Sorry for the re-post, but this is too important not to pass around. Free The Animal has an outstanding post on the misleading pile of dookie that is The China Study. Here is the original analysis that Richard is referring to which was generated by Denise Minger.
If you recall, we funded a debate between T. Colin Campbell and Prof. Loren Cordain several years ago. Instead of addressing the topics raised in a mechanistic fashion typical of scientific debate, Campbell dismissed all of evolution in favor of a “holistic” approach to nutrition. It was odd.
Campbell’s position is indefensible from ideological positions and now we see that the science was largely cooked. This is a good day.
How about we link to the person who did all the work? No disrespect to Mr. Nikoley, he is just using his digital pen to spread the word! The blogger who did the research is Denise Minger, and her blog is here: http://rawfoodsos.com/2010/07/07/the-china-study-fact-or-fallac/.
Wouldn’t it be nice for her server to crash from all the people interested in her work?
Robb Wolf says
thank you, yes.
von Laue says
At my new doctor in my new town, he sat me down and told me that “all that stuff we thought about cholesterol, we now know isn’t true. That’s not what causes heart disease.”
I said, “let me stop you there, Doc. I read GCBC”
He said, “good, but we know even more than that now. Animal protein causes an autoimmune reaction – it’ similar to what happens to cannibals. The immune reaction causes that” [points to the enormous cutaway model of atherosclerosis provided by a statin manufacturer] “Mammals – cattle, pigs are the worst because we’re most closely related, fowl is better, fish is okay sometimes.”
Me: “Um, shit. Anything I can read about that? ”
Dr: “The China Study!. You should approach an all-vegetable diet, if you’re able to.”
I didn’t read TCS but has anyone else heard this autoimmune reaction to beef stuff? I don’t see it anywhere in the Protein Debate, and the only cannibal disease I can find on the internets appears to be caused by eating brains.
Robb Wolf says
Yea, have heard of it…sounds like another topic to debunk once the book is finished.
Perhaps it’s the “leaky gut” syndrome, whereby people with damaged digestion are getting the proteins going into their body incorrectly. If this is the case then, as usual, mainstream medicine is blaming something in the equation other than the true cause.
My friend from Henan, China said the same thing about fish and chickens versus cows and pigs.
He told me that cows and pigs are more similar to humans than fish and chickens. If we eat cows and pigs or any animal that are more similar to humans, the particles of their meat get absorbed into our bloodstream where our immune system will attack it because it’s a foreign particle. However, since they bore resemblance to certain particles in our bodies, our immune system will also attack those particles in our bodies that look like the particles of the cows and pigs. With fish and chickens, it does not happen like that because their particles are more different than humans.
It seemed very legitimate.
Robb Wolf says
Your friend is barking up the wrong tree on the autoimmunity story:
Chinese eat primarily vegetables and lots of rice, so they’re short, couldn’t pilot jets in Vietnam and Korean wars, and 70% of women have A cup. That’s definitely way to go. Good luck.
Actually mammals, e.g. cows, consume more protein than humans. They get it from insects and other tiny creatures that live in grass.
In the light of these facts, why would anyone sane go all-vegies?
Why would anyone sane listen to someone who is very obviously racist and sexist?
Ryan C. Ashton says
God, people like you annoy me. So quick to jump in the racist/sexist train.
There’s nothing racist about saying someone is short – whether they’re another race or not. If I’m a white guy and I go to The Netherlands and come back and say, “God damn those Dutch are tall!” Is that racist? The fact that you equate “shortness” and “A cup breasts” to be negative characteristics says more about you than it does about the guy who made the comment in the first place.
The evidence does in fact indicate that the Chinese are shorter and have smaller breasts.
People called Greg eat primarily horseshit and lots of bullshit, so they have short penises, can’t sustain an erection, and 70% of Greg’s have a brain deficiency. That’s definitely way to go. Good luck.
I didnt even know the China Study was still in print. I thought it was exposed for it’s lies and it’s pages put to good use…cleaning birds and sea life in the Gulf. Strange. I guess people will believe anything as long as it has “study” in the title.
Robb Wolf says
yea, I think all you need is a graph and an appeal to folks “morality” to have a book rolling.
Wow! “Junk Science and Lies” Sounds very “soft-sell” and “non-religious” to me.
Bravo! That is a great review of The China Study. Great timing too, I just had a discussion with a RD friend of mine about The China Study and was telling her about its fallacy and bias, this is a great review to pass along.
Adam Kayce says
I agree, Ms. Minger should get all the credit due. And, as a supplemental read, the PaNu blog just posted an interesting commentary on this whole thing, too, which is a great read: http://www.paleonu.com/panu-weblog/2010/7/8/polish-a-turd-and-find-a-diamond.html
I read that protein debate a while ago. Sheeeeesh. Oh yeah because isolated cow casein in rats can be extrapolated to all protein in all humans. Talk about a man on a mission.
Robb Wolf says
yes, that is on par with Ancel Keys. Amazing.
Christian W says
It’s highly ironic that Campbell would defend his flawed and biased approach by referring to a “holistic” approach, while in fact the only way to scientifically apply a holistic approach to the human diet is to take a *biological* view of our species, which means looking at our evolutionary history.
For instance, it is true that we shouldn’t focus on individual nutrients while ignoring conditioning inter-relationships that apply when we eat various groups of whole foods, but how can we even speculate properly about such relationships if we (like Campbell) don’t want to look at the nutritional conditions under which Homo Sapiens evolved. Such holistic speculation would be totally arbitrary.
No one should listen to anyone about diets if the evolutionary perspective isn’t accounted for at least implicitly.
“in fact the only way to scientifically apply a holistic approach to the human diet is to take a *biological* view of our species, which means looking at our evolutionary history.”
Youre right, we should study the fossils of people who have been dead for over 10,000+ years, of whom we still dont completely understand, and then make educated guesses as to exactly what they ate. And then people to eat the same way, telling them that it will cure them of all western disease, all with absolutely no proof that its legitimate. Not that it would do us any good considering they were all dead before they could even have grandchildren. Or…
We could do human studies on modern men and women over the course of a large portion of their life. That seems to scientific to me. In fact, its already been done. Dr.Esselstyn reversed heart disease with a plant based diet. The #1 killer in this country and he proved that you could eliminate it through a whole foods, plant based diet that yes, included grains. Find me real evidence, not theory, not guesses based on bones, but a real human study with real proof that this can be done on the paleo diet, and then maybe ill buy into this whole fad. Because thats what Paleo diet is, im not trying to start any fights here, but paleo is based on nothing buy guess work and the logic of a few individuals. Love <3 Casey.
As an former vegetarian and just for a short period a vegan, I tried on myself the goods and the bads of the “ways of life”, what nutrition concerns. I’ve read TCS a few times, and I also read the blog of Denise Minger, than The Paleo Answer and much more material, including material from NHI and similar medical studies sites. There are many materials about CR, IF and circadian cycles, which I found here on the site of Wolf also -very interesting and educational. I do not pretend, thou, that each human should go so deep into research and analysis. I also do not buy blindly into Paleo Diet or how else may be named. Fact is, since I adopted the way of life of my grandfathers and -mothers, which is a kind of Paleo (they lived in the middle of the 20-th century), consuming whole unrefined foods, naturally unpasteurized fermented foods, bone broths and meat from their pastured animals, I feel a lot better and have the best blood test I’ve ever had or ever dreamed to have. It’s anecdotal, I know -but if I feel well like this, I enjoy life a lot more. Now, if you believe this way of eating and way of living it is not suited for you, it is your choice to not even try and by all means to not agree with it. Although, if you like it or not, it is proven that humans are omnivores (and that’s unfortunate for the animals, I feel empathy for them); and this not by studying old bones -but as long as human DNA do not mutate into herbivores DNA (plus the appropriate digestive capabilities), I do not understand how you can deny your own genetics -because of some statistical interpretations? Or just for the polemics? If so, it would be sad, sad, very sad.
Don’t be fooled people, Denise has misinterpreted raw data, just as many inexperienced “researchers” do. Denise is not qualified to read such data correctly.
Please refer to the use and misuse on pp. 54-82 of the China Project monograph.
The following is Dr Campbell’s rebuttal. The rest can be found http://www.vegsource.com/articles2/campbell_china_response.htm
” China Project results are no exception to these limitations of single experiments. It was very large, unique and comprehensive but it was observational (i.e., not interventional), simply observing things as they were at a single point in time. It provided an exceptionally large number of hypothetical associations (shown as statistically assessed correlations) that may indicate but does not prove cause and effect relationships. These unanalyzed correlations are considered raw or crude. It is highly unusual to find such ‘raw’ data in a scientific report because, in part, untrained observers may misunderstand such raw data.
For the monograph, we were somewhat uncertain whether to publish such raw data but decided to do so for two principle reasons. First, we wanted to make these data available to other researchers, while hoping that data misuse would not be a significant problem. Second, because these data were collected in rural China at a time when data reliability might have been questioned, we chose to be as transparent as possible. We discussed data use and misuse on pp. 54-82 of the China Project monograph that curiously was overlooked by Masterjohn and Jay’Y’.
Robb Wolf says
Denise raised similar concerns about the data as Prof. Cordain and others who were summarily dismissed by Campbell. The data neither supports the claims nor directs us towards a testable mechanism for the China Study claims. Honestly, I think we are at a point in which observational studies need to be relegated to lining bird cages UNLESS they accompany a proposed mechanism and lay our follow-up controlled clinical trials:
This is the very point that Cordain made in the Protein Debate with Campbell, generate a theory which offers predictive value. The China study the vegan paradigm offer NOTHING in this regard. It is not supported by evolutionary theory, optimum foraging strategy, Game theory nor the clinical trials which offer substantive data.
Dr. Steve says
The key word on all this paleo stuff…..
Wolf, Cordane, and others better get going on science based facts. Campbell’s scientific approach has NOT been proven as “bad” science as Cordane claims. If anything, Cambpells studies are much more believable and solid than relying on THEORY. Cordane, Wolf and others….show examples of the so called “leaky gut”.
There is no question that SUGAR and HFCS are unhealthy…no question at all.
Cave me did NOT eat cows! Cave men did not eat chickens! For Cordane to say today’s wheat is genetically different and unhealthy means that domestic cows and chickens are also bad for us….cows didn’t even exist during the paleo days!
Are we going to learn later that Cordane and Wolf are nothing but agents for the US beef & cattle industry?
Listening to Wolf and his crazed statements….like all Yogurt contains HFCS. The yogurt I consume has ZERO HFCS. For Wolf to say we are always hungrier after rigorous work out is pure BS….when I run a 10 K or lift for an hour, the last thing I want is a big fat meal!
Robb Wolf says
Lay off the peyote. You can’t seen to get CORDAIN correct and where on earth did I say ALL yogurt has HFCS? Most? Yes, all, no. And the position has NEVER been that wheat is different (although I suspect William Davis’ work does actually lend some weight to this). Please try to form a cogent argument based on what was said.
