I know that it is definitely beginning to feel autumnal out there but I just wanted to do one more Late Summer post before I admit that winter is on its way. As you know Late Summer is related to the Stomach and Spleen, so it’s a very good time to think about diet. My chosen book this year was The China Study by T. Colin Campbell & Thomas M. Campbell.
Before I say any more, I would just like to say thank you to my amazing husband, for his unerring patience, adaptability and faith. I say that because whilst reading this book I announced to him that we really ought go vegan. “OK” says Daryl, setting to in the kitchen, to produced a whole host of delicious, nutritious and inventive vegan dishes.
No one else I have suggested vegan-ism to has reacted like that… ; )
But then it may also be that Daryl was hearing snippets of this book all the way through, and many of them are extremely convincing.
As an acupuncturist, I am aware that the best form of medicine is preventative and for the last few years I have become increasingly interested in nutrition as a key tenet of that medicine. Of course, there is a wealth of nutritional advice within the Chinese tradition, but I have also read many books from Western authors and other cultures. Much of what I have read has been interesting, and has offered convincing arguments, however, it is also often been contradictory.
Over time I became more and more confused and concerned. How do we know that what we think we’re doing for the best isn’t actually harming us?
As soon as I started reading this book I felt relieved. What makes this book different is that it is actually based on clinical evidence. Again, as an acupuncturist I do not generally consider the reductionist scientific model to be the gold standard in relation to biology, but the trials and evidence presented in this book are both long-term, rigorous and extensive in their scope.
The author has been involved in nutritional research for nearly 50 years and has presented evidence to the advisor bodied of the US government. He was also involved in a large-scale survey of diet and health in China, that was jointly conducted by Oxford University, Cornell University and The Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine (Why don’t we have one of those?) The importance of this study was that it provided the first comprehensive, high-class data on a population whose diet was significantly different from our own.
Although I remembered being told at college that the Chinese don’t understand vegetarianism, it turns out that, at least in the rural area, where the information was collected, most people are in fact largely vegan. (They don’t understand vegetarianism because in acupuncture theory it is understood that meat and meat products can be used medicinally…)
What the data showed consistently, was that reduced meat, dairy and eggs, resulted in reduced “diseases of affluence” – cancer, heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes, autoimmune condition, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, kidney stones and blindness. In fact further evidence showed that a vegan plant-based diet could actually reverse or improve many of these conditions.
This concurred with convincing animal studies, that were carried out over 27 years. Two groups of rats were deliberately exposed to high levels of carcinogens. One group was put on a diet with 20% protein (similar to the amount we are recommended to eat) the other group were fed 5% protein (Protein for the study came from milk.)
The results were startling – All of the 20% group died of cancer. None of the 5% group even contracted the disease…
I urge you to read this book – in fact I am going to buy it for all my family for Christmas it feels that important.
I love that moment when confusion is superseded by clarity and from that position it now seems obvious to me that the diet that is perfect for us, would also be the best for the planet and all the other animals in it… In my experience, nature’s clever like that…