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Sugar. What are the physiological effects of consuming the sweet stuff? And how can you eliminate your sweet cravings? Functional Medicine Director Mark Hyman, MD, discusses what happens in your body when you eat sugar (and artificial sweeteners) and explains the best way to kick your sugar habit.

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Everything Sugar (and How to Eliminate it from Your Diet) with Dr. Mark Hyman

Podcast Transcript

Nada Youssef: Hi. Thank you for joining us. I'm your host Nada Youssef and today I'm very excited to have our featured expert return for yet another hour special, Doctor Mark Hyman.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Hello.

Nada Youssef: Doctor Mark Hyman is an 11 time number one New York Times best selling author and the director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine where physicians spend time with their patients, listening to their histories, mapping their personal timeline, and looking at the interactions among genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that can influence long term health and complex chronic diseases and issues.

Today's topic, sugar. We'll talk about your physiological effects from this drug and how to eliminate your sweet cravings. So, type in any questions you guys have below. We'll get to it to the second half of this broadcast. As always-

Dr. Mark Hyman: All things sugar.

Nada Youssef: Everything sugar.

Dr. Mark Hyman: All day.

Nada Youssef: Everything. It'll be a good one. As always, remember this is for informational purposes only and it's not intended to replace your own physician's advice.

Dr. Mark Hyman: But, if you want to cut out sugar, that's fine.

Nada Youssef: Yeah. Of course. Of course. Well, welcome back. Thank you so much for coming, I know you're very, very busy.

Dr. Mark Hyman: No, I'm here, this is my work.

Nada Youssef: That's awesome. The last time we talked about health misconceptions. It's safe to say we're still talking about health misconceptions, just more towards sugar.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Yes.

Nada Youssef: It's a big topic. Before, even, we go into that, I want you to briefly kinda talk about ... Back date like two million years ago. How did we eat as hunters and gatherers versus how we eat today?

Dr. Mark Hyman: Well, if you believe in evolution, we've been evolving for eight million years. We've only been eating grains, and beans, and agricultural foods for about 12,000 years. For most of evolution, we were hunters and gatherers.

The truth is, we at a very plant rich diet. The average hunter gatherer ate about 800 species of plants, but they also ate wild animals and wild fish, and they actually ate a diet that was not including grains, not including beans, didn't have dairy unless you could milk a saber tooth tiger, which is pretty hard.

They didn't eat sugar unless they found a honeycomb where the bees had made honey, and they'll get that very rarely, and it's also painful to get.

There's a group of hunter gatherers in Nepal called the Honey Hunters, and they literally climb up these trees that are a few hundred feet tall, which is dangerous enough, and then they bring a burning stick with smoke on it and they smoke out all the bees and then they get the honeycomb.

Imagine if you had to climb a 200 foot tree with a smoking branch in order to get a cookie. That's kind of what it was like back then. We really had a very different diet than we do now. It much more nutrient dense, much higher in fiber, much more vitamins and minerals, higher levels of Omega 3 fats. It had very, very low sugar and starch. It was a very different diet.

As we have shifted to eating a diet that's predominantly carbohydrates, which are predominantly driven through commodity crops from our agricultural system, which now is wheat, and corn, and soy, and processed foods, we've really found ourselves in a pickle, which is the biggest obesity and diabetes epidemic in the history of the human race. We're kind of in trouble because of our changes in diet.

Nada Youssef: Now, I want to ask you. First of all, why do we crave sugar? What is the science behind that craving that we are all getting?

Dr. Mark Hyman: The thing is, that, anything sweet in nature is safe to eat. If it's bitter, it could kill you. Our bodies are wired to eat sugar when we get ahold of it, whether it's a lot of fruit in the summer, or whether it's honey, or whatever it is because when we eat something sugary, it actually allows us to store fat.

The way we store fat, it's not by eating fat. We kind of debunked that myth, which is that fat makes you fat and it should be low fat this, and skim that. That's all nonsense. We know that now, people who eat a calorie restricted, low fat diet, meaning they can only eat a very few calories, and they have to be low fat, do far worse in terms of weight loss than people who are eating unrestricted, meaning eat as much as you want, high fat, low carbohydrate diet.

It's sort of the opposite of what we've all been trained. We now have to look at the amount of sugar we're eating as a drug, because it affects a part of the brain that actually makes you addicted. This dopamine response ... When you get a text on your phone, bing, it actually hits your brains chemistry and makes you feel a little bit of pleasure for a moment.

The same thing happens with sugar, or cocaine, or heroin, or all the addictive drugs. Sugar does exactly the same thing. We know mechanically how that works. There are some people, by the way, who have genetic variations in the receptors in their brain for dopamine. These people need more stimulation to receive the same pleasure as somebody else.

The bad news is, when you are overweight, you down regulate the receptors. The more overweight and obese you are, the less your pleasure centers work, which means you need more and more sugar and starch to actually stimulate the pleasure center. You get in this vicious cycle where you crave more, eat more, need more and it's really an addictive drug.

We know that you go through withdrawal. If feeding animals, you give them a lot of sugar and then you actually cut the sugar out, they go through physiologic withdrawal, like an addict, like a heroin addict. If you look at animals in studies where they give them either sugar, or they can get cocaine, they literally have them hooked up to an iv, they hit the lever, they can get iv cocaine. They will always prefer the sugar, and they will switch if they're already addicted to cocaine. They will switch to sugar and they'll work eight times harder to get the sugar than the cocaine.

Nada Youssef: That's terrifying.

Dr. Mark Hyman: That's frightening.

Nada Youssef: That's terrifying. Let's talk about some of the labels for sugar we can find in a box of something, because I can't pronounce it and I know there's over 60 or something?

Dr. Mark Hyman: No, there's 100s of names for sugar, whether it's-

Nada Youssef: What is the most common one that we can see?

Dr. Mark Hyman: We see, obviously, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, which is the most abundant ones. There's also names that they give things that are healthy like coconut sugar, or cane sugar, or dehydrated can juice, or all these kinds of names for sugar that's really sugar. What is hard to know, that there's a lot of stuff that acts like sugar in the body, like maltodextrin and all these derivatives of sugar that are made from processed corn or their added to the food supply.

If you just Google, what are the 100 names of sugar or 200 names of sugar, you'll see there's a list and you won't even believe what's on there.

Often on a particular food, like a breakfast sugar, there might be five different kinds of sugar or starch that is acting like sugar in the food, they don't even know it's sugar.

Nada Youssef: Yeah. No, I like the way you described processed food. You say it's food like substance 'cause it shouldn't even be called food, which makes lot of sense to me.

Dr. Mark Hyman: I mean, if you look at a Twinkie, you've got 37 ingredients, only one of them is food, and it's down near the bottom of the list, and it's banana puree.

Nada Youssef: Wow.

Dr. Mark Hyman: So, it might be a tiny drop of ... The rest of it's just food like ingredients.

Nada Youssef: Chemicals, yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Chemicals, right. And, I always say, you know, if you don't have that ingredient in your cupboard, and you wouldn't cook with it, you probably shouldn't eat it.

Nada Youssef: Right.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Whether it's maltodextrin, you don't have a bottle of high fructose corn syrup, you don't have partially hydrogenated soybean oil, you don't have butylated hydroxytoluene-

Nada Youssef: I don't even know what you're saying.

