Forks Over Knives 2011 | Vegan Documentary

The average American now
carries 23 extra pounds. Heart disease and stroke
will claim the lives of 460,000 American women. 69 grams of fat. You could actually save
12 grams of the fat and half the calories if you simply ate an
entire stick of butter. We’re talking about diabetes and hypertension and bone
diseases, osteoporosis. Prostate cancer is now
the most common cancer in American men. Doctors say we really need to eat
less red and processed meat. And arterial
sclerosis and cancer and autoimmune disease. We have unprecedented amount of
type 2 diabetes in our children, and we’re starting
to see hypertension in our children in
grammar school. In case you’re wondering,
2,120 calories. Clearly the Western
diet is taking a toll. This should serve
as a wake-up call. We have a growing problem, and the ones who are
growing are us. Food! It’s central to our
lives and traditions. Every special occasion seems
to involve food and feasting. But could some of
these same foods, including several that we think
are good for our health, also be causing many of our
most serious health problems? Indeed, we’re facing a
massive health crisis. No less than 40% of
Americans today are obese, and about half of us are taking
some form of prescription drug. The best known statin
drug, Lipitor, is the most prescribed
drug ever in the world. Almost one in five
American four-year-olds are now considered to be obese. Though Mexican-Americans and
African-American children are still more likely
to be overweight. This could be the first
generation of children in the United States that
lives less than its parents. We spend 2.2 trillion dollars
a year on health care, over five times more
than the defense budget. In fact, we pay more per
person for health care than any industrialized
country in the world, yet we’re sicker than ever. You see, there’s no money
in healthy people, and there’s no money
in dead people. The money is in the middle:
People who are alive, sort of, but with one or more
chronic conditions. Obesity, diabetes,
heart disease, high blood pressure are all diet-related
health issues that cost this country more
than $120 billion each year. Every minute, a person in the U.S. is killed by heart disease. 1500 people a day
die from cancer. Combined, these
two diseases kill over 1 million
Americans every year. Cases of diabetes
are skyrocketing, particularly among our
younger population. – Diabetes.
– Diabetes. Life-threatening diabetes. One out of three people
born in the U.S. today will develop this crippling
condition during their lifetime. Millions of others suffer from a host of
degenerative diseases. Millions more of us are
so stimulated by sugar, coffee, and energy drinks that we’ve masked our
chronic fatigue. But could there be
a single solution to all of these problems? A solution so comprehensive,
yet so straightforward, that it’s mind-boggling
that more of us haven’t taken it seriously? Someone has to stand up
and say that the answer isn’t another pill. The answer is spinach. A growing number of
researchers claim that if we eliminate,
or greatly reduce, refined, processed, and
animal-based foods, we can prevent and, in
certain cases, even reverse several of our worst diseases. They say all we need to do
is adopt a whole foods, plant-based diet. It sounds almost too
simple to be true. You might not expect
someone like me to explore the connection
between diet and disease. On my way over, I drank
these two Red Bulls. I also had a 12-ounce Coke and another half of
a 12-ounce Coke. I haven’t always lived the healthiest lifestyle. And I’ve eaten more than
my share of fast food. But as part of my effort to
learn more about the link between food and health, I visited two physicians
in Los Angeles, Dr. Matt Lederman and
Dr. Alona Pulde. – Hi.
– How you doin’? – Lee Fulkerson.
– Lee, nice to meet you. Nice to meet you too. This is Dr. Pulde. Hi, Dr. Pulde.
