated fat and heart disease; big shock. Another review of 350,000 people, 23 years, no link between saturated fat and heart disease. Even the context of a crappy diet.

I think saturated fats are harmful if you consume them as sweet fat, a donut, french fries, bread and butter, ice cream, because the sugar and the starch and the fat, bad combo.

Dr. Cates: Why is that?

Dr. Hyman: When you eat very low glycemic diet, you’re not spiking your insulin levels. If you eat fat in that context, you’re not going to store the fat. If you eat fat in the context of sugar and starch, your insulin levels are gonna be high and moving this in your bloodstream, it’s going to get stored. It can be a problem. It’s not just a free food, add more fat to your donuts or whatever you’re eating, it’s not that.

It’s really about eating up whole foods, low glycemic, anti-inflammatory diets that includes lots of helpful fats. That really will change your vile.

Dr. Cates: You just published a book Eat Fat Get Thin and you said that it’s the hardest book you’ve ever written. Why is that?

Dr. Hyman: Stuff was like okay, with sugar, I read about blood sugar solution, that’s easy, everybody knows sugar is bad, nobody’s arguing with me that says we should be eating more sugar or that we should be eating more starch or more refined carbs. Everybody understands that that’s true, except maybe the soda companies, they think that it’s still fine to have calories from sugar, that all calories the same. We know now that all calories are not the same.

When I went to look at fat, I was like wow, there’s so much contradictory information that even as a co-expert nutritionist, I realized that I was confused. I was like what about saturated fat, what about refined oils, why are some Harvard scientists saying we should have more Omega 6 and some other ones saying we should not worry about saturated fats? What should we be doing, because there’s so much controversy in this area? There’s really agreement that we need Omega 3 fat, there’s agreement that for the most part, like I think there are a few radical outliers who suggest a very low fat diet for our disease prevention, but I don’t think that’s really been proven in the literature over the long term. Everybody sort of agrees that we should be eating nuts, seeds are fine, that avocados are fine, olive oil is fine, all these are very well studied.

The other stuff like saturated fat, refined oils, there’s so much controversy. Some were saying we should increase our vegetable oil consumption, Omega 6 vegetable oil. Others are saying no, those are inflammatory, those will create more heart disease. Others are saying saturated fat is okay, butter. Others are saying no, saturated fat is bad.

I really had to look at the literature and try to make up for myself what the story was. I tried to have an agnostic point of view at the beginning because I didn’t know what the answer was [00:07:21] reading and also combining my own clinical experience. I filtrated through one reading thousands and thousands of papers over many years, but also through my own practice, seeing tens of thousands of patients over 30 years, you know what works and what doesn’t work, and you see the intervention.

That’s why I have a living laboratory, I used to prescribe very low fat, more vegetarian diets and I see that those were actually not doing that great for people most of the time, that people didn’t actually feel that good. I just was speaking to [00:07:52] at which she doesn’t eat fat or protein, she doesn’t feel good, she felt like she’s going to fall asleep in the afternoon. I think that when you look at ancient [00:08:01], I see people getting off [00:08:03], I see people reversing diabetes, I see things that I never saw before as I sort of ramped up the fat and decreased the sugar.

Dr. Cates: It really is amazing and certainly for me when I started realizing more about that low fat diet wasn’t healthy, and then I went to naturopathic medical school and it was more about get back to nature, what are the whole foods, where do we find these foods in nature, do we find snackwells in nature? No, we don’t. Do we find low fat mayonnaise in nature? No. Do you think a lot of this is about getting back to whole foods and nature?

Dr. Hyman: Yeah, totally. Do I worry about consuming tons of pumpkin oil? Probably. Do I worry about you overeating pumpkin seeds? No. It’s really about eating the whole foods and getting your fats from whole foods as much as possible. Olive oil is a little bit exception, I think that’s a very traditional food that’s been around for centuries. It’s made from olives in an unprocessed way if you have extra virgin olive oil.

Most other oils, water has been around forever. We’ve actually decreased our consumption of butter and lard as we’ve increased our risk of heart disease and obesity. It’s very interesting, we’ve decreased our consumption of red meat but we’ve increased our consumption of poultry which is more Omega 6 fats.