And if you are not up on intestinal permeability I hope you are a doctor of rhetoric and not actually dealing with “people.”
finally: Evolution is a “theory” the same way gravity and relativity are “theory”. Get a grip.
John has written the exact same post all over the place. He belongs to the 30 bananas site who are vegans
Robb Wolf says
Well, then we’ll say a prayer for his low blood sugar crash.
The correct way to conduct the analysis…
Dr Campbell’s response…
Robb Wolf says
I appreciate your taking the time to post the link, but again, you guys are simply suggesting a re-cook of correlative data obtained largely from questionnaires. The laboratory work looking at casein is almost funny in how it;s been spun by Campbell. I still do not see Campbell moving towards testable hypothesis.
Not really relevant to the china study (but my memories of trudging through the book reminded me of protein intake), but I know you and Poliquin like the 1g protein per lb of bodyweight for the obese metabolically deranged diabetic types (for satiety and thermic effect), and I know high protein intake isn’t a problem unless you have an existing kidney problem, but what do you do with clients who are diabetic to the point of having damaged kidney function? Or do they have to be really far gone in type 2 diabetes before this will be an issue? Would a lower protein, lower carb, higher fat approach be applicable here?
Robb Wolf says
I’ve not had a client in that dire of shape but your suggested mods make sense and that is likely how I;d tackle it.
I am continually amazed how gullible we are when in comes to “macro-evolution”…Talk about junk science! The scientific community knows that evolution is a farce…Scientists are forced to keep quiet about their disbelieve in evolution for obvious reasons…the “theory” of evolution is not a theory at all, but simply a belief, a blind belief…
Unfortunately people are not interested in the truth. People believe what they want to believe, what fits nicely into their worldview…You need to decide, do you want the truth, or do you want to keep believing the lies that the “system” keeps feeding us?
The idea that “life” resulted from randomness is unscientific and defies common sense…
The first question we need to ask ourselves is what is “life”…What distinguishes life from non-life? Specified-Complexity is one way to distinguish life from non-life…”Life” is extremely complex, beyond man’s comprehension…It is also extremely specific…Our DNA and the systems that make life work are extremely specific (in the same way computer code is or chemical reactions are). There is NO scientific experiment that has every been conducted that can demonstrate how extremely complex AND extremely specific systems develop over long periods of time…In fact, the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics states the opposite, that any closed system will move from a more ordered state to a less ordered state (The universe is a closed system, unless of course, you believe in God)…
Another question…Scientists are quick to point out that DNA fits perfectly into the definition of a “language” or “code”. It’s an extremely complex, highly compacted amount of information stored in a “code”…What scientific experiment can demonstrate that information can “evolve” and be stored in a coded format over long periods of time? Common sense tells us that information must come from intelligence…Language and codes must come from a mind…NOT random mutations over long periods of time…
We need to stop believing the lies we are fed in our sick culture…and start thinking for a change…Follow the money…The Dairy Industry, the Meat Industry, the “food” Industry, Supplement Industry, the “Healthcare Industry”, our Government…Our consumer driven culture encourages profit and any cost…to fill their pockets with your money…WAKEUP PEOPLE…FOLLOW THE MONEY…STOP BEING SO GULLIBLE …
In summary, macro-evolution is a big lie. Scientists risk their careers if they voice their disbelief in it…Therefore, Loren Cordain’s argument that is based in part on “macro-evolution” is junk science in the highest degree and should be dismissed outright.
Rather than reject the China Study, why not test it? Get a comprehensive blood test, become a Vegan for 6 months, check your blood again, and see for yourself how your health will improve! You will lose weight, your blood pressure will drop, your cholesterol will drop…Then draw your own conclusions and make your decision…
Robb Wolf says
You said “Rather than reject the China Study, why not test it? Get a comprehensive blood test, become a Vegan for 6 months, check your blood again…”
I have, many have. The results suck.
Have you tried an “paleo approach?” Can you hold yourself to the high standards you are PREACHING to others? As to the macro-evolution topic I simply offer this:
Rowdy Mason says
So it comes down to evolution versus creationism, AGAIN? Sheesh.
Michael, there are so many false assumptions made in your comment that you’ve given yourself no credibility. You seem to have a basic understanding of biology, but not a complete one. Your random “facts” don’t even support the argument you are trying to make, so what you are left with is a statement that expresses your opinion but no valid arguments.
“Unfortunately people are not interested in the truth.” Funny you say that, as that is the exact vibe I am getting from you…
“The scientific community knows that evolution is a farce.” I’m sorry you believe that, since that statement is anything but true.
There is proof of evolution. Lots of it. If you choose to deny the obvious facts, then so be it. It’s debateable on how such a complex code as DNA came to be assembled in the first place if the starting point was nothing more than the Big Bang, but there’s no denying that evolution has taken place since said assembly. The organisms with inferior genes get weeded out, while those with more favorable genes live long enough to produce offspring with similar genes. And as the Earth’s environment changes, the qualifications for “favorable” and “inferior” adjust accordingly. Such environmental pressures can also work to permenantly mutate DNA, thus imparting change in organisms, and long-term DNA change is…get ready for this shocker…. evolution!
I believe in God, and I also believe in evolution. It took time to work out the kinks and create a balance between the 2 opposite beliefs, but I believe there can be coexistence. However, some of the Bible’s teachings much be rejected, which I find no problem with, as many passages are inconsistent with regards to other passages or with the theory that God is all-loving and forgiving. Ex: there are conflicting passages regarding gays. Also, the Bible mentions that oh-so-famous story of Jesus turning a few fish into many. So since Jesus clearly supports animal consumption, so should an avid supporter of God like you. Always ask, WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) So there you go, your Bible isn’t perfect, nor is it consistent with your preachings.
