Dr. Mark Hyman and The Pegan Diet on Shades of Health Podcast

I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Mark Hyman days before the launch of his newest book, The Pegan Diet. For those that don’t know, Mark is a practicing family physician and an internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator, and advocate in the field of Functional Medicine. He is the founder and director of The UltraWellness Center, the Head of Strategy and Innovation of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, a thirteen-time New York Times best-selling author, and Board President for Clinical Affairs for The Institute for Functional Medicine. And if that isn’t enough, he is the host of the uber-popular health podcast, The Doctor’s Farmacy. 

In this episode, we explore:

  • What is the Pegan Diet (5:15)
  • Ideologies around specific diets and why rigid dietary dogma may not be as good for you as you think (20:37)
  • Why personalization is one of the key principles of the Pegan Diet (22:22)
  • Phytochemicals in meat? Yes! (28:21)
  • Regenerative agriculture principles (38:44)
  • Eating for longevity (44:22)
  • And so much more!

Connect with Mark Hyman, MD

How to get the book, The Pegan Diet:: 21 Practical Principals for Reclaiming Your Health in a Nutritionally Confusing World


2:30 – Mark Hyman’s bio 

5:15 – What is the Pegan Diet?

8:05 – Phytochemicals and macronutrients

10:13 – The 7 systems of functional medicine

12:44 – Pegan Diet pyramid

14:22 – Macronutrient breakdown of the Pegan Diet

15:31 – Importance of quality in food choices

17:49 – The energy-sensing pathway AMPK

20:14 – Principle: “If God made it, eat it, if man made it, leave it”

20:37 – Don’t let your ideology trample over your biology. Ideologies around specific diets and why this may not be the right approach for everyone

22:22 – Principles of the Pegan Diet:

1) Food is medicine

2) It’s all personalized – meaning you have to figure out what works best for you as an individual. The Pegan Diet lays this out for you 

25.50 – The key to aging is building healthy muscle

26:25 – Not all meat is the same

28:21 – Phytochemicals in meat? Yes!

31:14 – Explanation of symbiotic phytoadaptation

33:10 – Seasonality and locality of foods

34:33 – Soil depletion and the complications of organics

38:44 – Regenerative agriculture principles

44:22 – Eating for longevity: 4 principles to focus on – 1) Insulin resistance 2) Disease-fighting foods 3) Building muscle 4) Intermittent fasting


– Hello everybody, welcome to the inaugural podcast episode of Shades of Health on Dr.ChrisShade.com. This week we are going to have the illustrious Mark Hyman MD, almost everybody out there knows him, as one of the main founders of Functional Medicine and a big guy in food as medicine. In fact, he has a group called Farmacy, a podcast called Farmacy with an F, because of his food is medicine approach. So we’ll be talking about his new book, “The Pegan Diet.” Now, if you are used to looking at the world out there of diets and wondering, God, what do I do? It’s vegan, it’s Paleo, it’s all veg, it’s all meat, no, I gotta do keto, oh, I need an autoimmune. I can’t touch a legume, that’ll kill me. What do I do? “The Pegan Diet” then is for you. It is the most balanced and rational approach to dieting. And it includes both the phytonutrient side of the plant-based diet. Here he calls it a plant rich diet and all of the things that go with that and these phytonutrients are all what are called AMPK activators. These build up your metabolic flexibility and your metabolic integrity. And this is also something that happens when you’re intermittent fast. So we can bring together intermittent fasting, which he recommends with the phytonutrients. But then we’re gonna also allow the meat-based proteins for their ability to do so many things, bring so many different other chemicals into you. Even you’ll find out that sometimes they have phytochemicals in them, but they will be able to drive muscle mass. So, we’ve got the power generating animal protein and we’ve got the clarity of the plant protein. So listen, now we will dive in with Mark, to find out more about The Pegan Diet. All right, so welcome everybody. Very excited and very filled with gratitude, to have on our first aired podcast, not our first recorded. James Maskell was the first recorded but yours will be the first to go out and we have the infamous Mark Hyman, MD. And we will be talking about his new book, “The Pegan diet.” And just a quick bio on Mark Hyman because nobody knows who Mark Hyman is. In fact, there’s this woman across the street from me was going on and on. She’s like, “Do you know Mark Hyman?” I’m like, I know know Mark well. And she’s like, “No.” So Mark is a famous one. Mark is a practicing family physician, and internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator and advocate in the field of Functional Medicine. In fact, Functional Medicine is very synonymous with Mark because it grew as Mark was really the face of it. He is also the founder and director of the Ultra Wellness Center, which is in Massachusetts the head of strategy and innovation for the Cleveland Clinic Center for functional medicine. That is an incredibly important achievement to get functional medicine out of the, oh, we’re different than mainstream medicine. Into the mainstream clinic. And it’s been great watching this all develop. And you know, I’ve been fortunate to be somewhat of a part of him using some of the things that we’ve developed here. He’s also a prolific writer, a 13 time New York Times bestselling author board and board president for clinical affairs at IFM. And he the runs a very important podcast called the Doctor’s Farmacy. And you’ll see him on “Dr. Oz”, “Good Morning America”, “The View”. But the point of the doctor’s Farmacy, spelled with an F, is that food is medicine. You don’t necessarily have to go for the pharmaceuticals. Let’s go to the food for medicine. And as part of that, he is developed right now because there’s all of this, it’s the binary tendency of the human to be… Well, is it this or is it that? Are we vegans or are we Palio? And hence the Pegan diet. So welcome Mark.

– Oh, thanks, Chris. Great to be here. Great to see you.

– Yeah, it’s great to see you. And I just said before we got on how good you look, you’ve been out in Maui writing… Are you writing another book?

– Oh yeah. Oh, cant’ stop. It’s just a disease. I’m write-aholic.

