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Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?

A Review by Joseph E. Scherger, MD, MPH

It is important news for the healthy nutrition world when Mark Hyman, MD, comes out with a new book. Dr. Hyman is the director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine and chairman of the board of the Institute for Functional Medicine. He practices and directs the UltraWellness Center in Massachusetts and served as a personal physician to President Bill Clinton. He has 17 previous books, most notably the best-selling Eat Fat, Get Thin (2016).

In Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? Hyman surveys the latest science on all different types of food. He focuses more on food itself than the macro- and micronutrients, although these are discussed in detail, and promotes a “Pegan diet,” a term he coined as a cross between the vegan and Paleo diets. While he states we should eat mostly plants, he begins the book by discussing meat, poultry and eggs and continues to survey dairy, seafood, vegetables, fruit, fats and oils, beans, grains, nuts and seeds, sugar and sweeteners, and beverages. I did not find any new information here, but having the latest nutrition science all in one place is very helpful.

Hyman then discusses what things you should keep out of your food such as processing and additives. He makes a strong argument for eating only organics when possible and discusses what you can add to your diet such as spices (mostly good), salt (in moderation), and healthy condiments, dressings, vinegars and sauces, as well as unhealthy ones.

Hyman also discusses supplements and those that should be considered, but he rightfully puts them in a minor perspective compared with eating healthy food. The healthiest people on earth who live in the Blue Zones do not require supplements and eat only the foods of nature.

The book ends with a description of the Pegan Diet and how to eat for a healthy life. He covers how to detox from sugars and other high glycemic carbohydrates that are addicting and provides a lot of recipes, with more available on the book’s website: foodthebook.com.

My only criticism of this book is that Hyman starts out discussing meat, poultry and dairy which sends an implied message of priority. Since we should eat mostly plants, I think it would have been more appropriate to start with plant-based foods. As all the information is there, that is only a minor criticism.

This has been an incredible decade of new understanding and change in what constitutes healthy nutrition. Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? provides an excellent review of where we are today. I am eager to find out what is next!

Editor’s note: Dr. Mark Hyman is a featured speaker at Wellspring 2018 in Palm Springs October 26-28. For more information visit DesertHealthNews.com and search Wellspring.

Dr. Scherger is vice president of primary care at Eisenhower Medical Center. He is also the Marie E. Pinizzotto, MD, Chair of Academic Affairs, and Clinical Professor of Family Medicine at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine.

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