Mainstream media is failing us when it comes to health.


Basically reporting all the “news” from our dysfunctional “system.”

And that adds up to a steady stream of “confusion over clarity” every single day. On July 10, 2012, an article in Sci-Tech Today caught my attention. Heart Disease in Men Can Be Fought Head-On (See link below). The article was written by Nanci Hellmich, who also writes frequently for USA Today.

My immediate thought was hopeful—thinking that maybe the mainstream media is actually beginning to tell us the truth about reversing heart disease. NOT. The article led off with this worthless, lame advice from a cardiologist who would be out of business if everyone got healthy:

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of men (and women) in the USA, so it’s no wonder that cardiologist Gordon Tomaselli dispenses direct, no-nonsense advice: “Get up and move more, don’t smoke, make sure you control your blood pressure and cholesterol, and don’t ignore symptoms of heart disease, particularly if you have a family history.”

No-nonsense advice? What about diet? Mentioned in one sentence, but not explained. Not in the first paragraph—not ANYWHERE in the article. Does our media not watch television? Have they not seen “The Last Heart Attack?” Do they not know how President Clinton reversed his heart disease by following the dietary advice of Campbell, Esselstyn and Ornish? Do they not know about how Dr. Esselstyn reversed heart disease in 95% of his patients at the Cleveland Clinic by changing ONLY their diet?

Nanci Hellmich, USA Today

So who is Nanci Hellmich and why does she not even mention the overwhelming importance of food in an article that’s supposed to help men learn how to fight heart disease? What is it with the mainstream media in America? It’s almost like they’re being paid by the countless pieces of our “system” whose livelihood depend on us being sick.

From her LinkedIn page, I found that Ms. Hellmich is a Nutrition and Fitness Reporter for USA Today and that she’s been widely recognized for her excellence in reporting—for the last 25 years.

Two media excellence awards from the American Dietetic Association (1987, 1993), an award for excellence in reporting on obesity as a chronic disease from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2000), the nutrition science journalist award from the American Society for Nutrition (2006) and the Atkinson-Stern Award (2008) from the Obesity Society

After reading her heart disease article and reading about all her awards for excellence, I decided to take a look at some of Nanci’s other work. That didn’t take long as I immediately found her article entitled “Americans need to try harder to eat fruits, vegetables” in USA Today (also on July 10, 2012, see link below).

Try harder to eat fruits and vegetables? It only took one or two paragraphs to realize that Nanci is nothing but a parrot for the USDA guidelines and our entire dysfunctional “system” of health care (disease management). “Confusion over clarity” reigns supreme in her work without ever offering any true health-promoting information. The USA Today article led off:

No one said eating enough fruits and vegetables was going to be a piece of cake — even if you’re giving it your best shot.

The majority of Americans say they’ve been trying to eat more fruits and vegetables over the past year, according to a poll of 1,057 adults for the International Food Information Council Foundation.

But most people are consuming less than half of what the government recommends.

What the government recommends? The media is not telling the general public EXACTLY what they need to do to take charge of their health. They generally preach the USDA “balanced diet” food pyramid—which has been solidly in place during the recent explosion of obesity and type 2 diabetes in this country. Are there any journalists out there who are consistently reporting the powerful truth about nutrition?

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, an emerging leader in the grassroots revolution to re-claim our health through plant-based nutrition. A part of the SOLUTION.

Sanjay Gupta of CNN has done some powerful work in the past few years and I truly believe that he really “gets it.” His Last Heart Attack documentary that aired around the time of Hurricane Irene last August was perhaps the very best piece of work—ever—from the mainstream media.

Given all that’s on the line in terms of our health, the cost of health care and the host of environmental and social issues driven by our toxic western diet, it would be great to see Sanjay start doing this kind of work on a full-time basis.

As for writers, I believe that Mark Bittman of the New York Times is the best that we have right now. As I reported yesterday in my blog, he recently announced to the world that he has given up dairy products—as a test. And so far, he likes what he sees. I am confident that he will continue to enjoy the benefits of plant-based eating and that he will eventually begin delivering the consistent clarity that the world so desperately needs. Of course, you remember what happened to Oprah when she announced on her show that she would “never have another burger?” She got sued by the meat producers.

Jane E. Brody — New York Times

Another great reporter is Jane Brody, also with the New York Times. She was the one that coined the term “Grand prix of epidemiology” (5-8-90) to describe Dr. Campbell’s work in China–fifteen years before The China Study was published in 2005. But like Mark Bittman, even though she occasionally reports powerful, health-promoting truth; often she flip-flops more than Mitt Romney when she writes a pro-dairy article.

The Bottom Line. Our media is failing us. Maybe it’s the way whole industry is structured. Maybe a hard-hitting reporter of truth can’t make it in the big leagues of journalism in the land of the free anymore. But thank God for the blogosphere where we can easily find the life-saving information that we need—every day. And we don’t have to deal with the “confusion over clarity” that prevails in the mainstream. Here, we can boil the whole discussion down to two words: Whole Plants. Presto! Take charge of your health—save the planet!

