2020 Foreword Indie Award Winner in the “Health” Category
From the coauthor of The China Study and author of the New York Times bestselling follow-up, Whole
Despite extensive research and overwhelming public information on nutrition and health science, we are more confused than ever—about the foods we eat, what good nutrition looks like, and what it can do for our health.
In The Future of Nutrition, T. Colin Campbell cuts through the noise with an in-depth analysis of our historical relationship to the food we eat, the source of our present information overload, and what our current path means for the future—both for individual health and society as a whole.
In these pages, Campbell takes on the institution of nutrition itself, unpacking:
• Why the institutional emphasis on individual nutrients (instead of whole foods) as a means to explain nutrition has had catastrophic consequences • How our reverence for “high quality” animal protein has distorted our understanding of cholesterol, saturated fat, unsaturated fat, environmental carcinogens, and more • Why mainstream food and nutrient recommendations and public policy favor corporate interests over that of personal and planetary health • How we can ensure that public nutrition literacy can prevent and treat personal illness more effectively and economically
The Future of Nutrition offers a fascinating deep-dive behind the curtain of the field of nutrition—with implications both for our health and for the practice of science itself.
Biochemist who specializes in the effects of nutrition on long-term health. He is the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University, and the author of over 300 research papers. He was one of the lead scientists in the 1980s of the China-Oxford Cornell study on diet and disease (known as the China Project), set up in 1983 by Cornell University, the University of Oxford, and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine to explore the relationship between nutrition and cancer, heart and metabolic diseases. The study was described by The New York Times as "the Grand Prix of epidemiology."
Imagine that, in the United States, there were an excess of one million deaths every year that could be prevented, relatively easily, with only a few lifestyle adjustments. You would imagine this to be a top public health priority, and that our health care professionals would be trained to offer the requisite counseling and advice. This would be reasonable for you to think, but you would be wrong.
In The Future of Nutrition, nutritional biochemist and Cornell University professor T. Colin Campbell describes the link between nutrition and disease and why nutrition has been downplayed as an integral part of disease care for decades. Campbell—in synthesizing 60 years of his own and others’ research—details the personal and institutional biases—along with the food industry’s profound influence over nutrition science—in creating an environment where disease care is focused on surgical and pharmaceutical interventions at the expense of long-term health through proper nutrition.
As Campbell explains, the leading causes of death in the US (as of 2017) are:
What you will notice about this list is the preventable nature of many of these diseases, which result from malnutrition or, more specifically, excess nutrition. The over-consumption of processed foods high in simple sugars and fat (and animal protein) results in obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and other pathophysiology that has been shown to increase one’s risk for heart disease, stroke, and even some forms of cancer.
As Campbell demonstrates, if adjusted for malnutrition, the leading causes of death in the US would look as follows (these are conservative estimates):
All told, with proper nutrition, more than 1.2 million lives could be saved in the US every year (or more). Heart disease and stroke have an obvious link to nutrition; cancer is less obvious but supported by extensive research (much of it conducted by the author); and medical errors would be reduced as fewer people required surgical and medical care.
Yet despite the nutritional origin of these excess deaths, our health care professionals are largely untrained in the role of nutrition in the promotion of general health. In the United States, disease prevention and treatment is centered on surgical and pharmaceutical interventions, not on the underlying cause of disease.
Campbell shows that, in 2017, 55 percent of Americans took prescription drugs, taking four per day on average and spending an average of $1,162 every year. The United States is also one of only two countries in the world to permit direct-to-consumer TV advertising of drugs instead of advertising to qualified physicians. Pharmaceutical interventions, of course, in many cases act only as band aids—you can take medication to lower your blood pressure, but the underlying cause of your high blood pressure is likely to be based on your lifestyle choices (diet and exercise).
So the US spends more money on health care and medications than almost any other country and yet our life expectancy is decreasing. As Campbell wrote:
“Our declining life expectancy leaves America ranked forty-fourth in the world, an astonishing and disturbing rank considering that we have the highest per capita health care costs in the world, by an eye popping margin.”
How could we have allowed this to happen? As Campbell explains, the profession has neglected the role of nutrition “not as a matter of conspiracy, but due to a combination of more mundane human defects like stubbornness, bias, and conformity.” Campbell discusses at length how, for example, cancer institutes were founded on a local theory of disease by surgeons that preferred and were more familiar with surgery, rather than on a constitutional theory of disease that recognized nutrition’s larger role in the prevention and treatment of cancer. This, along with bias, public confusion, and the influence of the agricultural and dairy industry on nutrition science and research has all contributed to our underestimation of the role of nutrition across the spectrum of disease care.
The science does seem to strongly support Campbell’s claims, even if they seem, at times in the book, to be a bit exaggerated. For instance, Campbell asserts that “our ability to treat cancer has not improved, despite an extraordinary amount of resources dedicated to this mission.” While cancer is still a leading cause of death, with nutrition as an integral component of its prevention and treatment, to say that we haven’t made any progress outside of nutrition science in its treatment seems to be a bit of a stretch.
Further, not every type of cancer can be prevented or treated with nutrition (think childhood cancers, which could not possibly be the result of a lifetime of poor nutrition). Even by Campbell’s own estimation, and even if corrected for malnutrition, there would still be around 180,000 cases of cancer every year in the US that we would have to figure out how to treat outside of nutritional recommendations.
Campbell also states that “not a single US medical school trains doctors in nutrition.” A quick look at the curriculum at my local medical school—The University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine—shows classes devoted specifically to nutrition.
Having spent decades with fellow researchers and scientists challenging the legitimacy of his work, Campbell might (justifiably) feel the need to make categorical statements such as these, but it can come across as dogmatic and exaggerated—which isn’t necessarily helping his case.
Still, Campbell seems to be largely correct in that nutrition takes a back seat in the US in terms of both disease care and the education of our health care providers. And the public remains just as confused, as conflicting information is presented, nutritional guidance neglects the science (particularly in regard to protein consumption recommendations), and fad diets come and go.