– Write- aholic and really in all of that, I went to graduate school with a guy who was just such a perfectionist. It was like such a painstaking thing to write. And I’ve been trying to like loosen up a little bit, my father wrote 15 books. You’re gonna be on 15 with this one.

– No, this is 17.

– This’ll be 17?

– Yeah.

– Jesus.

– No, I think I maybe 18. I don’t know, I gotta check. I can’t really keep track.

– That’s awesome. So “The Pegan Diets” what is it? How did it get here?

– Oh my goodness. Well, you know, we are all in a terrible mess because we’re all nutritionally confused. There’s a million different diet camps, everybody’s fighting with each other. And so the worst in red and blue sometimes. And at the end of the day, the consumer, the average person just is completely sort of some monks about what to do. And I think the reason I called it “The Pegan Diet” was really to poke fun at the diet Wars and the diet extremes. And to sort of talk about how there are some common nutritional principles that really are the foundational for everybody. That’s why the book is called, “21 Practical Principles “for Reclaiming Your Health “in a Nutritionally Confusing World.” And I sort of came up with the title because I was sitting on a panel with a paleo doc, and a vegan cardiologist and they were fighting back and forth. I said, they’re gonna kill each other. And I’m like, “Well”, I was literally in the middle. I said, “If you’re paleo and you’re vegan, “I must be pegan.” And then everybody started laughing. I’m like, “Oh, that was a funny joke.” And then I thought about it on the way home, when I was on the plane I’m like, “Wait a minute, they’re identical.” They’re actually the same in everything except for one thing, which is where to get protein, animals, or grains, or beans. They agree on eating whole foods. They agree on ultra processed foods. They agree on low sugar and starch, on good fats, on lots of vegetables and fruits and nuts and seeds. And I mean, I’m not eating GMO, and not any pesticides and hormones in any biotics in your food and no five pounds of food out of it. And even they both agree we shouldn’t eat dairy. Well, that’s another conversation but that’s how similar they are. And I realized, well, you know, all of these approaches to improving our diets or health are similar in the sense that they focus on eating real whole foods. And that’s what really we have in common, and far more in common with each other, than with the traditional American diet. Also known as the sad diet, the standard American diet. Which is 60% ultra processed food from three crops. Basically corn, wheat, and soy that are turned into all sizes, shapes, colors of ultra processed, pulverized food-like substances that we should never be eating.

– Yeah, and you’ll see, as we go through this and we’re going to resolve the two, especially as we get to the end, when we get to talking about longevity you’re gonna see that for longevity, you need all the phytonutrients, which we’re gonna talk about next, and all of the things that we do. And so we’ll talk extensively about that but you need protein, or your muscles are going to waste away Especially the older you get, the more tendency to sarcopenia. And that’s why you need both of them. And it’s not true.

– I’m trying to get my protein shake after we do our podcasts.

– Yeah, there you go. Because you’re working out like Mad over there. And he got to have a lot, so you can build muscle. So I wanna start with a quote from the book because I really liked this. It says “food is far more “than calories or energy to fuel our bodies.” It is information, instructions that regulate every function of our bodies in real time.” And regulation is something that’s big, and European especially German biomedical medicine, or biochemical medicine, where they’re trying to get the body to regulate its own processes. And we find when we move away from food, as just this fuel to the phytonutrient side of it, we see that the phytonutrients, are the ones that are coming in and giving us all the cues on how to run metabolism. And you say, this is plant rich, versus being plant based. And then go on to talk about deficiency. So deficiencies, how is it gonna be if we’re deficient in macronutrients versus phytonutrients?

– Well, we all are very familiar with the raw materials for food that we should be consuming, protein, fat, carbs, vitamins, minerals, fiber, that’s pretty much what we talk about, when we talk about having nutrition, when you’re in the hospital, and you can’t eat and your stomach’s not working they give you intravenous nutrition, and it’s basically fats, and carbs, and protein, and vitamins minerals, that’s it. But it turns out, that humans evolved eating 800 different species of plants. And the plant kingdom has 25,000, maybe more. We’re just discovering these phytochemicals, which are these plant-based compounds that are found in all the colors of food, Red, blue, purple, yellow, green, et cetera. And these are things that we’ve co-evolved with. And we use these molecules, not in a sense of approaching a fat or carb or vitamin and mineral but we use these to regulate or improve all of our bodily functions. So from a functional medicine perspective, there are seven key underlying systems that drive all disease. And if they’re out of balance, you get sick. If they’re imbalance for healthy turns out phytochemicals are involved in modulating every single one of these systems and have tremendous power to optimize gut health, immune health, mitochondrial function, detoxification, your circulatory system, your hormones and communications and your structural system. And we literally could go through each of these functional systems, and map out how this food or that food, or this molecule, this molecule from phytochemicals does the job. Whether it’s glucosinolates from broccoli that helped you detoxification or polyphenols from cranberry and pomegranate that up regulates certain bacteria that prevent cancer or whether it’s resveratrol that regulates serotonins in the mitochondria that help promote AGM, so we can go on and on about all the minutia of the science but the science is so profound. In fact, the Rockefeller foundation is now paying a hundred, a couple hundred million dollars to map out the periodic table of phytonutrients, which is so exciting.

– That’s fantastic. Yeah, that’s great. Let me just hit for people. We’re not gonna go into them one by one because you’ll see how it would dance around them. But these seven systems of functional medicine and when I first saw that I’m like, “Is this going to be circulatory, digestive?” Circulatory is the only one that you’ve ever thought of. So number one is the gut micro bio. And it turns out the gut microbiome is extensively regulated by the plant side of your diet. Both the fibers feeding it, and the phytonutrients. The polyphenols, we used to think, “Wow they do so much for us.” but they don’t absorb. Well, it turns out those are regulating. The second one is the immune system and inflammatory system. Now, I’d like that you put those back together, back to back. So that we know that it sort of cues you.

– It’s all one system, right? It’s all one system, it’s like everything’s connected. All these systems are now.

