Pick Proper Packaging: Why the Whole is Greater than the Sum of Its Parts

You are quite literally what you eat. And there are dramatic differences between the nourishment you receive from whole plant foods and that in which you receive from animal products…



Vegiterranean Diet CoverHere is an excerpt from my book, The Vegiterranean Diet:

Contrary to popular belief, we don’t eat isolated nutrients. We are not filling our plates with some protein, a side of carbohydrates, and a sprinkle of healthy fats. Instead, we are eating a vast biochemical symphony, built by nature, for nature, in order to function optimally. Nothing represents synergy as clearly as the consumption of whole plant foods. Nutritionism is the belief system that qualifies food based on its individual components. It disregards synergy and the additive effects of a combination of nutrients in one whole food. It ignores the exponentially enhanced value of the interactions between multiple parts and their exchanges within the human body’s intricacies. It is the reason people identify their diets as “low fat” or “low carb” or “high protein,” even though these diets have not been shown to be the end-all, be-all of ideal eating. It is also the reason that processed food items can be touted as healthy because they only have a certain number of calories or fat grams per serving and are sprayed with a synthetic vitamin to meet the daily recommended dose of vitamin C, for example, despite the fact that they may merely be composed of white flour, white sugar, salt, and multiple chemicals. It is one of the most pressing reasons why, with the thousands of diet fads out there, populations in general are gaining weight and infected by disease, as opposed to building a relationship with real food and connecting it to their lives. We are ostracized from real food when we are specifically seeking out certain nutrients and are dependent upon the nutrition facts label. Labels do not discern between two antithetical foods: an enriched product that was once an intact food, having had its original parts stripped away and then having other ingredients added to boost flavor, texture, and/or shelf-stability versus a real, complete food that had those nutrients in it originally. Although the label may not distinguish between real foods and lab-made foods, our bodies cannot be fooled.

So what’s in a package? One of the best ways to demonstrate this is to compare 500 calories of plant-based foods to 500 calories of animal-based foods. This chart is from The China Study, titled “Nutrient Composition of Plant and Animal-Based Foods (Per 500 Calories of Energy).” It uses the USDA Nutrient Database and an article on carotenoids since the database does not yet include phytochemicals. The plant-based foods are made up of equal parts of tomatoes, spinach, lima beans, peas, and potatoes, and the animal-based foods are made up of equal parts of beef, pork, chicken, and whole milk:

500 Kcals Plants vs. Animals

Plant foods also contain hundreds to thousands of different phytochemicals, which are not considered essential but are perhaps the most effective nutrients at fighting disease (see below). Truth is, our knowledge of phytochemicals is expanding rapidly, as new ones are discovered regularly and their functions and roles in the human body are expanding exponentially. Hence we need to look at the complete picture. A lot more is going on within those foods than meets the microscope. If you compare these two nutrient profiles in the preceding chart, it is clear that both what the plants have AND what they do not have in them are what make them so spectacular. Essentially, the large database of nutrition science consistently shows that the healthiest type of food pattern includes a high intake of fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants, as well as a minimization or elimination of saturated fats and processed foods.

In other words, both what we eat as well as what we do not eat provide the basis for the quality of our overall diet. For the same 500 calories, a meal may be rich in health-promoting nutrients, as well as devoid of all the unwanted ones. So while choosing foods, the packaging must be considered. Both options contain about the same amount of protein, but the plants also contain fiber, significantly more beta-carotene and other phytochemicals, folate, vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, vitamin E, and iron. Plants have zero cholesterol and a better fatty acid profile. Being particular and picking plantastic packages pays off.


Three Wrenches…an Excerpt from Whole…

In Whole, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, the “Father of Modern Nutrition,” written with Dr. Howard Jacobson, defines a super-paradigm that elucidates a philosophy—wholism—which medicine needs to aspire to in order to attain an enlightened solution. Whole is a masterpiece of intellectual triangulation, outlining the past, the present, and the critical next steps in the future of biochemistry, human nutrition, and healthcare. This book is going to unleash a health revolution.

