DiscoverPLANTSTRONGEp. 151: Dr. John McDougall - Health and Healing on a Starch-Based Diet
Ep. 151: Dr. John McDougall - Health and Healing on a Starch-Based Diet

Ep. 151: Dr. John McDougall - Health and Healing on a Starch-Based Diet

Update: 2022-07-074


Dr. John McDougall was drawn to medicine because of his own health “fate.” At 18, he suffered a massive stroke and was an anomaly to the doctors in Michigan who wanted to explore “why” and “how” this could happen to someone so young.

This health scare inspired his own journey to become a doctor, which eventually led McDougall and his wife, Mary, to Hawaii to practice medicine on a sugar plantation in Hawaii and service over 5,000 residents. What he saw there changed the course of his medical practice forever.

The healthiest people on the island, the first-generation elders who had come from China, Japan, Korea, and the Philippines, were the healthiest and most vibrant people…still active, with no medications, and still in bodies fit for movement. It was their children and grandchildren, however, those second and third generations, that were struggling.

Why? They had adopted a western diet of meat, dairy, and processed foods. 

The secret, Dr. McDougall discovered, was STARCH. Those healthy islanders subsisted on a diet comprised mostly of rice, potatoes, vegetables, and fruits and THAT inspired the work he does today through his McDougall programs and education.

Beyond diet, the McDougalls are also dedicated to informing citizens about the positive effects of dietary therapy on chronic disease and our Planet. Animal agriculture, as we’re learning, is also one of the main culprits contributing to climate change and we discuss all of his “four deadly dietary deceptions” outlined at

It’s an inspiring conversation from one of the legends and it was an honor to sit down with Dr. John McDougall.

Episode Timestamps

6:00 Rip introduces Paul

10:04 Dr. Nathan Pritikin - Dr. McDougall’s inspiration

12:05 The health incident that changed his life forever

16:50 We all suffer from food poisoning - animal foods and vegetable oil

19:00 99.9% of humans are “starchivores”

25:30 Why 1980 was a turning point for nutrition, food research, and technology

32:00 Pioneers and mentors of Dr. McDougall in the early days, including Henry Heimlich

34:30 Four Deadly Dietary Deceptions - #1 Protein

35:20 #2 Calcium - Osteoporosis is an excess of protein?!

40:33 #3 Omega 3 fatty acids - Where do the fish get them? Plants!

49:05 #4 Starch - Why has is become so vilified? Starch does NOT make you fat. Here’s why.

1:06:40 Dr. McDougall addresses the myth - As we age, we just get fatter and sicker

1:08:00 Myth #2 - A well-balanced diet is the best

1:10:00 is Dr. McDougall optimistic about the future of our health and planet?

Episode Resources

Watch the Episode on YouTube

PLANTSTRONG Foods - shop our official unsalted broths- and our growing assortment of other delicious products made without oil, added sugar, or excessive sodium.

PLANTSTRONG Sedona Retreat - October 10th-15th, 2022 - Dr. Doug Lisle - the esteemed evolutionary psychologist and co-author of The Pleasure Trap - is attending our upcoming Sedona Retreat to give three of his paradigm-shifting lectures that help us understand all the forces working against us in our quest to live plantstrong. Once you SEE the system we live in - you can’t UNSEE it. And Dr. Lisle is a master in giving us language and tools to set ourselves on a permanent path to success. And great news! Our Sedona retreat has been approved for 21.5 CME credits for physicians and physician assistants. And 21.5 Nursing Contact Hours for nurses…. And 2.2 CEUs for other healthcare professionals as part of the registration fee for our PLANTSTRONG Retreat. 


Visit for all PLANTSTRONG Resources, including books, recipes, foods and the PLANTSTRONG Coaching Programs

Join the Free PLANTSTRONG Community 

McDougall Foundation Website

Dr. McDougall Website

Theme Music for Episode

Promo Music: Your Love by Atch License: Creative Commons License - Attribution 3.0

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Ep. 151: Dr. John McDougall - Health and Healing on a Starch-Based Diet

Ep. 151: Dr. John McDougall - Health and Healing on a Starch-Based Diet

Rip Esselstyn and John McDougall, MD