Dr. Mark Hyman: BHT. If you can't pronounce it, if it's in Latin, if you don't even recognize it. If it says, tomatoes, water, and salt, or sardines, olive oil, and salt, you know what it is. Most of the time.

Nada Youssef: Hard to find. Is there such thing as a healthy processed food?

Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah. Sure. Like I said, there are foods if you look at the ingredients and every one of them you recognize is food, it says cashews, and dates, and pumpkin seeds, and some bar, it's fine. Turmeric. I had one this morning. It was a pumpkin bar. It said pumpkin seeds, and quinoa, and it had pepper, and turmeric, and salt.

Okay, this is food, I recognize everything on here. So, yeah. You can have packaged, processed food, as long as it's as close to its original state as possible.

Nada Youssef: Sure. Okay. Great. Now, jumping on to fructose. Now, fructose is in fruit because if sugar has fiber with it, it's okay, but fructose by itself, dangerous.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Everybody's heard of high fructose corn syrup, which didn't even exist until the 1980s. Now, it's a huge portion of our dietary sweeteners 'cause it's cheap. The government subsidizes corn.

I once talked to the vice chairman of Pepsi, and he said, "Mark," he said, "The reason we use high fructose corn syrup, is because the government makes it too cheap for us not to use it." It's in everything. That's the problem. High fructose corn syrup is different than having, let's say, an apple that has fructose in it, 'cause the apple as fiber, it has vitamins and minerals, it's more slowly absorbed, it's fine.

When you take the fructose out of food. In fact, the vice chairman of Pepsi said to me, he said, "Fructose is the problem." He got it, he knows. He's actually and endocrinologist from Mayo Clinic, which Toby Cosco thinks is what you put in your sandwich, but anyway.

He's an extraordinary guy, but he was talking about how fructose is really the bad problem. Why? Because, it's goes to the liver. It doesn't increase, but it goes to the liver and it causes fatty liver, which now affects over 90 million Americans. Most people don't know they have it. It's caused from drinking soda, and high fructose corn syrup, and these free fructose.

The fructose corn syrup ... Normally sugar is 50% fructose, 50% glucose. It is bound together with a chemical structure. When you get high fructose corn syrup, it could be from 55 to 75% or more fructose, and it's free fructose, meaning it's not bound to the glucose. It quickly gets absorbed. We know the fructose in the gut actually causes a leaky gut.

Why? Because, it takes energy from the gut to absorb it. When you take energy there, then the things that are keeping the cells together like legos, those require energy to keep together, they separate. Then, food and bacterial proteins, and toxins leak into your bloodstream where 60% of your immune system is right under your gut and causes all sorts of inflammation.

You get fatty liver, you get diabetes, pre-diabetes, and you'll get all sorts of cardiovascular issues, heart disease, cancer, all this coming from this high levels of fructose.

Nada Youssef: Now, is it true? Cancer thrives off of fructose, right?

Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah, you know, it's interesting. The pathway to keep cancer going is sugar. In fact, when they do diagnostics for cancer, they do this thing called a pet scan, which is where they basically tell you to starve yourself from carbohydrates and sugar for a few days. They inject sugar into you, radioactive sugar.

They can see it goes right to the cancer. That's how the cancer lights up because a cancer loves sugar and starch, I would say as well.

We know that obesity and diabetes and pre-diabetes all have been linked to cancer. This is well established in the science. So we know that sugar feeds cancer.

Actually, they're doing studies on ketogenic diets and cancer, which is extremely high fat diet, because your cells can run on sugar, meaning glucose, or something called ketones, which comes from eating a lot of fat and cutting out the starch.

Cancer cells can only run on sugar. You cut off their food source, they die. That's the theory, and it's been shown to be, often, very effective in many difficult to treat cancers, which is now undergoing a lot of research. It's kind of an interesting area. The sugar and cancer thing is a real thing.

Nada Youssef: You're saying that if you cut out carbs, or at least that's what the study is trying to show, that cancer starves if you have no sugar in your body?

Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah. There's guys like Doctor Yamaguchi in New York who's studying ... He's in oncology’s with the Imperial O'Malley's talking about a presentation I saw where he's talking about how melanoma and pancreatic cancer, a very difficult cancer, we're actually seeing impressive changes.

Us being researching brain cancer, 'cause the brain works on ketones very well, but the sugar feeds the brain cancer.

I think this is a very promising research and we're gonna learn more about it, but maybe eventually part of the treatment for cancer, which is ketogenic diets.

Nada Youssef: Wow, that's fascinating stuff. I kinda wanna talk about some of the solutions. Something like herbs, spices, condiments, 'cause we add sugar for flavor to make everything sweeter, is there a more natural way of adding things in that category of herbs, spices, and condiments that we can add to our food?

Dr. Mark Hyman: Part of the problem is, we have really become addicted to sugar and our taste buds are highly stimulated by sugar. Artificial sweeteners, which often people go to have 1000 times more sweet flavor than sugar, or more. It's super overstimulating.

Nada Youssef: It makes you want something sweeter, right?

Dr. Mark Hyman: Makes you want even more. Yeah. It takes a little while to unhook from that, but there's so many incredible natural flavors out there in nature from spices, and herbs, and condiments, and salt and pepper that actually bring out flavors in food and once people start to learn about that, it tastes so much better than the sugar.

Sometimes when I go to a Thai restaurant and it's like, they put so much sugar in all the food ... I mean, they put sugar in salad dressings.

Nada Youssef: I was just gonna ask you.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Why is there sugar in salad dressing? I don't get it, but often your salad dressing, you'll get this bottled or commercially made, or go to Mcdonalds, it's actually pretty bad. The salads fine, when you put the dressing on it's worse than a Big Mac.

Nada Youssef: Yeah. And I see a lot of people trying to eat healthy, and they get a salad with steak or chicken, but then they get the dressing from the store, and the thing is, that dressing is kind of like, what? Ruins the whole thing.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Well, yeah. Usually it's refined vegetable oil, so it's not extra virgin olive oil, it's high fructose corn syrup, it's gums and thickeners, it's additives and preservatives, why would you put that on your salad?

Nada Youssef: So stick to oil and vinegar?

Dr. Mark Hyman: I mean, honestly, I'm so lazy, I'll take my salad, put it in a bowl. I'll pour olive oil on it. I'll pour some vinegar on it. I'll salt and pepper it. That's the whole salad.

Nada Youssef: Perfect. That's exactly ... that's perfect.

Dr. Mark Hyman: If I wanna get fancy, I might put it in a jar and add some mustard and lemon and cumin, spices, but I'm usually pretty lazy.

Nada Youssef: Now, we're choosing to put this poison in our body when we eat sugar. The scariest thing, I actually watched a documentary-

Dr. Mark Hyman: Well, we might be choosing, we might be addicted.

Nada Youssef: We are totally addicted, but also knowing the information, just like what you're doing is going around and talking about this. Our kids.

