Tag Archives: Mark Hyman MD

Why You Should Never Eat High Fructose Corn Syrup

Renaissance physician Paracelsus famously said, “The dose makes the poison,” meaning that even harmless substances can become toxic if you eat enough of them. Many people ask me, “is high fructose syrup really that bad for you?” And my answer to this question is “yes,” mainly for this very reason.

In America today, we are eating huge doses of sugar, especially high fructose corn syrup.  It is sweeter and cheaper than regular sugar and is in every processed food and sugar-sweetened drink. Purging it from your diet is the single best thing you can do for your health!

In recent history, we’ve gone from 20 teaspoons of sugar per person per year to about 150 pounds of sugar per person per year. That’s a half pound a day for every man, woman, and child in America. The average 20-ounce soda contains 15 teaspoons of sugar, all of it high fructose corn syrup. And when you eat sugar in those doses, it becomes a toxin.

As part of the chemical process used to make high fructose corn syrup, the glucose and fructose—which are naturally bound together—become separated. This allows the fructose to mainline directly into your liver, which turns on a factory of fat production in your liver called lipogenesis.

This leads to fatty liver, the most common disease in America today, affecting 90 million Americans. This, in turn, leads to diabesity—pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. So, high fructose corn syrup is the real driver of the current epidemic of heart attacks, strokes, cancer, dementia, and of course, type 2 diabetes.

HFCS contains dangerous chemicals and contaminants

Beside the ginormous load of pure fructose and sugar found in HCFS, as an added bonus, it contains other chemical toxins.  Chemical contaminants used during manufacturing end up in the HFCS and in our food.  What we know, for example, is that chloralkali is used in making high fructose corn syrup. Chloralkai contains mercury. And there are trace amounts of mercury found in high fructose corn syrup-containing beverages. Now, it may not be a problem if we eat this occasionally, but the average person in the country consumes more than 20 teaspoons a day of high fructose corn syrup and the average teenager has 34 teaspoons a day. Over time, these heavy metals can accumulate in the body, causing health problems.

Additionally, when we look at the chemical components of high fructose corn syrup on a spectrograph, we can see that it contains many weird chemicals that we know nothing about. That’s why I say better safe than sorry.

Look out for the red flag

The main reason you should give up high fructose corn syrup is that it’s a big, red flag for very poor quality food. If you see this ingredient on a label, I guarantee you the food is processed junk. So, if high fructose corn syrup is anywhere on the label, put it back on the shelf. You should never eat this food.

If you want to stay healthy, lose weight easily, get rid of chronic disease, and help reduce the obesity epidemic, the single most important thing you can do is eliminate high fructose corn syrup from your diet and from your children’s diet. Just banish it from your house.

Purge your kitchen

I challenge you to go into your kitchen right now, go in the cupboard and refrigerator, and look at every single label. And I want you to count how many products you have right now in your house that contain high fructose corn syrup. Then, I want you to get a big garbage bag and throw them out and find replacements that are free of it.

If you want to have some sugar, that’s fine. Have a little sugar, but add it to your food yourself. Don’t eat food made with added sugar. Cut the high fructose corn syrup from your life forever. You’ll be healthier. Our planet will be healthier. And we’ll have a healthier generation of children.

Originally posted on my website, DrHyman.com

Finding the Cure for Chronic Disease

shutterstock-24-4b441131808-original-webA question I am often asked is, “Where can I find a doctor like you—someone who practices Functional Medicine?”

One in every two people in America has a chronic illness such as heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune disease, arthritis, depression, ADD, memory loss, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, migraines, allergies, asthma, or skin problems such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis.

Millions more have FLC (feel like crap) and suffer from fatigue, sluggishness, insomnia, or a general lack of vitality.

Despite the advances in conventional medical care over the last 50 years, this suffering continues without relief because of our symptom-focused, organ-focused, and disease-focused medical model.

Yes, the single biggest medical advance of our lifetimes is something most people have never heard of before, and it is the future of medicine.