Here is an excerpt from the book  about the three wrenches that demonstrate why our current thinking on nutrition is inaccurate and ineffective…

Excerpt from Whole:

“Virtually all of us, professionals and laypeople alike, talk about nutrition, study nutrition, sell nutrition, and practice nutrition in reference to specific nutrients and, oftentimes, to specific quantities. We fixate on the amounts. Vitamins. Minerals. Fatty acids. And of course, the biggest obsession of them all: calories.

We’ve seen where this obsession comes from, and it’s easy enough to understand. After all, most people want to be healthy and feel good, and we’re taught that our health partially depends on getting the precisely right amount of these things into our bodies. So whether it’s the obsessive calorie counting of Weight Watchers or the 40/40/30 absurdity of the Zone diet, we believe that the more accurately we track our inputs, the more control we have over the output: our health.

Unfortunately, that just isn’t true. Nutrition is not a mathematical equation, in which two plus two is four. The food we put in our mouths doesn’t control our nutrition— not entirely. What our bodies do with that food does.

Wrench #1: The Wisdom of Our Bodies

Are you sitting down? Because I need to explain something that almost no one acknowledges about nutrition: 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—what is called its bioavailability. If, for example, I consume 100 milligrams of vitamin C at one meal, and 500 milligrams at a second meal, this does not mean that the second meal leads to five times as much vitamin C reaching the tissue where it works.

Does this sound like bad news? To reductionists, it certainly does. It means that we can never know exactly how much of a nutrient to ingest, because we can’t predict how much of it will be utilized. Uncertainty: a reductionist’s worst nightmare!

Actually, this is very good news. The reason we can’t predict how much of a nutrient will be absorbed and utilized by the body is that, within limits, it depends on what the body needs at that moment. Isn’t that amazing? In more scientific language, the proportion of a nutrient that is digested, absorbed, and provided to various tissues and the cells in those tissues is mostly dependent on the body’s need for that nutrient at that moment in time. This need is constantly “sensed” by the body and controlled by a variety of mechanisms that operate at various stages of the “pathway,” from nutrient ingestion to nutrient utilization. The body reigns supreme in choosing which nutrients it uses and which it discards unmetabolized. The pathway taken by a nutrient often branches, and branches further, and branches further again, leading the nutrient through a maze of reactions that is far more complex and unpredictable than the simple linear model of reductionism would suggest.

The proportion of ingested beta-carotene (beta-carotene) that is actually converted into its most common metabolite, retinol (vitamin A), can vary as much as eight-fold. The amount converted also decreases with increasing doses of beta-carotene, thus keeping the absolute amounts that are absorbed about the same. The percentage of calcium absorbed can vary by at least two-fold; the higher the calcium intake, the lower the proportion absorbed into the blood, ensuring adequate calcium for the body and no more. Iron bioavailability can vary anywhere from three-fold to as much as nineteen-fold. The same holds true for virtually every nutrient and related chemical.

In brief, the relationship between amount consumed and amount used for virtually all nutrients is not a linear relationship. Although many professionals know this, few fully appreciate the significance of this complexity. It means nutrient databases are not nearly as useful as one might think. It also means reductionist supplementation with large doses of discrete nutrients does not guarantee the utilization of those nutrients. (In fact, our digestive processes are so complex and dynamic that super-dosing with a single nutrient all but guarantees an imbalance of some other nutrients, as we’ll see in Wrench #3 below.)

Wrench #2: The Variability of Foods

Not knowing how much of a given nutrient will be used by the body is only part of our uncertainty. The nutrient content of the foods we eat themselves varies far more than most of us realize. Look at the research just on one antioxidant vitamin, beta-carotene (and/or its related carotenoids). Beta-carotene content in different samples of the same food is known to vary three- to nineteen-fold, although it may be up to forty-fold or more, as was reported for peaches. That’s right—you could hold a peach in each hand, and the one in your right hand could easily contain forty times more beta-carotene than the one in your left, depending on things like season, soil, storage, processing, and even the original location of the fruit on the tree. And beta-carotene is far from the only example. The “relatively stable” calcium content of four kinds of cooked mature beans (black, kidney, navy, pinto) ranges 2.7-fold—from 46 to 126 mg—per cup.

This variation in food nutrient content, and the variation in nutrient absorption and utilization by the body, compound each other. A simple exercise might help to make the point. Suppose the amount of beta-carotene in a carrot varies about four-fold, and the amount of this uncertain proportion that is then absorbed across the intestinal wall into the bloodstream varies another two-fold. This means that the amount of beta-carotene theoretically delivered to the bloodstream from any given carrot on any given day might range as much as eight-fold.

These are huge but uncertain variations, and whether these ranges are two- or forty-fold, the ultimate message is the same: With the consumption of any particular food at any particular moment, we cannot know with any precision how much of any nutrient is actually available to our bodies, or how much our bodies actually use.

Wrench #3: The Complexity of Nutrient Interactions

But wait—there’s more uncertainty! You may be surprised to learn that the three nutrients mentioned above can modify one another’s activities. Calcium decreases iron bioavailability by as much as 400 percent, while carotenoids (like beta-carotene) increase iron absorption by as much as 300 percent. Theoretically, in comparing a high-calcium, low-carotenoid diet with a low-calcium, high-carotenoid diet, we might see an 800–1,200 percent difference in iron absorption. But even if this theoretical variation were only 100–200 percent, this is still huge; for some nutrients, tissue concentrations varying by more than 10–20 percent can mean serious bad news.

Interactions among individual nutrients in food are substantial and dynamic—and have major practical implications. An outstanding review by researchers Karen Kubena and David McMurray at Texas A&M University summarized the published effects of a large number of nutrients on the exceptionally complex immune system.6 Nutrient pairs that were found to influence each other and in turn, to influence components of the immune system include vitamin E–selenium, vitamin E–vitamin C, vitamin E–vitamin A, and vitamin A–vitamin D. The mineral magnesium influences the effects of iron, manganese, vitamin E, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and sodium, and through them the activities of hundreds of enzymes that process them; copper interacts with iron, zinc, molybdenum, and selenium to affect the immune system; dietary protein exerts different effects on zinc; and vitamin A and dietary fat affect each other’s ability to influence the development of experimentally created cancer.

Even closely related chemicals within the same chemical class can greatly influence each other. For example, various fatty acids affect the immune system activities of other fatty acids. The effect of polyunsaturated fats (found in plant oils) on breast cancer, for example, is greatly modified by the amount of total and saturated fat in the diet.

The fact that magnesium has already been shown to be an essential part of the function of more than 300 enzymes speaks volumes about the possibilities for the almost unlimited nutrient interactions. The effects of these interactions on drug-metabolizing enzymes and on the immune system also apply to other complex systems, such as the hormonal, acid–base balance, and neurological systems.7

The evidence cited here represents only an infinitesimally small fraction of the total number of interactions operating every moment in our bodies. Clearly, the common belief that we can investigate the effects of a single nutrient or drug unmindful of the potential modification by other chemical factors is foolhardy. This evidence should also make us extremely hesitant to “mega-dose” on nutrients isolated from whole foods. Our bodies have evolved to eat whole foods, and can therefore deal with the combinations and interactions of nutrients contained in those foods. Give a body 10,000 mg of vitamin C, however, and all bets are off.”

And this excerpt is only the beginning!!!

Thank you to all those who participated in the contest and congratulations to the winners of the FREE copies of the book: a Rafflecopter giveaway 

Authors Biographies:

For over fifty years, T. Colin Campbell, PhD, has been at the forefront of nutrition research, authoring more than 300 professional research papers. His legacy, The China Study, coauthored with his son, Thomas Campbell, II, MD, has been a continuous international bestseller since its publication in 2005. He holds the position of Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University, has coauthored several expert health- and food-policy reports, and has lectured extensively worldwide on resolving the healthcare crisis through the little known but remarkable effects of nutrition. He has founded a unique and highly successful set of online courses on plant-based nutrition as a partnership between the T. Colin Campbell Foundation and Cornell University’s online subsidiary, eCornell. Dr. T. Colin Campbell will be blogging at www.wholevana.com and participating with his sons in an effort to launch a grassroots health revolution. Together, they are launching a program intended to bring the empowering message of plant-based nutrition to individuals, worksites, and communities everywhere.

