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Dr. Larry Cohen, left, talks to Mark Smith while on the last leg of the morning's Walk with a Doc event in Cottonwood Creek Park on Sunday, July 8, 2018. (Photo by Kelsey Brunner, The Gazette)

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Far too many people don’t take control of their health until a crisis hits.

A Colorado Springs doctor who has walked that walk nowadays is busy talking about it — and is pleased to bring the “Code Blue” documentary to town.

Larry Cohen, an emergency room doctor at UCHealth Memorial Hospital and the first doctor in Colorado Springs to be board certified in lifestyle medicine, said the film supports his beliefs about making lifestyle changes for better health.

The documentary redefines the practice of medicine. It shows the hurdles to make the shift: antiquated curricula in medical schools, confusion in the media, inadequate government policies and the underlying influences of the pharmaceutical and food industries.

Colorado Springs area wellness events starting March 19

The free screening is from 6 to 8 p.m. April 3 at Library 21c, 1175 Chapel Hills Drive. Any profit from donations will go to charity, Cohen said.

“In 1999, I was 196 pounds,” Cohen said. “At 5 feet, 6 inches, I did not want to get to the 200-pound mark.”

He hit the gym six days a week and worked with a nutritionist, and in a year he started dropping pounds and seeing improvements in his cholesterol levels.

“I was practicing a Mediterranean diet,” he said. “I was eating lean meat and watching the amount of salt in my diet. I lost 60 pounds and dropped my cholesterol from 280 to 196 points.”

But four years later, while training for a triathlon, Cohen got the wake-up call.

“I went to the doctor for a checkup, and he discovered blockages,” he said. “I underwent bypass heart surgery.”

After that, he began reading Dean Ornish’s books about reversing heart disease through a mostly whole food, plant-based diet.

“A month after surgery, another scan showed continued blockage,” he said.

One year into his new diet, Cohen’s blockage was gone.

“I wished I had not had the bypass but had changed my diet instead,” he said.

“There’s no nutrition taught in medical school. There are so many diets out there that are basically all the same — paleo, Atkins (which advocates eating a lot of meat). You can lose weight, but for health purposes it’s not the best, for a number of reasons.”

That’s why “Code Blue” hits home for Cohen. The documentary explores improving health through lifestyle changes.

“I’m offering this free of charge, although I will take donations to cover my cost of licensure for the screening,” he said. “There is no ulterior motive for me other than being passionate about a healthful lifestyle including a whole food plant-based diet. As an emergency physician, I’m trying to keep people out of my practice.”

contact the writer: 636-0271.

Food editor

Food writer for features life section and columnist for Go! Entertainment - Table Talk column

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