We don’t want band-aids for our symptoms. We want to get to the root cause. We don’t want to be treated as a body part—we want to be understood as a whole person.

What many people are looking for is Functional Medicine…they just don’t know it. Functional Medicine is, put simply, the science of creating health.

Many people are searching for Functional Medicine doctors because they’re unsatisfied with what conventional medicine offers. They’re unhappy with the way conventional doctors think about their health. They’re discouraged by the focus conventional medicine places on just suppressing symptoms.

Functional Medicine creates an entirely different paradigm: medicine grounded in finding causes, not by treating symptoms. It’s medicine that addresses more than justwhere the issue is in your body (I call this medicine by geography) but how the issue manifests across core mechanisms throughout your body.  We begin by asking: what is the underlying mechanism… and how can we address the root cause?

The name it, blame it, and tame it game

Let’s say you go to your conventional doctor complaining of joint pain, a rash, headache, reflux, a runny nose, and congestion, your doctor will say, “Wait! I can only deal with one problem today, let me just take care of your reflux. He or she may then refer you to an allergist for your runny nose, a neurologist for your headache, and a dermatologist for your rash. Before long, you may find that you have a different doctor for every inch of your body.

This way of thinking about disease is completely wrong: it’s based on a diagnostic system that focuses on where the issue is located in your body—the geography—and the symptoms. We classify all of these discreet diseases and then we try to treat each one separately with a drug. We call this the name it, blame it, and tame it game in medicine.

For example, someone goes to see a doctor complaining of sadness, hopelessness, helplessness, low mood, no energy, poor appetite and poor sleep. Their doctor tells them they have depression, and prescribes an antidepressant. Guess what? Depression is not the cause of those symptoms; it’s the name we give to that collection of symptoms, and the antidepressant will do nothing to address the underlying cause. Depression is not a Prozac deficiency.

This way of treating patients is completely wrong. It’s the past. The future of medicine is understanding how your body functions, how it becomes imbalanced, and how to correct that balance. The future of medicine is looking at patterns and connecting everything together.

Connecting the dots

If the person we just discussed came in to see me, I would first ask, “What could be causing all of these symptoms?” The possibilities are many, but a cause can very often be found. It could be that you’re eating gluten, you have autoimmune antibodies against your thyroid and therefore have low thyroid function. It could be that you’ve been taking an acid blocker for 10 years and you have low B12 levels because your stomach can’t absorb the B12 when you don’t have stomach acid. That could be the cause of your depression.

It could be caused by the fact that you live in a northern climate and have a vitamin D deficiency. It may be because you’ve taken antibiotics that have disturbed the normal gut bacteria—the microbiome—which affect your neurotransmitters. It could be because you love sushi and eat it all the time that your eating habits have given you mercury poisoning. It might be because you hate fish and have an omega-3 deficiency, which also causes depression. Or, it could be because you love sugar and eat Cinnabons all day, that habit has led to insulin resistance and pre-diabetes, and this is the cause of your depression.

The diagnosis and treatment of each of those is quite different, even though they produce exactly the same symptoms. One disease can have many causes and one cause can create many diseases.

For example, one cause—let’s say gluten sensitivity—it can trigger all sorts of problems like osteoporosis, anemia, depression, irritable bowel, autoimmune diseases, cancer, or diabetes. You have to think about root causes. You have to think about underlying interconnected systems in your body to find the right solution: that’s the beauty of Functional Medicine. Once you’ve discovered the underlying causes, you take out the bad stuff and you put in the good stuff. When provided the right kind of medicine—your body has an amazing capacity to heal.

The future starts now

Many of you want to find a doctor who can think this way. Where do you look? The best way is to go to the website for the Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM) at www.functionalmedicine.org. Once there, enter your zip code and you’ll be shown a list of physicians in your area who have been trained to guide you according to the Functional Medicine approach.

The IFM trains physicians all over the world and offers a certification in Functional Medicine for graduating physicians. We are also now working with one of the top medical institutions in the world to create a Functional Medicine institute that will bring this to the world in a very big way, through education, research, and clinical care. Stay tuned: this is the future of medicine.

