this is Dr. Campbell’s response

Tomorrow, on to other topics. Today, here is T. Colin Campbell’s response to Mercola’s missive:

Dr. Mercola raises so many questions that it would take me at least several weeks if not months to answer. He invents clever sayings and makes serious innuendos that are total nonsense–indeed slanderous. His questions are rhetorical, with meaning, and no matter what I say, the questions will always remain–without my answers.

But here are a few general comments that strike me as main points:

1. Dr. Mercola’s main mantra (business model) is Nutritional Typing. In some way (maybe with paid phone assistance from his staff), we are supposed to listen to our body to determine which of three dietary types best suit us. He then becomes more specific as to the importance of eating foods in the right order and of the right type. These recommendations, he claims, are science based.

This is a clever strategy for positioning his company in the marketplace. He casts a broad net to capture as many customers as possible for his many products that he sells. According to him, we fit within one of these three diet groups, ranging from 1) the high carb-low fat types vs. 2) the low carb-high fat types vs. (3) those in-between, thus capturing for his company a much larger customer base.

I deeply respect our personal freedoms to do as we wish (as long as it doesn’t harm others). But given the complex environment within which we choose foods, I cannot understand how we can reliably determine what dietary patterns and order of eating foods is best for our long-term health. I know that some people can recognize specific food allergies, but I also know that we tend to choose food for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is convenience, avoidance of pain and sense of ‘pleasure’ or gratification (read the little gem of a book, The Pleasure Trap, by Lisle and Goldhamer to see how so many of us continually choose foods not in our best interests). His method defies common sense. He says that this is based on science but, if so, I want to see the evidence. I see none. To say that we can determine, with any certainty, which nutritional type, based on our personal but very nebulous assessment of our metabolism is hocus pocus.

On his claims about science, Mercola is out of his element–way out. He excuses his failure to document his professional experiences in the scientific literature because he (and his compatriots like Dr. Eades) don’t have time in their busy practice of medicine, as if public documentation of evidence is a bit of a luxury that is not really that important. This is an extremely lame excuse, exposing his fundamental misunderstanding of what scientific validity really means. Scientific evidence, as accepted by virtually everyone, is that which represents proper scientific experimental design and subsequent publication in the peer-reviewed literature.

Doing and reporting on peer reviewed research may not be a perfect solution for establishing truths (nothing is) but it is far better than listening to someone only telling us what he/she does or believes while giving us no way to evaluate such claims. Peer-review, the main engine of scientific validity, means that our research findings are subjected to the critique of professional colleagues before it is published in the professional literature. Even more to the point, in order for us to get the funding to do the research, especially from institutions like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or the National Science Foundation (NSF), we are required to undergo a most serious and somewhat protracted exercise of defending our hypotheses before committees of professional peers that may include as many as 15 members (I know this, having been on several of these panels). The chances of successfully obtaining funding is, on average, only one in six. In short, peer review is rigorous both in getting the funding and in publishing the results. Anyone, like Mercola, who claims scientific validity for his personal/professional observations is really at liberty to say whatever pleases them–and their wallets. This opens doors wide for snake oil ‘science’.

2. He relies on the bogus idea that it is our individual differences in “metabolism” that makes it possible for us to determine which foods please our metabolism and guard us against future ailments.  He has no idea what is metabolism. It changes and responds continuously and it is an enormously complex system of digestion, absorption, transport, enzymatic synthesis and breakdown of intermediates and distribution, excretion and storage of metabolites, all in an effort to maintain homeostasis. Reducing this concept to a simple phenomenon of energy use, which we can assess for ourselves is more superficial than adjectives can describe.

Read the rest of this report here.

my last post on the anti-China-Study Mercola newsletter

Related to questions received from yesterday’s post—

I don’t know if anyone has critiqued the China Study who isn’t associated with the Weston A. Price Foundation. All the criticism I have read has been. I’m not sure who financed Denise Minger, a 23-year old college student and “professional sock puppeteer” who is paid to write nutrition/health articles, according to her facebook profile.

Again, my friends, I trust Oxford and Cornell’s research (I grilled Campbell about his funding sources)   a bit more than a college student and will be interested to read the Johns Hopkins epidemiologists’ and Campbell’s rebuttals to her arguments.

