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Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition

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What happens when you eat an apple? The answer is vastly more complex than you imagine. Every apple contains thousands of antioxidants whose names, beyond a few like vitamin C, are unfamiliar to us, and each of these powerful chemicals has the potential to play an important role in supporting our health. They impact thousands upon thousands of metabolic reactions inside the What happens when you eat an apple? The answer is vastly more complex than you imagine. Every apple contains thousands of antioxidants whose names, beyond a few like vitamin C, are unfamiliar to us, and each of these powerful chemicals has the potential to play an important role in supporting our health. They impact thousands upon thousands of metabolic reactions inside the human body. But calculating the specific influence of each of these chemicals isn’t nearly sufficient to explain the effect of the apple as a whole. Because almost every chemical can affect every other chemical, there is an almost infinite number of possible biological consequences. And that’s just from an apple. Nutritional science, long stuck in a reductionist mindset, is at the cusp of a revolution. The traditional "gold standard” of nutrition research has been to study one chemical at a time in an attempt to determine its particular impact on the human body. These sorts of studies are helpful to food companies trying to prove there is a chemical in milk or pre-packaged dinners that is "good” for us, but they provide little insight into the complexity of what actually happens in our bodies or how those chemicals contribute to our health. In The China Study, T. Colin Campbell (alongside his son, Thomas M. Campbell) revolutionized the way we think about our food with the evidence that a whole food, plant-based diet is the healthiest way to eat. Now, in Whole, he explains the science behind that evidence, the ways our current scientific paradigm ignores the fascinating complexity of the human body, and why, if we have such overwhelming evidence that everything we think we know about nutrition is wrong, our eating habits haven’t changed. Whole is an eye-opening, paradigm-changing journey through cutting-edge thinking on nutrition, a scientific tour de force with powerful implications for our health and for our world.


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What happens when you eat an apple? The answer is vastly more complex than you imagine. Every apple contains thousands of antioxidants whose names, beyond a few like vitamin C, are unfamiliar to us, and each of these powerful chemicals has the potential to play an important role in supporting our health. They impact thousands upon thousands of metabolic reactions inside the What happens when you eat an apple? The answer is vastly more complex than you imagine. Every apple contains thousands of antioxidants whose names, beyond a few like vitamin C, are unfamiliar to us, and each of these powerful chemicals has the potential to play an important role in supporting our health. They impact thousands upon thousands of metabolic reactions inside the human body. But calculating the specific influence of each of these chemicals isn’t nearly sufficient to explain the effect of the apple as a whole. Because almost every chemical can affect every other chemical, there is an almost infinite number of possible biological consequences. And that’s just from an apple. Nutritional science, long stuck in a reductionist mindset, is at the cusp of a revolution. The traditional "gold standard” of nutrition research has been to study one chemical at a time in an attempt to determine its particular impact on the human body. These sorts of studies are helpful to food companies trying to prove there is a chemical in milk or pre-packaged dinners that is "good” for us, but they provide little insight into the complexity of what actually happens in our bodies or how those chemicals contribute to our health. In The China Study, T. Colin Campbell (alongside his son, Thomas M. Campbell) revolutionized the way we think about our food with the evidence that a whole food, plant-based diet is the healthiest way to eat. Now, in Whole, he explains the science behind that evidence, the ways our current scientific paradigm ignores the fascinating complexity of the human body, and why, if we have such overwhelming evidence that everything we think we know about nutrition is wrong, our eating habits haven’t changed. Whole is an eye-opening, paradigm-changing journey through cutting-edge thinking on nutrition, a scientific tour de force with powerful implications for our health and for our world.

30 review for Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition

  1. 4 out of 5

    Laura Mansfield

    First, let me say i've recently adopted a whole-foods, plant-based diet and I eat very few highly processed foods. I bought Campbell's book fully prepared to subscribe to his nutritional wisdom. I'm disappointed to be writing a negative review for his book. Campbell is an embittered, veteran scientist. His academic science career was clearly full of successes and no doubt, he is a highly competent scientist. This book, however, is so bad that it discredits his expertise. The first nine chapters First, let me say i've recently adopted a whole-foods, plant-based diet and I eat very few highly processed foods. I bought Campbell's book fully prepared to subscribe to his nutritional wisdom. I'm disappointed to be writing a negative review for his book. Campbell is an embittered, veteran scientist. His academic science career was clearly full of successes and no doubt, he is a highly competent scientist. This book, however, is so bad that it discredits his expertise. The first nine chapters constitute a rant about how modern science is too reductionist and not wholistic enough. Although I'm willing to agree with him, Campbell's philosophical arguments are invalid. Reading Campbell's poorly written arguments was painful. The remaining chapters of the book do include some good insight into the vitamin supplement industry and into the inner workings of the health industry. So the book isn't a total waste. But read at your own risk. Campbell hypocritically condemns "science" for being single-minded and intolerant when his book us clearly biased, and uses oversimplified metaphors to convince the laymen that he holds scientific authority over scientists who subscribe to traditional western medicine. If you don't know much about biology or chemistry, I would recommend against reading this book.. It is set- up to convert you without fully educating you. I'm glad I read the book though. After sifting through Campbell's emotionally-charged, subjective statements, I was able to glean interesting information about Campbell's perspective. I certainly think Campbell holds the authority to educate us about true health. I think he just let his emotions take over in this case.

  2. 5 out of 5

    David

    "There are these two young fish swimming along and the happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says,'Morning boys. How's the water?' And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, 'What the hell is water?'" This joke spells out one of the main themes of this fantastic book. Medical science is caught up in a reductionist paradigm, and people don't realize how stuck they are in it. They cannot imagine tha "There are these two young fish swimming along and the happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says,'Morning boys. How's the water?' And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, 'What the hell is water?'" This joke spells out one of the main themes of this fantastic book. Medical science is caught up in a reductionist paradigm, and people don't realize how stuck they are in it. They cannot imagine that there is any other valid approach to medical research and to health care. Reductionism is the idea that you can understand everything in the world if you understand all its component parts. In other words, the whole is simply the sum of its parts. This is opposed to "wholism", which is the belief that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Medical science has become very focused on performing research that is narrowly focused on studying the effects of individual molecules, enzymes, nutrients, chemical reactions, and genes. The problem is that no component works in isolation. It is foolhardy to focus on the effect of a single nutrient, because each nutrient interacts with thousands of other nutrients, enzymes, and molecules in extremely complex ways. Campbell spells out the paradox of bioavailability: There is almost no direct relationship between the amount of a nutrient consumed at a meal and the amount that actually reaches its main site of action in the body. The reason is that the body absorbs as much of a nutrient that it needs at that moment, rather than as much of the nutrient that is consumed. This reductionist approach is now firmly established by the research community; a scientist cannot get funding unless he narrowly focuses on a single nutrient, or a single molecule or chemical. Campbell shows how a few researchers (including himself) have tried to break out of this paradigm, and the ruinous effect on their careers. Campbell's career has not suffered significantly; he is the professor emeritus of nutritional biochemistry at Cornell University. He was the lead scientist of the largest epidemiological study ever. He is not a quack. He has served on expert panels for the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and as a senior science adviser to the American Institute for Cancer Research. Campbell's voice comes through in his writing as an embittered scientist, one who feels that nutrition's important wholistic effects on health have been ignored. They are ignored by researchers, by dieticians, by doctors, by the government, and by the various disease societies (e.g., American Cancer Society, American Society for Nutrition). He writes very convincingly, that the establishment is not interested in improving health and preventing disease--only in fighting diseases after they occur. This is a very important book. I read Campbell's previous book The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted And the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, And Long-term Health about seven years ago, and it was most impressive. This book brings a somewhat different message, about the entire medical establishment, and the need for more emphasis on prevention of disease, through a wholistic approach.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jason Cox

    This book, by the author of the China study, starts off with an interesting premise: that a diet comprised of whole vegetables provides the most optimal health benefits to individuals while potentially reversing many ill effects of environmental contact and carcinogens that are consumed. With all of the interest in anti-oxidant rich food and a general obsession with health topics in our modern culture, this is a timely discussion of a very interesting topic. And from an author who has decades of This book, by the author of the China study, starts off with an interesting premise: that a diet comprised of whole vegetables provides the most optimal health benefits to individuals while potentially reversing many ill effects of environmental contact and carcinogens that are consumed. With all of the interest in anti-oxidant rich food and a general obsession with health topics in our modern culture, this is a timely discussion of a very interesting topic. And from an author who has decades of experience in the field of nutrition and research in that field. That said, there are two things about this book that disappointed me: 1. I expected a LOT more data backing up the author's statements, opinions and view of the topic. There are references back to the China study, for certain. But Almost everything else is anecdotal. Now, much of his statements make sense, and might even be true in a lot of cases, but there is a paucity of data backing it up. If physicians treated all of their patients using the same standards, we would very quickly be labeled "quacks" or "witch doctors" (as this is essentially how medicine operated prior to the scientific method and evidence-based medicine). And we'd likely be out of practice in the current world of evidence-based medicine very quickly. 2. There is a severe and over-riding hostility towards almost the whole of scientific establishment, the field and practice of medicine, the federal government, and a rather anti-capitalistic bent. While I'm certain it wasn't the author's intent, that over-riding skepticism is so strong and pervasive throughout the book that it becomes the book's central theme. I suspect the "Pro-Whole Food Diet" concept was where the author aimed in this regard. But that's not where the arrow hit. Topics covered include: 1. How a whole food diet promises to provide almost all of the benefits of the pharmaceutical industry while simultaneously making us healthier and with essentially no side effects. 2. How the reductionist view of science hinders research into this interesting premise. 3. How the reductionist view of science is forwarded in our country and in the world through government funding and how boards of reductionists exclude "wholistic" research. 4. How the capitalist markets and company involvement in the "science of nutrition" impact and perpetuate #'s 2 & 3 above. 5. How capitalistic involvement in research funding & support subtly alter the whole field of nutrition. 6. How animal-protein rich diets have been implicated in increasing various cancers in the China study. 7. How doctors, in general, are unethical in the way they practice medicine, being far more influenced (no studies have been able to confirm this bias) by the pharmaceutical industry than actual science or an interest in patients' well being. Much more of the book is devoted to discussions of how the field of nutrition is dysfunctional than it is to any support for the initial premise of the book, and to which the title of the book refers. I will confess that, as a physician, the sections devoted to the field of medicine were highly insulting. Yes, there are millions of dollars being spent on physicians by pharmaceutical companies on dinners and educational "events" regarding their products. But don't be deceived… a physician is far more concerned about potential side effects and litigation due to medications than they are about benefiting a drug company by writing prescriptions for their products. Also, for those of you who are not in the medical field, let me tell you about those "dinners." They consist of "experts" paid by the drug company to educate the physicians in attendance about a specific drug's benefits and side effects. Where it is best used and best avoided. Frequently different companies have competing products and you also learn from them more of the specific problems with their competitor's product(s). Often these are things which are quite difficult to learn from reading a product-insert in 4-point font. And the subtle differences in products aren't covered in the PDR or those same product inserts. Additionally, little is mentioned about individuals' tendency to want to "just take a pill" to treat their ill instead of making lifestyle changes to achieve better (if harder) results. Physicians fight this battle every day. We do it time and time again ad nauseum and it causes quite a divide between us and our patients. Yet we all see that in those patients who DO make lifestyle changes to diet, exercise, etc they almost universally have better results. But of course that has little effect on our decision-making. Because we apparently make our decisions almost solely on the basis of what pharmaceutical company might buy us a dinner. For this reason, I think this book is a "miss." If the book were entitled "Why Your Diet is Wrong" or "The Great Nutritional Lie" or perhaps "A Failure In The System," I think I could actually have rated the book higher. Heck, just leaving it at the subtitle "Rethinking the Science of Nutrition" would have sufficed. Nothing inside the book would have to be altered one bit. And it would probably sell just as many copies. But with the title "Whole" I would have liked to have seen a lot more emphasis on the whole food diet. More case studies could have been very interesting. Reducting down parts of the China study with follow-up case studies would have been fascinating. Before-and-after transformations. There is a lot that could have been added to the discussion in order to merit the title "Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition." And doing so might have actually provided a potentially life-changing benefit to its readers.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    If you picked up this book you KNOW a whole foods plant based life is the healthiest way to live. This book will explain the WHY that information is not mainstream. Why our doctors, our government, our media and our big businesses DON'T want you to know the truth. Thank you Dr. Campbell.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Aubrey

    Truly profound. For years now, it all really started in 2007, I have learned more and more on the topics of nutrition and health. I have studied them without hesitation, be it documentaries or non-fiction books. My views have changed so much over those years. My eyes opened way more than I expected, or knew possible. Every day that passes I feel anew because of the knowledge gained. More importantly, I feel empowered. Nine years ago I was the lead physical training leader for my squadron in the U Truly profound. For years now, it all really started in 2007, I have learned more and more on the topics of nutrition and health. I have studied them without hesitation, be it documentaries or non-fiction books. My views have changed so much over those years. My eyes opened way more than I expected, or knew possible. Every day that passes I feel anew because of the knowledge gained. More importantly, I feel empowered. Nine years ago I was the lead physical training leader for my squadron in the U.S. Air Force and was interested in fitness and nutrition. Though when asked advice on diet I recommended some lean chicken with two sides of veggies. I'd recommend fat free cow's milk. I remember every day I had a salad for lunch, with oil laden dressing poured over it and for dinner, in my dorm room, I cooked a portion sized chicken breast and had a microwaved potato with very little butter and a side of green beans. I considered it very "healthy." I promoted it. I even got my then boyfriend (but now husband) eating the very same "Western" diet. I felt I was just so educated on the topic of nutrition and that I could bring that information, which, in reality, was information learned from biased cherry picking sources, to my co-workers and help them better their health that way. Today, I will tell you. I was dead wrong. Not only was I wrong but my view of "healthy," based on what I got (never really questioning where I got that information, how it was researched, funded, etc.) was harmful to those I was handing it out to. Though good intentioned, it was ignorant and dangerous. And The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted And the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, And Long-term Health started a lot of that for me- the dive into learning nutrition but the dive of questioning what I was learning, etc. It woke me up, smacked me in the face. It changed my life. So I eagerly anticipated Dr. Campbell's new book when I first heard that he was writing another book. "The China Study" was a life changer for me. I was "vegan" before it but The China Study doesn't advocate a vegan diet but instead a whole foods plant-based diet, which is much more specific. I was also under-educated on the topic of nutrition, though I didn't believe that I was. Even then, when I picked up "Whole" I expected not to learn as much as I did when I read "The China Study." That's the funny thing about expectations, even though we can't help but have them, is that they are often proven wrong. Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition exceeded my expectations. I would give it 10 stars. I went in expecting that the word "Whole" in the title referred to a "whole" foods plant-based diet. It does but what the book truly focuses on is the problems with research out there. Dr. Campbell, and I think this was what made the book so profound, pointed out the difference between a "reductionist" approach to research and a "wholeistic" approach to research and how reductionism is what leads, as far as the type of research and information given out, in this country and why it's a problem. Throughout the book Dr. Campbell explains what he means by reductionist via examples of other research, of how we label our foods, of supplements (and if you think supplements are the way to go, then I recommend this book- though you may stop taking supplements after reading it), of how the research comes out and how the media represents it. He also addresses the "but everything contradicts" phenomena. Many are confused by the mixed messages the media and represented research results give us. Where one is telling us coffee is bad for us and another saying it's good. He addresses why and often why it's not actually conflicting in many cases. Gosh he addresses so many things that I believe everyone should read. I recommend this book to all. Though I would recommend "The China Study" to read before it simply because it will give all much needed information but also will give reasoning as to why Dr. Campbell is a person to listen to. Why is information his different from others. It will give a nice amount of information but also a good background before reading this but to those who read "The China Study" I would say, please don't stop there. The information in this book is just as powerful and should be disseminated to the masses. People deserve to know.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Shel

    T. Colin Campbell's earlier book The China Study (2006) was a distressing, technical read with chapter after chapter filled with research on dread diseases including heart disease and cancer. But it had an uplifting note: a solution! "Good food and good health is simple," Campbell said. A whole foods, plant-based diet staves off heart disease and cancer — diseases that are not inevitable, but can be prevented, even treated, by eating only healthy foods. The China Study Cookbook (2013) T. Colin Campbell's earlier book The China Study (2006) was a distressing, technical read with chapter after chapter filled with research on dread diseases including heart disease and cancer. But it had an uplifting note: a solution! "Good food and good health is simple," Campbell said. A whole foods, plant-based diet staves off heart disease and cancer — diseases that are not inevitable, but can be prevented, even treated, by eating only healthy foods. The China Study Cookbook (2013) the "official companion to The China Study" by LeAnne Campbell, PhD (T. Colin Campbell's daughter) is filled with recipes to prepare life-giving foods accompanied by beautiful photos (by Steven Campbell Disla). The focus of Whole (2013) is neither the silver lining nor the yummy foods although it is reiterated — "There is no healthier way to eat than a whole food, plant-based diet, without added fat, salt or refined carbohydrates." In Whole, Campbell expresses his frustration and anger that the science of nutrition and its role in preventative health care has not affected government policy. Even as someone involved with helping set national nutrition guidelines, Campbell has not been able to affect change from a top down approach. Evidence-based nutrition, diet and preventative health measures have been largely ignored. A grassroots movement is needed, Campbell says, to change our culture of food and health. Campbell makes a strong point. Here are just a few of his findings of his more than 50 years of nutrition research including more than 300 professional research papers from lab studies on rats to human population surveys (i.e. The China Study): Cancer growth is controlled far more by nutrition than by genes or environmental hazards/carcinogens. Relatively low animal protein intake triggers cancer. Cow's milk protein (casein) promotes cancer growth. Campbell is frustrated and angry that: industries i,.e. dairy, egg and beef have been successful at sidelining this information; nutrition advice focuses on specific nutrients and is aimed at selling supplements when it is the complex interactions of the many nutrients (in leafy greens, for example) that provide the benefit, not individual vitamins and minerals which, isolated, can be harmful; powerful organizations meant to promote health such as the American Heart Association and American Cancer Society focus on cures that do not materialize rather than disease prevention; billions of dollars are poured into health care research, but Americans are sicker than ever; and people are given confusing, misinformation about their health and aren't given information from taxpayer-funded research with, "Not a word about prevention. About empowerment. About the fact that simple changes in diet may turn off cancer progression." It's valuable information, which, unfortunately, makes for a dry and depressing read. Fortunately, Campbell is not alone. Others agree with him that whole-foods, plant-based eating is a key to health and there's a movement building behind it. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D., Dean Ornish M.D., John McDougall M.D., Neal Barnard M.D., and Joel Furhman M.D. have also written books on the topic. Rip Esselstyn (Caldwell Esselsytn's son) has just published My Beef With Meat (2013), a follow up to his popular Engine 2 Diet: The Texas Firefighter's 28-Day Save-Your-Life Plan that Lowers Cholesterol and Burns Away the Pounds (2009). Documentaries such as Forks Over Knives, Vegucated, and Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead present the information in entertaining ways. Dr. Michael McGregor, M.D. at nutritionfacts.org creates great 2-4 minute videos about plant-based nutrition info including information on how government food/nutrition policy can help or hinder our health. Watch:  The McGovern Report  Dietary Guidelines: From Dairies to Berries Dietary Guidelines: It's All Greek to the USDA

  7. 4 out of 5

    Gloria

    This is not an easy book to read. It is filled with scientific studies, acronoyms, facts and strong opinions. Campbell is the author of "The China Study" and his persuasive argument is that we need to be a "whole food, plant based" society. Much of the book outlines his research and documents how corporations negatively influence positive change. He is highly critical of factory farms which you might expect, but he is also highly critical of organizations such as the American Cancer Society beca This is not an easy book to read. It is filled with scientific studies, acronoyms, facts and strong opinions. Campbell is the author of "The China Study" and his persuasive argument is that we need to be a "whole food, plant based" society. Much of the book outlines his research and documents how corporations negatively influence positive change. He is highly critical of factory farms which you might expect, but he is also highly critical of organizations such as the American Cancer Society because of their dependence on profitable corporate support. There is no day-by-day diet here, or recipes included. This is more of a call-to-arms for people to wake up and take control of their own health.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Laurel

    I got more than halfway through this book, but I am not going to finish it. It is exceedingly redundant. The thing about nutritional science is that there are just so many conflicting views. I don't know what to believe anymore. This book, a follow up to The China Study, maintains that a diet based in whole foods, plants, nuts and grains -- while avoiding meat and dairy --is optimal for health. According to the author, the government, scientists, farmers and pharmaceutical companies don't want y I got more than halfway through this book, but I am not going to finish it. It is exceedingly redundant. The thing about nutritional science is that there are just so many conflicting views. I don't know what to believe anymore. This book, a follow up to The China Study, maintains that a diet based in whole foods, plants, nuts and grains -- while avoiding meat and dairy --is optimal for health. According to the author, the government, scientists, farmers and pharmaceutical companies don't want you to know, but meats and animal-based foods are at the root of all our health problems. Indeed, if you follow this diet, you will likely never get sick! And if you're already sick and follow this diet, you will almost most certainly be cured! I am not being facetious; these are claims the author actually makes on more than one occasion. Meanwhile, many other nutritionists instead promote the paleo diet. This diet is also rich in plant-based foods, but advises eating lean meats and avoiding grains. In this diet, it is argued that it is grains, not meats, that are at the root of most health problems. And, of course, if you follow the paleo diet, you will also improve your health by leaps and bounds! The thing is, I've tried both diets for quite some time (and many more over the years) and, alas, I'm still sick. That's not to say these diets are not healthy and worthwhile, of course. Just not, perhaps, the cure-all that they often claim to be. I do feel nutrition is vitally important, and the author does make some excellent points (e.g., taking vitamins in pill form is not the same as getting those vitamins from whole foods). I loved when he focused on actual nutritional science rather than on his bitterness over the poor treatment his research has received by other scientists. Unfortunately, though, it was this bitterness that took up the bulk of the book. I simply found the arguments tiresome after awhile. I would recommend reading In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan instead, which has the same general theme (eat food/not too much/mostly plants), and is much more fun.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Elaine Mccracken

