Dealing with the “authoritative but contradictory” voices of the “system”
I chose to run this post on a Sunday as it is a bit longer than average. So, while you’re relaxing with your newspaper, you may wish to leisurely digest this important information about one of the biggest barriers we face in our grassroots effort — the failure of “mainstream medicine to embrace the life-saving power of whole foods, plant-based nutrition.
Even though a former president of the United States has gone public with what sounds like a 4-Leaf diet-style to me, I am almost certain that some 95% of the M.D.’s in America would not have advised him to embrace a near 100% plant-based diet — giving up all meat and dairy. But that’s exactly what President Clinton did — after studying the works of Campbell, Esselstyn and Ornish — doing it so that his heart could heal itself. Those M.D.’s that would not have given him that powerful advice comprise a critical part of those “authoritative but contradictory” voices.
So why don’t the vast majority of the M.D.’s in America advise their patients to do the same as President Clinton did? Because they are all part of a huge, inter-connected “system” with strong incentives to maximize revenue and maintain the status quo in terms of who controls the flow of information to the public. As Dr. Campbell summarized in The China Study:
“The entire system — government, science, medicine, industry and media — promotes profits over health, technology over food and confusion over clarity…it is a silent enemy that few people see and understand.”
Well, as one of those people who does see and understand it; I have made it my #1 priority to share that simple understanding with the world. And doing so by providing “clarity” every chance I get. As such, I occasionally receive note of encrouragement — like this recent email from a reader (Frances) on the Isle of Wight in the UK.
“I follow your blog because it helps reinforce my conviction that I am on the right track. I do wish you success, but you have got a very big mountain to climb; there are so many authoritative but contradictory voices.”
Part of “climbing that mountain” is helping people understand why they will rarely ever get the very best health-promoting information from those employed within the system. That’s because, as a rule, the vast majority of them:
- Do not seem to understand that our typical western diet is harmful (to us and the planet), is wasteful (water, energy, land), unsustainable (for many reasons) and frighteningly cruel to the 60 billion animals who live their entire lives in a virtual hell on Earth, so that we may dine on their flesh.
- Haven’t accepted the fact that our typical Western diet is driving up to 80% our healthcare dollars.
- Ignore the science proving that animal protein is strongly associated with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and osteoporosis — to name just a few.
- Use protein as a synonym for meat, dairy, eggs and fish — never acknowledging that whole plants easily provide the “right protein” for our bodies in just the right quantities.
- Never explain in simple terms exactly how you must eat in order to promote the very best health for you and your family. Confusion over clarity prevails everywhere within the system.
Dr. Campbell did explain it very simply in The China Study, saying in Chapter 10, “What you decide to do with this information is up to you, but you can at least know that you, as a reader and a person, have finally been told something other than hogwash.”
To be fair, I truly believe that virtually all medical doctors are well-intentioned. They just find themselves trapped in a system where there is no money to be made if everyone got healthy. The only way they can earn a living is to do what they have been taught — conduct tests, prescribe drugs and conduct procedures. I selected two well-known physicians to drive home my point; went to their respective websites and made some observations.
Please know that I have nothing in particular against these two doctors, I just chose them because they are famous and their advice is consistent with most of the other professionals operating within “the system.”
Andrew Weil, M.D. Very impressive credentials indeed; from his website at drweil.com: Twice on the cover of TIME Magazine, his ten books have sold approximately ten million copies:
Combining a Harvard education and a lifetime of practicing natural and preventive medicine, Dr. Weil is the founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, where he is also a Clinical Professor of Medicine and Professor of Public Health and the Lovell-Jones Professor of Integrative Rheumatology. Dr. Weil received both his medical degree and his undergraduate AB degree in biology (botany) from Harvard University.
Dr. Weil is an internationally-recognized expert for his views on leading a healthy lifestyle, his philosophy of healthy aging, and his critique of the future of medicine and health care.
Mark Hyman, M.D. While not enjoying quite the level of notoriety as Dr. Weil, he is busy making his presence felt around the world, aligning himself with other famous people like Dr. Oz.
He graduated with a B.A. from Cornell University, and graduated magna cum laude from the Ottawa University School of Medicine. He completed his residency at University of San Francisco’s program in Family Medicine at the Community Hospital of Santa Rosa. From his website at drhyman.com
Dr. Hyman is Chairman of the Institute for Functional Medicine, and was awarded its 2009 Linus Pauling Award for Leadership in Functional Medicine. He is on the Board of Directors of The Center for Mind-Body Medicine, and a faculty member of its Food As Medicine training program. He is also on the Board of Advisors of Memhet Oz’s HealthCorps, which tackles the obesity epidemic by “educating the student body” in American high schools about nutrition, fitness and mental resilience. As a volunteer for Partners in Health, Dr. Hyman worked on the ground immediately after the Haiti earthquake and was featured on 60 Minutes for his work there. He continues to help rebuild the Haitian health-care system.
