It’s a new year, and it’s as good a time as any to reboot your diet and focus on eating in a way that makes you thrive. Step one? Go sleuthing in your own kitchen cupboards. Hunt down and throw out the processed, industrial food loaded with white flour, corn syrup and trans fat. Replace it with healthy ingredients that you can mix and match. Functional medicine specialist Mark Hyman, MD, is here to help, plus teach you how to prevent food emergencies, deal with “food pushers” and stick to your healthy eating commitment throughout the year.

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Reclaim Your Kitchen with Dr. Mark Hyman

Podcast Transcript

Nada Youssef:   Hi, thank you for joining us. I'm your host Nada Youssef and today I am back with the one and only Dr. Mark Hyman.

Mark Hyman:    Hello everybody.

Nada Youssef:   Thank you for being here. Dr. Mark Hyman is the director of Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine. He's also an 11 time number one New York Times best-selling author, and an internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator and advocate in his field. Now, functional medicine is a full comprehensive approach for an individual to help their body heal and stay healthy. So it's really important to talk about this approach as we approach the holidays.

And the holidays will bring us joy, laughter, and a whole lot of food and sweets, so today we're going to get you back to the dinner table and we're going to have strategies and tips from Dr. Hyman along the way. So before we begin, please remember this is for informational purposes only, and it's not intended to replace your own physician's advice. Unless Dr. Hyman is your physician. So thank you so much for coming back.

Mark Hyman:    Oh. You're welcome.

Nada Youssef:   So 'tis the season for food and desserts-

Mark Hyman:    Yes, this is when people go downhill, right?

Nada Youssef:   Yes. So I wanted to talk about how are we going to start ... first you always talk about how fork is the most powerful tool and how food is medicine. Let's talk a little bit about that just to start.

Mark Hyman:    I mean it's so true. We are running an amazing program at the Center for Functional Medicine called Functioning for Life which is a shared medical appointment. We say a group visit which we do over ten weeks and we just had some amazing stories of people who use food to cure all sorts of illnesses. One woman, Janice, she was 65, morbidly obese, type II diabetes, on insulin for 10 years, heart failure, early kidney failure, liver starting to go, high blood pressure, felt like you know what, and was just on a pile of medication, and she did the program. In the first three months, she reversed her heart failure. She got off insulin in three days. She was off all her medications in three months.

Nada Youssef:   Three days.

Mark Hyman:    Yeah. It was pretty amazing. Three days. She eventually lost 43 pounds the first three months. Her kidney failure improved. Liver got better. And now it's about five months out, she's lost 63 pounds, and just keeps getting healthier. And it's not any drug that can do that. When you use food as medicine, when you understand what food is. It's not just energy or calories. It's actually information. It's like instructions that can upgrade or downgrade your biological software with every bite and it changes your gene expression. It changes your hormones. It changes your brain chemistry. It changes your immune system. It changes your even gut microbiome with every bite. That bacteria swamp in there that's basically controlling so much of your biology, is all controlled by what you eat. And so when you look at food in that light, all of a sudden it's like, wait a minute, this is a far more effective than a lot of conventional drugs or other treatments when applied correctly, because it's just works at so many levels.

It doesn't work just by one pathway. Like a drug with all sorts of side effects and the side effects are all good ones. Weight loss, energy, feel good. Right? And so, when you understand how to use it ... and we didn't put her on a weight loss program. She wasn't on a weight loss program. She was using food as medicine to create health, and as you create health, disease goes away as a side effect. So really, really important to understand that what you put in with your fork is often more powerful than anything in a prescription bottle. Yes, for acute care medicine, we need drugs for sure. But for chronic diseases and for the kinds of things we're seeing increasingly around the world, food is the most powerful drug.

Nada Youssef:   So with Functioning for Life, just a general explanation, what kind of food are they exposed to? What do they learn?

Mark Hyman:    Well, we teach people to eat in a way that helps them thrive. So we're not treating a particular disease and regardless of what the patient's issues are, if we put people on a way of eating, it's not a diet, it's a way of eating, that's anti-inflammatory, that's low in starch and sugar, it's high in the right fats, it's high in fiber, that has lots of plant foods, plant rich, not going to say plant based but plant rich diet. Get out all the junk, get all the processed food, add in all the good stuff, and take out the bad stuff. The body just naturally responds and heals.

Nada Youssef:   Sure. Okay, well, let's talk about reclaiming our kitchen.

Mark Hyman:    Yes.

Nada Youssef:   So how do we reclaim our kitchen? If we're cooking, if we're hosting, what's the first thing to do?

Mark Hyman:    Well, my favorite thing is to go in people's homes, open the culverts, open the fridge, open the freezer, and start pulling stuff out and reading labels with people. Like what is this stuff? And this is frankenfood, it's like 27 ingredients, you cover the front of the box, you can't tell what it is. You can't tell if it's a pop tart or a corn dog. It's all the same ingredients. It's basically white flour, it's maltodextrin, monotriglycerides-

Nada Youssef:   Corn syrup.

Mark Hyman:    It's corn syrup, it's white flour. It's all the same junk put in all kinds of different sizes, shapes and colors, called different names, but it's all the same processed, industrial food. So I help people understand, you don't want stuff that's not going to cause you to thrive in your house. You want stuff in there that's not going to cause you to kind of go off the wagon. I love ice cream. I don't eat ice cream very often, but I really love ice cream. So if I have a bad day and there's a pint of Chunky Monkey Ben and Jerry's in the freezer, guess what? I'm going to go for it.

