“How not to die”. Why are we treating lifestyle diseases with medicine?

How not to die blog post cover

When was the last time you read a book, and something from its content just hit you like a ton of bricks? For me, it happened with two books in the last two weeks, but today I’m only mentioning one: “How not to die” by Dr Michael Greger.

Dr Greger is a plant-based physician, and every vegan or health conscious person in the world knows his YouTube channel, NutritionFacts. Every word he says it’s backed up by science and made to sound human with his very particular sense of humour. He gives interviews while walking on his treadmill. For all these and many more, we love him. Now back to the book.

How not to die

In “How not to die“, Dr Greger talks about every one of our killer lifestyle diseases – heart disease, different types of cancer, diabetes, etc. He explains what they are in terms that even I can understand and how we develop them.

It all comes down to diet.

While talking about heart disease, he gives the following explanation. Imagine someone creates a biochemical disease and spreads it out in the world killing hundreds of thousands of people (400k in America to be exact) every year. We would hunt them down and imprison the bastard. Luckily, there’s no such threat. Unfortunately, we do it to ourselves anyway.

So here’s what I don’t get. Why are we treating lifestyle illnesses with medicine instead of lifestyle changes? Why do doctors easily prescribe pills, but none talks about the way we eat?

Dr Greger gives a few reasons for the second question.

  • Doctors don’t have nutrition qualifications;
  • They’re financially rewarded for keeping the prescription medicine industry going at full speed;
  • If you get better, they lose a patient;
  • People don’t respond well to being asked to change.

Let’s talk about the last one.

People don’t respond well to being asked to change

Every time I go back home to Romania, I have a shock. Almost all TV ads are for medicine. “You can eat whatever you want, all you need to do is get this pill after”. They also still believe that doing crunches will give you ripped abs, but that’s for another rant.

My mother carries a big bag of medicine wherever shes goes – for headaches, for cholesterol, for heart disease – and she panics if she forgets the bag. And when she visits, she asks “why don’t you get a pill after you eat”? I’m not a violent person, but some people really need a kick in the butt or a strong slap in the face. After my blood stops boiling, I calmly answer “I don’t need it because my food doesn’t make me sick.”

As a cancer survivor, she has tests done every year and goes to the doctor whenever something’s wrong. And she got proof many times that diet counts. Still, “she can’t live without cheese”.

How I got rid of my headaches

I used to have horrible headaches, twice or three times a week. I never questioned them because “they run in the family”. But you know what else runs in the family? Diet. It’s a normal thing to all have the same illnesses because we’re living a similar lifestyle.

But then I changed my diet. I became vegan, and they just stopped. And so did the period pains. The level of inflammation in my body lowered, and now I can’t even remember when I last took an Ibuprofen.

My mother still caries her medicine bag with her. And some of them were recommended by me when I had the headaches. Why did she accept the pill recommendation so easily, but when I tell her that the diet got me rid of the pain, she pretends she didn’t hear me?

What’s your take on this? Do you have a problem that can be easily solved by a change in your diet? Join me in reading the book, the link is below together with a couple of other recommendations.



  1. So true. Diet plays such an important part in our health and how we feel and bad diet can result in many illnesses and conditions. But I think people just don’t want to change and would rather take pills, I think that’s the problem.Change is difficult when people just want to enjoy their food without thinking that it may be killing them..

    1. Author

      Hi, Petra! Yes, exactly. And medication has negative side effects, eating healthy doesn’t. And even on medication, why not change the diet too so the person gets back on track faster? One of the ironic side effects is that heart medication, statins, has as possible side effect Alzheimer’s. A plant-based diet is scientifically proven to revert heart disease. Alzheimer’s has no cure.

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