Thank you for your concern

Thank you for your e-mails and calls asking about our safety. Mary, Heather, the grandkids, and I evacuated early yesterday to a local hotel and then were re-evacuated later in the day. We are now out of the county and staying with friends. Dr. Lim was also evacuated and has not been able to return yet either. Again, many thanks for your concern. John McDougall, MD

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A Tribute to Roy Swank, MD: Founder of the Low-fat Dietary Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis

The Swank MS Foundation has given me permission to share their professional video, "Conversations with Roy L. Swank," with you. Please take the time to get to know one of the true medical geniuses of the twentieth century.

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Bobby Andersen: The Plant-Fueled Trucker, Wants to Help Millions of People with His Success Story

While sharing photos of one’s meals is nothing new on the Internet, the twist here is that Andersen is a long-haul trucker who has been driving five to six days a week, 11 hours a day, for the last 21 years.

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Broccoli and Kale Taste Bitter

The golden age of nutrition bloomed in the twentieth century with discoveries of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, and other plant (phyto)-derived chemicals required for human health. Accepted wisdom about these nutrients became, “if some is necessary, then more is better.” The search for ways to “supercharge nutrition” began with supplements: pills filled with isolated, concentrated substances, such as vitamins and minerals. Unfortunately, extensive research over the past century has consistently found that these expensive treatments offer few benefits and much harm to people. Consuming antioxidants, including beta-carotene and vitamin E, increases a person’s risk of suffering from earlier death, heart disease, and many forms of cancer. Jim Watson, co-discoverer of genetic DNA, wrote about the shortcomings of consuming too many micronutrients, even incriminating so-called superfoods with “Blueberries best be eaten because they taste good, not because their consumption will lead to less cancer.” Besides taking pill-like supplements, the micronutrient content of a person’s diet can be enhanced by choosing foods with the highest concentrations of these substances. Colorful vegetables, especially those from the cruciferous genus, which include cabbage, collard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, turnips, and mustards, are known for their high nutrient density. Some of their disease-preventing properties come packaged with bitter tasting chemicals that the plants produce. Bad Taste for Good Reason The July 2015 issue of Scientific American provided a scientifically supported argument for why many people dislike eating vegetables. The bitter tastes are from the noxious chemicals produced by plants. The authors explain, “The health benefits of fruits and vegetables are an inadvertent offshoot of eons-long wars waged by plants against critters, mostly insects, that are intent on eating them.” In small amounts these phyto-chemicals seem to be beneficial to humans; stimulating our immune/disease-fighting systems to ward off cancers, diabetes, and heart disease. So far, except for a few allergies, consuming “typical portion sizes” of cruciferous plants is found to be safe in humans. Even concerns about plant-derived goitrogens, substances that suppress thyroid function, are largely rumor, with very few actual cases reported. But do consider that in her grand scheme, Mother Nature rarely makes mistakes: bad tastes suggest toxicity, and this may be especially important with higher consumptions. Greens and Malnutrition Many people seeking a micronutrient-dense diet struggle to attain nutritional balance. A diet based on foods that are especially high in micronutrients, mainly non-starchy vegetables, is naturally very low in calories. People who eat this way find it a challenge to feel full, even after consuming uncomfortably large volumes of food. Consider that to meet daily energy needs of 1500 calories, 11 pounds of kale, for example, must be swallowed every 24 hours. (Cooked cabbage requires 14 pounds and broccoli 10 pounds for 1500 calories, whereas potatoes are 4 pounds and rice is 3 pounds of food.) Compounding this energy insufficiency (by relying too heavily on these green vegetables) is the overload of certain nutrients, like protein. Our daily nutritional protein requirement is no more than 5% of our total calories; the liver and kidneys will dispose of any excesses. Metabolic burdens placed on these organs by consuming excess protein include the loss of calcium from the body and the accumulation of nitrogenous waste products in the body. In terms of excess, cabbage provides 4 times, kale 5 times, and broccoli 7 times more protein than is required. These superfoods can also be contaminated with poisonous heavy metals. Kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and collard greens are “hyper-accumulators” of thallium and cesium. Headlines about “arsenic in rice” must be shared with news that nickel, lead, cadmium, aluminum, and arsenic are commonly found in both organically and commercially produced greens. A Starch-based Diet Is Healthful and Sustainable A diet made up mostly of starchy vegetables and grains provides the abundant energy and balanced nutrition humans require. (As most readers of the McDougall philosophy already know:) All large populations of trim, healthy, athletic-competing, war-fighting people throughout verifiable human history have obtained the bulk of their calories from high-carbohydrate foods (starches). Examples of thriving populations include the Japanese, Chinese, and other Asians, who eat sweet potatoes, buckwheat, and/or rice; Incas in South America who eat potatoes; Mayans and Aztecs in Central America who eat corn; and Egyptians in the Middle East who eat wheat. A diet of mostly nutrient-dense superfoods is unrealistic for both humans and the Planet. The financial cost difference between choosing calories from starchy and non-starchy sources is budget-breaking. The raw ingredients for a 1000-calorie meal plan based on beans, corn, potatoes, and/or rice is about 20 cents (US dollars).  A “1000-calorie meal plan” as broccoli or kale is about 3 dollars. (People typically eat 1500 to 3000 calories daily.) In the global sense, calories from non-starchy vegetables are also too difficult and expensive to grow. Broccoli and kale could not feed seven billion people, either directly or through livestock. Furthermore, these green vegetables are highly perishable, failing again to provide a reliable and sustainable food source for humankind. Starches, like beans, corn, potatoes, and rice are high-yield, inexpensive to produce, and can be stored for decades for later use. Thus, these conventional foods, not greens, are the bulk of the natural human diet. Dieters should not forgo bread and potatoes for platefuls of kale, nor should they force down Brussels sprouts rather than enjoy rice and beans. Make micronutrient-dense “green vegetables” side dishes rather than main dishes, as they provide color and flavor, and their various repugnant chemicals boost our defenses against common diseases.

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Athletics in the Spotlight: Low-Carb vs. High Carb

The right choices at the dinner table make a winning difference in both strength and endurance for top athletes, and the same nutritional rules are true for every other human being. To be our best, we all must eat our best.

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Get Out of the Medical Business: A Primary Goal of the McDougall Program

Atul Gawande, a staff writer for The New Yorker and a practicing medical doctor, wrote "Overkill, An avalanche of unnecessary medical care is harming patients physically and financially. What can we do about it?"

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Dean Ornish, MD: A World Changer

In my (Dr. McDougall's) opinion, Dr. Dean Ornish stands out as the most important physician/scientist* of the past quarter century for his contributions to medicine through proper human nutrition, and especially for his work on the epidemic diseases of obesity, heart disease, prostate cancer, and type-2 diabetes.

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Arsenic In Rice

The "king of poisons," arsenic, is found in rice. Articles about this connection have distressed health-conscious consumers who recognize the nutritional value of this inexpensive, high-energy, health-promoting staple.

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I Say “No” to Flu Vaccines

In the US, national guidelines for receiving an annual flu vaccine extend to almost everyone over the age of six months old. Nevertheless, I recommend that my patients of all ages not take these incessantly promoted immunizations, primarily because of their lack of effectiveness. In addition, there are some risks from influenza vaccines, including injection site pain, allergic reactions, fever, fatigue, headache, and narcolepsy (excessive sleepiness). I understand that you have been led to believe flu shots are a modern medical advancement. Your suspicions should be raised because direct advertising to consumers is intrusive, obnoxious, and nonstop. A phone call to your local pharmacist begins with a message to get “the flu shot,” which happens to be conveniently provided at the pharmacy without an appointment or a physician’s prescription. Supermarkets offer a sizable discount on groceries if you will allow yourself to be injected (or infected) with three or four viral proteins derived from past outbreaks, and sometimes a touch of mercury. Influenza vaccines are composed of either killed or weakened (attenuated) viruses. Multidose vials of killed vaccines contain the well-established toxic metal, mercury (thimerosal), as a preservative. Reported harms of thimerosal on human infants or children include death, malformations, autoimmune reactions, developmental delays, and autism. Single-dose influenza vaccines are mercury-free. Live, attenuated virus vaccines are also a mercury-free alternative offered only to healthy people between ages 2 and 49. The administration of this live virus causes infection, therefore, it is not recommended for those people considered more vulnerable to complications from this infection: infants, pregnant women, elderly, and immune-compromised patients. Universal Lack of Real-life Effectiveness Vaccines are used to provoke an immune response to potentially life-threatening organisms, a bacteria or virus. From this intended exposure the body acquires immunity in a relatively harmless way. Once stimulated by proteins manufactured by pharmaceutical companies, the body remembers the villains, and if re-exposed to similar agents, like real measles viruses, the immune system quickly launches a counterattack, thereby preventing a full-blown illness. However, all vaccines are not the same. To the point of success in preventing illness, flu vaccines do not live up to the hype. The ineffectiveness of commercially produced influenza vaccines is said to be primarily due to their formula consisting of materials derived from three or four viruses selected from previous outbreaks occurring over the past several years. This year’s virus is too commonly an entirely new strain, not covered by the immune response initiated by the well-meant flu shot. A close look at the scientific evidence generated from past campaigns to prevent widespread influenza reveals disappointing results, especially after factoring in the efforts made by the pharmaceutical industries to manipulate the research for their own financial gains. Summary Reports Show the Scarcity of Benefits: 2010 Cochrane Review found no benefits from vaccinating the elderly.2012 Cochrane Review showed little benefit for children: “No benefits for those two years or younger. Twenty-eight children over the age of six needed to be vaccinated to prevent one case of influenza. 2012 Lancet Infectious Disease Review showed little benefit in adults: “… evidence for consistent high-level protection was elusive for the present generation of vaccines, especially in individuals at risk of medical complications or those aged 65 years or older.” 2013 Cochrane Review found no benefits for healthcare workers or for preventing influenza in elderly residents in long-term care facilities. 2014 European Review found that the 2012-2013 influenza vaccine had low to moderate effectiveness, and recommended that seasonal influenza vaccines be improved to achieve acceptable protection levels. 2014 Cochrane Review found the preventive effect for healthy adults was small: “…at least 40 people would need vaccination to avoid one influenza-like illness…no effect on working days lost or hospitalization seen…benefits for pregnant women were uncertain or at least very limited.”   Aside from Flu, I Do Believe in Vaccinations In my lifetime I have seen undeniable benefits from vaccines: smallpox has been eradicated, and poliomyelitis occurs so rarely in foreign countries that the few cases make worldwide headlines. Growing up, I thought all infectious diseases would soon be conquered. Mary and I, and all of our children and grandchildren are fully immunized against once common threats, such as tetanus, diphtheria, polio, and viral hepatitis. Hopefully, I am doing more good than harm for my family. As a physician, I have seen patients with all of these diseases. I am not persuaded by arguments from the anti-vaccine movements. However, my enthusiasm has been tempered over the years. I am very concerned about the additives, especially the aluminum,* found in many of these preparations (Commonly prescribed influenza vaccines do not contain aluminum.) Safer and more effective vaccines are definitely needed. Immunizations, along with improved sanitation, adequate food (less starvation), and possibly antibiotics have been important advances that have reduced human suffering. To date, the flu vaccine cannot be added to this short list of medical achievements. *Aluminum is used as an adjuvant (a helper) to stimulate the immune system’s response to the killed bacteria and viruses used in many vaccines injected under the skin. The customer is told, without equivocation, that aluminum is proven harmless. This is not true. This toxic metal can cause immediate damage to the nervous system (speech abnormalities, tremors, memory loss, and seizures), and prolonged exposure may cause dementia as serious as Alzheimer’s disease.

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The McDougall Program Cohort: The Largest Study of the Benefits from a Medical Dietary Intervention

The Nutrition Journal on October 14, 2014 published the results of 1,615 patients who attended the McDougall Program in Santa Rosa, California. Important Medical Findings Achieved in Seven Days from Eating the McDougall Diet...

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