Why is the science of nutrition ignored in medicine, despite being healthy is fundamental to our lives? In this TED Talk, Professor Campbell, a well-established researcher, aims to answer this question. His most popular work The China Study – The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long-Term Health has been sold in over 2 million copies and has been translated into more than 50 languages.
During his career of over 60 years, Professor Campbell has conducted experimental research on the effect of food and nutrition on the development of cancer and related chronic conditions. The China Study is the longest and most comprehensive study on how food influences the development of chronic conditions. In this book, Professor Campbell opened the eyes of a large audience with his experiments and findings. In particular, the dangers of a diet high in animal proteins and the health benefits of a plant-based diet.
The highlights from this video:
„What is nutrition? What is the right kind of food to eat to get the best possible health? Nutrition, when done right, can create more health than all the pills and procedures combined.”, says Professor Campbell. The problem for doctors is that nutrition is not taught in medical schools. And for the average person, it is very difficult to know which health claims are valid. Especially when we talk about clinical studies that isolate compounds that target the complex mechanisms of the human body.
Professor Campbell points out 2 fundamental ideas to stick to:
- Eat whole foods, not individual nutrients or food fragments of them. On a plant-based diet, variety is key.
- Plants provide all the protein needed for optimum health (8-10% or more of total calories) – there’s no animal protein needed. We don’t need to eat animal protein, plant proteins are all the protein we need to have.
These 2 ideas alone can make a significant impact on our health and well-being.
There are many lifestyle factors that have an impact on cancer and one of them is nutrition. We tend to think that individual nutrients do individual things – because most of the studies on nutrition are focused on isolated compounds.
However, we need to consider the nutrition complexity and the fact that there’s a complex journey of nutrients through the body. Nutrients from foods, unlike supplements, don’t work individually, but together, to create powerful mechanisms. Nutrients are more powerful within whole food context, and nutrients from foods are more powerful than isolated chemicals (supplements). Which does not mean that supplements don’t have their role, especially when higher doses of one specific compound are needed. Or when there are substances that the body lacks, especially after a certain age – such as vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron and others.
Professor Campbell also explains the correlation between animal protein and cancer development. We might have cancer genes, whether we’re born with them or they’re created during our lifetime, but they remain „silent” until they’re nourished. Nutrition control genes via a multitude of still unknown mechanisms. Professor Campbell’s research shows that up to 10% animal protein is tolerable to keep a variety of chronic conditions in check – with 5% or none being ideal. According to Professor Campbell, „whole food nutrition prevents, treats and cures a wide range of disease and illness. Benefits of whole plant food begins within days to weeks and continues for a lifetime.”
And still, despite increasing evidence on the positive correlation between health and nutrition, why is nutrition not taken serious by many professors? „Medicine” is reductionist, dependent on targeted drug therapy – which means that after a disease is installed, we need higher amounts of certain ingredients (drugs). That’s what the clinical studies teach us. This means looking at one thing at a time versus the multitude of mechanisms in the complex human body. Another problem is that there’s too much corporate interference in the field of nutrition. Porfessor Campbell also claims that nutrition research and policy is corrupted – at the expense of human health. There are financial interests in every field and nutrition makes no exception.
For more insights about the relationship between food and nutrition, The China Study is a valuable asset for everybody who is concerned about maintaining a good health and well-being. It also explains how proper nutrition can keep in check and potentially reverse the chronic conditions caused by the modern lifestyle, such as cancer, diabetes, the Crohn disease, arthritis, heart diseases.