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The Health Science Podcast | Episode 054. | November 16, 2023
054: Reversing Disease by Redefining Medicine with Dr. Neal Barnard
054: Reversing Disease by Redefining Medicine with Dr. Neal Barnard

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When one considers the challenges of Type II diabetes, heart disease, various cancers and otherwise preventable health problems worldwide increasing by the minute, recognizing the crucial role of lifestyle choices is more important than ever.

Enter Dr. Neal Barnard, one of the most recognized experts in the field of food as medicine, who has made it his life’s work to raise awareness about lifestyle choices.

During this episode of the NHA Health Science podcast, Dr. Frank Sabatino digs deep with Dr. Barnard into how lifestyle choices impact diabetes, heart disease, menopause, and other all-too-common health challenges, laying the foundation for a deeper exploration of Dr. Barnard’s invaluable contributions to this critical conversation.

Reversing Diabetes through Plant-Based Diets

Dr. Barnard’s research emphasizes the potential of lifestyle changes, particularly adopting a plant-exclusive diet, in managing and even reversing Type II diabetes. By eliminating animal products and minimizing oil consumption, his patients, as well as participants in various studies, experienced profound results, showcasing the remarkable influence of dietary choices on health outcomes.

Exploring the Menopausal Connection

An often-overlooked conversation that Dr. Sabatino and Dr. Barnard explored is the connection between plant-based diets and menopausal symptoms. Drawing evidence from Japan and the Yucatan Peninsula, where menopausal symptoms were milder in populations with predominantly plant-based diets, their conversation sheds light on the potential alleviating effects of plant-based nutrition on this aspect of women’s health.

Soybeans: A Surprising Solution for Hot Flashes

An unexpected revelation comes to light as Dr. Barnard discusses a study involving women experiencing hot flashes. By following a diet excluding animal products, minimizing oil consumption, and incorporating a daily half-cup of soybeans, a patient of Dr. Barnard was the catalyst for him exploring the correlation further. He did a study with over 80 participants who reported a significant reduction in hot flashes and other common menstrual symptoms. This discovery opened new possibilities for managing menopausal symptoms through dietary interventions.

Plant-Based Diets and Weight Loss

Dr. Barnard goes even further into the relationship between plant-based diets and weight loss, emphasizing the role of high-fiber foods in trapping and excreting calories. Specific foods like citrus fruits, melons, and berries are highlighted, correlating increased intake with more substantial weight loss.

Anthocyanins: Colorful Antioxidants and Metabolic Benefits

A noteworthy revelation discusses the role of anthocyanins, colorful antioxidants found in berries and grapes. Dr. Barnard presents findings from a study involving identical twins, showcasing that increased anthocyanin intake leads to greater weight loss. This invites an exploration into the potential metabolic benefits of these antioxidants.

Navigating the Salt Dilemma

The conversation addresses the controversial topic of salt, acknowledging the challenges of reducing intake. Dr. Barnard emphasizes adapting taste preferences and breaking free from the addictive cycle of processed foods as crucial steps in achieving a healthier lifestyle.

PCRM’s Impactful Research and Resources

Insights from a PCRM study, published in JAMA Network Open, reveal that adopting a healthy plant-based diet can be cost-effective, leading to overall savings in food purchases by as much as 16%. Dr. Barnard underscores the importance of accessible and evidence-based resources in promoting widespread adoption of plant-based lifestyles.

A Message of Accessibility and Ease

Dr. Barnard concludes with a powerful message dispelling the notion that a healthy diet is expensive or challenging. He highlights the ease of adopting a plant-based lifestyle, emphasizing its positive impact on health, finances, and overall well-being.

With a wealth of resources designed to improve one’s lifestyle choices and health, be sure to visit the site and join the vibrant community dedicated to evidence-based health science and a plant-exclusive lifestyle.

Dr. Neal Barnard will be presenting at the 2024 NHA Annual Conference in Ohio. To learn more and reserve your spot, visit

Episode Highlights

[02:00]             Dr. Barnard’s passions expand to music.  

[04:00]             Looking forward with PCRM due to declining health of Americans.

[07:00]             The start of discovering the connection between food and health.

[10:00]             Taking animal products out of the diet reveals incredible results with Type II   

[14:30]             Yale study takes on the topic of insulin resistance… and wins.

[22:00]             The Black Box of hormonal balance vs. imbalance.

[27:30]             The impact of fast food chains on health.

[34:10]             Dairy and your health…or lack thereof.         

[39:30]             The power of berries and weight loss.

[44:00]             The frontier of low, minimal and no sodium in one’s diet.

[48:00]             A 16% drop in grocery costs with a whole food, plant-based diet.

About Dr. Neal Barnard

Neal Barnard, MD, FACC, is an Adjunct Professor of Medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, DC, and President of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. 

Dr. Barnard has led numerous research studies investigating the effects of diet on diabetes, body weight, hormonal symptoms, and chronic pain, including a groundbreaking study of dietary interventions in Type II diabetes, funded by the National Institutes of Health, that paved the way for viewing Type II diabetes as a potentially reversible condition for many patients. Dr. Barnard has authored more than 100 scientific publications and 20 books for medical and lay readers and is the editor in chief of the Nutrition Guide for Clinicians, a textbook made available to all U.S. medical students.

As president of the Physicians Committee, Dr. Barnard leads programs advocating for preventive medicine, good nutrition, and higher ethical standards in research. His research contributed to the acceptance of plant-based diets in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

In 2015, he was named a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology. In 2016, he founded the Barnard Medical Center in Washington, DC, as a model for making nutrition a routine part of all medical care.   

Working with the Medical Society of the District of Columbia and the American Medical Association, Dr. Barnard has authored key resolutions, now part of AMA policy, calling for a new focus on prevention and nutrition in federal policies and in medical practice. In 2018, he received the Medical Society of the District of Columbia’s Distinguished Service Award. He has hosted four PBS television programs on nutrition and health. 
Originally from Fargo, North Dakota, Dr. Barnard received his M.D. degree at the George Washington University School of Medicine and completed his residency at the same institution. He practiced at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York before returning to Washington to found the Physicians Committee.

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 and 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.

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