Impressive credentials in both cases; so what’s the problem? The problem goes back to “confusion over clarity” mentioned earlier. And, to repeat one of my earlier points: “They never explain in simple terms exactly how you must eat in order to promote the very best health for you and your family.”
My observations after visiting their websites. Just like visiting the websites of their fellow “system” members like the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, and American Diabetes Association — there is a ton of information, ads, and such, but zero clarity. As in those other sites:
- While they both emphasize the need for lots of whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, they also talk about the need for healthy “protein” like fish, dairy, poultry and lean cuts of beef.
- They talk about wild, cold-water fish but fail to acknowledge the dangerous unsustainability of that ocean-grown food supply to feed far less than 2 billion of us humans; what happens when the other five billion try to start eating it instead of beef and pork?
- They both have VERY impressive credentials but I am not sure if they have as much formal nutritional training as I have had. I didn’t see any in their bios. You see, I earned a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Foundation and eCornell. We all know they don’t teach much, if any, nutrition in med schools, and if they did — it would be the same old “system” controlled garbage.
- It’s almost like they’ve positioned themselves as the health advisors to the wealthy; those people who wish to continue eating their meat and want the latest wonder technique to enable them to keep enjoying their bad habits.
They give you zillions of choices and tons of information, but they never “clarify” exactly what you need to do in order to take charge of your health. I can do that with two words: WHOLE PLANTS.
I would like to challenge Dr. Weil and Dr. Hyman to a simple test:
- Select 75 people who wish to improve their health and lose weight and are willing to significantly change their diet-styles to do so.
- Divide them into three groups of 25 each. One group will read a Dr. Hyman book, one will read a Dr. Weil book and the other group will read our book.
- The group that reads our book will get ALL of their input from that book and our 4-Leaf website at 4leafprogram.com. The other two groups will gain their dietary information from websites and books by the other two doctors respectively.
- Each group will follow the guidelines set forth as best they can for ten weeks.
- An RD will keep track of exactly what they eat, but will not give them advice or answer questions.
- Each group will be monitored by an M.D, who will prepare routine reports on all of the key bio-markers, like cholesterol, blood pressure, weight, etc.
I would bet $100,000 that the group reading our book will do far better than either of the other two groups. And I bet that my ten highly-credentialed book endorsers would take the same bet.
Why? Because I am certain that the simplicity and clarity of our message and our 4-Leaf Program will enable our group to maximize the percent of their calories from the healthiest of all foods for humans — whole plants in nature’s package. And if they do that, my group will definitely win — and many will write me a note like the one I received this morning from a reader in the Netherlands:
“I am living proof that a whole plant-based diet works. On June 22, I had been a vegetarian for several months. But that didn’t help me get my blood pressure down. My BP was 210/120. My doctor wanted to put me on meds again, but I wanted to try out a whole plant-based diet first. My doctor gave me three months to try it out. Today, July 9, less than three weeks later — my blood pressure has dropped to 137/85 without any medication. I am definitely going to stick with it. I am very grateful to you and to all the great people you mention in your blog.”
And I would bet another 100 grand on the prediction that a much greater percentage of my group will stick with the program after experiencing the benefits for just 10 weeks. The above message was received from Marleen on 7-9-11, commenting on Credibility, Legitimacy and Authenticity after following our 4-Leaf guidelines for just 17 days. I have similar notes from people whose improved cancer markers have shocked their oncologist; for example:
“I have been on the 4-Leaf Program for 12 weeks and I have lost 36 pounds. My cancer doctor called yesterday to discuss a recent blood test. He said my cancer markers he was measuing had dropped 30%. I told him about the diet and he thought it was good idea.” From my friend Carl Garrison in Houston.
In closing, I would like to share with you a few lines from the foreword by Campbell and Esselstyn to the new Forks Over Knives book (a “how to” guide following the movie). This summarizes the way our “system” of health care works to perpetuate itself, while doing nothing to promote health — driving home the necessity for a grassroots revolution to take back our own health. That “system” will eventually change, but not anytime soon.
Who will protect the public? Not our government: The U.S. Department of Agriculture is the voice of our food industry….Not the American Dietetic Association, which is controlled by food corporations. Not the insurance industry, which profits by selling plans to the sick. Not the pharmaceutical industry, which pockets billions annually from chronic illnesses. Not hospitals, whose livelihood depends on our diseases. Not the medical profession, in which doctors and nurses receive virtually no training in nutrition or behavioral modification, and are handsomely rewarded for administering drugs….And finally, not our medical research funding institutions: Too often they focus on biological details, such as individual nutrients, that can be exploited commercially for profit.
These are the kinds of things that I would share with my group of 25 people in the above challenge with Dr. Hyman and Dr. Weil:
Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com
- 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 new book, The Starch Solution, with lots of great recipes.
Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Diagnostic Survey. It takes less than five 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 email@example.com
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Blogging daily at hpjmh.com…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.
—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation