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Leveraging Plant-Based Nutrition to Treat, Prevent & Reverse Disease

By March 24, 2014September 12th, 202320 Comments

A few weeks back I had the pleasure of being a keynote speaker & instructor on the  Holistic Holiday at Sea  — 1500 people cohabiting for 7 days on a Caribbean cruise ship for the specific purpose of learning more about health. How to eat better. And live more fully.

When I agreed to participate, I had no idea the magnitude of this event. The incredible scale of this thing. I’m not a cruise ship kind of guy.  Quite honestly, I prefer a shack on a deserted beach to a floating mall housing 2200.

I was leery.

In the aftermath, I can’t say the experience converted me to cruising as a lifestyle. But I will say it ended up being an extraordinary experience — an event I highly recommend to those out there looking for something different to kick things into a new gear. I got to meet and spend time with some of the leading minds in the plant-based wellness Universe. Some I already knew, like legends T. Colin Campbell, author of  The China Study*  and  Whole*  (podcast coming soon!),  PCRM  founder  Neal BarnardChef AJ  ( RRP Episode 56 ), bodybuilder  Robert Cheeke, fitness impresario  Koya Webb  and many others.

But what made the experience so memorable was meeting and spending time with people I had never before met. Presenters like today’s guest of course, but mostly just normal people interested in learning more about getting better — and sharing their intimate stories. And so – despite my preconceived notions of what this experience would hold – I left rather inspired.  By the lives and experiences and struggles and obstacles people face. And the success stories of overcoming everything from obesity to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, food addictions and more to live happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives.

Leeriness transformed. A win-win.

Today’s guest is one of the guys I met on the cruise.  I guy who I’ve admired from afar for some time, but had yet to meet.

Dr. Michael Klaper.

A rare bird this one.  A physician who actually really cares about the patient.  Before you get angry and defensive about docs — I’m not saying that doctors don’t care about their patients.  I am saying that this insane institutionalized system of medicine we have created basically forces well intentioned docs from getting too invested in their patients.  They just can’t.  Economics prevents this kind of time and emotional investment.

Well, Dr. Klaper is a guy who got fed up with that system – like Peter Finch’s epic famous lament in Paddy Chayefsky’s Network — I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore! – and started treating patients the way he felt they should be treated.  It wasn’t exactly the best business plan – there was the time he went broke trying to make it work.  It’s that hard to do. But his story, his message. and how he now makes it all work, is educational.  And inspirational.

“Health comes from healthy living.”

As an acute care physician for many years practicing in many locales (Canada, New Zealand, Hawaii and now Northern California), Dr. K began to realize that many of the diseases his patients brought to his office – clogged arteries (atherosclerosis), high blood pressure (hypertension), obesity, adult onset diabetes, and even some forms of arthritis, asthma, and other significant illnesses – were made worse, or actually caused, by the high-fat, high sugar, overly processed Standard American Diet (S.A.D.).

Not dissimilar to  Dr. Frank Lipman  ( RRP Episode 72 ), Dr. Klaper came to understand how crucial proper nutrition and a balanced lifestyle are essential for health and, in many cases, make the difference between healing an illness, preventing an illness and even reversing an illness versus merely treating the symptoms – or masking them with drugs that have no impact on dealing with the illness’ cause.

So he began to treat his patients accordingly – with astounding results.

In addition to being on staff physician at  TrueNorth Health Center  in Santa Rosa, California — a nutritionally-based medical clinic specializing in therapeutic fasting and health improvement through a whole-foods, plant-based diet — Dr. Klaper is also a pilot.  A teacher. An author. And generally a great, very kind and giving, affable guy.  A throwback to the friendly family docs of a byegone era.  The trusty guy who would make house calls in the middle of the night (which he did). Sit and have tea with your mom while you lied in your bed upstairs with a thermometer in your mouth.

All I can say is that I hope I look as good and have as much energy as he does when I’m his age.

A few weeks back he sat down with me — in his little cabin on this huge boat smack in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle — to tell us all about his journey.

Let’s see if we make it out alive….

Peace + Plants,



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  • Robby Dunn says:

    Another amazing interview. Pretty much all you need to know about nutrition and health wrapped up in one hour. Every podcast I learn more and more leading me to a path of completely understanding how the food I consume affects me. Thank you Rich, you’ve been the catalyst behind me going plant based 4 months ago, and I never plan on looking back. Peace and Plants!

  • ultrastevep says:

    Great interview, Rich…possibly your best yet. Thanks! Very inspiring!

  • Kelly Mahoney says:

    I hope Dr. Klaper is a repeat guest. Funny you guys mentioned the common thread thing. A few months ago at a business lunch meeting I was asked by colleagues why I’m vegan. Trying not to come across as preachy, I boiled it down to that I prefer to eat foods low on the food chain to minimize contamination.

  • Great interview Rich! Dr Klaper is so eloquent and succinct in the way he gets across his message. He is doing great work and it’s so good to know that there are Medical Doctors like Dr Michael Klaper, Dr John McDougall, Dr Dean Ornish, Dr Michael Greger, Dr Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr Neal Barnard and others out there helping people heal and stay healthy through a plant based diet.

