I’ve read more than a dozen books on health and nutrition since being diagnosed with cancer in 2008. This is about 12 more than I read on these subjects before then. One of the most helpful has been The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell.
The New York Times has recognized the study (China-Oxford-Cornell Diet and Health Project) as the “Grand Prix of epidemiology” and the “most comprehensive large study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease.”
Based on more than four decades of research, the conclusions run counter to most popular diet books. Wikipedia lists the author’s 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.
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.
6. The same nutrition that prevents disease in its early stages can also halt or reverse it in its later stages.
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.
The book can be condensed in two sentences:
People who eat the most animal-based foods get the most chronic disease. People who eat the most plant-based foods are the healthiest and tend to avoid chronic disease.
The China Study is cited in the documentary Forks Over Knives, which I also recommend. (Get the video, or watch it on Netflix.)
Caution: Reading this book may cause vegetarianism.