I don't buy bacon very often, but when I went to Whole Foods this past Thursday, I couldn't resist. After all, I was there to pick up the new Forks Over Knives DVD, and it lured me right over to the Campbell & Co. corner, where the complete works of Drs. Campbell, Esselstyn, Fuhrman, McDougall and friends lie directly perpendicular to all the most delicious meats.
I finally watched Forks Over Knives today, and I have to say I enjoyed it. The producers have a good sense of humor, and the movie gave me a few good laughs. I enjoyed the testimonials of people regaining their health, because I prefer to rejoice when others rejoice. And I agree with the overall spirit of exalting the food fork over the medical knife.
You all know I disagree with the dietary conclusions of the movie — which can be summed up in the phrase “veganism” “whole-foods, plant-based diet” — not because I deny that whole plant foods are healthy, but because the people pushing this phrase invariably deny the health-promoting value of whole animal foods.
Denise Minger wrote a stellar critique of the dietary arguments in the movie. I'm not going to try to duplicate the irreplaceable, so here I'm just going to stick to the pictures, explaining why I liked some of them and why I found some of them misleading.
Nature's Perfect Food
Kudo's to them for not being bashful about breastfeeding. I think modesty is important, but I wholeheartedly support any attempts to “normalize” breastfeeding, and it really bothers me that women in our society need to choose between working and rearing children when women in times past could work with their infants on their backs and breastfeed on demand.
Will anyone here deny that the “legendary foil-wrapped TV dinner” was one of the worst developments since sliced bread?
“Processed Foods, Like Bleached Flour, Refined Sugars, and Oil”
Not many of these in my cabinet. Yours?
And you bet there ain't none of this.
Don't Tread on Me, Genes
“If you go through life thinking that what happens to you from a health perspective is based on your genes, you're a helpless victim.”
Preach it, sista! I couldn't agree more.
My favorite part of the movie was when evolutionary psychologist Doug Lisle took a brief foray into the intimacies intricacies of the mating behavior of great white sharks.
When the sharks first meet, it's love at first sight. It's like when Jacob first beheld Rachel in all her beauty, and could not help but kiss her. Within moments, we are sure that Cupid's arrow has struck, and the two seek refuge in a more private place.
I really appreciated the producers' modesty. You and I both know what's going on here, but this is a movie I'd like to be able to watch with my family. I think they did a fantastic job hitting the point home without needlessly offending anyone.
Dr. Lisle explained how a key point of the “motivational triad” is seeking pleasure, like food and sex. Nevertheless, there are key differences between the ways males and females relate to these stimuli. I know what you're thinking. Male sharks want to feel competent, while female sharks want to feel cherished. In the more difficult moments, male sharks go into their ocean-caves while female sharks talk about their problems. But Dr. Lisle is having none of this nansy pansy relationship nonsense, and just gives us the simple facts, straight up:
It doesn't begin occluding the blood vessel until it's already occupying about 40 percent of the blood vessel wall. What happens to make it start occluding the blood vessel? It appears to be the successive rupturing and re-healing of highly inflamed plaques:
My oh my, where to begin?Something has magically disappeared from this graph. It is, alas, the first five weeks of the study. Here's a depiction of the study design from the original paper, published in 1991:
Notice that big white area on the left beginning with week -5 and ending with week zero? As you can see from the top of the chart, this is the “initiation” period. Forks Over Knives only shows us the promotion period. None of the animals were fed 5 percent casein during the initiation period:
As we can also see here, the rats weren't fed 5 percent or 20 percent protein, as claimed in the movie. They were fed 5 or 20 percent casein, which is equivalent to 4.35 or 17.4 percent protein. But that's small potatoes.
What's really a shame is that we never learn from Forks Over Knives what happens to the rats when they are fed 5 percent casein during those first five weeks of the study. Here's a graph constructed from the data Campbell published eight years earlier, in 1983:
If we look at the two bars in the middle, we can see that rats fed 5 percent casein during the initiation period and 20 percent casein during the promotion period develop the most precancerous lesions, while rats fed 20 percent casein during the initiation period and 5 percent casein during the promotion period develop the least. Whoa! I guess those first five weeks really do matter! And those are five weeks where the high-casein diet proves powerfully protective.
It would also have been nice if Forks Over Knives would have taught us something about the importance of the dose of aflatoxin used in these studies. Consider the data from this
1987 paper Campbell published with his graduate student George Dunaif:
All the rats were fed 20 percent casein during the initiation period. The groups of rats represented by the upper curve stayed on 20 percent casein through the duration of the study. The groups in the lower curve were switched to different diets for the promotion period ranging in casein content from 20 percent on the far left to 4 percent on the far right. As we move from left to right the dose of aflatoxin increases.
As we can see, the precancerous lesions begin developing at just under the dose required to begin killing the animals. As I pointed out in The Curious Case of Campbell's Rats and in How T. Colin Campbell Helped Prove That Protein Protects Us, even the dose marked “150” on the graph, which produces, in Campbell's words, “a barely detectable, but significant, response,” would be equivalent to eating over a million peanut butter sandwiches each containing 100 grams of peanut butter contaminated with the maximum concentration of aflatoxin allowed by the Federal Government.