Healthy Diet and Lifestyle Better Medicine than Pills and Surgery, Doctor Says

Americans are being treated for health conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and depression to the tune of $43 trillion a year.  One doctor believes up to 80 percent of these illnesses could be avoided by addressing what truly causes them.  

After watching her beloved mother suffer from poor health for decades and then die relatively young, Casey Means pursued a career in medicine to help others avoid what happened to her mom.

“She had seen her doctors faithfully, taken all the medications, done exactly what they said, but the reality is she never healed,” Dr. Means told CBN News.

Ditching Mainstream Medicine

After becoming a head and neck surgeon, Dr. Means became disillusioned with the entire process and walked away from mainstream medicine.

“What I saw in the health care system is that we’re spending more money every single year on treating diseases, but patients in America aren’t really getting better. Our rates of chronic illnesses are going up every single year,” she said. 

Dr. Means believes this is due to the system ignoring the root cause of many diseases, which she labels metabolic dysfunction.  

“This leads to every imaginable chronic disease we’re facing today from cancer to heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, dementia, type two diabetes, obesity, depression, anxiety, migraine, infertility, erectile dysfunction, you name it,” Dr. Means said. 

She explains in her book, Good Energy: The Surprising Connection Between Metabolism and Limitless Health, that metabolic dysfunction refers to how cells make energy, right down to the mitochondria.

Diet Matters Most

Dr. Means rates a proper diet as the best way to avoid metabolic dysfunction or reverse it. Other habits, like exercise and sleep, also play a role, but she says diet matters most. She believes if more doctors were to take “an ultra-aggressive stance on diet” with patients, many could avoid medications and surgery. However, with the current system in place, that’s unlikely to happen.

“The average medical student in the United States does not take a single class in nutrition in medical school,” Dr. Means said. “Four years of medical school, three to seven years of residency, and we are not talking about nutrition or lifestyle virtually at all. So there’s this huge mismatch between what’s causing diseases and then what doctors are trained to understand and treat.”

After nine years, Dr. Means switched from surgery to functional medicine, one of the few specialties that emphasized healthy habits. 

“It’s a lot harder to counsel a patient for an hour on their lifestyle and their diet than send them with a prescription for a pill,” Dr. Means said. 

Avoid Processed Foods

Dr. Means says her top diet recommendation involves avoiding processed foods, which are found in packages and in many restaurants. 

“Seventy percent of the calories we’re eating in the United States today are ultra-processed foods made in factories,” she said. “Essentially we should think of ultra-processed food as a recent experiment in human culture that has failed. We know that ultra-processed foods drive diseases in children, in infants, in adults and the elderly.”

She advises people to eat food close to what’s found in nature and ideally cooked at home. 

“We’ve got to focus on the freshest, cleanest, unprocessed, whole foods as possible,” she said.

Dr. Means recommends avoiding processed oils, such as soybean, vegetable, canola, shortening, peanut, safflower, and sunflower.  She recommends consuming olive oil because it’s rich in polyphenols, compounds that help protect against oxidative stress and inflammation.  She also recommends avocado oil, and organic coconut oil. 

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