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Aspen Lecture: Dr. Mark Hyman on the future of personalized health

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Drawing of health professionals.
Julie Delton | Getty Images via NPR file

Dr. Mark Hyman is director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, and he's calling for a big shift in thinking about the origins of disease.

He says the future of medicine involves connecting the dots because the human body is a complicated system of biological networks — not just a collection of separate organs.

Dr. Hyman wants to see a radical transformation in thinking about medicine, health care, environment and food, and without it, he says, we won’t be able to solve our chronic health problems. 

“It’s the science of creating health,” he says, which involves figuring out exactly why people get sick and how they can get better.

“Part of the problem is this classification of disease that we developed to put people in categories. All medicine now is siloed. All these organ systems, we’re all categorizing them by symptoms and geography: Where is it in your body and what is the symptom?” said Dr. Hyman. 

“Unfortunately, that’s not how the body is organized, and yet that’s how we’ve organized medicine. You go to the cardiologist, the rheumatologist, the dermatologist, the psychiatrist. But maybe all those problems you have are connected.” 

“Inflammation is a core concept in health,” Dr. Hyman says. “It’s linked to almost everything. Your microbiome is very important — perhaps the most central thing to creating health. And also, how do you optimize your mitochondria?”

Dr. Hyman says “food is the most effective drug. Food is information. It’s like code that can upgrade or downgrade your biological software with every bite.” 

He is the author of several books, with a new one coming out in February called "Food Fix: How to Save Our Health, Our Economy, Our Communities, and Our Planet — One Bite at a Time." 

Dr. Hyman spoke Aug. 14, 2019, as part of the Aspen Institute’s Murdock Mind, Body, Spirit Series in Aspen, Colo.