I had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Mark Hyman, MD recently. If you don't know who Dr. Hyman is you really should check him out. He is a family physician, a 4-time best selling author and an internationally recognized leader in his field. He writes often for the Huffington Post and speaks around the world on health and wellness.
He has committed himself to the practice of Functional Medicine and heads up The UltraWellness Center in Massachusetts where he is committed to helping people heal themselves by treating the underlying causes of illness not just cover up symptoms and stay sick.
He is such an incredibly empowering speaker! I was so impressed with his focus on nutrition, disease and how we can heal our bodies by changing what we put into them! If you ever have the chance to listen to him speak, I highly recommend it! In the meantime, be sure to check out some of his talks on YouTube.
I walked out of the meeting energized and enthusiastic to continue to put into practice what he talked about for my own health and wellness, but more importantly, to share with others what I had learned!
Dr. Hyman's 10 Tips for Health and Wellness
(my comments are in italics):
1. AVOID LIQUID DEATH.
We should all be avoiding high calorie/high sugar beverages. Soda consumption is the number one cause of obesity in children. Drinking 1 can of soda a day can increase risk of diabetes by 65% for children and 80% for women!
He did differentiate between drinking soda and drinking a smoothie made with healthy ingredients, of course. His point was to avoid consuming these drinks that are loaded with calories but contain little to no nutrition. I couldn't agree more. People seem to fill themselves up on sodas (even diet), juices, sweetened teas, etc. Avoid them…drink water, plain teas, naturally sparkling water with a splash of juice, kombucha tea, etc.
2. AVOID DEADLY WHITE POWDERS.
No, he was not referring to cocaine. 😉 Rather that we should be avoiding refined flour and refined sugar. He claimed that these items are highly addictive and on brain scans light up the same receptors as heroin!
When I started into Real Food, I had to learn to choose more nourishing ingredients for everything…including flours and sugar. It is a journey and it does become easier! I do, however, think everything needs to be in balance. I do not freak out when I confront white flour/sugar out at restaurants or at people's homes. I feel that since I keep a very clean diet most of the time, letting that go on occasion is just fine for me.
3. BEWARE OF FRANKENFOOD.
Most of the food in our grocery store is fake, essentially different variations of sugar, corn and soy products. These foods are toxic and our body does not know what to do with them. He included GMOs in his discussion of Frankenfoods, of course. Eat Real Food was the general message here!
I think this is one of the most important lessons when starting your Real Food journey. Most of the food in our grocery stores is fake and full of chemicals, additives and genetically modified ingredients. We are in the midst of an obesity epidemic full of all the lifestyle diseases that go along with it (type 2 diabetes, heart disease, etc). Read labels and choose products with ingredients that your grandmother or great grandmother would actually recognize.
4. EAT FROM THE RIGHT PLANT.
Taking a guide from Michael Pollan…If it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant (a factory), don't.
Yep. Enough said.
5. GET AN OIL CHANGE.
Most of us have been so scared about ingesting fat and are now fat deficient. Our brains are 60% fat and need to be nourished with healthy fats. Certain fats are not bad. Eating fat does not make you fat. The right fats are very good for you, such as Omega 3s, olive oil, coconut oil, fish oil. And, of course, avoid trans-fats.
When I started on my Real Food journey, this was really the most eye opening for me. I grew up right smack in the middle of the fat free craze. I would eat tons of fat free frozen yogurt, twizzlers, fat free cakes, etc. all thinking it was okay since it was ‘fat free.' It's very sad to look back on what that diet probably did to my body. I feel so much better now that I know (certain kinds of) FAT IS GOOD! Bring on the coconut oil!! He did not talk about butter, which I consider to be a good fat (as long as it comes from pastured, organic sources).
6. POWER UP WITH PROTEIN.
Many people start their day with a bowl of cereal, skim milk and fruit. This is loading you up with sugar and prepping you for a sugar crash. Try to have protein with every meal (especially breakfast). Animal protein from quality sources, nuts, seeds, eggs, beans are all good choices.
I try to have a protein source and a good fat source with every meal and try to have more protein rich snacks throughout the day. I definitely do not count protein grams or anything (nor was Dr. Hyman suggesting you do so). Many people eat refined carbs all day; foods that are essentially nutrient deficient. I definitely feel that making an effort to add protein (and a good fat) keeps me full of energy and well nourished throughout the day.
I had a discussion recently with someone who eats cereal and skim milk every day and he was appalled that I (very, very, very) occasionally let my daughter have my homemade ice cream (raw cream, pastured egg yolks, very little maple syrup and vanilla) topped with fermented berries for breakfast. I am very confident that her breakfast is 100 times more nourishing than his.
7. TAKE SUPPLEMENTS.
Now whether or not to take supplements is controversial with some people. Dr. Hyman recommended everyone take a good multivitamin, fish oil and Vitamin D supplements. He also recommended taking in some form: CoQ10, green tea, black pepper, resveratol, circumin, lipoic acid and carnitine.
I believe that, ideally, we should be able to get our vitamins and minerals from food. However, due to soil depletion, busy lifestyles, etc. some people find it necessary to take supplements. I regularly take a multivitamin to ‘cover my bases.' I also use CoQ10, a liquid iron supplement, fish oil and supplement with vitamin D in the fall, winter and spring. I add probiotics to the mix if I feel I am not getting enough through fermented foods. I also take a digestive enzyme with each meal that contains HCL and pancreatic enzymes.
(He added the question mark.) He made sure to focus on exercise as being important for strength and for other benefits. People thinking they can ‘exercise their way out of a bad diet', however, are poorly misinformed. It's what you eat (80%), not exercise that matters when it comes to your health and wellness. There are plenty of ‘skinny fat' people out there (people who look fairly thin but have lots of fat around their organs…putting them at risk for a variety of lifestyle diseases).
I feel that exercise is very important for overall health and wellness…but not to fix or correct eating patterns. I exercise to maintain strength and to feel good. It is important to be strong and fit and several studies (see below) have shown that maintaining strength leads to healthier aging. Too many people eat junk and then think they can exercise it off which is very faulty thinking. I think we should be able to carry our children, our groceries, etc. without hurting ourselves. It isn't about looking good in a bikini but being strong to absorb the forces we meet every day in our lives.
9. VALUE SLEEP.
I love this one! He said if you do not get enough sleep, you crave non nutritious, sugary foods. Less sleep increases your hunger hormones and puts a break on appetite control.
I think we can all relate to this. Whether you have flown overnight on an airplane, stayed up all night with a crying baby, or pulled an all nighter for an exam…when you are that tired, it is easy to reach for garbage food! Get enough sleep for your body! Your health and wellness is dependent on your sleep.
10. COMMUNITY IS THE CURE.
The environment we live in fosters good or bad choices. Who you hang out with might have more of a focus on gene expression than genetics. Wow! He posed the question: How do you change your behavior when no one else around you is changing theirs?
I thought this was great and true, especially when trying to eat real food or switch to a healthier lifestyle. Surrounding yourself with people that care about their health and wellness does help you to achieve your goals. Of course, no one is telling you to drop your friends but finding some people who have common interests can help you with your goal. If you find someone who is interested in trying new recipes, fermenting foods, going to the farmer's market it may help you maintain the changes you are trying to make to your lifestyle.
What are your thoughts? Have you ever listened to Dr. Hyman or read any of his books? What do you think of his 10 tips for wellness and health? Have any to add? Let us know in the comments section!
Sources for exercise and mortality: