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With a heavy heart, we share the news of Dr. John McDougall’s passing. A visionary physician and author, beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, mentor and friend, Dr. McDougall died peacefully at his home on Saturday, June 22nd, at the age of 77.

John McDougall, MD: Defend Against COVID-19

Updated July 31, 2020


A Greater Appreciation for the McDougall Program
by John McDougall, MD

In your current tool box you have only two choices for changing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in your life: social distancing and better health through better nutrition. At the present time (2020) there are no vaccines and no effective treatments. Conclusive evidence proves our slogan: “It’s the Food” to be the correct one when it comes to self-defense against life-threatening contagions, such as coronaviruses. Most of my readers already have had experiences that have convinced themselves that the McDougall Program is the most effective tool for preventing and reversing chronic epidemic diseases, such as obesity, coronary heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes. No surprise that I (Dr. John McDougall) conclude that the same good eating, followed long-term, and hopefully, even short-term, will set a favorable outcome for this specific virus, and any future diseases threatening our lives.

The McDougall Program is the first line of defense against the most common chronic conditions plaguing Western societies, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, kidney disease, and diabetes. There is mounting evidence that these same comorbidities predispose those infected by SARS-CoV-2 to worse outcomes, with an increased risk of hospitalization, need for mechanical ventilation, and death.



Three Major Positions Currently Held on the Effects of Diet on Severity of COVID-19:



The CDC reported that hospitalizations were six times higher among patients with a reported underlying condition, such as obesity, heart disease, kidney disease, and diabetes; and deaths were 12 times higher among patients with reported underlying conditions.



The editor of the British Medical Journal concluded, “The government is waking up to the risks of a second wave and has reportedly responded with plans for a weight loss campaign… It is also emerging, along with age and ethnicity, as a key risk factor for COVID-19…a consensus is emerging: we need diets richer in whole grains, fruit, vegetables, and legumes, with less red meat, refined carbohydrates, and highly processed foods.”



Watch Dr. Fauci’s Testimony

Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases speaks in reference to COVID-19’s ultimate severity: “It’s so clear that the overwhelming weight of serious disease and mortality is on those who are elderly and those with a serious comorbidity: heart disease, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, respiratory difficulties,” 


Linking Disease Severity to Age and Ethnicity: Common Denominator: “It’s the Food”


As people age, their risk of developing chronic conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, kidney disease, and diabetes, increases, as does the risk of serious consequences from COVID-19 infection. Furthermore, when the quality of the diets of people of color, and the resulting increased incidence of chronic conditions from such eating are correlated to the severity of the course of COVID-19, then the mystery of how and why COVID-19 disproportionally affects some ethnic groups is solved: both have the same common dominator: It’s the Food!


Evidence from Population Studies:

Case fatality rate (CFR) data, which reflects the lethality of a disease, varies among populations. A past coronavirus epidemic, which ended in 2004, known as SARS-1, found case fatality ratio ranges from 11% to 17% in Hong Kong, 13% to 15% in Singapore, 15% to 19% in Canada, 5% to 13% in China and in Vietnam, as low as 8%.  These discrepancies in CFR, I attribute the healthfulness of that population’s diet. Traditionally, the diets of people living in the Far East have been based on rice and other starches; with plenty of green vegetables, and little meat and few dairy foods. However, recent shifts in Asia have been towards Western eating patterns consisting of more animal food and vegetable oils.  As a result, chronic conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, kidney disease, and diabetes, once rare, have become major threats to life and longevity. One well-respected biomarker used worldwide to identify the health of a population is cholesterol. Note that populations with lower cholesterol levels worldwide have had the lowest impact from COVID-19.



A Defining Mechanism: The Entry of Cholesterol into the Cell:

Cholesterol, as a molecule, can be a toxin in itself, but more often serves as an indicator, or risk factor, for the impact of the overall effects of a healthy vs. unhealthy diet on individuals and populations of people. 

Variations in cholesterol parameters as measured in many forms (body vs. blood) predicts the individual risk of progression of infections leading to death as well as CFR for a population from COVID-19.

Death from respiratory failure is most common in COVID-19. Cholesterol in lung tissues opens doors for the coronaviruses to pass from the bloodstream into the lung tissue. These doors for transport are referred to as “lipid rafts” and as ACE2 receptor proteins.

Research has discovered that cholesterol-loading of the body is essential for SARS-CoV-2 infection to progress to hospitalization, need for mechanical ventilation, and death. The virus passes into the cell via “lipid rafts” where it then replicates and spreads.  Low cholesterol levels provide fewer entry points and these few are of reduced size and capacity. When considering the source of cholesterol; for all practical purposes, cholesterol is found only in animal foods and reflects the unhealthfulness of one’s diet.



The Effects of the McDougall Program on Risk Factors for Morbid Spread of COVID-19

The McDougall Program has published data showing the effectiveness of a starch-based diet for reducing risk factors for diseases that predict a poor outcome for victims of COVID-19, such as body weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar. Unquestionably, better heath, a more effective immune system, and disease prevention and healing are the consequences of following such a plan proven by scientific research extending over 7-days and 12-months.


Effects of 7 days on an ad libitum low-fat vegan diet: the McDougall Program cohort



OHSU Study – Low-fat, plant-based diet in multiple sclerosis: A randomized controlled trial


The BROAD study: A randomized controlled trial using a whole food plant-based diet in the community for obesity, ischemic heart disease or diabetesimage9-4930950


The first rule of medicine is to “do no harm.” The second guiding principal should be “the truth is simple and easy to understand.” Your choices for self-preservation are limited, but powerful. When dealing with the current COVID-19 pandemic you should be “social distancing” and improving your overall health by following the McDougall Program.

Please refer to Dr. McDougall’s Color Picture Book for an easy visual explanation of the McDougall Program:


The McDougall Program is now also virtual. For more help, please consider joining us for our new 12-day, in-depth, interactive course on the life saving knowledge of the McDougall Program. Click here to learn more about our 12-Day McDougall Program.

If you have any questions or would like help reserving your seat, please contact Carol at or 800-941-7111.