We’ve really had interesting paradigm shifts in terms of the diet. I think that we need to really go back to focusing on less on ingredients and more on whole food. Like you said, that’s really the key, it’s eating fruits and vegetables that’s seeds, grass fed animal foods, whole foods, whole eggs, all those things that are traditionally things you would recognize.

I always say an avocado doesn’t have a barcode, right? An almond doesn’t have a nutrition facts label, and an egg doesn’t have an ingredient list. It’s an egg, it’s an almond, it’s an avocado, you just know. That’s really what we should be focusing on, and that’s going to drive the most health benefits.

Dr. Cates: Okay, so number one thing is eat whole foods. And then, the next question is how much of each of these foods, what kind of balance, what kind of ratio do we eat these foods in because I know for example paleo diet has become very popular. Some people have taken parts of that and made it sounds like you don’t eat as much bacon as you want, eat as much lard as you want. Personally, I have a hard time overdoing that for multiple reasons. We’ve got to look at our bodies as well as the environment, right?

Dr. Hyman: Sure. The whole meat environment issue, we can talk about that in a minute. I think that the issue of proportions, how much, what I focus on mostly is help people eat mostly vegetables. By volume, most of your foods should be coming from the plant world. And then, other kinds of plant foods like nuts and seeds. If you want a small grains, fine, some beans, fine, some will do better on those some will not. I think whole animal foods.

The way I think about it is by how your plate looks. If your plate is 75% vegetables, you’re doing good, with a small piece of protein, a little bit of starch. It shouldn’t be 75% starch with a little vegetables sprinkled on top, or 75% protein with two asparagus on the plate. It should be a plate that’s mostly vegetables with side of protein and a side of starch at the most. That’s really how people think about it.

If you focus on the quality of the food and you focus on what you’re eating, you don’t sort of have to worry about it. I don’t think everyday okay, I’m going to have 75% of this, 25% of this, this many calories, I would drive myself crazy. I don’t think anybody wants to do that, even if I’m a tracker. Even if you were the Olympic World Record holding calorie counting, it’s really hard to actually have an exact knowledge of what you’re doing unless you weigh and measure every little thing, and then it’s annoying.

The truth is if you just focus on eating real food, you don’t have to worry so much. Just include all the good foods in your diet, nuts and seeds, lots of vegetables, some fruit, small amounts of protein, whole eggs, fish, all those things that eat real food. You don’t have to worry so much.

Dr. Cates: Yeah, absolutely. Of course we don’t want to be counting calories, we don’t want to be weighing foods, but I think it is nice for people who really aren’t sure about how to eat to look at a plate and say okay, that’s about 75% vegetables. Can you give an example of what that plate would look like? Because I think when we go out to eat these days, most restaurants—you go to a steak restaurant and half the plate is steak, and then half of it is mashed potatoes and then maybe they’ll bring you some cream spinach.

Dr. Hyman: Yeah, when I go out I look at the side dishes. I’ll have a salad beginning with, say they have a nice soup I’m going to have that. And then I look at the side dishes like I do, I have broccoli, do they have stir fried mushrooms. Usually if you go to a restaurant, they’ll have all these sides. If they don’t, I’ll just ask them, can you bring me some broccoli with some olive oil and vinegar or salt or something. And then I’ll have a small piece of protein and then I’ll have all these—skip the potatoes, skip the bread, skip the noodles, skip the rice, and I then just have more vegetables. You double the vegetables and you ask them to do it and they’ll do it.

Dr. Cates: Yeah, absolutely. You just mentioned potatoes that you skip the potatoes. I know that some people think their potatoes as vegetables.

Dr. Hyman: I will divide vegetables into non-starchy and starchy vegetables. Non-starchy you get unlimited amounts. If you want to have 45 cups of broccoli, go ahead, good luck, you’re not going to be able to eat it, just 5 cups is going to fill you up. I do binge on vegetables, and I fill up on them because they fill me up and they’re full of fiber, vitamins, and nutrients. You can kind of go crazy with that.

Then, there’s the starchy veggies. Those are sweet potatoes, potatoes, winter squash, those kinds of things. You need to be constantly thinking about how much of that you’re eating because if you’re eating a lot of starchy vegetables, those can turn into sugar in your body. That’s why just pay attention. It’s not that you can’t have them, it’s just how much. It’s usually a small portion, half a puck.

Dr. Cates: Okay, great. Definitely gives us some ideas on how to balance your plate and really it sounds pretty into it at what you’re talking about, as long as you’re getting back to nature. I know though some people get really obsessed with food and measuring. What do you think about when people—sometimes it’s called orthorexia, or people are called health freaks. What do you think about that? Because I think that there are people that follow you and follow me that are a little bit obsessed with this. How could we have a healthy balance and relationship with food?

Dr. Hyman: I think it’s really an important question, Trevor, because we have a lot of relationships with food. It’s not just about quality of our diet, it’s about health, it’s about pleasure, it’s about community, it’s about tradition, it’s about culture, it’s about connectivity, it’s about all the things that matter in life. Food is where all that comes together. If you’re obsessed with your diet in a way that’s making you kind of crazy or making the people around you crazy, that’s not a good thing.

Really what I want people to find is freedom, where you don’t have to be obsessed, you can eat the right foods and then you don’t have to worry about it. Do I ever eat anything with trans fat? Absolutely not. Do I ever eat anything with high fructose corn syrup? Absolutely not, I’m obsessed about that because those things are toxic and I don’t want to consume them at all. I think they contribute to disease and they make me feel bad. Can I usually have a cookie? Yeah, if it’s made from real ingredients, fine. If I’m not sensitive to gluten, I’m not going to worry about it.

Can I occasionally have ice cream in the summer? Yeah. Do I think dairy is a staple in my diet? Absolutely not, I think there’s a lot of reasons it has a problem. Do I get some symptoms? I do, I get a runny rose, I get some digestive issues, but ice cream’s worth it once in awhile so I go for it. It’s like life is short. I don’t make myself crazy about it, but I really say 90%, 95% of the time I’m eating foods I know support my health, that taste good.

It’s really about pleasure for me. When you lose pleasure in your food, then you’re in trouble. The thing about fat is that’s where the pleasure comes from, to make soup taste good. When you take the fat out, you have to add sugar otherwise it tastes like cardboard. That’s what’s so beautiful about adding fat back into your diet, it just makes things delicious and luscious and satisfying.

I think I’ll eat less. I think I’m going to eat more fat, and then I’m going to have more calories, and that’s going to make me gain weight. That’s not actually how the body works. When you actually eat fat, you shut off your hunger surge, you don’t wanna eat that much. When you eat fat, you speed up your metabolism not slower it down. When you eat fat, you actually stimulate fat burning and then you naturally regulate your body.

It was interesting when I was researching the book where they looked at kids and they gave him a fatty snack or they gave them chips, potato stuff. They’re going to less calories if they have the fatty snack like cheese or something. It turned out the kids who ate the cheese were more satisfied as opposed to kids who were eating the chips and were hungry and stimulated the behavior and they eat more. You’re eating less, and you’re not hungry, and you don’t wanna snack. You’re not craving all kinds of stuff.

We did a program where a thousand people, we launched a book to see how the card would work, I want to see. I’ve done this to my patients, I’ve done this to similar programs. What was striking to me was we took the survey, 80% of people at the beginning of the program had cravings, all the time or most of the time. At the end, only 1% had cravings, 1%. That’s unbelievable, it literally turns off the brain.

I can’t tell you how many people said to me it’s unbelievable, I’m never hungry, I’m not thinking about food, I’m not stressing about it, I’m not craving sugar, I don’t want it. It’s true, I don’t want to deprive myself. When I want something, I’m going to get it. I walk by Starbucks and I go in there and I see all those things in the case for the muffins, they don’t even look appealing to me at all. I used to like them, but now I don’t. I feel so much better and my body composition is changing.

I’m an old dad, I’m 56 and my body composition is like one pound of body fat in my bistro which is so long and the body composition. Now below that, you look at the body fat and I’m way below average. That’s really unusual for guys my age, it’s only because I actually moved towards more of this eating that I’ve noticed what I thought was aging, I was getting love handles, belly fat. I was like oh, my exercise was working so I [00:18:46] – [00:18:55]. It’s almost like an allergy that can’t really eat carbs a lot because it makes the hungry, it’s [00:19:04] but really needing to focus on much lower carb diets.

Some people are carb intolerant just like other people are gluten intolerant. When they eat carbs, their body reacts in a very bad way. It spikes insulin more than the  normal person. If I eat like a bagel, my insulin might go like this. If someone’s carb intolerant, it might go like this and that creates this huge metabolic domino effect which causes them to store more belly fat, makes them hungrier, slows their metabolism. Everything you don’t want to happen happens.

I actually have a quiz that tells them how do you know if you’re carbohydrate intolerant. Well, there’s a lot of things you can figure out. Do you have extra belly fat? Are you hungry all the time? Craving sugar? Do you have triglycerides, low HTL, family history of diabetes? We have all series of questions that I go through so people can actually figure it out. Those people might need less and by the way when I say carbs, I mean starchy carbs. Bread, rice, cereal, pasta, sugar of all kinds.

The truth is that most of my diet is carbs. Vegetables, broccoli is a carb, asparagus is a carb, tomatoes are a carb, radishes are a carb. Those are all carbs. That’s what I eat mostly, but then [00:01:11] fido-chemical rich. They’re anti-inflammatory, they’re nutrient dense, they’re full of vitamins and minerals, they have tons of fibre, and they’re really great for you. That’s different than the other kinds of carbs.

By the way, most your diet by volume should be carbs and vegetables, but by calories it’s probably mostly fat, like 50% or more fat. That’s surprising for people because [00:01:40] but actually when you do the math and you look at—listen, a few tablespoons of olive oil has more calories than probably 12 cups of broccoli. You can eat 12 cups of broccoli or you can have a tablespoon of olives. Really by volume, the fat has much more calories than the carbs do by volume. By calorie, most of that is fat. By volume, most of it is non-starchy carbs like vegetables.

Dr. Cates: Do you lay out specific measurements of those foods like exactly how many servings?

Dr. Hyman: Yeah. In the book I have a 21 day plan I go through, basically some guidelines. It’s not rigid, but people can be flexible within that. I talk about make sure you have at least 75% of your plate or 50% of your plate is veggies, have a 4 ounce piece of protein size of your palm. If you want, it can be vegetable or animal protein, add three, four, five servings of fat which is olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds to your diet everyday. That’s basically it. There’s some really simple principles that people follow and they can do great.

Dr. Cates: How much oil is a serving?

Dr. Hyman: A serving is a table spoon of oil.

Dr. Cates: Okay, that makes sense. What about fruit?

Dr. Hyman: Fruit’s fine. I think if you eat a whole fruit, if you have fruit juice it’s not good. I tend to go with lower glycemic fruits, so berries, apples, pears, getting a lot of melon, pineapple, that can get into trouble if you have sugar issues. I’ve seen people that eat plums, if you have diabetes or you’re really sort of on the edge, the key is how you become metabolically resilient. How do you become more and more resilient so you get to eat more flexibly and you have to do that by getting more fit, by eating better, and then you can kind of have [00:03:36] over.

But if you are severely diabetic and you just look at a piece of fruit your blood sugar goes up, I see this happens, you should be careful depending on what your condition is. If I have someone who’s type 2 diabetes and I’m trying to reverse her diabetes, I might be careful with the volume of fruit they eat.

Dr. Cates: With fats, people often ask what about cooking? Which oils do you cook with, which are not okay to cook with, and that seems to be always changing.

Dr. Hyman: The key here is you want to be careful with fats because when you heat them they can become damaged and then they become very harmful to the body, any kind of fat. Whether it’s butter, olive oil, or any kind of fat. Some fats have higher smoke points, so you can cook at higher temperatures, others don’t. For example, olive oil has a lower smoke point so you can sauté at low temperatures, that’s fine.

If you have deep frying, always bad. When I think fat, I don’t think deep fry. Deep fried stuff is usually made with Omega 6 oils which are very unstable. When you heat them, they become quite toxic. [00:04:40] that typical vegetable oils that’s just being used in most fried foods now.

And then the most staples are coconut oil, it’s actually very stable at high temperatures and a little bit of butter and not too high temperatures, only smokey. Those are all fine to use.

Dr. Cates: Okay, what about avocado oil?

Dr. Hyman: Avocado oil is great. I use avocado oil, I use it for flavored oils like walnut oil, or macadamia oil. You can use a lot of different kinds of oils. I’d stick mostly with extra virgin olive oil and my coconut oil and a little bit of butter, those are my main cooking fats. Sometimes I’ll use sesame oil if I want to cook Chinese food or something.

