Do you know the story of the blind men and the elephant? The basic gist of it is that six blind men are asked to describe an elephant, each feels a different body part (tusk, trunk, leg, tail, etc.) and they each come up with a completely different explanation for what it is. They end up arguing endlessly, each of them completely convinced that their own experience is the right one. That’s how T. Colin Campbell describes our current scientific and medical paradigm of reductionism in his new book “Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition.” Reductionism is a huge F’ing problem if its used in place of every other way of thinking. Sure, examining nutrients, body parts, or bodily processes in extreme detail has been incredibly beneficial for us to get a richer understanding of how things work; but doing so at the expense of understanding the big picture is where we get into serious trouble.
I was beyond thrilled when I was sent a copy of Campbell’s new book to review – if you’ve followed this blog from the beginning you know that “The China Study” was the impetus for my dietary and lifestyle transformation – so needless to say I’m an enormous fan of TCC (that’s what I like to call him – especially since I can say “you down with TCC? Yeah you know me”). This book isn’t necessarily the first book you should pick up if you’re thinking about transitioning to a plant-based diet, but it’s definitely a book everyone interested in health and nutrition needs to read. It will provide you with a perspective that even some in the plant-based world who I’m huge fans of (Fuhrman etc.) don’t elaborate on all that much. It’s not so much a simple argument for consuming a plant-based diet as it is a manifesto on what’s broken within our scientific community, and a blueprint for fixing those problems. When you pick up a copy of this book, make sure you’re in the right state of mind to really concentrate – there’s a lot of incredibly important information densely packed into the pages. Here’s a couple excerpts which I found really interesting (emphasis mine in bold):
“For many years, the cost of medically prescribed drugs has been increasing at a rate faster than inflation. Think we’re getting out money’s worth? Think again. Side effects of those very same prescription drugs are the third leading cause of death, behind heart disease and cancer. That’s right! Prescription drugs kill more people than traffic accidents.” — Chapter 1
“People who adopt a WFPB [Whole Food Plant-Based] diet find that most of their health problems were caused or significantly worsened by their old diets and resolve naturally and quickly once the body starts getting the proper fuel. It’s like someone who hits their head with a hammer three times a day and finds that nothing cures their headaches. It just makes sense to put down the hammer!” — Chapter 2
“Part of our current paradigm is that bad stuff in the environment causes cancer, and the more enlightened elements involved in the war on cancer seek to reduce our exposure to the bad stuff. Not part of our current paradigm is that the food we eat is a much more powerful determinant of cancer than just about any environmental toxin.” — Chapter 3
I’ll leave the rest of the reading to you when you pick up the book, because you’re going to order it now, right?