Tag Archives: blood sugar

3 Ways to Rewire Your Brain and End Food Cravings

brainonstress

I’m a food addict. We all are. Our brains are biologically driven to seek and devour high-calorie, fatty foods. The difference is that I have learned how to control those primitive parts of my brain. Anyone can this if they know how. In this article, I will share 3 steps to help you counteract those primitive parts of your brain that have you chasing high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods. But before you can update your brain’s biological software, you’ve got to understand why it developed in the first place.

Calories = Survival

The brain’s desire to binge on rich food is a genetic holdover from the days of hunter-gatherers. Given what scientists know today about our early ancestors, it makes sense that our brains are hardwired to fixate on high-calorie foods. It’s a survival mechanism. Eating as many calories as possible, whenever possible, allowed our ancestors to store excess calories as fat and survive lean times. That approach worked well for 2.4 million years, but today it’s making us sick and fat.

That’s because our brains haven’t evolved as fast as our food environment. The human brain evolved over 2.5 million years. And, with the exception of the last 10,000 years, people only ate animals they could hunt and wild-plants they could gather. Imagine if you could only eat what you caught or picked! The variety of foods hunter-gatherers ate paled in comparison to the 40,000 different food items we can buy in the average big-box grocery store today.(1)

No cinnamon buns for them!

And whereas we have easy access to food 24/7, drive-thru meals were not an option for hunter-gatherers. Not to mention that hunting and gathering was hard work. Early humans expended lots of calories acquiring their food, so they needed to eat high-calorie foods to offset the loss. The average hunter-gatherer got up to 60 percent of his calories from animal foods, such as muscle meat, fat, and organ meat, and the other 40 percent from plants.(2)

That balance between protein and carbohydrates in the diet is where the problem lies, but it’s not what you think. Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap, but they are the single most important nutrient for long-term health and weight loss. But I’m not talking about bagels and donuts. I’m talking about plant foods that more closely resemble what our ancestors ate. Hunter-gatherers ate fruit, tubers, seeds, and nuts. These are whole foods. They are full of fiber, vitamins, minerals and disease- and weight-busting colorful phytochemicals. They also take time to digest. Therefore, they raise blood sugar slowly, which balances metabolism and offers a steady stream of energy. Whole foods have all the right information and turn on all the right genes.

But the past 10,000 years saw the advent of both agriculture and industrialization. And, in the blink of an eye (by evolutionary standards), the human diet got turned upside down. Today, 60 percent of our calories come from things that hunter-gatherers wouldn’t even recognize as food. The bulk of those items—cereal grains, sugary drinks, refined oils and dressings—are simple carbohydrates.(3) The primitive brain sees an endless supply of easy energy. Left unchecked, our bodies pay the price. The result is a two-fronted epidemic of obesity and diabetes in our country—what I call “diabesity.”

3 Ways to Reprogram your Brain

Luckily there are ways to rewire the primitive parts of your brain by making good food choices. Here are 3 ways to get started.

1.) Balance blood sugar.

Blood sugar highs and lows drive primitive food cravings. If you get famished between meals, that’s a sign that your blood sugar is crashing. When blood sugar is low, you’ll eat anything. To better balance blood sugar, eat a small meal or snack that includes healthy protein, like seeds or nuts, every 3 to 4 hours.

2.) Eliminate liquid calories and artificial sweeteners.

Early humans didn’t reach for soda or fruit juices when they got thirsty. Sodas are full of chemicals and high fructose corn syrup. Processed fruit juices are awash in sugar. Try sticking with water and green tea. Green tea contains plant chemicals that are good for your health. And, last but not least, don’t succumb to the diet-drink trap. The artificial sweeteners in diet drinks fool the body into thinking it is ingesting sugar, which creates the same insulin spike as regular sugar.

3.) Eat a high-quality protein at breakfast.

Ideally, you’re eating quality protein at every meal, but, if you need to prioritize one meal, choose breakfast. Studies show that waking up to a healthy protein, such as eggs, nuts, seeds, nut butters or a protein shake help people lose weight, reduce cravings and burn calories.

Ultimately, you may not control your genes, but you do control what and how you eat. Since taking control and changing my diet, my brain no longer caves into the cravings and urgings that seduce the reptilian brain. The most powerful tool you have to transform your health is your fork! Use it well and you will thrive.

References:
(1) “What to Eat,” Marion Nestle, p 17
(2) “Plant-animal subsistence ratios and macronutrient energy estimations in worldwide hunter-gatherer diets,” L
Cordain, et al American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2000; 71
(3) “Plant-animal subsistence ratios and macronutrient energy estimations in worldwide hunter-gatherer diets,” L
Cordain, et al American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2000; 71

 

Originally published on my website, DrHyman.com

10 Ways To Ditch Your Cravings for Sugar, Salt, and Fats

medusa

According to a recent article in the New York Times, “Food Corporations Turn to Chefs in a Quest for Healthy Flavor,” Big Food companies like PepsiCo, Kellogg’s, and even fast food giants like Taco Bell, are changing their ways in response to the increasing public demand for healthier food options. To improve their image as healthy food manufacturers, Big Food corporations have called upon top chefs to help them create healthy menu makeovers, infusing real, fresh, whole food into old recipe favorites.

Why is this happening now? Intense pressure brought on by politicians and their constituents (you and me!) has given these food manufacturers no choice but to respond to the public outcry for healthier food. It’s no longer enough for these companies to earn a profit by selling food that tastes good. People are beginning to use the power of the pocketbook to show these companies that the food they sell must also be nutritious.

That’s because people everywhere are waking up. They are beginning to see the dangers of genetically modified ingredients and all the sugar, salt, and fats hidden in our food supply. From fancy restaurants to fast food chains, chefs are catching on that people want their food to make them feel good, not just while they are eating it but hours, days, and years afterward.

Really, this news shouldn’t make the headlines. This is common sense! Paying for food that makes us sick is as crazy as shooting ourselves in the foot. It just doesn’t make sense.

Big Food is finally getting the message and getting on board.

But remember, no processed or fast food option will ever be better than a healthy home-cooked meal. The best way to ensure you are eating the highest quality, most nutritious food possible is to prepare your own food in your own kitchen. We are all chefs. You don’t have to be trained at Le Cordon Bleu to know your way around a kitchen. You just need a little knowledge, some imagination, and a sense of adventure.

A desire for real food is a fundamental part of our basic biological blueprint. Given the chance, our taste receptors will naturally gravitate toward the inherent sweetness found in vegetables, fruits, and even nuts and seeds.

So, how do you reprogram your taste buds to ditch the cravings for sugar, salt, and fats? You can start by eating real, fresh, whole foods. Avoid fake, commercialized foods that come in convenience packages or are made in a lab.

Here are 10 more tips to get you excited about ditching the sugar, salt, and fats:

  1. Sauté or roast your veggies to bring out their natural sweetness. Properly searing your chicken or meat brings out the inherent sweetness by way of the Maillard reaction. This is a fancy name for what happens when you create that nice, brown crust on your meat. Want more cooking tips like this? Check out The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook!
  2. Play with herbs like cilantro, parsley, dill, basil, and oregano to add flavor and phytonutrients! Finish a meal by adding fresh herbs before plating or serving. This last-minute addition kicks the flavor up a notch!
  3. Healthy fats found in avocado, coconut, and tahini not only increase the flavor of your meal, they also add that creamy, luscious texture found in many rich foods. See for yourself just how healthy and tasty desserts can be by trying my Dark Chocolate Silk Pudding from The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook!
  4. Try creating a savory, umami (Japanese for “delicious”) flavor. Add moderate amounts of tamari, umeboshi plum paste, balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, dried mushroom, or sea vegetables to your next stew, soup, sauce, or stir-fry.
  5. Cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, clove, ginger, and even cayenne or chipotle pepper powder are all extremely flavorful additions to a meal. Spices like these excite your taste buds and grab your attention. This is helpful, because, as studies show, when we are focused on actually tasting our food rather than mindlessly gobbling it up, we actually need less food to feel satisfied.
  6. Befriend some kitchen must-haves like real vanilla extract or vanilla bean or coconut butter. Or use common, every-day foods like lemons in some creative ways. For example, use lemon zest to add real zing to any meal!
  7. For the most flavor, eat seasonally and locally. Canned or packaged foods or foods that have traveled great distances in the back of a truck just can’t compare to the succulence of a fresh piece of locally grown fruit.
  8. Check your hydration. Digestion starts in your mouth with your saliva, which helps us taste all the magnificent flavor in food. If you are dehydrated and not producing enough saliva, you won’t really be able to enjoy your food.
  9. Check your medications. Believe it or not, most medications interfere with the body’s ability to taste and smell. Some of them can even create an unpleasant metallic taste in the mouth. Wondering how you might decrease the number of pills you take? Learn more about functional medicine.
  10. Got nutrition? Nutrient deficiency is an important cause of improper taste perception. A lack of certain vitamins and minerals can markedly impair your ability to smell and taste food. Most Americans have several nutrient deficiencies, but there is one in particular that can especially keep you from enjoying your next meal: zinc. Try adding foods like oysters, pecans, sunflower seeds, and lentils to increase your daily intake of this important mineral. Try the recipe for Hearty Lentil Soup from The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook. If you are deficient, you might also need to take a zinc supplement. Work with one of my nutrition coaches to ensure your nutrition status is up to par.

* * *

For more ways to use your kitchen to take back your health, check out The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook. Get tips and tricks for making healthy and tasty meals. Learn what foods you should eat to boost your metabolism, balance your blood sugar, and lose weight. Try more than 175 tasty recipes that appeal to a variety of budgets, taste preferences, health goals, and lifestyles.

Originally published on my website, DrHyman.com.

Weight Loss: Fact and Fiction – What Works and What Doesn’t

Body Image. The subjective concept of one's physical appearance based on self-observation and the reactions of others.

Does sex really count as exercise? Should you set conservative weight loss goals of 5-10 pounds instead of 50? Does adding a little bit of exercise regularly over a long period of time really add up to significant weight loss?

A recent analysis of weight loss research by The New England Journal of Medicine, entitled Myths, Presumptions, and Facts about Obesity, attempts to answer these questions.

Some findings are surprising, some are not, and some common notions about weight loss are yet to be proven or dis-proven. I have my own opinions based on treating tens of thousands of patients over many decades.

We are all different. What works for some may not work for all, which is why I practice personalized lifestyle medicine, or functional medicine, that  allows me to discover the root causes of imbalances in the body that lead to weight gain and disease  – matching the treatment to the person.

The good news for me is that I was not surprised by the myths that are commonly held by doctors, nutritionists, and most people. And I know that some of the presumptions will turn out to be true – we just don’t have enough data to “prove” it.

Remember, the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. Just because something has not been studied accurately does not make it untrue.

So what are the top myths and facts about obesity and weight loss?

Myth #1: If you make small changes in your lifestyle over the long term you will lose weight.

Most of us have learned that if we just cut our calories by 100 calories a day, or increase our exercise a little bit over the long haul, we will lose weight. It’s all about the calories in or the calories out.

Sorry Mr. Newton, your laws of thermodynamics don’t apply in living systems. Biology and metabolism are more complex. If we just go with the math and burn an extra 100 calories a day by walking one mile or consume 100 calories less in 35 days, you would lose one pound (3500 calories = 1 pound).

And over five years you would lose 50 pounds. Yet, in studies they find you would lose only 10 pounds in five years. This occurs because of changes in your metabolism and calorie needs as you lose weight.

Bottom line: Big changes are needed to create big weight loss.

Myth #2: Don’t set big weight loss goals because you will become frustrated and set yourself up for failure.

The fact is that if you set your sights on big weight loss, you have a better chance of losing a significant amount of weight than if you keep your goals “realistic”. If you want to lose 50 pounds, then set that as your goal.

Studies have shown that if you don’t expect to lose a lot of weight, then you won’t! Common sense, it seems, but conventional wisdom is to keep people’s expectations low because weight loss is hard and people will get frustrated if they fail to achieve their goals. The truth is that you will only lose big if you think big.

Bottom line: Set your weight loss goals high. Don’t be realistic. If you set 10 pounds as your goal you might succeed, but if you need to lose 50 pounds you will fail. If you want or need to lose 50 or 100 pounds then name it. Own it. And you will lose it!

Myth #3: Don’t lose weight too fast or you will rebound and gain it all back.    

We have been taught that if you go for the quick fix, if you go for the rapid weight loss strategy, in the long run you won’t lose as much as if you go for the slow gradual approach.

Nonsense!

Studies show that if you drop weight quickly you end up with more weight loss in the end.  Mark Twain said, “The problem with common sense is that it is not too common.”

When I give my patients a big jump-start with weight loss, which is how I have designed my practice and my programs like The Blood Sugar Solution, they do better and lose more weight over the long run. They learn how to own their bodies and feel empowered.  The studies back this up.

Bottom line: Kick-start significant weight loss with dramatic shifts in your diet. Try things like cutting out all sugar, flour, and processed food. You can follow the program I have created in The Blood Sugar Solution.

Myth #4: You have to be ready to succeed and go through the “stages of behavior change”.

The science tells us that those who attempt weight loss without feeling ready still succeed. You can act into the feeling instead of waiting for the feeling to act.  

