Dr. Mark Hyman has a simple two-fold approach for improving both brain and body: take out the bad stuff and put in the good stuff. He pinpoints a few dietary elements as causes of major mental and physical problems, urging us to eliminate them from our menu: gluten and dairy, which he calls “staples of our American diet;” sugar and high-fructose corn syrup; trans or hydrogenated fats, which he calls “markers of poor quality food;” and artificial sweeteners.
“Hidden food allergies are a major unrecognized epidemic in the twenty-first century,” he asserts, adding that most of us fail to make the connection between what we eat and what we feel.
“Optimal nutrition is the most important factor in keeping your brain healthy,” says Dr. Hyman. “Feeding your brain is not something most of us know how to do.” He explains that most doctors know little or nothing about proper nutrition, something that is slowly beginning to change, as it becomes more evident that “vitamins and minerals are so essential for brain function and health.”
Pinpointing carbohydrates as “the single most important food for long-term health and brain function,” Dr. Hyman advises eating “real, whole food as it comes from the earth,” including fresh vegetables, fruit, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices, and lean animal protein such as fish, chicken, and eggs.
Ideally, should we eat only organic food? “It’s preferable,” he responds, “But not necessary. If it’s a choice of eating organic or getting off gluten and dairy, get off the gluten and dairy.” He also advises eating food that is as low as possible in pesticides, and recommends checking the website of the Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org), which lists the latest figures on amounts of pesticides in foods.