A more difficult task than I envisioned
His new book, The End of Illness (Free Press, 1-17-12) is off to a good start, currently selling in Amazon’s top fifty. I haven’t read the book yet, but I did watch a 17-minute video (see link below) of Dr. Agus lecturing about his premise for eliminating disease—and he’s not talking about a healthy diet.
In fact, he thinks that the word “health” in the title of a book is a turn-off to readers because it somehow implies that you will have to eat food like Brussels sprouts to be healthy. From Amazon:
In “The End of Illness,” David B. Agus, MD, one of the world’s leading cancer doctors, researchers, and technology innovators, tackles fundamental questions, challenging long-held wisdoms and dismantling misperceptions about what “health” means.
Finding common ground. Dr. Agus strongly advocates an active lifestyle and presents data proving that a body in motion is much more likely to be healthier than the sedentary one. Unfortunately that’s the only common ground that I have found so far. On the contrary, I have discovered why this book has become so controversial; here are two other points in the book’s description on Amazon:
- How three inexpensive medications—aspirin, statins, and an annual flu vaccine—can substantially change the course of our health for the better.
- How taking shortcuts to health via blending fruits and vegetables, and sometimes even by purchasing what we think is “fresh,” could be shortchanging our health.
What I find most troubling about his message is that it encourages the reader to seek the magic bullet instead of taking the more difficult (and sustainable) route of nourishing our complex bodies with the simple, natural diet for our species. There is overwhelming evidence in both science and medicine proving that our top diseases (heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes) would hardly ever occur if we ate a whole foods, plant-based diet for our entire lives.
But, like so many in the health care field, Dr. Agus tells people what they want to hear; that you can eat whatever you want as long as you exercise and take the “right drugs for you”—for your entire life. With no apparent training in nutrition, he’s making a great many bold statements about how our bodies operate.
Then, there are a great number of critical issues (driven by our food choices) that Dr. Agus is completely ignoring. He is not considering the overall “big picture” when he ignores facts like these:
- Our Western diet requires at least ten times as much land to feed the same number of people when compared to the plant-based diet.
- We’re running out of land and are now burning trees in the Amazon to provide land to grow soybeans that are then shipped to China to feed pigs—Talking about not living “green.”
- Available land for food is getting scarce; our population grows by 200,000 people every single day while, at the same time, we’re losing a chunk of arable land the size of South Carolina every year.
- And to further exacerbate the problem, millions of people in China and India are moving up the food chain (adopting Western diet) every month.
- Livestock is the single largest contributor to greenhouse gases; at least 40% more than ALL of transportation combined.
Like so many well-educated professionals, Dr. Agus ignores the fact that humans are just one of millions of species—yet we’re the only species in the history of the world that is not living in harmony with Nature. Like so many others, he forgets that everything is connected in this world and that we humans have greatly disrupted that fragile harmony that is essential for the longterm survival of the entire system, including us humans.
Although 15 reviewers gave him 5 stars, several gave him 1 star out of 5 on Amazon. One wrote:
My congratulations to the brilliant marketer from Dr. Agus’ companies, Proteomics and Navigenics. What a marvelous way to sell genetic testing. I would imagine Dr. Agus has a wonderful reputation in the medical arena but his self serving pontificating and self congratulating book does nothing to “end illness”. Just what the US needs, another rich doctor becoming even wealthier feeding off disease and fear.
So what would Dr. Campbell say about this book? As a new member of his foundation’s board of directors, I reached out to him before this blog. I won’t quote him directly, but suffice it to say that he was okay with what I am writing today.
I am often reminded of two quotes from this great man of integrity—both appearing early in our book, and both are relevant here:
In the Introduction. “It turns out that if we eat the way that promotes the best health for ourselves, we also promote the best health for the planet.”
In Chapter One. “When a whole foods, plant-based diet is demonstrably beneficial for such a wide variety of diseases, is it possible that humans were meant to consume any other diet? I say no, and I think you’ll agree.”
- Want to see that Dr. Agus video? Click here.
Six from Hicks —for your health, your planet & the future of our species
- The movie that’s changing the lives of millions: Forks Over Knives DVD
- Healthy Eating, Healthy World, The ”big picture” about food (our book)
- An essential scientific resource: The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell
- Dr. McDougall’s latest book, The Starch Solution, with lots of great recipes
- Dr. Campbell’s new book: WHOLE, Rethinking the Science of Nutrition
- ENVIRONMENTAL Bonus. Comfortably Unaware by Richard Oppenlander. Eating for your own health is also best for the sustainability of our ecosystem.
Why should we be eating mostly plants? The “big picture” in 4 minutes.
Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Survey. It takes 2 or 3 minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
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—J. Morris Hicks, board member since 2012; click banner for more info: