Dr. Baxter Montgomery is a Houston-area Cardiologist whose mission is to heal his patients through a plant-based lifestyle. Here he talks about what led him to become a doctor, the personal story of why he cares so much for his patients, what holiday is considered the unhealthiest month for many, and his upcoming docu-series Heart and Soul of a Champion. Read more.
Your journey to plant-based nutrition began 17-years ago before it was really a thing. How was this plan of action used to educate your patients and the public.
There were several components. I refer to it more as an evolution. I was a busy cardiologist that started my practice in 1997. In cardiology training, I developed some interest in wellness with some rotations in cardiac rehab. When I opened my practice, I started to get to know my patients from a longitudinal standpoint as they turned into lifelong patients.
When my health started to decline because I had become so busy, a few things in the Universe moved me toward plant-based nutrition. I also saw patients getting sicker and sicker despite the advancement of technology and the improvement of medications. I looked for alternatives because I didn’t want to take the medication prescribed. Then, I began focusing more on health and nutrition when I became a raw vegan chef through a crash course that led to doing a 32-day juicing detox, to which I felt amazing. I had the advantage of the juxtaposition of allopathic medicine’s great medical technology, the simple natural approach of plant-based nutrition, and the power of those two to integrate it into my practice; the rest is history.
What type of support have you received from the medical industry and the feedback from your patients?
It’s varies on both sides. In the medical industry, there is some positive feedback from colleagues who see it and say, “I think it’s great what you are doing with your patients.” On the other side, there’s the feedback that’s been a little inept. They’ll see the amazing changes and say, “What a minute, let me figure out how to do this” (laugh), but I think the feedback from the medical community has been somewhat warm and respectful.
Patients’ responses have been positive in general. Changes are very challenging psychologically and sociologically, for that matter, so patients, once they have overcome those hurdles, love the idea of getting healthy and off medication, and the rewards are great.
My mother did not die from surgery for a brain tumor or being a diabetic, or from a stroke. She died of liver failure because of all the medication taken.
Can you tell us more about your docuseries “Heart and Soul of a Champion.”
It is an intervention and an art form. We take people with advanced diseases and put them through an intense nutritional detox with exercise, solid therapy, and other natural interventions. We help them reverse diseases while we wean them off medications. It is a very complex intervention.
The art form is the docuseries. The motivation is simply the following; we want to take these diseases and have the ability to reverse them naturally and put that (information) in front of people watching in their living rooms, offices, or (wherever). We want to make it ongoing (as a series) and become commonplace in everyday citizens’ hearts and minds. The hope is that we’ll have a psychological impact where people say, wait a minute, I don’t have to put up with diabetes or heart failure if I can be empowered to take control through my life, which is really the design and motivation behind the docuseries.
Why do you care about healing patients’ illnesses instead of just managing them?
It is a ministry. People would ask me why did you get into medicine, and I would say I had a grandmother that had cancer or another loved one that had some illness, but that wasn’t my first motivation. I remember in the 9th grade, a classmate said, I want to make $90,000, and I said I wanted to make $90,000, which was my motivation early on. However, after I was in private practice and dealing with my own illness, my mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She had diabetes and hypertension and was on a number of medications. Though her brain tumor was resectable, she also had coronary (artery) disease. She died about a year and ten months later, being in and out of the hospital.
My mother did not die from surgery for a brain tumor or being a diabetic, or from a stroke. She died of liver failure because of all the medication taken. We often think of these diseases as the culprit. It’s not so much these diseases, but they are signals of our poor lifestyle, and the medications over time wore out my mother’s liver. She had liver (cirrhosis).
I pronounced her (passing away) and signed her death certificate.
My mother always said, “I will be your mother until I die.” I never knew how profound that statement would be because she taught me lots of things as a kid. On her deathbed, she taught me the most important lesson I’ll ever learn in medicine, and that was a major motivation for me because, from the statistics of these diseases, there are stories behind them (like my mother).
What would you like people to focus on in the New Year to help them not have unrealistic expectations but maintain healthier lifestyles?
I think the New Year resolutions should start before the New Year begins. The number one day people die of heart attacks is Christmas day. We hear ‘Tis the Season, but sometimes it’s ‘Tis the Season for sickness and death. The reasons are:
- The flu season.
- People that are predisposed to respiratory diseases or;
- Cardiovascular and other embolic deaths.
The holidays are a season to be joyous, but it is also a season to be sick and dead, and we (doctors) unfortunately have to deal with that. I encourage my patients to start now with nutritious and healthy holiday meals like what we serve in our restaurant (Garden Kitchen). I also encourage them to follow a raw detox before Christmas and eat a healthy plant-based diet. People may say, “Wait a minute, I’ve got relatives, and it’s the holidays.” I say, “That’s fine. Enjoy the holidays, reflect, and make healthy choices going into the New Year with a momentum of having a healthy regimen, exercising, and getting more fresh air.” That’s the major tip for people. Start early and before Christmas.
You give so much to your patients and the medical community. How do you refuel that you maintain your wellness?
The type of business I am in is health-related, forcing me to be health-related. For example, we were shooting the first Season of Heart and Soul of a Champion and got some athletes together. It was in July, and we were out there running hills and working out and raw detoxing, and I had to do the same thing while still taking calls from the hospital. Nevertheless, I was out there—with those athletes and in the office every day. It was exhausting, but it kept me motivated and on the move to do those things. I do the detox regimen. I don’t recommend anything to anyone I have never tried. I take time off. My Infrared Sauna is in my master bedroom. I get in there and relax, listening to music until bedtime. It helps me sleep. I put myself in with my patients, meaning we are all on this health journey to keep us moving forward.
Heart and Soul of a Champion docu-series debuts February 2023. Watch Ep. 1 at heartandsouldofachampion.com
Photo: Dr. Baxter Montgomery