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We have heard that a whole food plant-based diet is the best diet because it can prevent and reverse diseases. But there are also different indications and proofs why we should be herbivores as shared by Dr. Michael Klaper in this episode. He explains why food is square one and why type 2 diabetes is a fat toxicity disease and not carbohydrate problems. He also gives tips on how to ease into a whole food plant-based diet.
Hello, true health seeker, and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. I’m very excited for you to hear today’s interview. It’s with a doctor who’s been practicing medicine for 39 years. And instead of walking in the room with a prescription pad ready to dole out drug after drug, he looks to help his patients reverse major diseases and extend the longevity and quality of their life with food. It’s going to be a lot of fun today so strap in your seat belt and get ready to go.
I want to let you know, as you’re listening, if you’re interested in learning more about using food as medicine and healing your body with nutrition, please go to learntruehealth.com/homekitchen and sign up. I created a very affordable course that teaches you how to cook delicious food for your whole family that also heals your body. And it’s totally in alignment with what this doctor is teaching today. Just give it a try. Just try it for a month and just see how you feel. Especially if you’re quarantined at home right now, what’s a few weeks of just trying nutritious foods, trying different dishes in the effort to support your overall health? That’s learnturehealth.com/homekitchen.
When you sign up you’d also be supporting the Learn True Health podcast to continue doing what we do, so you’d be supporting yourself and you’d be supporting the podcast you love. Awesome. Learnturehealth.com/homekitchen and use the coupon code LTH. If you’d like to sign up for an annual, it gives you a big discount. That’s coupon code LTH at learntruehealth.com/homekitchen. Thank you so much for being a listener. Thank you so much for sharing this podcast with those you love. Please share this episode with those in your life who have any kind of heart disease or are afraid that they might develop it—high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and any kind of circulatory problems. Please share this episode with them as they will want to know this information. Enjoy today’s interview.
[00:02:17] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 439. I am so excited for today’s guest. We have Dr. Michael Klaper on the show. His website, or one of his websites, is plantbasedtelehealth.com. It’s going to be really interesting. The other website you have is doctorklaper.com. And of course, links to everything that Dr. Klaper does is going to be in the show notes of today’s podcast at Learn True Health.
You’re quoted as saying, “It’s the food. It’s always the food.” And you love to show people how they can reverse disease, prevent disease, and heal their body with the nutrition in their food. So I’m very excited that you’re here today because you’re going to break down the science of how we can use food as our medicine. Welcome to the show.
[00:03:12] Dr. Michael Klaper: Well, thank you very much, Ashley. Good to be with you and your listeners.
[00:03:15] Ashley James: Absolutely. Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of how we can heal our body with food, I really want to hear more about your story. What happened in your life in your youth that led you to want to become a doctor? You kind of broke away. I mean, whenever I see an MD teaching people how to heal their body without drugs, I feel like they might be a little bit of a black sheep. You broke away from the stereotypical norm and you are an advocate for helping people heal their own body. So what happened in your life that made you become a doctor and then had you break away like a renegade to teach people how to heal without drugs?
[00:03:56] Dr. Michael Klaper: Oh my. Got a minute?
[00:03:59] Ashley James: Absolutely.
[00:04:00] Dr. Michael Klaper: Here’s my life story. I did much of my growing up on my uncle’s dairy farm in Northern Wisconsin. The natural world entered my life very early, and I’ve been milking cows since I was eight, driving tractors, and I saw a lot of things on the farm. I saw life, death cruelty, and the reality of putting meat on the table. But like the rest of society, I just closed my mind and my heart to that reality. It was registered, no doubt. But I was the kid on the farm who always wanted things to be okay. I patched up the injured animals and just as fascinated by biology in general.
It was natural that I grew up and went to medical school. I graduated in the early 1970s. For the first nine years, I practiced blood and guts emergency room medicine, outpatient clinic, emergency rooms, operating rooms, and I did anesthesia. That’s what I thought I was going to do. Just acute care medicine, just patch people up when they got sick or hurt.
A couple of things happened in 1981. I was a resident in anesthesiology. I thought I was going to be an anesthesiologist, and I was up in Vancouver. I was on the cardiovascular anesthesia service. Day after day, I’m putting people to sleep and I’m watching surgeons open their chest and open their coronary arteries and their heart. From their arteries, the surgeons pull this yellow greasy guck out of the inner linings called atherosclerosis. And I knew very well what that stuff was.
There were already studies in the medical literature explaining it, and actually, some showing that you can melt this stuff away with a plant-based diet. I had an academic interest in it, but a personal one, my dad was already showing signs of clogged arteries. He already had a blue leg, diabetes, and chest pain. I knew that I had the genes, and if I didn’t change my diet, I was going to be laying on that operating table with that striker saw going up my sternum. I didn’t want that. I saw those folks when they woke up.
I was getting some really strong messages to stop eating animal fat because that’s what that stuff was. It’s the fat of the animals largely these folks are eating. When I changed my diet to a plant-based diet, my body responded dramatically. Within 12 weeks, a 20-pound spare tire of fat melted off my waist. My high blood pressure went to normal. My high cholesterol went to normal. I felt great waking up in a nice lean light body. And I realized at that point, three-quarters of the way through my anesthesia residency, that I didn’t want to be an anesthesiologist and spend my time putting people to sleep. I’d rather go back to general practice and help them wake up.
So I did, much to my parents’ dismay, and I moved to Florida. Started doing nutrition-based medicine. My patients who were able to follow my counseling—I found people in the area who would do plant-based cooking lessons. Those patients who are able to change their diet in this way to a whole food plant-based diet, they noted the same wonderful changes. They lost weight. Their high blood pressure came down, their cholesterol came down, they felt really good, and I became the happiest doctor I know. My patients get healthy right in front of my eyes.
It’s the most exciting transformation in medicine to watch someone waddle into your office obese, diabetic, hypertensive, clogged up, and inflamed. And week after week, meal after meal, month after month of these healthy plant-based foods, it’s just remarkable what you see. The obesity melts away, the arteries relax and open up, the high blood pressure comes down, the joints stop hurting, the asthmatic lungs stop wheezing so much, the migraine headaches get better, the colitic bowel settles down, and they turn into normal healthy people. How exciting that is to celebrate with them these health victories.
I’ve been a nutrition and lifestyle medicine doc ever since. And as important as the lifestyle is, you got to get enough sleep, you need to walk every day. Yes, yes, yes. But until you change the food stream washing through your cells meal after meal after meal, the other modifications are not going to make a great difference. It’s the food. It’s the food. There’s the food. It’s square one. You’ve got to do the other things, but the food is square one.
There’s just remarkable magic, if you will, pharmacological effects of plant-based diets that we can talk about. It’s become an art form for me to look at all the different ways that plants change the body, how they promote healing. And now we’re giving master classes in plant-based nutritional healing.
That’s been my evolution. My body’s the same weight as it was back in 1981 when I graduated. It was the same weight when I graduated high school. I don’t need medications. I feel great, I just turned 73 yesterday, and I plan on doing this for as long as I can. As I said, I’m the happiest doctor I know and I want to share with the medical students before pharmaco sclerosis sets in their brains. I’ve been going to the medical schools to tell them it’s what your patients are eating before you order another $1000 scan, another $500 set of blood tests.
Ask them what they ate yesterday. If it’s full of pepperoni pizzas and buffalo wings, that’s why they’re sitting in front of you, doctor. Send them to the plant-based dietitian. Let them do the counseling. You see them back in a month and they ought to be doing better. Trying to put a new model of how medicine should be practiced in these young doctors’ heads. That’s my mission of late, and it’s a challenge, but I’m enjoying it.
[00:10:13] Ashley James: I love it. We have a listener who was going to be—I don’t know what the term is—fired but discharged from the military. He’s a career man in the military. It’s his life, he loves it, and he works down in DC. His cholesterol was so high that he was going to be medically discharged from the military from active service. I don’t know the details other than he came listening to the show, came to us. I think he heard my interview with Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. He’s a steak and potatoes kind of guy—gets on the whole food plant-based, no salt, sugar, oil protocol for one month and his cholesterol numbers came down in one month so fast that he’s been able to keep his job and keep his career.
That was so cool to see that in one month, it could change that fast. You’re 73. You look very young for 73. You’ve been eating a whole food plant-based diet for 39 years?
[00:11:28] Dr. Michael Klaper: Correct, that’s exactly right. The more I found out about how meat is produced, especially today’s industrial factory farming and what I saw happen on the farm, I chopped the heads off chickens. I did all of that, and now I realize the violence involved. I just don’t want anything to do with that. And learning what it’s doing to the earth, to the animals, and to the people who consume it, that’s certainly gotten me into a plant-based diet, and there’s no looking back. There’s no sneaking a cheeseburger now and then.
[00:12:04] Ashley James: But you know what, there are unhealthy vegetarians. There are unhealthy vegans. Just cutting meat out doesn’t mean someone can be healthy. I’d love for you to explain the finer nuances of what going just going meatless alone could still have someone develop diabetes or develop a heart attack. But what are the finer nuances of a whole food plant-based diet versus vegetarianism that would have people heal, prevent, and reverse disease?
