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Prevent Disease & Thrive: Michelle McMacken, MD on Holistic Lifestyle Medicine & Promoting Optimal Wellness Through Plant-Based Nutrition

By July 26, 2015January 26th, 20247 Comments

“The fact that [doctors] are not given the training to use what is almost universally recognized as the most powerful tool [healthy nutrition] is crazy.”

Michelle McMacken, MD

We need more doctors like Michelle McMacken, MD.

Board certified in internal medicine, Dr. McMacken is an assistant professor at the NYU School of Medicine, an attending primary care physician at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital Center and director of the Bellevue Adult Weight Management Clinic, where she specializes in plant-based nutrition and lifestyle medicine.

Interestingly, Dr. McMacken wasn’t always all that intrigued by nutrition. Not surprisingly, her medical school experience was woefully lacking in this regard. But after eight years of medical practice, she was becoming progressively distressed by her obesity clinic patients’ general inability to get — and stay — healthy.

Determined to find better, more sustainable solutions for her patients led to a search engine result for “lifestyle change” that prompted Michelle to attend the American College of Lifestyle Medicine Conference— a game-changing experience that enlightened her to a holistic, disease preventive perspective on patient care that ultimately reinvigorated and forever altered her medical practice.

Beyond her one on one work with patients, many of which are underprivileged, what is uniquely inspiring about Dr. McMacken is her grant-funded commitment to study evidence-based nutritional protocols and apply the practical knowledge to faculty, colleagues & resident doctors. In other words, she is devoted to educating not only her patients about healthy nutrition, but her fellow medical professionals as well — filling the much needed gap in our current system of medical education.

This is an enlightening and highly informative conversation that explores:

  • the state of medical education with respect to nutrition
  • the responsibility of doctors to practice holistic, preventive medicine
  • the significance of a plant-based diet in promoting optimal wellness
  • Dr. McMacken’s personal & professional path to plant-based nutrition
  • the health impact of high protein diets, ketosis & glycogen depletion
  • the differences between animal & plant protein
  • alkaline/acid-forming foods and their impact on metabolism
  • paleo vs. vegan – finding common ground
  • the truth behind dietary cholesterol & saturated fat
  • the importance of aligning actions with values
  • plant-based patient case studies

I sincerely hope you enjoy our discussion.

What is preventing you from a more holistic approach to long-term wellness? I’d love to hear about your personal challenges in the comments section below.

Peace + Plants,


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Background & Reference:

Resources Recommended by Dr. McMacken:

Notable People Discussed in today’s podcast:

Related Podcasts You Might Enjoy:

Production, music & sound design by Tyler Piatt. Additional production by Chris Swan. Graphic art by Shawn Patterson.

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  • Andrea Smith says:

    I love the advice of “crowding it out” I have found this to be the best way to change eating habits/patterns!! Great interview!

  • Bill Moukad says:

    I have to say that I really enjoyed your talk with Michelle,as a NASM CPT with an extensive background in nutrition this was the most informative and spot on conversations on nutrition I have heard in quite a while, maybe ever. I will definitely recommend this podcast to any clients who want quality info on this subject.

  • Courtney says:

    Fantastic interview! I liked her clarification on plant based protein being “complete” and I appreciated her stating that whole grains are not the bad guys they are made out to be. Thanks, Rich!

  • BYOL says:

    so glad this interview happened! Simply a great conversation between two cool people. Cheers from Buenos Aires!

  • Maureen Burke says:

    Fabulous interview, many thanks. Please consider addressing “karma” in one of your podcasts with Julie (in your own lives as well as others of all ages). Also, when something happens or doesn’t the blanket statement people use – “that’s the way it’s suppose to be”…what your input? Interesting and dangerous interpretations by many, thanks again!

  • Maria Avery says:

    interview. I enjoyed listening to how
    she is helping people change their lives through nutrition. I wish more doctors were doing this. It was really helpful to hear the strategies
    she uses with her patient. That help me
    realize that I really need to think about what I say to people when telling
    them about a WFPBD. I think at times I give
    them too much information that turns them the other way. They may be thinking that they can’t do what
    I did. I want them to experience the
    success I know they can achieve but struggle with how to approach it without
    being preachy or overwhelming. I have
    seen the benefits in my life and want it for other.

  • Tommy F says:

    Michelle is a doctor with a heart. We need more brave doctors like her. Educating people how to eat, so they can regain their God given health.

    Patients are always ready to listen to their doctors. They’re the “professionals”.. They “know stuff”! When a patient is told what they should do to get better, they generally listen and make change in their life. So why does it need to be a Pill-Based approach??? Doctor’s are on the front-line of people’s conflict with disease. To dispense a pill, instead of a plant should be malpractice.. but it’s ironically the other way around. Getting doctors to begin dispensing Plant-Based healing over Pill-Based symptom masking, is the change we need NOW.

    “Eating in a way that is sustainable, compassionate and
    health promoting” <- Excellent doctor's advice!!

    (The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the
    service of others.) -Gandhi


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