Pleasure to meet you too. Both are M.Ds. Dr. Lederman was trained
in internal medicine and Dr. Pulde in family practice. They incorporate a whole
plant foods nutrition plan into the treatment
of their patients. So let’s get started on that, and then we’ll do some talking. 142/82. I found out a lot
more than I expected. Like a lot of Americans, I thought my health
was pretty good. I had no major diseases
that I knew of. But I hadn’t had a thorough
check-up in a while, so I decided to get one. When Dr. Lederman gave
me the results, it was a real wake-up call. I gotta say I’m kinda shocked. I’m really worried about
my blood work numbers. 240 and 241 for my cholesterol is way higher than
it’s ever been. I got this six number. That, to me, is the most
worrying number I got. The six number was the result of something called a CRP test, which measures the inflammation
in my heart and blood vessels. This put me in the high-risk
category for a heart attack. So I committed to a
12-week nutrition program under Dr. Lederman’s supervision. The plan was to treat
my health problems by eating a whole foods,
plant-based diet. The idea of using nutrition to promote good health
is nothing new. Indeed, Hippocrates, the ancient Greek father
of Western medicine, said, “let food be thy medicine,”
over 2,000 years ago. Yet it wasn’t until
more recently that the science behind
this observation was systematically
probed and applied. Two researchers who’ve made
groundbreaking contributions to this effort are Dr. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. Born just a few months
apart in 1933 and ’34, they each grew up on farms. Campbell’s childhood farm
is in rural Virginia, where his family raised dairy
cattle and milked cows. My dad and mother
moved here in 1943 when I was nine years old. And during that time,
we had a dairy of about somewheres between
20 and 30 cows, which in those days was a
modest, medium-sized dairy. At the time, milk
was believed to be nature’s perfect food. So perfect, in fact, that this
U.S. government film from the early 20th century
recommended that infants who have just been weaned
from their mother’s milk should be switched
immediately to cow’s milk. That was the excitement
of doing something, producing nature’s perfect
food, if you will. Established in 1675, the Esselstyn’s farm is
in upstate New York. On these rolling hillsides, they grazed both beef
and dairy cattle. This was sort of like
the nerve center of the operation in a way? More or less, absolutely. This is sort of the epicenter,
around these barns. This is the way farming
was done in that era. And so this is sort
of where you learned the craft… the trade. The trade of farming. How old were you
when you moved here? Seven. I didn’t start
driving the tractor till I was eight years old. A late bloomer, right? Yeah, exactly. But I enjoyed it, and I really got a great kick
out of doing the farm work. Although they didn’t
know each other yet, farm life had a deep
and lasting influence on both Campbell and Esselstyn. To make it successful, you
had to have persistence, staying power, and
tenacity of purpose. I guess it’s ironic in the
sense that we’re both now advocating not
consuming the products that we were busy actually
producing with our families. During Campbell and
Esselstyn’s lifetimes, the American diet has
changed dramatically. Near the beginning
of the 20th century, Americans each ate about 120
pounds of meat annually. By 2007, that
figure had exploded to no less than 222 pounds. In 1913, we ate about 40 pounds of processed sugar
each per year. However by 1999, our consumption of all
refined sweeteners had risen to over 147 pounds. In 1909, Americans consumed around 294 pounds of
dairy products apiece. But by 2006, our
yearly intake of dairy had more than doubled
to 605 pounds. By the early 1950s, Campbell was
off to college at Penn State while Esselstyn went to Yale. As part of Yale’s rowing team, Esselstyn won an olympic
gold medal in 1956. During this same decade, the pace of American
life was accelerating, even with our food. The late ’50s was the heyday
of the drive-in burger joint. The supermarket was just
beginning to thrive in the newly built,
post-World War II suburbs. This was when the so-called
convenience foods were born, like the legendary
foil-wrapped TV dinner, not to mention a host of other
tasty processed delicacies devised to make our lives
easier and better. By now, Colin Campbell was in graduate school
at Cornell university, which had one of the
most prestigious nutritional science
departments in the country. His research was on animal
nutrition and biochemistry. But it was focused more
on feeding animals for their ability to
be able to produce meat, milk, and eggs,
protein containing. And so my own research
was focused on protein, making sure we got enough. It was considered to
be the vital nutrient. It was one of the first
nutrients discovered and without protein,
the animal would die, so it was a life force. In fact, in the
even early 1900s, there were statements made that this is the stuff
of civilization itself. Protein was also
nearly synonymous with animal-based
foods like meat. It still is today
all over America. Why do you think meat is
important in our diet? Protein. – Protein.
– Protein. – Protein.
– Protein. – Protein.
– Protein. – Protein.