If I have to get in the car and drive five miles to get the ice cream, I'm not going to do it. So don't sabotage yourself by having this stuff in your house. It's going to cause you to have a problem. And then pile it with all the good stuff so your default choices are the right choices. You want to make it easy to do the right thing. So that's really important, and yes, people have more sugar and chocolate and all that stuff, but I would say, go with the stuff that's more like the chocolate stuff and stay away from the cakes and the cookies and all that stuff.

Nada Youssef:   Dark chocolate stuff?

Mark Hyman:    Yeah, dark chocolate. Yeah, dark chocolate. And there's all kinds of great desserts. There's great recipes. We actually have a great recipes we're going to be giving away as part of this session, it's called Back to the Dinner Table. And there's 25 great holiday recipes that are going to taste amazing, that are going to satisfy you and your friends and family, and that are going to create health and not make you feel lousy after you eat it.

So I think it's really important to think about how do you do a kitchen makeover and I've written a lot about this in my books. How do you go in, what do you throw out, what are the ingredients to look for. You don't want anything with trans-fat. You want to throw out anything with high fructose corn syrup. You don't want anything with butylated hydroxytoluene in it, or BHT. Why would you want to eat that? Right? And so if it's not in your culvert, that you would put when you're making food yourself, you probably don't want to eat it. Right? I mean, you don't have a jar of transfat or maybe you do if it's Crisco, but you don't have red dye number 40 that you sprinkle on your vegetables after you cook them.

Nada Youssef:   Unless it's in an icing.

Mark Hyman:    It's an icing. It could be in processed food but if you really don't understand what it is, and you don't know where it comes from, like where does red dye number 40 come from? I don't know. Or natural vanilla flavor comes from. We talked about that. That's from beaver's anal glands. I mean, you want to be careful. So it's really, really important to do a detective hunt, like a treasure hunt. You can do it with your family, with your kids. Do a treasure hunt and see what you're actually eating.

Nada Youssef:   Make it a game. Okay.

Mark Hyman:    Yeah. And then go out and try to fill up your culvert with staples that you need that are mix and matched ingredients. Spices, salt and pepper. Good olive oil. Vinegar, things that you can use that are condiments that make your food taste good. Hot sauces, whatever. There's a lot of great stuff out there.

Nada Youssef:   Let's talk about drinks. Because I know-

Mark Hyman:    Let's talk about them.

Nada Youssef:   It's the season for pumpkin spice and peppermint mocha or whatever, all this stuff in the coffee shops. Or some people get juice drinks. What do you do when you want to have an ice drink on the dinner table?

Mark Hyman:    Not an alcohol drink but another drink?

Nada Youssef:   Well, we could talk about both.

Mark Hyman:    I mean eggnog I guess is-

Nada Youssef:   Eggnog is okay?

Mark Hyman:    I guess it's a little sugary but the truth is that we've invented a lot of these things. Pumpkin spice latte wasn't something I grew up with over the holidays. Right?

Nada Youssef:   Right.

Mark Hyman:    Mocha frappe-duppa-wappa-chinno, like that is just-

Nada Youssef:   With soy.

Mark Hyman:    I saw the CEO of Starbucks recently and I said to him, "Why do you guys sell so much sugar?" I said, "Starbucks is like a coffee shop ... it's actually a sugar dispensary masquerading as a coffee shop." He said, "Yeah, we're actually working on that." And so they're actually, there's a whole movement in Starbucks to cut down on that. Because you can get more sugar in there than you get in a can of soda.

Nada Youssef:   Yes.

Mark Hyman:    So I think ... mulled cider, that's awesome. A nice six/eight ounce cup of mulled cider. Yeah, it's little juicy, but it's fine as a treat. That's fine. But you want to stay away from all the processed stuff.

Nada Youssef:   Okay. So don't be afraid of fat and oil in your meals.

Mark Hyman:    Be afraid of the wrong fats, but not the right fats. You don't want to eat processed refined oils, you don't want to have transfats, you don't want all the nasty stuff, but you want it whole food, plant-rich oils, like nuts and seeds and avocados and really good things. Even grass fed meats and wild fish, those are all great sources of fat.

Nada Youssef:   Sure. Okay, now any grocery shopping tips for everybody that's going to be going out here soon? If they didn't yet, for the holidays?

Mark Hyman:    Well, you know one of the best things about the holidays is spending time together with family and connecting with friends and the fact is that we've lost the art of cooking. And this is really why we've got these recipes. You can make all sorts of delicious things together as a family. You can actually, when you go shopping, shop around the outside of the aisle. Don't go in the aisles with all the processed food, where it's all pre-prepared. Make stuff from scratch yourself. Take the time, put on some music, you have all the Christmas decorations or holiday decorations, it's fun. And make it a fun thing. I always make cooking fun. Brought people in the kitchen, hung out with my friends, got them to help. You cut this carrot. You peel this onion, you do whatever. And it's really an awesome thing and everybody always love to help and you feel all part of it. And I think that's something we've lost and we need to reclaim.

Nada Youssef:   I really like the music part because it's a big thing for me.

Mark Hyman:    Yeah.

Nada Youssef:   So what about good mood foods for this gray weather? Is there anything to eat that actually kind of uplifts us, that helps us. Brain food.

