the campbellcoalition.org site is no longer existent due to restrategizing efforts. some of you never got around to seeing some of the excellent items that were on that site, so nelson campbell has kindly offered to make these available for posting within our group.
My name is Nelson Campbell and I am working with a team focused on promoting plant-based nutrition to the mainstream. This is the first in what I hope will be a long series of blogs. I love to write and am passionate about the issue of health. And there is so much to share about the dream we are chasing.
We believe the solution to our healthcare crisis is not a new medical technology, another drug, or top down reform imposed from above – rather, we are the solution to our healthcare crisis. There is a wave building, formed from the belief that we can control our health by eating the right foods. You see, nutrition is far more powerful than we have been told by government, the media, and the food and health care industries. The “Great Secret of Health,” still unknown by most people, is this: we can prevent and even reverse many of the diseases that afflict us by eating a whole food, plant-based diet.
If you find this hard to believe, I would like to suggest a book called “The China Study,” authored by my father, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and my brother Dr. Thomas M. Campbell. Even if you never read another blog from me, I hope you can remember this one piece of advice:
PLEASE READ THIS BOOK, IT WILL FOREVER CHANGE YOUR LIFE!
I don’t mean to sound like an advertisement; I just believe to the depth of my soul that there may be nothing you can do more important to your health and well-being than to read this book. My father is a world-leading nutritional researcher and what he and my brother have to say will change your life.
As I write these blogs, I will try to keep in mind the advice I have been given many times to “keep it short and sweet.” I don’t know if I will always be able to write something sweet, but I will try hard not to be long-winded. So I will stop here, but I hope you continue reading our blogs. My father, our guest bloggers and I will do our best to provide information and commentary that adds some value to your life.
Corporate and political corruption … where does it end? I cannot seem to read or watch the news without hearing yet another dramatic story of greed and dishonesty. And I see lesser examples of this all around me in my day-to-day life.
During my most frustrated moments, I sometimes think life might be easier if I gave away most of what I own, reduced my life to its simplest terms, and withdrew from the world, perhaps to a log cabin high up in a mountain valley somewhere (with my family and a few friends of course). Yet … I know this would dishonor the gift of life that I have been given. And I know this would represent a blindness to the reality of the world – a reality which is a far more promising than the news would have us believe.
Over the years, philosophers have spoken of the dialectic progression of history. According to this line of thought, history advances in fits and starts, prompted by periods of culminating tension and injustice. Behind every gray cloud, there is a beautiful fringe of sliver, and this is what I am sensing today. Lately, I have been running into more and more people whose eyes have been opened and passion lit by the negativity around us.
There is a countercurrent building and I believe to the depth of my soul that this countercurrent will eventually carry the day. And it is this rising countercurrent that we want to tap as we work to bring plant-based nutrition into the mainstream.
I hope you can see the same potential for change that we see. If not, I suggest you take a break from the news on your TV and computer, and take some time for a walk through the woods or for other quiet reflection.
Over the last several days, my family and I moved to a new home. All kinds of things seemed to go wrong, including watching our movers drive their truck off the road twice, once at our originating home and again at our new home, but thankfully we are done. I must admit that my sense of optimism may have something to do with the fact that I am done with this unpleasant task and now back into my daily routine. But even accounting for this, I believe what I said. Our time is ripe for change. All we need is the courage to make it happen.
Nelson Campbell Blog 3 Nature vs. Nurture; Psychopaths and Veggies
I saw an interesting story on CNN a couple of nights ago, and then read an article on the same story at http://n.pr/dzl5vS. This is the story of Dr. James Fallon, a scientist at the University of California-Irvine who has studied the brains of psychopathic killers for 20 years. He discovered that these people have brains that share common traits, and that these common traits can be clearly seen on PET brain scans. He also discovered that they share a troubling gene – the MAO-A gene, or the “warrior gene” as it has become known.
But perhaps most interesting of all, he discovered when he did a brain scan on himself that his brain looked exactly like the scans of the killers he had been studying. Likewise, he discovered he carried the warrior gene. This was distressing but not a total surprise. Along one line of his family history, there were eight alleged murderers.
This personal finding has fundamentally altered his science views. Dr. Fallon has not lived a violent life; to the contrary, he has lived peacefully and productively, not only contributing to the world of science but raising a loving family with his wife. The reason? According to Dr. Fallon, he had an idyllic childhood – an experience missing in the background of the killers he has studied. According to the previously noted article, “He once believed that genes and brain function could determine everything about us. But now he thinks his childhood may have made all the difference.”
Does this story ring a bell with any of you who have read my father’s book “The China Study?” He makes the same argument about genes. Namely, our genes predispose us to certain outcomes, but do not necessarily lead us there. Whether we get there or not is determined by the influence of our environment on the expression of those genes.
Dr. Fallon’s story was not at all surprising to me. I have listened to my father talk for years about genes versus gene expression, and the role of nutrition in controlling gene expression. It makes all the sense in the world that a ‘born killer’ could, under the right circumstances, grow up to lead a compassionate and productive life.
Nelson Campbell Blog 4 Are We Crazy? Perhaps, but Hopefully Not
As we mentioned in the ‘Big Idea’ section of the website, we have developed an exciting vision for a replicable wellness program. Elements of this include foods and other products, education, health services, and social networking. Our goal is to bring this concept to communities everywhere, and we hope to leverage our own web community to help in this effort.
This idea requires some money, however, money that we don’t have. So for the near future we are focused on making money through the sale of packaged food and wellness products. We will do this through a traditionally organized company and expect to launch a website for this company soon.
But by the end of the year or perhaps early next year, we hope to have made enough progress to establish a new corporate entity to develop our larger wellness model. Importantly, we will do this in a way that has never been done in starting a company. Namely, we will organize this company as a ‘not-just-for-profit’ company, using a trust mechanism to recycle money back into the cause.
Sometimes people think I’m crazy when I tell them we will put the stock of this company into a trust for the benefit of a social mission we define, rather than using this for our own personal enrichment. I don’t believe I’m crazy. I have been an entrepreneur for close to 20 years and through trial and error have learned a thing or two about business. No, I am not crazy – just committed to obtaining freedom and happiness in my life.
I know this seems contradictory, but before elaborating let me clarify something: I don’t think there is anything wrong with making money and achieving comfort in one’s life. Mark Twain once said, “Honest poverty is a gem that even a king might be proud to call his own, but I wish to sell out.” He makes a good point. Indeed, the idea of contributing something productive to society and getting fairly compensated for that contribution is more than OK – it is virtuous.
The problem is not money; the problem is the value we place on money, power and reputation above the opportunities in life that can enrich our souls. Too many of us pursue these false idols to the detriment of other people, stealing their right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. And we do this to our own detriment. For reasons that can’t be explained in this short space, I believe happiness comes through a freedom from attachments to money, power and reputation.
Contrary to what you may have heard, the world is overflowing with beauty and our lives abound with opportunity for fulfillment. Hopefully we can take this attitude into all we do and we hope you can stay with us for the ride.
In recent days, my father’s research in China has come under attack on the web by people and groups who have read an extensive but scientifically unsound critique of the China Study, authored by a person with no training or experience in this field. Despite lacking an adequate understanding of statistics and causality, she employed the writing skills she learned as an English major to compose a critique that might seem persuasive to laypeople. People opposed to my father’s views have used this as an opportunity to criticize his research, and even to mock his intelligence and character.
This sad episode is another reminder of the challenges we face in communicating the truth of health to the public. And it is a reminder of why those who know this truth need to join hands in common purpose. Those of us who are taking the lead in this effort should strive to make the cause of honest science and truth-telling our primary concern, of greater importance than our more narrow personal interests.
When we launched Campbell Coalition, we hesitated to use the name “Campbell.” Time and again, however, people close to us suggested we use this name because my father is known by so many people. For marketing reasons, we decided to accept this advice, but we feel strongly that the idea of plant-based nutrition is a universal idea with no connection to any one person. It is an idea that comes from Nature, and an idea that no one person can lay claim to. It does not matter who discovered what, or who did what; what matters is working together to communicate the truth of health to the public.
To emphasize the social aspect of our long-term plans at Campbell Coalition, we are pursuing a long-term strategy that will enable us to recycle the financial return we generate back into the cause (see Our Big Idea). We are hoping that this might illuminate a pathway for others to follow, where financial, reputational, and other such interests are subordinated to the larger cause we all believe in.
We hope you can join with us, and we urge support not only of Campbell Coalition, but of every person and organization involved in promoting the message of plant-based nutrition. Everyone’s efforts are important. This is not what economists call a ‘zero-sum game’ where one person’s gain is another’s loss; rather any person who succeeds in changing the life of another through plant-based nutrition benefits us all.
I also would like to offer one other idea for your consideration. Namely, we should keep an open attitude toward those who are fighting against us. Everyone is a mother, father, brother and/or sister of someone else, so we all have a stake in the truth. But the truth can find a home only where it is welcomed; for this reason, it is imperative that we always strive to appeal to people’s positive instincts.
Earlier in the week, I had an opportunity to meet with the very talented team who manage my father’s foundation at www.tcolincampbell.org. This group has developed quite a bit of expertise in web-based education and marketing. (If you have an opportunity, take a look at the site. You won't be disappointed.)
Our discussion was productive and, among other things, I learned that I need to overhaul our Campbell Coalition website. I don’t think I have done a good job explaining exactly what it is that we are trying to do. I also need to reformat my explanation so that it is more readily digestible for people who are quickly surfing through the site.
Over the next few days, I will be working on this and hope to have a modified site up and running soon. This site will include more detail of our plans, clearer explanations, and a more attention-grabbing presentation of the information. Any input that you may have for me to consider as I go through this process would be greatly appreciated.
Nelson Campbell Blog 7 A Pile of 30 Papers – Just to Play a Sport?
Wow! I just heard a story from someone about the medical process their kid must go through to play a school sport. Instead of getting a simple physical and physician clearance, this school now requires an exhaustive medical assessment, documented by about 30 pages of forms. Many of these relate to a large number of required vaccinations (more than I ever remembered getting).
I know there are people who can put forth arguments as to why each step in this process has medical value. I am not qualified or interested in debating this, but I would like to pose a general question about the requirement for so much testing and paperwork before a kid can play a sport at his or her school. Namely, who is behind this, and why?
On a superficial level, the “who behind this” is our government. Mandates from the government drive this process. But the process seems like overkill to me, so I wonder if there is more to the story. I wonder if it also includes the drug companies and other elements of our health care system that financially benefit from excessive intervention. And we can’t forget our legal system and the fear of lawsuits it instills in institutions like our schools.
Perhaps the most complete answer to the question I posed is this: a collusion of powerful special interests and government. Let’s face it – there are lots of dollars to be made selling pharmaceuticals and prosecuting lawsuits, and lots of politicians who will do anything to get elected.
I know many others are asking this, but I will ask it again: what happened to the idea of a government of, by and for the people? And by the way, I don’t mean to show preference for one political party over another in asking this; in my opinion, the hidden and corrupt machinations of government have not fundamentally changed through democratic or republican administrations. We may have different leaders at the top, but the collusion of government and special interests (albeit different special interests at times) has proceeded unabated.
But most of all, what is happening to the idea of personal virtue? Those of us in positions of influence, whether in the private sector or in government, need to consider a higher standard. Politicians ought to do the right thing at all times, even if no one is looking. If it means getting voted out of office, then at least they can come home with their integrity intact (which is all we really have at the end of the day). And corporate leaders ought to think imaginatively so that they can maximize profits while advancing human interests. Contrary to the opinion of many, this is possible, but it is a possibility that begins with a commitment to virtue.
I may be reading too much into this story about a pile of 30 papers, but I suspect not.
It has been a little while since our last blog, mostly because of a few days off I took to go backpacking with my son in the mountains. We had a great time. The scenery was spectacular and any stress I had just melted away. For a brief moment, I stopped thinking about work and instead thought about what kind of scene I might see around the next corner, how far we should walk before setting up camp for the evening, or whether we should pause at a bush we were passing to pick a handful of blueberries. And it was great having time to be with my son.
It felt a little strange going to work on Wednesday, kind of like I was passing from one universe into another. And the feeling was not helped when I perused the news to find an article that might be worthy of a blog discussion. To my dismay, I learned that South Carolina is encouraging some of its obese government workers to get gastric bypass surgery, to the tune of $24,000 per person, all paid for by the state. Apparently, this will reduce their insurance costs. (See http://bit.ly/dacBVg)
In Nature, everything is in balance. Nothing is out of order and it all makes sense. How far we have fallen! We live like gluttons, not unlike the Romans at the twilight of their civilization. And too many of us worship money and reputation, and seem to have little to no interest in stepping outside the little boxes we inhabit.
Researchers like my father, and a growing number of physicians practicing lifestyle medicine, have proven that diet can resolve obesity and the health problems connected with this. And this is a solution without cost. Switching from the lactation fluids and cooked flesh of other animals to delicious meals prepared from fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other plant foods costs nothing. But perhaps it is this last point that is the problem. Gastric bypass costs $24,000 and this is a cost that is someone else’s profit. Unfortunately, these kinds of costs are spread among millions of powerless and mostly misinformed people, while the corresponding profits accrue to small but powerful groups who have learned how to pull the levers of a corrupt government.
I know some may disagree, but I believe that our government is headed down a path to financial oblivion, borrowing and spending like there is no tomorrow. Out of control health costs are a big part of this. At some point in the not too distant future, I would not be surprised if the whole system came crashing down. Maybe at this point we will wake up from our stupor. And if it gets bad enough, some of us might decide to go back to the woods for awhile, and maybe that might not be such a bad thing.
My name is T. Colin Campbell and I am a nutritional scientist and co-author with my youngest son, Tom, of a book called “The China Study.” In the blogs that I write, I will share with you thoughts about nutrition and science that are aligned with the message we articulated in our book.
I grew up on a dairy farm and started life with ideas of nutrition and health that bear little resemblance to what I believe today. I loved my life on the farm, but had to set aside my personal prejudices in pursuit of the truth.
Every scientist brings personal bias to their work. There is no such thing as an objective person. Indeed, the only objective person is a dead person. Each of us comes into this world with a unique biology, and as we walk through life, we have experiences that shape the way we see the world. No matter how hard we try, we cannot escape the fact that we see the world through unique windows. Each of us is like a snowflake; no two of us have ever taken the same path.
This issue of personal bias is the first of what I believe are the two main problems today in science. And by this, I don’t mean the issue of having personal bias; I mean the problem of being blind to our personal bias. Way too many of my colleagues fail to understand how their biases can color their research because they don’t see their biases in the first place.
The second problem in science today is the problem of reductionism. This is a subject I will talk about again and again in my blogs because I believe it is at the heart of what has gone wrong with health care. We optimize our health when we live in accordance with Nature. Yet, science has developed around the notion that we can control our health through a single chemical, as a pharmaceutical or supplement, or through powerful but narrowly focused medical procedures. I believe this is an arrogant approach.
We are part of Nature and we optimize our health when we live within its natural laws. To understand what this means we must see the world more wholistically. We need to understand and revel in Nature’s symphony, and stop arrogantly assuming we can so easily manipulate a creation that is beyond our ability to fully comprehend.
I know what I am saying may be a little difficult to follow because I have not fully explained what I mean here. However, I have lots of blogs to do this in and I hope you can come back to hear more, not only from me, but also from my son Nelson and our guest bloggers.
Fifteen to twenty years ago, I wrote commentaries and published research to show that although elaborating the human genome would prove to be interesting science, it would not lead to human health solutions. It was all about BIG PHARMA getting their toe in the water for the development of new drugs, which would do little or nothing to advance human health.
My position is about the ability of nutrition to CONTROL gene expression and as long as we fail to address nutrition as a serious science, we will never see the light.
The governmental agency that should be leading the charge on nutrition is the National Institutes of Health (http://www.nih.gov/index.html). This organization is composed of 27 institutes and centers and invests $28 billion of taxpayer money in medical research. Amazingly, it does not have an Institute of Nutrition! This is insane, and mostly a testament to the power of certain economic interests in our political system.
Now that the evidence in favor of plant-based nutrition is so overwhelming, it is extremely frustrating to see so much of the same old debate and policies. This is why change will need to come from the bottom-up.
Dr. T. Colin Campbell Blog 3 Breaking Our Addiction to Drugs
Contemporary medical practice is founded on the scientific idea that the most effective therapy is provided by specific chemical agents acting on known targets via known biochemical mechanisms. Specificity and precision are often the goal in this strategy. This is the scientific justification for the use of pharmaceuticals that is the hallmark of contemporary medical practice.
This is not the way nutrition works; thus, a nutritional approach to medical care is mostly overlooked. And if it is chosen, it usually relies on the existing ‘pharmaceutical’ model of using single nutrient supplements for specific targets and conditions.
Optimal nutrition, as defined by Nature, is the sum of the synergistic activity of countless nutrients in whole plant-based foods. Although we lack the understanding to tease apart the complex elements of this wonderful stew of synergy, we can see the results. The effects of whole plant-based foods are broad and profound and often manifest very quickly (within hours to days), thus becoming a means of treatment in addition to prevention. This effect applies not only to cardiovascular disease but also to most other disease conditions as well.
This is a message that has historically been difficult to convey in most medical practice communities because primary care physicians receive virtually no training in nutrition. Nor does the major biomedical agency, NIH, devote anything more than cursory attention to this topic. On a positive note, though, many physicians today are tired of seeing their patients just long enough to determine what drugs to prescribe. They know the system is broken and are more open than ever to new ideas.
I and a growing number of other researchers and clinicians believe there is no intervention in medical practice that is as effective as nutrition in its ability to maintain and/or restore health. A broad diversity of diseases and illnesses can be controlled and cured by this strategy, and without the toxic side effects of pharmaceuticals.
If we are to transform our system of health care, we must break our addiction to costly and oftentimes toxic drugs, and instead take a cue from Nature on the power of whole food, plant-based nutrition.
In a recent article in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute http://bit.ly/ayANT7, Dr. Walter Willett of Harvard writes: “In summary, the findings from the EPIC cohort add further evidence that a broad effort to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables will not have a major effect on cancer incidence. Such efforts are still worthwhile because they will reduce risks of cardiovascular disease, and a small benefit for cancer remains possible. Research should focus more sharply on specific fruits and vegetables and their constituents and on earlier periods of life.”
I know Dr. Willett’s work well and have known him personally for almost 30 years. But his views are almost entirely based on a reductionist research philosophy. This ‘approach’ is a serious limitation because in studies that he quotes, however large they may be, there are virtually no subjects who consume a whole food, plant-based diet. Thus, these studies are not able to detect the health effects that we talk about! Instead, he focuses his research on people who consume a diet relatively high in fat (anything in excess of 20-25% of calories is high by my standards) and high in protein (most of which is animal-based). Within these studies, there are some slight differences because some may consume more red meat than others, or may consume lower fat dairy products, but these differences are not that meaningful when compared with the huge differences that exist for whole food, plant based diets. This is where the benefits are seen.
His rationale? As I said in my book, he has told me both privately and publicly that “I may be right, but no one wants to go there.” I disagree with this sentiment. If we are going to be scientists, then let’s be scientists by following the evidence where it takes us, not by seeking to find conclusions that please people with their present habits. I grew up on a dairy farm and learned to love the farm life and the foods that came with it, but I soon learned that in health research people’s lives are at stake, and we must set aside our prejudices and other concerns to seek the truth, no matter where it leads.
Dr. Willett also advocates focusing “more sharply on specific fruits and vegetables and their constituents” as a means of advancing our knowledge. Elsewhere, he has said (see p. 286 in “The China Study”) that “specific components of the diet can be modified, and individuals and the food industry are actively doing so.” He is referring to industries here such as the vitamin supplement industry, which attempts to isolate a single chemical from the thousands present in a food and then claim a particular benefit from consumption of this single chemical or to industries that remove or add isolated nutrients to their product, hoping for a marketing advantage. This is preposterous from a science standpoint, but also preposterous from a moral standpoint – medical research today is too often driven by money alone, and not by public health concerns.
If we are to change health care, we must set aside personal interests, politics and money and seek nothing else than the promotion of health for all.