What else might be to blame for a vegan diet making people feel unwell? There are many answers to that, but the problem is that over and over, comments reveal that

People think I am advocating for a vegan diet.

I’m not.

What I advocate for is eating far more plant food. Period. It’s up to you to decide where animal protein belongs in your life, if it does.

Can anyone really disagree with eating far more whole plant foods, in the face of America’s average of 1-2 servings daily, half of that being in the form of fried potatoes? In the face of now THOUSANDS of studies (even if you leave the China Study out of it?) telling us that myriad compounds in raw plant food heal us and prevent degenerative disease?

I believe when we’ve been eating a certain way (i.e., 20% animal protein, a U.S. average), we often experience a reaction that isn’t entirely pleasant when we shift that balance. Just like when you try to change patterns in a relationship, the other person often doesn’t like or understand it and chaos ensues until a new equilibrium is achieved. If you eat meat for dinner every night for 50 years, and one night you eat a vegetarian meal and you don’t feel the same afterward, does that mean that vegetables and brown rice aren’t good for you personally?

I purposefully leave you to your own personal experimentation to find what works for you. I don’t say there’s a “one size fits all” approach. I’m not into “typing,” until I see some major data backing it up. My interest is primarily in practical ways to actually DO what others’ research has already documented very well. I would like to see us return to eating whole foods. (However, my own research published in The Green Smoothies Diet is a slam-dunk that when we eat more green foods, we feel better–almost 96% of us do, anyway.)

If some want to ignore SEVERAL THOUSAND statistically significant pieces of data in the China Study, that is their prerogative. (Statistically significant means the findings fall outside the margin of error.)

I maintain my own prerogative to point out some problems underpinning Mercola’s wholesale rejection of those thousands of data points, as he sells his nutritional typing and related animal-protein products.

Mercola says he has THREE specific eating plans and about 33% of the Western population fits in each one. He says those ratios are different in other countries. I would like to see the data behind that, peer reviewed in a scientific journal. Because if there isn’t any, it’s a grand assertion with big, potentially dangerous, ramifications for people following those recommendations.

Dr. Mercola attacks the China Study: clash of the titans

When Joe Mercola contradicts the basics of nutrition taught on GreenSmoothieGirl.com and in my books, we get hundreds of emails.

Mercola’s newsletter yesterday supposedly exposes the “DARK SIDE” of the China Study. I’m not going to link to it and therefore give it a higher page rank. It doesn’t deserve it.

Before undertaking to explain what’s radically wrong with this article, let me say this: I agree with Mercola on some macro issues:

  1. That prevention and natural remedies are the best first-line treatments, rather than drug/surgery medical interventions.
  2. That far too much of our data comes from research that drug companies and agribusiness paid for.
  3. That sugar and processed foods are killing us. (Mercola implies, with the “false dilemma” logical fallacy, in yesterday’s newsletter that either animal proteins are killing us, or processed foods are, as if they are mutually exclusive.)

But we must use critical thinking skills to expose fatal flaws in his comments about Dr. T. Colin Campbell and the China Study.

(When you put yourself in the public domain, you invite dissent. Juxtaposition of ideas creates a climate for the truth to emerge.)

As I strongly disagree with Mercola here, I will invariably get some angry email. Most readers will appreciate that my only motive is to learn and then explain the truth (or as close as I can get to it) in this world of nutrition that has so many competing voices.

My own 12 Steps to Whole Foods is a compendium of the best nutrition practices. It advocates for eating much more plant food (especially raw food) than the average American gets and is a practical HOW-TO guide, more than a philosophical debate or meta-review of research. It purposefully doesn’t advocate for vegetarianism or veganism, although I am supportive of others who choose to wear those labels. My own family, except for two vegetarian daughters, eats a bit of homemade kefir, and occasional animal products when we are away from home.

Mercola attempts to discredit the joint effort of Oxford and Cornell Universities by calling theirs an “observational” study, which he infers is somehow inferior to having once had a medical practice.

The Oxford/Cornell China study is a very sound, huge, comprehensive study spanning over 25 years. My own advanced degree, background in research, and understanding of research principles, lead me to say this:

I am thankful, finally, for a vast piece of research in epidemiology that was not funded or influenced by the drug companies or agribusiness (which primarily hawks refined corn/wheat/soy products and processed and refined and GMO foods). I see no conflicts of interest in the Oxford/Cornell research. I see one of the purest voices in nutrition in Campbell and his team.