As just one example, consider that in 2015 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization labeled processed meat as carcinogenic and red meat as “probably carcinogenic.” However, as Campbell wrote:
“In a 2018 update on those findings [meat as carcinogenic], the IARC reminded the public that ‘red meat contains proteins of high biological value, as well as important micronutrients such as B-vitamins, iron...and zinc.’ Why would IARC go out of its way to sing the praises of a food that they labeled ‘probably carcinogenic,’ when all the available evidence suggests a diet free of red meat could provide the same nutrients, if not more safely and effectively. Besides their long-time concern for chemical carcinogens and long-time disregard for nutrition, perhaps it’s also because they’re unable to see beyond the so-called biological value of animal-based protein, even when contradictions arise?”
Campbell then outlines a series of animal studies that shows that animal protein—specifically casein, which is found in milk—has been found to be among the most powerful carcinogens ever discovered.
And that’s why Campbell has consistently advocated for a simple, scientifically-backed whole foods, plant-based (WFPB) diet. The WFPB diet avoids the types of foods and nutrients shown to be carcinogenic and disease-producing and recommends the types of foods and nutrients shown to lead to better health and, in some cases, shown to be actually carcinostatic (capable of inhibiting the growth of malignant tumors).
Why should this simple, common-sense diet consisting of fruits and vegetables (validated by numerous scientific studies) be so controversial? Because we’ve been repeatedly fed the myth that animal protein is of a higher quality than plant protein when, in fact, this is not the case.
Despite the link between animal protein and disease, including cancer, we instead blame fat, cholesterol, environmental toxins, and anything and everything else simply so that we can delude ourselves into continuing to enjoy our favorite foods—while the marketing arms of the agricultural, dairy, and pharmaceutical industries are more than happy to appease these delusions.
The underlying problem here is the reductionist nature of nutrition research and the search for single nutrients as the cause of health or disease. As Campbell explains, nutrition and metabolism are too complex to be fully understood in reductionist terms, and it’s more beneficial to look at overall eating habits and the correlations between complete diets and health.
When you do, you can see that Western diets correlate highly with disease and cancer, and that the staple of Western diets is animal-based products. Denying this link—on the grounds that it is not “conclusive”—is like denying the link between smoking and lung cancer. Clearly, there is something wrong with the Western diet when compared to almost any other.
Campbell is asserting that animal protein is in fact the driver of the link between Western diets and disease and cancer, but, admittedly, there is some question as to whether he has the right idea here. While there is a correlation between animal protein and disease and cancer, people that consume large quantities of meat and animal products are also likely to consume large quantities of processed foods, refined sugars, and fats. Since it’s hard to tease out all of these ingredients and physiological reactions, it’s more than possible that processed foods, rather than animal protein, is the real driver of disease and cancer. Campbell seems to be too quick to dismiss this possibility (although there is laboratory research to support the case for animal protein as a driver of cancer growth).
Either way, what’s incredible about the research in this book is that there has not been a single study that links whole plant foods with any increased prevalence of disease or cancer. It seems pretty clear that adopting a whole food, plant-based diet will decrease your risk of disease and cancer and that there seems to be no research available contradicting this claim. Therefore, even if you don’t want to give up meat, animal products, or processed foods entirely—as Campbell recommends—the degree to which you can replace these foods with plant-based foods is the degree to which you can improve your health.
There are few branches of science (applied or theoretical) that are more confusing to me right now than nutrition. Totally opposed diets (Paleo vs. CICO vs. whole food plant based vs. etc. etc. to infinity) each have adherents that trumpet that their diet is the only solution. This book, unfortunately, contributes to that confusion by eroding my confidence in the institutions that are shepherding nutritional knowledge to the public.
Campbell is an insider's outsider, an Ivy League professor emeritus involved with many of the major academic and governmental institutions supporting nutrition research and recommendations. He also has a very strong view on animal protein, that it is the major (maybe only?) cause of heart disease and cancer. I find the strong version of that argument too extreme (especially when he discounts any impact of genetics), and while the weaker version sounds more compelling, this isn't the book that provides the evidence to judge it. So it mostly just left me feeling more confused.
His argument was more compelling when he takes a post-modern, slightly cynical, "science as a process" approach and shows the way that research is lost, scientific consensus, narratives, and paradigms are built, and the ways that dissenting views are discouraged and diminished. He's very convincing on the topics of regulatory capture and groupthink in institutions. The only problem is is that this leaves me with no one to trust when it comes to nutrition advice. It's enough to make me want to throw up my hands and eat a donut.
**Thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
When I read the description of this book, I was very interested in reading it. I am old enough to have lived through various diet fads: The Atkins Diet (which one of my relatives insisted meant she could snack on as many pork rinds as she wanted), the Mediterranean Diet, low-fat, low-carb, eat only meat, eat only fruit, eat only grapefruit, eat only before 5 pm, etc. The author is an academic who has spent many years researching and teaching about nutrition. He is an advocate of the Whole-Food, Plant-Based diet, which he has written about in his previous books. I was really interested in reading a book that examined the research behind beliefs about nutrition, and would help me sort out what foods I should be eating.
Unfortunately that is not what I got with this book. The book focuses on how nutrition science has repeatedly touted the importance and benefits of animal-based protein, and has rejected or ignored studies suggesting that animal-based foods may have major negative effects on our health. The author describes a number of studies that have been ignored or under appreciated by nutrition scientists that bolster his thesis, but he delves into so many details about each and every study that it becomes repetitive and tiresome. In addition, The book is quite straightforward in tone, except for periodic comments about certain events or statements that feel as if he is taking the reader aside, winking and saying “Well that’s what those people say, but we know better don’t we?” This is to ally jarring, and feels quite arrogant.
Even though his arguments were persuasive, I eventually put the book down at the halfway mark because I was tired of hearing about how what he believed kept being rejected by others, and was put off by the arrogance of the author.
Thanks to BenBella Books for providing an advanced reading copy via NetGalley.
If you’re not new to the plant-based diet or Colins work, you might be a little bored. This book, however, is a great history and summary of his career and work.
Of course it also highlights the myriad of myths we are given around nutrition and how big corps are making us sick with their products and how they pay lobbyists / influence government standards and regulations.
10% of calories from protein is the upper limit and those protein calories should mainly come from plants.
If there is anything that makes me relate to this book is the question my Grandmother once asked me, "why is it that what's good for you tastes like punishment when you have to take it to live?" She'd just suffered another ulcer attack and the doctor suggested a lifestyle change, refused to give her the medication she always took or upgrade it. Three years later and she is strong and can even eat pepper! So, yes, there is so much research and information provided to governments and corporations on health, but where money is concerned, the likelihood to push for things that would drive another industry is high. I feel it is the same with meat, dairy and processed food. I have never read Dr. Campbell's study and book on whole food plant based nutrition and now I am looking more closely at what I eat, how I eat and also cutting down on sugar and it's proving quite interesting. Thanks for the eARC Netgalley.
The Future of Nutrition is an expostulatory essay/survey of nutrition and health by Dr. T. Colin Campbell. Due out 15th Jan 2020 by BenBella Books, it's 350 pages and will be available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.
This is a well written and science based look at whole food plant based (WFPB) nutrition, through the lens of marketing, political movements, government intervention, and the formal academic science establishment. I would point out that the author makes no effort to be completely objective, he does build up a convincing argument, but the arguments he presents are in support of his original premises: namely that health is tied directly and inextricably to nutrition and that to enjoy good health, humans should largely depend on a plant based diet made up of whole (and mostly unprocessed) food as close to its natural state as possible.
The layout is logical and the language will be accessible to most readers. The introductory chapters build up the connection between disease and nutrition along with a capsule survey of the state of disease treatment today.
When I was a young person in secondary school (in the USA) I can remember vividly how quickly the established and accepted pyramid of food groups changed seemingly overnight from a very meat heavy recommended diet to more vegetables and fruits but even then, there was an emphasis on avoiding fats, oils, and refined sugars. The author spends a fair bit of content building up the connection throughout history of the influence of commercial interests on the recommendations which generations of consumers have followed. The changes which came and went rapidly led to confusion and resentment (what can we eat when *everything* is bad for us).
The last section includes the author's conclusions and a call to reflection where (for me personally) he veers off into an uncomfortable judgement of some parts of the formal medical establishment including a scathing rebuke of cytotoxic cancer treatment regimes (chemotherapy).
The author definitely "shows his work". I enjoyed poring over the notes and the exhaustive bibliography and full chapter notes and annotations (did I mention that this is an academic work?). The notes and references are likely worth the price of admission for anyone interested in the subject and there's obviously been a career spanning amount of time spent on research and resource gathering on the part of the author.
I found the entire book quite interesting and fascinating. It is, admittedly, a niche book and will appeal to readers interested in biology, nutrition, and the process of disease, but might not appeal to readers looking for an easy read. The language is rigorous and formal. I definitely don't think it's inaccessible for the average reader, but it will take some effort (and I think that's a good thing). This would make a good support text for classroom or library use, for nutrition and allied subjects, as well as a superlative read for the particularly bio-history-interested.
I do not necessarily agree with all of his conclusions in every detail, but I certainly agree with the basic premise that WFPB diets are good for us and for the planet (and not necessarily good for powerful mega-agro-businesses' bottom line).
Five stars. This is well and deeply researched and engaging.
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
I would recommend reading T. Colin Campbell’s other books, especially The China Study, before reading this one if new to his writings, but highly recommend this book as a follow up for those interested in nutrition sciences and the political agenda of nutrition recommendations. If new to the research on how animal proteins promote cancer, heart disease, and more, the book I recommend reading first is “How Not To Die” by Dr. Michael Greger.
In T. Colin Campbell’s own words, this is what this book is about: “I am humbled to share my most recent findings in The Future of Nutrition. My primary interest is furthering an understanding of nutrition as a science for the entire population, both among citizens and governmental authorities. In this book, we address major societal problems like environmental issues and health care costs and their many manifestations. We review the science behind a whole food, plant-based lifestyle by focusing on health care over disease care.”
T. Colin Campbell has been at the forefront of nutrition research for well over 40 years, and his legacy, The China Study, is the most comprehensive study of health and nutrition ever conducted. Dr. Campbell is the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University. He has received more than 70 grant years of peer-reviewed research funding and authored more than 300 research studies. The China Study was the culmination of a 20-year partnership of Cornell University, Oxford University and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine.
With so many incredible credentials and years of service to society, it is really disappointing to hear how close minded and bought off the centers for cancer research, governmental agencies, and committees are that they have tried so hard to suppress Campbell’s research. While I was aware of this, Campbell’s specific experiences when listed out in the way they are in the first half of this book are staggering. He also talks about the history of this kind of information suppression from earlier researchers. It really does play out so similarly to what we see historically with the smoking industry and the suppression of research and governmental changes, and Campbell discloses the information behind that field of research in the past as well.
Campbell also discusses some follow up ideas to the misguided approach of reductive research that focuses on specific nutrients instead of the complexity of whole food, as he did in his book “Whole”.
I really appreciated the follow up chapter on COVID-19 and pandemics in general, and the ways in which this particular research may be a helpful part of the puzzle of resolving resistance to viruses.
For those interested in the politicization of food, this is the book for you. It is an appeal to society, especially those with power in academia, government, and other institutions that make recommendations to consumers about nutrition.
While aimed at scientists, researchers, and policymakers, those interested in the politics of science and how science is conducted will also get a lot out of this book.
As I stated in my first paragraph, Campbell’s other books and those by Dr. Michael Greger will be more immediately useful for anyone just learning about a WFPB (whole food plant based) diet and looking for practical nutrition advice.
I am a huge fan of Dr. Campbell’s and fully support a whole food plant based diet, with that being said, this book is not what I expected. Almost all of it is about the history of food research and the food industry. Almost none of it is actually about the future of nutrition. I’m not sure it truly adds anything to the literature that he has already written.
My favorite part ...."Whole food plant based nutrition is disruptive science. It threatens to disrupt many industries - pharmaceutical, food production, clinical care, hospitalization and these industries are well aware of the threat."