Also, your mention of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is completely irrelevant. You’ve proven nothing by its mention…
I do agree with your stance on capitalism, though. It is driven by greed and has done great harm to this country and its people both economically and biologically. Money talks, unfortunately. But again, you make no valid argument to prove your point, even with this statement. And, you include untrue statements. The paleo diet stresses the consumption of pastured meats, not those raised on factory farms (we strictly avoid those!) So no, we are not supporting conventional meat industry and what have you. We are supporting small farms that practice sustainable agriculture, the same farms that grow your veggies.
Here’s hoping that one day, you can stop being so close-minded and see the “light.” Cheers.
I have to reply to you even though this is old. I agree with what you have said. Whenever someone tries to tell me evolution does exist I ask them if they have ever seen a pug. Lol. Maybe it was forced evolution, but it is still evolution. If evolution didn’t exist then no matter how many ways you bred a wolf you would still get a wolf. Istead there are hundreds of quite different breeds of dog. I admit I’m nit a scientist, but to say the traits of a creature cannot be changed by selection is the same to me as saying pugs don’t exist…lol…
I meant does NOT exist. Sheesh!
I became a vegan for ten years and it almost killed me. Despite copious use of supplements and meat analogs I had to get B12 shots. I gained weight like crazy and my blood sugar was on a continual boom bust cycle. I felt worse than I ever had in my life, with brain fog, memory problems and neurological problems. I couldn’t concentrate and I became moody and listless, often slipping into depression. However, I kept on going because of my love for animals and my conviction that the vegan lifestyle was healthy and that I was somehow doing it wrong. Finally, my health degenerated to the point where I had to add milk to my diet or I would become extremely ill and I traveled with parmelot on me at all times. I had muscle weakness and nerve damage in my arms which, my doctor suggested, was unable to regenerate due to my refusal to consume high quality protein.
I did not want to eat meat, but I didn’t want to die a slow death either. I added milk, cheese, eggs and fish to my diet on a regular basis and in a few months felt like a normal human being again. My weight dropped back to normal, the depressions disappeared and all of my Brain fog and most of my memory issues cleared up. I think that I did myself serious damage by becoming a vegan for ten years. I don’t know if everyone’s body is designed to eat meat, but I know now that mine is. Vegetarianism should not be treated like a religious cult. It’s obviously not right for everyone and it makes some people very sick. I took my diet very seriously in those days and rarely ate junk food, additives or high sugar items. Nevertheless, at the end of my time as a vegan I had borderline diabetic blood sugar levels, had stopped getting my period (I was 28) and a blood panel showed me to be gravely deficient in many vitamins and minerals.
Kevin Burns says
Do you know of any side by side comparison tests that have been performed on a single person on a Vegan and Paleo diet. Test’s that would show concrete data from blood tests, weight, fat, AA/EPA ratios, etc,etc.
I have yet to see one of these anywhere.
Robb Wolf says
Have not seen anything like that.
“low blood sugar crash”
Hilarious, the ‘fruit is high glycemic’ myth is still strong in the peleo world.
Fruit is high glycemic in every world. Just watch a diabetic test their blood before and after eating a banana.
Gday crew,nice blog.
How come NONE of these pro meat bloggers have any real muscle with all that protein talk? 🙂
Come and see if ANY of you guys can out bench press/dead lift us at
Here is the website for the doubters.
Mike Arnstein ran a 2:28 marathon this year at Boston. He is the FASTEST runner in the raw food movement today. Long time vegan and now powered by sweet fruit. How come there is no competitive athletes eating this ‘paleo fat diet?’ Please shut me up and show me cos Im sick of seeing cardio and muscle deficient paleo crew trying to debunk the china study that us elite athletes are thriving on.
Can you debunk me with a high fat eating paleo athlete?
Didnt think so.. 🙂
Love, peace and banana grease.
Robb Wolf says
My best competition lifts are 565 SQ, 345 bench and 565 DL at 181. Currently competing in master Brasialian Jiu-jitsu.
Now, are you chaps consuming ANY concentrated protein sources (tofu, temphe, protein powders) or are you getting your nutrition from WHOLE food? If you use any concentrated sources then my response is SO WHAT? I get my protein from a cow (grass–>cow) you get yours out of a nutraceutical fermentation vat (Grass–>fermentation vat, chemical processing, can-o-soy protein).
All that you guys prove is that a higher protein diet is necessary for most folks in strength athletics. BTW- I do not go stalking around vegan forums trying to convert the masses. You guys are religious fanatics. If your way of eating works for you, great. I tried it your way, was sick and do great with this approach. If you took the time to read any of this blog you;d know that back story.
I guess you missed all of Joe Friel’s athletes…those folks with world championships, olympic team placements…that eat a paleo diet?
Chris Willitts says
I agree with you on your main point about The China Study being mostly junk, as well as certain vegans who are literally fanatical. Full disclosure, I’m the founder of VegetarianBodybuilding.com, and what I promote is that people may want to think about eating less meat and more plants – that it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing ordeal. I also think it’s sad that people who preach compassion regarding animals (a good thing), impose hatred (a bad thing) onto their fellow brothers and sisters for not living the way they deem is “right.”
There are many plant-based advocates like myself tired of the negativity.
Let’s learn from each other, and by the way, what may be healthy for one person may not be optimal for the next.
Thank you for putting good info out into the world Robb, I happen to favor the paleo diet, and can openly say that without fear of it dissolving who I am as a person.
We have a 6 Week “I am CrossFit” at our Gym which includes nutrition.
Here is what one participant said:
“From vegetarian to paleo in 6 weeks… This was a trial for me (not as in hard but as in a test period). I wanted to see if changing my diet would make a difference in my training. Oh. My. God. There is no going back. There is no comparison. I’m convinced and converted.”
Robb Wolf says
It never goes the other way.
>> How come NONE of these pro meat bloggers have any real muscle with all that protein talk?
Vegetarians can postulate all they want about the ethical or ecological reasons not to eat animal protein, but when they attempt to portray that ideology as ideal for muscle gains, it borders on the ridiculous and flies in the empirical face of every pro bodybuilder/strongman/champion powerlifter out there.
Robb Wolf says
“How come NONE of these pro meat bloggers have any real muscle with all that protein talk?”
I am a 51 yr old female trainer and can lift in these ranges: BP 225#, squat 425# to parallel and leg press 1,800#. This is on a whole foods diet of; predominantly grass pastured beef, organic vegetables/tubers, wild harvested berries, raw organic nuts and limited amounts of raw, grass-fed dairy. BTW-I checked out the link that your provided w/training journals of ‘vegan’ athletes. While some of thier physiques were mildy impressive, included in their diets ware: Creatine wafers, BCAA’s and many other protein concentrate supplements! Hmmmm…… their strength and endurance cannot be contributed solely to a vegan ‘foods’ after all, especially since the best source of creatine is good ole fashioned red meat.
Robb Wolf says
You rock! thanks.
Rusel Talis says
Kath , you’re doing alright, cause you supplement your intake – i know you are right and wrong / wrong cause you say ” best source of creatine is old fashin meat ” Now for someone so complete, why not add education as well ? Today, almost exclusively best source of creatine is synthetic.
So what is it with these hippies that think that everything comes from meat ? 1 main thing comes from meat : Disease. Its on the increase, nothing anyone can do, except stop eatng it. I have proof.
if you want it, make room for my equipment – a clean room will be fine.
Rowdy Mason says
Synthetic. Sounds healthy. Interestingly the source materials to create synthetic creatine are ultimately acetic acid, limestone and coking coal. Now I’m willing to bet that the acetic acid is not from vinegar, it’s much cheaper to source it from the petrochemical industry. I wonder about the energy transformations (and thus the thermodynamic inefficiency) needed to create such a product compared with grass reared beef? Which would have more of an environmental impact?
So let’s compare one source of protein, grass fed beef:
In the right conditions this is sustainable until the sun burns us out of existence.
ACETIC ACID (REFINED PETROLEUM)+[MINED LIMESTONE (MORE FOSSIL FUEL USE)+COKING COAL(ANOTHER NON-RENEWABLE SOURCE MATERIAL, PRODUCED IN FURNACES +2000 CELSIUS) ->CYANAMIDE]->CREATINE POWDER->HUMAN
So perhaps, vegans can only exist and thrive in the modern synthetic chemical laden world of the petrochemical era, a truly limited time when taken in the context of human evolution?
A holistic approach to Nutrition? Not exactly a good thing IMO. When you are debating something about nutrition and are going to defend it or go attack some aspect of nutrition, you have to do it from a scientific point of view especialyl if the debate si about science. So yeah….not a good idea to go holistic with this debate.
The China Study isn’t the only source that recommends approaching a high density, plant based, whole food diet. Another resource to look at is “Eat to Live,” by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. He too, also suggest, and prescribes to his patients, eating “live” foods, and foods that are high density plant based. He has many patient case studies, and offers many examples backed with scientific research, which all suggest that eating foods as close to earth is the healthiest way to eat. Why knock this stuff as if these guys a nuts? Do you really feel our early homo-sapien ancestors ate meat every day? Can we prove that they didn’t have diet-based heart and endocrine diseases?
Robb Wolf says
No, and you cannot prove that they DID. then we look to the Inuit and Ache (to name a few) who eat almost exclusively a meat based diet, yeat have NO cardiovascular disease.
Tommy, please comment on this.
And also, I want you to REALLY think this through: You are suggesting that humans developed cardiovascular disease on their ancestral (evolutionary) diet. this IS what you are saying. Name one other organism that this happens to. That the ANCESTRAL diet causes cardiovascular disease.
Tommy, the answer is NONE. We need agriculture to see this problem. Our pets get sick from the food we feed them, not when they eat their ancestral diets. Cattle get sick when fed grains, so do humans.
Can switching to a plant based diet improve the health of someone who eats a terrible, processed food diet? Of course, but Tommy you need to be better informed and THINK this through.
I think that basing a diet off what our “ancestors” ate has only a small base for what the modern human body needs. To try and compare the activity level, quality of food supply, frequency of eating, environmental conditions to modern society is missing something.
Genetically we may be the same as those people from our past, but this does not mean that eating the way they did is correct for today.
The growing epidemic of obesity and disease in wealthy countries is caused by an industrialized for profit food supply, lack of food education, lowering of exercise for daily living, and in my opinion a society that has become addicted to foods that lack dense micro-nutrient value. The human body is starving for nutrients, therefore we continue to eat and eat more calories of this unhealthy food. Your body then lacks the power it needs to defend itself from disease.