[00:12:35] Dr. Michael Klaper: Thank you. That’s such a key question, of course. And the answer is in that phrase. It rolls off our tongues, people like you and me—whole food plant-based diet. It sounds like one word here. But wait a minute, whole foods, stop right there. We’re talking about whole foods like they grew out of the ground that you could recognize in the garden. Oh, there’s a tomato over there. There’s a carrot growing over there. There are green beans hanging on the fence there—whole foods. That’s really what we’re designed to eat.
We have the same digestive system that our gorilla and bonobo cousins have, and they’re up in the trees eating leaves and fruit because we have this digestive system meant to digest a high-fiber, plant-based food. We are not carnivorous apes. We are plant-eating, simian-like creatures. We have fingers on our hands, not claws. We got long intestines for digesting fiber. We’ve got enzymes in our saliva for digesting starch, not protein. We’re clearly plant-eating creatures. And as long as we stay on that diet, it’s a whole food plant-based food stream, then our body knows what to do with it.
The microbiome hums along there, the arteries stay open, the blood stays free-flowing, and we live our long healthy natural lives. I’ve never had a gorilla in the office saying doc, I can’t keep my hands off the cheeseburgers. The animals know what to eat. And our simian cousins do fine with their whole plant foods. When we stray from that, and there are two ways that the [inaudible 00:14:23] vegetarian straight one is broadening their definition. I’m vegetarian so I can eat eggs and dairy.
Well, you put cow’s milk with baby calf growth fluid and it’s filled with the hormones, fats, allergenic proteins, and growth factors. You flood your system with that—with the milk, the cheese, and the ice cream. That’s going to not do great things for your system. It’s going to spawn bacteria that cause problems. It’s going to change your blood chemistry. It’s going to change your hormone levels. It’s going to set you up for everything from diabetes to autoimmune diseases.
And eggs that people have—they’re full of cholesterol, saturated fat, and choline that turns the bacteria turn into trimethylamine that drives cholesterol into the artery walls. We’re not egg and dairy eating creatures either. You don’t see the gorillas going around raiding birds’ nests and eating the eggs. That isn’t our affair.
When we stick to the whole grains, whole potatoes, legumes, and the whole wonderful world of plant-based foods, lots of steamed grainy yellow vegetables, colorful salads, hearty soups, stews, casseroles, and stir-fries. When we keep our belly filled with that, we eat all these colorful sweet fruits for dessert, our body hums right along. Our arteries stay open, and the inflammation in our body subsides, and the blood is free-flowing. The artery is good. There’s a reason that long-term vegans are lean. They will not become obese. We can talk about why. The calorie density just isn’t there. It’s mostly fiber and water that we’re eating. It doesn’t stick to you.
If you go back for the fourth bowl of vegetables, who cares, they’re just fiber and water. It’s like high-quality gasoline in a sports car. Runs great, but you start putting the eggs, the dairy, and then the processed food—even the vegan process food. But if they’re made of flour, oil, sugars, flavorings, glutens, dough conditioners, yellow number three dye, and all the adulterants that get put into the various chips, [inaudible 00:16:51], the bips, the burgers, and all of that. Well then, It’s like you’re mixing diesel fuel, kerosene with your racing gasoline. The engine starts running rough, the gas line plug gets clogged up your arteries, and diseases happen.
Then we put names on them. You have high blood pressure, you have type 2 diabetes, but really, they’re just putting the wrong fuel and the engine clogs up, our insulin receptors clog up our arteries. Similar to your man in the service there who jumped on Dr. Esselstyn’s program there, he gets on that whole food plant-based food stream and the arteries clear out, the cholesterol comes down. They say, oh, how wonderful, how wonderful. But really, it’s predictable. That’s what should happen. That’s what must happen. You put the right fuel in and the numbers take care of themselves.
I joke that clinical reporter, that people get better on plant-based diets was published in that prestigious medical journal called duh. Yeah, that’s the point. We do get better because it’s the food we ought to be running on. Long answer, but it’s just a matter of obeying natural law. Your house cat is a carnivore. The majority of food that goes down a mountain lion’s gullet or your house cat is the flesh of animals. They are carnivores. We are not. We are herbivorous creatures. The majority of what goes down our gut should be whole plant foods.
Now, you can quibble around the edges with a little bit of meat once a month or no, you probably wouldn’t. I’m sure the gorilla eats the occasional beetle little worm on the underside of the leaf there, but by and large, as long as we stick to those whole plant foods, our body knows what to do with it. It functions beautifully and these diseases should not occur. Type 2 diabetes should never occur in a homo sapiens body. Obesity should never really occur. These autoimmune diseases shouldn’t occur. These are all dietary diseases. And the hopeful news is they get better when you put the right fuel and then most of them go away.
[00:19:12] Ashley James: In working with your patients for the last 39 years, you have helped people reverse so many different diseases. If a woman comes to you with an autoimmune disease like maybe MS or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, what do you do? Do you put her on prescription drugs? Or do you start her on a whole food plant-based diet and see how fast and how far you can go with that before you put her on drugs? Or do you not use drugs at all?
[00:19:45] Dr. Michael Klaper: Very perceptive question. The answer is kind of yes to all of the above. I’m a complete pragmatist. I’ll do what works, and I want to save that woman’s tissues whether it’s in her joints, her kidneys, or her nervous system. I want to quell the inflammation and get to the root of the disease as efficiently as possible. In the past, if someone’s in the middle of a big arthritis flare or whatever, I have no qualms about her short course of tapering down prednisone or other types of anti-inflammatories.
The beauty of changing to a whole food plant-based diet, but we’re not anywhere near answering your very complex question there, is it bathes the tissues with antioxidants and it has a real anti-inflammatory effect. When you say autoimmune diseases, the most common ones we see are the autoimmune inflammatory arthritis. The woman who wakes up and her joints are sore and severely fatigued, maybe she’s got a faint skin rash, and goes to the rheumatologist. Negative for rheumatoid arthritis, but it’s seronegative rheumatoid arthritis. Here’s a woman that has most likely a so-called leaky gut phenomenon. She’s injured her gut wall and food proteins and bacterial cell walls are leaking out into the bloodstream and flowing through her joints and causing this inflammation.
Here’s a person that if you pull out the offending molecules, and that includes even starting with water fast for 5 days, 7 days, or 10 days to just put the fire out. It’s remarkable how dramatic these inflammatory states respond to a water fast—we can talk about that—but even without the water fast, if she just can’t or doesn’t want to do that. Just drinking vegetable broth for a day or two and then going on a very low antigenic plant-based diet—blended squash, sweet potatoes, quinoa. So just slowly add these in—steamed green vegetables and probably some omega-3 algae-derived DHA and a fairly hefty dose—300-600 milligrams a day. We often get a dramatic improvement in the inflammation throughout the body. And then you want to keep her on that so it doesn’t flare. You can’t go back to the fried chicken and the grilled fish that she was eating before.
Occasionally, it’s indicated to do a leaky gut repair if they’ve got all sorts of hives and skin rashes after they eat particular foods. They’re showing signs of leaky gut. There’s a protocol of various supplements—quercetin, glutamine, and probiotics for a couple of months to help the gut wall heal. That’s the most common type of autoimmune conditions that we commonly see.
Now over on the other end of the spectrum of autoimmune diseases are the real tough gunslinger diagnoses that make most doctors want to run the other way when they see it on the chart there are multiple sclerosis and Hashimoto’s. These are very complex diseases. These are more than just inflammation from a leaky gut. If you see Hashimoto’s thyroid under a microscope, it is swarming with lymphocytes. There’s an inflammatory fire burning in that gland, and it’s hard to put out. Eventually, it burns out after a couple of years. I have not found the magic pill or herb. I wish I could tell them to eat two cloves of garlic and wear rutabaga around their neck and their thyroid will heal. But most of us docs here, we would love to turn off that raging inflammatory fire in the thyroid gland.
You support them with thyroid hormone, and we nibble around the edges with various herbs, anti-inflammatory oils, and things. But I’ve not found the magic key for Hashimoto’s and similar to multiple sclerosis. Certainly, there are legendary recoveries for multiple sclerosis. Dr. Saray Stancic, an infectious disease specialist, pretty much cured herself of multiple sclerosis. A number of people have done these dramatic turnarounds, but I’ve got a couple of other MS patients who they’ve been plant-based for years and the disease is still progressing. It’s clear when you have a lot to learn about those particular conditions.
But still, even if the disease is progressing, there’s no way I can see when you bite into a chicken leg or a chicken breast, what are you really eating? At the risk of being graphic here, you’re biting into that chicken’s muscle, artery, tendon, and nerve and now you’re chewing up the nerve tissue—the myelin and neural proteins of another animal. Especially if you’ve got a leaky gut, some of that myelin from the cow, the chicken, the pig, the lamb, or whatever you’re eating is going to get in your system. If you’ve got antibodies against myelin or you’ve got some type of neurologic activity going on, the last thing I would think you would want is the myelin of another animal flowing through your immune system, in your bloodstream. Just to help put out the autoimmune inflammatory fire, stop running animal tissue through your body just seems to be a square one logical thing to do.
And then again, lots of dark leafy greens and the omega-3 containing nuts and seeds. If you’re also seeing a neurologist, you can use some of their high-tech medicines. I’m fine with that it’s I won’t stand on principle if it will let them keep walking and keep seeing the MS patients then I’m happy to work with the conventional docs. The patient still should be eating a really healthy plant-based diet no matter what other therapies that they’re on.
