PITTSBURGH (CBS) – After your next trip to the doctor’s office, you may be heading home with a shopping list instead of a prescription.
Some doctors are now putting food ahead of medicine to help cure what ails you.
“Pills have a lot of side effects, the pills are expensive,” internist Dr. Eric Appelbaum said.
It’s not that Dr. Appelbaum is against medication, he’s just found a more effective way to treat some of his patients.
“Patients who trust their physicians take their medications more, so why not extend that to food prescriptions?” Dr. Appelbaum said.
The goal now is to have doctors be the front line for nutrition information, instead of sending patients to dietitians.
Joseph Rios was hypoglycemic for years.
His nutrition prescription was to stop all sugars, including soda and red meat, and start eating vegetables, and more nutrient-dense foods.
He’s now off all meds.
“It was the food, what I feed my body that was the turnaround for me,” Rios said.
Dr. Appelbaum says eating more fish is central to any healthy diet.
He adds garlic is good for everything from reducing high blood pressure to shortening colds.
Plus, there’s the smaller cost.
“Definitely is a lot cheaper than the co-pays for the medication that we see,” he said.
Unless doctors take it upon themselves to learn about the potential of food and health, it may be a while until this is a regular practice.
One recent study showed that 71 percent of medical schools failed to reach the recommended minimum 25 hours of nutrition education.
“It really can be powerful, if used in the correct way,” pelvic pain specialist Dr. Allyson Shrikhande said.
Dr. Shrikhande recommended endometriosis patient Jill Fuersich eliminate acidic foods.
For patients like Fuersich, having a doctor take a whole body approach has meant feeling better overall.
“I get a lot of side effects from medications,” she said.
It’s also saving her money.
“It also gets very expensive for patients. We have all these specialists that we have to go to that might not necessarily be covered by our insurance,” Fuersich said.