The China Study: Part Two

Part Two: Diseases of Affluence

The United States is considered an affluent country and we die certain deaths because of it. These affluent diseases are heart disease, obesity, diabetes, stroke, cancer, etc. All those diseases are heavily influenced by what we put in our mouths.

Chapter 5: Broken Hearts

About 3,000 Americans die of a heart attack every 24-hours. Malfunctions of the heart and/or circulation system will kill 40% of Americans, which is why it is the leading cause of death in this country for close to 100 years. What causes heart disease? The dirty culprit is plaque (primarily, but there are other reasons too). Plaque is a greasy layer of proteins, fats, immune system cells and other components that build up on the inner walls of the coronary arteries. Sometimes, the plaque separates from the artery walls and the contents are the plaque mix with the blood. Blood begins clotting around the site of rupture and the clot can grow and eventually block the entire artery cutting off blood to areas of the body like your heart! Blood carries oxygen to your cells and if your muscle cells don’t get enough oxygen they die. If your heart muscles don’t get oxygen they too die and so does the heart’s pumping mechanism. One out of three people who have a heart attack die from it. Diet influences heart disease. Two major studies have evidence the support the idea that a healthy animal-protein free diet decreases the risk of heart disease. The first is by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. Esselstyn’s goal was to reduce his high-risk patients’ blood cholesterol to below 150mg/dL. Patients ate mostly a vegan diet and after eleven years, only one coronary event occur among the 18 patients who followed the diet. The second study was a similar study but conducted by Dr. Dean Ornish. By following a vegan diet, 82% of his patients showed regression in their heart disease after one year.

Chapter 6: Obesity

About 30% of the adult population in this country is obese and about 17% of children ages 2-19 are also obese. Obesity is a major problem in this country and is the main cause of other chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. It is also very costly! In 2002, the American Obesity Association listed the costs associated with obesity to be about $100 billion! Perhaps if we reduced obesity in this country we could reduce the cost of health care. One fact I found particularly interesting was that even exercising for a mere 15 to 45 minutes a day will maintain a body weight that is 11 to 18 pounds lighter than it would otherwise be! One major problems is diets is that they are extremely hard to follow. The diet that helps reduce weight in the short run needs to be the same diet that creates and maintains health in the long run.

Chapter 7: Diabetes

Often times people who are obese also have Type 2 Diabetes. From 1990 to 1998 the incidence of diabetes has increased 33%! Dr. James Anderson conducted an experiment where a group of Type 2 diabetics ate a high-fiber, low fat diet for three weeks. Of the 25 patients, 24 patients were able to discontinue their insulin medication. Diet plays a huge role in diabetes.

Chapter 8: Common Cancers: Breast, Prostate, Large Bowel (Colon and Rectal)

Diet plays a role in cancer. One of the risk factors of breast cancer is an early age of the first period of a girl and then late age of menopause. Women who consume a diet rich in animal-protein and poor in plant-based foods, reached puberty earlier and menopause later. However, this does not mean you will get cancer, it just means that your risk might increase with a longer reproductive life. This is rather long and detailed chapter. I suggest you read it, but in a nutshell plant-based diets can lower cancer rates.

Chapter 9: Autoimmune Diseases

About 250,000 Americans are diagnosed with one of forty autoimmune diseases each year. The most common are multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Type 1 diabetes, and rheumatic heart disease. In Type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks the pancreas cells responsible for producing insulin. Evidence has shown that cow’s milk may cause Type 1 diabetes because some infants cannot fully digest cow’s milk. The amino acid chains or fragments of the protein may be absorbed into the blood where the immune system will mark as a foreign invader and destroy. Some fragments look exactly the same as the cells of the pancreas that are responsible for making insulin and then immune system begins attacking these cells. Cow’s milk may also trigger disease advancements in MS.

Chapter 10: Wide-Ranging Effects: Bone, Kidney, Eye and Brain Diseases

I thought this was one of the most interesting chapters. We commonly hear that calcium prevents osteoporosis and a good source of calcium is milk. However, some studies have suggested that countries with high calcium intakes have a higher rate of hip fractures. Kidney stones also occur more in populations who consume primarily animal-protein. My mother always told me to eat my carrots because they make you see better. Well, I guess she wasn’t lying. Antioxidants and vitamins obtained from vegetables and fruit help prevent macular degeneration and cataract.

Overall a very interesting chapter. Tons of information! I plan to look up some of these studies at a later date to actually read the peer-reviewed published journal articles. A lot of the information does make sense to me, mainly because of my biochemistry background. The last two sections of the book are the how-to-eat section, which will be interesting. I hoping this isn’t where he brainwashes me!

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