Book Summary: The China Study, part II

Part I found here and here.

I’ve been reading The China Study, and it’s taken me longer than usual with all of our weddings and vacations (plus my m.i.l.gave me two addicting books to read and I can’t put them down).  This last week I finally picked up The China Study again.  The main driving point of the book is: High protein diets from animal sources will cause debilitating disease.  Try to switch over to a whole-foods, plant-based diet.  He mostly covers many studies (including The China Study) and their results to prove this point.

I think T. Colin Campbell (and his son) has some interesting things to say, but is a little extreme.  I think there is a broad spectrum between being vegan and eating animal products multiple times a day, and the extremes are just that – extreme.  There is a perfect balance in there somewhere and I’m trying to find it.  Nevertheless, it’s an interesting read.  There’s a lot of information here, so I’m going to break it up into a couple posts.


The China Study: Summary Part II

Diseases of Affluence

  •  Americans eat like kings and have completely different diseases than underdeveloped countries: We suffer from heart disease, cancer, strokes, Alzheimers, diabetes, etc., and underdeveloped countries battle mostly infectious diseases.
  • There is not a “Cancer Diet” or “MS Diet,” but there is one diet that will counteract all of these diseases – a whole foods, plant-based diet.
Chapter 5: Broken Hearts
  • Over the next 24 hours, 3,000 Americans will have heart attacks.
  • P. 111 “Women’s death rates from heart disease is 8 times higher than their death rate from breast cancer.”
  • A study was done at the end of the Korean War on the hearts of 300 male American soldiers who were killed in action.  The average age of the soldiers was 22 years.  77% of their hearts had “gross evidence” of heart disease.  This was startling since these were very physically fit and young men.  It was now evident that young Americans are largely at risk for heart disease.
  • It turns out that large plaques  (a large build up/blockage of proteins and fats in an artery) are not the cause of heart attacks, but rather smaller, thin placque accumulations which break, causing the thick fat to mix with the blood until it forms a large clot and therefore a big blockage. It is the plaques that block less than 50% of an artery that are the most dangerous.
  • The Framingham (Massachussetts) Heart Study came up with risk factors for heart disease: They found a strong correlation between high blood cholesterol and heart disease.
  • In the late 50’s, reasearch expanded to include world populations.  P. 115 “American men died from heart disease at a rate almost 17 times higher than their Chinese counterparts.”  It is not genetic; it’s lifestyle.  As soon as people relocate from their native country to America, they fall into western living practices and their  risk increases.
  • Animal foods are linked to higher blood cholesterol, and plant foods are linked to lower blood cholesterol.
  • Dr. Lester Morrison conducted research in LA on his patients in the late 40’s.  At the time it was thought heart disease was a result of aging and nothing could be done.  He discovered a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet would extend his patients’ lives.
  • The research has been working, because the death rate from heart disease is 58% lower than in 1950.
  • Surgery is a phantom fix – Within 3 years of bypass surgery, 1/3 of patients will suffer chest pains again.  Within 10 years half of the patients will have died, had a heart attack, or had chest pain return.  The shocker: Patients who undergo bypasss do not have fewer heart attacks than those who do not have the surgery. (Remember the stuff about small placques causing the attacks…it is often not the huge blockage, which is what is operated on).
  • Angioplasty is temporary too: Within 4 months of surgery 40% of arteries will close up again.  (Side note – This reminds me of stomach bypass surgery as well.  Many people end up gaining the weight back and even more than before, because they have not fixed the root cause of the problem – eating habits).
  • We are missing the most important treatment:  FOOD.
  • Dr. Esselstyn tested plant-based diets on his patients and took before and after pictures of their arteries.  18 patients all with bad hearts (49 coronary episodes between them) participated.  Cholesterol levels dropped dramatically and after 11 years, there was only one coronary event.
  • Now we know the effects and need to implement this type of diet.
Chapter 6: Obesity
  • It’s obviously a big problem.
  • The solution is a whole-foods, plant-based diet (get used to that phrase), coupled with a reasonable amount of exercise.  This is a long-term lifestyle.  Anything shorter than that will not work.
  • One mistake people make – they cut out meat and animal products, and replace them with pastas, sweets, pastries, and refined foods thinking that this is “vegetarian.”  He calls these people “junk-food vegetarians.”  The key is whole foods.
  • Stop counting calories.  As long as you eat the right type of food, calories do not matter.  (Side note – I am a huge believer in this.  I have not looked at calories in years and years.)
  • Stop expecting sacrifice, depravation, and blandness.  Eating whole foods is a worry-free way to eat.  Allow your body to tell you what it needs and then do it.
  • p.  141 – “Vegetarians consume the same amount or even significantly more calories than their meat-eating counterparts, and yet are still slimmer.”  They also have a higher rate of metabolism at rest.
  • Campbell did an experiment on rats and found that the ones eating 5% casein (the main protein in cow’s milk) diet exercised twice as much as the ones fed a 20% casein diet.
Chapter 7: Diabetes
  • 1/3 of those with diabetes don’t know they have it!
  • There are many complications from diabetes: heart disease, stroke,  blindness, kidney disease, nerve damage, amputation risk.
  • Dr. James Anderson experimented with a high fiber, high carb, low protein diet in his patients.  His Type I Diabetics (this is the genetic type)  were able to lower their insulin medication by an average of 40%.  He had 25 Type II patients, and 24 of them were able to discontinue their insulin medication.
  • Another group of scientists has 40 diabetic patients all on medication, and prescribed a low-fat plant-based diet and exercise.  34 were able to discontinue their medication after only 26 days.

