Dairy…It’s Been a Long Time Comin’

So Forks Over Knives and The China Study had a huge impact on both me and The Mr.  We do eat pretty healthy overall as a family, but there are still so many more changes we can make.  This has been a long time coming, and something I’ve heard about and read about for the last several years.  The time has come for us to cut back on dairy…until it is completely out.  What?  I know.  It seems crazy.  The truth is that milk is a perfect food…for calves.  Not really for humans.  What put me over the edge was seeing statistical research about how it is actually worse for your bones than if you don’t drink it.  Watch this excerpt from Forks Over Knives for a brief overview.  This clip really could change your life.

This is in direct opposition to everything we’ve always heard and learned.  All of my college classes talked about the benefits of drinking milk and how vital it is to our health.  But in the 6 years since I have graduated, I’ve read enough to convince me otherwise.  The opposite is true.  The dairy industry are the ones making the recommendations for us to have 3 servings of milk daily, and they are the ones who fund the research to “prove” that this is beneficial.

A year ago I would have not been ready for this change, but the timing is right, and we’re going to do it.

This is my new 2 month change.  First I will cut out milk as soon as we finish up the gallon in our fridge.  After we have adjusted, we’ll move on to cheese, yogurt, ice cream (WAH WAH WAH!  This one might take me a looooong time, since it really is my first love), etc..  Stay tuned for reports of withdrawal symptoms.  I’m sure there will be plenty.  I’m excited to see if it will make a difference in how we all feel.


The Best Movie of All Time

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE watch this documentary.  It will change your life!

I am a HUGE believer in this type of eating (and am almost there) and this documentary is extremely motivating.  I recently finished reading The China Study by Robert Campbell, and this is the video version of his book.  The Mr. was even excited to watch it with me.  We are not perfect, but have noticed significant changes in ourselves since we started eating a more plant-based diet.  Some people make fun of us, but trust me we are so not deprived.  We’ve never felt so good or tasted such good flavors, or had so much energy.  When you make a commitment to eat REAL whole foods, you will see instant results.  That is the best hour and a half I have spent in a long time. 🙂  Watch it!  Let me know how it goes.

Book Summary: The China Study, Part 3

Wow, did you think I would ever get through that book?  Neither did I!  Now I can finally watch the Documentary: Forks Over Knives with an objective view.  Here’s the last of the summaries, and my favorite thus far.  (Parts 1 and 2 here, here, here, and here).

Part III – The Good Nutrition Guide

Americans love to hear good things about their bad habits.  He is trying to eliminate confusion on nutrition.