Mark Hyman:    Well, the thing that gives us a short term buzz is sugar and starch. So that's what we all go for. Quick, instant, and then crash. That is not a long term strategy, so lots of good fats are important for your brain. We know omega 3 fats are critical for dealing with depression and mood issues. We know that vitamin D deficiency can cause what we call SAD, seasonal affective disorder. Using the full spectrum lights or taking vitamin D can be really helpful and actually with mood issues. Getting exercise. Getting outside, even if it's cold, going out for a walk. That can make a huge difference in your mood and energy. We know that exercise, vigorous exercise regularly is more effective than Prozac or antidepressants for depression.

Nada Youssef:   Yeah, absolutely. Now, you travel a whole lot. What is your go to snack on your way to the plane, from the plane-

Mark Hyman:    Cheetos.

Nada Youssef:   Cheetos. Spicy?

Mark Hyman:    Flaming hot chips. No, I never even, it's interesting. It doesn't even look like food to me when I see it, it's like oh, what is that? Is it art, is it like science project? It doesn't call my name. I wouldn't even want to put that in my mouth. In fact, since I've sort of stopped eating all that stuff, my mouth, when I put it in, it just feels-

Nada Youssef:   Different.

Mark Hyman:    Like an assault and my tongue gets burning.

Nada Youssef:   I saw you on your own podcast, it's called farmacy-

Mark Hyman:    Yeah, Doctor's Farmacy.

Nada Youssef:   And you had a guest that had chips and he was telling you and you were like, no, I won't put that in my mouth.

Mark Hyman:    Yeah, he actually ate it.

Nada Youssef:   He ate it.

Mark Hyman:    He was actually talking about how the food industry, Michael Moss on my podcast, Doctor's Farmacy, that's F-a-r-m-a-c-y. He was talking about how the food industry designed food to be addictive. To have the right mouth feel, to melt in your mouth. To dissolve. To have the right sensations, and the taste, and the addictive properties of sugar to make people eat more and more. So what I do is, I bring enough food usually for a day at least. So if I get stuck, I'm never in a food emergency. So I have for example, have Bison bars, I'll have a lot of nuts. I'll have nut butter packets. I'll have different whole food bars that I eat. All those are really great and I keep them in my bag so I never really get into trouble.

Nada Youssef:   Okay. Got it. How about-

Mark Hyman:    By the way, I have a whole blog on this. If you go to drhyman.com and type in food emergency, I have a video. I show what to put in it, what you can put in your car. For example, you can have a little cooler bag in your car. You can have something at work. You go to my desk in my office here at Cleveland Clinic, I've got stuff in the drawers. I'm never in any trouble. So this morning, I didn't have time for breakfast, so I had a bag of cashews in my drawer, I had some other things, so I was able to actually eat and not be in a food emergency which is the worst thing you can be in. Because then you're going to eat whatever.

Nada Youssef:   You eat whatever is in front of you. It smells good. Yes.

Mark Hyman:    Drive bys, drive ins, drive throughs kill more people than-

Nada Youssef:   You don't even know, you don't even use it anymore, you forgot what it's called.

Mark Hyman:    But actually drive throughs kill more people than drive by shootings.

Nada Youssef:   Wow.

Mark Hyman:    By far.

Nada Youssef:   Yeah. I can completely imagining that would be true. Now I want to talk about my own dinner table. My mom's a food pusher.

Mark Hyman:    Oh. Because that's how she shows love. Right?

Nada Youssef:   Absolutely.

Mark Hyman:    Eat, eat.

Nada Youssef:   And it's disrespectful if you don't eat what she serves. Now what I tend to do, is I intermittent fast until I see her, because then I can eat. Is that a good idea? What do you do with food pushers because there's a lot of them.

Mark Hyman:    Well, allowing yourself to be bullied is not a good strategy. Even by your mother. It's like, are you trying to kill me? And I remember working with Rick Warren at Saddleback Church and we had 15,000 people in the church who wanted to get healthy as part of the Daniel Plan and when I got there, they were having ice cream socials, pancake breakfasts. I said, "Rick, you're trying to get your congregation to heaven early here. You're not loving them by doing this."

Nada Youssef:   Yes.

Mark Hyman:    And he really got it. And so we cleared out all the stuff. And I think it's really about surrounding yourself with people who love you and care about you and support you and care about you. Now if they're being negative or hostile, you just ignore them and if you'll just have this one cookie or have this one cake or just do this. If you don't feel like it, if you don't want to, you're allowed to say no, and you can say, listen, I'm focused on my health. I want to feel good. This doesn't make me feel good. I'm sorry, but I love you, but I'm not going to eat that.

Nada Youssef:   Okay, so reclaim my kitchen, reclaim my own meals and reclaim my own willpower.

Mark Hyman:    And your own body.

Nada Youssef:   Okay, I'll let her know you told me that when she tries. Now, going through a diet-

Mark Hyman:    It's like an invasion of the body snatchers.

Nada Youssef:   Absolutely.

Mark Hyman:    And the food pushers.

Nada Youssef:   It is. Especially during the holidays. Now, a lot of people are trying to diet, during the holidays, or maybe like a healthy life style changes, what I would say would be more appropriate. What do you say-

Mark Hyman:    They diet during or after?

Nada Youssef:   Well, I mean that's the hard part. Sometimes I feel like you should do it during or start during because after it would be easier, don't you think?

Mark Hyman:    Yeah.

Nada Youssef:   I mean remembering your goals-

Mark Hyman:    You don't have to make yourself sick and miserable and gain weight just because it's the holidays.

Nada Youssef:   Right. Right.

