WHOLE FOOD PLANT BASED DIET (WFPB): 50 YEAR STUDY
He who cures a disease may be the skillfullest, but he that prevents it is the safest physician.
- Thomas Fuller
In my quest for nutrition research, I visited the local state library where a keyword catalogue search of nutrition yielded this jaw-dropping discovery: Whole: rethinking the science of nutrition (by T. Colin Campbell and Howard Jacobson, 2013). I was interested to read more scientific research, than conjecture, on the topic of nutrition. To better understand what premium fuel this human vessel needs to function at peak performance.
A brief background of the research career of T. Colin’s, PhD, in his own words:
“For more than fifty years, I have lectured and done experimental research on the complex effects of food and nutrition on health. For approximately forty of those years, I did laboratory experiments with my many students and colleagues. For twenty of those same years, I was a member of expert committees that evaluated and formulated national and international policies on food and health and determined which research ideas should be funded. (Often, my views were in the minority and did not end up having the impact on policy I would have liked). I have published more than 350 research papers… In short, for the last half century I have been deeply immersed in the development of scientific evidence all the way from its experimental origin to the presentation in the classroom, food and health policy boardrooms and public arena.”
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE “HEALTH” CARE SYSTEM?
- Colins refers to the health-care care system, in the United States, as the “disease-care system.” Western medicine focuses on individual symptoms and calls each of them a disease. Admittedly, it’s good business to identify thousands of different diseases, then make and sell treatments for each of them, rather than look at the big picture and prescribe one simple solution that helps them all. But it’s not good medicine! We are medicated with toxic concoctions, a small number of which treat the disease, the rest treat the many harmful side effects of the primary drug.
The United States spends more per capita on “health” care than any country on earth, yet when the quality of their healthcare is compared with other industrialized nations they rank near the bottom. The cost of prescription drugs has increased at a faster rate than inflation. Think we’re getting our money’s worth? The side effects of those very same drugs are the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer, writes Dr. Barbara Starfield, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, ““adverse effects of medications” (from drugs that were correctly prescribed and taken) kill 106,000 people per year. And that doesn’t include accidental overdoses.
“Add to that the 7,000 annual deaths from medication errors in hospitals, 20,000 deaths from errors in hospitals not related to medications (like botched surgeries and incorrectly programmed and monitored machines), 80,000 deaths from hospital-caused infections, and 2,000 deaths per year from unnecessary surgery, and the tire-screeching ambulance ride starts to look like the safest part of the whole hospital experience” (Starfield, 2000).
Are you surprised these statistics don’t make it into the political, social, or media arena? Admitting so would be bad for business. The US government seemingly cares more about the economic interests of the medical establishment than the health of its people.
THE GOOD NEWS
The good news is we don’t have to wait for medical breakthrough’s, or genetic manipulations, promises of salvation, to restore, and sustain our health. A half century of research – of T. Colins and that of many others – has convinced him of the following:
- What we eat everyday is a far more powerful determinant of our health than our DNA or most of the nasty chemicals found in the environment.
- The food we consume can heal us faster and more profoundly, than the most expensive prescription drugs, and drastic surgical procedures, with only positive side effects.
- Those food choices can prevent cancer, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, strokes, migraines, arthritis – and that’s only the short list.
“The ideal human diet looks like this: consume plant-based foods in forms as close to their natural state as possible (“whole” foods). Eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, raw nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, and whole grains. Avoid heavily processed foods and animal products. Stay away from added salt, oil, and sugar. Aim to get 80 percent of your calories from carbohydrates, 10 percent from fat, and 10 percent from protein. That’s it in 66 words” (T. Colin, 2013).
IF THE WFPB DIET WERE A PILL
Just how healthy is the WFPB diet? Let’s imagine all it’s effects could be achieved through a pill. The pharmaceutical company to discover this breakthrough would reveal a list of scientifically proven effects of its new drug, that includes, but is not limited, to the following:
- Prevents 95 percent of all cancers.
- Prevents nearly all hearts attacks and strokes.
- Reverses even severe heart disease.
- Prevents and reverses Type 2 diabetes so quickly and profoundly that diabetics must be monitored from the very first day they adopt the WFPB diet, so their meds can be reduced as the diet takes effect.
Side effects include:
- Achieve your ideal weight in a healthy and sustainable fashion.
- Eliminates most migraines, acne, cold and flu, chronic pain, and intestinal distress.
- Boosts energy.
Those are just the individual’s effects of taking the drug. There are also environmental effects:
- Slows and helps to reverse global warming.
- Reduces groundwater contamination.
- Ends the need for deforestation.
- Shuts down factory farms.
- Reduces malnutrition and dislocation among the world’s poorest citizens.
“If the WFPB diet were a pill, its inventor would the wealthiest person on the earth. Since it isn’t a pill, no market forces conspire to advocate for it. No mass media campaign promotes it. No insurance coverage pays for it. Since it isn’t a pill, and nobody has figured out how to get hugely wealthy by showing people how to eat it, the truth has been buried by half-truths, unverified claims and downright lies. The concerted efforts of many powerful interests to ignore, discredit, and hide the truth has so far worked” (T. Colin, 2013).
HEART DISEASE REVERSAL STUDY
In 1985, Dr Esselstyn recruited patients with advanced, but not immediately life-threatening, heart disease for a clinical trial to experiment if heart disease can be reversed through diet. An angiogram was used to be sure the recruited patients were, in fact, in an advanced stage of the disease. The only other requirement for entry into the study was a willingness to follow the dietary changes he suggested: essentially, a WFPB diet.
The median age of his subjects, at the beginning of the experiment, was 56. In the eight years prior to the study, between the eighteen subjects they had forty-nine coronary events (e.g., heart attacks, angioplasty, bypass surgery). During the twelve years after adopting a WFPB diet, there was only one episode, involving a patient who strayed from his diet. Since the conclusion of the study, all but five are still alive today, twenty-six years later. Of the five that passed away, zero died of cardiac failures, but from other causes. The remaining 13, which remain alive are cardiac symptom free. Their median age, in 2012, was 83. “The subjects had forty-nine cardiovascular events in the ninety-six months prior to the intervention, and zero cardiovascular events in the roughly 312 months since the intervention began. This life-and-death finding is about as profound as any health benefit I have ever known. Nothing else in medicine comes close” (T. Colin, 2013).
WHEN IT MATTERS
Try your own thought experiment. Someone you care about tells you they have been diagnosed with a chronic disease (take your pick from any of the above), and their doctor offers them a choice of two treatments:
- The first treatment would slightly reduce the intensity of a single symptom of that disease, but overall wouldn’t improve their chances of being cured of it (or even living longer). It would come with a large list of nasty side effects, thus they would be required to take additional drugs to deal with those side effects, and so on.
- The second treatment would resolve the root cause of the disease, and rapidly, therefore ending all symptoms, increase their life expectancy, and enhance the quality of their life. Side effects would include, looking and feeling better, more energy, and even preserving the environment.
Which treatment would you suggest to them?
“The WFPB diet deals with so many diseases and conditions that you begin to wonder if there isn’t just one basic disease cause – poor nutrition. Perhaps it’s time to stop declaring war on ourselves through toxic drugs and dangerous surgeries, and instead treat ourselves with kindness by feeding ourselves the sorts of foods shown to grow and sustain healthy, vibrant people and cultures” (T. Colin, 2013).”
It should be noted that the author makes the effort to not use the “v” words, namely vegetarian and vegan. Why? Vegetarians can still consume dairy, eggs, and processed foods. Although vegans eliminate all animal products cooking oils, refined carbohydrates (sugar and flour), processed foods, and salt.