    This is an important book that will be read by far too few people. It challenges just about everything we've been "taught" about what we need to do to maintain health and then tells us how we got into this predicament in the first place. Dr. Campbell is very brave to so thoroughly challenge the status quo.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    If I could give this book 10 stars, I would gladly do so. Campbell is a tenured scientist in the research field on cancer. He did not set out to disturb his fellow scientists, or to the monied interests that the science field is currently beholden. However, that is exactly what happened when his research led him to discover that animal protein (milk being the absolute worst) can turn on cancer genes. Campbell is a trained reductionist/mechanistic scientist who with a few others has had to break If I could give this book 10 stars, I would gladly do so. Campbell is a tenured scientist in the research field on cancer. He did not set out to disturb his fellow scientists, or to the monied interests that the science field is currently beholden. However, that is exactly what happened when his research led him to discover that animal protein (milk being the absolute worst) can turn on cancer genes. Campbell is a trained reductionist/mechanistic scientist who with a few others has had to break rank and risk huge damage to his career in order to bring to light a subject that most Americans just don't want to hear. Animal protein is sacred in this country. We've been told that milk makes strong bones (false), that animal meat is the best protein source (false) and that a healthy diet is one that includes lean meat and dairy products (false). Not only has Campbell been able to make the animal-cancer link with peer-reviewed data that has been published many times, he also tells you with no hesitation that a whole foods plant based (wfpb) diet provides us with incredible protection from common diseases. He dislikes the terms 'vegan' or 'vegetarian' because not all of these are healthy eaters. We could turn our health care system, which is really mostly a disease care system, upside down and drastically reduce our debt - but it takes the American people being willing to educate themselves and to at least have the choice be their own. Granted when the cigarette industry was exposed as a cancer generator, many people chose to continue or adopt smoking but at least the information is there for us. Not so on nutrition. This book exposes the choke-hold that our largest industries have on our political and health care system. The deceit being heaped upon the American psyche through advertising, through corporations who stand to lose billions, through their political maneuvering reads like a thriller in Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition. Unfortunately this isn't a novel and the damage done to human health because of the unfortunate system we live in continues to move along in its destructive path. I will tell others that I have been a vegan for over a year now. Although my information that got me there included the knowledge of Campbell's work, I had not read the sources directly. I can tell you that I have made numerous decisions in my life that have put me on the outside of the status quo so when Campbell lays out the social stigma of stepping out of the mainstream, I just wanted to hug him. I would say that WHOLE is a follow-up to his most impressive scientific work THE CHINA STUDY. Be patient with Whole, if you are unfamiliar with some biology terms. There are only two chapters that I had to hang tough to get through, but the result at the end is well worth the work. By the end of the book you will see how our current paradigm of unfettered capitalism works, how the reductionist model of science has backed itself into a useless corner - at least where nutrition is concerned, and how if we do not challenge ourselves to think for ourselves, nothing will change in this world and many will die from needless disease. As Campbell points out, why not try eating only plant-based foods for just a few months? What you stand to lose by not thinking seriously about his message is huge. Whole is code for "wholism" or 'holism' which is such a dirty word in science, but science is useless if we cannot take the knowledge and re-integrate back into making the world a better place for all.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Frank Aaskov

    First of all, you will need to read T. Colin Campbells previous book, The China Study, before reading this book, as it otherwise doesn't not make a lot of sense. In his newest book Campbell argues against reductionism in science, where the health of a piece of fruit is reduced to the amount of vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre etc.. This indirectly implies that a fruit can be replaced by a pill with the same amount of vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre etc., which Campbell shows is impossible, as First of all, you will need to read T. Colin Campbells previous book, The China Study, before reading this book, as it otherwise doesn't not make a lot of sense. In his newest book Campbell argues against reductionism in science, where the health of a piece of fruit is reduced to the amount of vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre etc.. This indirectly implies that a fruit can be replaced by a pill with the same amount of vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre etc., which Campbell shows is impossible, as the sum of a piece of fruit is bigger than its parts. The fruit is healthier in its whole form, as its components interact in ways science have yet to understand, causing more benefits than just the components on their own. Campbell describes dietary supplements such as vitamin pills have in the best of cases no effect, and in the worst an unhealthy effect. He furthermore detail how industry, universities and health NGOs have vested interests in continuing in supporting and researching with reductionist scientific methods, which will only produce perverse and confusing results. Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition is very much an extension of The China Study, where Campbell continues the critic of the medical community and its methods which he briefly touches upon in his first book. As he does not repeat the evidence and data of the China Study, it can seem confusing and presumptuous if the reader isn't familiar with his previous research and the evidence supporting his claims. If you enjoyed the China Study and are interested in health politics and science, Whole is definitely worth a read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sean Brady

    Book sounds like a full length conspiracy theory about the way our nutrition and medical society is set up. He busts on well respected organizations and talks about his fight to remain in the nutrition industry while trying to expose the evils of the organizations. I don't know how accurate his story is. But, it's an interesting read and if fully true is damning for a lot of nutrition knowledge that is conventional wisdom. I think this is a book which would seem stronger if other authors wrote s Book sounds like a full length conspiracy theory about the way our nutrition and medical society is set up. He busts on well respected organizations and talks about his fight to remain in the nutrition industry while trying to expose the evils of the organizations. I don't know how accurate his story is. But, it's an interesting read and if fully true is damning for a lot of nutrition knowledge that is conventional wisdom. I think this is a book which would seem stronger if other authors wrote similar stories of fighting to remain credible and respected in a world they claim has gone wild. His general premise is that whole food plant based diet is the best diet; his research and others prove this; but to get funding you need to say otherwise.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    I've read several books in the last couple of years that were about nutrition and proper diet. Ideas about nutrition and diet seem to change regularly, and with so many competing theories about what we should eat, it's hard to know who's right, especially since there are radical differences between some approaches to nutrition. But I have to say that author T. Colin Campbell makes a compelling case for a whole-food, plant-based diet. He recommends obtaining 80% of our calories from carbohydrates I've read several books in the last couple of years that were about nutrition and proper diet. Ideas about nutrition and diet seem to change regularly, and with so many competing theories about what we should eat, it's hard to know who's right, especially since there are radical differences between some approaches to nutrition. But I have to say that author T. Colin Campbell makes a compelling case for a whole-food, plant-based diet. He recommends obtaining 80% of our calories from carbohydrates, 10% from fat, and 10% from protein, all from plant sources. This approach to diet was espoused in his earlier book The China Study. This book, Whole, explains the science behind the plant-based diet, the reasons why it's so difficult for many to accept, and the powerful economic forces that oppose it. As for why it's going to be difficult for most people to accept a totally new regimen in their life, the author explains the two competing paradigms in science and medicine: reductionism and wholism. Reductionism is the traditional approach to studying an issue, focusing on the details, whereas wholism looks at an entire system. The author's example of the nutritional value of an apple was a perfect explanation of what he means by "wholism." So there's more truth to the old homily "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" than we might imagine. This isn't the first time I've read that nutrition is the key to taming diseases that plague mankind. It is, however, the most detailed and most scientifically credible explanation that I've read. The science gets just a bit technical at times, but it's not beyond most readers' ability to digest. And the short lesson in DNA and genetics is one of the most readable versions of a very complex subject that I've seen. The book has a thorough discussion of the economic forces that act to maintain the present paradigm (reductionism). I can't argue with the fact that there are many entities with a vested interest in preserving business as usual, including the medical establishment and pharmaceutical companies at the top of the list. At my age (almost seventy), I don't know if I'm up to the challenge of making the major lifestyle change that a plant-based diet would require, but for younger people who are concerned about their health and longevity, the author's conclusions about diet and nutrition are certainly worth serious consideration. A review copy of the book was provided by the publisher.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ayse_

    Its very interesting to read this, especially when everyone around me are going on keto or high protein diet. The author might be right - current diets can be all wrong - , never the less, there is the diabetics/obesity dilemma. If one is to stay below 20% for protein and fat, than , 60% or more should be coming from carbs, which can be pro-diabetic. Its hard to feel full on just green veggies.. Puzzling.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Susan Bleyle

    This book made me think a lot about the dangers of reductionist science when trying to understand a complex topic like nutrition. I recommend it highly.

