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Dr. Donaldson’s Journey and Navigating the Path to the Hallelujah Diet

Follow the journey of Dr. Donaldson and the road that led him to Hallelujah Diet.

A young father pursuing his doctorate in chemical engineering at Cornell University in the mid-1990s, Michael Donaldson found himself at a crossroads: To begin a career in biomedical engineering, which he gained an interest in during his undergrad years, or follow natural health medicine? With a father who had been a doctor, Michael felt himself pulled more toward working behind the scenes as a scientist. Originally, this led him to thinking he would follow the path of biotechnology, helping find solutions to disease.

A Turning Point
During the time that Michael was working toward his Ph.D as part of a biochemical engineering research group however, his wife began struggling with pregnancy-related sickness. When she turned toward advice from a nutritionally-minded chiropractor and some real answers, it was then that Michael found himself wondering just how great the connection between nutrition and chronic disease such as cancer and heart disease really is. He started doing his own digging and reading research from the likes of John Robins and T. Colin Campbell. In 1996, this required Michael going to the university library, pulling down the journals and making copies of pages he could take home to read.

Dr. Donaldson with his two young children and father in 1999.Dr. Donaldson with his two young children and father in 1999.

"It dawned on me as I kept pouring through the research that the answer is not another drug or pharmaceutical development produced biologically," he said. "So I came to a little bit of a crisis point and thought, which direction am I going to pursue?"

Those biotech innovations are great in emergencies, noted Michael. The protein tissue plasminogen activator, for instance, that is injected when someone is having a heart attack can be life-saving. However, it would be great if people didn't get to the point of needing that in the first place, he said. By promoting a healthy diet and lifestyle, these chronic conditions could be prevented. Thus, rather than continue his work in biological proteins, Michael decided on the other path.

"For me, it seemed like there would be a much greater impact if I chose to work on health," he said."Because if people knew what their options really were, they might make a different choice. If they knew there was an option other than pharmaceuticals and surgery and radiation, they might really choose to change their diet and lifestyle and get much better results."

Dr. Donaldson and family.Dr. Donaldson and family.

Finding Genesis 1:29
Some of Michael's graduate work did involve nutrition, though not directly related to people. It was in the midst of his graduate work, as he was continuing to research health, that he was introduced to the midwife who was helping with the birth of his third child. She had a copy George Malkmus' book, "God's Way to Ultimate Health." Borrowing the book, Michael went home and poured through the stories and testimonies, reading about all that was possible when people change their diet and lifestyle.

"That's what's possible when you change your diet and lifestyle."

"They were getting results that were phenomenal compared to everything else," he recalled. "Things were happening there, that weren't being reported other places."

From there, he looked up Hallelujah Acres, applied for a position in the newly opened research foundation and went down to North Carolina for an interview. There, they asked what his research plan would be. From that point, Michael put together a plan and in February 1998, he joined the team as the Director of Research. Finishing up his work at Cornell, Michael and his young family made the move down to North Carolina.

Answering the Big Questions
Ensuring that the dietary guidelines of the Hallelujah Diet were scientifically up-to-date was one of his first tasks. One of the very first questions that Dr. Donaldson proposed when joining the team was, "Are people getting everything they need with the diet alone?"

The research findings that plant-based diets do not contain enough vitamin B12 was not novel news. However, Dr. Donaldson was the first to put this question to the test by studying 54 Health Ministers who had been on the diet for at least two years. Almost 50 percent of the participants showed a vitamin B12 deficiency at the cellular level. This came as quite an eye-opener to the Hallelujah Diet staff, to have to step back and wonder how the Genesis 1:29 could not be perfect.

As Dr. Donaldson explained, it's important to remember that there wasn't always a lack of this vitamin and the plant-based foods that Adam and Eve were consuming have changed greatly. Moreover, it was discovered that vitamin B12 does not come from something that we consume, according to our experts, but rather it is made within the body. Today, the Hallelujah Diet supplement B12, B6, Folate serves an important role in the diet.

"That was a big step for getting the diet safe for everyone," said Michael. "And we've continued to optimize it over time, but that vitamin B12 was the link that was really missing."

The Work Continues
Since then, Dr. Donaldson's research has continued to play an integral part in the Hallelujah Diet. Though the key teachings have not changed, more questions have continued to be answered and the supplements have become more and more important.

"What we're teaching people is self-healing, the healing that's built into the cells already," said Michael. "It's just about providing the right materials, and health will be the result."

Through his work and research, that is the message that Dr. Donaldson works to promote each and every day. He sees every new discovery and study as an intellectual challenge and understands that his research makes a real difference, which is what makes him love going to work every day.