I’ve been meaning to watch the documentary “Forks Over Knives” for some time, but I want to finish this book first since his research is featured in it.  Stay tuned!


4 comments on “Book Summary: The China Study, part II

  1. Leah says:

    You said you found the book to be extreme. What exactly did you fine extreme about The China Study and the recommendations of eating a Plant-based diet? Since the book works around the idea of illness, mostly cancer, I would say that what I consider extreme is cancer, surgery and chemo. I’ve read the book a few times, have seen Dr. Campbell speak a number of times and have talked with him directly. I think what he’s offering is very doable and reasonable, esp when facing cancer or illness. I am a Cancer Support Educator and I see clients who want something that will help them feel better and make their bodies healthier. They also want some control over what’s happening to them. Deciding what to eat and what not to eat helps them feel in control and they feel good doing it. After I read the China Study, I cut dairy out of my life. (When you consider that you are drinking from another pregnant animal’s breast, it becomes easier.) Its link to cancer, which has been researched by others with the same conclusion, makes it even easier. Then I cut it from my family meals. A short time after that, I began to cut back and then cut out all four- and two-legged animals for my family meals. They still have very small amounts of wild-caught fish. I do not. I went vegan for a year and decided to then to go to a wholefoods, plant-only diet. It can be easy when you begin to “lean” into a it by adding more veg and fruit to your diet, and then begin cutting back on meat and dairy. I would also recommend watching Hungry For Change, It’s playing for free online for the next four days. You have to register to watch at

    • Granola Mom says:

      Don’t get me wrong…I certainly condone a whole foods plant-based diet and Dr. Campbell’s research is clearly impressive. I do try to view everything with an unbiased and scientific view so that I can find truth. I have recently read sound research that makes a strong case for high quality animal products on a regular basis (and the book Nourishing Traditions). So I am reading as much as I can to clarify. Some parts of this book made me skeptical when he mentioned studies about populations who eat more animal products had higher rates of disease. While I do agree with this statement, I think it is hard to isolate variables in food studies. Are these people consuming more meat because they are eating fast food? Is that the real culprit? Are they also consuming large amounts of highly processed foods? Is that what is causing disease? Or are they following a strict diet with dairy or meat as the only variable (not referring to the studies about Caesin. Those are legit!)? I try to see both sides of the argument, and definitely the less meat the better in my opinion. Anyway, I still obviously have so much to learn.

