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94 of 105 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 80% : Excellent Study but Different Conclusions Possible, 27 July 2008
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This review is from: China Study, The: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health (Paperback)
Whole-food diet
The book recommends a diet of 100 % whole plant foods. All writers outside the food processing industry could not disagree that it is safest to eat 100% natural whole-foods ie foods which have not been industrialised (eg corn-fed beef), fractionated (eg the myriad of foods constructed from extracts of corn, wheat and soy), contaminated (with numerous chemicals) or otherwise processed (eg homogenised milk). However there is no agreement that all the foods should be plant foods.

Animal Protein (Chapter 3)
Campbell reports that if aflatoxin poisoned rats are given too much casein they develop cancer. Casein is a fractionated food, derived presumably from modern industrialised cow's milk and something that humans do and should not eat on it's own - one wonders what would have happened if the rats had been given natural whole milk with is fat, other proteins, vitamins and enzymes (if not pasteurised) etc needed for proper digestion intact ? What would have happened if there were given other fractionated foods such as fructose extracted from otherwise healthy fruit ? - diabetic symptoms ??
Though dairy foods are modern food in evolutionary terms, humans have used them successfully for thousands of years.
From these experiments on HIGH LEVELS of FRACTIONATED, DAIRY foods on RATS, and one or two other experiments which he did not describe, Campbell goes on to conclude that ALL WHOLE ANIMAL FLESH foods (fish , poultry and meat and eggs) are dangerous to HUMAN health in ANY QUANTITY. This is in spite of the evidence that hunter gatherers survived for hundreds of thousands of years eating large amounts of animal foods of all types and that even some modern civilisations have survived perfectly healthily on all animal food diets. Today, many civilisations outside the western developed world live very healthily while consuming animal foods in substantial quantities (eg Japanese, one of the healthiest nations in the world eat substantial amounts of fish).

Nutrients (Chart 11.2)
No food writer would disagree that humans need to eat nutritious foods, as natural as possible with sufficiently high levels of vitamins, minerals and other organic nutrients. Table 11.2 focuses on those nutrients which are better obtained from plant foods. However many other nutrients vital or important to human health are better obtained from animal foods because they are not available in plant foods or the amounts available in plant foods are much lower- these include vitamins B12, B2 and B3 and D, minerals such as zinc and selenium, long chain omega 3 fatty acids, carnitine, creatine, carnosine and coenzyme Q10. If one adopts a vegan diet it can be difficult or impossible to obtain all these without using dietary supplements.

Western Diet (Charts 4.7, 4.8, 8.4,14.3)

In industrialised western societies, most of the food eaten is industrialised food rather than whole food. Animals are fed unnaturally and both plant and animal foods are fractionated. The resultant processed foods are loaded with fat, refined sugar and starch and modified animal and plant proteins and are low in essential nutrients. In the above mentioned charts, the industrialised western societies have highest incidence of disease - the most obvious association is with the industrialisation of food as the amount of truly natural whole animal and plant foods eaten is rather low in these countries. Primitive societies which do not use industrialised foods seem to do better.

Conclusion
From an ecological point of view it would be nice to believe that one could survive on an entirely vegan whole-food diet - however this seems to be very risky as it defies the whole history of human development for hundreds of thousands of years. The biggest risk to human health seems to be the industrialisation of food production rather than consumption of natural animal food. Four out of five stars are given because it could be optimum for 80 % of food to be whole plant food with 20% whole animal food (fish from the sea, true free range poultry and eggs, grass fed red meat and even some milk and butter, not margarine).
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 3 Oct 2008 17:14:58 BDT
S. G. Walter says:
I like this comment, it raises some interesting points and is constructive. I agree it would be interesting to see the results of the rat studies if performed with regular cows milk.

A thing to note when comparing humans evolving in the past, right up pre-industrial times, and also indegenous populations, is that they would be exposed to far less carcinogens in the environment.
In the case of cancer, the book doesn't suggest that animal proteins cause cancer on their own. A carcinogen also needs to be present at least in some small amount.
I'm not qualified to say whether indegenous people, Japanese people or pre-industrial humans are/were exposed to carcinogens in enough quantity to initiate cancer, but I would be interested to hear other people's comments on this.

Posted on 20 Oct 2008 15:43:05 BDT
Balfie says:
I would like to take issue with your comments on nutrition in a vegan diet. The only nutrient that can be difficult to obtain is Vitamin B12, largely due to modern farming practice having killed off the microorganisms in the soil that used to produce it. It is no longer possible in this day and age to obtain Vitamin B12 from plant sources. However there are plenty of foods that are enriched with B12 (such as soya milk, nutritional yeast etc) and by ensuring these are in your diet you can obtain your B12. All the other nutrients mentioned can be obtained without eating meat, fish, dairy or eggs. For example, your recommeded daily requirement of selenium can be obtained from a few brazil nuts each day. Zinc can be obtained from spinach, broccoli, peas, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and mustard greens.

I think for some reason you are anti-vegan and this has clouded your judgement in this case.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Aug 2009 16:09:08 BDT
Last edited by the author on 13 Aug 2009 16:11:31 BDT
You do realise that soy milk is unfermented and is very bad for your health? And that foods enriched with B12 sort of defeats the object of a whole food natural diet, not to mention that it is synthetic and made in a lab somewhere. It doesn't matter why you cannot utilise B12 from plant sources, the fact is that you can't therefore there is a need for animal foods. It doesn't sound to me like he has an anti-vegan agenda. However it seems that whenever someone does not agree with veganism or some aspect of it that that person is "anti-vegan".

All the reviewer does is point out where there is room for a different interpretation with the results, or where the results do not match the hypothesis. Nothing wrong with that, research is supposed to be critiqued to develop a better understanding or find further areas for research.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Dec 2009 21:52:38 GMT
SW says:
Hi S.G. Walter
If you look at the Japanese culture, they have one of the lowest Breast Cancer rates in the world. Japanese people who come to live in the west get the same chances of getting Breast Cancer after the third generation of living in the west. All these shows that there is something in the food/lifestyle in the west that makes things go wrong. So it must be something more than a carcinogen, and dairy products are big suspects for this. If you are interested in reading about this another amazing book about this topic see "your life in your hands" by Prof. Jane Plant.
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