Jay's Shetty's podcast guest is Mark Hyman, MD, a practicing family physician.

He is the founder and director of the UltraWellness Center and board president for Clinical Affairs of the Institute for Functional Medicine. In addition, he hosts The Doctor's Pharmacy podcast. Dr. Hyman is also the author of numerous books, including his most recent one, Young Forever. The Secrets To Living Your Longest, Healthiest Life. Jay Shetty invited him to On Purpose to discuss it in more detail.

Ultra Processed Food

In his book, Dr. Hyman wrote that for every 10% of your ultra-processed diet, your risk of dying increases by up to 14 percent.

1 This fact intrigued Jay Shetty.

Dr. Hyman explained the difference between processed and ultra-processed food. He believes eating canned goods such as tomatoes or sardines is fine. Ultra-processed foods refer to when natural ingredients have been processed and broken down into components.

The issue with this type of food is that it isn't natural for our bodies to eat it, Dr. Hyman told Jay Shetty. He said that from an evolutionary perspective, humans are wired to eat food that grows in nature, such as plants and animals. Yet, when we industrially process their components and re-assemble them into new shapes, colors and sizes, our bodies will react accordingly. As a result, diseases will arise, and changes in behavior will be noticed based on diet.

Dr. Hyman explained to Jay Shetty that unhealthy diets play a decisive role in developing age-related diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and depression. Violence and divisiveness in society are also driven by food. In an experiment, the researchers fed inmates nutritious food, and they recorded the changes in the prisoners' behaviors.

2 The outcomes were astonishing. As a result of a healthy diet, violent crimes dropped by 56 percent. Moreover, when applied to juvenile centers, the violence went down by over 90 percent. Furthermore, suicide rates have dropped by a whopping 100 percent.Quoting an Ayurvedic saying, Dr. Hyman told Jay Shetty that "When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use; when the diet is correct, medicine is of no need."

Young Forever

Dr. Hyman explained to Jay Shetty how living a healthy life encompasses more components than just diet. Food plays a vital role in our longevity, but unfortunately, we do many things that disrupt our ability to live and age well in our society.

The Blue Zones are a great example of cultures with the highest rate of centenaries worldwide. Dan Buettner identified five regions worldwide and studied them more in-depth in his book, The Blue Zone Solutions. Apart from feeding on local ingredients, the inhabitants also had a low-stress lifestyle. Dr. Hyman visited one of these locations in Sardinia and Icaria and conversed with the locals.

Besides a healthy diet, the inhabitants physically move daily in these areas. They don't necessarily go to the gym but live a life that forces them to move around. Moreover, the sense of community is deeply ingrained in their culture. Success is a common goal, not only on an individual level. There, everyone celebrates together and savors the small pleasures in life. Hectic is almost an alien concept to them.

So, in Dr. Hyman's opinion, Western society is a "disease-producing culture." He pointed out to Jay Shetty that "We live in such a chronically stressed life. We're sleep deprived. We're exposed to unnatural light at the wrong times of the day. We are exposed to an overload of environmental toxins. We have a horde of drugs we're being given that are destroying our microbiome, antibiotics and all the things in our foods apply that are damaging our guts."

The Basics

In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, James Friese found that in today's world, most people spend up to 20 percent of their lives sick.3 That means that it's a slow and painful death, compared to a quick and painless one of someone who was previously healthy for most of their life. It is what Fries called "compression of morbidity," delaying the illness's onset and decreasing the time between falling sick and dying.

The initial step is to look at your diet, exercise pattern, and stress factors. Nowadays, multiple tools can help with establishing healthy habits. When it comes to choosing the right foods, the choice is straightforward. Dr. Hyman explained to Jay Shetty that if the ingredient grows in nature, it is safe to consume. If it is manufactured, it isn't.

Moreover, Dr. Hyman explained to Jay Shetty that people need to consume more protein as they age. "Muscle is the currency of aging," he added. This is because humans tend to lose this tissue when they get older. Another way to retain muscle mass is to do exercises that involve bands or weights.

Body Clean-Up

When consumed, the innate defense system plants have helps our bodies activate their healing responses. However, humans weren't meant to eat all day long, Dr. Hyman continued. Fasting overnight for around twelve hours activates the body’s repair system..

Dr. Hyman told Jay Shetty, "We have hundreds of genes that help us adapt to starvation, but very few that help us adapt to abundance or excess, which we have now."

Other ways of increasing the immune system and helping the body regenerate are to visit saunas or take cold plunges. Studies from Finland have shown that taking a sauna a few times a week reduces the risk of death by up to 40 percent.


Change Is Possible

Up until his 60s, Dr. Hyman did yoga and biked. However, as soon as he changed his exercise routine and focused more on building muscles, his biological age reduced dramatically. He now has the body of a mid-forties man.We can reverse some diseases with the help of proper nutrition. Moreover, a Harvard study shows that the people with whom you have relationships heavily influence personal weight management.

