Does a Full Moon Affect Human Behavior?

By Dr. Mercola

This natural phenomenon takes place once every 29.53 days, or roughly once a month. As it did in March 2018, it sometimes appears twice a month. It occurs when the moon is completely illuminated by the sun’s rays as a result of the Earth being nearly directly aligned between the sun and the moon. By now, you probably know what it is: a full moon.

Urban legend suggests the full moon brings out the worst in both people and situations. If you talk to emergency room (ER) personnel, firefighters, paramedics and police officers, they very likely will share a story or two about the “lunacy” that occurs on nights when the sky is enlivened by a full moon.

By the way, the word lunacy and a related term “lunatic,” which was coined in the mid-16th century to refer to a temporary insanity in humans attributable to changes in the moon, have their origin in the Latin root “luna,” which means moon.

According to Scientific American, “Belief in the ‘lunar lunacy effect,’ or ‘Transylvania effect,’ as it is sometimes called, persisted in Europe through the Middle Ages, when humans were widely reputed to transmogrify into werewolves or vampires during a full moon.”1 But is it true? Does a full moon negatively affect human behavior? Let’s take a closer look at the facts.

The Full Moon Has Been Said to Cause Accidents, Crimes, Suicides and More

Eric Chudler, Ph.D., a research associate professor in the department of bioengineering at the University of Washington in Seattle, has compiled research highlighting possible links between a full moon and human behavior. Below are the major categories of activities and experiences noted by Chudler that have been associated with increased activity during a full moon:2

Anxiety and depression

Animal bites

Accidents

Crime

Drug overdoses

ER visits

Hospital admissions

Suicides

Violence and aggression

According to Chudler, while urban legend persists, the scientific results related to how full moons affect human behavior are somewhat inconclusive. He states:3

“Perhaps one of the first things you notice about [lunar] studies is that the results are inconsistent. Some studies show a particular behavior will occur more often during the full moon and other studies show no relationship between the behavior and the full moon.

Although most experiments fail to show a relationship between the phase of the moon and abnormal behavior, the belief in the ‘lunar effect’ is still strong among many people. Unfortunately, the occasional newspaper story that describes strange behaviors during a full moon only reinforces this myth.”

German Researchers Debunk Influence of Friday the 13th, Full Moons and Zodiac Signs

While anecdotal evidence may suggest a full moon triggers strange human behavior, such as more ER visits, more psychiatric admissions and more traffic accidents, the scientific evidence doesn’t seem to support the belief there is a so-called “dark side of the moon” when it is full.4

For example, a 2011 study published in the World Journal of Surgery suggests that while a significant portion of medical staff believe lunar phases can affect human behavior, the evidence does not support such a conclusion. The study authors said:5

“The influence of superstition, moon calendars and popular belief on evidence-based medicine is stunning. More than 40 percent of medical staff is convinced that lunar phases can affect human behavior. The idea that Friday the 13th is associated with adverse events and bad luck is deep-rooted in the population of Western industrialized countries. The­ aim of the present study was to test the hypothesis that these myths are transferable to real-life surgery.”

After analyzing operation records of nearly 28,000 patients who underwent some type of surgery during a nine-year period from August 2001 and August 2010 – a period punctuated by 111 full moons – researchers at University Hospitals of Saarland in Homburg/Saar, Germany, found patient characteristics did not differ with respect to lunar phases, zodiac signs or occurrences of Friday the 13th. The study authors said:6

“Full moon phases, the presence of Friday the 13th and zodiac signs influenced neither intraoperative blood loss nor emergency frequency. No statistical peaks regarding perforated aortic aneurysms and gastrointestinal perforations were found on a full moon or Friday the 13th.

Scientific analysis of our data does not support the belief that moon phases, zodiac signs or Friday 13th influence surgical blood loss and emergency frequency. Our data indicate such beliefs are myths and far beyond reality.”

Research Aside, Doctors and Police Subscribe to ‘Full Moon Madness’

Regardless of the scientific evidence, many doctors, such as Dr. John Becher, past president of the American Osteopathic Association and current treasurer of their board of trustees, believe the full moon has a very real effect on the ER. Having practiced emergency medicine for nearly 40 years, including more than 30 years as residency director of emergency medicine at the former City Avenue Hospital and Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, Becher noticed changes in the 11-bed psychiatric emergency center area during full moons.

“You could almost tell the phase of the moon by how crowded that area … was,” says Becher. “Anytime the moon was full, that area was overflowing.”7 Dr. Paul Allegretti, program director for emergency medicine residency at Midwestern University-Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine in Downers Grove, Illinois, also believes the ER seems busier when the moon is full. “I think people are sicker and it seems like more unusual things happen when the moon is full, though I don’t think I could ever prove it,” he says.8

According to BBC News, police in Brighton employed extra officers during full moons after research in 2007 suggested an increase in violent incidents when the moon was full.9 The late Andy Parr, a Brighton inspector, said, “From my experience, over 19 years of being a police officer, undoubtedly on full moons, we do seem to get people with … stranger behavior [who are] more fractious [and] argumentative. And I think that’s something that’s been borne out by police officers up and down the country for years.”10

Not All Doctors Are Convinced the Full Moon Matters

A 2004 study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Science11 suggests a full moon has little or no direct bearing on ER admissions. Researchers from the Sina Trauma and Surgery Research Center in Tehran analyzed more than 54,000 patient cases, representing trauma admissions to three Tehran-based hospitals, during a 13-month time period. About the relationship between rate of admissions and full moons, the study authors said:12

“In our study the number of trauma patients was not increased during the full moon days [as compared to] other days of the lunar month. Statistical analyses of data didn’t exhibit a positive relationship between full moon days and increased trauma patient admission to ERs. An association between assault and attempted suicide was not observed around the full moon days either … and [neither was there an] increase in severity of traumatic injury sustained during full moon days.”

In terms of anecdotal evidence, the aptly named Dr. Eric Moon, an ER physician who has more than 12 years’ experience working the night shift at St. Bernard Hospital in Chicago, ascribes little value to urban legends linking medical events and full moons.

“For as long as I’ve worked in the emergency department, whenever there’s a full moon, invariably someone will make a comment about how it’s going to be a rough night,” he said. While his co-workers buy into the full moon myth, Moon thinks attempts to link lunar phases with ER work have little merit. “We frequently have crazy nights in the ER when the moon is full because that’s just the nature of the ER, no matter what phase the moon is in,” he noted.13

Dental Events Also Shown to Be Unaffected by Lunar Cycles

While you may hear a lot about how a full moon can affect physical health, what might its effects be on oral health? Can a full moon impact what’s going on inside your mouth? A 2015 study published in BMC Oral Health14 suggests there is no observable relationship between the occurrence of odontogenic abscesses (OA), also known as tooth abscesses, and lunar phases.

In the study, a group of German researchers analyzed the records of more than 1200 patients who experienced a dental emergency during 2012. All patients were surgically treated at the AllDent Dental Center emergency unit in Munich. The incidence of tooth abscess was correlated to “daily meteorological data, biosynoptic weather analysis and cyclic lunar activity.” Based on their analysis, the study authors concluded:15

“There was no seasonal variation in OA incidence. None of the meteorological parameters, lunar phases or biosynoptic weather classes were significantly correlated with OA incidence, except the mean barometric pressure, which was weakly correlated … There is no evidence supporting a correlation between the incidence of OA and the weather or lunar activities.”

Can a Full Moon Affect Your Sleep?

If you’ve ever wondered if a full moon affects your sleep, scientists from Switzerland’s University of Basel may have the answer. As noted in the journal Current Biology,16 their 3.5-day study involved 33 volunteers who were not told of the purpose of the research, nor could they see the moon from their beds. The research was conducted in a dark room inside a sleep lab under close supervision. In terms of a so-called “lunar influence” on sleep, during a full moon the researchers noted the participants:17

  • Took five minutes longer to fall asleep
  • Experienced 20 minutes less sleep, as assessed by an electroencephalogram (EEG)
  • Spent 30 percent less time in non-rapid eye movement (NREM) deep sleep, which was also assessed by EEG

The study authors noted those changes were associated with an overall decrease in subjective sleep quality as well as diminished endogenous melatonin levels. About the research, they stated, “This is the first reliable evidence that a lunar rhythm can modulate sleep structure in humans when measured under the highly controlled conditions of a circadian laboratory study protocol without time cues.”18

Professor Christian Cajochen, Ph.D., head of the center for chronobiology at the University of Basel and one of the study authors, added, “The lunar cycle seems to influence human sleep, even when one does not see the moon and is not aware of the actual moon phase.”19

While some suggest poor sleep may come from the moon being brighter when it’s full, the current study controlled for brightness. This factor seems to suggest that you cannot manage potential full moon-related sleep issues simply by wearing an eye mask or using blackout curtains.