[00:26:56] Ashley James: Very good, Dr. Terry Wahls, I’ve had her on the show and she’s doing studies now using diet to reverse MS. Very promising work, and she’s working with Dr. Kahn doing studies on the plant-based diet reversing MS. I love that you’re pragmatic and you’re willing to continue to learn, grow, and implement what you can to help your patients to heal. It’s just those more complex cases where it’s like how far can food take us, right?
I’m a health coach so my client comes to me. I don’t want to throw the kitchen sink at them. I used to do that early on. I’ve been doing this for nine years, and I used to do that early on. I just want to throw everything at them at once and overwhelm them. That doesn’t help them with long-term success, but in the beginning, let’s just get them on the path to eating and bringing in nutrition into their body. Like you said, bathing all those cells in their body with the right nutrition and see how far you can get just with that.
It’s amazing how many symptoms. I have them write down all their symptoms and grade them at the beginning. A full of symptom inventory checklist. Then a month later, I have them go back and do it again, and every month have them do it. What’s amazing is they see how many of their symptoms resolve just by the fact that they’ve changed their nutrition to nutrient-dense foods so that now their body is being bathed, like you said, in these antioxidants, in these phytonutrients, and all the vitamins and the minerals they can possibly take in, and so much reverses.
And then after that, maybe there’s still some lingering things that they can work out with. Like you said, herb supplements, or maybe they need to work with a functional doctor and see how that can be supported. You’re eating a standard American diet, you take your symptoms, and you go to a typical MD, you’re going to walk out with a bag full of prescriptions. Which one of my previous guests—who I just had on the show—he’s basically the mayor of Brooklyn. Very interesting story. He walked out of his doctor’s office with a prescription pad full of drugs and basically came home with a bag full of drugs with multiple problems. Diabetes, he’s losing his eyesight, losing his feeling in his hands and feet, and has an ulcer. The doctor, the MD was like get ready to be on this entire bag of drugs—like 15 medications—for the rest of your life—and probably more.
He went home and he had a little pamphlet they gave him that said, how to live with diabetes. And something about that saying didn’t sit with him. It was almost like divine intervention. He went home and googled how to cure diabetes, and that’s when he discovered the whole food plant-based diet. He got on that, and it’s been a few years. He’s totally off all those meds, he’s reversed all those conditions—the conditions that his MD said you will have for the rest of your life and you will be on these meds for the rest of your life.
Does that upset you? You’ve been a doctor for so long. You’re kind of a pioneer. You’re way ahead of your time helping people reverse disease with food. Doesn’t it upset you when you see so many people being told they’ll always have type 2 diabetes? They’ll always have these problems. They have to be on these meds for the rest of their life when you know they can heal their body. I mean, doesn’t that just get to you?
[00:30:41] Dr. Michael Klaper: It drives me around the bin. It leaves me somewhere between anger and despair, but the determination to correct this. It’s just outrageous to let these young students go through four years of medical school and never once ask about what their patients are eating. We practice medicine like what our patients are eating has no effect on these diseases. It’s some genetic mismatch, or your liver is making too much LDL. Let’s pound down those enzymes and drop that LDL level. No, doctor. It’s from what they’re eating meal after meal.
I practiced medicine for 45 years before anybody put the words disease reversal into the same sentence for me. When the light went on, I said these are reversible diseases. Why didn’t somebody tell me this? Why aren’t we telling these young medical students these are reversible diseases. All of us who practice a diet and lifestyle kind of medicine, we have files full of patients who used to have type 2 diabetes, who used to have high blood pressure, who used to be obese, who used to have an autoimmune disease. These diseases go away. How can we withhold that information from the students and from our patients? It’s unethical to do that, and it really has to change. The public needs to demand that. The students have to demand it, which is what I’m advocating.
We’ve formed a non-profit initiative called Moving Medicine Forward, and I’ve been going to the medical schools telling this to the students. You’re dealing with reversible diseases from what your patients are eating. Ask them what they’re eating, get them on a plant-based diet, and you will see most of these diseases go away right before your very eyes. Do you want to heal these patients or don’t you? I let that question hang in the air. Why are you going into medicine? Do you want to heal these people or don’t you? Either way, if you just call in your obese diabetic patient and you clock your time over their A1C level. You’ve got to raise your metformin level, we’ve got to raise your glyburide level. Okay, you come back in two months. Let’s see what your numbers look like.
If that’s the kind of medicine you’re going to practice, you’re sure not helping your patients. You’re just going to watch them get fatter and sicker until you get that call from the wife, John had a big heart attack. He’s in the ER. They’re not sure if he’s going to make it. That’s what you’re going to witness, and you’re going to leave medicine. You’re not going to do this for 25, 30 years. It’s discouraging. It’s bleak medicine, especially when the way to heal these patients is right in front of you. It’s on their dinner plate. Probably you need to change your diet too, doctor, because there’s nothing sadder than a doctor who walks in the exam room with a big obese potbelly and a pocket full of statins and beta-blockers for his own high blood pressure and his own hyperlipidemia. That’s no example to set for a patient. They want to see a healthy healer walk through that door.
It’s all accessible just for ordering the bean chili instead of the beef chili. That’s the huge sacrifice we’re asking people to make. I mean the cuisine is delicious. You can eat all you want. And you could do it Italian, East Indian, Mexican, or Chinese. This is not a diet of deprivation, but somebody needs to speak the truth to these students. But with the meat industry, big pharma, big egg, and all that, there’s a lot of distortion of the truth that’s getting into these young docs heads. So a few of us are trying to reach them directly. And if people are interested, again, go to my website doctorklaper.com. It’s all spelled out, doctorklaper.com, and click on Moving Medicine Forward. You’ll see the work we’re doing. But absolutely, it causes me great consternation that in this day and age, we’re still withholding that information from the students and the patients. It’s unconscionable and it can’t stand. The patients know it.
It’s getting easier though. When I go to the medical schools—years ago before COVID, now we’re all online—now, in every second, third, fourth-year med school class, there’s always 20, 30, 40 students who’ve seen films like Forks Over Knives. They’ve seen What the Health, and they’ve seen Cowspiracy. The light’s on, and the kids know something’s up with nutrition here. They’re worried about the environment. They know the importance of all of us adopting a plant-based diet. So the message is getting easier to deliver to the students, but the faculty is still pretty resistant. But they will yield. Let the truth be told or the heavens fall. We’ll keep pecking away at that wall and eventually the wall of ignorance and resistance it’ll come down.
[00:35:38] Ashley James: Very cool. I’d like to talk about carbohydrates. I was type 2 diabetic. I reversed it with food and supplementation of nutrients. I no longer have type 2 diabetes, but I was left afraid of carbohydrates. It really started when I was a child. My mother, who was thin and fit, was incredibly afraid of carbohydrates. She was very afraid of becoming fat, of becoming obese, and she would wake up really early in the morning to go to a 90-minute exercise class. She would do that every day and eat lean chicken and vegetables and never ever, ever touch potatoes or rice or any kind of grain. She was just so afraid of carbohydrates.
When I had type 2 diabetes, I was again afraid of carbohydrates. I would do things like Atkins wishing that the promise of Atkins would be bestowed upon me. That this promise of being incredibly healthy. Oh, all you have to do is eat lots of fat and protein and very very few carbohydrates and you too could be diabetes free and full of health and vitality. Well, I don’t know anyone who has achieved long-term health and vitality by eating such an acid-forming diet, but I felt very sick doing Atkins. But every time I did it, I thought it was me. That I was failing somehow, or my body was broken somehow because I kept reading these books and kept seeing all the information out there that that was the way to go.
Even my doctors would say you have to eat 50 grams or less of carbohydrates. Well, in coming into the whole food plant-based diet, it seemed radical this idea that you would eat almost entirely your diet is carbohydrates. Of course, there’s healthy fats and protein as well within a whole food, but the majority of it is a complex whole food carbohydrate—brown rice, quinoa, potatoes, and vegetables. They all contain carbohydrates and starches, and I was afraid of it.
I chose to dive in because I like doing experimentation, and in eating this way, what shocked me was my blood sugar went even lower. I actually burst into tears. I had a meal, an hour later I took my blood sugar—it was 87. I burst into tears. I eat 200 grams of carbohydrates on average every day, but they’re whole food sources. So I’m eating potatoes every day, brown rice every day, and what I noticed is I wake up earlier, I have more energy, and my body wants to go to sleep at night. I just noticed that my body shifted, and it has more energy throughout the day, but I also wake up earlier. Then my body’s more ready for bed at night, which was really just an interesting shift in just increasing carbohydrates in the form of whole food carbohydrates.
I know some people who are still afraid, even with all this information, they’re still afraid of eating potatoes. They’re still afraid of eating brown rice because carbohydrates have received a very bad rap. I would love for you to get into more details. You wouldn’t be taking these potatoes and putting butter on them or putting olive oil on them. You wouldn’t put even some veganaise or whatever. You wouldn’t take processed oil and include it in the foods. Why is it that someone can eat more carbohydrates and their blood sugar becomes more stable if they eliminate processed fats? Why is it that we’re seeing that processed fats have a larger role in disrupting blood sugar and insulin regulation than eating a whole food carbohydrate would?