I'm a single mom of two kids and I have total control of what the meal looks like, but the scariest thing is changing the habits of your children when they go out in the world and they get to pick, an apple for a snack versus the Oreos or the gold fish, because, it's an epidemic for children right now with obesity, ADHDs, does-

Dr. Mark Hyman: If they ate whole goldfish, that would be fine. But not the-

Nada Youssef: No, not the whole goldfish, but the cracker kind of goldfish.

Dr. Mark Hyman: May get some Omega 3s, some protein.

Nada Youssef: Yeah, yeah. But, it's very difficult to-

Dr. Mark Hyman: With your kids.

Nada Youssef: Yeah, with your kids, but ADHD and obesity for children, this all ... Does this come from diet as well?

Dr. Mark Hyman: Huge. We know that dietary changes play a big role in our cognitive function, and our mood, and behavior. In fact, there's a whole field of research called the achievement gap. Doctor Charles Bosh from Columbia has looked at how our kids diets and their health affect their ability to learn and function, and their behavior in school.

These kids who tend to have these processed foods can't function and think. Actually, here in Cleveland, I just met with a guy who's started what's called Pure Pantry health where he's bringing poor community together and helping them learn how to eat healthy.

He was a coach in basketball and he was tracking what these kids were eating, how they were functioning in school, how they were phasing out and spacing out and couldn't perform. He asked them what they were eating. They're eating flaming hot chips with red dye in it.

We know that red dye, for example, drives ADD behavior. We know that these chemicals that actually can affect behavior. We know that sugar and lack of good healthy nutrients affects these kids functions. We really need to focus on how do we change that.

I've seen schools where they've literally chartered school with a really poor neighborhoods, minority kids, very disenfranchised families, and they literally feed the kids three times a day. Before the kids were going to jail, now they're going to college. They weren't finishing high school and now they're excelling and all the other kids in the neighborhoods and the rich neighbors, they want to send their kids to this school, 'cause they're feeding them three times a day and eating real food, and they're able to perform and function in school.

It plays a huge thing. I think, I once saw this video on YouTube of this baby who got sugar for the first time. And you look at the baby, and it's like crack. The baby was getting crack.

Nada Youssef: Yeah, yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman: I think we get our kids used to this stuff and we think there's kid's foods and kid's menus. I mean, breakfast cereals, fruit loops, and captain crunch, and cocoa puffs, and Trix are for kids. I mean, these are certified with the American Heart Association as healthy 'cause they're low in fat, but they're full of dyes, and chemicals, and also tons of sugar. Seven teaspoons of sugar in a bowl of Trix sugar.

Nada Youssef: So, it's like a dessert, and even unhealthy dessert.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah, I would say, you shouldn't call it breakfast, you should call it dessert.

Nada Youssef: Yeah, actually, my kids when they ask me for cereal, I make them eat their eggs and their vegetables, and then I have them have they're cereal.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Well, I'm the cereal killer. I don't think we should be eating cereal.

Nada Youssef: Cereal killer. I like that one. Now, are these kind of reversible with diet. So, let's say I change my diet. I know diabetes is a huge one with the diet, the keto diet. You can actually reverse?

Dr. Mark Hyman: Yes. We know, for example, that sugar and carbohydrates, refined carbohydrates, 'cause vegetables are carbohydrates, you wanna eat a lot of those. But, starch and sugar, flour predominantly, we eat 133 pounds of flour and 152 pounds of sugar. That's driving the fact that 70% of those were overweight. One in two of us has pre-diabetes or type two diabetes.

That's massive. Half the population has pre-diabetes or type two diabetes. One in four kids, teenage kids, have pre-diabetes or type two diabetes. When I was in medical school 30 years ago, there wasn't a single case. Ever. Now it's one in four.

How does that happen? It happens because of this high load of starch in the diet that raises insulin. We storage of fat, and we get in this vicious cycle of causing diabetes, and now there is some amazing research, just came out February 2018, was about 250 pages, randomized trial where they looked at type two diabetics who'd been diabetic for a long time, on insulin, on maximum medical therapy, they put them on a ketogenic diet, which about 70% fat ...

I don't think it's for everybody, but it's for certain people who need to move the needle. And, very, very low starch and carbohydrates, less than 15 to 30 grams, which is almost nothing.

They found a year, that 100% got off the main diabetes medication, which often causes side effects called oral hypoglycemics, and 94% got off insulin or dramatically reduced their dose, and they lost an average of 30 pounds, which is unbelievable. Or, 12% of their body weight.

That's astounding. There's no drug that can do this, there's no other medication, or shot, that can actually do this result. That's the power of food. We actually can reverse diabetes.

Nada Youssef:   You know, it's funny, actually my mom's a type two diabetic. And I talk to her all the time about what you say about ketogenic diet, about fasting, everything like that. She went on the ketogenic diet for a week, Doctor Hyman, and her numbers went down to 104, which is, she said, it's a number she hasn't seen in six years. She's been diabetic for over ten years, 20 years.

It's just fascinating what you can do ... What you put in your body can completely eliminate medicine.

Dr. Mark Hyman: It's huge.

Nada Youssef: That's great. I kinda wanna jump off to a true and false kind of game.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Love games.

Nada Youssef: Fruit juice. Tell me true or false, so tell me true or false, and then explain why yes or no.

Dr. Mark Hyman: No, you answer true or false.

Nada Youssef: I think I'll know 'cause I researched this, but, in case you don't know, I'll help.

Fruit juice is healthier than soda because of the antioxidants.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Not really. Okay, you get a few vitamins, a few antioxidants, but essentially fruit juice is just like drinking soda. It's also got high fructose, which is not a great thing. Juice boxes, unless healthy juice drinks, it's really not much better than soda and it drives the same kinds of biology of weight gain, diabetes, obesity.

Don't think juice is a healthy drink. Now, how many apples we need to get in one glass of juice, probably five. Eat the five apples, good luck with that. You probably won't get through the first two.

Nada Youssef: Sure, right. Okay. After a workout a sports drink is the best way to restore your electrolytes.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Absolutely not. You don't want to be having blue drinks, or orange green drinks, or whatever they are with all sorts of sugar and a little bit of electrolytes. The best way to do it is actually, you can get things that are powders that are just electrolytes. I often have this liquid kind I use, which you use a capful in a glass of water.

It's a little salty tasting water, it's not the best thing to drink but you down it and all of a sudden you feel like a million bucks. I do it when I'm playing tennis in the summer, it's super hot, or playing basketball and I get wiped out. That just revives you completely.

Nada Youssef: All right.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Skip the sugar.

Nada Youssef: Skip the sugar.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Now, if you're an elite athlete and you're training a long time, you may need a little bit of carbohydrate, but for the average joe, that's not the way to go.

Nada Youssef: Even after you work out. Desserts are the main course of added sugar in the American diet.

Dr. Mark Hyman: No.

Nada Youssef: Is it breakfast?

Dr. Mark Hyman: It could be breakfast.

Nada Youssef: I mean, with all the cereal talk, I'm guessing it's breakfast.

Dr. Mark Hyman: If you have a huge, what are those? Huge mocha Frappuccino latte something at Starbucks, that can have 76 grams of sugar. That's like two Cokes for breakfast.

Nada Youssef: Oh wow.

Dr. Mark Hyman: That's like two Cokes. Most of the breakfast we have in America is basically sugar. Donuts, muffins, bagels, cereal, waffles, pancakes. This is not what we should be eating. We should be eating protein and fat for breakfast.

The biggest source of sugar in the American diet and up to 15 to 20% of calories in the same community is soda. Sugars from beverages.

Nada Youssef: Okay. Great. The best artificial sweetener is none at all.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Yes. That is true, although there is monk fruit, which is not really artificial, it's from a traditional Chinese fruit that has no calories, but actually has a sweet taste and that can be used.

Nada Youssef: What is that called?

Dr. Mark Hyman: Monk fruit.

Nada Youssef: Monk? Oh, okay.

Dr. Mark Hyman: As in like a praying monk.

Nada Youssef: Okay. Great. What about, I know we talked about honey a little bit earlier, but is honey ... People think of like, "I can put honey in my tea."

Dr. Mark Hyman: Here's the problem. It's not the sugar that you add to your food, it's the sugar that's added by corporations. You can get 15 teaspoons of sugar in one 20 ounce soda. But, you wouldn't put 20 teaspoons of sugar in your coffee, or in your cereal. It's fine to add a teaspoon of sugar or a teaspoon of honey, or a teaspoon of maple syrup. That's not the problem.

It's the 34 teaspoons we're eating every day, day in and day out.

Nada Youssef: That sounds very dangerous. You should eat at least five servings of fruit each day.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Well, we are told to eat five servings to nine servings of fruit and vegetables every day, which is good, except it should be vegetables and fruit. It should be seven of fruit, and ... Sorry, seven of vegetables and two of fruit. Fruit ... Especially for our population.

If you're healthy and you're an athlete, fine, you can eat more fruit, but for the average person who's overweight, who's diabetic, this is not a great food for you to take in large quantities. You don't want to have a big bowl of pineapple or a big bowl of grapes.

That's just gonna raise your blood sugar significantly. You wanna cut that down and have some, but it's not the main staple.

Nada Youssef: What other worst offenders?

Dr. Mark Hyman: Pineapple. Grapes.

Nada Youssef: Pineapple and grapes.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Bananas aren't so great.

Nada Youssef: Bananas are not great?

Dr. Mark Hyman:  You go look at the glycemic index or glycemic load of fruit and you can kind of look at that. I wrote a book called "Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?" In the book I go through from top to bottom where the lowest glycemic fruits to the highest glycemic fruits. And, also fruits and vegetables. What are the best vegetables to eat.

In America, we eat the five most common vegetables, which is basically potatoes in the form of french fries, tomatoes in the form of ketchup and pizza sauce. Tomatoes, french fries, pizza, and ketchup are basically the main staples for the American diet. Also, we have onions and sweet corn in there. Then of course, there's iceberg lettuce, which is essentially sawdust with some water in it.

Nada Youssef: Okay, now, I wanna talk about bananas real fast, 'cause a lot of people are like, I eat my bananas for potassium, but I've read that avocados have more potassium than bananas? 

Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah. All plant food, vegetables, have a lot of potassium. You can make up potassium by just taking a lot of veggies, and greens, and boil them up and make a vegetable broth, it's gonna be full of potassium. Much better than bananas without the sugar.

Nada Youssef: Yeah. Okay. Great. Let's go to the next one. It's the last one I have for you. Buying organic is a waste of money.

Dr. Mark Hyman: No.

Nada Youssef: Okay.

Dr. Mark Hyman: The issue is, if you look at the studies that are funded by the food industry and by Monsanto, and the pharmaceutical industry that makes this stuff, they're gonna find that they're not a problem. But, when you look at independent studies, they are clearly a problem. They contribute to cancer, they contribute to autism and ADD behaviors in kids, they contribute to all sorts of chronic diseases, so, you wanna minimize your exposure to toxin in your life.

Food is one of the easiest ways to do it and one of the most abundant sources of toxins. I'm on the board of this group called the Environmental Working Group and they have something called the dirty dozen, which are the 12 most contaminated vegetables and fruit, and then the clean 15, which are the 15 least contaminated.

If you're having an issue with your budget, you can buy the clean 15 vegetables and fruit and stay away from the dirty dozen. For example, strawberries are the worst. You never want to eat those unless they're organic.

Nada Youssef: I had no idea.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Yep. There's a list of those in the book as well, "Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?" You can look at all the different ratings, and you can also go to the Environmental Working Group website ewg.org and there's a list of how do you reduce exposure through your food, through meat, through fish, through household cleaning products, through also, your face and makeup products. All that is on there.

It's important, sort of, to be smart about reducing your exposure to toxins.

Nada Youssef: Okay, great. You made it through the true and false. I might see-

Dr. Mark Hyman: I did? Did I pass.

Nada Youssef: You did. I think you passed. We're getting a lot of live questions. I do have some pre-submitted questions I'm gonna read real fast so I can be fair for everyone.

Eileen asked, "How does a ketogenic diet fit in this elimination of sugar?" I know we talked about this. "One of my doctors at Crystal Clinic suggested that I start this diet. Are you on board with putting your body into a state of ketosis?" If you just want to describe a little bit of what ketosis is.

Dr. Mark Hyman: I bet I know the doctor. Her name was Carrie Diulus, right?

Nada Youssef: Wow.

Dr. Mark Hyman: She's a good friend of mine and she wouldn't mind me saying this, she's a diabetic, type one. She takes almost no insulin and she's on a ketogenic diet, which is pretty amazing for a type one diabetic. She has just one or two treatments a day.

If you have a particular issue. I think ketogenic diets can be therapeutic. I don't think they're necessary for everybody. But, they can lead to rapid weight loss. They can lead to reversal of diabetes. They can stop epilepsy that nothing else works for. They're effective in autism, they're effective in Alzheimer's, they're effective in neuro cognitive, other behavioral issues sometimes. Maybe even cancer.

There are many indications for it, but I don't think it's for everybody. Essentially, what it is, is you switch from burning sugar in your cells, to burning fat. When you do that, all of a sudden, you change the fuel source, which is ketones. Ketones becomes the fuel source your body has a back up fuel system.

Let's say you didn't get to eat all day 'cause you're hunting gathering, and you ran out of food, you could then switch to burning fat. You have a lot of fat stored on your body, so you can literally mobilize the fat and burn the fat as a way of getting fuel. You can also do it by cutting down the carbohydrates and increasing the fat to about 70% fat.

It can be very powerful. It has some amazing effects. It can cause you to basically reverse all the process of aging. It regulates your mitochondria, it improves your g-expression, reduces inflammation, improves all your cardio metabolic risk factors. Reduces all the things that ... It may even increase stem cells.

It may actually increase longevity. We're looking at all the research on this now. It's pretty fascinating.

Nada Youssef: Great. I know you've talked about, don't mix the two. Don't eat too much fat and then too much sugar or carbs 'cause then you call it [crosstalk 00:28:46]. That is very dangerous and I feel like everybody should probably hear this from you.

Dr. Mark Hyman: This is a really ... Very important. Thank you Nada. Here's the deal. When you eat fat and a lot more fat, you can't combine it with starch and sugar. When you do that, it's called sweet fat.

