The Starch Solution
By: John McDougall, M.D.
This truth is simple and is, therefore,
easy to explain. You must eat to live.
But the choice of what you eat is yours.
There is an individual, specific diet that
best supports the health, function, and
longevity of each and every animal.
The proper diet for human beings is based on starches. The more rice, corn,
potatoes, sweet potatoes, and beans you eat, the trimmer and healthier you
will be—and with those same food choices you will help save the Planet Earth
My recommendation for eating starches puts glazed looks on people’s faces,
and many dismiss me as certifiably crazy. They think of starch as something
used in the laundry to stiffen shirts. Starch brings back memories of pasty
bland-tasting goop, and white, airy Wonder Bread.
Most disturbing is that nearly everyone believes starches are fattening and
nutritionally inferior foods. Fortunately, common knowledge is completely
wrong and the proof is right before your own eyes.
The most important evidence supporting my claim that the natural human diet
is based on starches is a simple observation that you can easily validate for
All large populations of trim, healthy people, throughout verifiable human
history, have obtained the bulk of their calories from starch.
Examples of once thriving people include Japanese, Chinese, and other
Asians eating sweet potatoes, buckwheat, and/or rice, Incas in South America
eating potatoes, Mayans and Aztecs in Central America eating corn, and
Egyptians in the Middle East eating wheat.
There have been only a few small isolated populations of primitive people,
such as the Arctic Eskimos, living at the extremes of the environment, who
have eaten otherwise.
Therefore, scientific documentation of what people have eaten over the past
thirteen thousand years convincingly supports my claim.
Men and women following diets based on grains, vegetables, and fruits have
accomplished all of the great feats in history.
The ancient conquerors of Europe and Asia, including the armies of Alexander
the Great (356 – 323 BC) and Genghis Khan (1162 – 1227 AD) consumed
Caesar’s legions complained when they had too much meat in their diet and
preferred to do their fighting on grains. Primarily six foods: barley, maize
(corn), millet, potatoes, rice, and wheat have fueled the caloric engines of
Our DNA Nails It
Based on our anatomy and physiology experts have long concluded that
primates, including humans, are designed to eat a diet consisting mostly of
The natural diet of chimpanzees, our closest relative, is nearly pure vegetarian
in composition; made up largely of fruits; and in the dry seasons when fruit is
scarce, they eat tree seeds, flowers, soft pith, and bark; with termites and
small mammals making an insignificant contribution to their nutrition all year
Recently, scientists have proven through genetic testing that we are designed
to thrive best on one category of plant food known as starch.
Human and chimp DNA is roughly 99% identical, but that 1% difference, which
includes genes to digest much more starch, proved crucial for the evolution of
humanity's earliest ancestors.
Examination of the number of copies of the gene for the synthesis of the
starch-digesting enzyme, amylase, has found an average of 6 copies in
humans, compared to only 2 copies of this gene in other primates.
This genetic difference results in the production of 6 to 8 times higher levels of
starch-digesting enzymes in human saliva. The limited ability of chimpanzees
and others in the great ape family to utilize starch tied their species to the
tropical jungles where fruits are abundant all year long.
Starches were a critical food source for the ancestors of early and modern
humans. The ability to efficiently utilize starch provided the opportunity for us
to migrate out of Africa—to colonize the rest of the planet (to locations where
fruits are plentiful only in summer and fall).
Starch-filled tubers and grains act as storage units for concentrated calories
that last throughout the winter, are widely distributed geographically, and are
easy to gather. Their abundant calories also supplied the extra energy
necessary for the brain to evolve from monkey-size to human-size (a three
People Are Starch-Eaters
People should be thought of as “starch-eaters” just like cats are “meat-
eaters.” Until recently, except for a small number of wealthy aristocrats,
members of the human species have obtained the bulk of their calories from
After the mid 1800s with the creation of colossal wealth during the industrial
revolution and the harnessing of fossil fuels, millions, and then billions, of
people were able to eat from a table piled high with meat, fowl, and dairy, once
available only to royalty.