  16. 4 out of 5

    《Maram》

    It's very hard to know that everything you knew about a certain thing and believed to be true turns out to be wrong. When comes to nutrition, most people if asked what a healthy diet is they would probably mention what's on the food pyramid that was published in 1974. It has been 40+ years, you would have assumed by now that the education system would have changed that but still people believe in this system! To be honest I was naive like most people, didn't know a thing or two about diet and jus It's very hard to know that everything you knew about a certain thing and believed to be true turns out to be wrong. When comes to nutrition, most people if asked what a healthy diet is they would probably mention what's on the food pyramid that was published in 1974. It has been 40+ years, you would have assumed by now that the education system would have changed that but still people believe in this system! To be honest I was naive like most people, didn't know a thing or two about diet and just believed everything that I was taught in school but after my father developed cancer and went on a plant based diet which to say the least saved his life, I started rethinking the whole idea of nutrition. It's fair to stay that whenever I talk about this topic, I am labelled as an idiot. And to be honest it hurts a lot to know that people are still believe in this flawed medical system instead of knowing the truth. This book is wonderful because it puts everything I believe in into words. I literally want to buy a billion of copies of this book and give out to everyone to read. I just wish, I truly hope one day that this research against past myths is changed from minority to majority.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Judith

    Excellent explanation of why plant-based diets have yet to hit the mainstream big time. Knowing what I know from reading numerous books and seeing numerous films on the subject, I sometimes wonder why the media is so silent about the benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet (referred to as a WFPB diet by Dr. Campbell). According to Campbell, there are two primary reasons his work and others are ignored by the mainstream press: 1. The type of research that has been done to show the remarkable e Excellent explanation of why plant-based diets have yet to hit the mainstream big time. Knowing what I know from reading numerous books and seeing numerous films on the subject, I sometimes wonder why the media is so silent about the benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet (referred to as a WFPB diet by Dr. Campbell). According to Campbell, there are two primary reasons his work and others are ignored by the mainstream press: 1. The type of research that has been done to show the remarkable effects of eating a WFPB diet is what Campbell refers to as "wholistic". The scientific community is, in general, convinced that the only type research that is worth paying attention to is "reductionist" - research into one element, looking for one effect. Campbell shows us why this approach, while valuable, cannot ever address nutrition adequately. The way our bodies metabolize food is incredibly complex, relying on the interactions of many different systems, and dependent on many variables. A reductionist approach can never see this. It is impossible to take one small nutrient from one whole food and learn what it really does, because it does its work in combination with other nutrients and as part of a large system. Campbell's scientific background means that he understands how research is done and how awards are granted to research projects. Because the reductionist method is preferred, funding is rarely available for other types of research. Campbell has experience as a researcher, as a teacher, and as a member of panels that award grants. He has seen the system from the inside out. 2. Corporations control what we learn. Corporations are large funders of the non-profit disease-centered organizations, like the American Cancer Society. These organizations, usually led by well-meaning persons who genuinely want to help those with these diseases, are given a lot of "help" by the corporations who offer them large donations. Corporations are involved in research grants as well. Corporations have great influence over our national governmental organizations, like the National Institutes of Health, through their lobbies and other means. It is difficult not to be influenced by the meat,dairy, and pharmaceutical industries, even for those who think they are not. Further, our media is not doing its job. It is meant to be the "fourth estate" - the independent monitors. But too often reporters, most of whom have little scientific training, buy press releases from governmental and NGOs whole hog. In a recent case, the National Cancer Institute issued a press release that cancer rates had gone down, that there was a big drop. There was a media frenzy, reporting that the "war on cancer" was working. Oddly, nobody thought to ask a critical question: what does "big drop" mean? It was a drop of less than one percent. With lazy and uninformed media toeing the line, what hope is there for the rest of us? One hope is that we ask the questions ourselves, that we not accept the spoon-feeding offered. Campbell believes that the top-down method will not work here: a revolution needs to start with us. First, adopt a WFPB diet. Influence others to do the same. Read the relevant books. This revolution may eventually be televised.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Susan Clark-cook

    An excellent book, dense at points with a lot of scientific information . This book will open your eyes to a whole new world of how we eat, and how it impacts our health, the earth in fact the entire eco system we live in. It points to a better way to eat, to improve our individual health and indeed our entire system. This also points to a way to improve our health care system, the problems that eating the way we do causes us and it is really points the way to a cheap, doable fix . We should all An excellent book, dense at points with a lot of scientific information . This book will open your eyes to a whole new world of how we eat, and how it impacts our health, the earth in fact the entire eco system we live in. It points to a better way to eat, to improve our individual health and indeed our entire system. This also points to a way to improve our health care system, the problems that eating the way we do causes us and it is really points the way to a cheap, doable fix . We should all think twice about this information that could make a sea change in our health in general this is another way to think about a prevention way to deal with some of our worst health issues, such as cancer, heart disease and more. And it has to do with food, whole foods...cheap and available; safer than most drugs with fewer sides effects. However, this way of eating and thinking doesn't help some people: big business, drug companies and advertising ....this is a hard book at times to read but an important one and a great follow up to his monumental China Study

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Tener

    I started on a whole foods, plant based diet before reading this book, but I find that I need to continue reading such books to stay in the game and remind myself why I need to stick with this lifestyle which goes against the grain (no pun intended). I know, you'd think that increased energy, losing weight, feeling great and being told I look 10 years younger by my husband would be enough! However, I need continual reminders why not to go for the tempting and addictive foods all around me (even I started on a whole foods, plant based diet before reading this book, but I find that I need to continue reading such books to stay in the game and remind myself why I need to stick with this lifestyle which goes against the grain (no pun intended). I know, you'd think that increased energy, losing weight, feeling great and being told I look 10 years younger by my husband would be enough! However, I need continual reminders why not to go for the tempting and addictive foods all around me (even in the health food store). Whole has more than done the job. It's opened my eyes to the science behind so many of the myths we believe about nutrition--and what's wrong with many of the studies and pseudo-science we read about in the news. The book may get a bit technical for some, but the geek in my just loves this level of understanding about our entire system--the science, how and why the US government has come to fund the studies they do and develop the food policies they develop. I highly recommend it to anyone concerned about their health.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Renee

    Truly remarkable book that should be read by everyone! Dr. Campbell takes on conventional "health"care in the US and shows us example after example of how we need to unlearn pretty much everything we've been taught about nutrition. Remarkable read! I have become a true fan of Dr. Campbell and his wisdom and insight.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Illiterate

    The nutritional advice is sensible (it repeats the China Study). The discussion of reductionism and science is extremely simplistic and misleading.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Patti

    I almost didn't read this because the logic of eating mostly plant-based and unprocessed foods seemed like basic common sense. Then I ended up taking eight pages of notes. I will do my best to create a succinct summary of advice I found the most useful. After note-taking, I realized many of the points I appreciated most (such as the example of Vitamin C found in the apple) were contained in the Goodreads description (so read that too!) The quick rundown by Campbell says "The ideal human diet lo I almost didn't read this because the logic of eating mostly plant-based and unprocessed foods seemed like basic common sense. Then I ended up taking eight pages of notes. I will do my best to create a succinct summary of advice I found the most useful. After note-taking, I realized many of the points I appreciated most (such as the example of Vitamin C found in the apple) were contained in the Goodreads description (so read that too!) The quick rundown by Campbell says "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 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% of your calories from carbs, 10% from fat, and 10% from protein. That's it, in 66 words. In this book I call it the whole food, plant based diet or WFPB). The history behind reductionist thinking (moving away from usefulness and applicability by focusing on one element to the exclusion of the big picture) vs. wholistic reasoning was the bulk of the book. Through graphs, studies, and explanation of how research was conducted to prevent bias, Campbell paints a vivid and disturbing picture of how our tendency to view results in a bubble is alarming. "We create specialists to help us solve each problem as if it stood alone. As a consequence, we fail to see interconnections and we fail to see the whole." (pg. 174). My favorite Sections/Quotes: 1) The modern healthcare myth 2) What to ask yourself when you hear a health claim (Is it true? Is it the whole truth, or just part of it? Does it matter?) 3) How to tell if a health intervention matters. 4) "....Diet deals with so many diseases and conditions that you begin to wonder if there isn't just one basic disease cause- poor nutrition- that manifests itself through thousands of different symptoms (pg 135)." 5) Undisputed global warming implications of gases like Methane (CH4) that are associated with modern industrial livestock production....potentially 72 times more harmful than CO2 levels that are often touted, with Methane being far less known in the public. 6) The unsustainable practices of current food economy (how we use land and water for animals). 7) Reasons why the shift in thinking about food paradigms is so difficult. 8) The incredible interactions between enzymes in our bodies. I'm a person of faith, and while looking at charts on the Krebs cycle and metabolic pathways in science classes bored me beyond description, I look at it differently since I've aged- with awe and appreciation for the miraculous complexity of our bodies. 9) Nature ("genes") vs. Nurture ("nutrition") and what roles each play. Please excuse if this seemed like a regurgitation of facts. I added so much to my knowledge of nutrition and found the insights quite profound. I recommend this to anyone who simply wants to be more informed, regardless of whether you adopt all his tips.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    Full of contradictions. Campbell spends an eternity criticising reductionist research yet uses the findings of that type of research to justify all of his claims about wholistic nutrition. It's a logical fallacy from the very beginning. It's laden with excessive hubris and the mockery of other scientists' methods is completely misguided. I was expecting this book to be a natural successor to the China Study but Campbell instead continues on his personal crusade (if it can be even called that) agai Full of contradictions. Campbell spends an eternity criticising reductionist research yet uses the findings of that type of research to justify all of his claims about wholistic nutrition. It's a logical fallacy from the very beginning. It's laden with excessive hubris and the mockery of other scientists' methods is completely misguided. I was expecting this book to be a natural successor to the China Study but Campbell instead continues on his personal crusade (if it can be even called that) against big industry/government/media. He spends quite some time giving us the reasons why the whole foods plant-based (WFPB) diet didn't go mainstream after the evidence in the China Study was presented. So why spend another 100+ pages re-telling the story instead of telling us the scientific reasons why the WFPB diet is the best for us? Why not focus on the postive findings of his 50 years of research? This book is basically a mainstream re-telling of huge parts of the China Study (the book, not the actual study). From the chapter headings alone I knew this wasn't going to be the book I had hoped for. I loved the sections where he wrote about the science behind supplementation, the nutritional quality of the whole apple and mixed function oxidase's behaviour when 'processing' aflatoxin. Surely he must realise that there's a huge demand for a book full of this in-depth description and analysis of the WFPB-type diet and its benefits?

