Skip to content
The Health Science Podcast | Episode 038. | July 20, 2023
037: Unleashing the Power of Plant-Based Living: A Conversation with Dr. Stephan Esser
037: Unleashing the Power of Plant-Based Living: A Conversation with Dr. Stephan Esser

Listen on Your Favorite Channel:

Once again, Dr. Frank Sabatino delivers an engaging conversation for the Health Science Podcast.

In this episode, he invites Dr. Stephan Esser, an esteemed orthopedic physician specializing in rehabilitation and sports medicine, to share his insights about the overall benefits of a plant-exclusive lifestyle.

Dr. Esser shares his experiences and perspectives on the benefits of a plant-exclusive lifestyle and the profound influence of his grandfather, Dr. William Esser, in shaping his journey.

Reflecting on his upbringing on his grandfather’s mango farm, Dr. Esser acknowledges the lasting impact of the hygienic health principles he was exposed to. He emphasizes his grandfather’s authenticity and dedication to serving others, which greatly inspired his own career path.

Balancing Tradition, Science & Lifestyle

Dr. Esser highlights the importance of balancing tradition and modern science in his medical education. While he acknowledges the influence of traditional training, he advocates for lifestyle interventions and natural approaches to preventive medicine. His passion for healthy living extends beyond the classroom, as he establishes platforms to educate and inspire others to adopt healthier habits.

The Hygienic Model

During a game called “Where They Got It Right,” Dr. Esser and Dr. Sabatino explore the enduring principles of the hygienic model. They discuss therapeutic water fasting, plant-based nutrition, movement and exercise, sun exposure, the mind-body connection, and quality sleep.

High Performance Athletics

Dr. Esser shares his experiences as a high-performance athlete, particularly in tennis, where he fully embraced a plant-based lifestyle.

He attributes reduced inflammation, enhanced recovery, and improved performance to his nutrient-dense, plant-based diet. Dr. Esser draws parallels between his journey and that of elite athletes like Novak Djokovic, who have also embraced plant-based nutrition and achieved remarkable success.

The conversation between Dr. Sabatino and Dr. Esser highlights the timeless wisdom of the hygienic health movement and its alignment with modern lifestyle medicine.

Dr. Esser’s personal journey from his early upbringing on his grandfather’s mango farm to becoming a respected physician and advocate for plant-based living exemplifies the profound impact of positive role models and the power of personal choices in shaping future generations.

Together, Dr. Esser and Dr. Sabatino emphasize the importance of embracing a holistic lifestyle that combines medical interventions, nutrition, stress management, and a supportive environment to unlock the body’s incredible potential for thriving health.

Dr. Esser has been an esteemed speaker at the NHA Conference for many years. He always brings his A-Game to the platform where his presentations are always fresh and current. Dr. Esser is a definite crowd favorite.

Episode Highlights

[02:00]             Dr. Esser’s grandfather was one of his greatest influences

[05:15]             What it’s like to be a 4th generation plant-based eater

[08:00]             Most doctors don’t get paid to keep people healthy

[13:00]             Where they get it right (Pop Quiz)

[16:00]             The benefits of plant-based eating for athletes

[22:00]             Miracle healing power of plant-based foods

[28:00]             What are people willing to do about stress?

[32:30]             Don’t accept the mindset that being sick, tired, & fatigued is normal

[35:00]             Do NOT put yourself on the shelf… what you do matters

About Dr. Stephan Esser

Dr. Stephan Esser, MD, is a highly accomplished physician, author, and motivational speaker specializing in sports medicine and lifestyle modification. With a strong dedication to empowering individuals to achieve optimal health, he is deeply committed to helping people enhance their fitness levels, enjoy life to the fullest, and optimize their overall functionality.

Dr. Esser’s educational journey began with a Bachelor of Science degree from Palm Beach Atlantic University. He then pursued his Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree from the University of South Florida College of Medicine. Driven by his passion for sports medicine, he completed a residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the prestigious Harvard Medical School/Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. To further hone his expertise, he went on to complete a fellowship in Sports Medicine at the renowned Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL.

Currently, Dr. Esser serves as the Sports & Spine Physician with Heekin Orthopedics in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. His role allows him to provide exceptional care and support to individuals dealing with sports-related injuries and musculoskeletal conditions. Through his comprehensive approach, he assists patients in their recovery, helping them regain strength, mobility, and quality of life.

Dr. Esser is an esteemed member of several professional organizations, including the American College of Sports Medicine, American College of Lifestyle Medicine, American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, United States Tennis Association, and United States Professional Tennis Association. These affiliations demonstrate his commitment to staying at the forefront of medical advancements and fostering collaborative efforts within the field.

Beyond his clinical practice, Dr. Esser is a sought-after speaker and author. He utilizes his extensive knowledge and expertise to deliver inspiring talks and educational content on topics such as sports medicine, lifestyle modification, and achieving optimal health. Through his engaging presentations, he motivates audiences to take charge of their well-being and make positive changes in their lives.

Dr. Stephan Esser’s exceptional medical background, combined with his personal experiences in sports, make him a valuable asset to the field of sports medicine. With his dedication to empowering individuals and his commitment to excellence, he continues to make a significant impact on the lives of his patients and the broader community.

Learn more at

About Dr. Frank Sabatino

As a recognized authority on the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle, Dr. Frank Sabatino has cared for and inspired thousands of people for over 40 years. Dr. Sabatino has a PhD in cell biology and neuroendocrinology and has done extensive landmark research on calorie restriction, stress, and aging. He currently is on staff at the TrueNorth Health Foundation in Santa Rosa, CA, and serves as the Director of Health Education at the NHA.

Dr. Sabatino’s passion and life’s work include raising awareness about the benefits of whole-food, plant-exclusive nutrition (without added salt, oil, or sugar), health rejuvenation, stress management.

About NHA

The National Health Association (NHA), founded in 1948, is a nonprofit organization that promotes the benefits of a plant-based diet. The Association provides educational materials, educational events, and services to thousands of people around the world.

The mission of the National Health Association is to educate and empower individuals to understand that health results from healthful living. The NHA recognizes the integration of all aspects of health: personal, environmental, and social.

The NHA also provides travel experiences around the globe through the NHA Plant-Based Travel and cruise division.

More information:


A unique benefit of the NHA Conference is the selection of two medical students who receive a full scholarship to the conference.

Contact Wanda Huberman for more information on how to apply for the scholarship.  [email protected]

NHA membership

For a very nominal investment, you can enjoy incredible benefits of the NHA membership.

Members of the NHA enjoy a subscription to the award-winning quarterly health journal, Health Science, access to the “Members Only” section of the NHA Website (which contains all 43 years of back issues of the magazine),  the ability to download for free many classic out of print eBooks on the history of the Natural Hygiene Movement, including Fasting Can Save Your Life and The Greatest Health Discovery, discounts on books, and early notice of the NHA events.

Only $35 a year for basic membership within the United States.

Listen on Your Favorite Channel:

Welcome to the new home of the National Health Association!
If you are an existing member, you will need to reset your password in order to log in and take advantage of all the great benefits being a member provides—which now includes the ability to update your own contact information (address, phone number, email, upload a picture and much more). Please start by clicking the Register/Log In button and follow the instructions on that page. Once your password is reset, you will use your email address as your username. You no longer have or need a Member Number. Please contact us if you have questions—and thanks for your support!