Mark Hyman:    You just don't. Yeah, there's more things and indulgences and you can go off a little bit, that's fine. We do have feasts and festivals and that's okay. It's just you've got to make sure you know how to reset. And we have a number of programs at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine called Functioning for Life, or even Functional Ketogenics or we have a program ... so if you get through the holidays and you really feel like you kind of went off the wagon and messed up and you want to reset. It would be awesome to join one of these programs. We have weight management, we have ones that are just  a 10 day detox ones which is great. It's like a 10 day reset. So there's all sorts of programs.

Nada Youssef:   Does it start in January then?

Mark Hyman:    Well, it's continually going-

Nada Youssef:   Ongoing.

Mark Hyman:    So you can go any time or maybe you should do it during the holidays so you actually don't get into trouble. That's a good idea, too.

Nada Youssef:   So I was thinking like starting with salad. Right? So if you're really hungry, start with veggies or a salad, is also a good way of not indulging and-

Mark Hyman:    Yeah. The key is just to stay away from the bread and alcohol at the beginning of a meal-

Nada Youssef:   Bread and alcohol.

Mark Hyman:    Because that will make you eat more of a whole meal. Okay, so that's the bad news. And you can definitely have salad, have some protein and fat, that's going to satisfy you.

Nada Youssef:   How about being mindful when you're eating.

Mark Hyman:    Well that's a good thing.

Nada Youssef:   Yeah?

Mark Hyman:    Yeah.

Nada Youssef:   Okay good.

Mark Hyman:    You should try to put your fork down between bites. Most of us are shoveling in the next bite before we even finish chewing the other one we have in our mouth, and our body can't catch up. It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you're full. So if you ever eat fast and go, oh my god, I'm so full. Well, that's because it takes a while for your brain to catch up with your stomach and you want to give yourself a chance-

Nada Youssef:   Okay, and I want to talk about alcohol, because I'm sure a lot of us will have alcohol on our dinner table. Is there a go to alcohol drink if we do go for alcohol?

Mark Hyman:    Well, it's all about volume. Alcohol is not terrible, but it's all about volume. You don't want to have a bottle of wine, you have a glass of wine. You don't want to have a bottle of tequila, you can have a shot or two of tequila and liquors are actually less sugary and they have less ability to raise your blood sugar. Also, when you drink is really important. So if you drink wine at the beginning of a meal, you're going to make yourself more prone to be diabetic than if you have it in the middle of the meal, or at the end of the meal. So that's important to remember. It's not only what you're drinking, it's when you're drinking it. And people often have a drink before dinner. Right?

Nada Youssef:   Yeah. The cocktail hour.

Mark Hyman:    So, that's not a good idea.

Nada Youssef:   No, okay. And those people that are thinking about New Year's resolution and starting in January and they want to go on their diet. Any tips on how to stay on track?

Mark Hyman:    Yeah, I would do one of our Functioning for Life programs or the 10 day detox. The 10 day detox is a super great way to reset your system. It's basically 10 days, and you reboot, and it's like hitting the reset button on your computer and everything goes back to normal.

Nada Youssef:   Yeah, and you've talked a lot about community and I want to talk about the shared medical appointments and how you can utilize your own community of whether it's friends, supporters, partners, family, for having a support system, because it's very, very helpful to have someone. Talk a little bit about that?

Mark Hyman:    Yeah, if you're entire family is food pushers, you're going to be in trouble.

Nada Youssef:   Yes, I know.

Mark Hyman:    So the key is to find friends and family who support your health journey, whether it's one co-worker, whether it's a spouse, whether it's your kid, and whether it's somebody who's a friend, or a group. We think the groups are really helpful. One on one is awesome, but also groups can be super powerful and that's what we're finding ... we get much better outcomes in our patients who do groups than even one on one visits with our functional medicine docs. And people are like, "Oh, it's the second best thing to seeing the doctor." Actually no. It's better. Which we have the data on, which is pretty amazing because people get to spend 20 hours together. They get to spend time sharing each other's stories. Hearing what works, what doesn't work. Comparing notes. Getting support and education rather than just a half an hour, an hour doctor visit once every five months.

Nada Youssef:   Okay, good. And before I go to live questions, I know with this packet right here. I'll tell you again at the end of the show, but it's ccf.org/dinnertable. We also have conversation starters in here and how to mindful, put your phone down maybe when you're having dinner. But I'm going to go ahead-

Mark Hyman:    Oh, yeah.

Nada Youssef:   And jump to live. Do you have anything else to add?

Mark Hyman:    No, I mean it's great. There's a restaurant I go to in New York, which is called Hearth and the guy in the restaurant used to walk through, the owner walk through and see everybody on their phones and not talking to each other, disconnected. Having dinner at this nice restaurant. So he put this little box on the table. It says, "Open me." And inside, it's this invitation to put your phone in the box for the dinner. Put their phones in the box on the side of the table-

Nada Youssef:   Okay, that's ... do people do that?

Mark Hyman:    Yeah. Another game we play often is everybody puts their phone in the middle of the table and the first person to grab their phone has to pay the bill.

Nada Youssef:   I've heard about that one. I like that one. Keep it down. Yeah, that's a good one.

Mark Hyman:    And then people can actually be together and enjoy-

Nada Youssef:   It's actually a really good idea. It's a great idea. Okay, well, I'm going to go ahead and go to some live questions. I have Teresa. You saved my husband's life. Thank you. So just a nice comment for you.

Mark Hyman:    Did I do CPR? What did I do?

Nada Youssef:   I'm not really sure. I'm sure it's something similar. And then Brad. My daughter seems really affected by the time change and weather. Maybe it's seasonal affective disorder. What foods can we feed her that might help or are there other things that we can do to help her?

Mark Hyman:    Well, the things that actually are really full of vitamin D which is important, and also mega 3 fats which can help are mushrooms, certain mushrooms. Particularly porcini mushrooms, they're very high and small fatty fish. Like herring, sardines, they have higher amounts of vitamin D but you can take vitamin D and also the small fatty fish like herring, sardines, macron, anchovies, wild salmon, those all have high levels of omega 3 fats too.

Nada Youssef:   Now having kids eat mushrooms and sardines and herring sounds kind of difficult.

Mark Hyman:    Yeah, I'm saying-

Nada Youssef:   I'm just saying.

Mark Hyman:    So you can give them a supplement.

Nada Youssef:   Okay.

Mark Hyman:    But get them off the sugar and the junk because that's going to make them very depressed.

Nada Youssef:   Okay. That's good to know. And then James. Can you address foods with nitrates and how nitric oxide is necessary for artery vein function?

Mark Hyman:    Nitrates and nitric oxide are two different things.

Nada Youssef:   Okay. Good to know.

Mark Hyman:    Sort of like sulfur and sulfa drugs. It sounds similar, but they're not exactly the same. They're related. Nitrates are preservatives that are used in processed meat and there's some data that processed meat may increase cancer risk and that increased nitrates in things like bacon or hot dogs can cause stomach cancers, and throat cancers, and esophagus cancers. So we really don't want to be eating a lot of those things. There are some natural nitrates that are in celery and other things. They're not terrible, but you don't want to be piling those on.

So nitric oxide is a particular molecule called NO which is very important in opening up your arteries, relaxing your blood vessels, and is very important for biological functioning. So that just, our body naturally makes. You can take arginine and things like that that nuts have high levels of arginine which increase nitric oxide like almonds, so there's ways of increasing that through food.

Nada Youssef:   Okay, cool. So is there like a nitrate free salami? Is that a thing or not?

Mark Hyman:    Yeah, they have nitrate free processed meats, but mostly-

Nada Youssef:   Still processed.

Mark Hyman:    They're still processed in a way that uses celery root. It's the same thing.

Nada Youssef:   All right. And then Sadie. How can you stay on track at Christmas parties and such where all that is available is junk without making the host feel bad you aren't eating their food?

Mark Hyman:    Well, I would definitely eat beforehand. So I keep stuff in my pockets. If I go somewhere and I know there's like no food, I might eat before. Or have a little snack before or something so I'm not ravenous. And then there's usually stuff you can pick. You can like pick off the bun and eat the turkey. Or you can eat the fruit part of the plate or have the garnish.

Nada Youssef:   I like that, eat before you go. Don. What about all the healthy food that is processed even from Whole Foods. Is it better from other grocery stores?

Mark Hyman:    Okay, well, not necessarily. So you have to be careful of the sugar. I've gone and seen these natural green juices that have more sugar than a can of soda. A few more vitamins but not much better. And also again, even processed baked goods, like cookies, are still cookies even if they're gluten free and natural. So you also want to look at the differences in the starch and sugar content. That's the big thing. The benefit is that they don't have a lot of the weird ingredients that often are in processed food. But sometimes they do. Like carrageenan, it sounds like it's from seaweed, it's a thickener and it can cause leaky gut, inflammation, auto-immune disease, so you have to really be smart about how you choose your food. It's not just because it's in Whole Foods, it's fine. Because you can get into trouble there.

Nada Youssef:   Sure. And then Nicole. How do you train your brain to practice portion control? I struggle with having just one treat. Instead I go back for three more, then I sabotage the rest of my day because I already cheated. Any tips? Sounds like the rest of us.

Mark Hyman:    Yeah. If you're drowning, you might as well just go deeper under water, swimming to the top and get some air.

Mark Hyman:    If you go off the wagon even if it's an hour, you can get back on. You don't have to give away the whole day. That's not fair. But the truth is, this is a biological problem. When you're actually eating sugary foods, your body is like having crack cocaine. And it activates the same brain area, it causes the same types of cravings. It's not, you're not going to figure it out, when it's a battle of your metabolism over your mind, your metabolism is going to win out every time and the hormones and all that get produced when you eat starch and sugar cause you to crave more, eat more, want more.

So the best thing is, fat is the best thing to actually cut that. If you're someone who's really insulin resistant, it's going to be very tough, because you're going to gain weight just looking at a bagel. Or just looking at a cookie, because your body produces insulin, that makes you store fat, that's makes you hungry. And it creates this whole vicious cycle. So it's really important to not try to do that. If you're one of those people that get trigger.

Nada Youssef:   So cut it cold turkey.

Mark Hyman:    Or have different treats, like chocolate. It's hard to eat a ton of chocolate. You kind of get sick of it after a bit whereas you could eat 12 cookies with no problem.

Nada Youssef:   I don't think everybody will agree with you when you say that. But Sandra wants to know, what do you suggest as a substitute for recipes that call for shortening? Tried butter for pie crusts but didn't turn out so great.

Mark Hyman:    Really? Butter is what they made pie crusts out of.

Nada Youssef:   That's what I was thinking too. So we keep it butter.

Mark Hyman:    Yeah. I mean people make it with different kinds of fats, like coconut oil and butter but-

Nada Youssef:   Coconut oil? Okay, great. And then Maria. What can I do with canola oil I purchased, but since now I know it's not healthy. What other use does it have?

Mark Hyman:    You could lubricate some of your tools in your garage.

Nada Youssef:   That's what I was waiting for you to say.

Mark Hyman:    You could rub it on your skin, although it will go through your skin so you don't want to do that.

Nada Youssef:   You wouldn't want to use it on your skin.

Mark Hyman:    I guess it could be massage oil for your dog, maybe.

Nada Youssef:   Oh my goodness. Yeah, don't use that. I would just not use it at that point.

Mark Hyman:    Yeah. It's pretty cheap. It's a pretty nasty product.

Nada Youssef:   Yeah, okay. Got it. So don't use that. And Timothy. My issue is I cook meals with a family member. He tends to buy overly processed things and is set in his ways. But when I shop I get more healthy choices as I'm going to through the bariatric program at the Cleveland clinic. I guess the question is, how do I cook the meals he likes for him and then stay strong to cook the healthier options for myself afterwards without being tempted?

Mark Hyman:    Well, the first problem is, if your friend is eating crap, then you don't want to cook for him. Like why would you be serving up your friend, things that are going to make him sick and die. So that doesn't sound like a friend to me. So I think the best thing is, if he wants to eat that, let him figure it out himself.

Nada Youssef:   Okay.

Mark Hyman:    The second thing is, focus on your health and yourself first. And you might need to eat separately. You might need to figure out a different way. You might need to get him into the program with you or help him join the weight loss program that we have, weight management program we have in our Functioning for Life at Cleveland Clinic because doing it together with him can be a big, big solution. So getting him encouraged, seeing how the results affect you. Showing your improvement, can often inspire him. So I would really focus on that.

Nada Youssef:   Okay, you're making me concerned as a mother of two little ones because I'll try not to eat rice, or bread, or anything but then they want their rice and their bread. Am I doing a disservice by doing separate food for them or should they just cut out the carbs too. You know what I mean? If someone's trying-

Mark Hyman:    Well, there was only two things on the menu at my house when my kids were growing up. Take it or leave it.

Nada Youssef:   Yes. I like that. Yeah.

Mark Hyman:    There was no-

Nada Youssef:   There was no other option.

Mark Hyman:    There was no menu. There was no options. It was like this is what we're having for dinner. We did have grains and things but they were whole grains.

Nada Youssef:   Okay. So whole grains. Okay. Cool. And then Cathy, how does, is it agave, affect my blood sugar resistance?

Mark Hyman:    Yeah. Agave sounds healthy. It's from a cactus, all natural. Right? But arsenic is natural too and that doesn't make it healthy. Agave is a mostly fructose which is actually more harmful just taken straight than regular sugar. It causes fatty liver. It causes more insulin resistance, more inflammation, leaky gut. It's not a great thing to have, so I would stick with coconut sugar, or monk fruit, or even a little stevia, even honey maple syrup. Regular sugar rather than taking some weird stuff.

Nada Youssef:   Okay. Did you say coconut sugar?

Mark Hyman:    Yeah.

Nada Youssef:   I've never heard of that.

Mark Hyman:    Yeah, coconut sugar is lower glycemic, it's quite good. Yeah.

Nada Youssef:   Okay. Cool. And then Debbie is asking about your program. Is it really available in Avon, Ohio?

Mark Hyman:    Yeah. We're growing so fast, I think we opened in Lakewood, we opened here, we opened in a bunch of different areas. So we're going to be doing those groups in Avon, so, yes, sign up.

Nada Youssef:   Okay.

Mark Hyman:    Call us.

Nada Youssef:   We'll give you a link as well in the comment section of the locations of where that functional medicine program is located. Joyce. I love cooking soups, dishes with all sorts of different dried heirloom beans, legumes. Do you truly think that they should be eliminated from our diets?

Mark Hyman:    No. I don't think beans should be eliminated. I think you have to cook them properly.

Nada Youssef:   Yeah.

Mark Hyman:    Which means often soaking overnight, draining the water, cooking them with seaweed like hambuta, help with the gassiness and other issues. So there's ways to cook them right. You can pressure cook them. So I think they can be a great addition to our diet for many people. Some people don't tolerate them if you have auto-immune disease. If you're really ... you're having a lot of gut issues. Now there's these continuous glucose monitors which people wear on their arm and it literally gives them a second my second reading of their blood sugar. And with some diabetics eat beans or grains which can be healthy, and their blood sugars go crazy, so it really depends on the patient individual. For most people they are a really great food and a great source of nutrients.

Nada Youssef:   And soak it overnight?

Mark Hyman:    Yes. Soak it overnight. Pressure cook it.

Nada Youssef:   That's all great. Great. And then Maria. How does drinking coffee on an empty stomach affect diabetes patients?

Mark Hyman:    That's a great question. It depends. It can be little bit irritating because it doesn't increase adrenalin, it increases cortisol which increases blood sugar. So it might have adverse effects. If you have it probably with food, it's a little better.

Nada Youssef:   What about black coffee? I drink black coffee usually until lunch time. Is that bad?

Mark Hyman:    That's all you drink? That's all you eat?

Nada Youssef:   I intermittent fast, so I'll just drink coffee and water until lunch time.

Mark Hyman:    They call it intermittent fast because you're going so fast from the coffee? Is that?

Nada Youssef:   Yeah, basically, it usually just one cup. Okay, so Cam. Is it true that drinking celery juice has health positive benefits for chronic illness?