Although this book is ostensibly about the future of nutrition, much of it is a historical dive into the Western pattern diet, which is infused with an overall poor understanding of nutrition. A true societal appeal. He focuses on reductivism versus “wholeism.” He spells it with a “w” to distinguish its meaning from the word “holistic” and all its new-agey associations. This work is based in science, not fads. Campbell speaks to the conflict of interest between industry and academia. Why should we reduce our thinking to individual nutrients over the complexity of Whole Foods? Campbell answers this with a look into our ancestral past when it comes to nutrition.
All of that being said, this book is aimed at scientists and researchers interested in the politics of food regulation in the U.S., not the average consumer. One of the most fascinating pieces I’ve read in a while.
This was a joy to read! Very eye-opening but really helps you to understand why our system and information on nutrition is at its current state and offers some hope in thinking to the future. It was very well written, I could not put it down
This book is very repetitive about the countless times the scientific community has ignored evidence proving the healthy benefits of a whole foods plant based diet. I did not learn much new about what I should be eating.
Professor T. Colin Campbell has long been a major voice for plant-based nutrition. He has calmly and fearlessly gone against the nutrition establishment. He went into gentle but indefatigable battle armed not with the billion-dollar budgets of Big Pharma, Big Insurance, and Big Agriculture or the power of well-established hospitals, universities, and government bodies, but only with the ever-growing research evidence that Whole Food Plant-Based diets are the best way to halt the suffering and the horrible waste of nonhuman and human animals’ lives caused by animal-based and processed foods.
Professor Campbell started life on his family’s dairy farm and began his research career studying animal-based protein, something that, at the time, he thought was a must for good health. The evidence he discovered changed his mind. Colin is probably best-known for his 2006 nonfiction best seller “The China Study” (https://www.socakajak-klub.si/mma/The...) named for a very large study he helped lead in China which suggested that moving away from animal-based foods was the best path to health.
In a blurb on the back cover of Colin’s current book, “The Future of Nutrition,” David Feinberg, MD, head of Google Health, gets to the issue at the heart of what this book is about, “T. Colin Campbell’s latest masterpiece on whole food, plant-based nutrition is a must-read for anybody interested in understanding … how a proven lifestyle has become so controversial.”
As Colin explains (p. 4), “controversy does not necessarily mean that contradicting evidence exists. The notion that smoking causes cancer was once viewed as extremely controversial, not because of an impressive body of evidence proving the healthfulness of tar and nicotine, but because it challenged prevailing norms. … Evidence that disputes the status quo will always be controversial.”
Colin defines WFPB (whole food, plant-based) diets in 12 words (p. 7):
1. Consume a variety of whole plant-based foods. 2. Avoid consumption of animal-based foods.
Two points stand out in this definition. First, no vegan junk food. Second, some people take “plant-based” to mean mostly plants with maybe some animal-based food every so often, what some call “flexitarianism.” Flexitarian is much better than a typical omnivore diet, but it’s not what Colin is talking about. The superiority of WFPB diets lies in their strong supply of antioxidants, complex carbs, and vitamins.
Despite all the advances in health care and in knowledge about healthful lifestyles, the status quo is weak and becoming weaker. Even before COVID, U.S. life expectancy had began to decline, and even when earlier it was rising, much of that rise was due to management of disease, not prevention or treatment (pp. 18-21).
Despite the research evidence for WFPB diets, most people, are confused for two reasons (p. 25). First, they do not see the strong link between diet and health, and second, even those who believe a powerful connection exists do not recognize the power of WFPB. They do not appreciate that “the more animal-based foods one eats, the less one consumes cancer-preventive plant-based foods packed with antioxidants, fiber, and other protective nutrients” (p. 51). For example, many people think that cancer is attributable more to genes and the impact of environmental chemicals, such as industrial pollutants, than to food (p. 145).
I am involved in research in education, not health, but the book’s Chapter 7 resonated with me, as it addresses what Colin sees as limitations to what is considered valid research. He argues that while methods such as double-blind, placebo-controlled research have undeniable value, they may lead to excessive focus on discrete variables and technological solutions. Instead, we need an emphasis on context: “The ‘real world’ isn’t as easily controlled as a double-blind experiment conducted in a laboratory setting” (p. 163).
Part of the solution in research, just as in WFPB, is wholism (see Colin’s earlier book “Whole”). The reductionism of most contemporary nutrition research yields incomplete pictures, because sooooo many factors impact health, not a few isolatable variables. For instance, the plants we eat contain hundreds of thousands of phytochemicals, and innumerable and constant interactions occur in the trillions of cells in a single human body (p. 171). Reductionist research results in “an elaborate system for collecting conflicting information that neither medical professionals nor the public know how to apply (pp. 201-202). Furthermore, how can nutrition science hope to grasp this complexity when budgets for nutrition research are dwarfed by those for pharmaceutical R&D. Chapter 10 offers recommendations. One of these is to value technology, but not to overvalue it.
WFPB can be so simple. As Dr Greger of NutritionFacts.org often notes, companies cannot make much money selling broccoli, but they can make lots of money on high-tech supplements that claim to be even better than the original plant food: “WFPB is not a technological solution—quite the opposite, in fact—and so it generates little interest or funding support from the techno-scientific establishment” (p. 251).
Some of Colin’s other recommendations include (pp. 256-257; 263-269):
• Solid nutrition programs, including practicums, as part of the education of health professionals • Subsidies to support WFPB diets • Reflection on how we came to put so much faith in drugs and “high-quality” animal protein • Faith in the agency of each individual, as we can be role models via the choices we make every time we eat • Civil disagreement and “meet[ing] with people where they are (it’s the only place we can meet them)” • “[W]holism’s guiding principles—appreciation for context, communication, integration,” respecting and supporting Nature.
In conclusion, while written for lay readers, “The Future of Nutrition” is not an easy read, although spice is added by the many stories Colin tells from his own experiences. Perhaps, the book’s greatest value lies in the perspective provided on how we got into our current mess by taking the wrong direction in our food journey, a direction that wreaks havoc on the environment and on our fellow Earthlings, human and otherwise.