  • JasonRH says:

    Great interview, it’s amazing that diet and nutrition has become so confusing in recent years. When you listen to all of these interviews and read lots of articles/books, the only real consensus is what Dr. Klaper and this article below say, just eat real food, the more plants the better. And if you eat animal products, make sure they are not processed, no hormones/antibiotics/pesticides, organic feed for animals, etc. There is information overload out there, even when everybody is mostly in agreement. Plus I think your body tells you what makes you feel good and doesn’t if we learn to listen to it:

  • BYOL says:

    Rich, each episode gets better! Thanks for bring Dr. Kapler to us.

  • Eric says:

    What a compelling interview. Thank you, Rich, especially for bringing up the question of paleo/keteogenic diets. I really appreciate that you are so open-minded about nutrition, and want to help people wade through the infighting to get real information that will benefit their health. It did seem, though, that Dr. Klaper dismissed the paleo diet rather quickly and without grounding. I think he took the view that being paleo means eating meat three times a day, which is not the case at all. And the Inuit argument is a minor one as well. There is a lot of research that the paleo crowd (the guys you mentioned) can point to showing that their diet really can benefit long-term health and wellness. Plus, just anecdotally, it works for a lot of people. For both camps the key is removing processed food. Personally, I’m between the two, as I find very compelling arguments on both sides. Which leads me to not want to take a side. You do a great job navigating that divide without offending people. Thanks again for being respectful enough to take those arguments seriously, even when there are some conflicts with your own beliefs. I would love to hear even more discussion on this topic.

  • Toby says:

    Really good interview. I got a little surprised when i saw that Dr. Klaper is charging a staggering 400$ per hour or 150$ per 15 min. I felt like he presented himself as this guy that treated for free and had to work extra to pay his bills. Maybe he should look over his finances.

  • Stephen Conti says:

    Great podcast, Rich. Each one brings more and more information that is SO beneficial. Thanks to you and your book, I’m 12 months pescatarian/vegetarian and now 1 month vegan.

    My favorite line from the podcast was when Dr. Klaper said “it’s get real time in my office.” That was great.

    Keep up the good work!

  • Ken says:

    Great interview. If Dr. Klaper is reading this and comment (or anyone for that matter), I’d like some clarification of this ‘no oils’ stuff. The Forks over Knives crowd is all about no added oils, and it sounded like Dr. K agreed with this. Yet he did talk about adding algae oil in certain cases…

    My question is: what is the basis of this no added oils? And is that as a broadly applicable standard, or one that seems to work with your standard American? Or is it merely fallout of needing to have a good omega 3/6/9 ratio, and most added oils are too high in 6, and thus throw off the ratio? Or is it ANY oil?

    I simply find it hard to believe that as a guy who’s running 50+ miles/week, that adding cold pressed flax seed oil (to up my 3s) stored out of sunlight in the fridge and used near to the press date, with occasional olive oil (a bit higher in 6) is somehow bad for me. The research, granted a bit biased, by guys like Udo Erasmus (***Note: you should get him on the podcast***), point to the ratio being the important factor. So many endurance athletes report that when they start adding more high 3s oil, they simply recover faster and feel better. I will admit that the placebo effect is a potentially HUGE factor here; this is why I’m asking the question.

  • Ken says:

    I may be vegan, but I’m with Eric on his sentiment. Don’t be so fast to dismiss the Paleo crowd; we can dismiss people who implement it poorly, but we can do the same thing to junk food vegans! Were I to have a friend approach me and ask if they should become vegan to be healthy, I’d actually direct them to start with Paleo… it has a much better set of ‘rules’ that help cut out the junk.

    We all need to remember that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, and we all have a common enemy: processed crap. And that includes hormone injected, antibiotic-laden meats. Pasture raised meat a few times a week? I doubt that’ll harm anyone (*well, other than the animal*); I just choose not to eat it.

  • Jess says:

    Incredible podcast. Love to hear experts, like Dr. Klaper, discuss the benefits and dispel the myths surrounding plant-based diets. Thanks Rich!!

  • Dan Miller says:

    you posted the wrong link for The True North Health Center in Santa Rosa. Their link is: not the .org site you posted.

  • richroll66 says:

    Whoops – thanks Dan!

  • richroll66 says:

    Link fixed:)

  • Dan Miller says:

    No worries — appreciate the quick acknowledgement. I am a real fan of Dr. Klaper and just want to ensure he gets the credit. 😀 (real fan of your work too!) Healthy Regards, Dan

  • Jenn says:

    Great run today while enjoying this podcast. Keep up the good work.

  • Jan Saunders says:

    I know this is more a plant based podcast/website than Vegan (I mean Rich uses honey in some of his recipes…definitely NOT Vegan) but I really love it and find it an entertaining and informative mix (and great to listen to when running ultras 🙂 but I get a bit offended when we forget the real victims of even occasional animal consumption…the non human animals.
    Please don’t make light of that.
    Its surely should be at the heart of our decision making.
    Taking another’s life in our society is not about freedom of choice anymore than the right a man has to beat his wife and children.

  • The Vegan Vampire Lestat says:

    Maybe you should mind your own.

  • rachel ward says:

    Wonderful podcast, thank you both!

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