Bodywisdom: You Are What You Eat

Bodywisdom / Nancy Ivey

Would you like to fortify yourself against “sickness, old age and death”? The food we eat and the habits we live by are the crossroads where we choose our direction.

In his book The China Study, nutritional scientist T. Colin Campbell presents the epidemiological evidence gained by examining the diets of people in rural China. He correlated that data with the incidence of so-called “diseases of affluence” afflicting the population.

Beginning his career in the 1970s with Cornell University, Campbell believed that humans – particularly in impoverished Third World countries – needed high quality animal protein to strengthen their immunity. What he discovered instead steered him in a new direction.

Campbell noticed that the people suffering modern maladies were affluent families who ate more animal protein. These implications provoked further research.

Campbell devised an experiment where he gave a carcinogen to rats then fed them a diet containing either 20 percent or 5 percent animal protein. Rats fed 20 percent animal protein all developed tumors. When he changed their diet to 5 percent animal protein, the tumors disappeared.

“These findings,” he reports, “in full-blown tumors confirmed our earlier findings. Namely, nutritional manipulation can turn cancer on and off.” The animal protein used was the milk protein, casein.

When Campbell changed the protein to a plant protein like wheat or soy, tumors did not develop even when using 20 percent protein. “The results of these experiments,” he concludes, “showed nutrition to be far more important in controlling cancer promotion than the dose of the initiating carcinogen.”

For a human study, Campbell needed a rural population eating plant-based foods. Researchers would compare patterns with affluent regions eating more animal foods. Chinese officials had mapped diseases in their country and agreed to collaborate on the project as summarized in the book.

Other exemplary researchers have confirmed Campbell’s findings albeit from different perspectives.

In his book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, surgeon Caldwell Esselstyn, of the Cleveland Clinic, notes that this killer of Americans is unheard of in rural China, central Africa, and among the Tarahumara Indians in Northern Mexico. He also reveals that in young Americans aged 17-34 dead from other causes, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) is ubiquitous.

In 1941, Esselstyn recalls, Hitler confiscated all the farms from Holland, Belgium and Norway. By 1951 all cardiac deaths had dropped. After the war, the dairy and animals returned and strokes and heart attacks went back up.

Esselstyn summarizes, “Cardiovascular disease is nonexistent in some places. Autopsies on young people show it’s ubiquitous. And during wartime deprivation, the disease is halted and reversed.”
“The proof is in the pudding,” as they say. Committing to this “whole-foods plant-based” diet gives you a fighting chance. The guidelines are strict: eat nothing with a mother or a face. Instead, eat high-fiber and nutrient-dense plant foods like seeds, beans, greens, berries, peppers, etc. All those colors are absorbed and become part of you.

To create a colorful character through plant-based food, please join us on Friday, September 21, at 6 p.m. for a free vegan dinner introducing our 28-day “Healthy Eating Adventure.” RSVP at 760-549-3709.

Nancy Ivey teaches yoga at CSUB and locally. Email