Thursday, September 2, 2010

Notes to the Crusader

Crusader - lawyer, Vandy MBA, Guardsman, comic, drummer, practical joker, father of 3, Mensa member, hitchhiking adventurer, fellow hunter, and friend since 1982 (and a bunch of other stuff too, some which I could not mention here), asked me about Collin T Campbell's assertion in a newspaper article that a plant based diet is known to be useful to prevent all cancers.  This is my response:

This guy is the author of a book by the name of the study he worked on
called the "China Study." He's reported to be a very affable guy.  The book and the study report a bunch of correllations on the populations they studied - chinese peasants as I recall - and their health results. It's perhaps the largest and most expensive observational study ever done, and just as worthless as all the other observational studies for proving causation (
/).  In the end, the correlations were noteworthy because they showed a
perspective that T Collin has long advocated - the meat diet causes cancers
and other bad news for humans.
Several folks have picked his work apart - Chris Masterjohn ( and Anthony Colpo
( being two folks who's work is available for free on the web - but the latest
really dissects it. It's a young woman who's seemingly brilliant and crazy.  Based on
her work, it appears that the tables in the study were "inaccurate".
Dr. Campbell's lab work revolved around giving rats enough protein powder that they got cancer.  Since rats aren't humans, and protein powder is a human created product of the industrial food chain, I don't give his results much credence as regards what would happen to you or to me if we eat a relatively high protein diet.  Bottom line - there's no model for a plant based diet preventing disease, and practitioners of such a diet who look, feel and perform well are few and far between.
My own experience is that basing the diet around proteins that had a soul, a mother and a face allows me to look, feel and perform like I want to, with well regulated blood sugar (measured on a glucose monitor and via A1c), good lipid profile and 13% body fat with very little hunger.
I think it may be possible to get the same outcome with a plant based diet, except for the difficulty of getting enough quality protein. You have to go to dairy/eggs, and my experience with dairy was not positive  (I have not been able to try raw dairy). I also think most folks doing 'plant based' eat grains and other non-sustainable foods; Pollyface Farms (Pastured Poultry: The Polyface Farm Model) is proving that between animals and other farm products, animals are far, far more sustainable.  For more on this, see The Vegetarian Myth (The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability).  20 year vegan true believer Lierre Keith pulls apart more than one of the vegetarian myths.
I can describe a model for how high carb/grain based diets cause cancer, diabetes, CVD, stroke, gout, HBP, etc., but I don't know of one that explains these phenomenon without high blood sugar cycles.
Lastly, most of us have eaten so many carbs that we've damaged our systems and have become mal-adapted. We cannot tolerate carbs as we were perhaps designed to do before one could get 150 pounds of sugar per year (as the average american now consumes, not to mention grains, potatoes, rice, etc which are essentially just more sugar).  There are some paleo cultures that thrive on plant based diets (kitavans getting much press of late), meaning it must be possible to do so - although even kitavans get sick once eating grains.
However, without the industrial farming of annual monocrops (IOW grains and soy beans), it's nearly impossible to get enough calories via plants. Without meat, it is impossible to get enough nutrients to keep a paleo culture alive - we can supplement the missing B vitamins in a supplement rich neo culture, but no paleo culture could have.  Likewise, absent coconut oil, most paleo cultures wouldn't have had access to enough fat to be healthy.  The vast majority of known paleo groups ate predominantly animal food, and thrived - no cancer, CVD, diabetes, gout, stroke, obesity, etc.
In short, I'm not even tempted by Dr. Campbell's narrative.

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