Mark Hyman:    It can. It can be a diuretic. It can be helpful with various issues, inflammation, and swelling, edema, so yeah, it can be great. But you don't want to OD on anything. I had a person today that was having two cups of raw kale every day which sounds healthy but turned out, we know that kale can suppress your thyroid especially if it's raw. So I told her don't do that anymore. Because your thyroid is starting to come low and she was losing her hair. So yeah, even water is really great. Right? But you can OD on water. There are people are have seizures and die from drinking too much water. So it's just a matter of everything in moderation.

Nada Youssef:   Okay, great. Jennifer wants to know what can you serve if you're hosting a party?

Mark Hyman:    Oh my god, well you can serve this. Back to the Dinner Table. Right?

Nada Youssef:   And again, it's ccf.org/dinner table. It has 25 recipes for you.

Mark Hyman:    And they're for the holidays. They're holiday recipes.

Nada Youssef:   And they're like everything. Breakfast-

Mark Hyman:    Yeah. Dessert, breakfast, lunch, dinner, everything.

Nada Youssef:   Well, we'll put that in the comment section below as well.

Mark Hyman:    Even cookies.

Nada Youssef:   Yeah. And then Betty. If others see you-

Mark Hyman:    The good kind of ... wait, the good kind of cookies.

Nada Youssef:   You've got to make sure.

Mark Hyman:    The good cookies are-

Nada Youssef:   You're looking for the cookie recipe?

Mark Hyman:    Here, pumpkin spice cookies, made with apple sauce, and coconut oil-

Nada Youssef:   Maple syrup.

Mark Hyman:    Almond flour. Maple syrup a little bit, but only a tablespoon for like three dozen cookies. So it's not like a lot.

Nada Youssef:   Good.

Mark Hyman:    Pumpkin spices, chips, even chocolate, I mean even pecans, even little dark chocolate chips. So you really have good stuff and they're really very low sugar. Lots of fiber, good quality food.

Nada Youssef:   And these are all 25 recipes approved by Dr. Hyman. So we're good to go. All right. So Betty. If others see you cheat, they make you feel guilty and say, "I didn't think you could have pumpkin pie, et cetera, especially if you have SIBO/SIFO-

Mark Hyman:    So people are food shaming you?

Nada Youssef:   Yeah. So if you're IBS, how far do you set yourself back by having something off your diet? That's like pleasing others for your own-

Mark Hyman:    Listen. You have to listen to the smartest doctor for that question and the smartest doctor is your own body.

Nada Youssef:   Oh, okay.

Mark Hyman:    It will tell you immediately and give you feedback if you run to the bathroom after eating something or you feel lousy or you have a headache, or your nose starts running, or you're so tired you can't even think. You have brain fog. Well guess what? Or your joints hurt, you get pimples, probably not a good idea for you.

Nada Youssef:   Yeah, okay. Because everything you eat is affecting your body somehow. Brain, physical, mental, everything.

Mark Hyman:    Absolutely.

Nada Youssef:   All right. Great. And then Michelle. It's just another comment. Cleveland Clinic Functional Medicine has saved my life. Love what you do.

Mark Hyman:    Oh, thank you.

Nada Youssef:   And Kristy, what are some travel food suggestions?

Mark Hyman:    Well, like I said, you go to the doctorhyman.com website and you go to the food emergency blog, and I write it all down, what brands to get, what to do, but some of this is not even packed, like a can of wild salmon, or I'll pack packs of nut butters, Bison bars, just simple things. Mostly protein and fat. Most snacks are carbs, are starch and sugar. So I just stay away from those and I just eat things that are very nutrient dense that I can eat and quickly and feel full and satisfied. That are not going to make me eat 12 more cookies.

Nada Youssef:   What about like if you like hummus.

Mark Hyman:    Yeah, it depends-

Nada Youssef:   Is that okay? Because I know it's processed if it's in the store-

Mark Hyman:    Well, hummus is okay except if you're traveling it has to be cold. So there's a ... in my car or if you're traveling, you can put a little freezer pack in there that's fine. But you want to make sure you get the right foods for your situation. If you're traveling on a plane, or busy, you don't want something that's going to perish.

Nada Youssef:   Or if you're in Cleveland, Ohio, you could just leave it out. It'll be cold. And then Mohammed wants to know what can we do about GMOs if we can't afford organic? That's a loaded question. Because organic is good but we have so much cheaper, so many cheap options that are not organic.

Mark Hyman:    Well here's the thing. The data is out on GMOs. We don't know if the hype about how dangerous they are is really true. We need more science on it. They were sort of approved before we really had the good science. We do know that some things like glyphosate, which is what they spray on soybeans and wheat and all these products, corn. That actually is harmful and it's been shown to be carcinogenic, by different groups including the world health organization. So that's a bit tricky. So the foods you want to sort of stay away from are the highly sprayed foods like non-GMO soy which is not expensive. Non-GMO wheat which is not expensive. And I think that there is a hierarchy of priorities. If you are having issues being able to afford food, you can get really good quality food, but it's not that expensive. And I think there are ways to do that whether they are on line shopping resources, things like Trader Joe's, Costco, Walmart is now the biggest purveyor of organic food in the country.

Nada Youssef:   Really?

Mark Hyman:    Yep. And so there's ways to get it. There's also things like thrive market which are online stores that have 20-55 percent off on healthy food. And then there's a great guide by the environmental working group called Good Food on a Tight Budget which is how to eat good food that's good for you, good for the planet, and good for your wallet. So yeah, you don't have to have a $70 grass fed rib eye steak. You can find other cuts of meat or other poultry or fish that is cheaper. Other grains and beans and vegetables that are cheaper. You don't have to have every heirloom like tomato but you can have good quality vegetables and fruit and if you start with that, just whole food. And get rid of the processed stuff, everything is going to change.

