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Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition Hardcover – May 7, 2013
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From Publishers Weekly
Campbell's follow-up to his best-selling The China Study is more of the same, in the best way. He continues his quest to convince people that "the ideal human diet looks like this: Consumer plant-based foods in forms as close to their natural state as possible...eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, raw nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, and whole grains." The entirety of the book is a passionate and convincing case for that ideal diet. Campbell has not written a book of diet tips, or even provided recipes. In fact, at times the book delves so deeply into scientific process— for example, explaining how cancer develops or how metabolism works—that many may find themselves having to read slowly to understand his point. Yet he makes the case that Americans are too prone to take pills to solve health issues (and doctors too prone to prescribe them) as a result of "reductionist thinking". His years of scientific study and calm, measured tone are highly convincing, making a firm case that changing one's diet is the best way to assure good health. Readers will be inclined to put down their processed food snacks once they read what could be a life-changer of a book. (May)
Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons, 16-year National Football League player, record-setting tight end
America’s premier nutritionist, T. Colin Campbell, with courage and conviction, articulates how the self-serving reductionist paradigm permeates science, medicine, media, big pharma and philanthropic groups blocking the public from the nutritional truth for optimal health.”
Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., MD, author of the bestselling Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease
T. Colin Campbell, based on his long career in experimental research and health policy-making, uncovers how and why there is so much confusion about food and health and what can be done about it. His explanation is elegant, sincere, provocative, and far-reaching, including how we can solve our health-care crisis. Read and enjoy; there’s something here to inspire and offend just about everyone (sometimes the truth hurts).”
Dean Ornish, MD, Founder and President of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California; Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco; and author of the bestselling Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease
Whole makes a convincing case that modern nutrition's focus on single nutrients has led to mass confusion with tragic health consequences. Dr. Campbell’s new paradigm will change the way we think about food and, in doing so, could improve the lives of millions of people and save billions of dollars in health care costs.”
Brian Wendel, Creator and Executive Producer of Forks Over Knives
There are very few material game-changers in life, but this book is truly one of them. The information hereinbacked up by extraordinary peer-reviewed sciencehas the power to halt and reverse disease, give you energy you’ve never known, and put you on a path of transformation in just about every positive way. Read it and get ready to soar.”
Kathy Freston, New York Times bestselling author of The Lean and Quantum Wellness
Dr. Colin Campbell opened our eyes with The China Study. In Whole, Dr. Campbell boldly shows exactly how our understanding of nutrition and health has gone off track and how to get it right. Beautifully and clearly written, this empowering book will forever change the way you think about health, food and science.”
Neal Barnard, Founder and President of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
This book is the key to understanding how to increase our natural longevity and health, it is key to slowing global warming, and all of this at no cost, rather, at immeasurable savings to society.”
Mike Fremont, World Record Holder marathons for 88 and 90 year olds
In Whole, Dr. Campbell defines a super-paradigm that elucidates a philosophywholismwhich medicine needs to aspire to in order to attain an enlightened solution. Whole is a masterpiece of intellectual triangulation, outlining the past, the present, and the critical next steps in the future of biochemistry, human nutrition, and healthcare. This book is going to unleash a health revolution!”
Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition and host of What Would Julieanna Do?
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Three p-words permeate Campbell's thesis here: profits, power, and paradigms. Power and profits drive the big businesses of livestock and processed food, Campbell argues. For elaboration on how the processed food industry influences people's eating habits against public health while in pursuit of sales and profits, I recommend Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us (2013) or The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite (2009). More controversially perhaps, Campbell also argues that profit motives fuel the chase for pills, patents, and procedures in "health care" or as Campbell calls it, the "disease care" industries of pharmaceuticals, hospitals, and medical practitioners. Registered dietitians may be compromised too, as their influential trade association, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, receives major funding from the junk food business including Coca-Cola, Hershey, PepsiCo, Mars, and Unilever (that covers several major ice cream brands), as well as the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the National Dairy Council, among others. (p. 271) The food and health care industries also buy power and influence by funding, in part, the careers of politicians, food regulators, and media outlets (including both popular media and some scientific journals) (p. 181-262). That's a big argument, and Campbell states it earnestly. He looks at, "all the political maneuvering and financial pressure...a version of reality shaped more by the profit agendas of Big Pharma, supplement makers, hospitals, surgeons, and suppliers of processed food and industrial meat and dairy than the truth." (p. 261)
But what about science? Don't the health sciences uphold an objective space where research like Campbell's can get a proper hearing among fair-minded truth seekers? Here Campbell covers a lot of ground. Whole unpacks Campbell's frustration with food sciences that drive for answers in small elements of biochemistry, often dismissing or putting up stiff resistance to studies at the level of major dietary patterns, lifestyles, and community-level differences in health outcomes (p. 45-164). Campbell knows from personal experience. He has contributed to food science both at the minute level of biochemistry, and also at the lifestyle and community levels like a medical sociologist would do, as The China Study makes clear.
Campbell's account in Whole may serve as vivid material for science studies. This is a field where sociologists and philosophers grapple with questions of how human foibles, careerism, and powerful interests sometimes distort and inhibit the advancement of science, and how new theories occasionally burst through to scientific acceptance despite formidable resistance. Campbell deploys the concept of scientific "paradigms" in food studies. Scientists cluster their investigations and share basic assumptions within a broad current of thought, or paradigm, the thinking goes, for as long as the prevailing paradigm seems productive, until one day the paradigm runs out of answers and gives way to challengers. In our time, Campbell suggests, the paradigm in nutrition is that animal foods are healthy sources of key nutrients that call for microbiological research; and the paradigm in medicine is that disease is to be cured through pills and procedures that call for biochemistry in pharmaceuticals, biotechnological engineering, and surgical protocols. The notion that medical and nutritional sciences, or any science, organizes into theoretical paradigms that hold sway during periods of "normal science" springs from Thomas Kuhn's launching pad for the field of science studies, first published in 1962, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions: 50th Anniversary Edition. T. Colin Campbell goes further, intimating that scientific grant makers should promote a more appropriate distribution of financial resources in health-related studies, in order to breed a research environment that would admit a variety of approaches, even if they contradict the main thrust (p. 214-217). His thinking comports well with some recent, socially minded philosophers of science, especially Miriam Solomon's excellent brief, Social Empiricism (Bradford Books) (2001).
If you haven't read The China Study, I would recommend that first (and The China Study may be all you want or need). The China Study spells out the many health benefits of whole foods, plant-based eating in Campbell's view; and what is the research that brought him to believe that; and what's wrong with animal foods. Or, for a captivating show of it on your tv screen, you can see T. Colin Campbell speaking prominently in the outstanding documentary film, Forks Over Knives.
If you want to know how exactly to go about eating a whole foods plant-based diet, then Whole is not the place to turn. But I can recommend some very good books for that: The Starch Solution: Eat the Foods You Love, Regain Your Health, and Lose the Weight for Good!,Forks Over Knives - The Cookbook: Over 300 Recipes for Plant-Based Eating All Through the Year, and Everyday Happy Herbivore: Over 175 Quick-and-Easy Fat-Free and Low-Fat Vegan Recipes. Isa Chandra Moskowitz also comes pretty close to Campbell's way of eating in the reduced-fat version of her super-tasty chef's recipes (though she adds very small quantities of oil that you can cut out if you want to stay true to Campbell's way) -- in Appetite for Reduction: 125 Fast and Filling Low-Fat Vegan Recipes.
If you're curious and you want to come to grips with the clash in food science between Campbell's minority viewpoint and mainstream theories, then you've come to the right book. Further, if you'd like to hold your own in discussions with people who may want to know how you can be so confident as you shrug off the mainstream opposition and lean into the radical health promise of whole-foods plant-based eating, read this. If you simply want to know why whole foods, plant-based eating has not become more widely accepted, then Whole is a very fine book for you. Thank you, T. Colin Campbell for turning it out.
As T. Colin Campbell writes, Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition is built on two basic insights: "First, nutrition is the master key to human health. Second, what most of us think of as proper nutrition--isn't." While for many (though, alas, still the minority) this isn't news, showing why this is the case with a carefully crafted, well-researched thoroughness is what makes this a signature T. Colin Campbell book. As anyone who has read The China Study knows, this MIT-trained, 50-plus year veteran of nutritional research and politics packs a crisp and well-trained punch. His power comes from his clarity of expression and the thoroughness of his research. Campbell builds his thesis with tight reasoning, backed by solid research that considers the big picture. That's why, even if you feel like you don't need convincing, it's great to have the data and clear rationale beyond what may feel intuitive to you; that is, that a whole foods, plant-based diet is the healthiest diet there is and our current nutritional-medical complex is harming millions and millions by disguising that nutritional fact (did you know that pharmaceutical companies spend considerably more on political lobbying than defense contractors?).
If you've read The China Study, Campbell's important bestseller, you'll be familiar with themes in Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition. But the focus is different. As Campbell writes, "The China Study focused on the evidence that tells us the whole foods, plant-based diet is the healthiest human diet. Whole focuses on why it's been so hard to bring that evidence to light -- and on what still needs to happen for real change to take place."
Much of the book lies in the difference between reductionism and holism. "If you are a reductionist," writes Campbell (p. 49), "you believe that everything in the world can be understood if you understand all its component parts. A wholist, on the other hand, believes that the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. That's it: the entire debate in a nutshell." Much of the confusion the public has about the basic healthy way to eat is based on small studies that highlight a little something, but miss the bigger picture. Campbell has the research experience and brain power to tie it all together.
If there is one issue I have with the book, it is that Campbell doesn't really look at our individual tendency to rationalize and how that dovetails with the confusion created by the food and medical industries. That is, while it's true that a plethora of confusing and overwhelming information makes it difficult to hear loud and clear the truth about a whole foods plant-based diet, even many who are convinced it is the best way to eat, don't end up eating that way. Why? Because sugar, fat, meat, and junk food taste yummy (at least they do until you break the habit/s, and then they usually taste too much). In fact, they taste so good that most people end up kinda, sorta downplaying the consequence of indulging and are only too happy (unconsciously) to be bolstered by noisy and confusing nutritional headlines. Or, to twist the classic expression a bit: "the spirit is weak because the flesh is willing." For that reason, this is an important book: it helps bolster the resolve of anyone who kind of knows a whole foods approach is the way to go. And for those that don't, this book is a clear and easy to read education. This is definitely an valuable book that I hope is widely read.