U.K. sleep expert Neil Stanley, Ph.D., says he found the University of Basel study intriguing. That said, he also believes more research is needed with a larger group of individuals over a longer period of time to substantiate any potential lunar effects on sleep. “It’s one of those things you would instinctively believe, so to actually find an effect is interesting,” he said. “Unfortunately, there has been no further research in this area since that study.”20

Given the interest in blue moons and super moons these days, Stanley suggests some of the sleep issues linked to full moons might just be due to its brightness and size. After all, you are less likely to notice a crescent moon and therefore unlikely to attach your sleep problems to it. Such realities, he suggests, could be “an example of confirmation bias – where people are more likely to notice and remember information that fits with their beliefs.”21

The Bottom Line About a Full Moon’s Effects

As you can see, the opinions about how a full moon may affect human life vary widely. While anecdotal information suggests “the lunar effect” is real and is noticeable on a regular basis, scientific evidence fails to attribute clear physical cause.

The common perception that more accidents, crimes, medical emergencies, violence and other terrible events happen under a full moon are just that, perceptions. In an attempt to describe how people perceive a full moon, a pair of scientists coined the term “illusory correlation,” which Scientific American describes as:22

“[T]the perception of an association that does not in fact exist. Illusory correlations result in part from our mind’s propensity to attend to – and recall – most events better than nonevents. When there is a full moon and something decidedly odd happens, we usually notice it, tell others about it and remember it.

We do so because such co-occurrences fit with our preconceptions. In contrast, when there is a full moon and nothing odd happens, this nonevent quickly fades from our memory. As a result of our selective recall, we erroneously perceive an association between full moons and myriad bizarre events.”

As noted by The Washington Post, “No one has ever been able to show consistently, with multiple studies, that the full moon has any effect on behavior.”23 Until research is presented to overturn this fact, it’s best to simply enjoy a full moon as a natural wonder and object of beauty. In terms of any unusual events that may coincide with a full moon – I suggest you take them at face value and embrace them as part of the human experience as you would any other night, moon or no moon.

Advertisements

Help Target Inflammation by Having a Sip of This Herbal Tea

Unless you come from parts of Asia where it’s been extensively used, it’s highly likely that you’re unfamiliar with burdock root. Popularly used as an ingredient in Japanese cuisine, burdock root is usually added to stir-fries,1 consumed raw,2 used as a broth3 or pickled in apple cider vinegar to prolong shelf life.4

However, an easy way to use burdock root and possibly obtain benefits is by steeping the roots in boiling water to make burdock root tea. Learn more about this tea’s uses, how you can make this beverage at home and what you must watch out for when drinking it.

What Is Burdock Root Tea?

Burdock root tea is concocted by steeping roots of the burdock (Arctium lappa) plant. For centuries now, burdock roots, leaves and flowers have been well-respected for their medicinal and nutritional abilities.5 The burdock plant stands between 1 and 2 meters (3.2 to 6.5 feet) when fully grown, and has large leaves that can grow up to 50 centimeters (19.6 inches), with white undersides. Between June and October, the plant bears purple flowers extending away from the plant’s bracts.  

Burdock Root Tea’s Health Benefits

Burdock root tea may be helpful in addressing certain conditions, such as:6,7

High blood pressure8

Colds

Flu

Fever

Arthritis

Gout

Headaches9

Indigestion10

Constipation11

Apart from targeting these diseases, burdock root tea may deliver these benefits:12

Promote antioxidant capabilities: The root contains antioxidants such as phenolic acids, quercetin and luteolin13 (all of which may be transferred to the tea) that can shield the body against cell-damaging free radicals.

In a 2011 article in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers suggested that burdock root tea’s antioxidant content may aid in slowing down tumor cell growth.14

Promote diuretic effects: One of burdock root tea’s earliest uses was for detoxifying the body. It can also help purify the blood, and is known to induce sweating and urination.