5 If your friends are obese, there is a very high probability that you will be, too. "It's our social fabric that determines our behavior. The social threads that connect us are more important than our genetics," Dr. Hyman explained to Jay Shetty.

The power of community is another overwhelming factor when discussing a healthy life. As seen in the Blue Zones, Dr. Hyman described a program he offered at the Saddleback Church in California. They went through a live weight loss curriculum with the people in this community, and the results were astonishing.

Being accountable to a community that strives for a common goal is remarkable. So, Dr. Hyman suggested that the audience find a buddy when starting a new journey. This way, keeping on track will feel more manageable.

Changing Entourage

Sometimes you might find yourself surrounded by people with different values than yours. Once you understand this, you may need a change.Although uncomplicated in theory, changing the group of friends is no easy task. However, Jay Shetty has been part of various groups and understands the challenge.

He advised the audience first to find another group of friends who do the things they want to do. Then, spending more time with them will eventually lessen the time with your old group. And so, the transition will only come naturally.

Inflammation Diseases

In recent years, we have begun to understand more about biology. This is a fascinating area for Dr. Hyman.Some common diseases result from brain inflammation. These range from heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, to dementia. Yet Dr. Hyman wondered, "What if it's all the same disease with just different manifestations, like leaves on a tree, where the trunk and the roots are the same?"

Our bodies succumb to too much physical and psychological stress, unhealthy food, environmental toxins, etc. These are some of the causes of inflammatory diseases.

Similarly, it is crucial to supply the body with what it needs to thrive. We need healthy food, proper nutrition, light, fresh air, the right balance of hormones, purpose, sleep, etc.

Dr. Hyman shared with Jay Shetty that our bodies are well-equipped to digest sugar and carbs. However, they are struggling to break down the high quantities in which people consume them regularly, representing the onset of illnesses such as diabetes.

Dr. Hyman advised the audience to reduce sugar and starch intake drastically. At the same time, he recommended you increase the number of vegetables and quality proteins to improve longevity.

Natural Remedies

Multiple plants have medicinal effects. For example, green tea contains catechins, which are antioxidants. Moreover, pomegranates and red grapes are also beneficial to our health.In his book, Young Forever, Dr. Hyman explains how we can turn on the longevity switches of our bodies. He also teaches how to optimize each of them at the right time of the day.

Damaged Proteins

Human DNA contains many different types of proteins. Some smaller ones, like peptides, regulate the body's functions. Therefore, proteins are essential in sustaining life.Yet, they get damaged, injured, or misfolded throughout the years. One way of breaking proteins is by overconsuming sugar. It accelerates the aging process, damaging the proteins.

The body has a built-in repair system, which needs to be allowed to work. It involves the process of autophagy (cells eating up damaged cells), and it can also build up repair proteins.

Manual for Your Health

In his book, Dr. Hyman wanted to give the readers a manual on their health. It teaches them to detect what is wrong with their bodies and offers guidance on how to correct it. Moreover, it guides you towards creating health.A recent discovery is a biological clock. It is measured by looking at the person's DNA marks, called the epigenome. Like a piano player, the epigenome controls which genes (piano keys) are turned on, off, or expressed. The biological age is the sum of all the influences on your body—it encompasses all the food you ingest, the type of exercise, every thought you've had, every relationship you've been in, etc.

Dr. Hyman shared with Jay Shetty that while he is 63 years old, his biological age is 43. Studies have shown that anti-inflammatory dietary interventions, exercise, and life support can slow down or even reverse a person's aging.6

Mens Sana in Corpore Sano

Dr. Hyman shared with Jay Shetty what his book, The UltraMind Solution: Fix Your Broken Brain by Healing Your Body First, was about. It gave instructions on how to heal your brain by fixing your body first.Furthermore, he explained that strengthening the mind alone is not sufficient. Instead, he continued, "Set yourself up for dealing with your soul's evolution, with your spiritual growth, with healing your emotional life and trauma by setting your body up to function better."

So, his last book, Young Forever, is not about reaching hundred-twenty years but about activating longevity switches and feeling good. Doing the practices described in the book can have a "profound effect," as Dr. Hyman told Jay Shetty.

Furthermore, one clinical trial showed that changing from the American Standard Diet (SAD) to a Mediterranean one dramatically impacts one's mental health.7 The Mediterranean diet was associated with reduced symptoms of depression.Dr. Hyman shared with Jay Shetty that he now offers workshops worldwide to teach people how to change their diet and lifestyle. They last five to ten days, and the participants show up to a 70% reduction in all symptoms.

Brain Function Influences The Mind

Dr. Hyman told Jay Shetty about Christopher Palmer's book, Brain Energy: A Revolutionary Breakthrough in Understanding Mental Health—and Improving Treatment for Anxiety, Depression, OCD, PTSD, and More. Palmer was a Harvard psychiatrist who noticed his patient's schizophrenia disappear after he changed his diet.