Next month, Dr. Donaldson will host our monthly live webinar series for the March presentation of "Raw Food Lab Webinar."


  1. This article was good. I have MS and have followed the Hallulejah Diet since 1998 and it worked great until the last 5 years. I have done evrything from juicing, eating raw fruits and vegetables, lots of salads, herbal fiberblend, B12, Vit. D w/K2, Fish Oil, distilled water. Now, it just is not working. I have gotten much worse in spite of my efforts. I can hardly walk now. I also had amalgam fillings removed. I am now thinking of doing hematopoietic stem cell replacement which is to reboot my immune system so that my cells don’t remember they had MS. This procedure is having great results. Of course, big pharmaceutical companies disagree because they want people to still buy their disease modifying drugs which cost from $5000 to $ 10000 per month. Do you have any thoughts on this?

    • Melody Hord February 24, 2017

      I am not familiar with that therapy. I recently read a testimonial in the book “Brain Maker” by David Perlmutter, a board-certified neurologist, about a male MS patient who did probiotic enemas and also went to England to get a new procedure called fecal microbial transplantation (FMT). It helped the gentlemen a great deal. Gut bacteria play an important role in the immune system.
      May God lead you to healing.

  2. Darrell Eastis February 24, 2017

    I was glad to read that Dr. Donaldson’s research included Dr. T. Colin Campbell. I learned about his research from the documentary Forks Over Knives. Also in that documentary is Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn research on plant based diet and how it can prevent and reverse heart disease. We now have Forks Over Knives cookbook and The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook thanks to my son. We use both along with the Hallelujah diet and have been blessed with Great health.

  3. Barb Wohlbrandt March 1, 2017

    Do you have any information on how to heal Leaky Gut?

  4. Bobby Davis March 3, 2017

    Leaky gut can be healed as well as diverticulitius. I know I use to have both plus EBS. Knowing how the digestive tract works together is a key to understanding how to get back to a healthy gut. Beginning with the stomach, it is important to have a balance of good vs bad bacteria and that can be remedied by using a good probiotic and eating lots of raw organic vegan foods which contain their own digestive enzymes. Once the chime reaches the small intestines, the food particles will be obsorbed by the millions of villis that line the intestinal tract. Villi stands up like little soldiers waiting for nutrition to pass by. Leaky cut occurs when this villi gets flattened and can no longer obsorb the nutrition from the chime. When this happens, the small food particules go directly into the blood stream causing lots of health issues. Gluten, cooked food, meat and other toxic foods like milk, dairy, cheese, etc are treated like toxins in the small intestine and this causes mucus to form which exaggerates the problem of flattening the villi. Keep in mind, enzymes die at 107 degreees and the human body dies at 107 degrees. So cooked food is dead food to the body and treats it like a toxin. Funny how that works huh? In order to bring the villi back to its healthy state, your intestinal tract needs a good scrubbing and that is where a good source and plenty of fiber comes into the picture. We can’t get enough good fiber in our diet just by eating the right foods . . . we need to supplement it. One of the very best I’ve found is 1/4 cup freshly ground organic flax seed in a 16 oz glass of water daily. Drink it down all at once as the fiber will start to expand as soon as it hits the water. It has a nutty flavor and also contains lignans. This is a wonderful source for woman as lignans keep breast tissue from becoming cancerous. Taking this daily will promote good bowel movements. If you feel bound up, search for a good colon hydro therapist and do a colonic. I did colonics once a week and sometimes twice a week to get my bowels and intestinal tract back in shape. It is remarkable how wonderful the human body works to heal itself when we understand what we are doing wrong and how we treat it that makes us sick. Good luck to you and know you can overcome this problem if you stay on tract with diet and fiber. It will take a couple of months, but it is worth it.

    • Melody Hord March 6, 2017

      Thank you for sharing what worked for you, Bobby! Success stories are reassuring. That is a great visual of the villi. Hallelujah Diet has observed that some people’s intestines have trouble with raw foods, so they would be better served to cook their vegetables. Many times those who cannot eat raw foods can tolerate raw juices as they are very easy on digestion. Juicing vegetables is one of the best things we can do for the body.
      Getting friendly bacteria back in balance is of utmost importance. Some people find fermented foods helpful as well.

  5. Jennifer Corson March 15, 2017

    Its great to know that the staff at the Hallelujah Diet research foundation is always researching to be sure we are not missing any vital nutrients. That helps to insure we are giving our bodies the fuel it needs to be self healing.

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