I interviewed him by phone as I wrote this, and he said, “I feel personally responsible to Americans to tell them what we did with their money,” because taxpayers funded the China study, not profit-motivated industries.

The research was the next natural step from methodical and rigorous animal studies. It’s   a remarkable piece of research examining 6,500 adults in 130 villages of rural China where some populations eat lots of animal protein, and others eat very little. The book The China Study represents the totality of Campbell’s experiences. Those include his many years of work in the Philippines studying malnourished children, to his experimental lab research funded by the National Institutes of Health, to the human studies project in China.

Mercola refers to Campbell “forcing” everyone into vegetarianism. This makes no sense on two levels beyond the unilateral emotionalism of the word.

First, the two diets Campbell studied were 20% animal protein (which correlates to the Standard American Diet) and 5% animal protein. Neither groups studied were vegetarian. The 5% group correlates to a low-animal-protein diet, similar to Daniel’s Biblical diet, as well as the scriptural “Word of Wisdom” counsel to eat meat “sparingly, only in times of winter/famine/cold.”

Second, Campbell takes the tone of scientist. He reports and interprets the data. He doesn’t “force” or even recommend any specific diet. He allows the reader to infer from the data whatever diet they choose to follow. He isn’t an internet maven selling a philosophy; he’s a researcher who found the opposite of what he expected to. He grew up on a dairy cattle farm and thought, well into adulthood, that a high-protein diet was ideal. Like John Robbins, son of the Baskin Robbins founder, only data convinced him otherwise. I personally am thankful for honest and pure truth seekers, willing to turn another way, when data challenges popular culture and custom.

Mercola attempts to downgrade the massive China project as “an observational study,” which he says does not “prove causation.” This is puzzling to me based on a three logic flaws.

First, Campbell is a scientist and would never say his study “proves causation.” No scientist would. I’m not a scientist but know enough about it to be aware you never achieve or claim “proof of causation.” Mercola gives a two-sentence primer on how the scientific process works: initial study, hypothesis, controlled trial. Which is precisely what Campbell and the research team did:

For the rest of this report, click here.

I just interviewed T. Colin Campbell

Normally I blog in the morning. Not this morning, because I got Mercola’s newsletter lambasting T. Colin Campbell, PhD, of Cornell University, and his massive study known as the Oxford/Cornell China Project.

I threw everything on my schedule to the wind today and have spent hours writing a response to the Mercola newsletter. We will invariably deal with hundreds of emails about it so I want to respond to it immediately. I hope to have that blog entry and newsletter ready to go out by morning.

In my research, I spoke at length with Dr. Campbell on the phone.   Apart from the details and questions we discussed, all of which will be reflected in my report tomorrow, I learned something interesting.

A venerable Hollywood group with very prestigious directors has produced a movie called Forks Over Knives, about the careers and research and lives of Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D., and Colin Campbell, PhD. Both were raised with meat-intensive diets on farms, and their long and lettered careers intersected early on.

The pre-screenings have been sold out. I would fly to a screening if given a chance! It comes out in theaters next March. If we haven’t all been able to see it, maybe I can arrange a screening at the GreenSmoothieGirl retreat April 21-23.

simple habits change lives

This was posted  yesterday. WOW! Scott, thank you for sharing this! (And YES, it is amazing to see people’s lives change for the better!)

Robyn,

First I want to extend a heartfelt thank you for what you do. I know it sounds a bit dramatic but you may have helped to save my life. And for that I will be eternally grateful.

I cannot for the life of me remember how I ran across your website. But the important thing is that I did. I would like to share a little bit about the impact you have had on my life up to this point.

I first found greensmoothiegirl.com somewhere around the end of February of this year.

Before that point I was somewhere around 370 or 380 pounds. I am not exactly sure but the only way I could estimate is that my doctor’s scale (350 lb max weight) wouldn’t weigh me and I had to press pretty hard on the end of the balance point to get that thing in the middle. We guessed about 370 or 380. Not good. Obviously! I was officially “fat, forty five and ‘fraid a dyin.”