Howard Jacobson, PhD, is an online marketing consultant, health educator, and ecological gardener from Durham, North Carolina. He earned a Masters of Public Health and a Doctor of Health Studies from Temple University, and a BA in History from Princeton. Howard runs an online marketing agency and is the author of Google AdWords for Dummies. He speaks, coaches, and consults on individual health and planetary sustainability and can be reached at howard@permanator.com.

The Chef and The Dietitian – Kale Chips with Dr. T. Colin Campbell

Our much-anticipated episode of The Chef and The Dietitian with our much beloved Guest Star, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of groundbreaking best-selling book, The China Study and star of the hit documentary, Forks Over Knives. See what a great sport he is while participating in massaging kale for Chef AJ’s delicious kale chip recipe…

AJ’s Rockin’ Kale Chips

8 ounces raw cashews
8 ounces raw pine nuts
1 cup nutritional yeast
3/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup low sodium miso
1 generous teaspoon red pepper flakes

In a food processor fitted with the “S” blade, process all ingredients until a smooth paste is achieved. Pour over 4-6 heads of raw, stemmed curly kale that has been torn into pieces. Massage dressing into kale so that each piece is evenly coated. Best to use food service gloves. Place kale on several dehydrator trays fitted with a Teflex sheet and dehydrate for 8-12 hours. Flip the chips and dehydrate another 8 hours until dry. Store in an airtight sealed container or Ziploc bag. Enjoy!

The Chef and the Dietitian- Episode 13

Learn how to make pistachio milk and all about why we need to eliminate diary from our diets. To read 10 Reasons to Ditch Dairy, click here. And for more information on Dr. T. Colin Campbell and his work presented in The China Study, visit The T. Colin Campbell Foundation.

The Tipping Point

Have we reached the tipping point in the grassroots effort of conveying the medical miracles of plant-based nutrition to the world? I spent two and a half days with Dr. T. Colin Campbell (here I am with him and his beautiful and inspiring wife, Karen), my Guru whom I lovingly and with conviction have named “The Father of Modern Nutrition”. He is, indeed, a pioneer who is changing the landscape of health as we have known it for the past century and taking it in a one hundred and eighty degree turn back to Hippocrates original wisdom. “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food” was the dictum he proposed during his lifetime(460-377 B.C.). And yet we have strayed eons from this brilliant thesis in the past millennium. From food to pills and potions…from a holistic perspective to a specified point of reference, focusing on a specific vitamin or hormone responsible for a whole health issue. When will it be that physicians and researchers conclude that our body is infinitely wiser than we give it credit for?

An article came out in the paper today regarding the most popular and utilized osteoporosis medication, Fosamax. It implicated the drug in causing fractures after long-term use even though its specific indication is for (potential) osteoporotic patients. Last week, the National Institutes of Health (the largest biomedical research organization) released a report of their concern for Americans’ misunderstanding of lactose intolerance. They pretty much stated that we must do anything it takes to get the dairy into our bodies, ignoring any discomfort, illness or dis-ease it may cause in order to prevent osteoporosis. Ironically, studies clearly state that the countries around the world who consume the most dairy have the highest incidence of bone fractures! Further, we are more obese as a nation than ever before in history. This newest generation is hypothesized to be the first to live a shorter lifespan than its parents. Rates of type 2 diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension and heart disease are above and beyond the rates corresponding to historical potential. And the age of onset of these diseases is younger than ever before. The statistics are frightening.

And yet, the supplement and pharmaceutical industries are thriving. Restaurants serve larger and more deadly portions of fat, sugar and salt at rates that will scare you back to dead. They have huge panels of scientific experts dedicated to figure out which perfect combinations of fat, sugar and salt will have you coming back for more as much as possible. We have to face it…money talks and we are walking to our graves painstakingly yet surely.

