DIET DEBATE --- Which is the best diet?
  • This is page one - from the vegan/vegetarian perspective.
  • Also see page two - from the hunter-gatherer perspective.

  • The Cornell-Oxford-China Project studied the statistical relationship between diet and diseases, and gives important support for vegetarian diets. The strongest evidence from new research in favor of a vegetarian Natural Hygiene diet, the China Project has usually been displayed prominently at ANHS conferences.
    Usually newer research favors the view that humans are hunter-gatherers and will not do well long-term on vegetarian/vegan diets.

    Either view illustrates what Natural Hygiene has been teaching for over a century - the influence of diet & lifestyle on disease.
    What is the cause of cancer? Of diabetes? Heart disease?
    "The 'Grand Prix'...the most comprehensive large study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease...tantalizing findings"
    - The New York Times
    Why China?
    Residents of China tend to live in the same regions all their lives and to consume the same diets unique to each region each and every year.
    By comparing these contrasting regions with one another, comparing the different diets and the different disease rates, it was hoped that researchers would discover risk factors for disease.
    The more animal foods - the more cancer, heart disease, diabetes ....

    Within China:
    - Chronic degenerative diseases (cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, etc.) occur where diets are richer in animal products and higher in total fat.
    - These degenerative diseases cluster in urbanized, industrialized Chinese counties, where more animal products are consumed. (More money makes people eat more animal products, which is a higher-status food.)
    - Small additions of animal based foods to an otherwise all plant based diet will significantly elevate blood cholesterol levels, and the risk for degenerative disease.
    - Increasing intake of plant protein is associated with increasing body height. Good quality plant based diet can lead to 'big' people.
    China and USA:
    - Disease patterns in much of rural China tend to reflect those prior to the industrial revolution in the U.S., when cancers and cardiovascular diseases were much less prevalent.
    This is mainly due to the smaller quantities of animal based foods consumed in China.
    - Not only most cancers (breast, lung, large bowel), but also osteoporosis is much less common in China even though calcium intakes are much lower.
    - Obesity is far less prevalent in China than in the US, even though they consume about 30% more total calories.
    - In China, animal protein intake is roughly 1% of total calorie intake as compared to an average of 10% of calories in the United States. This difference in diet is associated with a remarkable 17 times higher incidence of deaths from heart disease of American men than Chinese men.
    See Research Results at New Century Nutrition.
    Chinese diets contain only about 0-20% animal based foods, compared to 60-80% for American diets.
    The findings from this study in rural China strongly indicate that a substantial change in American dietary patterns from animal based foods to plant based foods must occur for there to be a substantial change in disease incidence patterns.
    - Health care costs could be dramatically reduced were citizens to opt for low-fat plant based diets. Rates of high cost chronic degenerative diseases not only would be reduced, but also increasing evidence suggests that these same diseases may be ameliorated or even cured by this same diet. (And dependence on radical disease treatment - drugs, radiation and surgery - would become less likely.)

    - Although the biology of the diet and disease relationship is infinitely complex and easily misunderstood, the main nutritional conclusion from this study is the finding that the greater the consumption of a variety of good quality plant-based foods, the lower the risk of those diseases which are commonly found in western countries (eg., cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes).
    - Based on these and other data, we hypothesize that 80-90% of all such diseases could be prevented before about age 90.
    This study provides an unprecedented opportunity for scientists and policy makers to explore the complex relationships between lifestyle and disease, thus helping to make policy recommendations to influence agroindustrial production and consumer behaviour

    Change is the Name of the Game
    Personally, since coming upon these findings, my family and I have managed to change our diets substantially. I know what it's like to eat meat. colin campbell I was raised on a dairy farm and I milked cows from the time I was 5 until I was 21.
    When I went away to school, I eventually got my Ph.D. in animal nutrition at Cornell, where I worked on a project to produce animal protein more efficiently. So both my personal life and my professional life were entirely on the other end of the research findings that we've been getting.
    Blood cholesterol levels can be reduced by reducing dietary animal protein and exchanging it for dietary plant protein. Some of the plant proteins, particularly soy, have an impressive ability to reduce blood cholesterol.
    We started changing our diet when our children came along, and we have been changing ever since. In the short run, people who are accustomed to a high-salt, high-fat diet are not going to like healthier foods at first.
    But if you have a little patience, you will find that after two or three months, perhaps longer, you will pick up new tastes. Tastes do change. You will then discover that you are happier and more fit than ever before.
    T. Colin Campbell, who was trained at Cornell (M.S., Ph.D.) and MIT (Research Associate) in nutrition, biochemistry and toxicology, presently holds the endowed chair of Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry at the Division of Nutritional Sciences Cornell University. In addition he is co-chair of the World Cancer Research Fund.