This effect may benefit your liver, kidneys and lymphatic system. Because it’s a diuretic, burdock root tea may cause the body to eliminate excess toxins, salts and water.15

Act as an expectorant and decongestant: If you have coughs, colds or flu-like symptoms, drinking burdock root tea may help alleviate them by targeting phlegm and mucus. Burdock root tea has antibacterial properties as well.16

Alleviate hair issues: You can address concerns like hair loss and dandruff,17 and boost scalp and follicle health, as burdock root tea is known to contain helpful phytosterols in burdock root tea, while the burdock root plant contains hair-helping essential oils.

Serve as an anti-inflammatory: This drink may help people combat fever, aches, pains and joint disorders.18,19

Help people with liver-related issues: For people with either cirrhosis or hepatitis, burdock root tea may assist in promoting liver cell regrowth.20

This tea may help people with blood-borne diseases or those who have a liver that’s been damaged heavily by alcohol consumption.

Enhance the immune system: Burdock root tea’s vitamin C content may improve your immune system and boost white blood cell production.

Other immune-boosting effects this tea may offer include enhancing collagen production and promoting quicker healing and recovery after illness.21

Promote better heart health: Burdock root tea has potassium that may help maintain normal blood pressure levels and serve as a vasodilator, which may lower your risk for atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes.

This mineral is also important for heart health because it aids in maintaining fluid balance in the body.22

Help lower risk for cancer: Quercetin and luteolin, both found in burdock root tea, possess antimutagenic properties.

These nutrients eliminate free radicals, help prevent cellular mutation and reduce a person’s cancer risk.23

What Nutrients Can You Find in Burdock Root Tea?

Burdock root tea is home to antioxidants such as phenolic acids, luteolin and quercetin.24 It also contains the minerals potassium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, calcium and iron, as well as vitamins B1, B2, B3 and fiber.25 People who are sensitive to caffeine may drink this tea without any issues. As “The Tea Book” highlights, roasted and dried roots like burdock root may work as caffeine-free tea alternatives.26

How to Make Burdock Root Tea

Making your own burdock root tea at home is possible. Try following this recipe:27

Burdock Root Tea Recipe

Ingredients:

1 burdock root

2 liters (a little over 2 quarts) of water

Procedure:

1. Cut burdock root into thirds. Using a scouring pad, scrape off the dirt on its surface under running water. Do not peel the skin since most of its nutrients are in it. Cut the root into thin slices.

2. Spread all the burdock on a bamboo sieve, cover with a nylon food cover and place under clear sun for one to two days until dry, pliable or almost crisp. If you are not comfortable drying your food in the sun or the weather is not cooperating, use a dehydrator.

3. Place dried burdock in a pan with no oil or liquid. Stir constantly over low heat for 10 minutes until golden brown, crispy and fragrant.

4. Let the burdock cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Store immediately in an airtight glass container. Seal it to prevent moisture.

5. Burdock tea can be cooked or brewed. Boil the water. Add 10 grams (0.35 ounces) of burdock tea leaves and simmer for 10 minutes.

6. If you want to make a single cup of burdock root tea, pour 185- to 212-degree Fahrenheit water onto five to eight pieces of burdock tea leaves in a cup and brew for four to five minutes. Raw honey, chrysanthemum, red dates, wolf berries or mint leaves may be added to taste.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Total time: 20 minutes

A single-serving of this recipe makes 100 or more grams (about 3 1/2 ounces) of tea.

You can look for burdock root in Oriental markets, natural food stores and Japanese and Taiwanese grocery stores. Pick roots that are medium-sized, firm, unbroken and have taut skin. Do not purchase burdock roots that are overly dry or sunken, since these may not have a pleasant flavor.

When cleaned properly and kept in a cool, well-ventilated place, the root can stay fresh for many months. You can also preserve burdock roots by wrapping them in a paper towel, enclosing them inside a plastic bag and placing them inside your refrigerator’s vegetable compartment, where they can be kept for months.

Should the burdock root turn limp and/or dry, soak it in water until it’s firm again.28 For processed burdock root parts and slices, ensure that they are stored in the refrigerator and used as soon as possible.29 If you aren’t able to purchase fresh burdock root, there are burdock root tea bags available online. Just make sure you’re purchasing from a highly reputable source that provides high-quality tea.