[00:39:40] Dr. Michael Klaper: That’s a key question. Congratulations on your bravery for persevering with a really natural diet, and you got rewarded—as you would and should. Because we are carbohydrate burning creatures. Ask any gorilla, ask any gazelle, ask any buffalo. We are meant to burn carbohydrates. The mitochondria in our cells burn glucose preferentially, not fats. We are sugar-burning organisms, and that’s what the grazing animals are eating. That’s what the gorillas are eating—the leaves, the fruits, and the roots. And that’s what our ancient paleolithic ancestors ate, not mammoth meat. We spent all day foraging, digging up these starchy roots and tubers.
Most of the calories that came in the paleolithic camp were gathered by the women who spent all day foraging for the starchy roots, tubers, berries, leaves, and fruits, but these are carbohydrate-heavy whole plant foods. Nature makes their plants out of carbohydrates. We’ve got this beautiful digestive system that burns them cleanly, and that’s the point. Glucose, which is what sugars and starches are, it’s a clean-burning fuel. Once it goes into mitochondria, the energy is extracted from the glucose molecule. And what’s the waste product? The carbon dioxide that you breathe off in your lungs and water that you pee out in the urine. It leaves the body cleanly, elegantly, and delivers a lot of good energy.
The problem is fats. When people are grossly diabetic—and type 2 diabetes is the most common type because people have clogged their insulin receptors up with fats, we’ll get to that in a minute. Once they’re all insulin resistant and their insulin receptors are clogged up with fats, then they eat some rice, potatoes, or some fruit—and because their insulin sectors don’t work because of the fat—their blood sugar spikes way up. And people say, aha, see those bad old carbohydrates. They’re evil foods for you and they make you fat.
No, they don’t. Carbohydrates cannot, with one exception, turn into fats. They can’t. When you think about it, the body is not going to take a ring of glucose, blow it apart of the mitochondria, grab the two, three-carbon fragments, and start stringing them together and make it a long-chain fatty acid with a bunch of enzymatic steps to turn that sugar into fat. Not going to happen. Your body’s not going to do that. What’s it really going to do? If you, at dinner time, eat a couple of potatoes and a heap of rice, you take in a carbohydrate load at 6:00 PM in the evening, what’s going to happen?
Blood sugar is going to go up, that’s true, and insulin is going to be secreted by the pancreas. That’s going to move the glucose into your muscles and your liver where it’s going to be stored in a form called glycogen. That’s the energy we use in our muscles to walk around, breathe, et cetera. But once the glycogen stores are full in the muscle, what happens to that extra energy? You burn it off as heat. Your body temperature will go up a quarter of a degree, and you’ll stick your foot out from under the covers at night or throw the covers off, and you’ll radiate that heat off to space. It will not turn into fat.
What will happen is as you rightly imply—now if you pour olive oil on your baked potato or on your pasta—you eat fat and sugar at the same time, the body will preferentially burn the sugar and will store that fat for later. That sugar and fat combo does stick to you, but the real damage is done is that is the fat. And again, people are keeping fat in their blood all day of bacon and eggs for breakfast, cheeseburger for lunch, and fried chicken for dinner, or pizza with cheese then the olive oil. All these fats, they’re keeping their blood fatty all day, day after day, week after week, month after month. It never really clears out of the bloodstream.
And as a result, the fat starts oozing into the liver and into the muscle cells and they start clogging up the fat molecules, clog up the insulin receptor mechanisms. And then insulin that needs to move sugar from your bloodstream into your muscle doesn’t work, so the sugar piles up in the bloodstream and goes up. It’s not a good thing to walk around with high sugars. It hurts your arteries, it hurts a lot of things. But the primary problem is not the carbohydrates, it’s the fats. We need a little bit of fat, but get it out of a handful of almonds, walnuts, some olives on your salad, or some avocado in your dressing. Get it out of whole foods. We need some fats. You don’t want to eat grossly fatty foods as far as the things made with egg yolks, vegetable oils, certainly the meats, the dairy, the cheeses, and all that stuff. That’s where it comes from.
Type 2 diabetes is a disease of fat toxicity, it’s not a disease of carbohydrate problems. Your mother—God bless her—your mother didn’t know, my mother didn’t know, who knew? But she was given bad information by the doctors at the time who are chasing these blood sugar numbers. Oh, it’s the sugar, it’s the sugar. No, it’s not, doctor. It was fat all along. You changed that. You got rid of most of the fat when you went on a whole food plant-based diet. Your insulin receptors cleared out, and suddenly you’re able to metabolize that very slowly released glucose that comes from whole rice, whole potatoes. They’re released very moderately into the bloodstream and don’t cause a big spike in sugars, as you noted there.
Again, it’s just going back to natural law. We are carbohydrate burning creatures here, and it’s the fat that seduces us. The folks on the keto diets who have these low blood sugars, they’re all insulin resistant, but because they run the other way when they think about eating any carbohydrates. They never eat any so no, their blood sugar doesn’t go up. And they say, see, it cures diabetes. No, ma’am. No, sir. Your diabetes is not cured. You are insulin resistant as hell as you would find out if you ate some carbohydrates how high it goes, but this is not a state of health. The steak in ketosis week after week after week. There’s stress on the body. I think these folks are setting themselves up for some bad diseases, but that’s another story.
But anyway, ask any gorilla. We should subsist on whole plant foods, and if we do, the gorillas don’t go diabetic, and there’s no reason we should either. Again, thank heavens it’s one of those eminently reversible diseases. If you’ve got any pancreas function left at all, you should be able to handle the glucose from whole plant foods quite well, and diabetes is one of those reversible diseases.
[00:47:02] Ashley James: Triglycerides is something that we have come to know as being a better indicator of heart disease than cholesterol. I’ve been told by my doctor that high triglycerides are caused by eating sugar. Can you explain how we could eat a whole food plant-based diet where we’re eating a ton of carbohydrates but at the same time lower our triglycerides?
[00:47:29] Dr. Michael Klaper: We’ll get to that at the end. Yes, when I said with one exception, sugars don’t turn into a fast. The one exception is if you really flood your liver, especially with fructose, which is not a friendly sugar. Muscles cannot burn fructose. There is only one organ that burns fructose and that’s your liver. If you’re eating way too much fructose, fruit juices, various high fructose corn syrup, confectioners, and things like that, the body will take some of those fructose molecules, rearrange them, and turn them into your triglycerides. But let’s talk about some science here, if you don’t mind.
[00:48:15] Ashley James: I’d love that, please.
[00:48:17] Dr. Michael Klaper: The real issue here when you say triglycerides is a better indicator than cholesterol, realize that all of those statements are derived from a population of Joe meat and potatoes Americans who are eating meat and dairy every day. In those folks, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol they’re markers. They’re indicators. These are the folks you’re going to get in trouble because of what they’re eating. It’s not so much the absolute number of your triglyceride or your LDL is. Atherosclerotic plaques do not form on your artery walls because your LDL is too high. These are inflammatory lesions.
These arteries are being injured meal after meal of fried chicken muscle, vegetable oils, frying french fries, high fructose corn syrup, phosphoric acid from cola drinks, the artificial colorings and flavorings, the detergents, and the polysorbate 80 that keeps the candy bar soft. These detergents injure the inner artery walls, the endothelial lining. Meal after meal, day after day of exposure to this chemical these all rips up the endothelial linings. When you grill a steak or a burger, you are oxidizing cholesterol in the muscle of the animal. When you eat that oxidized cholesterol and it goes over those ripped up endothelial linings, that’s how it’s able to get into the wall of the artery and set off the inflammatory reaction that winds up with a plaque being formed that can rupture and kill you.
But this is an active biological process. It’s not just about how high is your triglycerides, how high is your LDL. There is an inflammatory fire burning in the walls of the arteries kindled and kept blazing by the person’s daily diet. If you are on a whole food plant-based diet, if the only thing you’re running through those arteries are rice, greens, beans, papayas, fruits, and vegetables—just filled with antioxidants without the fried animal muscle, the Neu5Gc, the endotoxin, the aldehydes, and all the things that are inherent in a meat-based diet. You pull those out and you bathe those artery walls with antioxidants, phytonutrients, resveratrol, and all these things meal after meal, the arteries heal. And these plaques melt away as Dr. Esselstyn demonstrates, but cardiologists have become these fear-filled technicians ricocheting off these numbers.
What’s your LDL particle size? What’s your ratio? What’s your LDL number? Doctor, you’re a healer of arteries. Think about what is injuring those arteries. It’s artery abused by the owner of the arteries, doctor. Talk to the owner of those arteries about how they’re treating them. If you never change the oil in your sports car and you’re screeching the tires, eventually you’re going to wind up with a rickety engine and bald tires. That’s what this person’s doing to their artery walls. Talk to them, doctor. Get real. Don’t just raise their statin dosage. There’s an active biological process going on here that will turn that process into a healing one with a change in the fuel mixture flowing through those arteries and those arteries will heal, doctor.
