Lillian Wilson

What’s Missing from Medicine by Saray Stancic

Through his personal triumph over multiple sclerosis, Dr. Stancic shares guidance on lifestyle changes to manage chronic disease.

What's Missing from Medicine

The book has gotten 4.34 ⭐️ on GoodReads.

In the autumn of 1995, Dr. Saray Stancic received a life-changing diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS). By 2003, she found herself relying on a cane and enduring the side effects of numerous medications, which severely limited her physical activity.

However, a serendipitous encounter with research connecting MS outcomes to lifestyle and diet sparked a radical change in her approach to managing the illness. Through sheer determination and hope, she embraced transformative lifestyle changes, leading to remarkable results – she became medication-free, regained her ability to walk normally, resumed dancing, and even achieved the incredible feat of running a marathon in 2010.

In her book titled ‘What’s Missing from Medicine: Six Lifestyle Changes to Overcome Chronic Illness,’ she shares her inspiring journey and highlights the profound impact of lifestyle modifications for those living with chronic conditions.

Author’s background

Dr. Saray Stancic, MD, is a renowned Lifestyle Medicine physician and the founder of Stancic Health and Wellness, a prominent Lifestyle Medicine practice situated in New Jersey.

Dr. Saray Stancic (r)

Her journey into this field began when she triumphantly conquered multiple sclerosis, inspiring her to specialise in empowering patients through lifestyle changes. With her expertise and personal experience, she advocates for the transformative power of lifestyle choices in optimising health and well-being.

What is the book about?

In the face of modern medicine’s remarkable advancements, chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity remain inadequately treated, leaving many patients feeling helpless and confused. Dr. Caroline Leaf, a physician and neuroscience expert, questioned the focus on symptom management rather than addressing root causes. Her own diagnosis of multiple sclerosis led her to delve into research and discover the impact of lifestyle choices on disease outcomes.

Inspired by the transformative power of lifestyle changes in her own life, Dr. Leaf set out to share this healing message with others by writing a book ’What’s Missing from Medicine. Her book serves as a comprehensive guide for those suffering from chronic illnesses or looking to manage their risk factors for developing such conditions. She presents evidence-backed information on optimising nutrition, physical activity, stress management, sleep hygiene, and reducing substance intake while fostering social connections. Each aspect is examined in-depth, and the book provides practical tips, exercises, and plans to aid readers in implementing positive changes.

With her book, Dr. Caroline Leaf aims to spark a revolution in medicine, encouraging a paradigm shift towards preventive and lifestyle-based approaches in healthcare. She advocates for a healthcare system that focuses on preserving health rather than solely treating sickness. By empowering readers to take control of their health and make informed lifestyle choices, she believes that chronic disease can be better managed and prevented, leading to a life of improved well-being and vitality.

Table of contents

  • Foreword by Dean Ornish, MD
  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • Chapter One: The Man-Made Epidemic of Chronic Disease
  • Chapter Two: The Lifestyle Medicine Solution
  • Chapter Three: The Plant-Centered Plate
  • Chapter Four: The Importance of Movement Every Day.
  • Chapter Five: Living Better with Mindful Stress Management
  • Chapter Six: Establishing Good Sleeping Habits
  • Chapter Seven: Substance Intake Awareness
  • Chapter Eight: The Healing Power of Human Connection
  • Conclusion
  • Acknowledgments
  • Appendix A: Food Diary Template
  • Appendix B: Sleep Diary Template
  • Notes

Key takeaways from ‘What’s Missing from Medicine’

1Environmental factors play a more important role in chronic disease occurrence than genetics

One of the most compelling revelations from ‘What’s Missing from Medicine’ is the transformative power of environmental factors, particularly diet, on the management of chronic diseases like multiple sclerosis. Dr. Starry Stancic’s exploration of twin studies challenged the notion of genetics as the sole determinant of autoimmune conditions, as she found only about 25% overlap in identical twin studies. This realisation led her to believe that environmental exposures and diet play a significant role in the development and progression of such diseases, rendering them potentially controllable. Dr. Stancic’s discovery of Dr. Roy Swank’s work further reinforced this belief, as Dr. Swank’s low-fat diet approach resulted in exceptional long-term outcomes for his multiple sclerosis patients. By adopting a low-fat vegan diet herself, Dr. Stancic exemplifies how lifestyle modifications can positively impact health and inspire hope for those facing chronic conditions.