      We really need more people like you that help to educate the general population that really has no idea where to start. I wish our doctors were more educated in this stuff…Thanks for the Hungry for Change link- I will have to watch it. How has it been to live without cheese? Did you just cut back slowly? Where do you find your recipes? I sometimes read things like The China Study and feel completely overwhelmed with changes I need to make and feel lost in how to do it. Anyway, it’s a process…that’s why it’s Project Granola Mom. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

  2. Leah says:

    You are a rock star! Always good to question everything. Giving up cheese is, by far, THE most difficult for the women I work have worked with. And when I do public speak on the subject, it gets the most energetic response. I’m Italian, so I understand. It was part of my traditions, my culture, it was like a little bit of yummy love. I understand the merits of raw milk as well. But my body doesn’t digest it well and instead of a doc telling me to avoid it, he told me to always keep some in my diet. So sometimes it would bother me, and sometimes it would make it sick. That didn’t make sense to me, so it may have been easier for me to give up. But my husband give it up with little effort.

    However, I work with women who have breast cancer and other hormone related cancers. I cut a clean line in the sand when it comes to dairy and hormone related cancers and drinking milk. Since milk is a “growth” product…. meaning it takes a baby cow of 50 bls and turns it into a 500 lb cow in a year or less…. And it is full of hormones that nurture that baby until weened, but can also encourage growth in our bodies… I can’t advocate raw, organic or even goat milk. It’s all the same, in that respect. Yes, I miss cheese pizza every time i see or smell it. But in the beginning i would test my body by giving diary up and then eating a little bit… I found that it makes my ears itch (an allergic reaction according to my doc), creates mucus (an allergic reaction) and it makes my sinuses fill up and I sneeze. (Oh….and when my husband gave it up, he stopped snoring.) 🙂

    In the very start of it all, i heard Dr Campbell speak at a wholefoods conference and it was an eye opener. I bought the book, but didn’t read it. What he said made sense to me. So when I first started to think about giving diary up. I decided to just watched how much and how often I ate dairy. I was never a milk drinker. So it was more about cheese and milk in baked products. And I was eating a lot of it! I also found that dairy was very difficult to avoid as well. The next step was to eat only really good diary. I loved hard cheeses and homemade soft cheeses. (Even the memory is wonderful, because milk has an addictive quality — that way the baby cow won’t walk far away from it’s food source… mom.) Then I started to wonder why I loved it so much. Turns out for me, it’s the fat and the salt. And it’s the same right now. When I crave dairy, I actually want fat. So now I reach for olives or avocado and the craving is gone.

    Getting overwhelmed is understandable. I tired to think about going diary free as “adding” something to my diet and not “taking away.” So if I wasn’t going to add diary to my dish, I would need to add something else that I love. We don’t use “fake” cheese either because that’s mostly oil, but one substitute is cashews. I make an easy a creamy kale salad. (steam two lbs of kale without the stems until just wilted. In a blender, add half cup of raw cashes and a half cup of unsweetened almond milk, and two tablespoons of onion flakes. Blend until creamy. Chop up the kale, add the dressing.. and total YUM!) The internet is full of non-dairy recipes. (Check out Dr Fuhrmans’ “Super Immunity: The Essential Nutrition Guide for Boosting Your Body’s Defenses to Live Longer, Stronger, and Disease Free” He has lots of recipes on his website as well.) The Engine 2 diet has really good recipes as well, esp the Sweet Potato and Spinach lasagna. I made it for my entire family (off-the-boat Italians) and they loved it. There is also great cookbooks.. my most recent one is “Clean Start”, Terry Walters (beautiful cook book that is diary, white sugar free and meat free) and I enjoy “The Happy Herbivore” — (vegan).

    It was a process for me as well. But since we have had four bouts of cancer in 8 years, I think my process was moving quickly for health reasons. Even moving from vegan to Plant-based, wholefoods (adding raw foods) was a process. Once I gave attention to it and then had an intention about it, it’s ease to make small changes that turn into big changes. I never thought I would be diary free but I feel so great without it, I won’t go back. Of course, I didn’t know that until I tried it… trying it is the hardest step!

    Do you think you could give it up for a week and see if you feel any different? Or have an addictive response to it? The real test is putting it back into your diet. (If you do, remember to add lots of greens for calcium.) Love you blog! thanks for entertaining my comment!

  3. Leah says:

    So sorry for all the typos and quick, sloppy writing. Must stop typing without glasses!

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