Listened to audiobook. I am very interested in this genre and previously read “How Not to Die.” This book wasn’t particularly additive to that book. If you have read Dr Gregor’s book, I do not think this is worth reading as it’s repetitive. If you haven’t read Dr Gregor’s book, I think this is a good alternative and is much shorter. Four stars for that reason.
A very dense book with way too much history and background. The science seems sound and I do support the message. Thanks to NetGalley for a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
A wholesome book on the whole-foods plant based (WFPB) diet. The discussion is varied and includes many references which support the WFPB lifestyle, with underhand assumptions from others opposed to this lifestyle.
One of the most compelling points of the book was when the '(w)holism' criterion was recommended as a addition to existing Bradford-Hill Criteria to determine causation in human population studies. Wholism amends the inadequacy of the current 'reductionistic' outlook which fails to consider the wider context, societal and whole person effects of any intervention. For instance, glucose studies cannot account for all metabolic steps but itself makes assumptions to control major sources of (potential) biases. The complexity of the metabolic pathway is partly captured by Donald Nicholson's diagram:http://iubmb-nicholson.org/chart.html
Of course, this needs updating, most likely, further pathways, but we have no complete understanding of every metabolite. And because of this, we should have an additional criteria which makes up for this deficiency of the reductionistic paradigm by considering visible population effects within the person or groups of individuals.
It truly is a book about nutrition because it enables us to better understand the implication of assuming there is a magic bullet for each ailment. There isn't, as yet, as we do not completely understand the metabolic pathways. Zooming all the way out to an individual and group level, we can see the power of a WFPB lifestyle at vastly lowering the likelihood of ill health now and later in life. Unique to WFPB, it has been shown to reverse diabetes and heart disease. And the evidence is in this book with citations.
Just okay. He details the ways that nutrition and cancer are linked, and what foods are associated with cancer. He also argues that medical community is lacking in the ways they look at nutrition was a way to combat cancer. I wish he'd gone more in to depth about what is considered a good diet and ways to advocate for yourself instead of just repeating that the medical community isn't paying as much attention to nutrition as they should, because most doctors don't know enough about it.
I received an egalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
I was so excited to receive The Future of Nutrition by T. Colin Campbell, but that quickly changed while listening.
Even though I agree with a lot of what Campbell says, I found him very whinny. Which made it hard to keep listening, even though the narration was good.
It also seems like Campell is living in the past. He talks a lot about his journey and the history of food and food science, but not a whole lot about the future, which I was expecting with the title. Also, from his past it seems he has a lot of people that either did not treat him right or he has a personal reason for wanting to slander them. I wonder how much of that plays into his views, and it made it hard for me to trust him. He just seems to want revenge on the beef industry and anyone associated with it.
Dan Woren is the reason I gave this book two stars instead of one. His narration was clean, and he kept me listening when I did not want to continue. I would listen to him again.
I received an advanced audiobook from Blackstone Audiobooks through NetGalley. All opinions are 100% my own.
The Future of Nutrition is, among other things, a fascinating discussion on the dogma that creeps into science and becomes institutionalized. There are too many examples of scientific reversals to list (many of which were cherished dogma), but let's simply remember the discovery that the Earth is not the center of the solar system. Copernicus put forth the theory in 1514 that the planets orbit the sun, then Galileo proved it a century later, whereupon he was convicted of heresy and made to spend the rest of his life under house arrest.
Gee, thanks guys!
A good part of The Future of Nutrition looks at the ongoing denial of a broad range of evidence that what we put in our mouths and swallow is the primary cause of cancer.
Nutritional biochemist T. Colin Campbell unearthed historical evidence for this by spending 1985 in four libraries: the Bodleian Library and the Wellcome Trust Library in Oxford, and the Royal College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Physicians in London. And Campbell presents this data, some of it going back more than a century, in The Future of Nutrition, which I am finding a most fascinating read.
The resistance of established scientific perspective to change is based primarily on three phenomena, the first is the unconscious sense of security we get from "knowing" something, particularly when that "knowing" is institutionalized in the form of collective bodies of expertise. The second resistance is the fear of loss of status. And the third resistance is the defense mounted by a status quo that affords it's practitioners some level of material gain.
Campbell describes the two theories of cancer causation debated a century ago, one being the local causation theory, which is conceptually simple and elegant, and gives rise to local treatment modalities of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. The local cause of cancer, then, is a bit like a broken arm - it's a local problem that has a bio-mechanical fix.
The other is named the nutritional causation theory (or more accurately, the malnutrition causation theory...remember malnutrition is also too much of a nutrient). The nutritional causation theory is systemic, biologically complex, and "messy" from a science perspective. Definitely not what the doctor ordered, armed as he is with anatomical interventions.
And a quick word about the recent additional theory, the genetic theory of cancer causation. It's attractive to the medical establishment because it keeps control of treatment modalities in their hands only. But genes are not the cause of cancer either. This has been shown to be the case in a number of ways, the easiest to wrap our heads around is by looking at populations with inherent very low levels of cancer....incidence of cancer only rises with a deterioration of nutrition. The McDonaldization of China for example. Same population, same genes, but cancer rates only rise with deterioration of diet quality.
We hear a lot about this "promising" genetic modality. That's because Big P wants it to be true really badly, and they can afford a lot of advertising (seen much TV lately?). And as we all know by now, Big P "owns" the medical establishment.
Back to the history...the local theory prevailed for a variety of reasons, nutrition was not well understood a century ago, there was no mechanical leverage for the surgeon, and surgery had become a technological wonder with an influential and growing body of practitioners. The local fix modality was theoretically attractive and profitable. Local treatment modalities were going to eliminate cancer deaths, the problem of course is they didn't.
Campbell has pushed the understanding of nutrition forward tremendously, which can be read in his previous books The China Study, and Whole. Unfortunately the medical establishment, agribusiness, and processed food megaliths are working overtime to repress Campbell's research and insights in every way possible.