Look around you—the consequences are obvious—everyday people appear
rotund like the kings and queens pictured in old paintings. Look a little further
and you will discover the Starch Solution.
Starch is a “complex carbohydrate” made up of long chains of sugar
molecules, stored in the plants’ parts for their future use. During the growing
season, green leaves collect energy from the sun and synthesize sugars that
are converted into tiny starch granules. The plants use this stockpile for
survival over winter, to re-grow the next year, and to reproduce.
Starchy plant-food-parts selected by people for eating are simply called
“starches.” Tubers (potatoes, sweet potato, cassava), winter squashes
(pumpkin, butternut, hubbard), legumes (beans, peas, lentils), and grains
(barley, corn, rice, wheat) serve as organs for storing starch.
Green and yellow vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus,
accumulate relatively little starch, and fruits are made up of simple sugars, not
All animal foods, including beef, chicken, fish, shellfish, eggs, milk, and
cheese, contain no starch at all.
While easily providing the abundance of calories needed for winning
marathons, starches do not promote excess weight gain. That is because the
human body efficiently regulates carbohydrates from starches, burning them
off, rather than storing them, when consumed in excess.
How effective is our body’s regulation? Obesity has been unknown among
billions of Asians with a wide variety of activity levels who have followed
traditional diets based on rice.
However, these people’s immunity immediately disappears when they switch
to meals based on meat and dairy foods, because the human body
unsuccessfully balances for excess fat consumption—storing these calories
in the abdomen, buttocks, and thighs.
The Fat You Eat Is The Fat You Wear.
Starches are very low in fat (1% to 8% of their calories), contain no cholesterol,
do not grow human pathogens, like salmonella, E. Coli, and “mad cow” prions,
and do not store poisonous chemicals, like DDT and methyl mercury. Outside
surface contamination, for example, from cow dung and pesticide sprays, may
occur, but that is not a fault with the plants. Starch is clean fuel.
The carbohydrates abundant in starches pleasurably stimulate the sweet-
tasting sensory buds on the tips of our tongues. Here gastronomic enjoyment
and satisfaction begin. Because of their natural rewarding properties—having
great taste and nourishing calories—people refer to beans, breads, corn,
pasta, potatoes, and rice as “comfort foods.”
In addition to “clean and efficient, satisfying energy” starches provide an
abundance of other nutrients, such as proteins, essential fats, vitamins, and
minerals. Some single starches, for example potatoes and sweet potatoes, are
“complete foods” and can easily meet all of our nutritional needs alone. Grains
and legumes are deficient in vitamins A and C. The addition of a small amount
of fruit or green and yellow vegetable easily provides for these vitamins,
making a diet based on these seeds (grains and legumes) sound.
Unguided Wealth Stole Our Health
My parents lived through the Great Depression of the 1930s. My mother’s
family could not even afford to pay the rent on their apartment—the generosity
of their landlord kept them from living on the streets of Decatur, Illinois. The
sparse diet her family ate during these hard times was made up of turnips,
rutabagas, and potatoes. My mother’s painful memories caused her to make a
promise that her children would never have to suffer as she did.
Growing up I ate eggs and bacon for breakfast, meat-filled sandwiches for
lunch, and beef, pork, and chicken were the centerpieces of every dinner. All
three of these starch-deficient daily meals were washed down with glassfuls
of milk. The effects on my personal health were instructional. For as far back
as I can remember, I suffered daily stomachaches and brutally immovable
At age seven I lost my tonsils. I was often sick with colds and flu. My lack of
endurance put me in last place in gym class. Oily skin and acne marked my
face as a teenager. At age 18 an uncommon incident happened to me—I
suffered a major stroke with total left-sided paralysis. My own mother called
me fat in my early twenties (I was 50 pounds overweight).
When I was 25, the abdominal pains became so intolerable, that I underwent
exploratory surgery. My mother’s wish was fulfilled; I never suffered as she
Her intentions were good ones; she fed our family based upon the best
nutritional advice of the times—most of it provided to the public by the meat
and dairy industries.
Calcium and protein were worshipped as the nutrients most vital to any meal
plan. Concerns about the adverse consequences of these animal foods on
human health and the environment were recognized in these times, but largely
dismissed by food industry-funded scientists as unimportant.
Dietary Change Is Terrifying
Almost all of us were raised on meat, poultry, milk, cheese, oils, flours, and
sugars. These items have provided most of our life-sustaining calories. To
give these familiar foods up, in our minds, means starvation. This would be
akin to asking us to stop breathing or to go thirsty—unbearable, if not
I remember well my first experience with foods different from those I was
raised on. Mary, my wife of 37 years now, was pregnant with our first child,
Heather, in 1974. We were living on the Big Island of Hawaii at that time.
Buzz and Susan Hughes, a couple we had met at our childbirth education
class, invited us over for dinner. Susan had prepared a casserole of wheat
and barley, a Caesar salad, vegetable side dishes, and a peach pie for
dessert. The meal was tasty, but a drastic departure from my usual beef,
chicken, cheese, egg, and ice cream menu. Even after second helpings my
stomach was still empty of its customary fillings.
On our drive home after dinner, I felt unsatisfied and actually believed that I
would be unable to sleep through the night without “food.” I entered the front
door of our house, which led directly to the kitchen with a well-stocked
refrigerator. I eagerly opened the bottom bin where the sliced turkey was kept
and made myself a Dagwood sandwich. After eating sufficient amounts of fat,
protein, flour, and sugar, I slept well.
I adjusted mentally and physically after only a few more healthy eating
experiences, and soon learned how much more tasty and satisfying meals
based on mashed potatoes, bean burritos, mu shu vegetables and rice,
spaghetti and marinara sauce, and soups and breads are than meals based on
animal muscles and lactation fluids.
The Starch Solution is a simple switch: rather than getting calories from fat
and protein, the primary fuel for people becomes carbohydrate.
Instead of starvation, this change means fuller appetite satisfaction and
radiant health. The more meat and dairy you replace with starch the trimmer
and healthier you become—this is not an all or nothing proposition. This is
not about becoming a vegetarian or a vegan.
However, when you are finished reading this article, your consumption of
starch-deficient foods will plummet, along with excess weight, physical and
mental suffering, and need for medications and surgeries.
Expect Economic Shifts
The adoption of a starch-based diet by any sizable share of the world’s
populations will have major ramifications, because huge profits are at stake
and industry will fight back.
The food industries’ goals have been, and always will be, to entice the
consumer to eat more meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products, and processed
foods because those are the high profit items.
Rice, corn, and potatoes are plentiful, easy to grow, and cheap. Switching to a
starch-based diet will not only affect the food industries, but will also
drastically shrink the pharmaceutical and medical businesses by preventing
and curing common illnesses, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes,
arthritis, and intestinal disturbances ranging from heartburn to constipation.
Implementation of the Starch Solution may appear impossible because the
hands of commerce reach into every area of politics, science, and education.
The food industry employs to their advantage lobbyists, influence peddling,
the revolving door syndrome, and massive agricultural subsidies.
Their money corrupts medical doctors, dietitians, scientists, professional
associations, and medical journals. With a donation, according to a memo
from the American Dietetic Association (ADA), Coca-Cola becomes an “ADA
Partner in the Association’s corporate relations sponsorship program. The
program provides Partners a national platform via ADA events and programs
with prominent access to key influencers, thought leaders and decision
makers in the food and nutrition marketplace.”
The Oklahoma Beef Council (OBC) sponsored several American Heart
Association (AHA) events in the spring of 2006 to communicate how lean beef
easily fits into a heart-healthy diet. The newly released 2006 AHA Diet and
Lifestyle Recommendations by no coincidence include heart-attack-causing
meat as part of a heart-healthy diet.