Chapter 11:  Eating Right.  Eight Principles of Food and Health

  1. Nutrition represents the combined activities of countless food substances.  The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
  2. Vitamin supplements are not a panacea for good health.  Nutrients are better when consumed as food.
  3. There are virtually no nutrients in animal-based foods that are not better provided by plants.
  4. Genes do not determine disease on their own.  Genes function only by being activated or expressed, and nutrition plays a critical role in determining which genes, good and bad, are expressed.
  5. Nutrition can substantially control the adverse effects of noxious chemicals.  One surprising thing he said: “You aren’t doing yourself much good by eating organic beef instead of conventional beef that’s been pumped full of chemicals.  The organic beef might be marginally healthier, but I would never say that it was a safe choice.  Both types of beef have a similar nutrient profile.”
  6. The same nutrition that prevents disease in its early stages (before diagnosis) can also halt or reverse disease in its later stages (after diagnosis).
  7. Nutrition that is truly beneficial for one chronic disease will support health across the board.
  8. Good nutrition creates health in all areas of our existence.  All parts are interconnected.  Being a runner, I see this often, so I was happy to hear him put it straight: “People wonder if they can erase bad eating habits by being a runner.  The answer to this is no.”
Chapter 12: How to Eat
  • Supplements are not needed, except B12 and vitamin D for those who spend no time outside or live in cold climates.  That’s it.
  • Try to eliminate meat, but do not obsess over it.
  • Try to do it cold turkey.  It is easier to quit smoking all at once instead of cutting back to 3 cigarettes a day, and then 2 and then 1.  Just do it cold turkey.
  • Some tips to help with the transition:  eating plant-based it cheaper!  It’s worth it.  Eat well – you will feel satisfied.  Eat enough.  Weight loss will be a natural side effect, but don’t go hungry.  Eat a variety.
Part IV – Why Haven’t You Heard This Before?
  •  p.249 “There are powerful, influential, and enormously wealthy industries that stand to lose a vast amount of money if Americans start shifting to a plant-based diet.  Their financial health depends on controlling what the public knows about nutrition and health.”  Scary.
  • p. 250 “The entire  system – government, science, medicine, industry and media-promotes profits over healthy, technology over food and confusion over clarity.  Most…of the confusion about nutrition is created in legal, fully disclosed ways and is disseminated by unsuspecting, well-intentioned people.”
Chapter 13: Science – The Dark Side
Campbell shares a personal experience about being hired by the FDA to be chair of a committee of scientists investigating the potential hazards of using nutrient supplements.  He was early in his career and had no strong opinions about nutrition.  He just wanted to promote honest and open debate.  He quickly found that he was the chicken in the wolves den.  He wanted to expose truth, but the committee wanted more to promote what they needed to for their organization, including publishing fraudulent health claims.
Chapter 14: Scientific Reductionism
It has been a longstanding trend that the media focuses in on individual nutrients
The emphasis on low-fat has promoted the invention of all kinds of “healthy” low-fat foods, so now you can still eat all the junk you wanted before and not feel guilty about it, because it is “good for you.”
He exposes several flaws in the famous Nurses’s Health Study.  Virtually all the subjects under the study consumed diets that cause disease.  It focused on fat consumption, which was low, but the foods being consumed were anything but healthy.

Book Summary: The China Study, Part II Continued

If you only read one part of this, read the Osteoporosis section.  Shocking!


Chapter 8: Common Cancers

Breast Cancer

  • Exposure to excess amounts of female hormones leads to an increased risk of breast cancer.
  • Women who eat more animal-based foods and less plant foods reach puberty earlier and menopause later, thus exposing them to hormones for a longer period of time.
  • Breast Cancer is genetic, but about half of the women who carry these genes do not get cancer.
  • Many environmental chemicals do not metabolize when consumed, and therefore are not excreted from the  body.  90-95% of our exposure to these chemicals comes from consuming animal products.  Another group called PAHs (in auto exhaust, factory smoke, and petroleum tar products) can be excreted if ingested.  However, they produce products that react with DNA, which is the first step in causing cancer.
  • Instead of using Hormone Replacement Therapy, try eating a plant-based diet.  The following will happen:
  • Hormone levels will not be as elevated during the reproductive years.  At the end of reproductive years, hormones will drop to a base level, however the crash will not be as hard.

Large Bowel Cancer (Colon and Rectum)

  • Colorectal cancer is the 4th most common cancer in the world, and 2nd in the US.
  • Environmental factors play the most important roles in this cancer.
  • One of the strongest links between any cancer and dietary factor was between colon cancer and meat intake.
  • Fiber containing diets significantly reduce the risk and are much better than taking a fiber pill.
  • Whole, complex carbohydrates and fresh fruits and vegetables contain fiber.
  • Exercise plays a big role.
  • In rural China were calcium consumption is modest and almost no dairy is consumed, colon cancer rates are much lower.
  • Get colonoscopies at the recommended times.

Prostate Cancer (something very dear to my heart because my sweet Grandpa beat this!  Love you, Gramps!)