– Yeah. Then the energy system. So this is mitochondria making energy, but without them you don’t have an immune system. You don’t have a microbial control or inflammatory control. Then four is the detoxification system. Of course, without energy, you don’t have that either. And without phytonutrients, you don’t have that up regulated. The circulatory system is number five, the communication system, hormones and neurotransmitters is number six. And number seven, the cell membrane, one of my favorites and must go musculoskeletal structure.

– Yes, right.

– So, let’s talk about how you lay out the pyramid. So I love your pyramid. And if I were to describe it, the way, you remember the old food pyramid. Now this has seven layers, and it starts on the bottom, with non starchy vegetables. And then moves up to fats and proteins. Now, we know from the… And that’s the second biggest thing. And from the old food pyramid, that’s the smallest stuff. Then it moves to nuts and seeds, and getting smaller, fruits and starchy vegetables, then beans and legume, beans and grains, herbs and spices, and then recreational treats. So I do like that the recreational treats are on there because we all love those. And we just see those as the little bit and if you’re familiar with Mark’s work, he speaks so eloquently on the perils of sugar and that would be one of the recreational treats. It’s not that you’re never going to have any, but it’s in the tiny bit.

– Absolutely.

– And I noticed that you also allow things like beans and grains and you’re not afraid of legumes.

– Why would I be afraid of beans? They’re not

– Apparently, some camps think that that’s the end of your life.

– No, no, no. I mean, Steve Gundry was like if you pressure cook them, they’re fine and so forth. I think here’s the deal. Most of our diets should be plants by volume, by calories most of our diet should be fat. Now, you could eat 40 pounds of broccoli, and there’s no fat in there. And you’re gonna have a few tablespoons of fat and there’s a lot of calories. So you basically, by calories your diet should be predominantly fat, 40, 50, sometimes 60% fat. And probably 20% protein. And the rest carbohydrates, the carbohydrates you should be consuming, are non starchy vegetables. These are some things you can eat in unlimited quantities. And I have at every meal, I’d probably have three or four side dishes, and I just need a huge volume of food. ‘One, cause I like it, and I like to eat. And two, it tastes good. And three, you can eat as much as you want, ’cause it’s basically full of phytochemicals and you’re getting this phytochemical rich meal. Plus you’re getting all the fiber, plus you’re getting vitamins and minerals, plus you’re getting even some protein, and carbohydrates, and fats, and some of these things. So I think it was really important to understand that 75% of your plate should be non-starchy veggies. And then when I say fats and protein, you know I mean good fats. Like olive oil avocados, and you see that things are not always oily, macadamia oil, a little sesame oils is probably fine. But the key here is that is that by calories most of your diet should be fat. And then protein is important to the pushes, once it’s a quality protein. In each of these foods, in each of the groups, what I do in the “Pegan Diet”, is talk about the importance of the information in food and the quality of food. So if you’re eating a wild blueberry, or if you’re eating a store-bought, commercially raised blueberry, they taste very different. They look different, flavor’s different. And the photochemical nature of them is different.

– Very different.

– From getting a wild elk, or even a grass-finished bison from Montana that you can buy online, at reading a feedlot cow, same brand program or protein profoundly different effects on your biology. I mean, just the obvious one is, if you’re taking trans fat, which is a toxic basically shortening, that we shouldn’t be eating that’s mostly been ruled is not safe to eat by our government. And you take that gram for gram let’s say omega three fats, they have profoundly different effects on your biology. For example, the trans fat will bind to a receptor called PPAR that blocks your metabolism. That slows metabolism down, that causes insulin resistance that makes you inflamed. Whereas if you eat fish, which has… And again, gram for gram, the same amount of fat, it will bind to the same receptor, it’ll cause your metabolism to speed up, it’ll reverse insulin resistance and reduce inflammation. And that’s the important thing to remember. It’s the quality of the information you eat in every category whether it’s a nut, a seed, a bean, a grain, whatever. And grains are not all the same. I mean, if you’re eating American wheat, you’re eating dwarf wheat, which has been hybridized to contain the super starch called amylopectin, it’s got higher amounts of glide and protein and it’s why everybody’s gluten sensitive. It’s sprayed with glyphosate often at the end of harvest, which means you’re killing your microbiome, and causing potential cancer of the glyphosate and in deserved is something called calcium propionate, which basically causes autism in rats and makes kids kind of hyper and crazy.

– So yeah, that’s it.

– Or maybe you’re eating a different grain, which is Himalayan tartar buckwheat, which has grown in Himalayas, which Jeff Bland talks about. It’s the most powerful super food in the planet. It’s far higher in protein, lower glycemic load, and has 132 phytochemicals that rejuvenate your immune system. So you’re eating flour. They’re both flour, gram for gram, but the information is so different, and I think that’s what people really need to get. And every time you take a bite of food, are you upgrading or downgrading your biological software? And that’s about it.

– Yeah, so all right, so there’s a couple of big… We’ve been talking about phytonutrients and triggers. So I just wanna throw out a couple of them. Because it’s going to give us this hinge point, to see that no matter how we shift the macronutrients of the carbon, the protein, the fatty nutrients and the non starchy vegetables are gonna be the one thing that stays in there. And so you talked about PPAR, so there’s PPAR… Well first I wanna throw out AMPK. So AMPK is what is activated, when you run out of carbs, essentially. So when your carbs starved, or an Akido diet, or if you just go out and exercise a lot use up your free energy, you have AMPK activation. And that’s gonna start mobilizing resources, glycogen. It’s gonna increase your utilization of glucose, it’s gonna lower insulin resistance, it’s gonna make ketones, and it’s gonna bring with it, some of these other activators, like the PPAR, which increases lipolysis, and PGC-1-alpha which increases mitochondrial density. So all of that is creating this metabolic strength. And it’s also catabolic. So it’s sort of shifting you down, and cleaning you up. And cleaning up a lot of residue, that’s in your body. So that includes detoxifying foreign substances but also getting rid of metabolic waste that’s in the cell. So that’s this whole clean up switch. If we do that too much that brings with it what’s called mTOR blocking on autophagy. And that’s that cleaning up your own cells. Then when we have carbs and protein, we have mTOR and that builds out muscles. So, do you see a role for shifting, keeping the phytonutrients stable, and then shifting how deep you go in, with your carbs and protein? Or do you keep them all always sort of balanced?

– I mean, look eating is so confusing for people, and be like, “Oh, you can’t eat…”

– Am I confusing things more?

– I like to keep it really simple. Just, you know, I always joke and talk about what I used to speak at this churches. And when I was doing a lot of faith based wellness work and I still do sometimes. And I said, it’s really easy to figure out what to eat. Just ask yourself one question. Did God make this or did man make this? Did God make a Twinkie? No. Did God make an avocado? Yes.

– Yep. So if man made it, leave it, if God made it, eat it. And everything else pretty much, you can kind of forget about. And then the thing is if you were, can I eat fruits with my dinner? Or can I eat this with that? And it’s like, it just makes people crazy. And I think we’ll have enough trouble figuring out what to eat. So I just encourage people to eat real food, do their best. And then, you also have to personalize things because people can be ideologically attached to being a certain way, like paleo or vegan but it might not be right for them, So I’ve seen people who have morally, ethically, or philosophically, or for environmental reasons, or vegans, or even for health reasons but their health starts to deteriorate. Like a woman I saw yesterday, who’s been vegetarian, vegan for a long time. And she’s extremely protein deficient, iron-deficient, vitamin deficient, vitamin A deficient. It’s pretty efficient B12 deficient. It was really frightening how depleted she was. And I think, you know, it wasn’t good for her. So we had to design a way for her eating. And I got had to change her protein intake. We upgraded, I mean, if you plant proteins, you have to really eat a lot of plant proteins, in order to get protein. Yeah, so I got her a special protein shakes, ’cause you’re not gonna do… I’ve seen guys who were ripped when they’re vegans, but you when you talk to them, they’re like they’re not eating grains and beans. They’re pounding protein, highly concentrated processed protein shakes.

– Which is a funny thing. They have to get processed protein to get enough.

– Right, exactly. So I think, you know, really we can’t let our ideology trample over our biology, right? We can’t our beliefs, overrun what our body is telling us to do, or what it feels like. So I always say the smartest doctor in the room is your own body. Listen to what it’s telling you. I’m gonna eat grains and beans, that’s great. And your stomach’s blowing up, your small intestinal, bacterial overgrowth, and that causes leaky gut and you’re having an autoimmune disease, but I wanna eat beans and grains. Well, probably not the best idea for you. That doesn’t mean somebody else who’s healthy or it feels good, or is adapted to it, can do that. And that’s the other principle of the pegan diet. One is food is medicine. And two is that it’s all personalized. Like figure it out what works for you. The way to do it in the book.

– Okay, so there’s a system for going through and figuring out is it kind of like try this diet, see how you feel then try that.

– No, no. It’s very sophisticated. In the book I have a whole… One of the 21 principles, is leveraging personalized nutrition for your health. And then that’s really involved with, looking at your genetics, your own medical history, laboratory testing, looking at your hormone and metabolic profiles, and food sensitivities, looking nutritional levels, and even sometimes genetic testing. So we can really drive down I think in the future, Chris, you know these but we’ll be able to get a drop of blood, a bit of slide, a little poop, boom, right at the machine. And like, you’re going to get a print out of like here’s what you need. Here’s the foods that work well, here’s the ones that don’t, here’s the kind of exercise should do. Here’s my sleeping, and here’s the kind of stress you can handle. And by the way here’s the 14 vitamins you need because of your pathways that’ll need a little tweaking, and it’s this form of vitamin, and you’ve got to buy Christmas special vitamins though.

– That is how it’s gonna be. But for now, if you’re having a hard time with the diet and you’re not finding your health right away, you’re gonna have to go to a functional medicine practitioner. One that really knows how to get through all that lab work.

– It’s true. But I always say, I just remember this patient, who basically read one of my books. She was very sick and she came to my office and I said, “How are you doing?” She said, “I’m great.” I’m like, “Well, why are you here?” She says, “I was really sick nine months ago “but it took nine months to get an appointment. “And I saw if I just follow the instructions in your book “on what to eat and I’m all better “but I thought maybe you’d have something else to tell me. “That’s why I came today.” So what I’ve found is that, I’ve been able to help so many people using the Intel Inside, the food is medicine Intel inside, to drive people toward profound changes in their health without me ever seeing them in my life. And I think that’s an important thing to realize that you literally by herself by just trying to reset. And I talked about how to do a cleanse, detox and reset. How do you turn your body back to its original factory settings? How do you basically hit the reset button like you do on your computer when that little ball spinning around and kind of reboot? Well, there is a way to do that. And you take out the bad stuff and you put in the good stuff. So a few simple practices and then you’ll know like, God, my migraines are gone. My irritable bowel is gone. I’m sleeping better. My secretary is better. My skin cleared up. My eczema’s gone. I’ve lost 10 pounds. My blood sugar normalized. You know, very quickly, my rheumatoid arthritis pain is gone. And one guy came up to me in a lecture, he’s like, “Dr. Hyman, it’s possible in 10 days, “my rheumatoid arthritis can go away?”

– So yeah. And that’s what I was getting, is I think people can do a lot of this stuff on their own without having to go to a doctor. And if they just follow your general principles and the balanced eating after the reset, things should go pretty well. But if it’s not, or if they want to have this more specialized ideological diet, then they might have to work with some of the get all the labs to figure it out.