Just in case you want to read more from Nanci Hellmich:

Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com

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 jmorrishicks@me.com

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To order more of my favorite books—visit our online BookStore now

J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page or some great recipes at Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.

Got a question? Let me hear from you at jmorrishicks@me.com. Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.

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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

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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5 Responses to Mainstream media is failing us when it comes to health.

  1. David Jodrey (blogging as Broadway Dave at McDougall's discussion board) says:

    I was just viewing a video of a presentation at Johns Hopkins Hospital by Dr. Tomaselli. Gordon F. Tomaselli, MD, Chief, Division of Cardiology, Johns Hopkins Hospital, President of the American Heart Association 2011-2012, speaking at JHH on “Prevention of Heart Disease: What Should I Be Doing?” 3/22/2012 9:49 AM EDT Length: 01:23:22

    At 44 minutes, in response to a question from the audience, he said:

    “I’m sorry – whole foods based diet?”
    “I’ve heard anecdotal reports of people who’ve gone to complete vegan diets, for example. Not many of my patients really can do that. But I think the message here should NOT be that I need to go to a complete vegan diet to consider this a successful intervention. What you need to do, is just make sure those things that aren’t optimal, you do a little better job at. Lower the caloric intake. Lower the amount of salt in your diet. Increase exercise a little bit more. And that can be progressive over time. For people who have the worst coronary heart disease, diet alone usually doesn’t fix the problem.”

    I’m going to sit right down and write the doc a letter, and make believe he can receive information which contradicts his ingrained belief system. It probably won’t make an impact, but who knows? Sometimes surprising things happen. I’m going to send it on paper, in the hope that somebody will read it (the staffer who opens the mail, if not the doctor himself).

  2. Darcy says:

    This diet….this way of life….is not hard. It just takes a clear vision of your future. I am thankful that I have that vision. Thank you Jim!

  3. barbaraH says:

    This month’s Prevention has an article about Sanjay Gupta. I think of Prevention as a pretty crummy magazine, but I was curious to see how they handled Sanjay Gupta’s message. The article is called “Sanjay Gupta’s Heart-Disease Reversal Plan.” You will find it on page 92, right before the recipes for shrimp, halibut, lobster, mussels, chedder cheese corn muffins, and the ad for Reddi Wip (“Sounds Naughty. But It’s Not.”).

    The introductory paragraph says that “there are places in this world where heart disease is almost unknown – and Sanjay Gupta has studied them carefully. … Their secret? They’re not sedentary. Even more important, they eat whole foods. And they consume very little sugar.” That’s it — whole foods. Shrimp and lobster, those are whole foods, right?

    On the next page, buried into a skinny little column, in small print, where hopefully the Reddi-Wip sales rep won’t notice it, are two paragraphs under the heading “Grow A Garden.” Dr. Gupta says “we don’t keep meat in the home, but we might order a small portion when we go out. Most steak houses have the petit fillet.”

    As everyone knows, food consumed outside the house doesn’t count.

    Barbara

  4. Lisa says:

    “No one said eating enough fruits and vegetables was going to be a piece of cake” – it’s unfortunate a ‘professional’ reporter gets paid to make this type of irresponsible comment and write such a generic, poor, confusing article. It doesn’t take too much sleuthing to figure out what we should be eating. The beauty of eating this way is that it is easy and delicious! I have a hard time comprehending how people are boggled with this lifestyle choice and cannot imagine what I eat. I’ve been eating this way for 10 months (I cannot wait to say 10 years!) and it’s the easiest and best thing I’ve ever done for myself and I’m enjoying food like never before. I’m still working my way toward vibrant health (30 lb. weight loss and counting) and feeling wonderful and full of energy EVERY SINGLE DAY! She’s right, eating fruits and vegetables isn’t a piece of cake – it’s a WHOLE lot better than cake. Keep working at it Jim, we need people like you out there being a part of the solution.

  5. Leo S. says:

    Every 45 seconds somebody dies from Cancer in America.
    A century ago, one in 33 people had cancer, now it is more than one in three for women and almost one in two for men. The latest research says that we will have an increase between 50% and 76% in cancer rates before 2020. That will bring us to unseen levels of sickness and yes; most of us will be in the grip of cancer and will have to fight for our life.
    A century ago, Atherosclerosis, the clogging and thickening of our arteries was almost unknown: today it is the first killer of Americans and this is a disease that can be prevented and even reversed.
    The only difference in survival rate of the poorest African Ugandans afflicted with cancer and the wealthiest in the US is a mere 10%. The poor in the rest of the world still die from preventable diseases of the poor like malaria, tuberculosis, etc. The rich die from preventable diseases of the rich, the so called disease of affluence, like Cancer, Coronary Heart Disease, Diabetes, etc.

    There are many more doctors advocating lifestyle changes and seeing results, such as Esselstyn, Ornish, Campbell, McDougall, Fuhrman, Barnard, etc. They are even being seen on TV at times but the average person is not aware that they exist or what their programs are. Your book and daily blog are beginning to change that.

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