When you say triglycerides are higher, they’re just indicators for who’s beating up on their arteries. Now I’ve got vegans with cholesterols at 210, and cholesterol is not an evil molecule. Your liver makes it, so your adrenal glands can make cortisol out of it. And your genitals can make your estrogen, your testosterone out of it that’s why the liver makes it. If you don’t have enough iodine in your diet, and you have low-grade hypothyroidism, that will raise your cholesterol. There are reasons why a vegan may have slightly higher cholesterol. But if their inflammatory markers are stone-cold negative, they’re not injuring their arteries meal after meal, I don’t care that their cholesterol is 208. They’re never going to develop a plaque.
As I said, when the arteries are inflamed, there are all sorts of inflammatory markers you can measure—high-sensitivity CRP, myeloperoxidase, oxidized cholesterol. There’s a whole panel now that you can measure. If those are stone-cold negative, you get an ultrasound of their carotid arteries and they’re smooth and clean, I don’t care that their cholesterol is 210. I can put that person on statins. They do not have the disease of atherosclerosis.
There is a medical term, I would say, doctors, please, make the distinction between benign hypercholesterolemia where your liver just happens to put out a little extra LDL in your bloodstream versus the disease—the active biological inflammatory process of atherosclerosis burning in the walls of the arteries. They are not the same thing. You can have benign mild hypercholesterolemia without the artery disease. It depends on how the owner of the arteries treats those arteries.
Thanks for letting me get that out, but I want to free people. It’s what I call the tyranny of the numbers. We’re so scared. Oh my god, my LDL is 184. How many statins do I need? Get off that merry-go-round. Treat your arteries like the gorillas treat theirs. I don’t have any gorillas on statins or any bonobos. There really shouldn’t be any humans needing them either, ask Dr. Esselstyn. He occasionally uses it acutely to drive down their cholesterol for a few months. If you got a patient on death’s door or were all clogged up, yeah I don’t have any problem with six months of statin. There’s an emergency measure. But it’s the food, it’s the food, it’s the food going to heal that person, not the statins. People need to be aware.
I’m giving that masterclass this Sunday evening if people want to hear that in my masterclass. Go to my website and sign up for a master class on healing arteries and hearts.
[00:54:49] Ashley James: Very good. You mentioned that it’s more about what is doing damage to the artery and what is damaging and inflaming the artery. There are all these blood tests and they’re showing either triglycerides and cholesterol. Cholesterol is a catchphrase for a bunch of different sized molecules. It’s like what’s damaging that artery for that person? Is it high blood sugar? High blood sugar damages the artery, all the oxidative stress. What you’re saying is really the best thing to look at are the inflammatory markers.
[00:55:25] Dr. Michael Klaper: Yes.
[00:55:26] Ashley James: Can you break down and teach us what are the safe numbers? You said there’s a whole panel, but for those who don’t know about the inflammatory markers, what is the best way to measure artery damage, basically?
[00:55:42] Dr. Michael Klaper: I’ll be glad to answer that question. Pulling back the focus a little bit though, a wise doctor once said, anybody who’s been eating the standard American diet for more than 30, 40, 50 years, you have artery disease. It doesn’t matter what your markers are. I used to order a lot of these, I don’t order so many anymore. Because the truth of it is no matter what the numbers are, the treatment is the same. Get on a whole food plant-based diet, run those greens and beans through your blood vessels, and no matter what the numbers are, they’re going to take care of themselves.
Ultimately, no one needs to really focus on these numbers. The idea is that what they’re telling you is there is an inflammatory fire burning in the walls of your arteries or not. And if there is, put it out with a whole food plant-based diet. If people are really serious about pursuing this, go to the website of either Boston Heart Laboratories—I have no connection with either of these labs—or Cleveland HeartLab. They have these lovely diagrams and the lovely panels of all the inflammatory markers there. So Boston Heart or Cleveland HeartLab will show you.
But basically, there’s a progression. As the artery starts to get inflamed—first of all, measure the oxidized cholesterol. That’s the really atherogenic particle. See if that is elevated. And the different labs, the other different range of normal. But check for oxidized cholesterol. Then as inflammation starts happening, you start getting prostaglandin E2 two building up. Isoprostane two is one of the early markers of inflammation. And then, as it progresses, as plaque starts developing, you get a protein release called C-reactive protein. And the test for that is hs-CRP—high-sensitivity C-reactive protein. You want that less than one.
As plaque develops and the white blood cells invade the plaque and start softening it and getting ready to rupture, which would set off a clot, then the enzymes that the white cells use to soften the plaque material, the monocytes release phospholipase A2, PLA2s. And the white blood cells release an enzyme called myeloperoxidase or MPO. That’s the panel. If I’ve got a patient eating a standard western diet and his isoprostane is up, he’s full of oxidized cholesterol, he’s already putting out CRP, and his myeloperoxidase and fossil lipids are up, he not only has a plaque, but they’re probably getting ready to rupture. This man needs to jump on Dr. Esselstyn’s green heavy diet. Boot in, full tilt.
If I have a vegan—10-year, 20-year vegan—who’s eating rice, beans, and greens, but his cholesterol is 222 but his oxidized cholesterol is near zip, and his CRP is less than one. Again, his myeloperoxidase and his fossil lipid, they’re all negative. I send him over to the ultrasound store there and they check his carotids and they are slick and clean with nice laminar flow. This man does not have the disease atherosclerosis. I don’t care if their cholesterol is 220. He’s not cooking up plaques here. He’s a very low risk. This man does not need a statin.
Those are markers. The individual numbers vary with the different labs, but if they’re grossly high or negative, those are the two boundaries that you’re looking at.
[00:59:49] Ashley James: Very cool. Thank you for clarifying that. When you had said that fructose can increase triglycerides if someone were to eat a raw vegan diet that’s more of a fruitarian, would that be enough to increase triglycerides? Or you’re saying more like concentrated highly processed foods like high fructose corn syrup and drinking Coca-Cola, that kind of thing? It’s basically the standard American diet, which is full of processed sugar and processed fructose versus eating whole fruit.
[01:00:25] Dr. Michael Klaper: Correct. When you bite an apple, what’s really in your mouth? What do you find? It’s mostly water, fiber, and a little fructose. There are other sugars involved. There’s not that much fructose, but it comes in with B vitamins and minerals to help with the metabolism of the fructose. Really, how many apples can you eat? You’re not going to be getting that much fructose from whole fruits.
Now once you throw six mangoes, a pound of grapes, four bananas, and pineapple into a blender and make a fruit smoothie, you are full of fructose. Chug-a-lug it down in 90 seconds, that’s a heck of a fructose load. You do that—and some of my fruitarian folks do—that’s a good way to get to jack up your triglycerides and give you a surge on your weight and possibly a fatty liver. But again, there’s no one other animal that does that. I tell folks if you’re going to do a smoothie, it should be a green smoothie. Just packed solid with baby kale and baby broccoli or whatever with some almond milk in there, some ground flax seeds, and maybe some frozen mangoes for sweetness, but mostly greens.
If you’re making up a smoothie like that, or any kind of smoothie, don’t chug-a-lug it down all at once. Take a mouthful, put the glass down, chew up the mouthful, mix it with your saliva, swallow it, wait 10 minutes, wait 15 minutes, let it get down into your stomach out into your duodenum, let it absorb, and start getting into your bloodstream there before you take the next swallow there. But take an hour, take two hours to drink a smoothie. Don’t chug-a-lug those things down all at once. There’s nothing physiologic about dumping 32 ounces of fructose and potassium into your system all at once. That’s my thought on fruit. How many mangoes are you going to eat? Three? That’s really not going to cause a huge fructose injury to your body, I don’t think.
[01:02:32] Ashley James: Especially because, like you said, the sugar, the fructose is bound to the fiber, the body has to break down the fiber, and the fiber helps feed the healthy gut biome. It slows everything down. I was fascinated when I learned that the body takes nine hours to utilize all of the carbohydrates, the fuel, the energy from a sweet potato or a yam. So you eat a yam, it’s nine hours of constant fuel slowly being dripped into your system because your body has to break it down, has to break it away from the fiber versus if you were to process it. Let’s say we process that yam into a flour—removed it from the fiber or broke it down, processed it, and made some kind of pasta out of it. Oh, it sounds like a really cool gluten-free paleo pasta. It sounds like a fun treat, but that would shoot up blood sugar much quicker because we process the fiber or removed the fiber.
So when you eat whole food, it reacts much differently in the body than any kind of processed food, especially if a processed food that’s had oil added to it, which is what you explained. It’s interesting looking at this way of eating because we have to continue to remember, it’s no oil. Really coming back to you, if you want to get fat, you have to get it from whole food. So many people keep saying, but what about olive oil? It’s so healthy. And what about coconut oil? It’s so healthy. There are studies that show that these foods are healthy.
I keep coming back to then eat the whole food. They’re actually removing it out of all the other nutrients and throwing those nutrients away—throwing the fiber away, throwing the minerals away. Eat the whole coconut. Drink the coconut milk and eat its flesh. That way, that coconut oil is going to be inside that, but you’re also going to get it with all the other nutrients. Same with an olive. Find some low sodium olives. It’s not that I’m against sodium. If you want to eat 12 olives, you’re definitely going to want to look for a low sodium olive because they are packed full of sodium and get the nutrients from that.