– Yeah, listen, it, yeah. If you are like, “Listen I gotta be a vegan.” Then make sure and I talk about it’s even a chapter in the book. How do you be a healthy vegan? Because it’s not as easy as you might imagine. There are just inherent issues with it around food things you can’t get from plant foods. And also the protein issue which you mentioned earlier, as we’re younger, we can tolerate a little bit less protein. As we’re older, we need far more protein in order to create muscle. And the key to aging is healthy muscle.

– Yeah, even Valter Longo, who’s like, wants you to eat almost nothing says, “Well, when you get to 60, “then you’re gonna have to eat more “and you’re gonna have to eat more protein. “And that specifically, “so you can drive this this protein building side.” So let’s bring up the scary question.

– Beans till you’re 60 bison after?

– Yeah, I guess that’s what he’s saying. I like to start a little bit earlier with bison. So it brings up the big question meat, and you have your chapter meat as medicine. And I liked that because in traditional Chinese medicine, there’s all these cures that involve, well now you got to get some meat. you got to throw herbs, or find the concentrated phytonutrients into the meat soup to fix things. And so that’s your approach to meat basically.

– The key here is to understand, that not all meat is the same. And then a lot of the data we have, is based on feedlot meat, and often studies that are complicated and done in ways that can’t really prove cause and effect. So we have sort of problems in the literature. So you can find whatever you want, whether meat is going to kill you or it’s going to save you. But what I really found from looking at literature, is it’s more like what Russ Conser said, he said, re-regenerative agricultural farmer said, “It’s not the cow, it’s the how.” So, and if you take a kangaroo meat, they have this on Australia. ‘Cause it’s sort of a lot of kangaroos and they harvest them, and they sell wild kangaroo. If you give people kangaroo meat ran program approaching the same as somebody from feedlot meat, and you measure their biology. With the Kangaroo meat the inflammatory markers go down, and with the kangaroo meat, the inflammatory markers go down in the body with the feedlot meat they go up. So, and what’s even more interesting is that, when you look at grass fed beef, yes it has better fatty acid profiles, more omega three versus omega 6, more antioxidants like catalyze superoxide dismutase, more CLA which is an important fat that helps regulate metabolism as well also kidney cancer. So a lot of benefits. Plus it’s nicer for the animals, and it’s less harmony the environment, and blablabla. The most striking thing is, is work by Fred prevents and others at Duke University which have really looked at this phenomena of phytochemicals in meat, which seems like an oxymoron.

– I bet that in there. And I wanted to hear more about that.

– Yeah. In fact I have an article here I was just about to read. It’s called health promoting phytonutrients, a higher and grass fed meat and milk. And what’s fascinating is that they’ve found that animals left to forage on themselves, on a variety of plants. So it’s not just eating one it’s not even one type of grass but there’s maybe a hundred different types of plants. And they literally seek out through their own natural intelligence based on flavor and whatever other intelligence they have which is far greater than ours to seek out plants that have the right medicines, and the right phytochemicals to heal them and the right nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. So eating literally hundreds of different plants. All those are medicinal. And those phytochemicals can go into the meat and milk. For example, if you’re eating goat milk, or drinking goat milk, and you have goats that have been foraging On all sorts of shrubs, and different plants they can have high levels of catechins as green tea. In other words, these are the powerful anti-inflammatory chemicals, the anti-toxifying chemicals, anti-oxidant chemicals in green tea, which is why green tea is so great. But imagine getting like your same amount of these chemicals in goat milk. Now that’s just one example but there are many, many others. And I think we have to sort of shift our state, thinking about the quality. And this is the whole principle of the Pegan diet. Chris, is quality, quality, quality? So like I gave the example between trans fats or fish oil or the ample of between modern wheat or Himalayan buckwheat. And I could just go on and on. The key is, whatever you’re eating, whatever grain, or bean, or vegetable, or fruit, or nut, or seed, or meat, or chicken, or fish, or whatever it is. It’s different if you did a pasture-raised egg. I went to New Zealand a number of times and I get the eggs there and I’m like, “What is this thing?” It looks like a supernova sunshine ball inside. And I’m like, “What is this?” It was really like this incredible sunset, as opposed to this pale yellow thing, that’s kind of weird. And you know, you try to push on the yoke, and it won’t break. And you’re like…

– It’s amazing and they’re searching out things that regulate their metabolism, and they’re passing them through, to help regulate your metabolism.

– Well, that’s the point, Chris, you know what’s really fascinating is humans are lazy. So biologically lazy. And so we don’t make vitamin C, we don’t have to make vitamin C, we get it from the plants. Most other animals make vitamin C. And so we really are in this wild scene where, we have grown and evolved with these plants, but they have not been considered as essential or necessary in our biology. But I think they are. And I think the process I’ve sort of coined the term years ago called symbiotic phyto adaptation. So we’ve evolved symbiotically with plants, and have adapted our biology, to their phytochemicals to run better. So yeah, you might not die tomorrow if you don’t have turmeric or you don’t have broccoli but at the end of the day, your quality of health, the quality of your life, and the quality of your biology, is going to be much degraded if you don’t include these phytochemicals in your diet.

– And then there’s another layer of that, that goes back to eating local. Is that the plants according to the year, and the season, and the stressors of the season will differentially modulate their expression of the phytonutrients. So the more you’re eating locally, they’re bringing you into that year, that season, in your region.

– Yes. it was fascinating. I studied a lot of Eastern medicine, and Tibetan medicine is fascinating. You know, the Tibetan doctors, they are all monks. They go to school for like 11 years, and they have to memorize the texts. And then, when they go into the practical aspect, they don’t go to the hospital. They go hike up in the Himalayas, and they have to know which season, which day to harvest which plant. ‘Cause the same plant harvested at different times of the year will have different properties. And then know which medicinal qualities it has based on, where it grows, how it grows, when it grows. And I think we are so far, and that’s what even within just one plant. We’re so far away from that in our relationship to food. So yeah, I think, you know, here I am in Hawaii and I’m eating a lot more fruit than I normally do. I mean, like all this tropical fruit, like passion fruit, and cherries and guavas, weird things. Egg fruit, things I never even heard of before.

