There is no money in healthy people or dead people. The money is in sick people.
Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food.
The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.
I believe these three quotes sum up Forks Over Knives, a new documentary about the relationship between nutrition and disease and the benefits of adopting a vegan lifestyle.
Monday night I was lucky enough to attend the premiere of Forks Over Knives in Dallas. The movie examines the claim that most chronic diseases that afflict 1 out of 3 Americans can be controlled or even reversed by adopting a whole-foods, plant based diet. The major story line in the film traces the personal journeys of Dr. T. Colin Campbell (coauthor of The China Study) and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn (former Chief of Surgery Cleveland Clinic)
I thought the most interesting point in the film was that processed foods are far more calorie dense than whole foods which causes a deceptive effect in our stomach. It takes the same weight quantity of processed food as whole food to trigger a "full" feeling in the stomach - but the processed food contains far more calories. This effect will lead to obesity. Why? One gram of potato chips has 5 calories but one gram whole potatoes has only 1 calorie. The result is that you eat 5X more calories of chips to feel satiated- no wonder it is so easy to eat a whole bag!
I’m not vegan but I advocate a diet of fresh whole foods based primarily on vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, lean protein (such as wild salmon and grass fed beef) and gluten-free whole grains (including brown rice, oatmeal, and quinoa). I was a vegetarian for 5 years but now I eat animal products that are humanely raised, mostly local, and organic. So, I was very interested to read The China Study and watch the movie. I walked away from both with these thoughts- 3 plus and 3 minus:
+1. Americans need to take responsibility for their own health and understand the link between nutrition and disease. FACT: Diets high in processed foods lead to chronic disease and obesity. We need more movies like Forks Over Knives to start a collective dialogue and offer different points of view and research versus big business marketing and institutionalized research. Doctors are trained to treat symptoms not cause of disease, with drugs and surgery. Examining diet needs to become the FIRST priority.
+2. The research advocating a plant based diet to improve health is solid and I encourage anyone suffering from chronic disease to adopt this type of diet and improve their health. FACT: Americans need to eat more plants and less meat.
+3. Milk is not such a perfect food and dairy products should be consumed in limited quantities. FACT: There are other superb sources of calcium, such as leafy greens, herbs, spices and seeds. Cow milk is "nature's perfect food." FOR COWS.
-1. Dr. Cambell’s work focused on casein (milk protein). I do not agree with his finding on page 104 of The China Study: “casein, and very likely all proteins, may be the most relevant cancer-causing substances that we consume”. FACT: His study proved this true only for casein. Including all other proteins is biased. Longevity studies of vegetarians produce conflicting data and many do not show significantly longer healthier life spans.
-2. What happened to the people who dropped out of Dr. Esselstyn’s study? Are they dead, alive, healthy, or still ill? Why did they drop out? The case studies in the film were very uplifting but too small. FACT: Anemia iron deficiency is a worldwide health problem for vegetarian females. More discussion beyond “vegan is the only way” would have been good.
-3. No diet should be all or none but sustainable, nourishing and satisfying. FACT: During the past 10 years most of the wheat, corn and soy we consume in this country come from genetically engineered seeds. A consequence of this hybridization is an increase in the prevalence of food intolerances to gluten (the wheat protein), corn and soy due to the increased size of these plant proteins. I know this is hard to visualize but a good analogy is the increase in the size of chicken breasts over the past 10 years- genetically modified birds are bred for big breasts and have become physically distorted. Do you think it is any different for genetically modified plant proteins? Food intolerances cause Leaky Gut Syndrome which is the root cause of autoimmune diseases.
I agree everyone should eat more plants and less meat but do we have to claim all animal products as unhealthy? Eskimos eat a diet primarily of animal protein. Tribes in the Amazon supplement their plant based diets with insects. Maybe the focus should be organically grown, humanely raised, non-GMO, sustainable, fresh and whole. Eat vegan as much as possible and support companies that are trying to bring healthy vegan foods to the masses so that there are delicious plant based foods choices everywhere.
My vote is “Forks Mostly Over Knives”. For more information on the Forks Over Knives Movie, please visit their site.