Burdock Root Tea’s Side Effects

Burdock root tea may trigger allergic reactions, including dermatitis, among people who are sensitive to daises, chrysanthemums or ragweed. Should these adverse effects develop, stop drinking burdock root tea immediately.30 Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should avoid this tea because there aren’t enough studies that confirm its safety for these groups.31

Drinking burdock root can lead to other side effects like hallucinations, dry mouth, blurred vision and urinary retention, as seen in the case of a 26-year-old woman who purchased burdock root tea from a health shop. As always, ensure that you’re purchasing high-quality tea from a reliable supplier.32,33

In the wild, burdock root can be confused with dangerous, poisonous plants like belladonna or deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna) because of the similarities in their physical appearance.34 Hence, do not pick burdock in the wild. Should negative reactions develop, stop drinking the tea and discard other root strips. Furthermore, avoid burdock root tea when taking the following medicines because it can interfere with the way they work:35

Diuretics (water pills): Dehydrated people should stay away from burdock since the roots can increase the pills’ diuretic effects and exacerbate dehydration.

Diabetes medications: Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar levels, may occur if you drink this tea with these medicines.

Blood-thinning medicines: Burdock root can worsen bleeding in people diagnosed with bleeding disorders who take these medications. It can slow down blood clotting too.36

Before taking burdock root tea, talk to your physician and verify if this herbal tea is good for you. By doing so, you can get an idea of the dosage that may be needed to address your condition and be guided on what you can do to avoid side effects.

Caution Is Needed if You Want to Try Burdock Root Tea

For many years now, burdock root has been widely valued in Asia for its potential effects toward the brain, heart and immune system. Drinking burdock root tea may allow you to reap the nutrients found in the plant and help boost your well-being.

However, before drinking burdock root tea, remember that there are contraindications linked to this beverage, especially among women who are pregnant and/or breastfeeding and people taking certain medicines. If you’re interested in trying burdock root tea, consult a doctor first, so you are aware of the ideal amount that would be both suitable for your condition and won’t put you at risk for adverse health effects.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Burdock Root Tea

Q: What are the health benefits of burdock root tea?

A: Burdock root tea may promote the following benefits:

Deliver antioxidant, expectorant, decongestant, anti-inflammatory and diuretic effects

Assist with relieving fevers, headaches, flu, gout and constipation, to name a few

Help address hair issues

Boost health in people with liver conditions

Improve the immune system

Help improve heart health

Detoxify the blood

Q: Where can you buy burdock root tea?

A: Fresh burdock root can be purchased from Oriental markets, natural food stores, and Japanese and Taiwanese grocery stores. While burdock root tea bags can be purchased online, do thorough research first. Only buy burdock root tea bags from a trustworthy source that sells high-quality tea made from real burdock root.

Q: Can drinking burdock root tea lead to side effects?

A: Yes. Some side effects that burdock root tea may trigger include:

Allergic reactions (including dermatitis, swelling, inflammation or skin rash) in people who are sensitive to daisies, chrysanthemums or ragweed

Toxicity symptoms such as blurred vision, hallucinations, dry mouth and urinary retention

Negative interactions with diuretic, diabetes and blood-thinning medicines

https://articles.mercola.com/sites/mercola/carousel/teas.html

How to Trust the Signs You Receive from the Universe

Learn how to recognize and trust the signs of guidance you receive from the Universe, and how to know the difference between a divine sign and your own ego.

For a full guide to asking for and trusting the signs you receive from the Universe, check out my blog post: https://gabbybernstein.com/secret-asking-universe-sign-trusting-guidance-receive/

WATCH & SHARE this video if it resonates with you.

Connect with Gabby:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gabriellebernstein/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gabbybernstein/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/gabbybernstein

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/GabrielleBernstein

Website: https://www.gabbybernstein.com

Get #TheUniverseHasYourBack: https://gabbybernstein.com/bookbonus/

Self Hate (The Most Dangerous Coping Mechanism) – Teal Swan

Are you or someone you love a victim of Self Hate, Suicidal Feelings, Self Harm, or Severe Depression? Understanding how self hate begins with how hatred for the self was developed during childhood is critical. How to stop hating yourself resides in the realization that Self Hatred is merely a coping mechanism developed in childhood. A Genius Coping Mechanism at that.