– You’re probably feeling great, and you’re eating more sugar than you have in 10 years.

– Yeah, you know I’m eating, obviously overall healthy, but I definitely am enjoying it and I’m feeling great on it. And it’s all local and…

– Yeah, and that’s the problem. And you know, one of the things that I wanted to touch on, is seasonality and locality. And so it is, one of my friends does adaptogens, and he says, each area we’re an adaptogen grows, it has the phytonutrients to adapt you to that area. So Rhodiola grows at 13,000 feet and you use it for altitude sickness, and things like that. And so I like bringing the herbs from different places, and giving us that adaptive capacity but getting the local ones is super important. But they go with seasonality. And we get a little bit lost in going to the store, and okay I gotta get all these vegetables, and getting all these vegetables that aren’t even remotely in season. So how do you feel about trying to keep, with some of the rhythm of the seasonality?

– I think it makes a ton of sense, right? I mean, if you’re living in the North pole, you’re gonna be eating, whale, blubber and and if you’re living on a tropical Island, you’re eating coconut, and eating fish. I think it just makes sense. And I think that there’s, interesting science around chronobiology, and what we eat when and where, and I, you know I think we don’t really know, I think enough about the science of local eating, but it just inherently makes sense. And also the problem now with food supply, is that the soil has been so damaged that there’s no organic matter anymore. And without organic matter, meaning life, microbes, and plant roots, and all kinds of stuff. Without all that stuff, the good stuff in the soil, the nutrients can’t get extracted. And so you end up with vegetables and plants, that are so depleted. So if you think I’m eating broccoli, I’m doing so great. But if it’s a commercial broccoli, grown in the commercial way, with fields that have soils that have been damaged, and fertilized with nitrogen fertilizer and sprayed with pesticides, it’s gonna be so different than if you actually have a broccoli grown in Virginia farm where the chickens and the cows have pooped and peed the soil, 20 feet thick and there’s, 20, 15, five, 10% whatever organic matter in the soil. The science is there. You literally can see that looking at the mineral and nutrient content of plants 50 years ago compared to now, it’s far more than, than it is now.

– That’s really a big deal, and I was gonna bring this up to the end but let’s just do it now ’cause we’re there. And that’s the difference between just USDA organic versus regenerative. And I want to give roughly a quote, it was a story. Before I was this guy making these nano lipos humble deliveries of phytonutrients. I was an organic farmer. I was a biodynamic organic farmer on the East Coast before there was USDA, I was NOFA certified.

– Oh, NOFA, yes.

– Yes, Northeast Organic Farming Association.

– I remember NOFA. Back in the day, Vermont.

– Yeah, ’cause I was in Rutland, Massachusetts. I was out naked in the woods. And to get your certification you had to prove that you were building the soil microbiome, that you were building a soil ecosystem. And like the enemy to them, was chicken manure as a fertilizer because it really didn’t have… It wasn’t feeding the microbiome. It was just really almost like a chemical fertilizer. And I went to a conference, PASA. Pennsylvania Associates of Sustainable Agriculture, and Vandana Shiva was there, that was the first time I saw her. And this guy was given a keynote and he said, “You think that the year that you go into McDonald’s “and there’s an organic hamburger, “you think that’s a good thing, but it’s not. “Because there’s gonna be a progressive dumbing down “of the certifications till it becomes easier and easier “to stamp the word organic on there. So organic yeah, it means we’re not going to be dumping pesticides on there all the time, but it doesn’t specify any more that we are developing regenerative practices. I think the next year-

– Yeah, for sure you can have an organic farm. That’s industrial organic with these giant fields of organic lettuce or whatever. And they till the fields, they do all kinds of practices that actually cause erosion, they may not do cover cropping, the may not nature intercropping, they may not do crop rotations. They might just continue to beat the soil by putting in all kinds of extra fertilizer. And by the way, most people don’t realize that your broccoli is a carnival. That for all these people are grabbing organic this, and organic that and vegetables, in order to grow those. And I remember being in the Brooklyn Grange, which is the biggest rooftop farm in America on top of it’s a Navy yard in Brooklyn. And I walked around and they had this soil, this organic vegetable, there was a growing I’m like, this is beautiful. How do you deal with the soil up here? How do you keep it healthy? Oh, we get bone meal, we get oyster shell. So basically you’re like grinding up animal parts putting it on your soil, in order to get the vegetables to grow. So that’s a whole another conversation. But the key here is that, we need to think about agriculture in a very different way, which is how do we build healthy ecosystems, right? And that’s what regenerative farming is. And there are many ways to do it. And there are many types of regenerative agriculture, what’s really important to understand, is that there some core principles. one is you never leave the soil bare. So always cover crops. ‘Cause you don’t want soil erosion.

– Cover crops are just for the audience. Cover crops you might sow down like a leg room pee your vet that just grows up for a little bit and covers the soil, and later you leave till it in for organic matter into the soil, or you’ll just let it fall down and this stuff grows through.

– That’s right and then there’s crop rotation. So, some crops deplete nitrogen from the soil and some add nitrogen, like the beans, for example. And then there’s always leaving the roots in the plant. So no tilling, you just never get those peak tillage machines that rip the soil up. It’s like ripping up your skin. And then of course, everything kind of leaks out and we’ve lost a third of our top soil into the atmosphere. And that has led to one third of all the greenhouse gas emissions, since the industrial position when you think about it like-

– There’s two things with tilling one, is erosion. And the other as you stimulate, you bring a ton of oxygen in the soil, the microbes grow like mad, and they release all the carbon and CO2. So you lose a lot of the carbon you’re trying to so quest.

