Physician Profile: John A. McDougall, M.D.: The Luckiest Doctor in the World
One of the most prominent nutrition experts in the United States grew up eating fried chicken, chocolate ice cream, eggs, and roast beef. And nearly died because of it.
While an 18-year-old college student studying hotel management at Michigan State University, John McDougall suffered a paralyzing stroke. The experience inspired him to go to medical school, but it wasn’t until years later that he understood how his diet was to blame.
That turning point came in the early 1970s. As a young internist practicing in Hawaii, Dr. McDougall began to notice that his older Asian patients didn’t have the heart disease, arthritis, and other debilitating conditions their American-born children did.
“Eventually, I put two and two together,” Dr. McDougall says. “The older generation, who migrated from their native lands, never developed the habit of eating meat or dairy products. Their diets were primarily of rice and vegetables. Their kids, on the other hand, were being poisoned by the fat and cholesterol in their American diets.”
The scientific literature corroborated his observations and Dr. McDougall’s life was never the same. He went on to become a passionate advocate for a low-fat, high-fiber vegan diet, an outspoken opponent of unnecessary drugs and surgery, and a pioneer in the burgeoning health movement.
Along the way, he has helped thousands of patients dramatically improve their health. His website—www.DrMcdougall.com—is packed with the personal stories of patients who have taken control of their health after reading one of his books or overhauling their eating habits in his popular 10-day live-in program in Santa Rosa.
Dr. McDougall follows his own dietary advice and regularly windsurfs and hikes. He has a new book due out next year that he hopes will further emphasize the need to focus less on medications and more on prevention and nutrition. But his greatest enjoyment comes in working individually with his patients. He explains, “I’m the luckiest doctor in the world because I’ve been able to help so many people with the simplest message.”