You mentioned some really great documentaries. One that I actually went into the movie theater to see is the Game Changers. That one was different from the others because they were following the lives of elite athletes—gold medal winners in the Olympics. There’s a man in his 70s who is able to perform athletic feats that 20-year-old athletes couldn’t do. There were fighters in mixed martial arts battles, and there was the world’s strongest man. He kept referring to gorillas as well and looking at a 1500 pound or a 2000 pound bull. Looking at these giant bulls rippling with muscle or a giant gorilla rippling with muscle. He would refer to them and say, “What does the bull eat? What does the gorilla eat? They don’t eat a giant 30-ounce steak to get their muscle. They’re eating 100% plants. That’s just where they get their protein from.”
This man, who’s the world’s strongest man, gained after he went whole food plant-based. Actually was able to gain 30 more pounds of muscle. That really shocked me. There are people who have different health goals listening to this. Some want to gain weight, some maybe are a little thin—on the thinner side—would like to gain some muscle, like to gain some more definition, or just be in a healthier place. Many people want to lose weight. 70% of Americans and many other countries around the world— because we follow what America does in terms of the diet—the hyper-palatable foods.
Many people want to lose weight, so 70% of adults are considered overweight and also have pre-diabetes, a diabetic, or on their way to becoming diabetic. They have different health goals. How can someone who wants to lose weight, someone who wants to gain weight or gain muscle, and someone who just wants to maintain their weight but be healthy or maybe reverse a disease, how can they all achieve the same goal with the same way of eating?
[01:07:08] Dr. Michael Klaper: Beautiful question. There are two separate issues, though they do meet in the middle so to speak. As far as the weight loss goes, yes, we are overweight, obese nation. I’ve been a physician for 49 years since the early 70s. I’ve seen this tsunami of obesity sweep through the American public. It’s been eye-watering to see this. Despite the movement for fat acceptance, obesity is a state of inflammation. There are no healthy obese people. They are inflamed, they have hormone imbalances, and they die earlier from clogged arteries, cancers, and strokes. Obesity is not something to be accepted.
Now, the way through it is not to pack your intestines full of meat every day, and it’s not to starve yourself of calories. The beauty, as we implied much earlier, of a whole food plant-based diet is mostly fiber and water. If you start your meals with a big salad, a hearty bowl of vegetable soup, and some steamed green-yellow veggies, already your stomach is pretty full with just a couple of hundred calories. And then have your rice and potatoes towards the end of the meal there, but a meal like that is going to take the weight off you. You can’t hold an obese body on that kind of dietary fair. The calorie density is just not there.
So the answer is just to adopt the whole food, and here’s again that whole food. It’s got to be whole plant foods. It can’t be energy bars, cookies, granola cereals, and energy drinks. These hyper-concentrated, hyper-palatable foods—even if they’re vegan—are not going to help you get a lean body. But as long as it grew out of the garden, and you can call it by name—that’s a cucumber, that’s a cabbage—then keep your belly full of that and your weight will take care of itself. Within 3, 6, 12, or 18 months, you’re going to have a much leaner healthier body. That kind of takes care of itself.
Now, as far as muscle mass goes, it’s not a matter of just trucking down huge bolts of protein and expect your muscles to ripple. One, it doesn’t work like that. You can’t eat brains and expect to get smarter. It’s not a matter of just eating a cow’s muscle or a bull’s muscle and expect to have muscles like a bull. It doesn’t work like that. But before I just blow past that, it’s not healthy to do that. High protein diets are toxic to the kidneys. When you eat these high protein meals—and that includes the veggie protein powders that these bodybuilders bolt down—you slam the glomeruli with 100 grams of amino acids and it hurts them. I’ve seen chronic kidney disease in long-term vegans who are eating way, way too much protein.
Get your protein out of beans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils in their whole form and you can easily make it to that magic 70, 80 grams of protein. Nobody really needs that. Most people function just fine on 40 or 50 grams of protein. Even that’s plenty. But if the bodybuilders eat one gram of protein for every pound of bodyweight, you ought to be eating 70, 80 grams. Okay, so you have an extra hummus sandwich and a scoop of lentil stew or have a nut butter sandwich. You better eat the more calorie and protein-dense foods, but that’s not going to put muscle on you.
What puts muscle on you is then getting up off your duff and going to the gym or going into the room where your weights are and spend 40 minutes using those muscles. That’s why that bull’s got that rippling muscular body because he’s carrying around 2000 pounds of bone and muscle in every place he goes. The gorillas, they’re constantly doing these feats of strength as they lift their bodies up and they brachiate through the forest. These animals develop these muscles because they’re using them all day. They’re muscular athletic creatures. That’s what builds muscle. Whether you want to get into the whole rippling bodybuilder thing, but just have enough. You want to get to your 80s and 90s with enough muscle in your body so you can get out of a chair unassisted. That’s the most important thing. If you fall so you can get up off the ground. That’s the most important athletic act you will ever do.
When they go to the old folks home on the senior citizens’ home and they see who can get out of a chair unassisted, they’re the ones who are still there the next year. The folks who can’t get out of a chair unassisted often don’t survive very long. No one needs all these rippling muscles. I don’t think it’s a terribly physiological healthy thing to do to really just way overdevelop your muscles. But if that’s what you choose to do, yes, you can do it on plant-based foods. But again, it comes from those sweat in the gym. It’s not a matter of how much protein you can bolt down.
[01:12:51] Ashley James: Thank you for the clarification. You’re mentioning gorillas several times. I guess two schools of thought. One is that we’re evolved from gorillas or we’re distant cousins of gorillas. And then there would be the more biblical Adam and Eve story. Of course, we’re not here to say that anyone’s religious beliefs aren’t incorrect. But for those who have a religious belief about where we came from, why is it that we want to look at gorillas as a good example for our health?
[01:13:34] Dr. Michael Klaper: I don’t want to step on anybody’s religious beliefs. Yes, I’m assuming that if you believe in evolution at all—all the way up from the fish to the lizards to the whole evolutionary tree there—we homo sapiens creature, we’ve come up through the simian line, through the ape line. We didn’t come up through the antelope line or through the ungulates. We came up through the simian ancestors. You did not evolve from your cousin. We did not evolve from the gorilla, but way way way way back, we probably had a common ancestor, probably a lemur or something that was 10 million, 20 million years ago. But we clearly came down the simian branch of evolution.
So we look at the great apes and the monkeys that are on this planet. They’re all essentially plant-eating creatures. Yes, the baboons can get into flesh-eating et cetera, but even the majority of what they eat is still fruits and herbage. It is just because I’m just being true to just our evolutionary heritage there. None of those animals go out. You don’t see a bunch of gorillas banding together into a group of 20 of them and hunting down a gazelle and tearing its flesh.
[01:15:10] Ashley James: They could.
[01:15:12] Dr. Michael Klaper: They could but they don’t. They’re not built that way. Their nature is not in their digestive system. And could they really bite through that hide? It’s not simian-like to do that. We are not carnivorous apes. Because they’re so close to us in our anatomy, et cetera, it’s not that big of a logical leap there to say they’re of the same prototype.
[01:15:44] Ashley James: For those who don’t prescribe to that belief system, what kind of science can you bring? What kind of examples can you bring to show that eating the way an ape would eat benefits humankind?
[01:15:59] Dr. Michael Klaper: Well, certainly, our body gives us lots of indications. Plants have no cholesterol so it keeps our arteries clean and it feeds our microbiome a plant-based diet, breeds the beneficial prevotella organisms that crunch cancer growth and inflammation. I mean, on every level, our body hums along, but when we start eating flesh, and especially in any quantity, our arteries become inflamed and clogged up. We spawn Bacteroidetes and other microbes in our gut that produce carcinogens and uncouple our bile salts and set it up for colon cancer. There are just so many red lights that start flashing when we drift into an animal-based fuel. That alone should ask us to just obey the nature of who we are.
We’ve got our canine teeth shorter than our central incisors. If we jumped on the back of a cow, you couldn’t bite through its hide let alone its muscle, but these short little canines work great for biting into starchy roots, tubers, and apples. That is really what our dentition is made. We’ve got these made flat grinding molded teeth and a rotary jaw joint that lets us chew in a rotary motion to chew up leaves, grains, and seeds, et cetera. Again, we’ve got fingers on our hands, not claws.
In fact, I would invite people, if you really want a beautiful discourse on this, go to YouTube and search for the wonderful presentation by Dr. Milton Mills, MD. Is man an herbivore or an omnivore? And he gives a brilliant discourse removing all doubt we are herbivorous creatures. And to stray from that is to transgress national natural law and we wind up summoning all those diseases that reverse on a plant-based diet. I don’t know what more proof people need.
[01:18:18] Ashley James: The best thing we can do is learn from our history, learn from our past so that we don’t repeat it. Many of us don’t know what the diet of our ancestors was like and also don’t know the statistics of disease. Could you let us know what our great grandparents—what was their quality of food? What was on their plate versus the diseases they had? Statistically, we’re most likely to die of heart disease. If we look at it, the biggest killer in the United States and in many countries around the world is heart disease. This is why it’s so important. If you eat a diet that keeps your heart and arteries clean, you’re likely to also stave off other diseases. That’s what we see, we learn from the whole food plant-based diet.