Think of donuts, bagels, and butter, french fries, ice cream, where you combine fat and starch or fat and sugar, that's deadly. Why? Because when you eat the sugar it's gonna increase the insulin and then your fat and everything's running around your blood. It all gets stored. You're gonna gain a lot of weight.

You can't eat sweet fat if you're gonna cut down on the starch that's okay, but if you increase fat without cutting down the sugar and starch, you're gonna get in trouble.

Nada Youssef: This relates to ketosis. Mike asks, "When you're in ketosis, will your body burn dietary fat first, or the stored fat first?"

Dr. Mark Hyman: Great question. Both. It'll burn the fuel you're eating as fat, but it'll also start to mobilize fat. Anything with sugar creates a one street of food and calories into your fat cells. It gets in there really easily, and it can't get out. It's like a one way turnstile. It's stuck in there, because it inhibits what we call polysis, which is the break down of fat.

It's basically about chemical mechanism where we stop the burning of fat and the release of fat from stored fat if ... My microphone not working?

Nada Youssef: What me to fix ... Here we go, closer. Does that sound better?

Dr. Mark Hyman: Is that better?

So, there's basically a releasing of the fat when you start to eat fat. It actually increases the release of fat from the fat cells and increases your metabolism when you eat a ketogenic diet.

Nada Youssef: Great. Now, I wanna ask you about fasting. I'm a big fan of fasting. Does your body go through ketosis, as well, through fasting?

Dr. Mark Hyman: Mmm-hmm (Affirmative).

Nada Youssef: Can we talk, maybe, a little bit about that? 'Cause I actually just watched a documentary again, about benefits of fasting. It was phenomenal stuff.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah.

Nada Youssef: If you wanna talk a little bit about that.

Dr. Mark Hyman: The only thing we know, that actually increases longevity, and you can increase your life by up to 1/3, is what we call calorie restriction. Meaning, you cut your calories by 1/3. The problem with that, is that you're miserable all the time 'cause you're hungry. I'm not a fan of that. There's things called fasting mimicking diets, which is essentially, we call it intermittent fasting.

Which, is where you will restrict your calories, or your food, to an eight hour window. Or time restricted eating. Say you eat dinner at six or seven at night and you won't eat until lunch the next day. The reason that works is because it activates all the repair mechanisms in your body.

It actually helps to renew your mitochondria and cleans up all the waste from your cells and your brain. It helps to stimulate stem cell production, which rejuvenates you. It helps to reduce inflammation. Increases all your cardio metabolic factors. It increases ketones and helps to actually start to mobilize and burn fat from your fat cells and lose weight.

There's so many benefits to it. Extended fasting where you don't eat or you just drink water for a week or two or three, can be a very effective treatment for conditions like auto immune disease or type two diabetes. It's not something you can do forever obviously, you gotta eat, so be careful with that because you don't eat then you re-feed and you can get into trouble if you don't do it right.

There's actually great guides to fasting. Jason Fung, doctor in Canada's wrote a book called "Complete Guide to Fasting," which is a great manual for understanding fasting.

Nada Youssef: If you're eating a little bit of carbs, and fat, and everything like that after your fast, how long does it take your body to go through ketosis when you're fasting? Is it just like eight hours of fasting, 12 hours of fasting?

Dr. Mark Hyman: Often if you don't eat for 12 hours, you'll start to go into that.

Nada Youssef: 12 hours, okay.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Then overnight ... You know, you eat and then overnight your body starts burning the food and then basically you can extend it out to lunch. There's also hacks, things where you can actually add MCT Oil, which builds ketones in your body, so there's a lot of tricks.

Nada Youssef: Okay, Doctor Hyman, we have so many questions coming live. So, I'm gonna start going through these.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Go.

Nada Youssef: All right, so first I have Hassan. Is replacing fizzy Cola drinks with carbonated water beneficial? I am addicted to Cola.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Yes. It's definitely beneficial. Make sure you get rid of the soda and if you want carbonated drinks, there's ones like SpinDrift or what is it called? SpinDrift , I think it's called, which is a great drink. I don't have any relationship with any of these companies financially, but this is a product that has a tiny bit of fruit juice, it's sparkling, and it's like a fake soda, but it's very, very good and it doesn't have any substantial sugar in it.

There's all kinds of things like that. There's flavored lemon, sparkling water, there's all sorts of things you could do, but you gotta get off the soda.

Nada Youssef: All right, Susan. Hi, Doctor Hyman, I eat a primarily vegetarian diet but still can't drop weight. I have a very small amount of chocolate a day, could this really be stopping me from losing weight?

Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah, it's a big question about vegetarian, vegan diets. The key is, what are you eating? 'Cause you could eat a vegan keto diet, which is extremely low carb, very high fat, or you can eat a vegan, vegetarian, very high carb diet, which most people will do because they eat grains, they eat beans, they eat starchy stuff.

Most vegans and vegetarians will crave sugar because they're a little bit out of balance in terms of their biology. So, it's tough. When you're eating foods that turn into sugar, whether it's ... Even if it's brown rice or kidney beans, it will still lead, if you have weight issues, and you have insulin resistance it will still lead to some of these problems. I'd encourage you to sort of look at the reasons why.

I think people can be vegan or vegetarian for moral reasons. Okay, that's fine. If you're a Buddhist monk, no problem. For environmental reasons, which I think is important because we shouldn't be eating feed lot cows, because they're the number one contributor to climate change. It's inhumane how we raise them.

We use tons of antibiotics, pesticides, the food they give them creates lower quality meat. It's just a whole series of issues with it. It's bad for you, it's bad for the planet, and bad for the environment. But, grass fed meat is very different.

When you look at the overall issue of environment and moral, fine, but the health issues are quite different and when you look at the research, there's very little evidence that meat is a problem in terms of our health, especially grass fed meats and more sustainably raised animals.

In fact, they're critical to restore the environment by rebuilding soils, by sequestering harm, and holding water, that's a whole field of regenerative agriculture. The health issues are really important to distinguish from these environmental and other issues that what kind of meat we eat. The quality matters. I think we have to look at the reasons. I think people who do more higher fat, moderate protein, very low starch and carb, do far better in terms of weight loss and this has been shown over and over again.

This was 53 studies, was a review paper, that a randomized control trials lasting a year or more and the low fat group did far better than the low fat group. The high fat group did better than the low fat group because the high fat was also low carb. The bigger the difference in the fat and the carb, the more the weight loss.

Nada Youssef: Wow. And you've done all kinds of stuff, right? You've done vegetarian, you've done keto.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah, I did vegetarian for 10 years. In fact, I actually was with a friend the other day I was a friend with in my 20s, and she was showing me some pictures and we were out at a beach or something, I had no shirt on. I'm like, "Wow." My body, I was a vegetarian, I was running five miles a day, I was doing yoga, I was healthy, and my body was just scrawny.

I'm 58 and compared to when I was 28, I'm far more muscular, far more defined, and less body fat, and much deeper level of health than when I was 28, because I switched my diet, getting off of all the starch and sugar.

Nada Youssef: Okay, and explain that. Is it the protein in the meat?

Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah, it's getting off all the starch and sugar.

Nada Youssef: Okay.

Dr. Mark Hyman: It's also the higher fat diet, which actually stimulates muscle building. This has been shown over and over again in human and animal studies. Lean body mass increases with good quality protein and fat and it decreases with sugar and starch.