In addition to the fact nutrition was not well understood a century ago, the early evidence for nutritional causation was mostly observational: populations that derived the majority of their nutrition from plant foods had very low incidence of cancers to begin with. So local theory prevailed in a blatant example of the way unconscious bias creates a kind of collective denial.
Meanwhile, due in huge part to Campbell's work, the science for the nutritional cause of cancer has become quite compelling in the last few decades, but as mentioned it continues to be ignored and repressed by the dogmatic medical science establishment.
It's a bit like the reaction of medical science to the initial hypothesis that smoke taken into the lungs on a regular basis causes lung cancer, an idea met with resistance by many establishment health researchers and doctors. The Surgeon General's warning went on tobacco products in 1969, but evidence had already began appearing by 1800. By 1920 a small mountain of published research had appeared, but media resisted reporting it. Reason? The tobacco industry advertised heavily in the media.
But it's only a bit like that, as the cancer industry has become a behemoth compared to the tobacco industry. And we should also consider the international food companies in the mix who are basically peddling addiction to toxic substances that cause cancer, the cardiovascular diseases, with links to autoimmune conditions. The irony that developed world food and medical industries are destroying the health of the earth's population for profit is mind boggling. It's too disturbing a notion for most to wrap their head around, and so it continues.
Meanwhile it's not all that difficult to imagine consistent introduction of toxic substances into the body for decades can result in cancer.
Not what I was expecting. I had the audiobook version and finally quit listening half way through because instead of actually talking about nutrition the author seemed more interested in academic squabbles with other scientists. The point that nutrition is a powerful tool for health was made in the first chapter. It didn’t need to be remade again and again and again. Lay people seeking cutting edge nutrition advice don’t need to know the story of every mistreated nutrition advocate of the 20th century. The title is misleading. This isn’t about the future; it’s about the past.
I picked up this book because I was intrigued by T. Colin Campbell's hypothesis that many of our "western" diseases (cancer, heart disease, diabetes etc.) stem from an overconsumption of animal protein, as opposed to saturated fat and/or sugar. After reading this book I can't say I'm totally sold on this idea, but it's certainly one I will continue to consider. In hindsight, I think I would have been better served by reading Campbell's earlier book, The China Study, which is repeatedly referenced, almost as if Campbell was assuming his readers had read it first.
I may end up reading The China Study down the line, but I do worry that Campbell's writing style is a little too technical and detailed for my liking. I appreciate a certain level of scientific detail, but this book felt too much like I was reading a college textbook. Also, the author spent what I felt was too much time analyzing the ways in which scientific discovery is being undermined by powerful people with a stake in the outcome. The focus of this book is on nutrition science and how entities such as the dairy council and groups advocating meat consumption have influenced what we believe comprises healthy eating, which is interesting and relevant; however, the book expands this idea to encompass all scientific inquiry, which I felt was beyond the scope of this book. And, to be honest, it felt a little like the author had a chip on his shoulder that he was belaboring to death. He has spent a career butting heads with the powers that be, and he really wants us to know all about it!
All of that being said, I could only give 2 stars to this book. But I did extract a couple interesting tidbits that I will summarize here.
From page 101: Animal protein is considered a "high-quality" protein because it has been determined that animal protein causes a faster growth rate (as evidenced in experiments with rats and pigs). And a good rate of growth in childhood is generally considered a positive outcome. However, this is not necessarily the case. First of all, barring problems related to childhood disease or lack of food, a child who develops later than his or her peers does not suffer from a lack of health or height as an adult. Adult height is much more linked to genetics. Second, "consuming 'high-quality' animal protein increases growth hormone, resulting in earlier sexual maturation, higher levels of sex hormones, and increased risk of cancer of the reproductive organs." Campbell's own studies in the 70s and 80s determined that higher consumption of the milk-based protein casein was linked to higher rates of cancer. This info meshes with other evidence I've read about how girls are reaching reproductive maturity much earlier in societies that consume a western style diet. This has also been linked to later problems with obesity. It's crazy to me that this research dates back decades, yet has not made its way into our common understanding of nutrition. I need more perspectives to be definitively swayed, but I am intrigued.
From page 140: A discussion of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids emphasizes the importance of the ratio between the two and how our consumption of both has changed dramatically over the past few decades. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to inhibit cancer growth and are anti-inflammatory in nature (so, good), while omega-6s promote cancer growth and are inflammatory (so, not so good). In our evolutionary past, the ratio was 1:1, but now, as our consumption of omega-6s, has skyrocketed, the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is more like 20:1 or higher. This is not only due to more meat consumption, but also to the fact that industrially produced livestock have higher omega-6 concentrations in their tissues than the grass-fed animals and wild meats that used to be more common. There is much more to this discussion, including the difference between eating a whole avocado or some almonds vs using avocado oil or almond oil as an oil alternative (hint, eat the whole food, avoid the oil extract), but I'm already far beyond the parameters of a book review as it is!
From page 191: A final and important point made in this book surrounds the fallibility of taking a reductionist view of nutrition. In other words, looking at nutrients as isolated ingredients instead of looking at the foods we eat as complete systems that our body uses in unique ways. This part is dense and deserves more than a few sentences, but the basic idea is that you can't just look at a nutrient like magnesium or Vitamin C in isolation. How much of a nutrient exists on a food is influenced by a multitude of factors and how our body absorbs, uses or discards the nutrient is also reliant on innumerable variables. This idea leads to a discussion of supplements and how a pill can't possibly take the place of getting the nutrient through a whole food. This is an area where there is much still to learn!