Bottom line: Even if you don’t feel inspired, excited, or motivated to start taking care of yourself, just start anyway. You are just as likely to succeed as someone highly motivated.

Myth #5: Sex is good exercise.

Somewhere we all got the idea that sex was good exercise. A bout of sexual activity burns 100-300 calories for each participant. That reminds me of a young teenage patient I saw when I was a resident. I asked her if she was sexually active. She said, “No, I just lie there.”

But even if you don’t just lie there, a vigorous love-making episode usually lasts about six minutes and burns about 21 calories. If you just sat and watched TV you would burn 14 calories. So find some other way to exercise or study tantric sex and make love for an hour.

Bottom line: You can’t “love” your way to weight loss. Get out of bed and start moving.

The article also had a few presumptions, which may or may not be true and still don’t have enough evidence to firmly put them in the fact category. However, a few of them I do think are crucial for weight loss.

The Value of Breakfast

In the large weight registry of people who lost 70 pounds or more and kept it off for 4 or more years, the only things they had in common were breakfast and regular exercise. It is one of the most powerful strategies. But it can’t be a muffin and a latte. The secret is a protein breakfast, which speeds metabolism and controls appetite.

Eating Fruits and Vegetables

If you eat more fruits and vegetables you will be eating less junk and creating health through hundreds of other mechanisms. In fact the only thing all nutrition experts agree on is that we should eat more fruits and vegetables.

Built Environment and Obesity

While it hasn’t been proven that more parks and sidewalks lead to a skinnier population, we do know that your immediate environment plays a big role in your health. Dan Buettner did an experiment in Albert Lea, MN where he implemented changes in the environment that led to significant weight loss and health.

Kids lost 10 percent of their body weight after eating in classrooms and hallways was outlawed. And the town’s population lost a total of 12,000 pounds by everyone agreeing to eat their meals using 10 inch plates and having grocers put healthy foods at the check-out counters. Your environment does matter.

The good news from this article is we can lose weight, but we have to set big goals, think big, act big, and we will get big results!

 

Originally published on my website, DrHyman.com.

18 Healthy Snacks to Ensure You’re Never In a “Food Emergency” Again

Marcona AlmondsIt may seem as though we live in a land of plenty. Everywhere you look there are vending machines, restaurants, and stores offering an endless assortment of quick and cheap snacks and meals.

And yet, the reality is that everyday most Americans live in a constant state of emergency. Either they skip breakfast or they put themselves at the mercy of the local coffee chain feeding them high-sugar coffees and donuts or muffins or scones (which sound like a French health food but are really giant sugar cookies). And then, at work, there are bowls of candy and vending machines full of soda and on the way home, there are fast food restaurants and convenience stores luring you in. We live in a toxic nutritional wasteland where finding real, whole, fresh food is difficult if not impossible for most people to find.

What is a food emergency? When your blood sugar starts to drop, you are hard-wired to eat anything (and everything) in sight. To think you can use willpower to control your hunger or cravings contradicts the science of how your brain controls your behavior. The more willpower you use, the more it backfires, eventually. You find yourself automatically overeating and binging or just eating whatever happens to be in front of you.

But there is a solution, a simple, practical idea that most of us never think about: planning and bringing food with us.

If you were a type 1 diabetic, you would not leave the house without your insulin syringe or a packet of sugar. If you did, your life would be at risk. If you had a severe bee or peanut allergy, you wouldn’t go anywhere without your EpiPen. One sniff of peanut dust and you could die without your protection.

While you may not die in an hour, you will get sick and fat and live a shorter, poorer life if you regularly find yourself in a food emergency. You will repeatedly choose poor quality, high sugar, refined foods and eat more than you need.

Emergency Life Pack – Your Food Safety Net

That is why I recommend that everyone create an emergency life pack, a food safety net. Each person has to find their favorite things to include, and the choices are almost infinite. You need to stock your home, your travel bag or purse, your car and your workplace with key rations for any food emergency. What if you didn’t have time to have breakfast? What could you grab for the car? Or if you get busy at work, what can you find in your drawer to get you through the day? Or what is at the ready in the late afternoon if you start to droop?

I definitely recommend including protein snacks, because protein controls your appetite and balances your blood sugar over long periods of time. These are snacks that keep on giving but don’t give that quick rush and crash we get from most “snack foods,” which leave us even more hungry and tired. If you wait until you are hungry, you will make irrational decisions. Just set yourself up to make better choices by having good things around you.

Here are easy-to-make or easy-to-buy foods that you can grab and go anywhere with. We all travel out of the house frequently, and with a little bit of planning and shopping, we can stay healthy and keep ourselves out of food emergencies. Get a few glass containers with lids and Ziploc baggies to put your snacks in. Buy an insulated lunchbox or mini-cooler to put your food in. These are just ideas and you can innovate, but make sure you include food with good-quality protein and fats that are also low in sugar.

Things That Last Forever:

  • Canned wild salmon or sardines
  • Flax or seed crackers (Mary’s Gone Crackers)
  • Jerky (bison, grass-fed beef or turkey—try Krave or Grass Fed Jerky Chews
  • Salmon Jerky (Vital Choice)
  • Nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts and pumpkin seeds)
  • Nut butter packets (almond, pecan, macadamia nuts—Artisana makes individual packs)
  • Coconut butter packets (Artisana brand is great)
  • Whole food or raw food protein bars (Raw Revolution and LÄRABAR are my favorites)
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Roasted red peppers

 Easy-To-Prepare On-the-Go Snacks:

  • Garbanzo beans with olive oil, lemon, garlic and salt
  • Hard-boiled omega 3 eggs
  • Hummus (Try Wild Garden single-serve packets that last a long time)
  • Cut-up carrots, cucumbers, peppers and celery in Ziploc baggies
  • Apple or pear

Treats:

  • Dark chocolate (70%)
  • Dried figs
  • Dates

Dr. Hyman’s Go-To Travel Food Emergency Pack

When I am on the road, I find it a dangerous place: airports, hotel mini-bars, bad restaurants, food deserts. My health is in jeopardy every time I step out of my controlled environment. So I bring food with me and make it a rule never to eat on planes or in airports (although increasingly, there is edible food in airports—you just have to know how to hunt and gather!). I never leave home without these things, and I keep a good stock in my pantry, so I can just throw them in my bag. They take up little space and pack a powerful nutritional punch.

  • Wild salmon jerky from Vital Choice or Patagonia
  • Grass-fed beef or turkey jerky by Krave
  • Packets of coconut butter and macadamia nut butter by Artisana
  • Raw Revolution protein food bars
  • Organic almonds
  • Organic macadamia nuts
  • Organic dates

For help creating your own emergency food pack, watch my how-to video here. Remember, with a little bit of planning, you can save yourself from food emergencies and stay healthy and well nourished wherever you go.

Now I’d like to hear from you …

What do you like to include in your emergency food pack?

Have you found some good sources of healthy, whole foods even while out on the road?

 

Originally published on my website, DrHyman.com

Got Proof? The Lack of Evidence for Milk’s Benefits

Got milk?There is no biological requirement for cow’s milk. It is nature’s perfect food but only if you are a calf. The evidence of its benefits is overstated, and the evidence of its harm to human populations is increasing.

The white mustached celebrities paid by the Dairy Council promote the wonders of milk in their “Got Milk” ads. Scientists are increasingly asking, “Got Proof?” Our government still hasn’t caught on, in part because of the huge dairy lobby driving nutrition guidelines. When I once lamented to Senator Harkin that all we wanted to do was to make science into policy, he cocked his head and with a wry smile and said, “that would make too much sense.”

And the media is also influenced heavily by advertising dollars. Once, when I was on Martha Stewart’s television show, the dairy lobby sponsored the episode, and her trainer was forced to mouth the talking points of the Dairy Council touting milk as a fabulous sports drink. Studies may show some benefit, but studies funded by the food industry show positive benefits eight times more than independently funded studies.

In a new editorial by two of the nation’s leading nutrition scientists from Harvard, Dr. David Ludwig and Dr. Walter Willett, in JAMA Pediatrics, our old assumptions about milk are being called into question. Perhaps it doesn’t help you grow strong bones, and it may increase the risk of cancer and promote weight gain.

It is bad enough that the dairy industry recently petitioned the FDA to sneak artificial sweeteners into chocolate milk. They want their “shake and eat it, too” by pushing milkshake-like flavored milk drinks into schools as a “healthier” option, even though they have 30 grams of sugar per cup. By cutting the sugar and adding artificial sweeteners to low fat or non-fat milk drinks, the idea is that they would be healthier. Except for the fact that recent studies have found that one diet drink a week increases your risk of type 2 diabetes by 33 percent and a large diet drink increases the risk by 66 percent.

What about low fat milk or non-fat milk? These are the healthier options, right? Wrong.

Ludwig and Willett note that there is scant evidence that fat makes you fat, despite this commonly held mistaken belief. Reducing fat in milk reduces its ability to satisfy the appetite (which fat does) and can promote overeating and hunger. Often, the fat in the diet is replaced with sugar and refined carbohydrates, which clearly has been shown to promote obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Studies show that reducing fat in the diet, which parallels an increase in starch and refined carbohydrates in the diet, not only increases hunger but also may actually slow metabolism. In one study, Dr. Ludwig found that those who ate a low fat, higher glycemic diet burned 300 calories less a day that those who ate an identical calorie diet that was higher in fat and lower in glycemic load. For those who ate the higher fat, lower glycemic diet, that’s like exercising an extra hour a day without doing anything!

More concerning still is that, in studies of kids and adults, those who consumed low fat milk products gained more weight than those who ate the full fat whole milk products. They seemed to increase their overall intake of food because it just wasn’t as satisfying as the real thing. In fact, those who drank the most milk overall gained the most weight. It makes logical sense. Milk is designed to quickly turn a little calf into a big cow and contains over sixty different hormones, most designed to boost growth.

But shouldn’t we stick to low fat milk to reduce our intake of saturated fat? The fact is that, while your LDL or bad cholesterol goes down by reducing saturated fat in the diet, the protective cholesterol, HDL, actually goes up by eating saturated fat improving the ratio of total to HDL cholesterol, which is the most important marker of your risk of heart disease. Switching out saturated fat for carbohydrates actually increased the risk of heart attack in a 12-year study of 53,544 adults. In fact, the whole story of the evil of saturated fats is in great debate. The evidence for linkage to heart disease turns out to be pretty weak indeed.

If you ate only whole foods, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains (not whole grain flour), you might be better off overall (although a recent scientific review of saturated fat dismissed the very notion that is it bad for you). But sadly, that is not what most Americans do when they switch to low fat.

The sad thing is that many schools and “healthy” beverage guidelines encourage the idea that flavored milk is better than soda and that getting kids to drink more milk by any means is a good idea. This is dangerously misguided.

There are 27 grams of sugar in 8 ounces of Coca Cola and a whopping 30 grams of sugar in 8 ounces of Nestlé Chocolate Milk. Sugar is sugar and drives obesity and diabetes. It is not a good way to get kids to drink milk.

But that begs the bigger question. Do kids need milk? Is milk necessary for healthy bones and preventing osteoporosis? The data are clear, but our government polices don’t reflect the science.

Dairy and milk products do not promote healthy bones. In a large meta-analysis, milk did not reduce risk of fractures. Other studies have shown it can increase fracture rates. And the countries with the lowest milk consumption have the lowest risk of osteoporosis and fractures. Calcium is not all it’s cracked up to be. Studies show that higher calcium intakes are actually associated with higher risk of fracture.

Milk may not grow strong bones, but it does seem to grow cancer cells. Milk increases the hormone called IGF-1 or insulin-like growth factor, one that is like Miracle-Gro for cancer cells. Dairy products have been linked to prostate cancer. And cows are milked while pregnant (yes, even organic cows), filling milk with loads of reproductive and potentially cancer-causing hormones.

There are other problems with milk, too. It increases the risk of type 1 diabetes. Dairy is a well-known cause of acne. And of course, dairy causes millions around the world (75 percent of the population) to suffer digestive distress because of lactose intolerance. It causes intestinal bleeding in 40 percent of infants leading to iron deficiency. Allergy, asthma, and eczema all may be triggered by dairy consumption.

The US Department of Agriculture’s new My Plate initiative recommends three cups a day of milk for everyone! If you are two to nine years old, you get away with only two to two and a half cups. And the “key consumer message” is to switch to 1% or non-fat versions.

There is absolutely no biological requirement for milk, and the evidence for low fat milk is lacking, along with the bone benefits. The dairy lobby has its tentacles deep in the US Department of Agriculture. One scientist friend who advises the government on food policy confided to me that when he protested that there was no evidence for the government’s recommendations that we all drink three glasses of milk a day and that, in fact, it may be harmful, he was patronized with a “yes, we know, but the dairy lobby makes it difficult to make science into policy.”

Let’s just forget the science and spend taxpayer’s dollars to promote foods that we know are harmful, because money runs politics. To heck with the health of our citizens.

Bottom line: Milk is not nature’s perfect food unless you are a calf and should not be consumed in large quantities by most people, because it can promote weight gain, cancer, and even cause osteoporosis. Write to your congressmen to encourage them to support changes to our food and farm bill policies that shape our nutritional guidelines and make them evidence based. The answer to the question, “Got Proof?” Heck no!

Now I’d like to hear from you…

Do you think we need to drink milk to be healthy?

Do you agree that getting kids to drink more milk is a good idea?

Have you recently cut dairy from your diet, and if so, do you feel better?

What are some good dairy alternatives that you’ve discovered?

 

Originally published on my website, DrHyman.com

The Healing Powers of Burgers and Fried Chicken

Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 4.10.30 PMCan burgers and fried chicken really be good for you? Yes. But not the Five Guys killer burger—not that kind. It’s burgers and chicken you cook yourself. And why do you need to cook them yourself? Here’s why.

Eating out can kill you, especially if you eat fast food or the addictive processed sugar and fats typically packed into almost every food that is made in a factory. The average American eats 29 pounds of French fries, 23 pounds of pizza, 24 pounds of ice cream and consumes 53 gallons of soda, 24 pounds of artificial sweeteners, 2,736 grams of salt, and 90,700 milligrams of caffeine per year. Do we really think we can create health in that toxic food environment?

A young New Zealand woman with eight children recently died after consuming 2.2 gallons of Coke per day, which, by the way, contains two pounds of sugar and 900 milligrams of caffeine (enough to give an elephant palpitations).

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on a study that showed life expectancy declining among women in America, especially in the South (the area with the highest rates of obesity and diabetes in the country). The authors of the study were quoted as being surprised by this data. One Harvard researcher said that trying to figure out why “is the hot topic right now, trying to understand what’s going on.”

Really? Life expectancy drops as obesity, diabetes, and the consumption of junk food, fast food, and sugar soars, and researchers fail to see the connection? It’s not rocket science. And yet, Harvard scientists are perplexed, and the National Institutes of Health spend $800 million each year studying the cause of obesity.

The cause of obesity is complex, to be sure—increased stress, environmental toxins, our sedentary lifestyle, and our sleeplessness as a nation all play a role. But the elephant in the room here is our toxic industrial food supply, specifically sugar. To paraphrase President Clinton, “It’s the food, stupid.”

I just returned from China where they are experiencing the same chronic diseases and obesity we find in the West because, on every corner, at every turn, our industrial food culture has permeated their world—KFC, McDonald’s, Subway, Coke, Pepsi are everywhere. Today, China has the most type 2 diabetics in the world. Yes, they have more people, but their diabetes rate is about the same as that of the United States: about 10 percent. Thirty years ago, I traveled to China and saw only one overweight woman, and she was riding a bicycle. In 30 years, the rate of diabetes there has gone from one in 150 to one in 10, and now, one in five people above the age of 60 in China are diabetic—and 60 percent are not even diagnosed. Obesity and diabetes are rampant there, increasing at a far faster rate than in the United States, and this shift can be tied directly to how fully they have embraced our processed, industrial, high-sugar diet.

I am the chairman of the Institute for Functional Medicine, and we were asked by the Chinese to come and teach their physicians how to deal with lifestyle-related chronic disease. A group of us went to show them how to return to their traditional ways of using food as medicine.

It’s sad that a country in which food has long been considered medicine—with specific care taken to include special foods with healing properties at every meal—would need to relearn this knowledge. In fact, the word for “take your medicine” in Chinese is “chi yao,” which means, “eat your medicine.” We went to a special restaurant where everything on the menu was chosen for its medicinal properties, including all sorts of exotic fungus and plants and animals like sea cucumbers.

But we don’t need to eat funny-looking plants and animals with weird textures and tastes to eat our medicine. In fact, we can start with burgers and fried chicken.

I recently did a segment on The Dr. Oz Show during which I demonstrated how to use food as medicine, cooking recipes from my new cookbook, The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook. I carefully selected healing, medicinal, blood sugar-balancing ingredients, disguising them as our favorite foods.

It might surprise you that burgers and fried chicken can be healthy, but keep in mind, my versions of those foods have stealth healing properties. All the recipes in my cookbook contain medicinal foods. They are medicine, but they don’t taste like medicine, because at the end of the day, if they did, no one would eat them. But they are made from real, whole, fresh food cooked from scratch, and they taste amazing. To help you truly understand how food is medicine (not just like medicine but actually real medicine), I have analyzed two recipes from my cookbook that we demonstrated on The Dr. Oz Show.

Sweet Potato Burgers (on page 114 of the cookbook)

Here are the ingredients, along with information on how each affects your health and your biology:

  • Sweet potatoes contain carotenoids, which is reflected in their orange color. Their phytonutrient properties help with weight loss by increasing adiponectin, a fat-reducing, insulin-balancing, anti-diabetes hormone made by your fat cells.
  • EVOO, also known as extra virgin olive oil, is a phytonutrient superfood. It contains oleic acid and dozens of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory polyphenol compounds that lower blood pressure and promote health. They also contain good monounsaturated fats.
  • White beans contain good plant proteins, fiber, and magnesium. The fiber helps lower your blood sugar.
  • Curry contains turmeric and other anti-inflammatory spices. Obesity and diabetes are inflammatory conditions. Turmeric is nature’s ibuprofen. It also prevents cancer and dementia (both related to diabesity).
  • Almond flour contains protein, fiber, magnesium, and healthy monounsaturated fats. It helps lower LDL, or bad cholesterol, prevents diabetes, and promotes weight loss. People who ate more almonds have been shown to reduce their risk of diabetes significantly.
  • Avocado contains phytosterols, which are fats that lower cholesterol. They also contain omega-3 fats (ALA), as well as carotenoids, selenium, and zinc. Avocado has eight grams of fiber in one cup and is very low in carbs. The fats in an avocado help you absorb all fat-soluble antioxidants, just like the carotenoids in the sweet potato do. Avocado also contains these special seven-carbon carbohydrates that help to lower blood sugar.
  • Tahini is made from sesame seeds, which contain a special fiber called lignan (seamolin and sesamin) that lowers blood pressure and cholesterol. It is very high in magnesium and calcium, containing over 30 percent of your daily needs in just one quarter of a cup. It is the best source of dietary calcium (far better than milk).
  • Lemon zest contains limonene, which boosts liver detoxification, and the lemon juice contains anti-cancer bioflavonoids.
  • Garlic contains 1,2-DT (1,2-vinyldithiin), which is an anti-inflammatory sulfur compound that can inhibit the number of fats cells that form in our body. And it can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and is a natural antibiotic.

Not bad for a burger!

The next recipe is fried chicken. I call it “unfried” chicken. Click here to check it out!

 

Originally published on my website, DrHyman.com

The Desserty Secret: Eat Your Sugar With Fiber

appleIn nature, sugar always come in a fibrous package. Whole fruits, whole grains, vegetables, and beans all contain both sugar and fiber. When the sugar and the fiber work together, all is right in your body. The sugar, in the form of glucose, is an essential nutrient. Not only does it give us quick energy, glucose is needed by every cell in your body for proper functioning. The fiber’s role is to slow the sugars rate of absorption, thereby giving us a sustained release of energy. Like Batman and Robin, sugar and fiber are a perfect duo.

So What’s the Problem?

The problem occurs when sugar is consumed without fiber. When sugar enters your bloodstream without the fiber to slow the rate of absorption, then the pancreas, which is the organ that regulates the blood sugar levels, is forced to produce insulin to bring the sugar levels down. This fluctuation in blood sugar levels creates stress in the body and can lead to diabetes and heart disease. It also interrupts the absorption of calcium and magnesium, which are both essential minerals for bone strength a proper nerve function.

So Where is the Fiber?

Fiber is the hard shell of grains and beans and the meat of fruits and vegetables. Fiber is an annoyance to food manufacturers. It is perishable so it creates a shorter shelf life, and it makes things take longer to cook. How could we microwave our dinner in 3 minutes if we have to cook that pesky fiber? So, what food manufacturers do is strip the fiber away from the food in order to make it more convenient for us. Bread lasts longer when made with refined flours, processed foods can sit on the shelf for months or years without  problem, and rice can take only a minute to cook.  Juice is easier to drink than actually eating an apple, so just drink your fruit. Nice right?

Sugar Robbers

The problem with all of this convenience is that it is causing mayhem in our bodies. Sugar in the body, without fiber, is like the Tasmanian devil, swirling and whirling and generally creating chaos. The fiber, which acts like a cop, is not there to tame the devil, so insulin levels shoot up, and we go on a sugar-fueled roller coaster ride. This effects us in so many ways. As mentioned above, it creates a huge amount of stress on the body. Because there is no fiber to slow the rate of absorption of the sugar, we get a huge rush of sugar followed by the inevitable crash. This wreaks havoc not only on our bodies but on our emotions as well. Have you ever witnessed the aftermath of a child’s sugar-high? It almost always ends in tears.

truffles2The Solution?

Always eat your sugars with fiber. I make a point in all of my cooking to ensure that I keep the dynamic duo together. The chocolate cake I bake is made with ground almond flour, stone ground millet, spinach and avocado. The frosting is made with fiber-rich coconut milk. The cookies are made with stone ground garbanzo beans and almonds, and the to-die-for chocolate truffles, which you will swear are the most decadent chocolate deliciousness ever, are made with dates and cashews. I have many, many more recipes on my site that maintain this same simple principle.

By incorporating these fibers into our sweet treats, we don’t need to give up our great love of sugar. Rather, if we make sure to eat fiber in combination with sugar,  we can have a happy mouth AND a healthy body.

 

Originally published on my website, Tapp’s Tips

Are You Fat Enough?

Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 1.07.36 PMIt’s time to change the way you think about fat. For the past 30 years well-meaning diet gurus have preached that eating fat makes you fat. I’m here to tell you that fat, in and of itself, is not what is making you fat.

Instead, it’s eating too much of the wrong types of fat. After all, all fats are not created equal. But, if you are like 90 percent of Americans, you are eating the wrong type of fat most of the time. It’s time for an oil change!

What is Fat?

Fat is one of the body’s most basic building blocks. The average person is between 15 to 30 percent fat! (Men should be 10-20% fat and women should be 20-30% fat). Of all of the types of fats in our diets, the body only REALLY needs two – omega-3 and omega-6. Our bodies manufacture all the other fats we need.

What is an omega fat? The omega numbers (in this case 3 and 6) refer to where the hydrogen atom joins the fat molecule. Remember, the name is just basic chemistry lingo. What is important to understand is the impact of different types of fat on the body.

The higher quality the fat, the better your body will function. That’s because the body uses fat you eat to build cell walls. You have more than 100 trillion cells in your body, and every single one of them should be constructed of high-quality fat.

How do you know if your cells are getting the fats they need? Your body sends signals when it’s not getting enough good fats. It’s up to you to recognize the warning signs:

  • Dry, itchy, scaling or flaking skin
  • Soft, cracked, or brittle nails
  • Hard earwax
  • Tiny bumps on the backs of your arms or torso
  • Achy, stiff joints’
  • Depression
  • Memory problems
  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Diabetes
  • Weight gain
  • Cancer

Why does the type of fat matter? Building your body from the inside out is just like building a house. You can frame the house with the cheapest stuff you can find or you can invest in quality materials that are going to be energy-efficient and last a long time.

Recognizing Which Fats to Eat and Which to Avoid

Most processed foods are made with poor-quality omega-6 fats from refined processed vegetable oils because they are abundant and cheap. Plus, fat makes food taste good and improves its texture. Take a look at the ingredients of your favorite packaged food.

If the list includes oils made from corn, soy, cottonseed or safflower you are getting a sub-par fat. When the body puts these cheap fats to work, the cell walls also become sub-par. That means instead of being flexible and responsive to inter-cellular communication, cell walls are stiff and rigid. The more rigid the walls, the slower the cell functions and the more vulnerable it is to inflammation.

To ensure your body has the fats it needs to construct high-quality cell walls, you need to eat more omega-3 fats. For starters, cell walls made from omega-3 fats are flexible allowing cells to respond more quickly to messages.

Secondly, these “good” fats help the body churn out prostaglandins, hormones that cool off inflammation. The best places to find omega-3 fats include small cold-water fish – such as wild salmon, sardines and herring, organic flax and hemp seed oils, walnuts, Brazil nuts, and sea vegetables.

Your body is designed to run on high-quality fats. Scientists suspect that early humans ate almost equal amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 fats. Hunter-gatherer humans got their omega-6 fats from seeds and nuts. And their omega 3’s came from eating wild game and fish and foraging for wild plants.

But, as people began to refine oils from plants, the ratio became skewed more toward omega-6. As a result of fats being out of balance in the modern diet, our bodies are more vulnerable to diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

When the human diet contained a balanced number of omega-3 and omega-6 fats, heart disease was almost nonexistent. Cardiovascular disease is now the number one cause of death in the world.

Body Boon

The more omega-3 fats you eat, the easier your body cools itself. A cool body is a less inflamed body. And inflammation is at the root of nearly every chronic disease, especially those impacting the brain and the heart.

Of all the body parts dependent on high-quality fat, the brain is uniquely vulnerable. That’s because it is made up of 60 percent fat, the biggest portion of which is an omega-3 fat called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Your brain needs DHA to spark communication between cells. Easy access to high-quality fat boosts cognition, happiness, learning, and memory. In contrast, studies link a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids to depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, and even violence.

After the brain, it’s the heart that will thank you for eating more omega-3s. The heart is a direct beneficiary of omega-3 fats. They tamp down cholesterol by reducing levels of bad fats (triglycerides). Meanwhile, they raise levels of good fats (HDL) in the blood. Part of their magic is that omega-3 fats make blood more slippery, which reduces the likelihood of artery disease.

Beyond the heart and brain, eating the right fat also helps you shed fat. Healthy cell walls made from high-quality fats are better able to metabolize insulin, which better regulate blood sugar. Without proper blood sugar control, the body socks away fat for a rainy day. Ironically, it’s not eating fat that makes you gain weight it’s eating the WRONG types of fat.

How to Know Your Stats on Fats

The great thing about modern medicine is having tests, which can alert us to any imbalances in the body. One test in particular I recommend  is not only really useful, but is also super simple! I work with a lab called Omega Quant, which has excellent testing protocols using evidence-based scientific research on fatty acids. I love this test because you only need a quick blood spot to get detailed results and you do it all from the privacy of your own home! The main result generated in the report will be your Omega-3 index.

In a show I did with Dr. Oz on omega-3 fats, we tested his audience – over 80% of the audience were deficient in omega-3 fats and had many of the symptoms and diseases associated with this deficiency.

I did my own test – and thankfully my omega-3 index is fantastic – that’s because I have had insider information for years on what to eat and what supplements to take.  See my report here.

There are other fatty acid percentages and ratios given in the report, which set this company apart from others on the market. However, I mostly care about three results which are important to monitor for maintaining health and preventing chronic disease. Generally, it is essential to know:

  1. Your omega-3 fatty acid index
  2. Your ratio of omega-6:omega-3 fatty acids
  3. Your level of trans fatty acids

My nutrition coaching team will send your results to you with personalized feedback as well as instructions to improve your ratios. I have personally trained them to look for functional levels in order to provide you with the absolute best care to optimize your health.

Since our modern diet is so empty of omega-3 fats and the traditional sources such as wild fish are increasingly contaminated with toxins, especially mercury, I recommend using omega-3 fat supplements. But I only recommend the highest quality, best absorbed purified and tested forms to get all the benefits without the risks.

When you do the Omega Quant Test my nutritionists will provide you with personalized nutrition advice to optimize your blood levels of these important fats. Learning more about what is going on right in your very own body could not be any simpler! And, it is actually really fascinating to watch and see how your diet and lifestyle directly impact your results.

 

Originally published on my website, DrHyman.com

The One Diet That Can Cure Most Disease: Part 1

Red, Yellow, GreenIf I told you there was one diet that could cure arthritis, fatigue, irritable bowel, reflux, chronic allergies, eczema, psoriasis, autoimmune disease, diabetes, heart disease, migraines, depression, attention deficit disorder, and occasionally even autism and that it could help you lose weight quickly and easily without cravings, suffering, or deprivation, you might wonder if Dr. Hyman had gone a bit crazy.

But it’s true. And the story goes like this.

Food is medicine. Bad food is bad medicine and will make us sick. Good food is good medicine that can prevent, reverse, and even cure disease. Take away the bad food, put in the good food and magic happens.

The problem with current medical thinking is that it treats diseases individually, requiring specific diagnoses and labels: “you have migraines,” “you have depression,” “you have psoriasis.” And then you get the migraine pill, the antidepressant, and the immune suppressant.

What if you didn’t have to treat diseases specifically or even need to know their names? In fact, I often see patients—like one I saw yesterday—who came with 20 pages of analysis from a dozen doctors from the Mayo Clinic. Her “diagnoses” were “muscle pain, fatigue and insomnia,” and she had been given no recommendations for treatment. Not very helpful!

I recently saw a patient treated at Harvard by multiple specialists. She was on 42 pills a day for severe allergies, asthma, and hives. She even died twice and had to be resuscitated after anaphylactic shock. In just a few short weeks, simply by changing her diet, she got off all her medications, and her allergies, hives, and asthma were gone.

Another patient, who suffered for decades with reflux and irritable bowel and whose symptoms weren’t controlled with acid blockers and “gut relaxers,” got complete relief from his symptoms one week after changing his diet.

What if you could just treat the whole person with dietary changes, upgrading the information given every day to your body through food? Food is information carrying detailed instructions for every gene and every cell in your body, helping them to renew, repair, and heal or to be harmed and debilitated, depending on what you eat. What if you could send messages and instructions to heal your cells and turn on healing genes? And what if, by some simple changes in your diet, you could get rid of most of your chronic symptoms and diseases in just one week (or maybe two!)?

That is entirely possible. Some people call it detox, Some people call it an elimination diet. I call it the inclusion and abundance diet.

I call it UltraSimple!

The best part of this approach is that you don’t have to trust me or any “expert.” You simply have to trust your body. It will tell you very quickly what it likes and doesn’t like.

If you are constantly putting in information that is making your body toxic, sick, and fat—hyper-processed industrial junk food, sugar, flour, chemicals, additives, MSG, high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, artificial sweeteners, inflammatory foods, or what I call anti-nutrients—it acts like poison in the body. It inflames your gut and your cells leading to whole-body inflammation that you experience as pain, allergies, headaches, fatigue, and depression and that leads to weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease.

This one diet, The UltraSimple Diet—getting the junk out, getting inflammatory foods out, adding healing, detoxifying, anti-inflammatory foods—has the power to heal in a way that medication can’t and never will be able to.

I have used it for decades with tens of thousands of patients with remarkable results. We are beginning studies at Harvard that will look at how to tackle the toughest diseases with a simple change in diet.

This approach can work faster and better than any medication. The power of this simple diet change—getting rid of the bad stuff and putting in the good stuff—can often reverse the most difficult-to-treat medical problems and give people the experience of profound wellness, even if they don’t have a serious illness. It is something everyone should try just once. Most of my patients say, “Dr. Hyman, I didn’t know I was feeling so bad until I started feeling so good.”

Let me share a story, one that is very common in the world of functional medicine, which is the science of treating the roots causes of disease, the science of creating health.

One patient, a medical school professor and doctor, came to see me after struggling for years with psoriatic arthritis. He was crippled by pain and inflammation, despite taking powerful immune-suppressing drugs, including an ibuprofen-like drug, chemo drugs, and a drug called a TNF alpha-blocker that suppresses the immune response so much that its side effects include overwhelming infection, cancer, and death. Still, he wasn’t better, and at 56 years old, he was planning to quit. He couldn’t operate any longer and could barely walk up the stairs. He had psoriasis all over his skin, and it was destroying his joints. He also had reflux, depression, canker sores, constipation, and trouble with concentration. His liver function tests were abnormal, and he was overweight.

He had a horrible diet. He ate oatmeal with milk and sugar for breakfast, tuna with soup and cookies for lunch, and fish or meat with vegetables and potato or pasta for dinner. He snacked on cookies and protein bars. He avoided chocolate and fatty foods. He ate out more than five times per week and craved sweets and caffeine, consuming three to four cups of coffee and one diet soda per day. He drank about 12 alcoholic beverages per week, including wine and the occasional scotch.

So, I put him on The UltraSimple Diet, getting rid of industrial food, caffeine, alcohol, and sugar and adding whole, real foods. I also got rid of the most common food allergens and sensitivities.

At his first follow-up visit, he arrived pain-free and said he hadn’t felt so good in years. He reported an 80% reduction in pain, could climb stairs more quickly, and was no longer limping. All his pain and stiffness were gone. His hands had been swollen and difficult to open, but now, the swelling was gone and he could operate again. And he had quit all his medications after the first visit (even though I told him not to). His reflux and migraines were gone. His mood had improved, and he was less irritable. He was no longer constipated. And he lost 15 pounds.

If there is one thing I could encourage everyone to do, it is to take just one week to see just how powerful a drug food can be. There is nothing to lose but your suffering. It doesn’t take months or years to see change. It happens in days or weeks.

In my next blog, I will explain exactly what this diet is, why it works, and how it heals your body. And I will show you how to get started.

Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below—but remember, I can’t offer personal medical advice online, so be sure to limit your comments to those about taking back our health!

 

Originally published on my website, DrHyman.com.

Why Cooking Will Save Our Lives in the Face of Obesity, Diabetes, and Addiction

ginger chickenThe cure for what ails us—both in our bodies and in our nation—can be found in the kitchen. It is a place to rebuild community and connection, strengthen bonds with family and friends, teach life-giving skills to our children, enrich and nourish our bodies and our souls.

Yet, in the twenty-first century, our kitchens (and our taste buds) have been hijacked by the food industry. In 1900 only 2 percent of meals were eaten outside of the home; today that number is over 50 percent.

The food-like substances proffered by the industrial food system trick our taste buds into momentary pleasure. But our biology rejects the junk forced on our genes and on our hormonal and biochemical pathways.

Your tongue can be fooled and your brain can become addicted to the slick combinations of fat, sugar, and salt pumped into factory-made foods, but your biochemistry cannot handle these foods, and the result is the disaster we have in America today—70 percent of us are overweight, and obesity rates are expected to top 42 percent by the end of the next decade (up from only 13 percent in 1960).

Today one in two Americans has either pre-diabetes or diabetes. In less than a decade the rate of pre-diabetes or diabetes in teenagers has risen from 9 percent to 23 percent.

Really?

Almost one in four kids has pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes?

Yes, and, perhaps even more shocking, 37 percent of kids at a normal weight have one or more cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or high blood sugar, because even though factory food doesn’t necessarily make you fat, it does make you sick! The food industry taxes our health and mortgages our children’s futures. Obese children will earn less, suffer more, and die younger.

It is time to take back our kitchens and our homes. Transforming the food industry seems like a gigantic undertaking, but it is in fact an easy fix. The solution is in our shopping carts, our refrigerators, and our cupboards—and on our dining room tables. This is where the power is. It is the hundreds of small choices you make every day, choices that will topple the monolithic food industry.

We need a revolution. Cooking real food is a revolutionary act.* We have lost the means to care for ourselves. We have now raised the second generation of Americans who don’t know how to cook. The average child in America doesn’t know how to identify even the most basic vegetables and fruit; our kids don’t know where their food comes from or even that it grows on a farm. Cooking means microwaving. Food “grows” in boxes, plastic bags, and cans. Reading labels is supremely unhelpful in identifying the source of most foods—the ingredients are mostly factory-made science projects with a remote and unrecognizable lineage to real food.

We are brainwashed into thinking that cooking real food costs too much, is too hard, and takes too long. Hence, we rely on inexpensive convenience foods. But these aren’t so convenient when we become dependent on hundreds of dollars of medication a month, when we can’t work because we are sick and fat and sluggish, or when we feel so bad we can’t enjoy life anymore.

The average American spends eight hours a day in front of a screen (mostly the television) and spends more time watching cooking shows than actually cooking.

Convenience is killing us.

In fact, real food can be inexpensive. Choosing simple ingredients, cooking from scratch, shopping at discount club stores, and getting produce from community supported agriculture associations (CSAs), community gardens, or co-ops all build health and community and save money. Europeans spend nearly 20 percent of their income on food, Americans only about 9 percent. Food is the best investment in your health.

I believe in the power of collective intelligence. Within my community are hundreds, if not thousands, of unheralded chefs experimenting with food and creating extraordinary meals and recipes. Within our individual and our national communities is the cure for what ails us. We are the answer. We are the revolutionaries who will change the face of food in America and around the world.

Yes, we need to change policy in order to change the food we grow and to subsidize real food instead of the walls of processed fat, sugar, flour, and trans fats that line our grocery and convenience stores. Yes, we need to end food marketing to children. We need to make schools safe zones for kids with only those products and activities that support healthy minds and bodies. There is no room for junk food or factory foods in schools. Period.

Yes, we need all that and more to take back our kitchens and our health. But each of us can start at home with a kitchen makeover. Three simple actions can change everything:

  1. Do a fridge makeover.
  2. Do a pantry makeover.
  3. Do a shopping cart makeover.

My book, The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook gives you advice on what to keep and what to discard from your fridge, pantry and shopping cart. It also provides recipes—gathered from our own community of health and cooking revolutionaries—to delight your palate, stimulate your senses, and nourish your body and soul.

The recipes are designed to be made, shared, and enjoyed with friends and family. Think of this book as a roadmap to pleasure and health.

Once you have taken back your kitchen, then you can start something really revolutionary.

Find eight (or so) people you would love to know better or spend more time with. Invite them to start a supper club—once a week or once a month. Rotate dinners at one another’s houses. Share the cooking by creating a potluck, or take turns choosing some favorite recipes from this cookbook and preparing a feast for all. At each dinner pick a topic—about food, health, or community—to discuss. Then let the juices flow. The stew of food and friendship will nourish you deeply.

In this way—one by one, kitchen by kitchen, community by community—we will take back our health together!

* Pilar Gerasimo and her 101 Revolutionary Ways to be Healthy inspired the idea that cooking is a revolutionary act. To learn the other 100 revolutionary ways to be healthy, go to revolutionaryact.com or check out the app.

 

Originally published on my blog, DrHyman.com.

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