I encourage you to find a Functional Medicine practitioner who can help you address the root cause of your problems. You will fix the things that really bother you and, in the process, create good health. That’s the beauty of Functional Medicine.

Originally posted on my website DrHyman.com

Why You Should Take a Holiday from Dairy

Our current government guidelines recommend drinking three glasses of milk a day for every American over five.  For kids under five, Uncle Sam recommends chugging two glasses a day.  But is milk a health food?  Should we really be eating dairy?  Is there any real science behind this, or is this just the result of the powerful Dairy Council lobby?

Got proof?

I recently wrote a blog called Got Proof? The Lack of Evidence for Milk’s Benefits, which was based on a research article by Dr. David Ludwig and Dr. Walter Willett from Harvard, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  The study by Ludwig and Willett showed a lack of evidence for the government’s recommendations.  The Harvard scientists found no data to support the claim that the consumption of dairy leads to better bones, weight loss, or improved health.  They also found some serious risks tied to dairy consumption, including weight gain, increased cancer risk, and increased fracture risk.  It turns out milk does not build strong bones! They also found that dairy may cause other problems like constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, bloating, gas, diarrhea, allergies, eczema, and acne.

So, is milk nature’s perfect food?  Yes. If you’re a calf.

Dairy should not be a dietary staple

While it is true that some people can tolerate dairy in small amounts—for example, descendants from Northern Europe and people who don’t have allergies, lactose intolerance, or a leaky gut—it should not be a staple of our diet.  We should not be putting it on or in everything.

Dairy contains some very allergenic proteins, such as casein, which can be problematic for many people.  And to make matters worse, the casein that’s in our modern dairy—sourced from modern, hybridized cows—has been genetically altered, creating a much higher likelihood of inflammation, autoimmune disease, and even type 1 diabetes.  With this in mind, I strongly recommend that you limit the amount of cow-sourced dairy that you consume.

If you want to eat dairy, I suggest you try goat and sheep dairy, such as sheep cheese and yogurt or goat cheese and yogurt, both of which are widely available now.  It is also important to choose organic when you can, because pesticides and chemicals are concentrated in the fat found in non-organic dairy.

This leads to another frequent question I receive: “Is organic dairy OK?”   Organic cows are often milked while pregnant, producing milk that’s full of hormones.  In fact, the average glass of milk has 60 different hormones in it.   These are anabolic hormones, which means they help you to grow. But not all growth is good.  You don’t want to grow cancer cells.  You don’t want to grow big bellies.  You don’t want to grow in ways that actually may be harmful.

What to do about dairy:

  1. Take a dairy holiday for two to four weeks, and see how you feel.  Does your postnasal drip go away, and do your sinuses clear up?  Does your acne go away?  Do you stop having bloating, gas, and diarrhea?  Do you have more energy?  Does your eczema clear up?  Do your allergies get better? These are some very simple things you should notice when you eliminate dairy.  Then try eating dairy again, and see how you feel.  Do these symptoms return?
  2. Stick with sheep or goat dairy if you do decide to eat dairy again, but try to avoid cow dairy.

The bottom line is, I don’t agree with the government’s recommendations regarding dairy consumption, and neither do some of the top scientists in the world.   Dairy should not be a dietary staple and you should certainly not have three glasses of milk every day.  Don’t listen to Uncle Sam on this one – listen to your body and to the science.  You’ll know what’s best.

6 Steps to Healthy Cholesterol

Contrary to conventional wisdom, cholesterol is not the enemy.

The question on the lips of many Americans these days is, “How do I lower my cholesterol?” We’ve all been told that the secret to living a long, healthy, heart-disease free life is lowering your cholesterol. And believing that a low cholesterol count is the best way to prevent heart disease, doctors often prescribe medications like statins to keep these levels low. But these drugs can introduce a whole host of problems and may not even work.

The truth is, your body needs cholesterol in order to function properly. So, it’s not about having lower cholesterol; it’s about having the right type of cholesterol.

The important questions we should ask are:

  • How do I get the right type of cholesterol?
  • How do I lower my triglycerides and raise my good cholesterol or HDL?
  • What’s the best way to prevent heart disease without drugs?

Originally posted on DrHyman.com

8 Steps To Stop Your Nighttime Binges

Do you sometimes sneak a late-night snack, even after you’ve had a big dinner? Or worse, do you find yourself hungry and craving sugar and carbs at night? You may think you’re alone, but nighttime eating is a common problem.

Are you hungry after a big meal? Do you continue eating late into the night?

It is one of the biggest reasons we gain weight. We eat and go to bed and store all that food around our bellies.

Have you ever thought about why, not long after a big meal, you crave more food, more sugar, and more junk, and you want to have chips or sweets or other unhealthy foods?

It’s not a flaw in your personality. It’s not some emotional issue that you have to fix. It’s not some psychological trauma that you have to get over.

It’s simple biology, an imbalance of the hormones that regulate your appetite.

Originally posted on DrHyman.com

Detox For The Holidays Made Safe and Simple

1369381414_83633With the holiday season right around the corner, there is no better time than the present to fortify our diet and cement healthy eating.  Ironically, while healthy eating is our birthright, for many of us it seems like taking the plunge into eating a whole foods-based diet is the equivalent to traveling to some distant land.  But it doesn’t have to be such a scary or foreign experience.

In my work as a functional medicine doctor, my priority is to guide each patient through a safe, simple, realistic, and  pleasurable transition into healthy eating. Because whole foods-based diets remove all the sugary, fatty, chemical-laden, artificial stuff from the diet, they sometimes get called a detox or a cleanse.

Why is detoxification important?

When our bodies become toxic it means that our natural method of ushering out metabolic waste from normal human metabolism, environmental pollution, and what has become known as the Standard American Diet (or SAD) has exceeded the threshold for what the body’s innate detoxification system can tolerate.  With this toxic load, every system in the human body can become affected.  From our head to our toes and everything in between, toxicity makes us sick!

How do you know if you are toxic and need to properly cleanse?

Usually a constellation of complaints help to determine whether or not you are toxic and to what extent you need to cleanse.  Some examples of what might indicate a toxic system are:

  • constipation
  • persistent headaches, muscle aches, and muscle fatigue
  • inclusion of large amounts of swordfish, tuna, shark, etc. into diet
  • mercury fillings and dental amalgams
  • food allergies
  • stubborn weight loss
  • hormonal imbalances and consistent use of hormone replacement such as “the pill” or progesterone cream
  • consistent use of NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
  • skin abnormalities such as acne, rosacea, or eczema
  • a lifetime of consuming the SAD diet

To find out if you are toxic, take a look at The UltraSimple Diet.

How long should you stay on a cleanse? 

Typical cleanses that harness our body’s natural processes for filtering and removing waste tend to be gentle and can therefore  be tolerated for longer periods of time than more extreme protocols.  A safe cleanse is one which doesn’t make you starve yourself or take fancy pills, potions, or expensive drinks.

Safety means allowing the body to do what it wants to do naturally, with a little assistance from some guided healthy eating, appropriate supplements, and relevant lifestyle modifications.  I usually have my patients do a cleanse for 7 days to 6 weeks, or even longer, depending on their particular needs.  Work with a trained medical provider to help determine what length of time is right for you.

How to prepare for a cleanse?

Like we would plan for any big trip to a new destination, we need to prepare, plan, and set out some main goals for our journey.  And by the way, as in all travels, it’s always a good idea to leave some room for the serendipitous excursions to occur.  When handled properly, they can be the best part of a trip!  So how can we plan for a safe and simple detoxification protocol?