To summarize, if you are really into this stuff, or perhaps have a biochemistry degree, then I would recommend this book. If you are more like me, someone interested in nutrition science but wanting a more accessible read, then I think there are better options out there
Although I have read many books and articles, etc., about the healthfulness of a plant food based diet, and try to achieve it as much as I can, it is always encouraging to come across the information again and again to provide an intellectual and emotional support for this way of life. The general powers that be, medical, scientific, business, government, media, are intent on ignoring nutritional solutions to major medical problems. There are so many quotes from this book that I find particularly relevant, particularly in the way they describe the situation with regard to "science" in these days. - fixated on magic pills - not suggest health, but the normalcy of disease, unrivaled use of drugs as principle means of health care has us living with disease - not eradicating disease - not addressing underlying causes or treating to reverse disease, other than the use of pharmaceuticals - flexibility and open mindedness are exceptions, not fertile ground for truth - professionals are ignored, excluded, expelled, dismissed if they express alternate views than the prevailing institutional beliefs - science gatekeepers selectively disregard certain types of research, defining one thing as scientific and something else as unscientific because it suits their interest. - our institutions become revengeful when the conventional knowledge they espouse, and their authority to do so, are challenged. Evidence threatens the status quo..... - scientific community selectively prohibits certain "controversial " subjects when they threaten the status quo. - science misses the greater context of things over time in the way they treat disease technically, leads us astray from the concept of interconnectedness. Whole food plant based diet empowers the individual to control their health. Real world is rife with human error - Reductionism is dominant mode of modern science - splintered truth - specialization so narrow that it misses the context. Nothing exists in isolation in nature, need to look at the whole. - insist on identifying specific causes of disease rather than considering the broader dietary context which could be due to decreased consumption of heart-protective whole plant foods. Animal protein increases free radical oxidation, alters adrenal hormone activities, metabolic acidosis, more cell division, minimizes antioxidant activities - cling to animal protein as "high quality." - instead of focusing on nutrition (re: cancer) researchers look to environmental carcinogens. Nutrition vs. gene mutation - different approaches to preventive treatment - food - we east can control formations and subsequent effects of mutations; mutation theory - encourages a perpetual search for cancer causing a greater helplessness once those mutations take over. - body's innate mechanisms are affective in the right nutritional environment - become handicapped by poor nutrition. - powerful short term effect of WFPB nutrition. Clinically shown to arrest and reverse progression of diseases - something never demonstrated by a pill, or procedure. - group think - science and technology merged. WFPB diet doesn't jive with nutrition science - n tech there. Whole food are not technological. Tech - product succeeds or fails - easy to test. Research work is observable and should start a conversation not come to complete conclusion. - nutrients are not drugs - wholistic nutrition is incompatible with the notion of nutrition as tech. Governing bodies entangled in agriculture and business interests - today's science is bound to external factors. - discussions on policy, regulations, marketing, make on the basis of promoting the status quo. No civil debate. WFPB is a threat to many industries and disrupts science. - react to symptoms rather than proactively addresses causes - disease treatment no disease prevention disfunction of science - in nutrition science - they study individual nutrients in isolation - acting independently -ignoring the wholeness of health - don't need expensive superfoods - marketed to convince of superiority - whole food are source of nutrition - not supplements - so many decades of work and research - no one wants to hear nutrition centered perspective especially one that questions animal protein - wheel of science spins - not forward like a tire, but nailed and fixed to the frame of our institutions. Old treatment protocols from 100 years ago dominate the field of cancer despite ineffectiveness. If results were truly brilliant, we might have avoided the war on cancer. There is so much more. Fascinating book. Relates to covid as well. Op-ed from WSJ 4/20/21 by Joseph Ladapo "Covid mania has interpreted scientific advancements though an increasingly narrow frame. It hasn't mattered how impractical (scientific findings) may be. Discoveries that might have helped save lives, such as better outpatient therapies were ignored because they didn't FIT THE POLICY OUTCOME.
Excerpt from Recommendations: Heal Nutrition (P. 256)
Note: "Malnutrition is a word I use advisedly. Although the word is usually reserved for descriptions of diets that are calorie deficient or missing certain essential nutrients, its literal meaning (faulty nutrition) also applies to dietary patterns of excess, which pose a much greater threat to most Americans." (P.23)
"… WFPB nutrition threatens to disrupt many industries - pharmaceutical, food production, clinical care, hospitalisation - and these industries are well aware of this threat. If WFPB nutrition were adopted on a wide scale, many jobs in these industries would be lost and many fortunes would be threatened.
I know of no positive change that did not disrupt what came before it. And surely nutritional ignorance, which has done so much damage and so thoroughly pervades the entire biomedical research and clinical practice system, deserves disruption. Malnutrition is unquestionably the number one cause of death, the number one cause of high runaway costs, and more recently, the number one cause of environmental catastrophe. If we ignore this last consequence, everything else that I’ve written here will be wasted breath. Therefore, in the spirit of survival, I reiterate this final recommendation for the future: heal nutrition.
1. Construct an efficacious nutritional science education program for all accredited medical school curricula. Medical institutions that fail to offer adequate training in nutrition science should not receive government support. Adequate training is best obtained both by classroom instruction and by a practicum (perhaps using the WFPB diet for a period of at least two weeks and monitoring results in an abbreviated lab assessment).
2. Develop reimbursement procedures for primary care physicians who apply this education in nutrition. This current omission is a personal, professional, institutional, societal, and moral disgrace.
3. Establish a new National Institute for Nutrition (to join the current twenty-seven NIH institutes).
4. Transform food subsidy programs to encourage food production that aligns with reliable nutritional evidence and consumer protection.
5. Create a food and nutrition advisory council that truly serves the interests of the consumer and that is financed by an endowment trust fund beyond the influence of corporate financial interests.”
This book is the culmination of a lifetime spent in search of nutritional truth, a search which began in earnest when the author first began to suspect that protein, and in particular milk protein, was not natures best food as he had grown up (on a dairy farm) to believe, like most of us. The key discovery, to which he was led by some Indian research from the 1960's, was that he was able to turn cancer growth on and off by varying the level of casein in the diet of rats. At 5% it turned cancer off, at 20% cancer growth was stiumulated. Beyond that again, it was found that plant-based proteins in general were inhibiting tumor growth and animal protein were a stimulus. By the time of the current book, Campbell states simply that milk protein is the single biggest carcinogen in our diets. Quite a long way to go for a kid from a dairy farm.