  • As many as half of all men seventy years and older have latent prostate cancer.
  • Diet plays a key role, and one of the most consistent links between prostate cancer and diet has been dairy consumption.  (My personal question is this:  is it the dairy?  Or is it the hormones and antibiotics that are in pumped into the cows and therefore into us?   It makes me want to go read the study…maybe I will!)
  • There is a possible link tied to calcium and phosphorus consumption.
  • The breakdown mumbo-jumbo:  Animal protein causes the body to produce IGF-1 (a growth hormone), which throws cell growth and removal out of whack, stimulating cancer development.  Animal protein suppresses the production of “supercharged” D (how the sun helps your body produce vitamin D- it’s a good thing).  Excessive calcium (in milk) also suppresses “supercharged” D.  Persistently low levels of this create an environment for different cancers, autoimmune disease, osteoporosis, etc.
  • P. 181 **”Our institutions and information providers are failing us.  Even cancer organizations, at both the national and local level, are reluctant to discuss or even believe this evidence.  Food as a key to health represents a powerful challenge to conventional medicine, which is fundamentally built on drugs and surgery.  The widespread communities of nutrition professionals, researchers and doctors are, as a whole, either unaware of this evidence or reluctant to share it.  Because of these failings, Americans are being cheated out of information that could save their lives.  There is enough evidence now that doctors should be discussing the option of pursuing dietary change as a potential path to cancer prevention and treatment.”**
Chapter 9: Autoimmune Diseases
  • Autoimmune Diseases occur when the body systems attack itself.  Ex.  Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Type I Diabetes, Rheumatic Heart Disease.
  • Autoimmune Diseases become more common the greater distance from the equator.
  • Antigens that trick our bodies into attacking itself may be in our food and remain in our bodies as undigested proteins.
Type I Diabetes
  • There is strong evidence that this is linked to dairy products.  He talks about babies being weaned too early and being fed formula made from cow’s milk, and Dr.s pushing dairy products on young babies (this was completely true with my kids.  My pediatricians hounded me about yogurt, cheese, and milk to make sure they were getting at least 3 servings).  This idea is difficult for people to accept, and is controversial, even when a person reads scientific articles on the subject.  He goes into detail on a few studies, trying to show significant links.
Multiple Sclerosis/Other Autoimmune Diseases
  • It is commonly thought these are due to genetics, viruses, and environmental factors.  Once again, cow’s milk appears to play an important role.
  • Dr. Roy Swank conducted studies on 144 MS patients over a 34 year period.  He advised them to consume a diet low in saturated fat (less than 20 g daily).  He found that in those 34 years, 80% of patients with early-stage MS who consumed higher fat diets died of MS.
  • Some studies have found a link to MS and cow’s milk that might be due to the presence of a virus in milk.
  • Autoimmune diseases are more common at higher geographic latitudes where there is less sunshine.
  • Today, almost no indication of the dietary connection to  autoimmune diseases has reached the public.
Chapter 10:  Wide-Ranging Effects: Bone, Kidney, Eye, and Brain Diseases
  • Americans consume more cow’s milk per person than most populations in the world, so wouldn’t it make sense that they also have the strongest bones?   No.  American women aged 50 + have one of the highest rates of hip fractures in the world!
  • Why?  Animal protein increases the acid load in the body, which means blood and tissues become more acidic.  The body tries to neutralize it by releasing calcium (a base) from the bones, thus weakening them.
  • Advertising is aggressive in the dairy industry, especially pertaining to women, pregnant women, and nursing women.  However, claims are not justified.  One study showed that a higher consumption of calcium was actually associated with a higher risk of bone fracture.  Increased animal consumption increases risk of Osteoporosis.
  • To lower risk:  Stay physically active, eat a wide variety of whole plant foods, keep salt intake to a minimum.
  • Kidney stones are common in developed countries and rare in developing countries – a Western problem.
Eye Problems
  • Cataracts and Macular Degeneration can be decreased by 70-88% if the right foods are eaten.
  • Eye health can be maintained by eating broccoli, carrots, spinach, collard greens, winter squash, and sweet potatoes.
Mind-Altering Diets
  • Animal-based foods lacked antioxidant shields and tend to activate free radical production and cell damage, while plant-based foods, with abundant antioxidants, tend to prevent such damage.
  • For every 3 additional servings of fruits and vegetables a day, the risk of stroke will be reduced by 22%.
  • The food you eat can drastically affect the likelihood of mental decline.

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!

Book Summary – The China Study, Part 1 Continued

Chapter 4:  Lessons from China

  • In the early 1970’s a survey was conducted in the entire country of China, which revealed that cancer was geographically localized.  In some areas, cancer rates were 100 times the rates of the lower areas (in the U.S. we see at most 2 to 3 times, so 100 times is enormous).
  • Why?  This was the beginning of “The China Study.”
  • In the USA, 15-16% of total calories comes from protein (80% of that protein is animal protein), and in rural China, only 9-10% total calories come from protein (only 10% of that is from animal sources).
  • The Chinese are consuming an average of 2641 calories, with 14.5% fat, and Americans are consuming 1989 calories with 38% fat.   The Chinese eat higher calories, less fat, less protein, less animal protein, more fiber, and more iron.
  • Diseases of Affluence (Nutritional Extravagance): Cancer, Diabetes, Coronary Heart Disease
  • Diseases of Poverty (Nutritional Inadequacy and Poor Sanitation):Pneumonia, Ulcers, Digestive Diseases, Tuberculosis, Parasitic Diseases, Rheumatic Heart Disease.  Notice no cancer!
  • One of the strongest predictors of Western Diseases (diseases of affluence) is blood cholesterol.
  • Lower blood cholesterol levels are linked to lower rates of heart disease, cancer, and other western diseases.
  • Many prominent heart doctors have never seen a heart disease fatality among their patients with a blood cholesterol level below 150.
  • Nutrients from plant-based foods are associated with decreasing levels of blood cholesterol.
  • There is a lot of confusion among scientists regarding questions with dietary fat – how much, what kind, Omega-6 or 3, what kinds of oils are okay, etc.  When details are studied in isolation, results can be misleading.  We need to look at how networks of chemicals behave instead.
  • Only 2-3% of all cancers are attributed to genes.  The rest are strongly influenced by diet.
  • There is an interesting relationship with dietary fat and breast cancer.  Higher fat can influence early menstruation, high cholesterol, late menopause, and higher exposure to female hormones.  This can extend the reproductive life from beginning to end by 9-10 years.  This extra decade of exposure to hormones can greatly influence a woman’s risk of breast cancer.
  • A large survey in China revealed that the average age of a woman’s first period was 15-19 years old.  In America, the average age is 11.
  • The more colorful your produce, the higher antioxidant levels, which shield you from free-radicals (cancer-causing agents).
  • Again, the benefits do not lie in an individual nutrient or mineral, but in the whole food.
  • Don’t reach for a vitamin.  Eat it in a fruit or vegetable instead.
  • The Atkins diet reaks havoc on your system.  Don’t do it.
  • The low-carb diet craze is unfortunate.  Carbs are our friends.  Just make sure they are from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.    Many people think they are eating a healthy vegetarian diet by eating lots of pastas, highly processed crackers and chips, white flour, etc.  This is the reason carbs have gotten a bad rap.  That is the stuff that puts on weight and doesn’t add nutritional value.
  • Chinese are more physically active than Americans.  Their calorie intake is 30% higher, yet their body weight is 20% lower.
  • They are eating the right foods (plant-based protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains) and riding their bikes!

Book Summary: The China Study, Part 1

Guess what happened this weekend?  I went on a plane ride all by myself.  I sat in a chair all by myself and read for an hour and a half without shoving snacks in anyone’s mouth, or getting out new toys every 2 minutes, or changing diapers.  So I finally got to read a bit of “The China Study” by T. Collin Campbell.  I’ve been meaning to read this for years now, and finally found a chance to crack it open.  It’s a little extreme in some parts, but interesting research.  Here’s the first section’s summary.


  • We are more confused than ever about how to be healthy, and many of our doctors don’t even know what we need to do to achieve optimum health.
  • Many diseases can be reversed through healthy diet and lifestyle (duh).
  • Collins grew up on a dairy farm and drank two quarts of milk a day.  In his early career he worked at MIT trying to figure out why millions of chicks were dying from an unknown toxin in their feed.  He helped discover dioxin, which is part of Agent Orange (BEING FED TO CHICKEN, PEOPLE!).
  • He then went to the Philippines to discover why there was a high prevalence  of liver cancer in Filipino children.  His team (backed by a government organization) aimed at getting those  kids as much protein as possible, thinking this was healthy for impoverished children.  However, he discovered that children who ate the highest protein diets were the ones most likely to get cancer.  They belonged to wealthy families.
  • This led to research (using rats) about protein, and the role of nutrition in cancer.  In his research he discovered he could turn cancer on and off simply by changing the level of protein consumed.
  • Casein (87% of the protein in cow’s milk) strongly promoted cancer.  Protein from plants was safe.
  • People who ate the most animal-based foods got the most chronic disease, and people who ate mostly plant based foods avoided chronic disease.
  • This research went against everything he knew growing up, and his colleagues scoffed at him.  He had to tread carefully since his research was being paid for by the government.  Yet, he knew they would not like the results…and possibly pull his funding.
  • p.8 “The distinctions between government, industry, science and medicine have become blurred.  The distinctions between making a profit and promoting health have become blurred.  The problems with the system do not come in the form of Hollywood-style corruption.  The problems are much more subtle, and yet much more dangerous.  The result is massive amounts of misinformation, for which average Am4erican consumers pay twice.  They provide the tax money to do the research, and then they provide the money for their health care to treat their largely preventable diseases.”

Chapter  1 – Problems We Face, Solutions We Need

  • If you are male, you have a 47% chance of getting cancer.  38% for females.
  • Heart Disease kills 1 out of 3 Americans.
  • Leading Causes of Death in ranking order:
  1. Diseases of the heart
  2. Cancer
  3. Medical Care (Scary), and we pay for our healthcare than any other country in the world.
  4. Stroke
  • We need to stop focusing on isolated nutrients, and look at the larger context instead.
  • Cancer can be turned on and off by nutrition, despite very strong genetic predisposition.

Chapter 2 – A House of Proteins

  • Back to the research in the Philippines:  This particular type of liver cancer was only occurring in Western countries after age 40.  In the Philippines, children under10 years were getting it.
  • Children who got liver cancer were from the best-fed and wealthiest families. They were consuming more protein than anyone else in the country, and yet they were the ones getting the cancer.
  • Back to the rats: He fed one group a diet made up of 20% protein and one group only 5% protein.  Every single rat on the 20% diet got liver cancer.  Not a single one in the 5% group got it.  This is a 100%  versus 0% result.  Almost unheard of in scientific research.
  • More observational research led to his advocacy for a whole foods, plant-based diet.

Chapter 3 – Turning Off Cancer

  • Cancer-causing agents have been added to our food (nitrites, dyes, toxins).  These chemicals increase cancer rates in experimental animals.  These often get a lot of press and explode in the media.
  • Another chemical that causes cancer but gets no press is protein.
  • Getting cancer is like growing grass.
  1. Initiation is like putting the seeds in the soil
  2. Promotion is when grass starts to grow
  3. Progression is when it gets completely out of control.
  • With cancer, the initiation phase is irreversible.
  • The promotion phase can last many many years.  It is reversible depending on whether it is given the right conditions to grow or not.
  • The third phase usually ends in death.  The goal is to take away optimum conditions for cancer cell growth in the promotion phase.
  • Many studies were done with Casein (in Cow’s milk).  When animals ate more protein than their body growth rate, disease onset began.  Animals that ate 20% protein were either dead or nearly dead from liver tumors at 100 weeks.
  • Protein from plants did not promote cancer growth, even at higher intake levels than casein.
  • Nutrients from animal-based foods increased tumor development while nutrients from plant-based foods decreased tumor development.

To be Continued…