– A lot of protein in it. We need protein, don’t we? You can’t live without protein. The idea that plants had protein also didn’t come into play until maybe the late
1800s, early 1900s, and then it struggled
through the years. No matter what source
the protein came from, in the late 1950s, most
scientists believed the world needed a
lot more of it. We had a lot of starving and malnourished
children in the world. And so in my community, in
the nutrition community, there were discussions
about why so. You know, what could be done? And one of the
prominent thoughts was to make sure they
get enough protein. I certainly went along
with this view. At about the same time, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn
was just beginning his medical career at the world famous Cleveland
Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. Surgery soon became
his specialty. There’s something awfully
satisfying about if you can remove the disease. For instance, if a
patient had gallstones you could remove them. If it was a gastric ulcer
or a stomach ulcer, you directly could
take care of that. If it’s a hernia,
the same thing. During the 1960s, heart disease was on
the rise in the U.S. What doctors commonly call
“coronary artery disease” is usually caused by a
condition of the arteries that supply the
heart with blood. What happens is that over time, a fatty substance in the
bloodstream called cholesterol builds up in the
coronary arteries, restricting the blood
flow to the heart. This can ultimately
cause several problems, from severe chest
pain, called angina, to heart attacks. Cholesterol is a
natural substance produced by all animals,
including humans, and it’s an essential component
of our cells’ walls. But when we consume
dietary cholesterol, which is only found
in animal foods like meat, eggs, and
dairy products, it tends to stay in
the bloodstream. This so-called plaque
is what collects on the inside of
our blood vessels and is the major cause of
coronary artery disease. In the late 1960s, a colleague
of Dr. Esselstyn’s at the Cleveland Clinic
made a major breakthrough in the treatment
of this condition. In fact, Esselstyn
shared space with him in the clinic’s
surgical locker room. His name was Dr. Rene Favaloro. Rene really sparkled
in the operating room. And in 1967, he did
this first bypass graft at the clinic…
coronary artery bypass graft. This revolutionary new procedure was accomplished by removing a
vein from the patient’s leg, then stitching it on the heart’s
blocked coronary artery to allow the blood to flow
around, or bypass, the blockage. Today, over 500,000 Americans
go under the knife annually for heart bypass surgery. Costing around $100,000 apiece, these operations alone
constitute a staggering total of nearly $50 billion. Joey Aucoin lives
in Tampa, Florida, where he owns and operates
a landscaping company. I tell everybody…
the joke with everybody with me is: I don’t eat to live,
I live to eat. And I… my whole life, I
ate whatever I wanted. In 2004, doctors discovered Joey had a dangerously high
cholesterol level of 320 and a hazardous blood
sugar level of 480. This not only made him
a type 2 diabetic, but a prime candidate for a
heart attack and a stroke. This is my daily pill regiment. Um, I got two pills I
take for my diabetes. Then I got one for cholesterol,
one for high blood pressure, and then I take Byetta, which
is an injectable medicine, every morning before breakfast
and every night before dinner. And that’s what I’ve been doing
for almost four years now. And I know it makes me tired, and I just…
I just don’t feel normal. I only sleep four
hours a night or so. I just hate takin’ ’em. In the mid 1960s, Dr. Campbell was in
the Philippines, trying to get more protein to millions of
malnourished children. To keep costs down, he and his colleagues decided not
to use animal-based protein. The program was beginning
to show success. But then, Dr. Campbell stumbled
onto a piece of information that was extremely important. It centered on the more affluent
families in the Philippines, who were eating relatively high
amounts of animal-based foods. But at the same time,
they were the ones most likely to have the children who were susceptible to
getting liver cancer. This was very unusual, since liver cancers are
mainly found in adults. But just the mere fact that
they occurred in children said, you know, there’s
something here. This is pretty significant. Shortly afterward, Dr. Campbell came across a scientific paper published in a little-known
Indian medical journal. It detailed work
that had been done on a population of
experimental rats that were first exposed to a
carcinogen called aflatoxin, then fed a diet of casein, the
main protein found in milk. They were testing the
effect of protein on the development
of liver cancer. They used two different
levels of protein. They used 20% of total calories, and then they used a
much lower level, 5%. 20% turned on cancer,
5% turned it off. This Indian paper, together with what
Dr. Campbell had learned about increased liver
cancers in children eating animal-based foods, combined to create a
decisive moment in his work and his life. Because we learned
that animal protein was really good in
turning on cancer. During this same time, the way Americans ate
was changing, again. The number of fast-food
franchises was exploding, as more and more
