Book Review: What’s Missing In Medicine

reviewed by A. Perkins

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What’s Missing From Medicine: Six Lifestyle Changes to Overcome Chronic Illness
Saray Stancic, MD

Lifestyle Medicine is an evidence-based, clinical discipline that promotes healthy lifestyle behaviors in order to prevent, treat, and even reverse chronic diseases. According to Dr. Saray Stancic, who has been practicing medicine for over 25 years and is board certified in infectious disease and internal medicine, this new approach is not in opposition to mainstream medicine, it’s simply what it’s been lacking.

Though trained as a physician, it wasn’t until she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of 28 that Stancic began to really think about the way chronic dis-ease is commonly treated. Her aha moment came when she happened upon an old study in an obscure medical journal. “In my own medical training, I had never even heard of the long-established links between diet and MS, let alone how nutrition might affect other diseases,” she writes.

While this might seem shocking, Stancic writes that looking back on her ten years of training, she “couldn’t think of a single time that [her] professors had conveyed the message.” Only about a quarter of medical schools offer the recommended 25 hours of nutrition education, she points out, even though numerous studies show the effectiveness of dietary interventions.

She became “disappointed by a health-care system that functions more like a sick-care system, treating symptoms without focusing on underlying causes,” and her frustration led her to the questions that now guide her life and work.

Written in an accessible and engaging style, this is the perfect read for those who are struggling to lead healthier lives. After a brief, scientific overview of how and why chronic diseases are so prevalent in the industrialized world, Stancic outlines six major areas where making simple changes can have a dramatic effect: nutrition, physical activity, stress management, sleep hygiene, use of substances, and social connections. These “six spokes of the wheel” are all equally important; if one spoke breaks, the wheel won’t turn. Those who are new to the path of taking responsibility for their health will find the self-assessment worksheets and templates especially helpful.

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