The China Study claims to be the most comprehensive study on nutrition ever conducted. It involved 65 counties in 24 different provinces of China.
Most of the counties were in rural areas where people lived in the same area all their lives and ate food produced locally.
Those living in rural communities and consuming mostly plant protein had fewer chronic diseases than those who lived in communities where more animal protein is available.
In rural China, 9-10 percent of total calories comes from protein, yet only 10 percent of that amount is derived from animal foods. In contrast, the American diet features 15-16 percent of calories from protein with 80 percent of that from animal foods.
The rural Chinese were less likely to die from the diseases of affluence (cancer, diabetes, and heart disease) than diseases of poverty (pneumonia, parasitic disease, tuberculosis, diseases associated with pregnancy, and others).
Dr. T. Colin Campbell says diseases of affluence might be more appropriately named "diseases of nutritional extravagance" because they are tied into eating habits.
Many people interested in nutrition are using this study to validate that excluding animal protein from your diet is a healthier choice for you.
A newsletter subscriber actually prompted this article as he was struggling with defending the principles in my Total Health Program based on the conflict that the China Study posed in its finding.
While there are many good points in the China Study and it does promote many healthy nutrition habits, there are some serious flaws in its primary assumptions. I wanted to identify them out so more people won't be harmed by this misunderstanding.
The main problem with the China Study is that it made no differentiation or distinction between raw milk, pasteurized milk, or between raw and cooked meat. Anyone reading this site should be quite familiar with why you should avoid all pasteurized milk. The only form of acceptable dairy is raw dairy.
Cooking meat can also cause many problems, and I believe it is, in large part, responsible for many of the valid findings Dr. Campbell observed.
Unfortunately, it is also quite clear Dr. Campbell failed to appreciate the major dangers of meat and milk are related to cooking them. He makes the invalid assumption that raw and cooked (pasteurized) milk and meat are equally harmful. This is simply untrue and not at all addressed in his study or book.
Not a month goes by in our clinic where we don't see one or more new patients who have chosen to be a vegetarian and have suffered a loss of their health. Typically, they are able to rapidly recover their health after introducing animal protein back into their diet.
That said, let's be quite clear I am a huge fan of eating vegetables. I believe that we should consume about 1 pound of vegetables a day for every 50 pounds of body weight. Ideally, these vegetables should be organic and eaten raw. One really needs a large amount of raw, uncooked food in their diet if they hope to achieve ideal health.
Another valid point Dr. Campbell has is that there are major problems with most commercial meat sources. We were not designed to eat cattle that were raised on grain and fed hormones and antibiotics to maximize their growers' profits.
However, there are other meat sources available such as grassfed beef, organically raised poultry and wild game animals that do not violate these principles, and are important contributors to optimal health.
In my experience, most people are better off from a health perspective eating reasonable quantities of animal protein.