Part III: The Good Nutrition Guide
This section of the book contains Campbell’s 8 Principles of Food and Health
Chapter 11: Eating Right: Eight Principles of Food and Health
By living a healthy lifestyle you can lose weight, lower blood cholesterol, prevent and treat diabetes, etc. In order to achieve these benefits and more all you really have to do is change your diet! (Yes, his first paragraph of the chapter sounds like an informercial! Act now and we’ll send you double the health for half the price!)
Principle #1: “Nutrition represents the combined activities of countless food substances. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
To illustrate this principle Campbell shows a chart of the nutrients in spinach. At the macro level we eat spinach, that leafy, green stuff. However, at the micro level it is A LOT more. Spinach contains water, protein, carbs, calcium, potassium, Vitamin C, Folate, various fatty acids, and many more nutrients. As food enters our mouths, saliva begins breaking down the foods via enzymes and the process of digestion begins. Each of these food chemicals (i.e. nutrients in spinach) interacts with other food chemicals ad your body’s chemicals in very specific ways. Scientists do not know and will probably never know how each chemical works within the body, but the real take away message is that the chemicals we get from the foods we eat are engaged in a series of reactions that work together to produce good health.
Principle #2: “Vitamin supplements are not a panacea for good health”
Campbell strongly urges consumers to not use vitamin supplements because they will not lead to long-lasting health and may cause unforeseen side effects. The vitamin supplements industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that brainwashes people into believing that taking a daily pill will make you healthier. Several studies have found that supplements of vitamins A, C or E, multivitamins with folic acid, or antioxidant combinations could not determine the “balance of benefits and harms” in preventing cancer and cardiovascular disease. In order to get all your daily vitamins all you have to do is eat a healthy, balanced diet.
Principle #3: “There are virtually no nutrients in animal-based foods that are not better provided by plants”
Animal-based foods and plant-based foods have very different nutrient compositions. Plant-based foods are much higher in vitamins, antioxidants, fiber and minerals than animal foods. There are four nutrients that animal-based food have that most plant-based foods do not: cholesterol and vitamins A, D, and B12. Cholesterol can be made naturally our bodies. Vitamin A can by made by our bodies from beta-carotene, and vitamin D can be made naturally by exposing our skin to the sun for about 15 minutes every few days. Both Vitamin A and D can be toxic if consumed in high amounts. B12 is a little harder to obtain. Plants that grow in a healthy soil have a good concentration of B12, but most plants in the United States grow in a low nutrient soil. However, it is estimated that our bodies hold a three-year store of B12 in our bodies. Campbell does say that if you are pregnant or breastfeeding that you might want to consider taking a natural plant-based vitamin B12 supplement, but may sure you consult with your physician first.
Principle #4: “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”
Campbell states correctly: “without genes, there would be no life.” Our genes determine everything in our bodies whether good or bad. Genetics is a very complex subject that cannot be summarized in one book. We spend countless hours and hundreds or millions of dollars to study genes and how genes cause diseases. What many people fail to understand is that not all genes are expressed all the time. Some women who have the BRCA gene(s) have their breasts removed in fear that they will develop breast cancer. BRCA does in fact increase the risk of developing breast cancer, but does not mean that you will develop breast cancer. The environment, and diet, as The China Study as revealed impacts our genes. As I mentioned above, genetics is a very complex study that is not fully understood by scientists.
Principle #5: “Nutrition can substantially control the adverse effects of noxious chemicals”
The general perception of cancer is that cancer is caused by toxic chemicals, such as acrylamide, artificial sweeteners, nitrites, etc. Many people believe that pumping antibiotics and hormones into farm animals is unhealthy and bad. They believe that animals without these antibiotics and hormones are healthier meats to consume. However, the real problem with meat is the nutrient imbalances. Campbell claims that long before chemicals were introduced into our foods, people still began to experience more cancer and more heart disease when they started to eat a primarily animal-based diet.
Principle #6: “The same nutrition that prevents disease in its early stages (before diagnosis) can also halt or reverse disease in its later stages (after diagnosis)”
Chronic diseases do not develop overnight. They develop over time. Chapter three of the book discusses Campbell’s research with lab rats. Cancer that is already initiated and growing in experimental animals can be slowed, halted or even reversed by good nutrition. Human studies have shown that a whole foods, plant-based diet can reverse advanced heart disease and helps diabetics get off their medication and return to a more normal, pre-diabetic life. Campbell believes, as do I, that “an ounce of prevention does equal a pound of cure, and the earlier in life good foods are eaten, the better one’s health will be.”
Principle #7: “Nutrition that is truly beneficial for one chronic disease will support health across the board”
Campbell says that a plant-based diet can generate good health and prevent diseases across the board and not just one specific disease.
Principle #8: “Good nutrition creates health in all areas of our existence. All parts are interconnected”
Campbell says “The process of eating is perhaps the most intimate encounter we have with our world; it is a process in which what we eat becomes part of our body.” Good nutrition is very important, but so is physical activity, emotional and mental health and the well-being of our environment. In Campbell’s experiments with rats, rats fed a low-protein diet had noticeably more energy and voluntarily exercised twice as much as the rats fed a high-protein diet. Physical activity has an effect on emotional and mental well-being. Ever feel that runner’s high? By eating a whole foods, plant-based diet, we also use less water, less land, fewer resources and produce less pollution.
Chapter 12: How to Eat
This is Campbell’s advice in a nut shell.
Part IV is coming soon!