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Regulate Your Body to Heal Your Brain with Dr. Mark Hyman

Dr. Mark Hyman 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. He is the host of one of the leading health podcasts, The Doctor’s Farmacy. Dr. Hyman is a regular medical contributor to several television shows and networks, including CBS This Morning, Today, Good Morning America, The View, and CNN. He is also an advisor and guest co-host on The Dr. Oz Show.


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How can you use food to regulate your body, mood and heal your brain? 

We are experiencing increasing levels of depression, anxiety, aggression, and divisiveness in our society. While we can attribute this to a global pandemic and lack of human interaction, there is something to be said about the studies connecting the food we eat to our biological function. 

I am thrilled to welcome a very special guest, Dr. Mark Hyman, to the show returning to shed light on this topic and discuss his new book, The Pegan Diet

Mark is a thirteen-time New York Times bestselling author and Head of Strategy and Innovation at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine.

In this episode, Mark helps us understand the meaning of functional medicine and the seven systems in our bodies that are regulated by what we eat. 

Listen as he shares our brains’ tremendous ability to heal when we swap the bad food for good. Additionally, eating the right food works faster, better, and cheaper to heal your brain than any drug available.

*** Do you want to stay up to date with every new episode and get my brand new Kwik Brain Accelerator Program? Go to www.KwikBrain.com/podcast to get instant access. ***

"Food is the number one determinant of our biological function."


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  • Traditional medicine sees the body as many separate parts, i.e. brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, stomach, etc.
  • The body is not separate, it is actually an ecosystem. Your brain is connected to every biological function in your body.
  • All of the major brain issues, e.g. depression, anxiety, autism, ADD, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, start in the body, not the brain.
  • Functional medicine is very effective where other treatments aren’t because it addresses the root causes and addresses how the body affects the brain.
  • If, for example, you are trying to meditate or practice brain exercises, but you are mercury poisoned, or your vitamin B12 is low, or your microbiome is producing toxins that cause inflammation in your brain, it is going to be very challenging to achieve those goals.  In order to train your brain to be better, you have to address biology.
  • The biggest driver of changes in our biology is eating.
  • Food is the #1 determinant of our biological function.
  • Functional medicine is the medicine of why not what. Why do you have this disease, not what disease do you have and what drug should you use?


  • The body needs to be in balance for health to occur.
  • All 7 systems of the body affect the brain. Functional medicine looks at all 7 systems to see what is out of balance and finds out how to get it back in balance.
  • The digestion system: 
    • The gut-brain connection has shown that having an unhealthy microbiome can lead to anger, depression, sadness, or anxiety, while a healthy microbiome can make you happy.
    • Dr. Hyman shares about a 9-year-old little girl he treated who was very violent, kicked off the school bus consecutively and kicked out of class regularly. It turned out that she had a terrible overgrowth of bacteria in her gut and an overgrowth of yeast in her body. She never showed any symptoms of this. He cleared her gut of all the bad bacteria and implemented a simple, whole food diet and she completely changed. She was back to being her kind and sweet self by addressing the root cause of her problem.
  • The immune system:
    • Also known as the defense and repair system.
    • Things like depression, autism, Alzheimer’s, and anxiety are brain inflammation diseases that could be caused by allergens, toxins, microbes, gluten allergy, or other things.
  • The energy system: 
    • This includes the mitochondria.
    • Energy deficit in the brain leads to brain fog or lack of focus. This has to do with how our body produces energy from food and oxygen that can be interrupted by toxins, allergens, stress, microbes, and many other things.
  • The detoxification system:
    • Toxins in the body can have very adverse effects on overall health.
    • There are 287 known toxins in the average umbilical cord, 10 of which are neurotoxins.
    • Sometimes people experience severe depression or anxiety due to toxicity in the body.   Mark experienced depression, ADD, what he calls a broken brain, and chronic fatigue from mercury poisoning. By getting rid of the mercury, he got his brain back.

The circulation system:

  • The lymphatic system.
  • The hormone system: 
    • Hormone balance is critical to well-being.
  • Insulin regulates blood sugar.
  • The Dept. of Metabolic Psychiatry at Standford looks at the effects of sugar and diet on psychiatric illnesses. They have found profound changes by switching people’s diets and regulating brain function by getting rid of sugar and processed foods.
  • Other hormones like thyroid, adrenal, and sex hormones affect the brain and are all influenced by what we eat.

The mind/body system: 

  • Includes attitudes, social networks, community, and spiritual beliefs.
  • More on this in Mark’s book, The UltraMind Solution: How to Fix Your Broken Brain by Fixing Your Body First, here.


  • Food works faster, better, and is cheaper than any drug available. If you do the right thing in the right way at the right time for the right person, it is profound how they can be changed.
  • Your brain has an enormous ability to heal once you unload all of the junk and put in the good stuff. Metabolic psychiatry supports this.
  • One study found that swapping junk food for healthy food is as good as any other treatment for depression and improved behavior.
  • There are increasing levels of violence, aggression, and divisiveness in our society.
  • When you eat an ultra-processed, American diet, two parts of your brain are majorly affected: the limbic brain and frontal brain.  The connection between the frontal brain and limbic brain is severed so you become unable to regulate your mood and behavior.
  • Studies show in prisons, swapping junk food for healthy food can reduce violence by 56%.
  • When swapping out junk food in juvenile detention centers, there is a 91% reduction in violent behavior, a 75% reduction in the use of restraints, and a 100% reduction in suicides, which is the third leading cause of death in teenage boys.

The meals in Japanese prisons are highly regulated. They offer really simple, healing foods that change their brains and reduce violence.  This would be an amazing change to submit to the American prison system.


  • Take a screenshot of this episode, tag us on social media (@DrMarkHyman & @JimKwik), and share your greatest “aha!” moment from this episode with us.
  • Get your copy of The Pegan Diet, here.
  • Check out The Doctor’s Farmacy podcast, here.

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