– Yeah. The soil is the biggest carbon sink on the planet. And most people don’t realize that, like we have a trillion tons of carbon in the environment carbon dioxide of that about 300 billion, is from the soil carbon that’s been released. So it’s like, wow. So we can actually put that back through regenerative agriculture. And the other principle is you have to integrate animals into an ecosystem because we built eight to 50 feet of top soil here. Not because of everybody being vegan in the 18, on the 300 hundred years in America, it was because we had 168 million ruminants roaming around bison, elk, analog, this and deer, all poop and peeing, eating, moving, digging with their feet all poop and pee and Eaton moving, dig in with their feet And we have like now, 90 million cows and we’re like, oh, that’s causing global warming. Yes, and feed lots, but not if we actually leveraged all the unused lands, at Bureau of land management, the lands that have been degraded. I mean, we took over some of the crop land that’s being used to grow corn and soy for animals. And we started doing regenerative agriculture. We could literally produce far more cows and actually have a reduction in greenhouse gases. So that’s why we are saying, it’s not the cow, it’s the how. So these are some of the basic principles, and the Rodale Institute, which is organic agriculture.

– I work there They’re like the OG gangster, OG of the organic movement. And then Patagonia and others are putting together a regenerative organic certification, which is sort of doubling down on these principles, instead of more industrial organically. How do you actually grow food that’s one better for you with more nutrients, better for the soil and the earth ecosystems, one that draws down carbon from the atmosphere, that conserves water, ’cause every 1% organic matter in the soil. you get 27,000 gallons of water health, so here’s no droughts and floods that can be bothering you. It prevents the news of nitrogen fertilizers mature by 400 million pounds are produced around the world. And that is driving huge amounts of destruction in our waterways because the nitrogen runoff kills all the sea life. And you end up with like the Gulf of Mexico, 212,000 metric tons of fish dead every year, which is great food that we just waste because we kill it with all the nitrogen. And we have of course, all the pesticides and herbicides and all the other harm. I mean, so it’s just goes on and on. So imagine like getting rid of all that, and producing better food, better for the planet, better for you, better for the animals. And the farmer makes 20 times more money .

– So what Rodale showed and that was part of this, it was called the farming systems trial, is that the organic can yield just as well as conventionally and in drought years, even better. But it takes five years to build the soil ecosystem by continuously growing the cover crops and digging them in. And just another little bit of love for the legume. That’s how you naturally get nitrogen that doesn’t run off, and doesn’t leach into the system, is you grow the cover crops of legumes they’re called nitrogen fixers. They put the fertilizer into the soil in the right form.

– But you know what, but Chris I’ve talked but I’ve talked to the farmers actually. I mean, I spend a lot of time with farmers. I’ve had them on my podcast. And they say, you know we were part of the soil health Academy and we go around America teaching farmers how to change over and they’re profitable in the first year. Like in the first year they’re making money. Like these are people who the average farmer in America loses $1,600 a year. They’re squeezed between the banks, for the crop and all the chemical loans, the crop insurance you have to buy it from the government, and the big seed nag company that they have to then spend all this money on to buy all the supplies. But all that goes away, you don’t have to buy your seed, you don’t have to buy chemicals, you don’t have to get a loan. You don’t have to…. I mean, it’s really quite extraordinary. And they make a ton more money.

– Yeah and there are more advanced. They were using a pretty simple farming system to flip over and make sustainable, but there were more advanced guys and there was a lot of them. I did this in Rutland. I took this acid sand into a usable soil in a year and a half. So, those techniques are increasing and getting much better. And so I’m glad that we’ve brought some more knowledge to that. And I think the more you support community agriculture, community supported agriculture, the more you can see exactly how the people are doing it and how regenerative they are. And that’ll be a big thing for us going forward. And so the last part of your book that I wanna run into because we’ve been doing a lot of work around longevity, eating for longevity, and in there, and this’ll bring up insulin resistance too, you’ve got four principles, focus on insulin resistance, focus on disease fighting foods, build muscle, which brings us back to protein, and intermittent fasting, which is a really important one, too. This is something that has that AMPK activation that metabolic flexibility. But you start with focusing on insulin resistance, and you’ll have a lot about insulin resistance, and is probably the number one issue out there. And you also use it as an entry point, into funding hormonal imbalances. So talk to us about insulin.

– Yeah, should I talk about this sort of unified theory of aging? And when you look at these age related diseases, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, high blood pressure, every single one of these every single one of these is related to this underlying biology of too much sugar and starch , Which drives belly fat, visceral fat, that’s the all the organ fat. And that is ’cause when you eat too much of it starts at jacks up your insulin to keep the sugar in balance. And that insulin, while it’s good in small amounts, in larger amounts is deadly because it drives all the available fuel in your blood into your fat cells. It locks them so they can’t get out. So it’s like a one-way turnstile. It slows your metabolism down. It drives all these inflammatory molecules called cytokines to flood your system, creating inflammation. All these diseases of aging are inflammation. And then it makes you hungrier and eat more carbs, is here in this vicious cycle of driving in some resistance. And in some resistance just means that when you need more and more insulin to actually do the job. So to keep your blood sugar low. And when you eventually, you kind of burn out, you end up with your blood sugar starting to rise, and your insulin rise, and then eventually your blood sugar goes so high, and your insulin kind of burns out in your pancreas, and that’s when you get diabetes. So we really are in an epidemic of this. We have a pandemic of COVID, but we have a pandemic of obesity and pre-diabetes. I mean, 88% of us, Chris are metabolically unhealthy. And that means some form of insulin resistance. So if you really want to look at it… And I remember walking at this longevity conference with these Nobel prize winners and all these guys, and I was like walking down it was in this country retreat. And I was walking down the sort of the dirt lane with Leonard Guarente who’s from MIT who sort of studied… The mentor, right. And so this guy who was basically the guy who sort of figured out that even if your mitochondria are damaged by sugar and starch, and that you’re, these are two wins and that you’re, you know, these are two wins with spiritual can help extend lifespan by a third. I said, so let her, like, what really is the deal with all this sirtuin that aging? He says sugar. And I’m standing with Siddhartha Mukherjee You know, and I’m standing with Siddhartha Mukherjee at a conference, and he’s the one of the leading cancer scientists and wrote a book called the “Emperor of All Maladies” and he said, “Mark, we discovered “some amazing discovery about cam.” Like what? He’s like, “What’s really causing it?” I’m like, “Yeah, sugar.” He’s like, “How did you know?”

– Anyways, he figured out the key to cancer is, Sugar.

– Getting rid of sugar. So it was like that. And so they’re using ketogenic diets to actually help treat stage four cancers like melanoma and pancreatic cancer and seeing complete reversals even at late stage cancers in animals. And they’re doing this in humans now. So it’s fascinating to see, this sort of understanding of even heart disease, two thirds of all heart attacks are in prediabetics or diabetics. And most of them are not diagnosed beforehand. So sugar and starch, if you’re gonna do one thing to prolong your life get rid of most of the sugar and starch some diet eat a low glycemic diet, upgrade the fats in your diet. And then the next part is the protein, right?

– Yep. But then let’s, you know throw the phytonutrients in there. This is the thing that’s fascinating me, and why I like doing these nano particles of these phytonutrients that put you into ketosis because AMPK is this thing that’s activated when your sugar is low, you go into a metabolic efficiency, to activating AMPK. And some of these things like mTOR, and PIPO Gamma and PGC-1alpha come after that. And so carb restriction does that, but every one of the great phytonutrients, including the adaptogens are AMPK activators and that’s what the spiritual and beriberi does. And that’s why all this high intensity further nutrient food is doing what it does. Just take that sugar out of the way put all these AMPK activators.

– Yeah, let’s try my mind and my new cocktail every morning I make for protein smoothie is basically a high phytonutrient bomb with protein, good fats, adaptogens, and… Yeah, it’s just an amazing cocktail. And I get so excited ’cause I’m like, “Wow, I’m having something so good for me.”

– All right, so your morning cocktail is the fighter nutrient bomb. And that is putting all of that clarity together and that does this autophagy in this cleaning up of everything. But then the flip side of that one, we wanna put the mask back on is mTOR forward. And there we need a little insulin and we need the branch chain amino acids. And the strongest one there for putting the muscle mass is the leucine, which is in the animal proteins and not so much in the vegetable protein.

– Yeah, as I said before, you can get enough from plant proteins but you really gotta pound the plant proteins, and you probably can’t do it from just, you know, beans and grains. As you get older you need to really focus in nuts and seeds. You need to focus on supplemental proteins that are plant based to date have been jacked up. So I’ve got this one that I use sometimes it’s just sort of a jacked up plant protein but I’ll often add, two scoops of got way and I’ll just sort of jack it up. ‘Cause I’m 61 now, so I have to double down on the muscle seen, and I’ve been using all kinds of phytochemicals, like you said like pure luthine A, which comes from pomegranate, it’s a cause of mytophegy and rebuilt muscle, so I’m sort of doing a lot of different things, but I think, I’ve doubled down both on the strength training and on the quality and amount of protein I’m eating. It’s not an excessive amount of I’m eating giant big steaks every day but I make sure every meal, I have a quality protein I think you need about 30 grams per meal for some of my size, maybe a little more to actually keep muscle synthesis going.

– Yeah, it’s really important. I’m 52 now. And I’m starting to sort of plan for that and get that all together. And like I said, I can see just the difference in the four months you’ve been out there working out and doing all the strength training I can see or Joel built out and, it’s like the frame’s stronger, the sinews are stronger. And so it’s an important thing. But the last thing that you have in there, is intermittent fasting. And so we said that fasting brings the AMPK activation, which brings that metabolic clarity, insulin sensitivity, and the plant compounds all do that as well. And so we can kinda, you know make sure we’re getting that clean up period. And then later in the day, get our protein and our strength training. In fact, if you do a little cardio in the morning while you’re still fasted you get more that AMPK activation, but strength training later when you got that protein flush coming in.

– Absolutely, I think, there are a lot of fads out there, keto, intermittent fasting, time-restricted eating, longer fasting, fasting mimicking diets, they all do the same thing. And they’re all give the body a break from eating for a little period of time, which allows the repair systems to kick into gear. It’s hard to go to the car wash while you’re driving the car .

– No, you guys clean up and get detox, to get all that.

– And what’s fascinating is you see the same pattern of biology changes. You see improvement in some resistance, you see increased muscle synthesis, mental clarity and cognitive function. You see reduced inflammation, increase in oxidant enzymes, increased STEM cells, increased bone density, all from just this short periods of cleaning up inside your body. When you take a break from eating. So you might want to eat within an eight hour period or 10 hour period, you might wanna skip eating for 24 hours once a week, you might do the fasting mimicking diet. You might try keto for awhile. But all these things are really important. We just not meant to be eating breakfast, lunch, dinner, three snacks, and some meal before bed. And that’s a recipe for disaster and disease which is why we’re all screwed.

– There you go. So yeah, I mean, I applaud you for being reasonable and bridging the gap between these two things and having those underlying principles, don’t eat too much, get tons of phytonutrients and we see how those fit together exactly. Tailor your proteins according to your needs, and then bring in all the other stuff, in a nice, balanced way. So it’s the first really balanced, usable, livable book on diet that I’ve seen. So thank you very much for that. And thank you for being here.

– Thank you. Thank you for having me. Good luck with your podcast.

– Thank you so much. We’ll be in touch, we’ll talk again soon.

– Okay, bye.

– Bye.

– Thank you all for listening to our inaugural podcast with Dr. Mark Hyman here on Shades of Health on Dr. ChrisShade.com. Sorry about the technical glitches. You know, it’s a long way from Maui to here. And so things were a little funny but you will get all of the understanding there. If you’d like this, please leave a review and subscribe and look for our next podcast and we’ll have lots of other exciting thought leaders from around the world. So see you next time.

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