The American Dietetic Association and the American Heart Association are
only two, among dozens, of respectable sounding organizations that you
once believed in, who receive funding from food interests—and as a
consequence they act as fronts for industry.
Major universities, such as Harvard and Tufts, are also funded by food
interests, and they perpetuate industry-favoring lies that keep the consuming
public from making correct decisions about their diet.
For example, Tufts University’s nutrition department (which receives funding
from Procter & Gamble and Kraft Foods) tells the public, “Plant protein
sources, although good for certain essential amino acids, do not always offer
all nine essential amino acids in a single given food.”
The scientific truth is all single starches and vegetables contain all eight
essential and all twelve nonessential amino acids in amounts and
arrangements that always meet human needs. The nutritional falsehood
about “amino acid deficient plants” spread by industry-supported universities
causes people to add artery-clogging meats and dairy products to their diet in
order to get “complete protein.” Almost no one can be trusted because so
much money taints them.
The food industries win over the public by an advertising campaign that
convinces us that “a well-balanced diet” is best. Meaning that almost anything
and everything that is sold in the supermarket should be part of the human
People should select from cat food (meat) to calf food (milk) and foods you
would never feed your favorite pets, such as cakes, donuts, and candy bars,
according to the food industry.
They also divert our attention away from proper eating and the dangers of
their products by providing unattainable solutions, like “exercise more” and
“eat less” to lose weight.
The rising epidemics of obesity and sickness worldwide, under the tutelage of
the food industry, prove a more truthful answer is long overdue; and that is for
the world’s peoples to obtain the bulk of their food from one or more healthy
We Know Better
Despite the deafening drone from big businesses, since the 1950s there has
been sound advice to eat more vegetables, fruits, and grains, and to eat less
fat from meat and dairy products.
In the introduction to the 1977 report issued by the U.S. Senate Select
Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, Dr. Mark Hegsted of the Harvard
School of Public Health said:
“I wish to stress that there is a great deal of evidence and it continues to
accumulate, which strongly implicates and, in some instances, proves that the
major causes of death and disability in the United States are related to the diet
we eat. I include coronary artery disease, which accounts for nearly half of the
deaths in the United States, several of the most important forms of cancer,
hypertension, diabetes, and obesity as well as other chronic diseases.”
In 2002, the World Health Organization published a report on how the nutrition
transition towards refined foods, foods of animal origin (meat and dairy
products), and increased fats is causing the current global epidemics of
obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases and predicted that by 2020 two-
thirds of the global burden of disease will be attributable to diseases mostly
Because of our inability and unwillingness to respond to the truth we are now
suffering the greatest health crisis ever known to humankind. Worldwide, 1.1
billion people are overweight and 312 million obese, 18 million people die of
heart disease annually, more than 197 million have diabetes, and half of all
people following the Western diet develop life-threatening cancers.
The Western Diet Is a Planet-Killer
The stakes are greater than a few billion fat, sick people. Marching side by
side with mounting levels of human sickness are escalating environmental
catastrophes due in large part to abandoning our diet of starches for livestock
at every meal at every dinner table.
According to the report, Livestock’s Long Shadow –Environmental Issues and
Options, released in November of 2006 from the United Nations Food and
Agriculture Organization, livestock emerges as one of the top two or three
most significant contributors to every one of the most serious environmental
For thirty-two years I have believed people would rise up and take action once
they realized that the vast majority of human sickness and suffering in
developed countries is due to eating animal and junk foods, and that the
simple solution is to switch to a starch-based diet. The masses have remained
For the past decade I have witnessed the growing epidemic of childhood
obesity—a misery caused largely by the fast food giants. All this time I have
waited for informed citizens to rise up in protest, or at the very least, to boycott
the perpetrators of this child abuse. The sellers of easily procured beef
burgers and milk shakes thrive, successfully uncontested by a single one of
Until now, inaction meant other people and their children became fat, sick, and
died prematurely—somehow, we have been able to live with those
immoralities. The truth is that most human beings find the destruction of
fellow human beings, even little ones, acceptable.