This is not a new fad. You’ve been doing this for almost 40 years. This is certainly not new, but it is new to us in that we were raised under the marketing and under the hypnosis of the mainstream media pushing us, marketing to us to eat eggs, bacon, butter, and dairy—makes a body good. Let’s get cracking. We were all marketed to eat a certain way, and of course, our tax dollars are funding subsidies, which artificially lower the cost of meat because we subsidize the corn and the feed for the animals. They’ve altered the food supply in the last 100 years so much and now we see disease skyrocketing. What did it look like 100 years ago or 200 years ago in terms of the statistics of disease versus today? And what was on their plates versus today?
[01:20:13] Dr. Michael Klaper: Oh my. We’ll get to 100 years ago, let me take back 100,000 years. As far as what our ancient ancestors ate—people say, well, how do you really know? One thing we know is that when we look at their encampments, these people—just like us—they had bowel movements. The feces became fossilized, and there are fossilized fecal droppings, called coprolites, all over those ancient encampments. When you look at the mass of the bowel movements of the fecal that they passed, you see the massive amounts of fiber these people were eating. They have been eating about 100 grams of fiber a day to produce these large stools. Again, that’s plant material. Whether they had a mammoth in the freezer and ate the occasional animal flesh, again, the majority of what those folks ate was a whole food plant-based diet.
That said, coming into more modern times here, the picture’s kind of skewed in medical history because 100 years ago, certainly 150, 200 years ago, people were dying of infectious diseases. They were dying of tuberculosis, scarlet fever, typhoid fever, and all these diseases of crowded cities and poor sanitation. That really carried away about half the public there. There were still heart attacks, but I think Eric described the first one I think in 1910. Again, it seemed to be a 20th-century disease, they certainly had gout, they certainly had diabetes, and they certainly had the diseases of affluence—the diseases of kings and queens. Now people ate like that back then got those same diseases. But the regular folks who couldn’t afford meat every day, they didn’t die so much of the artery disease. But again, they were the poor folks who wound up in crowded cities and dying of typhoid and tuberculosis.
No matter when in history we tune in, the diet was certainly playing a major role. But the main thrust of your question, you are right. After World War II, I was born 1947, from that era on, the western diet changed. We got rich in this country, we got high techie, and we got money-driven. The food folks learned that you put fat, salt, and sugar on people’s tongues, man, you can sell them anything. They developed it into an art form. Their science of it. We’re left with the sorry legacy of that juggernaut that got spawned with that lethal mix of marketing, the money, and the disregard for public health. I don’t care what it does. As long as they’re buying my product, as long as my stockholders are making money, that’s all I care about.
Look at our children. Look at the cost of that philosophy and the costs have been way, way too high. I don’t care if they’ve made a lot of money. They’re going to wind up giving it back with all the hospitals, the medical plans, and the insurance. The old saying, pay your grocer now or your doctor later. The one or the other. You’ve got to pay for your health. It’s better to pay the grocer for healthy food rather than paying your doctor to bail you out of the problems that bad food has created.
[01:24:16] Ashley James: In all your years of working with people and helping them to heal their body with food, is there one story that stands out? Someone who you were so surprised that they were able to reverse that. You didn’t expect them to reverse that problem with a whole food plant-based diet.
[01:24:39] Dr. Michael Klaper: Oh my, yeah. A number of them. I had a man in his 40s come in. He had low-grade cancer, but he had some numbers that were of concern regarding his blood tests, his arteries, et cetera. He had read Dr. Esselstyn’s book and he said, “I know I have to do this.” And I really encouraged him to do that. He was living with his mother and father and both of them said we’re fine, but as an act of solidarity to support you, our son, we’re going to eat the same way you are. Not only did Andre do beautifully with his cholesterol levels and his cancer never came back, but his father lived—totally unbeknownst to me.
He had diabetes, high blood pressure, was taking four medications and was on insulin. I would see the son every month or so and about six months into it, he brought his father with him. His father walked in and gave me the biggest cry. He had tears coming down his face. He said, “You don’t know me,” but he brought in the pills that he was on. He had a paper bag full of pills. He says, “I don’t take a single pill. Every morning I work out on my exercise, I bike like you recommended for my son, and I’ve never felt so good.” You never know who hears, you never know who sees, you never know who gets inspired. We became quite good friends. We see them a couple of times a year. I’ve got a really fine thing with the father now who wasn’t even my official patient.
I had another patient. He was the head of physiotherapy at Truckee hospital in the California mountains. He had angina so bad and he was clogged up. He used to be a football player. He couldn’t walk across the courtyard of our clinic without taking two nitroglycerin. He was in such a bad artery shape. He did a water fast and got on a really lean clean diet, and every morning, I would meet him for our morning and afternoon walk. When we started he could barely make it at half a block, but day after day, healthy meal after a healthy meal, I watched him. I watched the weight come off him, I watched his walking ability increased, and I watched his confidence increase. His face changed as he lost weight. He became a different man right in front of my eyes. And by the time he left our clinic in Northern California, he was walking five miles around Santa Rosa. Yes, it makes you go to bed at night saying yes, that’s why I went into medicine to help people get into that state. Wonderful good stories. Everybody’s got a bucket full of those who practice this kind of medicine.
[01:27:58] Ashley James: I love it. I call my kitchen my pharmacy and you walk into your kitchen, when you walk through the threshold of your kitchen, just know, say to yourself, I’m walking into my pharmacy. Use farm like farmacy. You’re walking into your farmacy. You open that fridge, and when it is full of a beautiful variety of colorful vegetables, leafy greens, it is so beautiful. There’s just something magical about it. I love cooking, and I love making delicious food. Some people are really intimidated by it. There are so many recipes out there. I had Chef AJ on the show a few times. She has at least 100 videos on YouTube teaching different recipes.
Then I got together with a really good friend of mine who got on the whole food plant-based diet as well and has seen amazing results. But not only that, her parents, her mother-in-law, her entire family, and they all have had results. She converts people. It’s pretty amazing. She’s a living example. She’s in her 40s, she was diagnosed with heart issues, or she was told she has heart issues. She noticed that she was having some pain and she thought it was a different health problem, but the pain in her chest was the beginning of angina.
And then she got on a whole food plant-based diet, and within just a matter of—I think it was less than two weeks, it was really really soon—her walking partner, she goes around the block with a working walking partner very often. The walking partner said you’re walking faster, and she didn’t really believe her. She has three boys around the ages between 9 and 13 or 8 and 13, and they were usually always in front of her. Come on, mom. Come on, let’s go. Keep up. They’re walking somewhere together and all her boys were behind her. Mom, slow down. She turned around and she started crying. She’s like oh my gosh, I am walking faster. I don’t have angina, and then just things progressed from there. The weight came off. I think she said she’s at the same size as she was back in college. Just so many things are getting better.
It’s like watching a snowball melt. It’s like watching your body slowly transform, but not only that, her mother, her arthritis within six weeks went away—completely went away. Both her parents are doing great on a whole food plant-based diet. We’re just seeing so many wonderful changes that are taking place.
She and I got together, she’s an amazing cook, and we started filming ourselves cooking in the kitchen. We made that available through our website as a course. Everything that we can do and I could think of to help people to just try it, just try it. I was so afraid to try it. I had never had a meal without meat. I really went into this kicking and screaming. My husband, I think it was about three years ago, he woke up one day and he was a meat guy. He barely ate anything other than meat. It was just coffee and then meat, that’s all he ate and eggs. He woke up one morning a few years ago and he said to me, “I am never eating meat again.” Just something inside him snapped and he said, “I’m never having anything from an animal again.”
If I had told him that 12 years ago when I met him he would have laughed at me out of the house. He totally transformed into seeing all this health information. Me, I went kicking and screaming because I was so afraid. I was so afraid of what might happen, but I tried it and I was fascinated with the results. At every turn, my body rewarded me with better and better health. I’m still on my health journey, so is my husband, and we’re just seeing the changes take place as we continue down this road.
For those who are just starting out, potentially they’re interested, but again they might be like me where they’ve never had a meal without meat. They don’t even know what life would look like in that way. Maybe they have a spouse that wouldn’t support them in this way. Can you give us some resources or some tips, or maybe just walk us through what they can do to transition or try this out?
[01:32:26] Dr. Michael Klaper: Absolutely. If they have a pencil and paper or they can remember this. Go to a website with these initials pcrm.org—Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. They have a 21-day plant-based kickstart program there that will walk you through. They’ll find your favorite food. You start with mashed potatoes and corn on the cob, just things that you’re already eating, and just get a couple of plant-based breakfasts together, a couple of plant-based lunches and dinners. They ease you into it. That’s a really useful website, pcrm.org. But also go to a website called Forks Over Knives and see the film at the website of that same name, but they’ve got beautiful transition plans and recipes. Another one is called Engine 2, which is Dr. Esselstyn’s son Rip’s website. Those four will certainly get you started.
You’ll find no oil and salad dressings there, and you can find everything you need at those four websites, but there’s no end of wonderful cookbooks. Cathy Fisher’s Straight Up Food is wonderful. Katie Mae’s plant-based gym is wonderful. There are lots of resources on the web, but start with pcrm.org and Forks Over Knives and they’ll walk you through the transition deliciously.
[01:34:02] Ashley James: Very cool. Do you personally have any tips? Imagine we’re sitting in your office, we’re new patients of yours. What are the things you would tell us to help us get started?