Over the years, other mental disorders seemed to improve with a change in nutrition. There is a metabolic change in the brain that affects the mind. Having an imbalance can lead up to negative thoughts. This is the case, for example, with high blood sugar, which can lead to panic attacks, Dr. Hyman shared with Jay Shetty.

Eating highly processed food contributes to brain inflammation. Depression, autism, Alzheimer's, etc., are inflammatory diseases. The more we learn to heal our brain, the more chances we have to live a longer, healthier life.

Real People Healing

Dr. Hyman shared with Jay Shetty some examples of his patients whose mental health drastically improved after changing their diet.

One of the patients suffered severe depression. They had been struggling for years and couldn't seem to get out of this mindset. Then, Dr. Hyman discovered that they were suffering from mercury poisoning. Once mercury left their body, the depression also went away.Another patient had been in and out of mental health facilities for many years. They had their life crumble because of their mental health issues. No medication seemed to work. Yet a change in diet improved their mental state after only three days.

Dr. Hyman told Jay Shetty about a child suffering from ADHD, along with asthma and irritable bowel syndrome. After a complete change of diet, from junk food to nutritious meals, he improved. Not only could he focus, but all his mental symptoms were gone. Dr. Hyman explained, "His handwriting went from being illegible at 12 to perfect penmanship. And it wasn't because I gave him handwriting lessons. It was because his brain went from completely chaotic and disorganized to completely coherent and functional."

The Core Biological Systems

In his book, Dr. Hyman explains that the body is, in fact, an ecosystem. This concept has been around for thousands of years and has been given different names around the globe. People talked about yin and yang or the five elements. They can now be explained with modern terminology and show that the body is an ecosystem.

As a health practitioner, Dr. Hyman looks at body imbalances and tries to understand the root cause. Then, he would suggest actions to his patients to correct them. "We have the power to regulate our immune systems by what we're eating," he told Jay Shetty.

Young Forever is like an instruction manual for healing. It encompasses three big topics: why we age, what to do about it, and how to do it. It breaks down the actions systematically and simplifies the explanations so that the readers get clear guidance.

Never Too Late For A Change

Dr. Hyman shared with Jay Shetty the story of one of his patients in her mid-60s. She was suffering from kidney and liver failure and heart problems. She was severely overweight and had very high blood pressure. She participated in a group program where Dr. Hyman adjusted her diet.

Before changing what she ate, the patient's food always came from a box or a can and was seldom fresh. She lost 116 pounds in one year by making this simple shift, and her illnesses were reversed. She surprised her nephrologist, who had never seen a kidney failure flip before that.

So, Dr. Hyman told Jay Shetty that change is possible at any moment in time. A change in diet can rejuvenate you and give you more healthy years with your loved ones."There is no drug on the planet that works as well as food," Dr. Hyman concluded.

More From Jay Shetty

Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “Mark Hyman ON How Food Can Heal or Damage Your Health & Biological Secrets To Longevity” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.

1Rico-Campà A, Martínez-González M A, Alvarez-Alvarez I, Mendoça R d D, de la Fuente-Arrillaga C, Gómez-Donoso C et al. Association between consumption of ultra-processed foods and all cause mortality: SUN prospective cohort study BMJ 2019; 365:l1949 doi:10.1136/bmj.l1949
2Gesch CB, Hammond SM, Hampson SE, Eves A, Crowder MJ. Influence of supplementary vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids on the antisocial behaviour of young adult prisoners. Randomised, placebo-controlled trial. Br J Psychiatry. 2002 Jul;181:22-8. doi: 10.1192/bjp.181.1.22. PMID: 12091259.
3Swartz A. James Fries: healthy aging pioneer. Am J Public Health. 2008 Jul;98(7):1163-6. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2008.135731. Epub 2008 May 29. PMID: 18511711; PMCID: PMC2424092.
4Laukkanen T, Khan H, Zaccardi F, Laukkanen JA. Association between sauna bathing and fatal cardiovascular and all-cause mortality events. JAMA Intern Med. 2015 Apr;175(4):542-8. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8187. PMID: 25705824.
5Christakis, Nicholas A. and James H. Fowler. 2007. The spread of obesity in a large social network over 32 years. The New England Journal of Medicine 357, no. 4: 370-379.
6Johnson AA, English BW, Shokhirev MN, Sinclair DA, Cuellar TL. Human age reversal: Fact or fiction? Aging Cell. 2022 Aug;21(8):e13664. doi: 10.1111/acel.13664. Epub 2022 Jul 2. PMID: 35778957; PMCID: PMC9381899.
7Skarupski KA, Tangney CC, Li H, Evans DA, Morris MC. Mediterranean diet and depressive symptoms among older adults over time. J Nutr Health Aging. 2013;17(5):441-5. doi: 10.1007/s12603-012-0437-x. PMID: 23636545; PMCID: PMC4454450.
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