Turning Point: Q&A with Mark Hyman, MD

Posted on April 7th, 2012 by in Nutrition

Doctor, heal thyself. That was what Mark Hyman, MD, set out to do when he was flattened by chronic fatigue syndrome. What he discovered what that information isn’t the solution—connection is.

Q Describe what you do in 15 words or less.

A Empower self-healing by addressing the root causes of illness using food as medicine.

Q Tell us about a turning point in your life.

A After working hard as a family doctor in a small town in Idaho, and then as an emergency physician in the inner city, I was hit with chronic fatigue syndrome. It made me stop, look at everything I had learned, and rethink disease, medicine, and health. That started me on my journey of self-healing and discovery of functional medicine, a powerful roadmap for solving the puzzle of chronic disease.

Q What do you love about teaching?

A I deeply believe that we can each be empowered to take back our health, to learn how our bodies function, the miraculous ways in which they were created, and how to work with them to optimize and enhance their natural functioning.

Q What are you passionate about right now?

A I have come to understand that information is not enough for change. Connection is the catalyst. Our society is suffering from a social disease, and we need a social cure. One in two Americans suffers from one or more chronic illnesses resulting from our environment (our way of eating, moving, thinking, and being as well as environmental toxins). Yet creating change depends on working together. Getting healthy together in community, supporting each other and working to change the social, environmental, and political conditions that drive illness is necessary if we are to take back our health. My new book, The Blood Sugar Solution, addresses the personal, community, and social solution to our obesity, diabetes, and chronic-disease epidemic.

Q What do you do in your downtime?

A Yoga is my first passion—it’s a way for me to restore, reset, and renew. A pastor friend of mine told me that those who work with their minds should rest with their hands, and those who work with their hands should rest with their minds. My rest comes in movement: hiking, playing, biking, tennis. My next favorite thing is to create delicious meals for family and friends.

Find out about upcoming programs with Mark Hyman, MD.

Have you ever suffered from a chronic illness related to diet or environmental toxins? If so, what tools did you use to heal—Western medicine, alternative therapies, community support?

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  • http://beyondmeds.com/ Gianna

    Western medicine sickened me, literally, so I needed to move away from that system entirely. I’ve used diet, yoga, meditation and minimizing toxins in other ways too…in skin products etc. 

    Connection with others who are on similar journeys to wellness has, like Hyman speaks to, also been vitally important. Sharing what I learn through experience and research via my own blog has also been critical and allowed me to be productive even when I couldn’t leave my bed. Slowly getting my life back. Once one has already developed chronic illness it can take a long time to regain health. The journey, though, is a rich one even if painful. 

    • KripaluEditor

      Thanks for commenting, Gianna,

  • http://www.linkedin.com/company/castlewood-treatment-center Elizabeth Miller

    way cool interview, I love it when people figure out that the American diet is not how we should be living. If the average person is now living to 100 in China and we’re only living to 78, there’s something wrong.

  • Margo

    I’ve spent the past 6 years battling chemical sensitivities and this past year was also flattened by chronic fatigue syndrome. When the chemical sensitivities started I cut wheat/gluten out of my diet and stomach problems went away but the sensitivities remained. After 8 months of hell this year I read about a diet that helped others with auto-immune disorders, and cut every possible inflammation causing food out of my diet – no sugars, high glycemic fruits, grains, eggs, legumes, nuts, seeds, or nightshade family foods. The end result is a simple diet of vegetables, grass fed/free range meat, and low-glycemic fruits and all of my symptoms went away in 1 week, including the chemical sensitivities. I told my doctor about it and his only advice to me was “keep following the diet”. 6 years of suffering and my doctor (who is generally regarded as a great doctor by his coworkers and other patients) didn’t care one bit. Western medicine is crap! Yoga restores my mind, a healthy diet restores my body. 

    • KripaluEditor

      Margo,
      That is exciting that simply altering your diet had such a phenomenal impact.

  • http://profiles.google.com/borchers.brian Brian Borchers

    My midlife crisis began six years ago with a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.  I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s absolutely critical for persons with diabetes to take control of this disease with a combination of strategies including diet, exercise, and medications.  It’s not enough to simply expect your physician to give you a prescription- you’ve got to make significant changes in your life.  I’ve also learned that these kinds of changes involve the creation of new habits and that this is a slow process- you shouldn’t expect to make radical changes overnight.  Rather, this is a process of personal growth than unfolds over a long period.  
     

    • KripaluEditor

      Brian,
      Thanks for sharing your experience of personal empowerment in being an advocate for yourself as you seek wellness. In Western culture, we often hope for a quick-fix, and those are usually not long-lasting.

  • Danielle

    I’ve been diagnosed and treated for major depression & chronic fatigue syndrome unsuccessfully for over a decade. I feel like I lost more than half of my life. I’m also a single mother and have not been the best one due to feeling like crap all the time. I finally came to the realization that I had to heal myself and take my power back from these doctors who were suggesting experimental brain implants etc… and the research began. I have been a vegetarian for 36 years…mostly a starch-etarian. I started doing hot power yoga, taking a B12 raw supplement and juicing… I’ve also noticed a link when I eat wheat, I get brain fog instantly. So I am in the process of eliminating that. All of these things have been a contributing factor, and I feel better than ever. I now live by the motto “let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food”. I know so many young people with chronic diseases and I wish their was a way I could convince them to stop popping pills and try a holistic approach. But as you know we are socially engineered from birth to put our trust into authority figures. So for now I can only hope to lead by example.