overscheduled Americans began using them as
a convenient way to feed themselves
and their families. While the fast-food revolution
was sweeping the nation, the rate of cancer
deaths in America was continuing to rise. As a result, in 1971, president Richard Nixon
initiated a program that was dubbed “The
War on Cancer.” We are here today
for the purpose of signing the
Cancer Act of 1971. And I hope that in
the years ahead that we may look
back on this day and this action as being the
most significant action taken during this
administration. On the front lines
of this new war was Caldwell Esselstyn. By 1978, he was chairman of
the Breast Cancer Task Force at the Cleveland clinic. Yet he soon began to doubt the medical procedures
he was using. No matter how many
of these operations I was doing for women
for breast cancer, I wasn’t doing one single thing for the next
unsuspecting victim. So Dr. Esselstyn started
investigating the global statistics
on breast cancer. One of the facts he discovered was that the incidence of
breast cancer in Kenya was far lower than it was
in the United States. In fact, in 1978, the
chances of a woman getting breast cancer in Kenya were 82 times lower
than in the U.S. Dr. Esselstyn was
even more surprised by the numbers he discovered for
some other types of cancer. In the entire nation
of Japan in 1958, how many autopsy-proven deaths were there from cancer
of the prostate? 18. 18 in the entire nation. That, to me, was about
the most mind-boggling public health figure that I
think I’d ever encountered. In the same year, the
U.S. population was only about twice
the size of Japan’s, yet the number of
prostate cancer deaths exceeded 14,000. Dr. Esselstyn also
discovered that in the early 1970s, the risk for
heart disease in rural China was 12 times lower than
it was in the U.S. And in the highlands
of Papua New Guinea, heart disease was
rarely encountered. The link he noted between all the
areas he studied was simple. Virtually, the Western
diet was nonexistent. They had no animal products. They had no dairy, no meat. Even more compelling
to Esselstyn was some historical data that
had long been overlooked. In World War II, the
Germans occupied Norway. Among the first things
they did was confiscate all the livestock
and farm animals to provide supplies
for their own troops. So the Norwegians were forced to
eat mainly plant-based foods. Now we look at the
deaths in Norway, just antecedent to this period, from heart attack and stroke. 1927, 1930, ’35. Look at right up here. Right at the very top, 1939. Bingo! In come the Germans. Immediately, 1940, wow. ’41, ’42, ’43, ’44, ’45. Have we ever seen a population have their cardiovascular
disease plummet like this from statins, from bypass surgery, or from stents? No. But look what
immediately happened. With the cessation of
hostilities in 1945, back comes the meat,
back comes the dairy, back comes the strokes
and heart attacks. I mean, it’s such an
absolute, powerful lesson. But, uh, we didn’t get it. Because of evidence like this, Dr. Esselstyn was making
the same assessment that Dr. Campbell was due to
his work in the Philippines, seeing a causal link
between animal-based foods and some of our most
deadly diseases. But they weren’t the
only researchers coming to this conclusion. Another was Dr. John McDougall. In the mid 1970s, he began practicing on a
sugar plantation in Hawaii. What I observed there was
the health of the people differed dramatically
depending upon how long they’d been in Hawaii. People who were raised in Japan,
the Philippines, Korea, China, first generation who had moved
from their native land, were always trim, never
had heart disease, prostate cancer, colon
cancer, breast cancer, rheumatoid arthritis,
multiple sclerosis, never overweight. They were in their 80s and
90s and fully functional. Their kids got a little
fatter, a little sicker. Their grandkids in
the next generation were just as fat and sick
as anybody I’d ever seen. And what came through clearly was
the diet was the difference. The first generation had learned
a diet of rice and vegetables in their native land. But the kids, they started
to give up the rice and replace it with
the animal foods, the dairy products, the meats, and the results were obvious. They got fat and sick. So I knew at that point
what caused most diseases. At the time, however,
Campbell and Esselstyn knew virtually nothing about
this other information. Even so, they ultimately reached
a revolutionary conclusion… that many of our most
crippling conditions could be greatly reduced, if
not completely eradicated, simply by eating what they call a
whole foods, plant-based diet. This means consuming
foods that come mainly from whole, minimally
refined plants such as fruits, vegetables,
grains, and legumes. It also means avoiding
animal-based foods such as meat, dairy, and eggs, as well as processed foods
like bleached flour, refined sugars, and oil. Campbell and Esselstyn’s
research in this field would change their
lives forever. So, I went through
your preliminary form. The goals that I have…
tell me if I missing any… from you were: Eliminate
your shots and medicines. You want to get off this stuff. You want to sleep well at night. You’re not doing that. You want to stop feeling
tired and run down. You want to lose weight. – That’s it. You got it.