    T.C. Campbell's principal scientific interests since the late 1950's, has been on the effects of nutritional status on long term health, particularly on the causation of cancer.
    He has conducted original research both in laboratory experiments and in large-scale human studies; in addition, he has participated in multiple deliberations on state, national and international policy matters, has lectured extensively, and has authored over 300 research papers.


    Why We Went To China
    The China Project offers a rare opportunity to study disease in a precise manner because of the unique conditions that exist in rural China. Approximately 90% of the people in rural China live their entire lives in the vicinity of their birth.
    Because of deeply held local traditions and the absence of viable food distribution, people consume diets composed primarily of locally produced foods.
    In addition, there are dramatic differences in the prevalence of disease from region to region. Various cardiovascular disease rates vary by a factor of about 20-fold from one place to another, while certain cancer rates may vary by several hundredfold, and cancers are highly localized.

    These factors make rural China a "living laboratory" for the study of the complex relationship between nutrition and other lifestyle factors and degenerative diseases. As a result, the China Project is the first major research study to examine diseases as they really are, multiple outcomes of many interrelated factors.
    From   Why China? in New Century Nutrition.
    In the late 1970s and early 1980s, there were two principal observations suggesting a relationship between diet and cancer: First, rich Western diets were strongly correlated with incidence of colon and breast cancer. Second, migrants moving to areas of different cancer risks acquired the risk of the country to which they moved, regardless of their ethnic or genetic backgrounds.

    The project was conceived in 1980-81 during the sabbatic visit of Dr. Chen Junshi, from the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine, to the laboratory of Professor T. Colin Campbell. Soon universities and cancer institutes in United States, China, England, Canada, and France were involved.
    (See background at New Century Nutrition.)
    The original survey was undertaken in 1983-84, and published in 1990. Blood, urine and food samples were obtained for analysis, while questionnaire and 3-day diet information was recorded.
    We went back to China in 1989-1990 and repeated the same study (China Study II) but adding more people (more than 10,000 adults with families), more counties and more measurements, e.g. Taiwanese counties for the first time - making it actually much larger than China Study I.
    Since then, we have published a fairly large number of papers on the relationship of foods and dietary patterns with disease. We have only investigated a small part of these data and have enough to last for 20+ years.
    Cholesterol - Spelling Trouble at an Early Age
    by Dr. Charles R. Attwood
    In 1953, as I completed the final stages of my first autopsy as a medical student, I saw something I'll never forget. While sectioning the heart of a nine-year-old girl who had died suddenly and unexpectedly of meningitis, I found yellow deposits within one of her coronary arteries. "Take a good look," the pathology professor said, "you'll probably never see this again during your entire career." The yellow deposits proved to be cholesterol.
    That same year, it turned out, the vast majority of apparently healthy young American soldiers killed in the Korean War, their average age was 22 years, were found to have coronary artery fatty deposits. Their Asian counterparts had none.
    Today, 42 years later, nearly 50 million American children have abnormally high blood cholesterol levels, which have led to fatty deposits within their coronary arteries as early as age 3. These deposits grow thicker during the teens, and virtually all young adults have them by the age of 21.
    By the age of 12, two-thirds of all children, like the little girl on my autopsy table, have the beginning stages of coronary disease, which eventually accounts for a third of all adult deaths.
    From New Century Nutrition.

    Food in China - critical view of the China project - Weston A. Price Foundation
    New Century Nutrition, articles by T.C. Campbell, Dr. Spock and others.
    Cornell-Oxford-China Project
    Interview with Professor Campbell - About the China study, and its implications.

    T.C. Campbell speech at the ANHS conference 7/99 is now on audio tape


    What is the Chinese sign for fruit?
    (From FUN WITH CHINESE CHARACTERS, The Straits Times Collection, Singapore)


    - we want to have fun discussing and developing Natural Hygiene theory -
    INHS  -  International Natural Hygiene Society

    Photos marked NCN, the map, and photo of professor Campbell come from New Century Nutrition.

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