Comments on Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? By Mark Hyman MD

Joseph E. Scherger MD, MPH

It is important news for the healthy nutrition world when Mark Hyman comes out with a new book. Dr. Hyman is the director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine and is chairman of the board of the Institute for Functional Medicine. He practices and directs the Ultra-Wellness Center in Massachusetts. He 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? Dr. Hyman surveys the latest science on all different types of food.  He focuses on food itself more than the macro- and micronutrients, although these are discussed in detail.  He 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.

After meat, poultry and eggs, he surveys 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.  Dr. 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 organic foods when possible. He then discusses what you can add to your diet such as spices (mostly good), salt (in moderation), and what condiments, dressings, vinegars and sauces are healthy and which are not.

Dr. Hyman 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 food 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.  He provides lots of recipes and more are available on the book’s website: 

My only criticism of the book is that he starts out discussing meat, poultry and dairy and that 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.  Since all the information is there, that is 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 at today.  I am eager to find out what is next!