In this latest edition of Byron’s Book Club, Byron Udell, Founder and CEO of AccuQuote, reviews “Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition” by T. Colin Campbell, PhD.
The books that have left the deepest impression on me are the ones that challenge or change my perceptions in a fundamental way. One such book is Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition by T. Colin Campbell, PhD. This 2013 New York Times bestseller was co-written with Howard Jacobson, PhD.
In Campbell’s prior 2005 bestseller, The China Study (co-written with his son, Thomas M. Campbell II, M.D.), he argues persuasively that a whole food, plant-based diet is the best prescription for better health and longevity. In Whole, Campbell backs up his theories with significant scientific research and many compelling arguments on the merits of being more veggie-friendly. He explains the worthwhile benefits of this type of diet, and how the consumption of meat and dairy products can actually shorten one’s life expectancy.
In his book, Campbell documents how everything we eat changes our body chemistry in one form or another. His healthier diet plan is rather basic: eat whole, plant-based foods, with little or no added oil, salt, or refined carbohydrates, like sugar or white flour. Campbell claims that this type of plan can prevent 95 percent of all cancers, and eliminate nearly all kinds of heart attacks and strokes. He even suggests that living a whole-foods, plant-based lifestyle can even help reverse heart disease.
Campbell also calls out the reluctance of the medical and scientific community to publish his work without bias. He attributes this bias to financial pressures from doctors, the pharmaceutical industry, and dairy and livestock producers. “The landscape of nutritional science has vastly changed, yet most people, whether health or medical experts, as well as those in the general population are still operating from old paradigms where this vital area of life is concerned,” he says in his book.
In the past, Campbell has said that he is a “heretic”…another Copernicus, “blasting through” the boundaries of conventional scientific thinking. He claims that animal protein (casein) is carcinogenic, and decreasing consumption of this protein can significantly reduce cancer risk. (Casein is also in cow’s milk.)
The beef and dairy industries are not exactly jumping for joy over Campbell’s pro-plant-based diet mantra. He has also said that vitamins, dietary supplements, and prescription drugs tend to do more harm than good. The author has gone after the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formally the American Dietetic Association) and the American Society for Nutrition for their pro-big business bias and their history of publishing misinformation meant to discredit his work.
I strongly believe in the healthier lifestyle and nutritional recommendations documented in this book. In short, I think Whole offers a more complete picture of how and why our food choices are the key to a longer, happier, and healthier life.