Along with a stellar career in medicine and extensive clinical experience, Dr. Michael Klaper is also a committed advocate of a whole foods, plant-based diet. In his view, proper nutrition combined with a balanced lifestyle can make the difference between healing a disease or merely managing its symptoms.
Recollecting his experience as an anesthesiology resident in the cardiovascular department at Vancouver General Hospital, Dr. Klaper talks about atherosclerosis, its appearance, and the way it is removed from patients’ arteries during surgery. Using vivid imagery, he draws a parallel between the type of fats people eat and the state of their arteries. He also cites reports published in medical journals as early as 1977 about people who reversed their condition (clogged arteries) by eating a plant-based diet.
03:21: Drawing on his experiences in the Trauma Unit at the Cook County Hospital, where he saw the harm and suffering that people can inflict upon each other, Dr. Klaper talks about his decision to live a life without violence. He also recounts how he realized that eating meat is, in fact, complicity in the violence and cruelty toward animals.
06:05: After only ten weeks of eating a whole foods, plant-based diet, Dr. Klaper noticed that he had lost 20 pounds, his blood pressure was back to normal, and his cholesterol had dropped 20 points. And to top off these physical changes, he experienced a heightened mental state and more energy. This was also the decisive moment in Dr. Klaper’s career when he decided to go back to general practice and focus more on lifestyle and nutrition.
08:15: His nutritional revelation helped him to relate differently to his patients and their conditions: he refused to accept the image of doctors as disease managers. At that time, the medical field was promoting the concept of disease management and suggested that conditions such as obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, asthma, Crohn’s, autoimmune diseases, and inflammatory joint disease could not be cured. Moreover, these conditions showed up in medical books under the section etymology unknown. This indicated a lack of interest in discovering the real cause of diseases and the strong financial interest in keeping people dependent on pills and endless treatments.
09:50: Dr. Klaper talks about food as the leading cause of lifestyle diseases and the impact that meat has on the human body. A meat-based diet has the potential (among other things) to increase free radicals, promote inflammation (as a result of the acid Neu5Gc), cause blood clots (from endotoxins — a by-product of bacteria that is used to coat meat in slaughterhouses), and bring cholesterol through the artery walls (through the action of Trimethylamine-N-Oxide, TMAO).
12:15: Building on the idea that our food is chemically alive, Dr. Klaper discusses the impact of food on DNA and the potential of food to play it like a piano — to activate and deactivate various genes and enzymes. Every meal changes us, at a genetic, molecular level. This process has been further researched and developed in the field of nutrigenetics. How food turns genes on and off can be seen as a starting point for conditions such as autoimmunity, cancer, and inflammation. On the other hand, this can also be seen as the point where healing begins. Referring to one of the most common misconceptions (that the majority of diseases are caused by genetic predisposition), Dr. Klaper summarizes it beautifully: The genes may load the gun, but your diet and lifestyle pull the trigger.
14:11: Dr. Klaper lists numerous benefits of plant-based foods including the impact of phytonutrients such as tea polyphenols, curcumin, resveratrol, silymarin, lycopene, apigenin, and gingerol. He also explains that the modern diet has become very toxic and that doctors and medical specialists usually lack a holistic view in their approach.
15:31: Using a visual image based on the allegory of the blind man and the elephant, Dr. Klaper describes how nutritionally-blind specialists manage conditions such as type 2 diabetes, autoimmune diseases, inflammatory arthritis, diverticulitis, stroke, and dementia without realizing that in fact everything is caused by inadequate dietary habits. He also shares some powerful examples from his practice and the scientific literature that show how patients had significant improvements in conditions such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, acne, and cardiovascular problems after they switched to a plant-based diet.
17:41: Dr. Klaper extends the impact of meat consumption from human health to the health of the planet and lists the main problems that meat consumption causes: deforestation, soil erosion, water depletion and pollution, pesticide and herbicide use, species extinction, greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change.
In conclusion, Dr. Klaper recommends several sources for further study: pcrm.org (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine), Forks over Knives, Eating you Alive, What the Health, and the Plantrician Project.