Teal Swan is an International Spiritual Leader. She offers perspective on a wide range of topics including relationships, anxiety, meditation, shadow work, authenticity, the law of attraction, The Completion Process, healing, PTSD, emotions and spirituality

Website: http://www.tealswan.com

For daily updates, monthly online Synchronization Workshops join TealSwan.com/premium

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thespiritualcatalyst/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tealspiritualcatalyst/?hl=en

Twitter: TEALCATALYST

Newsletter: https://tealswan.com/newsletter

Completion Process Book: https://thecompletionprocess.com/#the-book

Teal’s Meditations: https://gumroad.com/tealswan

Teal’s e-shop: tealswan.com/teals-products

Beginning Song:

Kuan Yin’s Mantra (c) 2002 Lisa Thiel

Help us caption & translate this video!

http://amara.org/v/9Hq9/

Help us caption & translate this video!

https://amara.org/v/gAMs/

7 Takeaways About Meat from My Book Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?

Eating meat will clog your arteries, cause cancer and type 2 diabetes, and take years off your life, right?

No, but you could be excused for believing that. A lot of people do, meat lovers and abstainers alike.

This food, that as a species we have eaten since the beginning of our evolution, has become the most controversial thing on our plates. It’s where many of today’s raging food fights-warring nutritional theories, the abysmal state of our nation’s health, the environmental impact of agriculture, the unethical treatment of animals-all come together in one big, messy collision.

Is meat really bad for us, or really good for us? If we want to live long, healthy lives, should we eat a lot of it, a little, or none at all?

Those are among the questions I tackle in my new book Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?

While anti-meat advocates and scientists have tried to scare Americans by linking meat to everything from cancer to heart disease, diabetes, and even obesity, research actually shows meat is a nutrient-dense food that can help prevent disease and nutritional deficiencies when you eat it with plenty of plants and vegetables and not as part of the typical Western diet and lifestyle.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t a dark side to eating meat (which I explore in my book). But there are good scientific and health-minded reasons to eat high-quality, organic, grass-fed, sustainably raised meat as part of an overall healthy diet.

Here are 7 takeaways I explore in the chapter about meat in Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? to help you make the most informed decision about eating this sometimes-controversial food.

  1.  Meat is the single best source of protein. Sorry, vegans and vegetarians: You may have heard that legumes have a lot of protein, and they do-for plants. But they lack a number of critical amino acids. Fulfilling your protein requirements (60 – 90 grams or more for adults) with non-meat foods requires enormous planning and effort, more than most people can manage. You have to eat three cups of beans with 100 grams of carbs to equal 6 ounces of animal protein (that contains  zero carbs). And plant proteins contain very little leucine, the rate limiting amino acid needed to build muscle. Animal protein is the best source and is especially important as we get older, where muscle loss is the single biggest cause of rapid aging and disease.
  2. Meat was (and still is) unfairly demonized. The discovery a half a century ago that saturated fat raises cholesterol levels led to the widespread demonization of meat. We cut back on meat, we chose “lean” meat, and we trimmed and skimmed all the fat off our meat. In reality, heart disease is a complex condition that involves not only blood levels of the bad types of cholesterol, but inflammation, blood sugar, triglycerides, and a host of other factors. And the impact of saturated fat on cholesterol is not so simple either. In fact, the main source of saturated fat in meat, stearic acid, has no impact on blood cholesterol. Even more surprising is that eating saturated fat doesn’t raise blood levels of the saturated fats that cause heart disease. It’s processed carbs, refined starch, and sugar that actually raise your blood levels of bad cholesterol and the bad saturated fats. In Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?, I  discuss what does cause heart disease and so many other problems like diabesity.
  3. We’re still debating how much saturated fat is “healthy.” Despite organizations like the American Heart Association demonizing it, the latest wisdom suggests that saturated fat is fairly neutral. It’s not harmful, but it’s not necessarily a health food. The one major randomized controlled trial done in the 1960s and 70s (which would be unethical now because it was done on 9,000 patients hospitalized in mental institutions and was suppressed for 40 years) found that the half of the group that had corn oil lowered their cholesterol but had more heart attacks and deaths than the saturated fat group. Pretty much the nail in the coffin of the saturated fat is bad theory. I’ll explain more in Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?
  4. Meat is a nutritional powerhouse. Animal protein is our only source of vitamin B12, which is essential for life itself. Meat also provides valuable minerals and other vitamins. It contains enzymes that we need to access nutrients, essential amino acids, and cancer-fighting antioxidants like vitamin A, which cannot be obtained directly from vegetables. Vegans often become deficient in B12, iron, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin D and more. Yes, plant foods contain many of these nutrients, but they are more bioavailable in meat.
  5. Grass-fed is better. Three decades of research prove grass-fed beef and pasture-raised meat are significantly healthier than grain-fed, factory-farmed meat. Grass-fed meat has much better types of fat than grain-fed-more omega-3s, fewer omega-6s, and more CLA, or conjugated linoleic acid, which boosts metabolism and can prevent cancer. Grass-fed meat also has higher levels of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Yes, it is often more expensive. In Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? I’ll provide strategies to eat grass-fed meat on a budget and alternatives to look for if you can’t find grass-fed.
  6. Most of your plate should still be plants. At least three-quarters of your plate should be vegetables and the rest protein. I like the term “condi-meat”-a small amount of meat added to meals that are mostly vegetables. I’ve downsized my own consumption to no more than 4 – 6 ounces a day, which is a piece that’s roughly the size of my palm.
  7. You can be a sickly, overweight vegan or a healthy, well-nourished carnivore. What about all the well-publicized scientific studies showing that meat eaters are in worse health than vegetarians and die sooner? Well, the findings may have something to do with which meat eaters are being studied. Studies show many people who eat a lot of meat also have unhealthy habits overall: They weigh more, drink more, smoke more, eat less produce and fiber, and are more sedentary than those who consume less meat. So maybe it isn’t the meat that’s damaging carnivores’ health-maybe it’s everything else they are doing to damage their health. In fact, vegetarians and meat eaters who shop at health food stores both have their risks of death and disease reduced in half. It’s not the meat, it’s what is contained in the rest of your diet.

