Orthopedic surgeon Dr. John Herzog has seen the effects of poor diet at the other end of his amputation saw. But he’d rather not take such drastic measures.

To that end, he’s setting out to spread the word about how diet and exercise can prevent and reverse a host of lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

Starting today, he’ll deliver a series of free luncheon talks every Wednesday in May. The programs take place from noon to 1 p.m. at Little Lads Bakery in downtown Portland. Those who attend can purchase a vegan meal off the restaurant’s buffet menu for $5 or order a la carte.

One of the diseases Herzog hopes to help people ward off is Type 2 diabetes, which is on the rise and is correlated to a diet loaded with junk food. It can lead to blindness, kidney failure, amputation of limbs and death.

“It’s so simple,” Herzog said. “You just have to change your diet, and your (risk of) diabetes goes away.”

While lots of doctors talk the talk when it comes to a better diet, Herzog is walking the walk with his personal commitment to plant-based eating. It all began in 2006, when, after numerous knee surgeries, his doctors told him he’d need a knee replacement. He was 40 pounds overweight, his cholesterol was clocking in at 250, and he was understandably upset about his prognosis.

Then he read “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell. The influential book offers an evidence-based, comprehensive look at the relationship between health and diet. It concludes that a diet centered on plants and light on animal-based foods is the way to go.

After reading the book, Herzog embraced whole food vegan meals. As a result, his knee pain evaporated, his cholesterol dropped to 94, and he lost weight.

“I gave 400 copies of ‘The China Study’ to my patients this year,” Herzog said. “I’m trying to convince more people to be vegan.”

As you might expect, he doesn’t mince words in the exam room, either.

“It’s the diet, man,” Herzog tells his patients. “You’ve got to have a better diet.”

He goes on to add, “Exercise is darn important too. And clean air.”

Last year, Herzog conducted a study involving medical students, who for 20 days ate only vegan food. When the study concluded, the average participant had lost 8 pounds and watched his or her cholesterol plummet 22 percent.

“The girls were all happy their complexions improved,” Herzog said.

In addition to talking with his patients and offering this free lecture series, Herzog is working to make wholesome eats more widely available. He’s created a granola called Dr. John’s Brain-ola, which is sold at Lois’ Natural Marketplace, Royal River Natural Foods and Morning Glory Natural Foods. He’s also invested in a prepared vegan food company being launched by T. Colin Campbell called Newleaf.

“I see the tipping point,” Herzog said. “People are waking up.”

And when the tipping point is reached, Herzog predicts it will not only change how we eat, it will change the practice of medicine.

“The doctors of the future will prescribe food rather than medicine,” he said.

 

 

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at:

akamila@pressherald.com