On The China Study

I recently finished reading The China Study – Startling Implications For Diet, Weight Loss and Long-Term Health – by T. Colin Campbell, PhD and Thomas M. Campbell II.

Below are key insights from the book that I found to be insightful:

After a long career in research and policy making, 1 now understand why Americans are so confused. As a taxpayer who foots the bill for research and health policy in America, you deserve to know that many of the common notions you have been told about food, health and disease are wrong.

These findings demonstrate that a good diet is the most powerful weapon we have against disease and sickness. An understanding of this scientific evidence is not only important for improving health; it also has profound implications for our entire society. We must know why misinformation dominates our society and why we are grossly mistaken in how we investigate diet and disease, how we promote health and how we treat illness.

But just like seeds in the soil, the initial cancer cells will not grow and multiply unless the right conditions are met…Promotion is reversible, depending on whether the early cancer growth is given the right conditions in which to grow. This is where certain dietary factors become so important.

Yes, changing your lifestyle may seem impractical. It may seem impractical to give up meat and high-fat foods, but I wonder how practical it is to be 350 pounds and have Type 2 diabetes at the age of fifteen, like the girl mentioned at the start of this chapter. I wonder how practical it is to have a lifelong condition that can’t be cured by drugs or surgery; a condition that often leads to heart disease, stroke, blindness or amputation; a condition that might require you to inject insulin into your body every day for the rest of your life.

Nutrition represents the combined activities of countless food substances. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts…Vitamin supplements are not a panacea for good health…There are virtually no nutrients in animal-based foods that are not better provided by plants…Genes do not determine disease on their own. Genes function only by being activated, or expressed. and nutrition plays a critical role in determining which genes, good and bad, are expressed…Nutrition can substantially control the adverse effects of noxious chemicals…The same nutrition that prevents disease in its early stages (before diagnosis) can also halt or reverse disease in its later stages (after diagnosis)…Nutrition that is truly beneficial for one chronic disease will support health across the board…Good nutrition creates health in all areas of our existence. All parts are interconnected.

Perhaps worst of all industry corrupts scientific evidence even when its product has been linked to serious health problems. Our kids are often the most coveted targets of their marketing. The American government has passed legislation preventing cigarette and alcohol companies from marketing their products to children. Why have we ignored food? Even though it is accepted that food plays a major role in many chronic diseases, we allow food industries not only to market directly to children, but also to use our publicly-funded school systems to do it. The long-term burden of our short-sighted indiscretion is incalculable.

In terms of education, medical students and house officers, under the constant tutelage of industry representatives, learn to rely on the drugs and devices more than they probably should [my emphasis]. As the critics of medicine so often charge, young physicians learn that for every problem, there is a pill [my emphasis] (and a drug company representative to explain it). They also become accustomed to receiving gifts and favors from an industry that uses these courtesies to influence their continuing education. The academic medical centers, in allowing themselves to become research outposts for industry, contribute to the overemphasis on drugs and devices.”

On a closing note:

History can repeat itself. This time, however, instead of the message being forgotten and confined to library stacks, I believe that the world is finally ready to accept it. More than that, I believe the world is finally ready to change. We have reached a point in our history where our bad habits can no longer be tolerated. We, as a society, are on the edge of a great precipice we can fall to sickness, poverty and degradation, or we can embrace health, longevity and bounty. And all it takes is the courage to change. How will our grandchildren find themselves in 100 years? Only time will tell, but I hope that the history we are witnessing and the future that lies ahead will be to the benefit of us all.

A highly recommended read in the area of nutrition.

On It Starts With Food

I recently finished reading It Starts with Food – Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life In Unexpected Way by Dallas Hartwig and Melissa Hartwig. This book was recommended to me by my fitness instructor.

Below are key excerpts from this book, that I found particularly insightful:

The food you eat either makes you more healthy or less healthy. Those are your options.

The food that we eat should: 1) Promote a healthy psychological response. 2) Promote a healthy hormonal response. 3) Support a healthy gut. 4) Support immune function and minimize inflammation.

In nature, pleasure and reward signals led us to vital nutrition.

*The food choices you make should promote a healthy psychological response. *Sweet, fatty, and salty tastes send pleasure and reward signals to the brain. In nature, these signals were designed to lead us to valuable nutrition and survival. *Today, these flavor sensations are unnaturally concentrated in food, which is simultaneously stripped of valuable nutrition. *This creates food-with-no-brakes- supernormally stimulating, carbohydrates-dense, nutrient-poor foods with all the pleasure and reward signals to keep us overeating, but none of the satiety signals to tell us to stop. *These foods rewire pleasure, reward, and emotion pathways in the brain, promoting hard-to-resist cravings and automatic consumption. Stress and inadequate sleep only reinforce these patterns. *Reconnecting delicious, rewarding food with the nutrition and satiety that nature intended is the key to changing these habits.

*The food choices you make should promote a healthy hormonal response in the body. *Chronic “overcarbsumption” of food-with-no-brakes leads to reliance on sugar for fuel, an accumulation of body fat, triglyceride buildup in the liver, and an excess of glucose and triglycerides in the bloodstream. *Excess glucose and triglycerides in the blood stream promote leptin resistance in the brain. *Leptin resistance means your brain doesn’t hear the leptin message and thinks you’re still too lean. This promotes further overconsumption and the down-regulation of your metabolism (in part via your thyroid). *Leptin resistance promotes insulin resistance, in which cells are no longer sensitive to insulin’s message to store. Forcing nutrients into cells creates damage and inflammation and leads to chronically elevated blood sugar and insulin levels. *Chronically elevated blood sugar and insulin levels are contributing factors to type 2 diabetes and a number of other lifestyle-related diseases and conditions. *Glucagon can help you stabilize blood sugar and use fat for fuel, but only when insulin levels aren’t elevated. *Cortisol is a stress hormone. Periods of fasting or excessive caloric restriction, along with lack of adequate sleep or too much stress, may contribute to chronically elevated cortisol levels. *Chronically elevated cortisol levels increase blood sugar, which may contribute to insulin resistance and promotes weight gain in the abdominal region, a component of metabolic syndrome.

Chronically high levels of insulin are harmful, so managing insulin levels is critical for long-term health.

*The food you eat should foster a healthy gut and digestive system. *Maintaining a healthy gut barrier is critically important to your health. *Certain foods can unbalance your healthy gut bacteria and/or promote intestinal permeability, compromising gut integrity. *Compromised gut integrity and bacterial imbalance lead to digestive distress and can promote chronic disease, hypersensitivities, and autoimmune conditions in the body. *Most of your immune system is located in your gut, which means our third and fourth Good Food standards are very closely linked.

*The food you eat should promote a balanced immune system and minimize chronic systemic inflammation. *Chronic systemic inflammation is full-body (systemic), long-term (chronic) up-regulation of your immune system activity. *Your immune system has two major functions – defense against threats and low-level repair and maintenance. *Certain foods sneak past your gut’s defense system and create immune chaos. *If certain factors, like your food choices, are overloading your immune system, it’s going to be less effective at doing its main jobs, and something is going to be left undone or done poorly. *Chronic systemic inflammation is a central risk factor for a number of lifestyle-related diseases and conditions and is at the heart of metabolic syndrome. *Silent inflammation isn’t so silent if you know what to listen for. *Managing the inflammatory status of your body profoundly impacts your quality of life.

Eating whole, unprocessed foods with a rich complement of fat and other nutrients is not unhealthy. Overeating refined carbohydrates is.

A highly recommended read in the areas of health and nutrition.