I delve into these and other meat issues more in-depth in Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? I’ll tell you which meats to steer clear of, the best way to cook meat, how to zest up meat while also adding more nutrients, and so much more. Armed with this information, you’ll have everything you need to know about one of food’s most contentious, confusing subjects.

In my book Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? (out February 27, 2018) I uncover the truth about the food we actually eat-what is healthy and not in each group of foods we eat-meat, poultry and eggs, dairy, beans, grains, veggies, fruit, nuts and seeds, beverages and more, and guide to you to a science-based, sensible way of eating for life that keeps you, our planet, and our society healthy. I also address the environmental and social impact of the food we eat.  

And I take the guesswork out of how to eat food that has the best information, the best quality to make you feel good now and prevent and even reverse illness.

If you have ever woken up wondering what the heck you should eat this book is for you. Check out the trailer and order at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, or get it at your local bookstore.  Plus, get a free video of the 4 biggest food lies out there!

Wishing you health & happiness,

Mark Hyman, MD

7 Takeaways about Grains from My Book Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?

For many years, we have been told by experts to eat lots of grains. In the infamous 1992 Food Pyramid, we were told to eat 6 to 11 servings of bread rice, cereal, and pasta every day! And we listened… and turned America into the “Fat Nation” with 70% of us now overweight.

Even the Bible says that bread is the “staff of life.” But, it’s important to note, a completely different type of wheat was used in those times. On top of the traditional assumption that grains are good, brilliant marketers have been able to twist our view of grain products using phrases like “whole wheat goodness,” leading us to believe it must be a healthy choice.

As much as anything else, grains made America. The evidence is in the sheer acreage of farmland we devote to wheat, corn, barley, and sorghum and the excessive amount of grain we consume and export to the rest of the world. Grain-based foods are by far the number one source of calories in the American diet.

The grains that go into those foods- mainly wheat, corn, rice, and sorghum-are among the crops that receive billions in federal farm subsidies annually.  So, even our tax dollars are devoted to keeping grain-based foods like bread, pasta, rice, cereals, cookies, cake, pizza, oatmeal, and crackers on top.

Most of these federally subsidized crops are also fed to livestock, which means that Americans are getting grains indirectly, too, from all the grain-fed beef, chicken, and dairy we consume.

The average American consumes 133 pounds of flour a year in their food (down from 146.8 pounds in 1995); that’s more than a third of a pound per person per day, and some of us consume much more. And that doesn’t include all the other grains and potatoes.

