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 prepackaged 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 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.
"Whole makes a convincing case that modern nutrition’s focus on single nutrients has led to mass confusion with tragic health consequences. Dr. Campbell’s new paradigm will change the way we think about food and, in doing so, could improve the lives of millions of people and save billions of dollars in health care costs." (Brian Wendel, creator and executive producer of Forks over Knives)
"There are very few material game-changers in life, but this book is truly one of them. The information herein - backed up by extraordinary peer-reviewed science - has the power to halt and reverse disease, give you energy you’ve never known, and put you on a path of transformation in just about every positive way. Read it and get ready to soar." (Kathy Freston, New York Times best-selling author of The Lean)
"In this provocative book, T. Colin Campbell, based on his long career in experimental research and health-policy making, uncovers how and why there is so much confusion about food and health and what can be done about it. The China Study revealed what we should eat; Whole answers why. Read and enjoy; there’s something here to inspire and offend just about everyone." (Dean Ornish, MD, founder and president, Preventive Medicine Research Institute, Sausalito)
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Not what you think it is
I was disappointed with this book. I eat a plant based diet for the most part. I was hoping for a book about rethinking nutrition and the science behind the need for change in the American diet. I wanted facts about why we need to change the way we think about food and the kind of foods we choose to eat. What I found instead was angry finger pointing. Much of the book was spent discussing how drug companies and the food industry and the allopathic health care world are wrong, terrible, and out to get us all. This point was dragged out in such a repetitive manner that it was beyond tiresome. I agree with the author that much is wrong with the system--but simply repeating that message doesn't fix the problem. This book felt like a missed opportunity to get an important message out there. To get people thinking and learning about how to improve their health by changing the way they eat. If that is the information you are looking for I'd try another book.
Debunking the Science of Nutrition
If you go into this book thinking it's about the whole food diet and its benefits, you're going to be disappointed. On the other hand, if you read this to learn about the dysfunctionality in the field of nutrition as well as the evils of Big Pharma, you'll be more inclined to enjoy it.
It would have been great to have included more (much more!) on the benefits of a whole food diet. More case studies. Some concrete data would be great. There's a lot they could have done here to create a positive light on a whole food diet that might be motivating and I'm certain highly interesting.
Don Hagen did a fine job with narration. Nothing about the narration distracted from the content, and I don't think his intonation conveyed any bias that wasn't actually present in the context of the story.
I would condense the anti-pharma, anti-medicine content of the book (which was the majority of it) into a single chapter, and emphasized the necessity to maintain reasonable skepticism when dealing with medical or pharmaceutical issues.
The premise of the book is interesting. Perhaps just re-titling the book "Rethinking the Science of Nutrition" would have been sufficient by subtly adjusting the reader's expectations. I would have loved more pro-whole diet information, examples, case studies, and that sort of thing, even if it is anecdotal.
However, as it stands, the tone of the book is overwhelmingly negative and ends up coming across as mostly conspiratorial, which is sad given the potential of the topic.
- Jason Cox