Your food, your health

Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition

By T. Colin Campbell with Howard Jacobson

(BenBella Books, 2013)

Reviewed by Robert McCandless


• In the early 1900s when many of our great-grandparents were tough farm kids, North Americans were thought to be the healthiest people in the world. Many doctors had never even seen a heart attack patient. Heart disease was rare, as were strokes, cancer, diabetes, obesity and what are now called autoimmune diseases.

Things are different today. We suffer and die in rapidly increasing numbers from these costly, crippling modern diseases. And while our healthcare and insurance plans pay trillions of dollars a year to treat them, there are lots of treatments but no cures. With our fancy, high-tech medical system, we ought to be the healthiest people in the world, but we’re not. Meanwhile, we give billions of dollars to fund disease research, hoping that someone will come up with some answers.

For the last 40 years, Cornell and Oxford universities have been quietly researching human health from every possible angle, including animal lab studies, clinical studies (doctors working with patients), epidemiology studies (how lifestyle affects health in large populations over generations), genetics, microbiology and surveying the medical literature worldwide. Oxford is crunching the numbers – analyzing the massive amounts of incoming data.

This is the biggest ongoing information-gathering project in the history of modern science. The multi-million-dollar funding derives mostly from the US government and several US cancer agencies.

What have they found so far?

1. The #1 thing that determines health or illness is what we eat.

2. The world’s healthiest people eat a whole-food, plant-based diet.

Why this diet works is explained in detail by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, PhD, head of the research study, in his book The China Study.

Dr. Campbell’s new book, Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, reveals how and why there is so much confusion about food and health, why scientific research tends to focus on details but loses sight of the big picture and why a plant-based diet helps not only human health, but also our environment and our ability to feed the world’s people.

John McDougall (MD) calls Dr. Campbell “the most influential nutritional scientist of the past century,” noting “his work has already saved hundreds of thousands of lives.” And Caldwell Esselstyn (MD), a heart surgeon and author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, has former president Bill Clinton on the whole-food, plant-based diet: beans, legumes, vegetables, fruit, no dairy.

Many top medical doctors now use plant-based nutrition to treat and reverse “incurable” diseases. Large numbers of their patients have had dramatic recoveries. Sports professionals, marathoners and firemen have more endurance with less recovery time.

North Americans are visiting organic farms to see fresh food being prepared, enjoy great meals, hear nutrition lectures and participate in barn dances. This is about a new lifestyle – empowering ourselves by taking our health into our own hands. Dr. Campbell’s book is unleashing a health revolution.

Robert McCandless is a Master Herbalist who practises at Gaia Garden Herbal Dispensary in Vancouver. He holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from Cornell.

January 25

Robert McCandless gives a free talk on “Let Whole Foods Be Your Medicine,” 7PM, Science of Spirituality Meditation and Ecology Centre, 11011 Shell Road (@ Steveston Highway), Richmond, BC. To register, contact Linda at or call 604-985-5840. Drop-ins welcome.

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