As I discuss in Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?, whole grains can be a great source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.While they taste pretty good, the toxic amounts we eat contribute to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and dementia. And most of the grains we eat, even whole wheat, are turned into flour products which have a higher glycemic index that table sugar.

In in my new book, you’ll learn all the pros and cons about grains to determine whether you can occasionally indulge in them, as well as which are the best grains and which are the worst. Here are 7 takeaways from that chapter of Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?

  1. You don’t have to eat grains to be healthy. In fact, you might be healthier if you didn’t. For nearly all of our history, humans consumed no grains, and our bodies are designed to work very well without them. Yes, there are plenty of vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and fiber contained in whole grains, but you can easily get all those things from other sources including vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, and other foods that don’t have the baggage that comes with grains. There are essential amino acids from protein and essential fatty acids from fats, but no such thing as essential carbohydrates. Our bodies are perfectly designed to thrive without them. A small amount of a few specific whole grains is okay if you are not diabetic or obese.
  2. “Whole grain” is a marketing term. When we eat food with labels touting “whole-grain flour,” we automatically assume that we’re eating whole grains. We’re not. In Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?, I’ll tell you how to read a label so you can determine whether what you’re buying is marketing hype or actually healthy. Whole grain Cookie Crisp cereal with 22 grams of sugar is not a health food. Any whole grain flour is just like sugar.
  3.  Starch and sugar are essentially the same thing. Flour acts more like sugar in your body than a whole unprocessed grain. In fact, eating 2 slices of whole wheat bread raises your blood sugar more than eating 2 tablespoons of table sugar does! Whenever you eat something containing wheat flour, you might as well be mainlining sugar. 

  4. You’re not eating the same grains your grandparents ate. New hybrids have been developed that are much starchier than their predecessors and have a greater impact on our blood sugar than the traditional kinds of starch. (It actually promotes insulin resistance or prediabetes.) The new varieties also have more gluten, which is not doing us any favors. And while most wheat isn’t genetically modified, it is dosed with a chemical herbicide called glyphosate just before harvest, which increases its yield. 

  5. Be careful, even with “healthy” grain products. I’ve seen bread from a major commercial bakery boasting not one, but several “ancient healthful grains,” like amaranth. But when you read the ingredients (in small print on the back), you see that that these grains are way down at the end of the list, meaning they are the smallest part of the mix. Chances are, you’re not going to get a whole lot of unrefined grain nutrition in that loaf.
  6. Oatmeal isn’t good for you. You probably know most breakfast cereals-even those with health claims on the front-aren’t healthy. But oatmeal? How could a food so boring also be unhealthy? The major problem with oatmeal is the same problem with every other grain: It spikes your blood sugar and makes you hungrier.
  7. Not all grains are bad. In Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?, I take aim at cereal, oatmeal, corn, wheat (because yes, gluten is a real issue for millions of people, which I explain in detail in the book) and other forms of grains. But there are some healthy grains. Whole grains like quinoa and amaranth that contain no gluten, have not been turned into highly refined, industrialized products, and will never be found in Twinkies, cookies, or pizza crust, are nutritious and delicious. They also won’t send your blood sugar soaring.


In general, we need to recognize grains for what they are-a recreational treat, not a staple. In Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?, I go in-depth about the history of grains and discuss how for most of our existence they weren’t part of our diets. I’ll reveal the best and worst grain sources, why going gluten-free isn’t always a great idea, and answer whether you really need to give up bread entirely. Armed with this information, you’ll have everything you need to make an informed decision about this confusing, contentious food.

In my book out February 27, 2018, Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?, I uncover the truth about the food we actually eat-what is healthy and not in each group of foods we eat-meat, poultry and eggs, dairy, beans, grains, veggies, fruit, nuts and seeds, beverages, and more, and guide to you to a science-based, sensible way of eating for life that keeps you, our planet and our society healthy. I also address the environmental and social impact of the food we eat.

Plus, I take the guesswork out of how to eat food that has the best information for your body, the best quality to make you feel good now and prevent and even reverse illness.

If you have ever woken up wondering what the heck you should eat, this book is for you. Check out the trailer and place an order at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, or get it at your local bookstore. You’ll also get a free video of the 4 biggest food lies out there!

Wishing you health and happiness,

Mark Hyman, MD