Physician Profile: Milton Mills, M.D.: Prescribing Change
Whether internist Milton Mills is practicing at Fairfax Hospital in Virginia or at free clinics in Washington, D.C., his prescription for patients is likely to include some dietary advice: go vegetarian.
“Medical research shows conclusively that a plant-based diet reduces chronic disease risk, so that’s something I absolutely encourage my patients to move toward,” says Dr. Mills, a graduate of Stanford University School of Medicine, who became interested in the connection between diet and health when he went vegetarian as a teenager. “I find that when people are ill, they are very open to adopting practices that will improve their health.”
Dr. Mills doesn’t limit his message to his patients. He takes it to audiences around the country as well, speaking at hospitals, churches, and community centers. Sometimes he brings patients he’s helped—like Katheryn Vess, who suffered from heart disease and poorly controlled diabetes before changing her diet. “I was taking insulin twice a day and couldn’t walk half a block because my arteries were so clogged. Then I met Dr. Mills and he taught me how to eat,” Vess says. Now Vess is off insulin, no longer takes blood pressure medicine, and can walk a mile. “Her diabetes is, for all intents and purposes, cured,” Dr. Mills says.
Often active in PCRM campaigns, Dr. Mills is the lead plaintiff in PCRM’s class action lawsuit that asks for warning labels on milk. In the future, Dr. Mills hopes to delve into a new area of interest where little research has been done but the anecdotal evidence looks promising: diet and immunity. When Dr. Mills works with HIV and AIDS patients at clinics, he’s noticed that those who go vegetarian seem to improve, with increased energy and higher T-cell counts. “Medical literature supports a plant-based diet as being better for overall immune system function,” Dr. Mills says. “So its effect on patients with HIV is something I’d very much like to examine in the future.”