2A healthy sleep schedule and quality will help you stay disease-free

In her own example, Dr. Stancic demonstrates the essential role of sleep in warding off diseases. Before her diagnosis, she worked as a full-time doctor and often neglected her diet and sleep. However, after realising that she had to fight for her health, Dr. Stancic incorporated regular exercise into her routine, starting with a stationary bike and progressing to walking, jogging, and even running a marathon – an extraordinary transformation from relying on a walker. Over 25 years after her diagnosis, Dr. Stancic is off all medications and continues to work as a physician, a testament to the profound potential of lifestyle modifications in chronic disease management.

3Human connections have healing power

Besides focusing on the importance of sleep and nutrition in achieving chronic-disease-free life, Dr. Stancic also beautifully illustrates the profound impact of social connections on our physical and psychological well-being. The book shares remarkable stories and scientific evidence showing how human connections influence our health outcomes, ability to thrive, and even longevity.

The book emphasises the importance of forging meaningful connections with family, friends, and communities, urging readers to cultivate forgiveness, vulnerability, and openness as essential ingredients for fostering strong social bonds. By prioritising social connections and embracing forgiveness, we can unlock the transformative potential of human connection and lead healthier, happier lives together.

Strengths and weaknesses, according to readers’ reviews


  • Provides comprehensive insights into lifestyle medicine and its potential to prevent and reverse chronic diseases.

  • Dr. Stancic’s personal experience with using lifestyle medicine adds credibility and relatability to the content.

  • Easy to read and serves as a great refresher on healthy living principles.

  • Includes well-researched content with references for further reading.

  • Offers practical and actionable guidelines for living a healthy lifestyle.

  • Provides hope and encouragement for those living with chronic illnesses, offering a clear path towards better health.


  • The author takes a strong stance against eating animal products without addressing other perspectives or considering potential environmental and ethical concerns related to veganism.

  • Some readers expressed their opinion that the book could have been longer and more detailed.

Best quotes from ‘What’s Missing from Medicine’

“As I got to know him better, he confided in me that his biggest regret was spending so much time building his business that he neglected his wife, children, and other close connections in the process. Unfortunately, I hear this type of thing a lot. Not only can we not get that time back with our loved ones, but this behavior can contribute to our health problems as well.”

“Distorted social norms falsely lull some of us into believing that high-level athleticism is the trump card when it comes to achieving optimal health. Loosely put, the idea seems to be, “If I can do all of these superathletic things and I look like the models in the ads, then my health must be great.” So this messaging can not only lead to feelings of shame for people who run slower than others or have different body types, but can also mask serious health problems hidden behind a “healthy-looking” body…”

“Author and researcher Brené Brown says that she keeps a Polaroid picture of her walking shoes taped to the inside door of her pantry. She realized that when she was bored, restless, or stuck on a page of writing, she often found herself opening that pantry looking for a snack. Seeing the shoes reminded her that getting outside for a walk almost always helped her solve problems, elevate her mood, and reset her ability to work better than any snack could. This is a perfect example of how the spokes on the lifestyle medicine wheel can work together: diet, exercise, and a peaceful walk can help you reduce stress and reset…”

Final takeaway

Dr. Starry Stancic’s book, ‘What’s Missing from Medicine,’ serves as a powerful manifesto for the potential of lifestyle medicine in preventing and reversing chronic diseases. Drawing from her personal experience with multiple sclerosis and her expertise as a Lifestyle Medicine physician, Dr. Stancic presents a comprehensive guide to optimising health through nutrition, physical activity, stress management, sleep hygiene, and social connections.

If you suffer from chronic illnesses, are interested in preventive health measures, or seek to optimise your well-being through evidence-based lifestyle changes, then you should read this book.

Where to buy

You may purchase ‘What’s Missing from Medicine’ on Amazon at the best price. It is available in hardcover, audio and Kindle versions, so you may choose an option that appeals to you the most.

Healthypedia FAQ

While the book promotes a plant-centred diet, some readers feel it doesn't fully address other perspectives and potential environmental and ethical concerns. It mainly focuses on lifestyle medicine's impact on chronic diseases rather than delving into the broader aspects of veganism.

Yes, Dr. Saray Stancic's book is well-researched and presents evidence-backed information on the impact of lifestyle choices on chronic diseases. It includes references for further reading, giving readers the opportunity to explore the scientific basis behind lifestyle medicine and its potential benefits.

This book is a valuable resource for anyone interested in lifestyle medicine, preventive healthcare, or managing chronic illnesses. It particularly offers hope and guidance to those diagnosed with chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis, providing practical tips and plans for implementing positive changes.

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