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!