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Can A Healthy Diet Replace Prescription Drugs?

When it comes to illness, diet and lifestyle are often seen as prevention efforts, whereas drugs and medicine are seen as cures. However, recent reports have been suggesting that lifestyle changes, such as changes in diet, can not only prevent, but treat illnesses ranging from diabetes to cancer.

With this topic in mind, we asked physicians, do you think more diseases could be addressed through dietary changes that are currently treated primarily with drugs?

Out of the 4,204 doctors from 53 countries who responded, an overwhelming 85 percent of doctors responded, yes, diseases could be addressed through dietary changes:

“I’m pretty sure about 98% of acid reflux I see can be treated with diet/lifestyle alone. I tell all my reflux patients this, but they insist on stuffing their pie holes with crap, being reliant on PPIs and demanding an EGD every time their stomach hurts.”  – Gastroenterology

“Obesity, perhaps the most common illness in the USA, should be able to be cured with diet alone. However, very few adult patients are compliant.”  – Hematology Oncology 

“Many diseases are more or less amenable to dietary changes – diabetes and gout come to mind, and there are many others. In some cases the dietary changes are very specific (phenylketoneuria) and in some cases they are very general (obesity and its sequelae).”  – Anesthesiology

“The vast majority of problems patients present can be linked, to a greater or lesser extent, often directly, to poor dietary and lifestyle choices. Of course eating and living more sensibly would help address these illnesses.”  – Emergency Medicine

“Dietary changes definitely have a role in certain diseases, but it requires a lot of motivation and commitment. I have seen many patients dropping out and shifting to medicines.”  – Internal Medicine

“There is increasing evidence from analysis of long-term population studies that the loss of muscular bulk in the elderly is related to dietary issues, particularly magnesium and calcium content.”  – Anesthesiology

“Lifestyle modification including dietary measures remains top on diseases primary prevention strategies!”  – Geriatric Medicine 

“Diet and lifestyle modification is surely superior to pills on most of our present epidemic of CNCD.”  – General Practice

“Many Chronic diseases can be PREVENTED by healthy eating habits and lifestyle throughout life, but it’s not too late to try to reverse damage already done. There seems to be an increasing interest in nutrition by the public. They just need to access reliable information and that can be a challenge.”  – General Practice

“Of course, for many diseases, nutrition is a mandatory and independent method of therapy. I, as an endocrinologist, know this well. Many of my patients with diabetes mellitus have achieved excellent results precisely due to proper nutrition. I always tell my patients: ‘Treat food as a medicine, and you will be happy!’” – Endocrinology 

The poll was fielded in December of 2017. 4,204 physicians responded to the poll. The margin of error for the global poll was ±2%. More information about Sermo polling methodology can be found here.

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