Dr. Cates: Yeah, sesame is nice. Okay, great. I want to get us back to the environmental issues around eating meat. Let’s get back to that in a moment. How do you feel about that?

Dr. Hyman: Again, why the book was hard to write was because there’s so many controversial issues, right? Fat is controversial, and then meat is super controversial. You got vegans saying if you don’t be a vegan, you’re going to diet, and then [00:05:44] you’re going to be sick all the time. It should be more meat and be more paleo and not have grains and beans because they’re inflammatory and where do you go with all that?

I said I will look at these meat issues in detail. I kind of realized there were really three main issues with meat. One was moral, one was environmental and almost health. I kind of think they often get inflated together and mixed up, but let’s just separate them out. If you’re a buddhist monk, I have buddhist monks in my patients and they don’t want to eat meat, I don’t force them meat, I have diabetics  I’d be able to arrest the diabetics using a higher plant based diet, totally doable. It’d be more vigilant, but you can do it.

Environmental, big issue. Standard factory forming of animals in this country and around the world is one of the biggest contributors to environmental degradation, it affects climate change, it depletes our soils, it affects our water, aquifers contaminated runoff from pesticides and fertilizers, it depletes our aquifers because we’re using all this fresh water to irrigate the land. There’s just so many environmental issues and I think the use of antibiotics, use of GMOs, there’s a whole can of works. I think factory farming of animals is coming to an end I hope in this country as we start to get smarter about it and start to regulate things like antibiotics, as we start to pay attention to GMOs, I think the people are going to get smarter [00:07:08].

Something we can eat traditional meats, or grass fed meats, or things that are healthier, [00:07:17] health issues because you’ve got a whole group saying that meat seems to cause cancer, [00:07:21] then you see people look at the literature [00:07:30] studies on both sides and I [00:07:34] I was like where actually [00:07:36] studies. It occurred to me that I should look at the preparations that we’re eating, the meat in the study that there certainly is a problem.

You know what? People eat meat, they weren’t paying attention to their health because meat was taught to be bad. To feed meat, you didn’t give a crap about your health and guess what, that was true for these people. They eat more fruit, they eat more calories a day, they exercise less, they drink more, they smoke more, they didn’t eat fruits and vegetables, they didn’t take vitamins. Of course they had more heart disease and more diabetes, right?

But if you look at those studies that show for example meat eaters and vegetarians who shop at health food stores. What if you eat meat in a context of a whole foods diet, of a plant based diet with some meat in there, a little bit of a condiment, or as a side dish. There’s a study that looked at that, there was 11,000 people and they looked at these people for a long period of time. They found that the death rates were cut in half in the meat eaters who shopped at health food stores and the vegetarians also had their death rate cut in half. So yes, if you’re eating meat in the context of an overall healthy diet, I’m not worried about it.

When you look at some of the other issues around colon cancer and things, the big World Health Organization came out and said you know, don’t eat meat because it’s causing cancer. They said only for processed meats, nobody agreed in the WHO, the Science Group, that actually looked at this that red meat was a problem, or the unprocessed red meat was a problem. What they found was that processed meat, bacon, hot dogs, ham, deli meats, sausages. What they found was an increase in colon cancer. This is probably real. What do they find? They found the US went up from 5% to 6%. Okay. If you eat [00:09:19] in a day which is a fair bit, if you eat that every day

Dr. Cates: How much bacon?

Dr. Hyman: Like 50 grams.

Dr. Cates: Okay.

Dr. Hyman: Or maybe a serving. It’s a good amount of protein, you want 30 grams or 40 grams of protein each meal, 50 grams is a good serving of bacon. If you do that everyday for your whole life, [00:09:41] 18%. From 5% to 6% is an 18% increase. It sounds good when you say 18%, but it’s actually a 1% increase. Is getting a bacon once in awhile worth it to increase risk 1% over your lifetime, that’s up to you. I think [00:10:00] if it is a risk.

Dr. Cates: Yeah. Basically—

Dr. Hyman: The day I see I say if you consume meat and animal fruits, make sure they’re whole foods, make sure they’re sustainably raised, make sure they’re organic, make sure there’s no antibiotics and GMOs. It’s more expensive, yes, but you’re going to eat less, and that’s okay.