  1. Take some basic measurements before you begin to track your progress as you go through your program.  For example, if weight loss is your goal, measure your waist, hips, and record your weight.  If, migraines are an issue, determine the duration, intensity and frequency.  Keep a journal; this will help you in more ways than one!
  2. Make lists!  Organize your pantry, toss out the junk, gather recipes, sketch out weekly menus, make shopping lists for healthy foods you will be eating and formulate a cooking schedule to ensure you allot time to prepare food for the week.
  3. Use journaling as a way to “cleanse” your inner world and relieve yourself of mental and emotional stress.
  4. Gather any supplements you need to take that have been advised for you by your medical provider.
  5. Think about the kind of exercise that will best complement your end goal and plan for it in your schedule.
  6. Detoxification requires you to slow down.  Make sure you fit time for deep relaxation into your plan.
  7. Often, unsavory side effects appear in the initial phase of a cleanse.  Two side effects to look for and keep track of in your journal are:
  • Constipation.  Move those bowels!  Drink plenty of purified water.  Try warm water with lemon first thing in the morning.  Often, taking 300 mg of magnesium citrate is helpful or try an Epsom salt bath.
  • Food allergies or sensitivities.  These can be obvious or obscure.  But chances are, as your body lets go of toxic waste, it will be easier to recognize a hidden reaction to gluten, dairy, soy or any of the other common food allergies.

Common symptoms the first few days of withdrawal from a toxic lifestyle and the SAD (Standard American Diet)

The following symptoms are very common at the beginning of the program and should dissipate within the first few days. Don’t worry, these symptoms are indicative that your body is eliminating toxins and are a good sign!

  • bad breath
  • constipation
  • achy, flu-like feeling
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • hunger
  • irritability
  • itchy skin
  • nausea
  • offensive body odor
  • sleep difficulties (too much or too little)

These symptoms can occur for a number of reasons. First, eliminating food allergies and un-junking the diet causes reactions similar to withdrawal from other addictive substances like caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, or heroin. Note: We are often most addicted to the foods we are allergic to! Getting off those allergens can cause a brief, flu-like achy syndrome that may last one to three days. Second, toxins in our digestive tract may make us feel ill if we don’t eliminate them. The best way to get relief from these symptoms is to follow the recommendations below.

How to avoid withdrawal symptoms

Initially, those who consume the most caffeine, alcohol, and sugar, and those who have the most food allergies, will have the most difficulty. Symptoms usually disappear after three to four days. It is best to slowly reduce your intake of caffeine, alcohol, sugar, white flour, and over-the-counter medications (except as directed by your physician) a week or two before you start your program.

  1. Drink at least six to eight glasses of filtered water daily.  Stay away from plastic bottles; glass bottles are okay.
  2. To prevent headaches, make sure your bowels are clean.
  3. Fatigue is normal during a cleanse so allow more time for rest and sleep. To boost energy, exercise for 30 minutes a day.  Walking outside in fresh air is best.  Roll up those sleeves and let the sun hit you with some vitamin D!
  4. Take 1,000 mg buffered vitamin C with breakfast and dinner.  Take 300 mg magnesium citrate at dinner.
  5. Don’t wait until you are starving to eat!  Balance your blood sugar by eating protein-based meals and snacks every three to four hours.  Excellent sources of protein are baked or broiled fish, lean poultry, and legumes such as edamame or black beans.
  6. Heat is a great resource while cleansing as it helps draw out toxins from within.  Try a sauna or a warm bath with Epsom salts for 20 minutes a few times per week.
  7. While safe, these types of cleanses can still be stressful on the body and mind so remember to relax.  Actively engaging your parasympathetic nervous system helps restore your energy which your body needs to replenish itself.  Meditation, deep breathing, or any calming activity is good.
  8. Eliminate all refined sugars, flours, caffeine, alcohol, dairy, gluten, or addictive substances.  By allowing certain triggers to stay in the diet the body stays on the vicious cycle of cravings and addictive behavior.  Reset your biology to eliminate all triggers.
  9. Keep a journal and track your symptoms.  You should feel better in three to seven days.  If you do not feel well at this point, please exercise caution and check in with your doctor.
  10. Tune in to your body and listen to the cues it provides.  A cleanse is a great journey to learn more about understanding how to operate your very own owner’s manual!

Originally posted on my site, DrHyman.com

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