I have been in the medical field for more than half my life. I have seen people die senselessly for 25 years. All products of bad nutritional choices. And here I was heading in the same direction.

Back in 1985 when I started in this field it would be uncommon for people in their 50′s to die of sudden cardiac death. As time has gone by that age has continually dropped. Now it is COMMON for us to see patients in their 40′s go into cardiac arrest and the 30 year olds are the new 50. Uncommon, but they are now dropping dead in their 30′s. Scary.

Two months ago my friend had a 14 year old patient who was having a full blown STEMI (ST segment elevation myocardial infarction). A STEMI is a type of severe heart attack in which the coronary artery is completely blocked off by a blood clot. It’s usually recognized by an elevation of the ST segment on an ECG, which indicates that a large amount of heart muscle damage is occurring.

So back to me……..

I started reading all your stuff and decided to try the green smoothies or what I affectionately call  my swamp water. I was very pleased. And have only missed about 3 days of smoothies since I began the first of March this year.

Reading your content led me to “The China Study” which led me to “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease” which led me to Dr. McDougall.

My life has been altered and changed for the better since. I no longer eat oils of any kind, meat, poultry or dairy and have not had a single “cheat day” since. You couldn’t pay me enough to go back to the dark side of nutrition.

My numbers are very impressive to date. I am down almost 70 pounds in 5 months, my total cholesterol is 119, triglycerides 59, LDL’s 64, and HDL’s 25.

I no longer take either of my high blood pressure meds. I was on those for nearly 20 years and it took all of 1 month to throw them away. Absolutely amazing.

It all started with green smoothies. Thank you, thank you, thank you for what you do. It must feel amazing to affect lives in such a profound way.

Respectfully,

Scott Venezia

Independence Day, part 2 of 2

So I told you my dad is the most rad dude ever. He is unfailingly positive. In fact, if you’re grumpy, he just gets MORE peppy and smiley. He epitomizes the idea that work is a blessing, because he embraces hard work.

Forgive me if I’ve told this story before. As a teenager, my dad sprayed his grandfather’s cherry orchards in the summers, in Santaquin, Utah. Back then they didn’t even wear masks! And they were spraying Malathion, a pesticide so carcinogenic, so deadly that the U.S. banned it many years ago. Dad told me a story once of turning, as he was spraying, and getting sprayed full in the face accidentally by his brother Ron–into his mouth and eyes, even–with those deadly, now-illegal chemicals.

So why doesn’t my dad have cancer? Instead he’s a 67-year old runner (even if I kicked his trash last Monday in a race) enjoying retirement. No knee issues.

For that matter, I am fairskinned and have basically refused to stay out of the sun (because of tennis/running) since I was young. From 16-20, I sunbathed in a bikini almost daily, from April to October every year. I’d burn and burn and burn, until I finally tanned. So why have I never had any skin cancer?

The answer to both questions, I think, is LIFESTYLE. My dad eats mostly plant foods. My parents’ diet isn’t as stellar as it was when I was young. But they eat little animal protein and processed food. They eat homemade kefir and drink alkaline water.

With massive raw plant food in the diet, you are mopping up free radicals instead of letting them grow into cancer.

Remember in The China Study (Oxford/Cornell), all of the mice and rats were injected with aflatoxin, a very carcinogenic compound (mold). But only the rodents fed a 20% animal protein diet actually developed cancer. Those fed a very low animal-protein diet (5%) were lively and healthy past their prime. Enzymes, vitamins, minerals–found abundantly in raw greens, vegetables, fruits, sprouts–prevent cancer from growing.

So my dad had off-the-charts Malathion exposure, and I had 100+ sunburns before age 20. This is very similar to the animals’ carcinogen exposure in the Oxford-Cornell project. Carcinogens can be neutralized effectively if the body’s natural weapons are in place.   You must FEED your body’s natural defenses, not burn them out.

Eat plants. It helps the earth, since your consumption of resources is 1/20th what a meat eater’s is. But if you know someone with cancer, you know that disease is hell on earth. And eating plants is your best cancer prevention.

(p.s. How much is 5% of your diet? As an example, for me, since I burn 1600 calories per day without exercise, that’s 80 calories. 80 calories is ½ cup of low-fat yogurt or 4 oz. of fish/chicken. That’s the average for a 5’8″, 130-135 lb. woman.)