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The Health Science Podcast | Episode 084. | June 13, 2024
084: Plant-Powered Healing: Triumph Over Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes with Marc Ramirez
084: Plant-Powered Healing: Triumph Over Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes with Marc Ramirez

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Is disease hereditary or based on family lifestyle choices? The truth may surprise you.

Many people blame genetics for their health issues when, in fact, lifestyle choices, including diet, often play a more significant role than family bloodlines. 

In this episode of the NHA Health Science Podcast, Marc Ramirez pulls back the curtain on how his misguided belief about genetics almost killed him.

A Family Struggle with Diabetes

Marc Ramirez grew up in a large Mexican family in southern Texas, where diabetes was a common affliction. His earliest memories of his mother include her taking diabetes medications, a routine that became more intense over the years.

Marc’s mother endured numerous health issues, including heart attacks, a kidney transplant, blindness, and dialysis, before passing away at the age of 61 after 33 years of battling diabetes. This genetic predisposition seemed inescapable, as nearly all of Marc’s siblings also developed diabetes.

The Turning Point

Despite being an active individual who earned a football scholarship to the University of Michigan, Marc was not immune to his family’s health issues. He managed to stave off diabetes longer than his siblings, likely due to his athletic background, but was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2002, the same year his mother died. By then, Marc had become accustomed to managing his condition with medications and insulin, believing there was no alternative.

Discovering Plant-Based Nutrition

In 2011, Marc’s perspective changed dramatically. He was deeply affected by his brother’s leg amputation due to diabetes complications and was struggling with his own health issues, including high blood glucose levels and obesity. 


A turning point came when Marc and his wife Kim watched the documentary “Forks Over Knives.” The film introduced them to the concept of a whole food, plant-based diet, which was something they had not tried before.

Inspired by the documentary, Marc and his wife Kim decided to adopt a plant-based lifestyle. Almost immediately, Marc saw significant improvements in his health. His glucose levels dropped within days, and he began losing weight rapidly. 

Within two months, Marc had eliminated all his medications under his doctor’s supervision and lost 50 pounds in three months. Kim experienced equally positive outcomes.

Sustainable Health

Marc’s transformation was not just a short-term fix but a sustainable lifestyle change. As of today, he maintains a healthy, muscular weight and enjoys robust health. 

The last time he weighed as little as 210 pounds, he was in the fifth grade. This lifestyle change has also positively impacted his family, allowing him to actively participate in his grandchildren’s lives.

Founding Chickpea and Bean

Marc and Kim’s personal success led them to establish Chickpea and Bean, a nonprofit organization aimed at educating others about the benefits of a plant-based diet. 

They became Food for Life instructors through the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and began teaching classes on how to adopt this lifestyle.

One of their significant initiatives is the “plant plunge” program, which they have conducted for medical students at institutions like Wayne State University School of Medicine, Oakland University School of Medicine, and the University of Michigan. This program educates future healthcare professionals about plant-based nutrition, equipping them with knowledge that is often lacking in traditional medical education.

Hands-On Learning with Medical Students

In their work with medical students, Marc and Kim offer a comprehensive, hands-on learning experience. They conduct live presentations, bringing in food and sharing their knowledge and testimonials. 

During these sessions, students eat low-fat, plant-based meals and undergo pre- and post-program health assessments, including blood work, weight, blood pressure, and lipid panels. 

Notably, the students themselves perform these tests using glucose and lipid panel meters, learning to monitor their own health metrics effectively.

Outreach and Impact

Chickpea and Bean has made substantial strides in raising awareness about plant-based diets. Their outreach extends to inner-city and rural areas, such as inner-city Detroit, where they offer free programs at places like the CHASS Clinic, which serves a large Hispanic population. 

These programs, often conducted in Spanish, include weekly meetings for four to six weeks, providing food, information, and health assessments. Marc emphasizes that participants who fully embrace the low-fat, whole food plant-based lifestyle see significant health improvements.

Indigenous Diets and Cultural Connections

Marc highlights the importance of reconnecting with indigenous diets, noting that traditional Mexican cuisine aligns well with plant-based eating. He reassures people that they can enjoy familiar flavors without animal products, using spices and herbs to create delicious plant-based versions of their favorite dishes. This approach extends to other cultures, emphasizing that the key flavors come from the seasonings, not the meat.

Continuing to Inspire

Marc Ramirez’s journey from a life overshadowed by diabetes and obesity to one of vibrant health underscores the transformative power of plant-based nutrition. His work through Chickpea and Bean continues to inspire and educate, proving that it is never too late to take control of one’s health. 

For more information about their initiatives and resources, visit: 

Episode Highlights 

[00:00] Introduction 

[02:00] Breaking free from a family history of disease. 

[04:30] Losing his mother to an early death set Marc on a different path.

[06:00] Marc’s brother lives with the devastation of lifelong type II diabetes.

[08:00] All but one sibling dealing with disease in Marc’s family. 

[10:00] Marc becomes obese, sick and is experiencing the family legacy of  disease.

[15:00] Ready to give up, Marc discovers plant-based eating. 

[17:30] The transformation inspired Marc and his wife to create “Chickpea and  Bean” nonprofit.

[23:00] Chickpea and Bean brings awareness to the inner cities to combat  disease. 

[34:00] What Marc and Kim have planned for the future… knowing they have a future!

About Marc Ramirez 

Marc Ramirez’s journey is nothing short of remarkable—a testament to the transformative power of embracing a plant-based lifestyle. As a former University of Michigan football player and TEDx presenter, Marc’s story resonates with inspiration and hope.

Struggling with a myriad of health issues including type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, psoriasis, erectile dysfunction, obesity, and frequent heartburn, Marc found himself at a crossroads. 

Determined to reclaim his health and vitality, he embarked on a profound journey of self-discovery.

In just two months of embracing a plant-based lifestyle, Marc experienced a miraculous turnaround. He no longer relied on the crutch of five medications, including insulin shots. Fast forward over 12 years, Marc remains medication-free and in the prime of his life.

Motivated by his own transformative experience, Marc, alongside his wife Kim, co-founded the non-profit organization Chickpea and Bean Inc

Their mission is clear: to empower individuals with the knowledge and tools to embrace the life-changing benefits of a plant-based diet.

Through Chickpea and Bean Inc., Marc and Kim tirelessly educate and inspire others, sharing their wealth of knowledge and firsthand experience. Their advocacy extends beyond mere lifestyle changes; it’s a movement towards holistic wellness and vitality for all.

To learn more about Marc’s journey and the invaluable work of Chickpea and Bean Inc., visit their website 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 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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