January 7, 2013

The China Study and Moroccan Bean Stew

I watched the documentary film Forks Over Knives a few months ago, and really enjoyed it. Much of the film features two men - a scientist and medical doctor. The scientist is T. Colin Campbell, who is the author of the book, The China Study (2006). The basic message of the film and the book is that a whole foods, plant-based diet has been proven to be the best for fighting diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, etc.

I was a little worried The China Study would be too scientific and hard to read, but it wasn't. He does explain the most significant of his science experiments, including the effect of various amounts of animal protein in diet and a carcinogen on the health of mice, and the massive China Study. The China Study surveyed the health of many people across various counties in China on a scale never before done or replicated. Dr. Campbell worked with a team in China to prove that diet is definitely linked to cancer and other disease. This may seem obvious, but in the scientific community this was not accepted as fact until more recently.

Because of his findings, bolstered by many other studies by other scientists, Dr. Campbell has come to the conclusion that the healthiest diet for humans is a whole foods, plant-based diet. This means no processed foods and no animal products.

While I am highly persuaded by his findings, I cannot agree entirely because of modern-day revealed truth from God: "Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly." So meat and poultry are to be consumed by man, though sparingly. I submit that the average American diet does not follow the caution of "sparingly".

So instead of avoiding animal products, which I already try to limit, I've decided to focus on ways to add even more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to my diet. Some examples are adding veggies to dishes that may often be veggie-less (example: scrambled eggs), using meat to flavor a dish instead of being the focus of the dish, and consuming more whole grains (less white flour, pasta, rice).

I highly recommend the book and/or film if you are interested in very sound research that will encourage you to eat healthy. Here are a few facts from the book that I don't want to forget.

Plant foods have dramatically more antioxidants, fiber, and minerals than animal food. Animal foods have more fat and cholesterol and slightly more protein, more B12, and vitamin D (though this is mainly due to vitamin-D fortified dairy products).

Four nutrients which animal-based foods have that plant-based foods for the most part do not - cholesterol, vitamins A, D, and B12. Vitamins A and D can be made by our bodies. B12 can be gained from plants grown in rich soil (usually organic) and not triple-cleaned (bought from a farmer).

The following diseases can all be prevented and even reversed by a low animal-foods diet: obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes (type I and II), autoimmune (MS, hyper/hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis), and common aging diseases (blindness, osteoporosis, cognitive impairment).

A low animal-protein diet can overcome the ill effects of carcinogens, even reversal of ill effects. Instead of worrying about staying away from cancer-causing agents, instead focus on your diet. Our bodies can fight off carcinogens when fueled by the proper diet.

Vitamin supplements do very little, if any, good. The best way to get vitamins is through consuming whole foods. Nutrition and the science of our bodies is much more complex than separate nutrients.

For the most part, doctors are not well trained in nutrition and the medical community is not accustomed to using diet as a treatment for many diseases. I have experienced this myself. I struggle with headaches and migraines. In recent years I have seen several doctors, just to see if they any can shed any light on my problem. They never ask me what I eat, even though I know that diet plays a huge role in how my head feels. A doctor once suggested a preventative medicine to be taken daily. I have tried several before, and so I told the doctor I'd rather not have to be dependent on a pill. The doctor offered no further suggestions and said to come back and see her if I ever wanted to try the medication. I am not against doctors, but I am for trying to manage ailments without pills and surgeries where possible. Nutrition plays a huge role in this. Good health is in our hands and what we put in our mouths.

There are recipes on the website Forks Over Knives. I found this one for Moroccan Bean Stew there and thought it looked pretty good. Wow - this is so flavorful and delicious.

Moroccan Bean Stew
from Forks Over Knives

1 tablespoon water (to sauté)
1 teaspoon cumin seed
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon dried basil
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
Few pinches cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 cup onion, diced
3-4 medium-large cloves garlic, minced or grated
3 – 3 1/2 cups yellow or orange-fleshed sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 can (14 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14 oz.) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup dry red lentils, rinsed
3 cups vegetable stock
3 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

In a large pot over medium heat, add the water with the spices and salt.

Cook for a couple of minutes, and then add the onion, garlic, and sweet potato.

Stir through, cover, and cook for about 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions have started to soften.

Add all remaining ingredients except ginger, and increase heat to high to bring to boil.

Once at a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 20-25 minutes, until lentils are fully dissolved.

Add fresh ginger, stir through, and serve.


virginia said...

Ive been wanting to read The China Study...but also worried it would be endless numbers. Maybe now i'll have to check it out :)

krhjohns said...

Perfectly timed post! I just watched the film and was wanting to discuss it with you! Ha. I came to the same conclusion as you.

Suzanne said...

I was just wondering how your headaches were going...or coming...I have found with mine there isn't one single feature. If I'm not getting enough rest, and it's really overcast (yes, I know that sounds silly, but it's not coincidence.) I'm hormonal, drinking too much diet coke...any one of those things won't cause a headache, but give a combination, and I'm in trouble. Since I live on bread and refined sugar, I'm sure my diet is a contributing factor. Another reason to be more healthy.

Denae said...

Virginia - Yes, definitely read it. The science part is short and he does a good job explaining it. Did you know you were the one that introduced me to 101cookbooks.com? I don't think I ever said THANK YOU!

krhjohns - I loved the parts in the film that highlighted the school and urban gardens. Wish we had more of that.

Suzanne - Yes, my headaches are still a struggle. Like you, there are definitely many different causes. It seems that even if I remove all the causes in my control, there are still many I won't be able to remove. Though I've never tried complete abstinence from sugar. I don't want to find out if that works...

Denae said...

Oops - In the last comment I said I loved the part of the film highlighting the school and urban gardens. Wrong film! This comes from another great food documentary, called Food Fight.