Nada Youssef: Wow. Great. And then I have Debbie. What are your thoughts on a plant based whole foods eating plan? And that's kind of what we just talked about.

Dr. Mark Hyman: I just talked about that, but I think it's important that we look at the reasons why. If you think it's for health reasons, I would challenge those assumptions, I would check out my book. "Food: What the Heck Should I Eat," where I go through all the research, I explain the controversies about meat, I explain what the differences are in the kind of meat that has different effects. I think we just really need to look again at this.

I will talk about it in a minute, but the dietary guidelines group hasn't really reviewed the research on meat. They basically assumed it's bad because it has saturated fat. Saturated fat they say is bad, which it's not. Then you should not eat meat because of that. There's very little data to support that.

In fact, there's a lot of data that doesn't support that at all.

Nada Youssef:   Right, right. Well, kind of going back to sugar real fast, Kimberly. What kind of foods would you suggest eating to get you through the sugar cravings? And I'm getting a lot of these questions about how to curb your sugar cravings.

Dr. Mark Hyman: I wrote a book about sugar addiction. It was called the "10 Day Detox Guide." It's essentially a program to get you unhooked. The secret is dramatically cutting out the starch and sugar. Cold turkey. It's not like, "Well, I'm just gonna have a couple of shots of heroin today, or couple lines of cocaine, I'm just cutting down on my."

No. You've gotta stop.

Nada Youssef: Cold turkey.

Dr. Mark Hyman: They say in these you've got to dramatically increase fat, because fat is what makes you stop craving. Within a day, or sometimes less, or two at the most, it will all go away. Your brain chemistry will change. Your hormones change. That's how fast food works. It's literally like medicine.

Nada Youssef: Wow. Wow. Cut the sugar, cut the carbs-

Dr. Mark Hyman: And increase the fat.

Nada Youssef: Increase the fat. Okay, great. Ericka wants to know, how do you help children kick the sugar habit and what foods do you suggest for younger picky eaters?

Dr. Mark Hyman: Well, in my house there was only two things on the menu. Take it or leave it.

Nada Youssef: I like that one.

Dr. Mark Hyman: It wasn't a restaurant. There was no menu. There was not like, "I want this." This is what we ate and it was all real food, and the fact is, we have this view of kid's food in America, which is, so dangerous and so harmful. It's why 40% of kids are overweight in this country, why one in six has some neuro developmental issue, often related to what we're eating.

The truth is that we know, actually, that we can feed kids real food and they will eat it right from an early age. Think about what they eat in Japan. The kids eat raw fish and seaweed. In Indonesia, they eat Indonesian food. There's no kid's menu or kid's food. It's an invention of the American Food industry, which has been so detrimental and harmful to our health.

I encourage you to make your home a safe zone. Start very early feeding your kids whole foods, real food. Get them involved in cooking and playing in their food, enjoying it. My son now is a chef. That's what he does for a living. He goes around teaching people how to cook healthy and eat healthy and throws these parties where he makes amazing food and teaches people about health and food.

He went off track for a little bit in college, but he came right back and he's actually doing it for a living now. You can get your kids inspired and they will follow along. Some of these kids when they are teenagers will go off and want to eat McDonalds or whatever other friends are doing, but if you built the foundation in your home, you don't have to worry.

Nada Youssef: So, be the example?

Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah.

Nada Youssef: Right.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Family dinners every night. Not family dinners ... The average family dinner ... People don't have family dinners, but if they do have them they last for 20 minutes or less while they're all eating a boxed food made in different factories, heated in a microwave, while they're watching TV or on their phones. That's not a family dinner.

Family dinners have been shown ... Which, I did every night with my family. I cooked, I worked, I cooked, I came home. I made real food. I sat down with them. We enjoyed each other. If families do that, there's lower rates of obesity, of eating disorders, there's better school performance, all sorts of benefits that come to families and kids when you eat at home with the family dinner.

Nada Youssef: Just like we talked about, the restaurants, going to a restaurant and you order a nice salad, but then kids want to go off the kid's menu and everything's mac and cheese, hot dogs, and chicken tenders.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Chicken fingers. I didn't think chickens had fingers.

Nada Youssef: They don't. All right. Let's go up to Sue. Is Stevia okay? Related, Connie is also asking, I know not all Stevia is good, but can you tell us what to look for in a good stevia?

Dr. Mark Hyman: Usually when people start to ask these questions, it's a sign that they're addicted to sugar. Because, nobody's gonna need to negotiate, well, can I have Stevia, can I have this, can I have that. I would just take a good look in the mirror and go, why am I asking that question?

Is it because I'm a sugar addict and I'm trying to substitute the sugar that I'm eating for something I think is better for me?

Most artificial sweeteners we know now are linked to obesity, diabetes, they alter the gut microbiome, they create inflammation, they're not a free lunch. They're calorie free, but they're not free of effects on your biology that's causing disease.

As far as Stevia goes, I think we still don't know enough about it. There are studies that show it may not be as bad as far as raising insulin and other effects, but still, it's not something I would consider a free food. It's a treat. I would encourage you to use a little bit of regular sugar if you want to sweeten something.

Reviside A is an abstract of sugar that's made by Cargill, and Pepsi, and Coke, there's two kinds, Purevia and Truvia. There are abstracts of Stevia. The other question is are they bad or not? I would prefer to use a whole plant Stevia, it's a little bitter, but that's what I would suggest.

Nada Youssef: Okay. Is sugar ever okay to eat? I know you just mentioned that as a treat. What is a treat? How often is a treat?

Dr. Mark Hyman: Right. I think of sugar as a recreational drug. It's like Tequila, or Vodka, or whatever, you don't want to have a bottle of Vodka for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which is essentially what we're doing with sugar.

Yes, enjoy sugar, from time to time. Add it to yourself, or know how much is in there. Don't eat processed foods, which have a lot of hidden added sugar, and enjoy it. Don't feel bad. Don't feel guilty, but understand it's a recreational drug and the dose makes the poison.

We should be having less than five teaspoons a day, at the max. Even less depending on whether or not you're on a ketogenic diet or not. It really is important to not go over board. We're eating four to 10 times that.

Nada Youssef: Wow. Okay. Very good. Cassandra wants to know, what are good snack ideas without sugar?

Dr. Mark Hyman: Snack ideas? I eat a lot of protein. I travel a lot. I have a bag in the car. I have an emergency food pack and if you go online you can go to my website drhyman.com and you can watch the emergency food pack video, where I literally show you, it's like a magic trick. I put all this stuff in this big bag, but basically it's a lot of protein and fats.

I have bison jerky or grass fed beef jerky. I'll have nuts, for example, or seeds. Pumpkin seeds, cashews, almonds, walnuts. I'll have nut butter packets. I'll have coconut butter in a packet. I'll have almond butter, cashew butter, all these things I basically have in my bag. I got something here, but I'm careful when I look at it.

I make sure it's all whole ingredients. So, I found the pumpkin seed bar with quinoa and tumeric, and salt, so I'll crunch on that. There's stuff out there, but you gotta be really smart and know what you're doing.

