They say when you do research and repeatedly discover information you already know, you are probably becoming knowledgeable about your topic. There may be more to learn, but at least you know you are on the right track. I find that reassuring, given all the conflicting information out there about everything from Covid 19 to “fake news.” Where, oh where, hides that kernel of truth?
When I received my cancer diagnosis, I passionately believed diet would play a part in my recovery. I had no clue how much I was about to learn — and how confusing it would prove to be.
I met experts I call “The Greats.” These are the researchers and physicians who study how what we eat not only helps keep us well but plays a role in overcoming disease. The same names continued to crop up in webinars, books, and panel discussions. They included: Dr. William Li, Dr. Michael Greger ( https://duckduckgo.com/?q=nutritionfacts.org&t=h_&ia=web), Dr. Caldwell Esselyton, T. Collin Campbell PhD and Thomas C. Campbell MD, ( T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies firstname.lastname@example.org ), Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Nutritionist Dr. Patrick Quillin, and Dr. Neal Bernard, founder of Physicians for Responsible Medicine. (https://www.pcrm.org/ )
This short list does not include knowledgeable laypersons such as Chris Wark, and the father and son team, John and Ocean Robbins of Food Revolution fame. ( https://foodrevolution.org/ ) I could go on, but you get the idea. Do all these experts say the same things consistently? Yes and no.
And therein laid my conundrum. I hoped each would cite research saying the same thing. Eat this. Do not eat that. You may have some…or never eat that… Fortunately, I found enough agreement to cobble together “my plan.” I realized it would not be perfect, but it was far better than my previous diet. It was also one that would satisfy me enough so I could stick to it. My plan even included “going off the ranch” occasionally, because I want to add life to my years while I am adding years to my life.
When I write my blogs for Body and Soul, I tend to consistently refer to certain “Greats,” and not so much to others. Otherwise confusion would reign. I once charted what each resource said about certain aspects of diet (meat, seafood, wine, oils and fats, carbohydrates.) I found differences and similarities. Logically, no decision IS a decision and I needed to choose a way forward
My Gurus and Why I Chose Them
- Dr. Michael Greger became a physician when he saw how diet turned his grandmother from a woman whose cardiologist told her she would be wheelchair-bound until her imminent death, to a woman leading a full life. Diet change enabled her to toss her wheelchair aside!
Dr. Greger decided to devote his practice to research so people would have the facts they needed to stay well. Soon, he encountered the same conflicting information I had. Armed with far more knowledge than I, Dr. Greger researched the research. He and his staff study the published papers on various topics and separate the “wheat from the chaff.” His videos run no more than 10 minutes and get right to the heart of the matter.
- Drs. T. Collin Campbell, PhD, and Thomas C. Campbell MD (a father and son team) ran and authored the huge China Study. The father, researcher T. Collin Campbell, surely recognizes the differences between poor research and excellent research.The father and son team, with collaborators, studied how diet affected the health of thousands of people in China. They found that people who live close to the land consumed the healthiest diet. Because they could not afford meat or dairy, their protein came from sources such as fish and soy. Sea vegetables (like kelp) and others provided vitamins and minerals. Rice, a more complex carbohydrate than bread, provided grain. Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer rates were almost nonexistent among this population. However, when people became wealthy and moved to the city, they adopted our Western diet. Soon our chronic Western illnesses began occurring at an alarming rate.
Because their own experiments with mice bore out these findings, T. Collin Campbell concluded that diet greatly influences cancer cell growth, for example. The work of cardiologist Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn shows how the same diet recommended by Dr. Campbell, can be used effectively to treat cardiac disease as well.
I should note that studies like the Campbells’ are invariably debunked by “experts” who are tied in some way to our current expensive health care system. Physicians and researchers rowing against the lucrative current, can expect to have their reputations tarnished and sometimes lose their funding or even positions.
This is hardly a new phenomenon. Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis was a 19th century doctor who was convinced hand washing prevented infections. Fellow physicians rejected his findings, and Semmelweis died in an insane asylum. Read the brief, but sadly relevant, story at https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ignaz-semmelweis-the-pioneering-doctor-behind-hand-washing/
- Dr. Neal Bernard is a pioneer in curing (yes, I wrote “curing” — as in “no more symptoms”) diabetes through diet. Because our current health care system, and physician education, is wedded to a pharmacological approach, the “industry” is not overjoyed, shall we say, when good research proves a certain food or herb works better than the latest pill. Dr. Bernard founded Physicians for Responsible Medicine to encourage a holistic, plant-based approach to medical practice. Until recently, physicians took ZERO nutrition courses. This despite Hippocrates admonition, “Let medicine be your food and food be your medicine.” Thankfully, medical students now find themselves in kitchens.
- Among the educated lay authorities, I rely on John and Ocean Robbins. John Robbins stood to inherit the Baskin and Robbins thriving ice cream company but turned his back on a product he believed caused more harm than pleasure. After a tremendous amount of research, he and his son, Ocean, turned to “the Greats” and created the Food Revolution. In addition to offering an almost daily feed of resources and research, the Robbins join well-known experts (I named only a few) to produce an annual three-day seminar, with hour-long interviews, about the latest research and medical approaches to wellness.
After reading their books, listening to their interviews, and following their research, I have identified commonly held conclusions from “the Greats.” This is what I share with you here at Body and Soul.
I realize how error prone, and hidebound, science still can be, so I welcome all comments, suggestions, and, yes, different opinions.