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.

Why people get upset when we eat right

Lisle and Goldhamer, in The Pleasure Trap, write about how to handle when people in our lives get upset because of our plant-based dietary habits.   Their claim that people get angry with us only because they are embarrassed (about their own eating habits) rings true to me based on my own experience.

If you choose to make good choices at a church or neighborhood barbecue, for instance, they know that you’re observing THEM make poor choices.   They fear losing status with you.   Lisle and Goldhamer suggest two ways of dealing with this issue.   I believe these suggestions are sound, and they additionally will strengthen your bond with those who would otherwise be upset by your choices.   These things are what I already do, and so I add to the authors’ suggestions a bit:

One, “bolster their status” by referring to the things you love about them, unrelated to their dietary choices.   This is easy to do and takes the awkwardness out of the situation of your drinking a green smoothie at the baseball game while they’re munching on beef jerky and Goldfish crackers.   I also make jokes about it: today at my son’s double header, when a mom asked her son if wanted some snack-stand nachos and Skittles, I said, “Or I’ve got a green smoothie here–you KNOW you want one, so don’t even deny it!”   (I’ve made lots of new friends at the ball fields and gotten them to try my green smoothies, only by being funny and casual about it, never by being dogmatic or pushy.)

Two, reassure them that you’re not “perfect” and don’t think you’re better than them because of your “superior discipline.”   Just show a little humility.

These authors claim this will ease the awkwardness of social situations that have the potential to make friends feel uncomfortable.   I would add, however, since I’ve been doing this for a very long time, that if you utilize these two principles, those same people may also come to you someday for help when they want to change their own lifestyle.   That can happen only if you’re loving and gentle.