On an optimistic note, however, The Veggie Grill is a restaurant that is only about three years old and has already served nearly one million plant-based meals. This picture is of me with Kevin Boylan, the co-owner of The Veggie Grill. He and his business partner, T.K. Pillan, read The China Study in one weekend and went 100% plant-based immediately following its completion. It was then that they knew what type of restaurant they needed to open.

The trailer for a film that is not even in distribution yet, entitled Forks Over Knives, has had almost 21,000 views on You-Tube posted less than a month ago. Here I am with Dr. Campbell, his lovely wife, Karen and Brian Wendel, Executive Producer of Forks Over Knives, after we screened the film yesterday. This film is the documentary that has the potential to change the landscape of medicine as we now know it, thanks to the brilliant pioneering work of Dr. Campbell and his colleague, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, whom are highlighted in the film.

Ultimately, if we take a step back and observe the changes that are inarguable and omnipresent, it is undeniable that we are reaching a significant fork in the road. Our health is at the nadir of potential. We have no choice but to choose differently. My Father always told me that the definition of “crazy” is someone who keeps beating their head against the wall and expecting a different result. As Dr. Campbell brilliantly pointed out yesterday…we have finally “reached the tipping point”…people are starting to notice and it is a very exciting time!

Plant-Based Pregnancy

Probably one of the strangest, most frightening and exciting experiences in my life was the first (and second) time I was pregnant and knew that everything I did directly impacted another human being’s life. Talk about pressure to make appropriate choices! Unfortunately for me and my kidlets, I was not convinced yet of the miracles of plant-based, whole food nutrition. I had not yet come across books likeThe China StudyDisease-Proof Your Child, or Eat to Live, the books that changed my world forever.

From there, I was led down an upward spiral into a whole world of incredibly well-researched, substantiated evidence that fulfilled my lifelong dream that helping animals is safe for your health. Previously, every time I tried to go veg (during childhood, teen-hood, college, and nutrition grad school), I was shot down with utter terror that my hair would fall out, I would be sick and deficient in nutrients, and that I could never be healthy. I will never forget when my parents had their friend, a nurse, teach me how dangerous a veg diet is and they took me to a restaurant and forced me to eat a teriyaki steak to break my crazy recent “phase” of being a vegetarian.

Fast forward to now…I have absolutely no fear, no concerns about a strictly plant-based, whole food diet for myself, my husband, and even for my little kids. I do wish I had started them early, but the confidence was just not there yet. It’s better late than never…right?

So, if I were pregnant again (which, according to my husband, will not happen), what would I do to ensure optimal nutrition for my baby and me???

First, I would be sure to ignore other people’s concerns and opinions. Or, at least set them straight with information to ameliorate their concerns.

Second, I would make sure I was eating all the right foods everyday. What does that mean? Here is a great article that describes the details: http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/pregnancy.htm. Even though it is now super-controversial, for the first trimester I would take a B supplement to make sure I was getting enough folic acid (at least 400 mcg/day). Just in case. I would, of course, try to eat all the greens I could get into my mouth all day long…but, nausea??? I couldn’t even look at vegetables (my favorite food group normally) during the first three months of my pregnancies. So, just to be safe and prevent any neural tube defects, I would take the silly supplement and move on…just for the first three months. After the nausea subsided and I could eat greens ad libitum, I would opt for that instead.

Third, I would do my best to include as many greens, legumes, whole grains, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and fruit as I could all day long. I wouldn’t worry about calories or other numbers. Just focus on nourishing my little bubula inside my belly.

Another fun thought that I will never forget is advice given to me by my acupuncturist at the time I was getting prego…he told me that I should eat walnuts everyday because in Chinese medicine, walnuts help build and support the brain. He justified this suggestion based on the fact that walnuts look like little brains. I laughed, ate as many walnuts as I could (even though they were nauseating and hideous during my pregnancies…I had to plug my nose to get them down), and thought about it later. He was brilliant! If you look at the nutrients in a walnut, it is exceedingly high in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an incredibly important nutrient during pregnancy: http://www.askdrsears.com/html/4/t040900.asp.

Ultimately, eating for two is a lot more simple and significant than is led to believe. Forget the pills…eat plants!!! Your baby will appreciate it for the rest of his/her life…