Nada Youssef: Okay. Tracy, what about alcohol consumption? Vodka and club soda qualify as keto friendly, how do you still wisely choose in social scenarios?

Dr. Mark Hyman: Well, again, remember, it's a drug. Dose makes the poison. I think alcohol can be helpful in small doses like a glass of wine or an ounce of alcohol like Tequila or Vodka. It depends on you. If you're an alcoholic, no. If you can tolerate it and you enjoy it, I think it's okay, it's just a matter of the dose, and how much, and when.

If you eat it after a meal ... If you eat it before a meal, it's gonna have a much more adverse effect on your blood sugar and insulin than if you eat it with a meal or after a meal.

Nada Youssef: Oh, good to know. I didn't know that. We have Monica. How does eating the occasional sugary treat affect health. For instance, special occasions like birthday cakes or social situations where someone serves dessert, those are the situations most tempting for me. I feel like I'm being rude if I decline the serving.

Dr. Mark Hyman: She can have a serving, have a bite.

Nada Youssef: I guess you're right. That's good.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Depends on you. If you ran 10 miles that day, go ahead and have the dessert. If you're sitting around on the couch, not exercising, and you're 100 pounds overweight, probably not a good idea.

Nada Youssef: Yeah, all right. Then Shelly, how about dates and figs dried. Are they bad for you?

Dr. Mark Hyman: Oh, we got a lot of sugar addicts out there.

Nada Youssef: Yeah, there's tons. That's what we're talking about so ...

Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah, they're okay. Dried fruit is pretty concentrated sugar and sweet, but it's got a lot of other nutrients and benefits to it. Again, it's not like you have 10 figs or 10 dates. Having a date or fig is fine. There's dates sugar and figs sweetened products out there, which are okay, but again, it's not a free food.

Nada Youssef: Okay. And what about Roland? He wants to know, what is your opinion on a diet high in antioxidants and free radical effects on aging and inflammation?

Dr. Mark Hyman: Well, that's a good question. So, we're talking about a diet high in antioxidants, which is essentially a plant rich diet. I don't call it plant based, I call it plant rich, which is lots of vegetables, and non-starchy vegetables, mostly.

Some fruits, which are like berries, which are powerful antioxidants. Any foods that are anti inflammatory, like whole foods. Get away from processed foods, from a lot of sugar and starch, carbohydrates, which are all inflammatory, even more than good fats can be inflammatory.

All that's really gonna help you deal with aging and chronic disease.

Nada Youssef: Okay. Then I have Sheila. What about baby formula? Are we addicting our kids from birth?

Dr. Mark Hyman: Great question.

Nada Youssef: Yeah, that is a good question.

Dr. Mark Hyman: If you look at the ingredients on formula, they're not that great. Soybean oil, it's a lot of sugar, and turns out that kids who had a lot of formula tend to have more obesity, they tend to have more gut issues, there's all kinds of issues.

I'm not a big formula fan. I think people should breastfeed until about a year and then they should cut it off. They can breastfeed for two years if they want, which is what most populations to, then they don't get switched to milk, they don't get switched to formula, they can eat real food.

It's tough, not everybody's breastfeeding, but, you have just formula, you have just formula. It's really not the most ideal thing.

Nada Youssef: Okay. Kathy wants to know if there's any healthy bread that is okay to eat.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Yes. Basically my rule for bread is if you can stand on it and it doesn't squish, you can eat it. These are very dense. There is nut and seed breads, which you can make, there are recipes online. I think there's one called the 'world's healthiest bread' or something.

If you're not gluten sensitive, there's a thing called German Rye bread, which is not like traditional rye bread, but it's actually made from whole kernel rye. It's black, and it's dense, and it's thin. Toasted it's really good.

Nada Youssef: All right. Great. Evelyn is asking, if Vitamin D deficient as told by a doctor, how many milligrams do I need to take daily?

Dr. Mark Hyman: Great question. If you're Vitamin D deficient, and your doctor says you are, it's probably bad because the ideal level is 50 to 60 and most labs are either 20 is deficient, or 30. Most of us insufficient, aren't really deficient. It's important because Vitamin D regulates so many important things for us. You wanna get your level between 50 and 60.

Some people don't need that much to do that. Some people need a lot. It depends on your genetics. You have to test and measure. Usually, whatever your level is, let's say it's 20. It takes 1000 units to get 10 points increase. If you wanna get to 50 and you're at 20, you need 3000. So, it's like that.

Nada Youssef: Wow. All right.

Dr. Mark Hyman: The average person probably between two and 4000 a day is the right amount.

Nada Youssef: Okay. Now, Milo, Milo, I'm sorry if I'm butchering your name. Great information, but how can we fight the cravings, the anxiety, for sugar.

Dr. Mark Hyman: That's what I said, the 10 Day Detox is basically a sugar addiction detox. It's like a rehab for sugar. It's really easy to do and every day there's a different set of steps and you wanna make sure that you're following them. I can tell you in 12 to 48 hours you're gonna be fine and I've had people come and say, "I've been addicted to sugar my whole life, I'm never gonna be able" ... Go on and on about their cravings.

Within 48 hours, they're like, "Oh my God. I feel totally different."

Nada Youssef: All right. Great. Linda. Is extra potassium needed when you're on a keto diet?

Dr. Mark Hyman: Extra salt is needed. What happens is when you need a lot of sugar and starch, you increase insulin. Insulin makes you hold onto salt or sodium and hold onto water. What happens if you switch from very high starch sugar diet to a very high fat low carb diet, you're gonna drip tons of water, which is a good thing, 'cause that's inflammation, and you're gonna lose a lot of salt.

You actually need to increase your salt intake, especially as your switching over 'cause you'll get what we call the keto flu, which means you feel lousy 'cause you're not getting enough salt.

Nada Youssef: Okay. I like a lot of pickled everything. Pickled vegetables. Is that a healthy thing? Is there a lot of sugar in that?

Dr. Mark Hyman: No, not usually. You can get sugary pickled vegetables. But no, not usually. The truth is, that most fermented foods have been used for centuries. They didn't have refrigerators, so people made sauerkraut. There was this funny study I saw that these polish women in Poland eat about 30 pounds of sauerkraut a year.

Nada Youssef: Wow.

Dr. Mark Hyman: When they move to America, they get much higher rates of breast cancer and they stop eating the sauerkraut. There may be a connection there, and it may be because how it affects their gut flora. Fermented foods are really good for your gut flora.

Nada Youssef: Great. Allison's asking, what do you recommend as a long term schedule for intermittent fasting? Like how many days to do it per week, I find that it helps with my back pain.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah. I mean, you can do it every day. Some people eat dinner by seven and they don't eat until the next day. That's fine to do. Not everybody should do it because if you're very thin, if you're pregnant, if you're a kid, if medical issues. You want to be careful about it. But, for the average healthy person, especially if you're diabetic or overweight, it can be very effective.

Nada Youssef: I know we're talking a whole lot about processed foods, and our next Facebook Live will be in June and it will be about processed foods, so we'll talk a lot more about that.

Dr. Mark Hyman: What day, we want to have everybody to write in.