There also seems to be an argument going on over muscle building and athlete’s. There is more involved in a persons ability to gain muscle and perform than what they eat. Lets be honest with ourselves. Science and medicine has shown us how to gain muscle and performance fast. Special diets have shown to grow a persons natural muscle building ability past it’s normal potential. This however does not mean that this way of eating is healthy for the human body. You can be fit and muscular, but still suffer debilitating disease in the end.
Robb Wolf says
I’m sorry but you seem to be on the one hand arguing that this is wrong, yet offering NOTHING substantive as an alternative. What gives?
My intention in posting a response was to simply place my opinion, and not to give other people my alternative. I have no medical degree or advanced study in human physiology or Epidemiology. My opinions are based completely on life experience and my own interest and study of nutritional literature.
I will be honest that much of your book is brilliant. I believe that it can be life changing, especially for those that are moving from the average American processed meals, refined carbohydrates, cheese, animal fats and virtually no fresh fruit and vegetables.
I however believe that it is still primarily focused on Macro nutrients. It argues that without meat you will always be hungry, not satisfied. Those that try to follow your diet as vegetarians should use a processed egg protein power & supplements?
I firmly believe that the human body is perfectly capable to handle meat intake on occasion, but only if balanced with large amounts of green leaf vegetables and fruit (also a source of high protein). Animal protein is emphasized too much in western society as your only source of complete protein. It is socially en-grained in our society.
I like Dr. Fuhrman’s example: What has more protein? Ham, Tomatoes or oatmeal? The answer is that they all have about the same amount per calorie. The difference is tomatoes & oatmeal are packaged with fiber, vitamins and cancer fighting micro-nutrients while Ham is packaged with Fat & Cholesterol. This same principle really applies when comparing all dark green vegetables to meat.
I am a bit of a Dr Fuhrman fan boy, so as a video for thought. Here is a video of Dr Fuhrman speaking about athlete’s & protein intake:
Robb Wolf says
I sincerely appreciate the response. We can break much of this down but there are a few obvious deviations you and I have on world view: I see no problem with ft & cholesterol…that’s just a start, I need to look at the calorie/calorie view of the foods you offered but it is well understood that populations that consume more than 50-60% of cals from grains begin to suffer deficiency diseases (berberi, pelagra, celiac) the addition of fruit and veggies (meat?) are necessary to literally supplement the diet. The same is NOT true of a meat based diet, a meat+veggie…meat+fruit.
I can see a spectrum of good human function with regards to meat intake, when I see an increase in grains, legumes and dairy, I see problems arise. I can track this via blood work, performance…you name it.
I watched the video…they are discussing runners and endurance athletes. If you look at the vegan body-building sites those people DO NOT get by on fruits and veggies. They use protein powders which seems to just support the absolute need for a concentrated protein source. Joe Friel is also a coach at the OTC:
We can wage theory wars all day…what recommend is folks try it, be it vegan or paleo, and see if they look, feel and perform better. Do biomarkers of health improve? That’s what I hang my hat on. I HAVE done the vegan approach. Ulcerative colitis was one of my participation prizes…it did not work for me, I do not see it work well for our clients, especially relative to a paleo approach.
well meat based diet is wrong, trust me ive been lab rating myself for a book i will be writing. it come down to this . MEAT = fat/protein and GRAINS = carbs. avoid both. because in the end of the day. your carb/pro/fat ratio means nothing about health.
so ya low carb high fat can work. so can high carb low fat. health is more complicated than that
Robb Wolf says
That was shockingly informative. Thanks.
Thanx for the response Rob,
It is great that you have a very responsive blog to talk to. I also appreciate the professional response, keeping arguments aside. The topic of food is a very socially sensitive one, that many people take personally. It becomes a more sensitive subject to those that take food seriously.
Can you speak to the differences between “The Paleo Diet” vs. “The Paleo Solution”?
Robb Wolf says
PS is written from the perspective of working with thousands of people. Read both!
Not sure if you check commenting on your old posts but…..when I click the “item” it goes to a 404…..how can I get this??
Thanks a million,
Robb Wolf says
Old link, sorry about that.
I have read Robb Wolf’s book, The Paleo Diet, and I found it to be extremely informative and it made sense to me. I have been eating paleo for about two months, although I haven’t noticed a huge change yet, and actually my hair has started falling out a lot! I was already gluten free, as I found out six months ago that I have a gluten intolerance.
Well, I just got back from my first appointment with a Rheumatologist, who is testing me for Lupus, since I have positive ANA and other markers for Lupus including hair loss and fatigue. The Rheumatologist told me to consider a VEGETARIAN DIET! I was shocked. He said that animal protein causes inflammation. Obviously, this is completely opposite from what I read in The Paleo Diet, but now I am confused. He also gave me examples of people who have been relieved of their lupus symptoms by giving up meat, especially beef. Can this be possible? Obviously, most people on this blog do not agree with this, and I am hoping to get some more info, and maybe references so I can discount what this doc told me.
Is it that some people do well on a vegetarian diet, because of their specific genetic make up? Does everyone do well on a paleo diet? Thanks, Laura
Robb Wolf says
Cut out the grains, legumes & dairy. Those are the problems.
Mr. K says
The PDF seems to be broken, could you update the link?
Robb Wolf says
Anybody who feels that any diet that is high (>20%) in animal protein is superior to a 100% plant based diet is willfully ingnorant of the current body of literature on diet and it’s correlations with health. The vast majority of literature ever produced on this topic has shown this. Yes there may be occasional studies that show diets that contain animal products are in some narrow criteria superior. However this is the minority. That is the facts. Even though I myself do not follow Campbells suggested diet, I find the science behind his reasoning very sound as it correlated with what the vast majority of literature indicates. I find it amusing to see people try to argue with the stats he chose to use or that he did not consider evolutionary models in his research conclusions. It as if they are grasping for any reason to continue to eat animal based foods. Come on people…I eat animal based foods because they taste good and I like them. I think some deep psychoanalysis may be needed on those that keep wanting to argue against plant based diets.
I actually live in China, in a city, and you should see the crap people chow down on and swill back. There are only three drinks in the stores without the same sugar content as cola. Water, Oolong tea and Japanese style green tea.
Loads of people eat a sweet bread for breakfast, maybe with a bit of sweet pork mince in the middle. They’ll have a can of sugary, milk coffee with that and a cup noodle for lunch. This is not everyone, particularly not low income folks or the very rich (who somehow seem to know better?), but it’s pretty much everyone else. And they’re fat. Even if they’re skinny, if they’re over 30 (more of a toss up in their teens and 20s), they’re all wobbly. Not Michelin man fat, but they’re a tubby bunch. Oh, except for the old folks and the poor folks who don’t eat every meal every day (also incidentally many of the elderly).
Once you head out of the city, you don’t find the same kind of crap for sale. It’s sit-down meals or stuff made where you bought it, meat buns, tea eggs, dried fish, chicken feet or whatever. No vending machines and not so many convenience stores. And not nearly as many middle class folks with spare cash.
I’m leaving the nutrition thinking requirements to Robb and Prof. Cordain, but given what I’ve learned from you guys, I have another set of ideas about China’s disease distribution. I’m much more inclined to tuck into a bit of dried fish testicle or a thousand year old duck egg like the tough 85 year old dude who fixed my bike than the (vegan) sweet bun the fat kid on the bus next to me is mowing while he breaths his huffy little breaths through his stuffy little nose between draws on his 20% real juice and soy milk mix.
Besides, I’d rather have the death of one animal on my conscience (600lb pig which would last 4 months at 80% of my wife and my calories… mmm… chasiu…bacon…) than a completely unknowable devastation of deaths suffered on the blade of a (fossil fuel driven) plow. Even if I died at 60 of whatever vegetarians say I will, I’d prefer that kind of ethical environment to the high and mighty moralism and IBS/mystery-celiacs of my vegetarian youth. Plus, I think mice and shrews are cuter than cows.
really weird. The day following my first post, I saw not one obese person on my way to work. I saw no fat folks at work either. It took me until 6pm on my way home from work to see five sort of tubby fat people… it was all workmen, teens and old folks though… That was uncanny. Felt like I might have misrepresented China there… for most of the day. Probably still am somehow…
Holy sh*it, I’m so confused! Learning about nutrition these days is like falling in a never-ending rabbit hole. Everybody seems to have scientific proof of what their diet is better. It’s pretty frustrating for someone like me, with no background knowledge of nutrition but who is trying hard to eat the healthiest diet possible. I really appreciate your posts Robb, and I’ve recently started following a Paleo diet after being advised by my friend nutritionist expert and kettlebell champion Ameer Rosic (ameerrosic.com). But I also read the Thrive Diet by Brendan Brazier and I thought it made so much sense… in other words, I’m still confused.
Jake Louro says
Why is nobody talking about metabolic typing or bio individuality? Hunters and gatherers that were located in colder climates would have evolved entirely differently than Amazonian h+g’s. this is why there are 10 thousand diet books out there. Each one of those books has people that have tried it and had amazing results.
Eating lots of meat makes us stronger and more competitve. Our survival relies on taking care of each other and the planet not competing with each other though.
I honour your choice in diet and wonder if the reason you have so much energy about this is that your heart knows it is not about identifying with cavemen but helping our species to evolve into something better than the agrressive warmongers we have been in the past. As a vegetarian for 20 + years my blood tests could not be better. As a Doctor I see people who eat too much meat in general die fo heart attacks, coronary disease and Cancer. People under 40 who eat low carb high meat diet look great, but check back in when they are 50 and 60 plus and it is another story.
When we dont eat meat, we can eat all of those nuts and oils that provide so much of the fats we need and as long as we keep the carb ratio in line with Legumes etc we will be fine. I honour your right to choose and trust it leads you on the journey you need this life. May you be well and happy.
Wow! You guys are SMART! – maybe too smart! Here’s my “simple minded” approach to nutrition.
Fact: Anything processed is bad! That’s pretty obvious! ( and includes most grains that we buy I don’t know where high fructose corn syrup grows or why it’s in my bread but ill pass thanks)
Fact: We are animals on a purely basic level right? All animals are classified correct? What’s our classifications well there’s the hair and the milk production to sustain our young … MAMMALS … We walk on two legs … BYPEDS (bipeds?) … And oh yeah our teeth and digestive system … OMNIVORES. We were meant to eat meat. Maybe not the growth hormones and antibiotics in the meat but definitely constructed to eat meat.
Fact: Each food group eaten in moderation has health benifits. I agree follow the money every special interest group will push the fear factor that the other’s marketable product is “killing you” and if you don’t eat it the world will be rid of cancer, diabetes, obesity and people that drive slow in the fast lane.
The secret lies in the word moderation.
I like paleo it keeps me in check.
Oh yeah and my study is my wonderfully healthy 74 year old gram! She eats lean meat in moderation, lots of veggies alittle dairy (skim milk and yogurt) and takes her vitamins everyday. She works out every day, stays up until 2am some nights and puts me to shame daily by her health and energy level! She’s not on meds for anything and has flawless skin and hair!