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Herbitter

    Campbell is persuasive as usual. His credentials are impeccable and he backs up his assertions with science and first-person accounts. This book isn't what I'd expected, however. Instead of detailing the latest research regarding plant-based nutrition, Campbell spends most of the book railing against "reductionism" and its paradigmatic grip on science (and much more). Scientists are not interested in something as broad as "eat plants"; they want to study the lycopene in a tomato. This book is Ca Campbell is persuasive as usual. His credentials are impeccable and he backs up his assertions with science and first-person accounts. This book isn't what I'd expected, however. Instead of detailing the latest research regarding plant-based nutrition, Campbell spends most of the book railing against "reductionism" and its paradigmatic grip on science (and much more). Scientists are not interested in something as broad as "eat plants"; they want to study the lycopene in a tomato. This book is Campbell's treatise against a strictly reductionist view (he acknowledges the benefits of such studies when done in concert with more w/holistic research) and his explanation as to why reductionism has such a stranglehold on...well, everything. The answer, not surprisingly, is money: there's no money in saying "eat your broccoli," but there's plenty to be made in supplements, blood pressure meds, heart meds, surgeries, chemotherapies, on and on. I knew most of this before reading the book, which is probably why I only gave it three stars. It was a lot of "second verse, same as the first" for me. But I have been reading Campbell, Esselstyn, McDougall, et al., for some time. Other readers may find more new information in this very well documented book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Angela2932

    Although I liked much of Campbell's book, particularly his elucidation of how the profit motive is strongly intertwined with government food policies, the health care system, and nutritional research, I stumbled on some of his points and conclusions. In his China Study, Campbell studied AF as an initiator of cancer and he implicated the milk protein casein as a trigger for liver cancer. His results were consistent with earlier researchers and showed that a dose-response curve existed for AF and c Although I liked much of Campbell's book, particularly his elucidation of how the profit motive is strongly intertwined with government food policies, the health care system, and nutritional research, I stumbled on some of his points and conclusions. In his China Study, Campbell studied AF as an initiator of cancer and he implicated the milk protein casein as a trigger for liver cancer. His results were consistent with earlier researchers and showed that a dose-response curve existed for AF and cancer on a 20% casein diet, but disappeared on a 5% casein diet. He found that adjusting the protein intake of these rats was like a switch that could turn cancer promotion on and off. From this, Dr. Campbell generalized from the milk protein casein to all "nutrients from animal-based foods" , and he lost me. I do feel that evidence is certainly mounting that vegetables and fruits are good for us, complex, refined carboyhdrates are not, processed food and sugar is close to evil incarnate, but I'm skeptical about the conclusion a that all animal protein is carcinogenic. And the book did get a bit repetitive in trying to drive home its points in the last 100 pages or so. That's where I started practicing speed-reading.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    This is just quite a complex book. I really cannot write a review that will do it justice. The author redefines holisism as wholism - explaining how the whole is greater than the sum of the parts and the wholist paradigm encompases reductionism, which is today's tendancy to break things down to the smallest parts and examine each individually. This book is as much about philosophy as it is about diet. As far as diet goes, the author recommends eating "whole, plant-based foods, with little or no a This is just quite a complex book. I really cannot write a review that will do it justice. The author redefines holisism as wholism - explaining how the whole is greater than the sum of the parts and the wholist paradigm encompases reductionism, which is today's tendancy to break things down to the smallest parts and examine each individually. This book is as much about philosophy as it is about diet. As far as diet goes, the author recommends eating "whole, plant-based foods, with little or no added oil, salt, or refined carbohydrates like sugar or white flour." He explains that we do not need to consume animal protein - milk, meat and eggs, and that over a very small amount, animal protein is carcinogenic to us and should be avoided. He also explains that our health care system has profit as it's goal rather than health. It really is an eye-opening book and I highly recommend it.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Joy

    This day in age when diets like Paleo are on the rise, there is no reason that when researching the pros of a plant based diet that an author would neglect to be more thorough in research. Naturally, if I ingest the meat of a cow pumped with hormones (who is force fed a diet that has led even the cow to heart disease), I am exposing myself to the same risk. I wanted to enjoy this book, but I felt it was lacking in precise research that leaves no room for question. I want to know the diets of the This day in age when diets like Paleo are on the rise, there is no reason that when researching the pros of a plant based diet that an author would neglect to be more thorough in research. Naturally, if I ingest the meat of a cow pumped with hormones (who is force fed a diet that has led even the cow to heart disease), I am exposing myself to the same risk. I wanted to enjoy this book, but I felt it was lacking in precise research that leaves no room for question. I want to know the diets of the animals he was testing... That is imperative information to get a full understanding of the real risks of animal protein. Sorry, just not sold on this book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Meghan

    This was such a tedious read. Chapter after chapter, I waited for a detailed explanation of his research and findings on the link between diets high in animal protein and cancer. I am sure I would have been persuaded by the findings and by whatever arguments he has about the benefits of a plant-based diet. But they weren't there! It's just one long rant against the medical establishment and a very detailed list of reporters who interviewed him without publishing his thoughts. I suspect those rep This was such a tedious read. Chapter after chapter, I waited for a detailed explanation of his research and findings on the link between diets high in animal protein and cancer. I am sure I would have been persuaded by the findings and by whatever arguments he has about the benefits of a plant-based diet. But they weren't there! It's just one long rant against the medical establishment and a very detailed list of reporters who interviewed him without publishing his thoughts. I suspect those reporters passed on the stories because he comes across as embittered.

  29. 4 out of 5

    cory

    probably the least scientific and most boring dystopian sci-fi i've read this year

  30. 5 out of 5

    Natalie Yuhas

    I'm sad to give this book such a bad review because Campbell's first book, The China Study, is so influential and amazing. I have followed a mostly plant based diet for years, but found this book extremely frustrating and hard to get through. More than anything, it feels like hundreds of pages of a Taylor Swift-esque defensive and scorned diatribe against the medical community's reductionist approach to health. While I agree with what he is saying about the business of healthcare and how there i I'm sad to give this book such a bad review because Campbell's first book, The China Study, is so influential and amazing. I have followed a mostly plant based diet for years, but found this book extremely frustrating and hard to get through. More than anything, it feels like hundreds of pages of a Taylor Swift-esque defensive and scorned diatribe against the medical community's reductionist approach to health. While I agree with what he is saying about the business of healthcare and how there is a lack of wholistic healthcare education because the industry places importance on treating symptoms instead of preventing disease, it was so, so repetitive and felt bitter. The section on vitamins and supplements earned another star for my review because the information was engaging and interesting, but he quickly returned to complaining that no one accepts his and others' research on the importance of nutrition. If you are interested in nutrition, I would recommend starting with The China Study, How Not to Die by Michael Greger, or In Defense of Food by Michael Pollen.

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