Fact: Diet and Exercise Can Replace Pills or Improve their Effect

By: Mark A. Moyad, MD, MPH | Posted on: 14 Jul 2015

The question you should always ask before you pop any pill (apart from benefit versus risk) is "Can I make lifestyle changes instead of taking this?" If the answer is "yes," then do it! If not, lifestyle changes can make almost any pill work better. Recent research has shown that diet and exercise work as well as many prescription drugs.

I believe they work as well as supplements, too. Naturally, it's also true that the worse your lifestyle is, the less you can expect from your pills. Recently, cholesterol-lowering medications and Viagra were found to work much better in people who exercised compared to people who didn't exercise much.

Along these same lines, lifestyle can also affect blood tests. (For example, a big breakfast the day of your blood draw can reduce your testosterone temporarily, and weight gain can cause reductions in vitamin D levels.) So always check the latest information on how to take a blood test, especially if your doctor is using it to prescribe a supplement or drug.

About the Author

Mark Moyad, MD, MPH, is the Jenkins/Pokempner director of complementary and alternative medicine in the Department of Urology at the University of Michigan Medical Center. He is the primary author of more than 130 medical journal articles on the subjects of lifestyle changes and supplements (more than any other expert) and has given more than 5,000 medical lectures to consumers and health care professionals. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is the author of 11 books, including The Supplement Handbook: A Trusted Expert's Guide to What Works and What's Worthless for More Than 100 Conditions.