Ok back to listening to smart people whose stress alone about what food’s right and who is DEAD WRONG GRRRR – is enough to give them high blood pressure and cancer no matter what they’ve chosen to eat! 🙂
I too, have read Eat to Live by Dr. Fuhrman and like what he had to say. Correction…I DIDN’T like what he had to say. But after reading it, I decided this was what I was going to have to do to be thin and healthy. I tried it for a couple of months, lost some weight, and then fell off the wagon because it’s so freakin restrictive and inconvenient. It’s a good plan but man, it’s freakin BRUTAL for someone like me, overweight and used to eating the SAD. After all, I like convenience.
The thing I thought when I heard about the Paleo approach, was it sounded like Dr. Fuhrman but with MEAT! That’s why the wife and I are going to try it. See how we feel and go from there.
I feel like diets are kind of like people…there’s lots out there, but you’ll find the one for you. As far as diets are concerned, I’m still looking. I hope Paleo will be the one for me.
Think about it…Fuhrman’s approach but with lean, organic, grass fed meat, or line caught fish. Sounds healthy to ME!
I think the most important thing is that we continue to have the discussion ! So many times we are not at all scientific about these questions because people can’t separate the emotional context. The other problem I see is apples and oranges. One person says eat meat = organic grass fed ; another person says eating any meat is bad = grain fed ? For each person who eats vegan and is healthy , happy and has great labs = good for YOU. For each person that is Paleo and is healthy, happy and has great labs = good for YOU !
If you are overweight, tired, have bad skin, bad sleep and bad labs. TRY ONE OF THESE APPROACHES to see if you feel better ! I was eating an organic centered diet but I tried Dr Furman’s approach and went from happy working out 5 times a week but not at the weight I want to no energy and not working out at all. Obviously I need to try something else !
Our modern diet has the same effect on every culture that adopts it. Poor health, obesity and heart disease are very easy to detect LOL. The food companies want to continue to make billions of dollars and don’t care if they kill us along the way. The same companies will make billions for organic health food if that is where we sepnd our money.
Change your life and change the world !
Those that argue against Paleo seem to be placing a blanket statement on meat, classifying all meat as being the same pro-inflammatory food source. Paleo stresses the consumption of pastured meats and wild-caught fish. Such animal products are COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from conventionally raised meat and farm-raised fish.
I think everyone in support of a Paleo diet would agree to this. Conventionally raised animals are exposed to antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, herbicides, stress/abuse, GMOs, toxic chemicals, and pro-inflammatory diets that are completely unnatural to them. This makes them very sick.
There’s no doubt that sick animals will produce sick meat loaded with toxins. And when us humans eat said meat, we will get sick, too.
But when animals are raised in an environment free from such health burdens, they produce healthy sources of protein and fat. Most Americans, however, eat conventionally-raised meat. So that’s how you end up with chronic diseases.
It seems like that’s the point that most people miss when examining Paleo. They must think “pastured” and “wild-caught” are insignificant terms that we throw in there for the heck of it, when in reality these terms are key to the diet.
Robb, if you want people to listen, it would be a good idea to stop doing ad hominem attacks. An actual debate does not involve calling others that disagree with you nut jobs, etc. I am very interested in reading about the paleo diet. However, you do not seem to want to win over any vegetarians or vegans. There are people with open minds that you are turning off. I’ll look to other sources to read more about this.
I am of the opinion that meat is not that good for you, but that fish, veg and fruit, is okay. Diets are very faddy and it is simple really. Moderation.
It is hard to find organic meat or veg that is affordable but this is by far the choice I make for my diet. Every thing in moderation. I do not eat gluten, but eat dairy products. My mum is 84 and never had an operation and has just finished her Open University Degree in Humanities. She has not been a member of a gym, she has walked, had five children to run around after, she has not smoked and was a light drinker, occasionally. She lives on Dairy products. She has kept out of the direct sun, and has kept herself mentally well, avoiding drugs when ever possible and going to the doctor in only dire circumstances, so she has not been fed cocktails of antidepressants, or antibiotics, nor has she had unnecessary vaccines, ie the influenza vaccine normally recommended for those over 60 years of age.
This is what keeps us healthy. Living healthy, happy lives, where we do not feel the need to spend worthless hours in a gym, treading on a machine in a sweaty unhealthy place, where people seem more interested in their gym clothing, how they look, and the mirrors they can watch themselves in. Being outdoors, enjoying the wind, sun and the rain keeps us mentally and physically fitter than any gym. It also keeps our money in our pockets. Keeping our minds healthy with learning and being keen to find out about the world, keeps our brain mentally well, not reading the news, being depressed by the state of the world or sitting on our butts, watching the rubbish on TV.
It is not rocket science. Computers/smart phones, antidepressants, stupid diagnosis of mental health conditions are making our young sick, not food with their high levels of toxicity. Tell a nurse who deals with cancer patients that living under pylons is healthy…… she will laugh in your face. So what are these machines, ipads, laptops and phones doing to my grandchildrens health? I can assure most people reading this post – it is not going to increase their fitness, sense of well being, or their health and mind.
What’s wrong with a good old fashioned balanced diet? A little of what you fancy etc., Do we have to go from one extreme diet to another, because of a ‘study’? I’m beginning to think that we are all far to ready to grasp at the latest theory.
Yes there are ‘bad’ things out there, but most of us know what they are and avoid or curtail their use.
Living in Europe, I’m thankfully able to buy food that isn’t GM, although that’s getting harder to avoid, and that is a bigger worry for me for the future than any dietary extremity