Understanding Health

At the Barnard Medical Center, we emphasize the role of nutrition in the prevention and treatment of illness and chronic diseases that have reached epidemic proportions, such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, obesity, and high blood pressure.

Understanding Diabetes

Typical treatments for type 2 diabetes try to compensate for the disease with an ever-increasing regimen of medications. The new approach aims to cure it, or improve the fundamental problems.

Type 2 Diabetes: Tackling type 2 diabetes means addressing insulin resistance, a condition that has its roots in fat build-up inside the cells of the body. This fat is not the same as belly fat or hip fat. Rather, microscopic fat droplets inside cells interfere with insulin’s ability to work properly. Simple diet changes can reverse that process and reduce insulin resistance, helping restore your body’s natural balance.

Type 1 Diabetes: In type 1 diabetes, the insulin-producing cells are lost, so a source of insulin will always be necessary. However, diet changes can reduce the amount of insulin that is required and reduce the likelihood that complications will occur.

Reversing Diabetes: Many people, particularly those who have had diabetes for some time, benefit from a combination of a diabetic diet, exercise, and medications. However, if diet changes go far enough, the need for medications can be greatly reduced and sometimes eliminated altogether.

Understanding Coronary Heart Disease

When arteries to the heart are narrowed, the heart’s blood supply is diminished.

Heart Risk Factors: If blood flow is cut off completely, a portion of the heart muscle can die (a heart attack). Pioneering research by Dean Ornish, M.D., Caldwell Esselstyn Jr., M.D., and others has shown that heart disease and congestive heart failure can be reversed by diet and lifestyle changes, often allowing patients with heart disease to live completely normal lives.

In some cases, doctors use diet and lifestyle changes for the treatment of the cardiovascular system alone. In other cases, medications may be added to improve heart health.

Understanding Weight Problems & Obesity

Many people try to manage weight problems by joining weight-loss programs and cutting down on calories, portions, or carbohydrate-containing foods.

A better approach focuses on using healthful foods to naturally trim the appetite and boost after-meal metabolism. This means zeroing in on the type of foods you eat-not how much you eat.

Losing Weight: Because fats have 9 calories per gram—more than twice the calories in carbohydrate or protein—reducing fatty foods causes weight loss almost automatically. In addition, because fiber has virtually no calories, high-fiber foods, such as vegetables, fruits, and beans, tend to satisfy the appetite, reducing calorie intake. Obesity research also shows that after-meal metabolism (calorie-burning speed) can be accelerated with a low-fat, plant-based diet.

By combining these properties of healthful foods, weight loss can often be easy and long-lasting.

Understanding High Blood Pressure

Many people take medications to lower blood pressure. However, foods can lower blood pressure, too, and the only “side effects” are good ones—weight loss, lower cholesterol, and better overall health.

How to Lower Blood Pressure: Foods that are rich in potassium help lower blood pressure. In addition, low-fat foods help lower the viscosity (“thickness”) of the blood, which may also reduce blood pressure. Exercise helps, too.

Many people keep a healthy blood pressure with diet and lifestyle changes alone. However, high blood pressure is dangerous, and medications are sometimes needed for safety. Over time, a healthful diet, exercise, and weight loss can reduce the need for medications and promote a normal blood pressure.

Location and Hours

5100 Wisconsin Ave. N.W., Suite #401
Washington, D.C. 20016

202-527-7400 (fax)

8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday – Friday.

Make an Appointment at Barnard Medical Center