[01:34:13] Dr. Michael Klaper: Again, take your time. There’s no emergency here. Don’t get uncomfortable, but don’t linger in bad food land there either. As the PCRM folks, let’s start with the food you already eat. Let’s see if we can healthify them. What do you have for breakfast? How about oatmeal with some fruit on it and little almond milk there, are you okay with that? Sure. Or just a bowl of fruit, wonderful. Just drink water if you’re not hungry until you get hungry. That’s all fine. And lunches and dinners, I want a salad with every—Dr. Fuhrman says the salad is the main dish, and he’s right. You want that fresh, live, colorful salad every day, and a hearty bowl of vegetable soup.
Just start with that. Have a salad and soup as part of lunches and dinners. And realize starches are your friends. The whole grains, rice, quinoa, millet, and buckwheat are wonderful things to put in soups and to put on your plate there and cover with vegetables. Learn to love legumes, beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, and anything in a pod. Lentil stews and bean burritos without the cheese—should visit your plate frequently. And there’s a world of colorful fruits for dessert. Instead of ice cream, have berries with some almond milk on it. My wife and I enjoy that. Have a couple of mangoes. Have some grapes and cherries for dessert.
It doesn’t take much. These are all delicious foods. Learn to do batch cooking. Make up a big pot of soup and eat part of it and put the rest in freezer containers and put it in the freezer for those days you don’t feel like. You can just pull them out and heat them up, and you only have to cook like twice or three times a week. You just coast the rest of the days on the soups, the stews, and the casseroles that you made up in those big batches. There’s an art to it, and the more you do, the easier it gets after you’ve made these dishes two, three times. You can do it in your sleep. They’re not that complicated.
Have fun with the seasonings. As I said, you can make it Italian style, East Indian, Mexican, or Asian. Have fun with the different cuisines so you don’t get bored. Enjoy, eat all you want, and you’ll wind up lean and healthy.
[01:36:47] Ashley James: I love it. It sounds great. That is such a perfect way to ease into it, but like you said, don’t dwindle but definitely ease into it. That is such a simple plan that someone can get started right away. Your website, you offer some great services. You do telemedicine, people can work with you, and you also have these classes. Tell us a bit more. When someone goes to your website, of course, all the links to your websites are going to be in the show notes of today’s podcast at learntruehealth.com. When someone goes to plantbasedtelehealth.com or doctorklaper.com, what kind of classes should they sign up for?
[01:37:31] Dr. Michael Klaper: Sure. Plant Based Telehealth, this is our official medical services company. I work with two other plant-based doctors, Dr. Laurie Marbas and Dr. Chris Miller, and we do plant-based nutrition consultations. We do 30-minute consultations about any disease you’ve got there, so if you want a plant-based doc who won’t cluck their tongues when you tell them that you’re vegan, go to plantbasedtelehealth.com and make an appointment. It’s very reasonably priced, but that is for straight medical counseling.
But if you want to learn about the plant-based diet, the scientific side, the ethical side, the environmental side, and you want to see videos, et cetera, go to my website, doctorklaper.com. You’ll find free videos there. You’ll find recipes, you’ll find articles, you’ll find Q&As there. It’s just a treasure trove of plant-based information. You can sign up for our masterclasses and plant-based nutrition. We do them every two weeks for 12 classes, but once the course is finished, people can download the recordings. It’s never too late to sign up if you’d like. Again, that’s all at doctorklaper.com.
[01:38:56] Ashley James: Awesome. Tell us what you ate in the last 24 hours.
[01:39:01] Dr. Michael Klaper: Oh, wow. Well the last 24 hours, we always have a big salad going in the fridge. My wife makes these dynamite salad dressings in the blender, and we always have a big Crock-Pot full of super stew on the counter. We’ve got an Instant Pot. We just made some Gordo beans soup. I could live on soup, salads, and greens.
So yesterday, for lunch, I had soup and a salad. Dinner time my wife had made a tofu lasagna and we splurged on cooked foods about once a week. That was our decadent treat for the week. She put up overnight oats before we went to bed. She started soaking oats for the morning, and so this morning the overnight oats were ready. I put in half a quart of blueberries. I love blueberries. I loaded up with that and my wife makes cashew milk in the blender. I put some ground flaxseed and hemp seed on the cereal. And lunch, I haven’t had lunch yet here, but I think she’s making a buddha bowl. I think she’s cooking up some quinoa and she’ll put some greens and some tahini dressing on it. I’m a big fan of her buddha bowls. It’s cherry season here. She brought back some dynamite organic cherries, and we’ve been feasting on the cherries in between meals.
[01:40:43] Ashley James: That sounds delicious. Dr. Michael Klaper, it has been such a pleasure having you on the show today. Thank you so much for bringing your 39 years of experience helping people to reverse disease and prevent disease with a whole food plant-based diet. Do you have any final words you’d like to say? Words of encouragement or some challenges that you’d like to give us, some homework you’d like to give us to wrap up today’s interview?
[01:41:10] Dr. Michael Klaper: Absolutely. No matter where you look, the lights are flashing, the bells are clanging that major changes are needed here on planet earth. By far, the one thing we can do as we are hurtling towards environmental catastrophe is each of us to evolve our diet to a whole food plant-based diet. It’s beyond nicety, it’s beyond your cholesterol level. Large-scale industrial animal agriculture is destroying this planet. It’s destroying the forest, the waters, and the soils and it’s what’s putting greenhouse gases into the air as we cut down the forest.
We are being told, humans, if you want to survive on an individual level, you want to live a healthy life with clean arteries, adopt a whole food plant-based diet. But if you want a livable planet that we can pass on to our children without hanging our heads in shame, as species, we need to adopt a whole food plant-based diet. If we do, we’ll need so much less land to grow our food that the forest will come back. As the trees grow, they’ll take carbon dioxide out of the air. The waters will run purely again. The soils will stabilize. The earth will heal. But the age of animal eating is over. We’ve used it up. We’ve used fishing up.
The bell is clanging, the red lights are flashing. We’ve run out of time here. What can we do? What can we do? We can adopt a whole food plant-based diet as individuals and as species. I urge people, don’t put it off. It’s the most life-affirming thing that you can do. On some level, if we hold on to our old meat-eating ways, the future looks very bleak. Plant-based diet offer a future of health, stability, and healing. I urge people to take it seriously. Get on the plant-based train, and it’ll take you good places, I promise.
[01:43:22] Ashley James: I love it. I love it. One final thing. I just remembered you said that when we don’t eat processed fats—so no oil—and we don’t eat the animal fats, so now we’re just getting whole food plant-based fats from a whole food source like avocado, some nuts, or some olives. Occasionally, not in excess quantity. We’re primarily getting starches that the body will take the excess starch or the excess carbohydrate and burn it off as heat.
Sometime after I gave birth—my son’s five—I noticed that I’m not cold anymore, and I attributed that to something changed in my body because I gave birth. Because I couldn’t figure out what it was. I was always freezing. I’m from Canada so I just thought it was the cold weather because it would be -40 in the wintertime, but I was always cold. I had to wear heated socks. You put them in the microwave, you heat them up. I even had an electric blanket in my house. I found an electric blanket that plugs in the car and I would wear that around me. I was just always cold all the time.
After adopting a whole food plant-based diet, and it didn’t click until you said it because I thought it had something to do with maybe my hormones after giving birth, but it was after I went whole food plant-based. I am hot all the time in the last few winters. I’ve walked around barefoot in the winter even outside. I am so hot I don’t ever have the blankets on me. My husband is amazed. I can’t believe it. Something about my circulation, something about the heat, but I know so many women are complaining that they’re cold all the time. Their hands are cold, their feet are cold.
I’m telling you I’m hot, but I’m not uncomfortably hot. But I run hot now. That’s so funny you mentioned that. Any excess carbohydrates I’m eating the body’s just burning it off as heat, and I run hot, which is really cool. I mean it’s really hot, but it’s so much better than the alternative. It was so uncomfortable being cold all the time, which almost is like saying I had a carbohydrate deficiency. My body was unable to produce enough heat, and now it is having a healthier circulation and producing enough heat. I thought that was really interesting.
Thank you so much for everything you brought today, and I’d love to have you back on. Anytime you want to come and share more information, we’d love to have you.
[01:45:44] Dr. Michael Klaper: Thank you very much. You’ve done a great service in bringing this information—and hopefully inspiration—to your listeners. It’s a great service that hopefully will help everyone heal including the planet, so it’s been a delight and an honor. Those are great questions. You’re an excellent interviewer, by the way, and I really enjoyed being on your show. Thank you very much. All the best to you and your listeners.
[01:46:08] Ashley James: Thank you. I hope you enjoyed today’s episode of the Learn True Health podcast. You can go to learntruehealth.com and check out all of the wonderful resources there. We transcribe all of our interviews, so you can scan through and read interviews. We have some really great free goodies on the site as well. If you have a friend, family member, or yourself suffer from anxiety, I have a wonderful course where you learn tools on how to eliminate anxiety. How to turn off the anxiety response in the body, how to decrease stress, and increase health mentally, emotionally, and physically.
So go to learntruehealth.com, search through the menu. You’ll see there are many resources on the site available to you there. Thank you so much for being a listener, and thank you so much for sharing this podcast with those you care about. Let’s help turn this little ripple into a tidal wave and help as many people as possible to learn true health.