Reading The China Study may save your life. “Yeah, sure!” you say. Did I find the fountain of youth in paperback? It may be the closest thing to it. But first, let me ask you a few questions. Are your energy levels lacking? Do you binge when it comes to evening meals, or afterwards? Are your energy levels so low you don’t consider starting or completing your workouts? Do you find yourself throughout your day eating whatever crosses your path, whether it be fast or processed food? If you answered yes to any of the questions, read on as this could save your life. You may be surprised to find out that you can live a life with tons of energy and feel and look your best all from eating more plant-based foods.
Perhaps the above questions and statements don’t faze you. You may say, “I’m fine and happy just where I am”. Perhaps then you are one of the millions that could be worried about hearing that you may have the dreaded “C” word, cancer? Well, I’ll tell you that you likely do, and your immune system is hopefully taking care of it as we speak. If that doesn’t get your attention, perhaps a dose of heart disease will grip you.
I was at a recent talk and was startled to hear that the United States medical system is responsible for more deaths per year, now surpassing cancer and heart disease as a leading cause of death. This is either by drug interactions, surgery or human error. You may say, “Well that’s the U.S. and not us”. Rest assured that our medical system is quite similar, and by no means better, than our southern counterpart. It’s no wonder that medical docs can’t provide sound healthy advice, as they are on a treadmill going mach 10 trying to keep up with all the disease and decay going on around them. Big Pharma is running the show and everyone wants a quick fix rather than changing a few habits…nutritional ones to be specific.
It’s by no fault of the doctors that they can’t provide solid nutritional advice, as they don’t have enough education when it comes to this topic. They are lucky if they get more than 6 weeks of training in the study of nutrition. This has to change before the medical system can become true healthcare rather than a disease management system. Now I’m not bashing medical doctors by any means. They saved my leg and life when I suffered an acute trauma in my childhood. And for acute trauma, I would trust none other than a surgeon or ER doctor. Sorry to digress further, but I’ve been working in the occupational insurance system for so long and know that a lot of people elevate doctors on a pedestals. We forget that we are all human. And it’s impossible to know clearly what a drug can do in every person’s body. I also find it interesting that some people prefer to take drugs that if they clearly understood the potential side effects, would probably choose to live with the condition rather than get the multitude of side effects that the drugs cause. The fact is that there is no drug without side effects. But people line up at their doctor’s offices in order to refill the latest prescription for this or that ailment rather than look at the root cause. Really, all I am asking is that you take a closer look at what your body is trying to tell you and arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible and then make an educated decision. Something that I learned while in school, is that it’s important to be a critical thinker. So, let’s get back on track.
Now, I’m a firm believer that our families pass on habits that promote diseases. This may shock you further, but with my studies and research I find this more tangible than just relying on our genes and hoping for the best. Everyone has heard someone say that “my family has a history of heart disease”, or “cancer runs in my family”. But has anyone ever thought about analyzing and questioning the nutritional habits of their families. My answer would be a likely “NO”. Besides it would be hard to do so. It’s hard enough getting people interested in making physical improvements to track their own daily nutrition for a day or two, let alone a family or group of families over a longer period, say a month or two.
The book, The China Study, has made the greatest nutritional impact in my life. The Author, Dr. T. Colin Campbell goes on to state that, “genetics only determines about 2-3% of the total cancer risk”. That is huge. Can you believe it? We have more control over our destiny than we’d like to believe. And a huge portion of that control comes down to our habits and nutritional choices. He even goes on and says, “I strongly believe that virtually all Type II diabetes cases could be prevented”.
Now, I’ve been a Pescatarian (eat fish), for the last 4 years, which was suggested by my good friends; Dr. Sukhi and his wonderful wife Kate Muker. And recently after reading this book I’ve decided to experiment and remove fish and most animal based foods from my nutritional intake. I can honestly say that I’ve never had more energy and felt as good as I do by changing my nutrition predominately to plant-based. Most people have asked, “Where do you get your protein from?” And I reply, “From plants”. You see even when I ate fish, unless it was prepared for me in a restaurant I rarely ate it (maybe once or twice a month). Even if you look at plants like spinach, a cup of it, or 30 grams, contains 1 gram of carbohydrates/fibre and 1 gram of protein and about 7 calories.
And you’d be surprised how much protein you really need. I honestly feel after reading this book that I’ve been lied to about my protein needs. Being a strength and conditioning athlete and having pushed heavy weights for 21 years, the advice was you need 0.75-1.25 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. All the books I’ve read, including course books for my studies agreed. Most americans, and likely Canadians as well, eat more than 50% of the recommended daily amount of protein. No wonder disease and decay are on the rise. Our nutrition is way out of balance.
“How were you lied to?” you ask. Well, you see, as stated in the book The China Study; “Early scientists like Carl Voit (1831-1908), a prominent German scientist, were staunch champions of protein. Voit found that “man” needed only 48.5 grams per day, but nonetheless he recommended a whopping 118 grams per day because of the cultural bias of the time. Protein equaled meat, and everyone aspired to have meat on his or her table, just as we aspire to have bigger houses and faster cars. Voit figured you can’t get too much of a good thing.
Voit went on to mentor several well-known nutrition researchers of the early 1900s, including Max Rubner (1854-1932) and Woo Atwater (1844-1907). Both students closely followed the advice of their teacher. Rubner stated that protein intake, meaning meat, was a symbol of civilization itself: “a large protein allowance is the right of civilized man.” Atwater went on to organize the first nutrition laboratory at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). As director of the USDA, he recommended 125 grams per day (only about fifty-five grams per day is now recommended).
A cultural bias had become firmly entrenched. If you were civilized, you ate plenty of protein, which was primarily meat.”
It’s clear to me from reading this book we only need about 5-10% of our daily calories coming from protein in order to live a healthy life. Personally, I will stick with around 5-7% since I’m pushing the limits of my body with endurance training. The overall jist of the book is that populations that eat more plant-based foods have less disease and degeneration compared with those that eat more animal based diets. Incidentally, I’ve also seen studies involving animals that indicate the more controlled the nutrition, the longer the lifespan (i.e. the less you consume, the longer you live). Ah, the importance of moderation also needs to be heeded. Are you eating because you need to be? Or are you eating because it’s your habit or a whim? Only you can answer that.
I would encourage you all to read this book and please feel free to comment below or on my Training for Purpose Facebook fan page, as I’d love to know your thoughts and have a deeper conversation. As for me, life is an experiment. I’m making a conscious change in my nutritional habits all the while training for the biggest event of my life, Ironman Canada. We will all see how it turns out, but I would encourage you to take charge of your health and create your own destiny rather than submitting to the default.
I’m honored and grateful to share this with you. Read the book! If you don’t have the time right now, then my fellow philosophizing friend Brian Johnson has given you the consensus of the The China Study in a note format via .pdf and mp3 at Philosopher’s Notes. It’s under the Volume II tab. He does an amazing job at summing it up.
The choice yours when it comes to health and nutrition. What you eat becomes part of you. Live extraordinarily!
P.S. - I can’t wait to see the new movie Forks Over Knives which is coming out on May 6, 2011. Watch the trailer of it here: