The China Study, cliffnotes version
Here are the key points of Dr. C. Campbell’s The China-Oxford-Cornell Diet and Health Project aka The China Study. This is the most comprehensive study ever done on the relationship between diet and disease.
1. Do not obsess about single nutrients, food, or supplements. By eating from the proper food groups (i.e., whole foods like vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts and seeds) you will have a nutritionally excellent diet.
2. What you eat is as important as how much you eat. The least active people in rural China consumed 30% more calories per pound of body weight. Yet had a 20% lower body mass index than average Americans.
3. What you eat plays a vital role in your overall health. This even extends to specific immunity to viral infections.
4. A nutrient rich diet and physically active lifestyle reduces the risks for several diseases at the same time. One observation was that diseases cluster together in the same geographic regions and for the same populations, which suggests that they may have a common cause.
5. Cholesterol is a strong predictor not only of heart disease risk, but also of cancer. Furthermore, diet is strongly linked to cholesterol levels. The best foods for disease prevention: unrefined, plant-based foods.
6. Breast cancer is not just a function of fat intake. There is a complex biochemical network that determines risk of breast cancer and other cancers. Focusing on one nutrient at a time is unlikely to result in any special benefit. It is much more advantageous to simply eat the right types of whole, unrefined foods and let your body take care of the rest.
7. You can virtually eliminate the risk of heart disease, by combining a nutritionally excellent diet with an active lifestyle. In some populations in China, heart disease is almost nonexistent.
8. Type I diabetes, (which strikes young children) is strongly linked to cow’s milk consumption and premature weaning. For infants, the best food is human breast milk.
9. Eye diseases commonly associated with old age, including cataracts and macular degeneration, are linked to diet. Antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables protect against these diseases. The best foods for your eyes are dark, green, leafy vegetables like spinach.
10. Bone health is strongly related with the ratio of vegetable to animal protein intake. Eating more nutrient rich plant foods and less animal foods result in better bone health. Populations that consume mostly plant foods and lead more physically active lifestyles have much lower rates of hip fracture than we do in America, even if they don’t consume dairy foods or calcium supplements.
11. Type 2 diabetes can be reversed in patients simply by changing to a nutrient-dense, mainly plant-based diet.
12. Many studies have consistently shown that dairy intake is linked to prostate cancer . A high dairy intake is one of the “most consistent dietary predictors for prostate cancer in the published literature.”
13. People always worry about getting enough protein. The real danger really lies in overconsumption of protein, especially an over reliance on animal protein.