Nada Youssef: No, I don't even know the day yet, but I'll let them know for sure. I want to talk about, there's the most terrifying thing that you've ever mentioned was about the cheese. I'm gonna say cheese because it's not really cheese, so that's why I'm putting quotations, but can you talk a little bit about the singles that you buy from the store that are in our fridge?

Dr. Mark Hyman: I always joke. Most of what we eat is not really food. It's food like substances. I remember I was in Haiti after the earthquake and hadn't eaten for three days, I was living on a few Cliff bars and some bottled water we brought in. The military shows up with these meals ready to eat and I'm like, "Oh, this is great guys." Went to one of the soldiers and I say, "Can I have one?"

'Cause we haven't eaten in like three days. He says, "Sure." So I picked out chicken and dumplings 'cause it was a very stressful time and I wanted comfort food, it sounded good. So, I went to the back of the surgery suite, I heat it up and I was reading the label, it had like 500 ingredients, and I didn't see the word chicken.

So, it was a chicken like substance. A lot of what we eat is not really food and we want to be eating real food, because when you eat the junk, it's not actually food.

Nada Youssef: Wow. So some of the cheese items out there, it's not-

Dr. Mark Hyman: The cheese thing is interesting 'cause the government has a regulation. You have to have more than 51% cheese to call it cheese. So they call it American Slices or Kraft Slices. But, it's not really cheese. It's what you see on all the Mcdonalds hamburgers, other fast food burgers. It's not actually really cheese. It's a cheese like substance, so they can't call it cheese.

Nada Youssef: That's terrifying. 51% doesn't even sound enough.

Dr. Mark Hyman: No, it should be 100% cheese.

Nada Youssef: Yes. Every single cheese should be fine if I'm buying cheese. That makes sense.

Is there hope out there, I know there's new dietary guidelines that are coming out, is that right? Can you talk a little bit about that?

Dr. Mark Hyman: Yes, this is fascinating. The dietary guidelines have evolved a lot. Since 1977 under McGovern they were beginning this dietary recommendations for America that told us to eat more carbs and less fat and cholesterol. This is based on really bad science. Then over the years, they change it.

Then they say eat six to 11 servings of bread, rice, cereal, and pasta. The great food pyramid, which shouldn't be called a food pyramid, it should be called the food tombstone. It's actually killed millions of people. I'm not joking. I really think it has.

Now, we've sort of moved forward a bit in 2015. There were new guidelines that said we should not worry about fat anymore, that we shouldn't worry about cholesterol, that we should cut on sugar. But, it's still missed whole areas of important research that didn't review low carbohydrate diets, high fat diets, and even the fact of saturated fat being and issue or not.

All these things were sort of ignored. What about meat? They didn't really examine a litter trying meat. There's a process right now until March 30th and I encourage you to go check out the link to the USDA, which is asking for comments from citizens about the guidelines and the things that they wanna know is, do you think we should look at the data on saturated fat? Do you think we should review the data on meat? Do you think we should review the data on low carbohydrate diets.

The answer is yes. You want to go and post yes, because these are the things that are really gonna help us really review what the truth is and not get recommendations that don't match the science. The National Academy of Sciences actually had reviewed the process by which the guidelines are created and this was based on congress mandating the National Academy of Sciences.

We've reached the most independent government board of science to review how we come up with the guidelines. What they found was, that the guidelines had undue industry influence. Meaning they were funders from the dairy council and from industry groups that were funding the committee members. They're not exactly independent and impartial.

Then that they ignored huge amounts of data. For example, all the data on saturated fat, they didn't review it. There was so much more data, randomized trials, other interventions, and they just ignored them that exonerate saturated fat as being a problem.

Even Doctor Steve Nissen here at the clinic has said to me, "Mark, fat's not an issue, and I don't even think saturated fat's an issue." He's also helping to advocate for this. This is a top cardiologist in the world, probably here at Cleveland Clinic.

We're really seeing a shift, but the guidelines don't match that and it's so important 'cause they form the base of all our recommendations for food programs in this country. We need to fix that. I encourage you to go comment on the USDA page for dietary guidelines comments, which is up to March 30.

Nada Youssef: We can't undo the chronic diseases that we've seen in the past years, but at least this is a hopeful step.

Dr. Mark Hyman: We can. We can. We can. If we have the right advice, 'cause it informs everything. It forms what doctors say, nutritionists say, the front line says, what certain hospitals, certain other food programs, school lunches, all this is determined by these guidelines. The guidelines have to actually match science and not industry influence.

Nada Youssef: Do you think that would change the food marketing, which is a culture?

Dr. Mark Hyman: Sure, sure. But the problem is that, usually what the food companies do, is they dial up and down ingredients based on what the guidelines say, so it says eat low fat, it'll say, "Low fat yogurt." Well, low fat yogurt has more sugar per ounce than a can of soda.

Nada Youssef: Wow. Wow.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Think about it.

Nada Youssef: That's crazy. That's insane stuff. And, I mean, kudos to you and people like you that are going around and spreading the ugly truth to people and doing these kind of lives.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Well, it's an empowering message. It's empowering 'cause people actually can change. They can transform their life. It's not that hard and they just have to take back their health.

Nada Youssef: And it's amazing that what you put in your body completely can change your health and that's what you're advocating.  So, thank you again for everything. Is there anything that you wanna kind of conclude with?

Dr. Mark Hyman: Well, I think people are confused about what to eat, and I think that's really why I wrote my book, Food: What the Heck Should I Eat. I think it provides a lot of the thinking about what's the research behind this, why we're so confused, a really practical guide on what to eat, what not to eat.

Nada Youssef: Sure. If you guys would like to make an appointment for the Cleveland Clinical Functional Medicine doctor, you can go to CCF.org/functioningforlife and if you enjoyed this Facebook live, make sure you guys are actually following the Cleveland Clinic page and then turn on your notifications as well.

For more health tips and information please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat at Cleveland Clinic. One word. All right, and that's it.

Dr. Mark Hyman: One more thing.

Nada Youssef: One more thing.

Dr. Mark Hyman: She mentioned getting an appointment. What we found is that our functioning groups, which are groups where you work together with other people, it's a 10 week course and you do it with others and you get support of nutritionists, dieticians, doctors, it's really amazing. We're finding people are doing far better doing that than actually the one on one visits because people have a chance to have much more contact with health professionals.

They have contact with each other. The peer support or the community relationship, aspect of this is so powerful. I encourage people to really think about signing up for functioning for life. We have different programs for diabetes, for weight, for women's health, for gut issues, autoimmune disease. Really, really powerful model. I encourage you to check it out.

Nada Youssef: These are shared medical appointments so there's like 10 patients around you and you feel supported because everybody's going through different issues together.

Dr. Mark Hyman: Exactly.

Nada Youssef: Great. Well, thank you so much for watching, and we'll see you again next time. Bye.

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Health Essentials

Tune in for practical health advice from Cleveland Clinic experts. What's really the healthiest diet for you? How can you safely recover after a heart attack? Can you boost your immune system?

Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit, multispecialty academic medical center that's recognized in the U.S. and throughout the world for its expertise and care. Our experts offer trusted advice on health, wellness and nutrition for the whole family.

Our podcasts are for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as medical advice. They are not designed to replace a physician's medical assessment and medical judgment. Always consult first with your physician about anything related to your personal health.

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