101 Ways to Wellness
Three – The China Study
A few years ago I read The China Study (Campbell & Cambell, 2005), which presents findings from one of the largest research efforts to better understand the relationship between diet and disease. The main culprit in question is the consumption of animal products, and (spoiler alert!) the authors provide compelling evidence that diets high in animal protein are strongly linked to heart disease, cancer and Type 2 diabetes. If you choose to follow the author’s recommendations, this means avoiding beef, poultry, eggs, fish and milk to best prevent or reverse chronic disease. While these recommendations were a little extreme for me, the science presented in this book makes a strong case for considering the role of diet in your health and wellness.
In addition to the relationship between diet and disease, the authors also distill common misconceptions about nutrition and health that I believe are important to share:
- Synthetic chemicals in the environment and in your food, as problematic as they may be, are not the main cause of cancer.
- The genes that you inherit from your parents are not the most important factors in determining whether you fall prey to any of the ten leading causes of death.
- Obsessively controlling your intake of any one nutrient, such as carbohydrates, fat, cholesterol or omega-3 fats, will not result in long-term health.
- Vitamins and nutrient supplements do not give you long-term protection against disease.
- Drugs and surgery don’t cure the diseases that kill most Americans.
- Your doctor probably does not know what you need to do to be the healthiest you can be.
The take home message of this book is that “a good diet is the most powerful weapon we have against disease and sickness”. The 400+ page book provides a wealth of scientific evidence that has been published in the most respected scientific journals, and includes the following conclusions:
- Dietary change can enable diabetic patients to go off their medication.
- Heart disease can be reversed with diet alone.
- Breast cancer is related to levels of female hormones in the blood, which are determined by the food we eat.
- Consuming dairy foods can increase the risk of prostate cancer.
- Antioxidants, found in fruits and vegetables, are linked to better mental performance in
- Kidney stones can be prevented by a healthy diet.
- Type 1 diabetes, one of the most devastating diseases that can befall a child, is convincingly linked to infant feeding practices.
Chances are that one or more of these diseases are already significant for at least someone in your family, and if not now, they certainly will be over the course of our lifetime. I highly recommend this book to not only remind you why what we eat is so vitally important, but also to dispel so many of the fad diets that consumer our time and our money.
In the meantime, you may want to consider making a few changes that could move you toward better health: replace at least one meal a week with one that has no animal protein, and try to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables by at least one serving per day.
Next week we will explore Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, a series of techniques and practices established by John Kabat-Zinn that are now being used all across the world to help with everything from high blood pressure to weight reduction to better parenting.
Food for Thought: It has been said that a lack of mindfulness is one of the most dangerous epidemics of modern society – how does your mindlessness hinder your ability to live your best and most vibrant life?
From wellness coach Julie Marks, Phd.