You can assume these same people will sit idly by and let the entire earth be
destroyed. But we cannot let this happen, because this is our world, too. This
time, failure to act means that we and our children will be lost, along with those
who do not seem to understand or care.
An amazingly simple win-win opportunity stares us in the face: a global switch
to a starch-based diet will solve the diseases of over-nutrition and put a big
dent in global warming with one U-turn—since the up-to-now insatiable
appetite for foodstuffs made from livestock (cows, sheep, pigs, and chickens),
with abandonment of starchy plant foods, are at the root of both disasters.
We Must implement the Starch Solution
Quick Paybacks with Starch
A switch back to the kind of diet followed by most people who have ever
walked this earth would have enormous and widespread benefits.
The Starch Solution could prevent more deaths in one year than have been
prevented by all the antibiotics, diabetic pills, cholesterol-lowering statins, and
blood pressure pills prescribed over the past half century.
Not one case of type-2 diabetes has ever been cured with insulin, nor has any
patient with coronary artery disease been cured by heart surgery; yet a switch
to a starch-based diet has been proven to stop and reverse these as well as
most other chronic diseases.
The net toll on human lives saved in the first decade of implementing the
Starch Solution would be greater than the lives lost by all wars fought in the
20th century in Western countries.
Abandoning meat and dairy foods would overnight result in more savings in
fossil fuels than all the solar farms, windmills, and nuclear plants that could be
built in the next three decades.
Consider that most vegetable produce requires about two calories of fossil-
fuel energy to cultivate per one calorie of food energy; with beef; the ratio can
be as high as 80 to one.
Because livestock products account for 18% of greenhouse gas production,
compared to 14% for all transportation, this simple, long-overdue diet change
would have a greater effect on the rapidly approaching environmental
apocalypse than would removing all cars from the highways worldwide.
For everyday food choices, consider that growing four pounds (1200 calories)
of potatoes generates 14 times fewer greenhouse gases than producing a
pound of beef (1200 calories). Potatoes also provide much more food, health,
and appetite satisfaction than beef at the same time.
Individuals can expect an immediate personal financial payback. The average
daily cost of eating all 3 meals at fast food restaurants is about $14 (US). On a
starch-based diet you can easily feed yourself for $3 or less a day. Your
medical expenses can be eliminated in most cases and your personal
productivity will skyrocket overnight.
Truth Is The Solution
We are prevented from solving problems ranging from acne to species
extermination by false information. Starch as our food source must no longer
Meat, poultry, fish, and dairy can no longer be exalted.
Currently, past the age of 30, in Western countries, almost everyone is
overweight, on medications and/or has risk factors, like high cholesterol or
high blood pressure, which predict premature disability and death.
Fat, sick people will have much greater difficulty solving the health,
environmental, financial, and military problems threatening our existence. In
addition to the obvious mental and physical impairments caused by their
illnesses, their own dinner plates blind them to the right answers.
Once a person learns the truth and switches to a starch-based diet then the
solutions become clear. The solutions are so simple and easy to explain that
a 7-year-old can understand that the cure for heart disease and restoring the
oceans back to life are the same.
The goal of this article is to provide you with one big simple solution—a starch-
based diet. That’s all there is to it. You don’t have to think “good” thoughts,
worship weekly, run marathons, be blessed with hardy genes, or carry around
lucky charms to solve your health problems and to make a sizable
contribution to reversing the accelerating trends of environmental ruin.
All you have to do is change the composition of the foods on your plate and
eat. That’s the Starch Solution.
By: John McDougall, M.D. www.drmcdougall.com
Article: The Starch Solution