He does not stop there, however, the current book really brings all of his thinking about holism together (he does not like the term and calls it wholism). He clearly recognizes how the reductionist/materialist point of view and the germ-theory of disease have kept cancer research tied up in knots, trying to find singular causes for a broad systemic problem. In short, Campbell's view is that the issue is more nurture than nature. In other words 30 years of drinking your milk allowed for a damaged cell to grow into cancer, whereas in the alternative, on a plant-based diet, chances are much better that the body repairs the cell damage early on, and a tumor never develops. Hence he suggests that we need to start prioritizing a Whole Foods, Plant-Based diet in all cancer treatment.
At a deeper level, all of Campbell's work is a commentary on the failure of the reductionist/materialist paradigm that has dominated medicine. The six blind men diagnosing the elephant, could do perfectly scientific RCTs and never see the elephant in the first place. In other words if the paradigm itself becomes a limitation on correct analysis and understanding, clearly it is time to change the paradigm. Campbell calls this wholism.
In practical terms, we need to max out the body's natural ability to heal as the first step in any approach to the cancer problem. Certain tumors obviously might still require medical intervention, but by addressing diet and nutrition first, the underlying driver of the illness is removed.
Slowly, plant-based nutrition is being introduced in some medical school curricula, and Campbell's work should be a key stone of that development. The basic Whole Foods, Plant-Based diet should be the default, as it has been proven effective for nearly all chronic illnesses from which people in the industrialized world tend to die. A few diseases might require some fine tuning, but the basic recommendation should be the first choice in almost all cases. Campbell's nutritional paradigm is the anchor for all of the clinical experience in this area, which is now growing at a rapid pace courtesy of the growth in Lifestyle Medicine.
If nutrition and health are areas of interest to you, this book (and it's predecessors, The China Study and Whole) should be on your top shelf. In the process, you will be doing some useful exploring of how our health and healthcare paradigm is changing and must change.
I usually do not review books that I have not read cover to cover. This time around, I decided to make an exception since I read more than 3/4th before losing access to the advance reviewer's copy. Also, the content is such that more people should read it and bring it into the discussion. The author of the book has been researching Nutrition for years and has clearly stated how he and many of his family members have incorporated his findings into their daily lives. Even if the readers are unwilling or not interested in believing the results, the process by which he has come to his conclusions and the enormous pressure big industries have put into the divulging of the experiments is both fascinating and scary. The book is about the benefits of plant protein compared to that of animal protein in the long run. There is an extensive background provided before the actual content is discussed, and this, among other things, does make the narration seem defensive. Again though, the story justifies the aggressive stance. I must admit I am a vegetarian and therefore predisposed to cheer the content, but I think it might interest those curious about the scientific basis for the thought, implementation and benefits of an altogether plant-based diet (which I do not follow either because of my semi-regular milk intake). I also liked that the conversation was not just about blindly substituting protein( or even taste) but also about eating whole. This means that abundant fast (fried, overcooked) foods are chastised irrespective of their origins. Once the author gets going, the reading seemed to be effortlessly fast. Unfortunately, I did not actually finish the book (as previously mentioned). Anyone even remotely curious about the content after reading the blurb and/or this review should definitely pick it up. I received an ARC thanks to Netgalley and the publishers, but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience and mildly influenced my previous forays into a plant-based lifestyle.
I think there are still a few good people that exist in this world. This book is about WPPB - Whole food plant based diet. Now, I never had a problem with someone who opines his position and then goes on the quality why he posed the statements. The evidence for staying away from animal protein is overwhelmingly desirous. Where is the gap? It appears the medics have no idea about nutrition, while the guys that feed us and do scientific research have colluded with big pharma, the media, technology and industry, academic institutions and corporate institutions to deceive the population and thus we are trapped into what is reffered to as "group think"...most notably a spin off from the critically acclaimed book 1984 by George Orwell The Wikipedia definition does it for me... Group think - A psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints by actively suppressing dissenting viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences. This is dangerous. "groupthink is more than just the consequence of restricted information; it also causes further restriction of information. In other words, it operates as a positive feedback loop: the more homogenous our thinking, the more likely we are to restrict the flow of alternative information, which in turn produces even more homogenization, and so on and so forth, until the group in question is absolutely paralyzed by its inescapable tendency to conform." I would like to re-read this book.
So much politics surrounds the food choices we make. Honestly, the politics involved would make your head spin! Yet, there comes a moment in time when people become like the actor in the movie Network. In other words, they become “…mad as h—-, and [decide they’re] not going to take it anymore.” The benefits of a whole food plant-based diet have been studied and seen for a long time. Yet, there are many entities that attempt to keep the lay public eating a particular way for the benefit of those entities. However, there is only so much scientific fact against which a person may argue.
In this work, Dr. Campbell continues to provide a roadmap through three controversial areas being faced in today’s world regarding nutrition and its impact on health. The information provided is evidence-based and well-documented. This allows the reader to get accurate information to make better dietary decisions that result in a healthier lifestyle.
This is a book that not only works for personal use but also as a gift for people you care about. It is a book you will refer to often to provide yourself with clarity in the midst of the nutrition confusion often experienced.
I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book provided by the publisher and Net Galley but the thoughts expressed are my own.
Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange of my honest opinion.
I really really wanted to like this book and at its core I agree with the author - we need to focus on a diet with less meat in it, but I also did not like his writing at all or the way he was dismissing other studies (like the idea that the essential amino-acids that are found mostly in animal protein should be from the highest quality meat - and from this he extrapolates that the logical conclusion would be that eating human flesh is the highest quality protein - but I am sorry, that is not how you make an argument... if you do not have an argument to show plant protein is better in this case, then just say that).
Also, I was expecting something else from this book and this might be on me, but even so, the attitude of the author did not help, even though, as I said, I quite agree with some of his things.
Yes, there is a correlation between cancer and meat intake, but the author fails to convince me that animal protein is the sole culprit for cancer. He also talks a lot about animal test studies but it fails to mention that these studies may or may not translate to humans, simply presents them as 100% proof.
So, yeah, quite disappointed in the way this book is presented. I still want to read his other book (The China Study, I reckon), but my expectations are lower.