Nada Youssef:   Right. And you cut off the list, you can cut the cereal, you can cut some of that milk, you can cut that mac and cheese. You can cut all that and you can have some extra-

Mark Hyman:    Yeah, like cereal levels in like Cheerios of glyphosate are extremely high.

Nada Youssef:   Well, here we go. I actually, Eva also has a question. But her question is about vegetarian meat. What's your opinion on vegetarian meats, or maybe she meant meal?

Mark Hyman:    Meat.

Nada Youssef:   Meat? So vegetarian meats?

Mark Hyman:    Yeah, fake meat.

Nada Youssef:   Oh. What is that exactly?

Mark Hyman:    Well, there is a lot of them out there. There's Impossible Meat, there's Beyond Meat which is actually grown in a laboratory. That's not vegetarian. There's all the soy hot dogs, and soy burgers, and all that stuff. Now some of it can be okay. If it's GMO soy, probably wouldn't do it. And it should be whole soy. Not isolated soy protein which can be very carcinogenic in animal studies. It should also be food that is not going to make you really sick.

Nada Youssef:   Okay. So let's talk about soy a little bit. Are our bodies made to digest soy?

Mark Hyman:    Well, when you look at traditional soy consumption, the soy is highly processed. In a good way. In other words it's fermented like in tempeh, or natto, and miso. These are all fermented and broken down with enzymes so it's easier to digest. Or tofu, often easier to digest. So those are the kinds of ways that I would contend to consume soy.

Nada Youssef:   Okay, great. All right. I'm just going to end it with a question for you. What is your guilty pleasure? Do you have a food during the holidays that you're like, okay, I'm just going to have a little piece of, what? Fill in the blank. You can be honest.

Mark Hyman:    I'm just thinking. I love dark chocolate almonds I have to say.

Nada Youssef:   Yeah.

Mark Hyman:    They're so good.

Nada Youssef:   Dark chocolate.

Mark Hyman:    Yeah, chocolate. Dark chocolate.

Nada Youssef:   I knew you weren't going to tell the truth.

Mark Hyman:    No, I would. I mean, what is my favorite thing?

Nada Youssef:   There's nothing that you just go for?

Mark Hyman:    My favorite thing is pecan pie.

Nada Youssef:   There you go. There it is.

Mark Hyman:    Pecan pie with coconut whipped cream with a gluten free crust.

Nada Youssef:   You heard it here first. All right. Well that's all the time that we have for today.

Mark Hyman:    Okay.

Nada Youssef:   Is there anything else that you want to end this with? Let's first of all talk about this, again.

Mark Hyman:    Well, this is free.

Nada Youssef:   Okay.

Mark Hyman:    Twenty-five recipes, some of my best recipes for the holidays. Food that is going to taste good, make you feel good, and not leave you on a couch in a coma after which many of us are in the holidays.

Nada Youssef:   Yeah. Absolutely.

Mark Hyman:    And you just have to go to ccf.org, that's Cleveland Clinic Foundation, ccf.org/dinnertable.

Nada Youssef:   And then you also have inspired conversation starters and they're literally questions that you can ask-

Mark Hyman:    Yeah.

Nada Youssef:   People at the dinner table. What's your first memory of life? That's pretty deep.

Mark Hyman:    Yeah, so you know, one of the things at dinner we don't do, is we don't really have deep conversations anymore. I think we all are either watching TV or on our phones or rushing through a meal that's produced in some factory. And often families, the average family sits for less than 20 minutes three times a week eating dinner, and when they do it's usually some factory processed food that they've microwaved or put in the oven. And each one eating a different thing from a different factory.

Nada Youssef:   Kids on the iPad.

Mark Hyman:    Yeah. That is not a way for a connected ... and we know that family dinners, we know that community dinners are so therapeutic. Kids who eat dinner with their family regularly, have less obesity, less eating disorders, less drug use. Do better in school. Much, much healthier and productive. And having deep conversations is really important. So I would say, during the holidays, have a phone box. Have everyone put their phone in the box or somewhere, like a drawer, and you just leave it.

Nobody's going to die, nobody's going to go through seizures or withdrawals, and you start dinner with a collective conversation. And there's a lot of thought starters, question starters here that people can use, but when you're around the table, when did you feel most loved? What's the thing that you're looking forward to this year? What really matters, deeper questions that get people connected to each other and that creates such a healing response, it helps you digest your food better. It's way more fun, and I would say just time for the holidays, just to be together.

Nada Youssef:   Yeah. And these questions should be all the time, not just dinner tables. They're great questions. All right.

Mark Hyman:    And then of course we have the Functioning for Life program which I encourage you to check out. You can go to our Cleveland Clinic, just type in Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine. You can find it online, and we do programs on autoimmune disease, on diabetes, on weight management, on functional keto. We have a kids program. We're growing all the time. So really encourage you to check it out. It's so powerful. Especially if you feel like after the holidays, you get stuck, you're great but after the holidays, you went on a downslide, you want to reset. It's just the best way to do it.

Nada Youssef:   Perfect. Thank you so much for your time.

Mark Hyman:    Of course.

Nada Youssef:   And for the latest Cleveland Clinic health news and information, make sure you follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram, @ClevelandClinic, one word. We'll see you again next time. Thank you.

Health Essentials
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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 a nonprofit, multispecialty academic medical center and the No. 2-ranked hospital in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. 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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