Dr. Cates: Okay. I think with the processed foods, the processed meats you were talking about, they generally contain nitrates, right?

Dr. Hyman: They contain nitrates, yeah. Even actually smoked things might contain nitrates from natural substances, that may be effect or it might be [00:10:32].

Dr. Cates: Right. It’s kind of hard to know which necessarily is the factor, but it doesn’t sound like it increases our risk that much first of all. And then second of all, it’s about moderation. I think we just don’t want to overdo it with anything including meat.

Dr. Hyman: Yeah, would I have a 16 ounce steak every meal? No. Do I think it’s okay to have 4 ounces or 6 ounces of protein a day? Fine. Do I think it’s probably bad for the environment to do it in the way we’re doing it? Absolutely. Can you use other forms of protein? Sure. You want to use nuts and seeds.

Most of my protein comes from nuts and seeds, and from fish, and things like sardines, smaller fish, shrimps, small shrimps. I think [00:11:22] most of it. I’d say I might eat red meat once every few weeks and I might have lamb more, chicken occasionally, but really try to eat more eggs. You can just eat really simple whole foods.

Dr. Cates: With your 21 day Eat Fat Get Thin plan, tell us a little bit more about that. How do you lay it out, how is it helping people, give us more information on that.

Dr. Hyman: People need a structure. What do I do? People are so confused. What the hack do I eat? I laid out very clearly the principles and then I gave them a [00:12:00] about what the foods they should eat are. And then, I actually gave them a few other tips basically around exercise, stress reduction, sleep, and a few supplements. That’s basically the plan.

And then there’s a menu planner, there’s recipe guide, there’s great recipes in the book. It’s really about choosing foods that are simple and easy to do for yourself. You can follow the recipes or not, but I basically laid out the principles of simple protein techniques because people have to learn how to cook. It doesn’t have to take a long time. They should have a body, you kind of how to take care of that. If you have a dog, you have to know how to take care of it. When you have your own body, most of us have advocated bad role.

Cooking is a big basic life skill. It doesn’t need to be fancy, you don’t need to be a chef, but you should know how to chop vegetables, you should know how to make simple food for yourself. In the book, I go through these simple cooking techniques because people need to know. It’s really the thing that can liberate you because we’re all trained that it’s too difficult, it takes too much time, eating real food is too expensive, and none of that is true. When you look at the literature on this, it just doesn’t stand up. You can eat well for less, you can cook and eat meals in less time than it takes to go out to McDonald’s.

Dr. Cates: I’m so glad you’re saying that because I get so tired of hearing that from other moms that oh, you shop at whole foods or at health food store, I can’t afford that. Or I don’t have time for that. I’m just going to run by and get fast food. I never take my kids to get fast food, not even an option. It’s not even just in my head at all. I’ve got certain meals that I know I can whip together really quickly.

What are some of the things that you can recommend to people to get us back to making our own food because even if you eat out at so called healthy restaurants, it’s still not the same. Being able to make whole foods at home and just having it be simple and easy.

Dr. Hyman: So true. I think people have to get over the fear factor. Yeah, there’s great cooking videos online, you can watch. There’s cooking classes you can take. It’s really a simple skill. I went through this place that stop going as part of the movie fed up that I was in, it was pretty interesting. I went to this family, I was very overweight, very sick. They lived in a trailer on food stamps instability, they never cooked a meal in their life, not one. Everything was from box, package, or can. They didn’t know how to stir fry vegetable, they didn’t know how to chop an onion, they didn’t know how to cut garlic, they didn’t know anything.

I went to their trailer. I said look at what you’re eating, this is how much it’s costing. They wanted to get healthy, they just didn’t know. They were having cool whip because it has 0 trans fats in it. They were full of trans fats, right, but the marketing nonsense from the marketing nonsense from the company allows them to say that. They were eating processed salad dressing which is full of sugar, and they were having skippy peanut butter because they thought it was healthy but it was full of trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. They were eating diet mountain dew and cheeze its because they were baked and not fried, and all kinds of stuff that was factory foods.

I said look, why don’t we just—I’m not going to tell you what to do. Why don’t we just make a meal together. I’m going to go get some groceries, let’s make some turkey chili, a salad, olive oil and vinegar, roast some sweet potatoes, get some spice on, then we’ll stir fry some asparagus, simple foods. I bought a guide called Good Food on the Table by Jed which is from the Environmental Working Group gram on the board. It’s buying food that is good for you, good for your planet, and good for your wallet.

These are one of the worst [00:15:23] in America, I show them how to cook one meal and they were unbelievably blown away by how delicious it was, how simple it was. Also, we did it together so it was fun. We all enjoyed it, we cooked, we talked, we hung out, it was a social connection. I said look, you guys can do this, and I left. I’m like you guys can do this, and they did it. There was five of them on food stamp instability.

When the [00:15:47] food in America, they were able to do it. They figured out how to get vegetables and simple foods, cheaper cuts of this and that. Maybe it wasn’t all organic, maybe it wasn’t all grass fed, but it was real food. They lost 200 pounds, they felt amazing, they were empowered. It wasn’t that hard.

It just occurred to me that the issue was really that we have really not trained our citizens to actually eat real food and cook for themselves, that we’ve [00:16:12] by the food industry to outsource their cooking to corporations. That’s got to stop.

Dr. Cates: It does have to stop. I think what happened is that you know when people started working more and the convenience of the marketing of food companies, like oh, it’s so easy, all you have to do is open the can, open the box, and then bam you’ve got dinner for your family. Make it easy for yourself. You’re going to spend time doing other more important things. Now, we’re trying to teach people what’s really important is family time in the kitchen and making meals together, eating together, and eating whole foods.

This is how I grew up. I grew up on a farm in Virginia, my parents would get the eggs, we’d go and get all the produce from our garden and we’d sit down together and we’d eat. That’s what I grew up with, I didn’t know any other way. I’m so surprised to see our country just so used to this way of living.

Dr. Hyman: It actually was intentional. If you look at the research on this, it’s pretty scary. The food companies got together and they’re like we’re going to get rid of the American whole cooking, we’re going to create convenience as the value, we’re going to hire Betty Crocker to make a cookbook basically where they include all this processed foods, and then slowly slowly it’s a part of the American kitchen and they actually got rid of Home Economics in school. This is not an accident. All these basic things that we sort of took for granted we now have to bring back.

Dr. Cates: Yup, we absolutely do. I think that for everyone that’s listening and watching, there’s one thing you take away from that. It’s how do you get back to home cooked, wholesome, whole meals. Anything that you can do to start moving that direction or to keep supporting your family and doing that, I think that’s—wouldn’t you say that’s some of the biggest takeaways from this.

Dr. Hyman: Absolutely, and this feeling built me afraid of eating real food. If it has a health claim, it’s probably bad for you. If it says low fat, it’s probably bad for you. If it says gluten free, it’s probably bad for you. If it says low sugar, there’s probably something else that’s not good for you. I’d be super careful about anything that has a health claim label and just eat real food. Does this have a barcode on it? Does avocado really need to have an ingredient list? No, these are just foods. That’s a lot of focus on—if you just fill your fridge up with foods. Again, a can of something sometimes. A can of sardines, or you know the ingredient, can of tomatoes—water, tomatoes, and salt. That’s fine, it’s just more understanding the processed food that you’re eating that shouldn’t be there.

Dr. Cates: Absolutely, great. I know that you have a Q&A video on fat that you’re going to share with us because I know people still, even after watching and listening to this, they are going to have questions about fat. You have that, we’re going to share that link. Is there anything you want to mention about that?

Dr. Hyman: eatfatgetthin.com, there’s a 45 minute Q&A. Also an online channel and fact that there were thousands of people joined together and do this [00:19:13] it’s just awesome. You get the support, I do Q&As there, I do all sorts of support. It’s really fun.

Dr. Cates: Okay, great. Dr. Hyman, thank you so much for everything you’re doing to spread the important messages, get this information out to people. Really appreciate all the work that you’re doing and thanks for the interview today.

Dr. Hyman: Thanks for having me.

Dr. Cates: I hope you enjoyed this interview today with Dr. Mark Hyman. To learn more about Dr. Hyman, his new book, and the Q&A video about fat that he mentioned, just visit my website thespadoctor.com, go to the podcast page with his interview, and you’ll find all the information and links there.

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