– So those are your goals. The other complaints: You had low
energy, ringing in the ears, sinus problems, post nasal
drip, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughs,
indigestion, and reflux, loose stool, diarrhea, bloating, black and bloody mucousy
stool with meat consumption, and difficulty walking,
getting around, trouble losing weight, chronic
and unpleasant hunger feelings, groggy after meals,
strong food cravings, and anxiety about
food in general. All of that stuff…
sounds like I’m dead. So I don’t mean to, you know, harp on the bad stuff,
but, you know, that will all…
most of that should get better. My goals, I’m adding in. Which goals do you have? I want you to reverse all
your medical diseases, the ones that we can reverse, and most of yours, we could. I told you all the
risk and benefits. Based on what I told you, I
would stop all these meds. And I would stop these, on
top of all these risks. Okay, that’s what I’m gonna try. You’re gonna get my best…
my best effort. I can tell you that.
You’ll do good. You’ll do well. By 1975, Dr. Campbell was
at Cornell University, investigating what he’d
discovered in the Philippines. Our work from the
beginning was designed, in a sense, to do
two main things. One, I wanted to replicate,
if possible, the Indian work, because it was so provocative. Secondly, if this
was really true, I wanted to study
how does it work? Just like the
Indian researchers, Campbell fed half the
rats in his study a diet of 20% casein, the main protein
in dairy products. The other half was
fed only 5% casein. Over the 12 weeks of the study, the rats eating the
higher protein diet had a greatly enhanced level of
early liver cancer tumor growth. On the other hand, all of the
rats eating only 5% protein had no evidence of
cancer whatsoever. But Dr. Campbell decided to take these findings
a step further. This time, instead of
keeping his test rats on the same diet
throughout the study, he kept them in one group and switched their
diets back and forth between 5% and 20%
dairy protein, doing so at
three-week intervals. The results were astonishing. Whenever the rats
were fed 20% protein, early liver tumor
growth exploded. But when the same rats
were given 5% protein, tumor growth actually went down. I mean, this is so provocative,
this information. We could turn on and
turn off cancer growth just by adjusting the level
of intake of that protein. Going from 5% to 20% is within the range of
American experience. The typical studies on chemical
carcinogens causing cancer are testing chemicals at levels maybe three or four orders
of magnitude higher than we experience. Even more surprisingly, Dr. Campbell discovered
that a 20% diet of plant proteins from
soy beans and wheat did not promote cancer. However, there’s a longstanding
belief among the public that animal protein is
important for human health. Connie diekman supports
this position. Ms. Diekman is
director of nutrition at Washington University in St.
Louis, Missouri. She’s the past President of the
American Dietetic Association, and an advisor to the
National Dairy Council. When you eliminate animal
foods from your eating plan, you run the risk of
inadequate protein content. Animal proteins provide
all the amino acids that we need for cell growth, tissue repair, and
overall health. Eating whole foods, it’s
virtually impossible to be protein deficient without
being calorie deficient. Because even if you
take the foods that have the least
amount of protein in it, let’s say potatoes,
for example, or rice. You know, 8%, 9%. Well, that’s the figure
we more or less need. Dr. Campbell’s research
led him to a conclusion about the way genes, chemicals, and nutrition interact
to promote cancer. Cancer starts with genes. It might be genes
we’re born with, it might be genes that are
actually changed by a chemical, so those genes become capable
of producing cancer cells. Whether we do or
don’t get cancer is primarily related
to how we promote those cancer cells
to grow over time. That’s where nutrition
comes into play. They grow much more rapidly when
they were fed animal protein. Dr. Campbell and other
nutritional scientists have found that only a small
percentage of cancer cases are caused solely by genes. I think the general
consensus in my field is that probably not more
than 1% or 2% at most is attributed to the genes
we may or may not have. And that’s the most helpful and hopeful information
I give people. Because 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. My diet was pretty abominable. I thought the two
principal food groups were caffeine and sugar. Dr. Pam Popper is
executive director of the Wellness Forum
in Columbus, Ohio, and an expert in the areas
of health and nutrition. The women in my family are
all overweight. I’m not. I don’t eat and live
like they do, you know. So, I’ve changed
my health destiny by not engaging in
the same habits. Over the next several years, Dr. Campbell initiated
more extensive lab studies using various animal
and plant nutrients. The results were consistent: Nutrients from animal foods
promoted cancer growth, while nutrients from plant
foods decreased cancer growth. Yet Campbell hadn’t identified a
specific biological mechanism that caused the
effects he observed. And it finally occurred to me that there is no such
thing as the mechanism. What we are looking at was
a symphony of mechanisms. We think that nutrition
is attributed to individual nutrients. And that’s the way
it gets marketed and that’s the way the
companies tell us, so forth. When, in fact, nutrition, all of it working together
to create this symphony, the hundreds of thousands of different kinds of
chemicals in food, all kind of working
together nicely. I mean, the complexity is total. That’s a holistic concept. And I had to say to myself,
that’s a very exciting idea. Dr. Campbell realized that his discoveries
in the laboratory were significant, but limited. How were these findings
relevant in people? How do different types of foods affect cancer and
other diseases? Campbell needed a large-scale
population study. He would soon find a
perfect opportunity. So mangoes are really good. They flavor things
really nicely. – Okay.
– That’s something… you wanna get a riper one. Dr. Matt Lederman and his wife,
Dr. Alona Pulde, are among a small but growing
number of physicians who use a whole foods,
plant-based diet as a primary treatment
for their patients. From shopping with
patients to teach them how to read nutrition labels… And I don’t care what it says on the front, the
back, or the sides… both: Look at the ingredients. And that’s all I care about. To showing patients
how to prepare meals, they are not your typical m.D.S. Doctors Lederman and Pulde
use food as treatment because they feel it’s the
best medicine available… medicine that not only makes
their patients feel better but that truly
improves their health. In 1973, the U.S. congress passed a new farm subsidy bill. Among other things, it
included incentives that encouraged a massive
increase in corn production. One of the major byproducts
of this enormous corn surplus was a low-cost sweetener called
“high fructose corn syrup”. Companies could add this
sweetener to anything from soda pop to hot dogs, and then make these products
widely available at low prices. Processed sugars and
other refined foods are far more calorie-dense than the whole plants
they’re made from. The dramatic increase
in their use is a major reason why our
food has become richer. To evolutionary psychologist
and author Dr. Doug Lisle, the consumption of
unnaturally dense foods is the main cause for the
epidemic of obesity in America. It isn’t that people have
become more self-indulgent. It isn’t because they’re
lazier than they ever were. What’s happening is that their
mechanisms of satiation are being fooled. The process starts with a range of receptors
in our stomachs that help us gauge how
much food we’ve eaten. These include stretch
receptors to help measure the sheer volume of
food in our stomachs. We also have density receptors, to help determine the
caloric density, or what we more commonly call
the richness of our food. For instance, 500 calories
of natural plant food fills the stomach completely, triggering both our stretch
and density receptors to signal our brain that
we’ve had enough to eat. But 500 calories of unnaturally
rich or processed food fills the stomach far less, deceiving these receptors
into telling our brain that we need to eat more. Even worse is 500
calories of oil, which is almost pure fat and barely triggers
any response at all. The problem with weight
management in humans is that if you make these
foods completely artificial, which we do today, you wind up with a problem
that people have to overeat just to be satisfied. But why do these
concentrated foods that are so harmful to us
give us so much pleasure? Dr. Lisle says the
answer is related to a system called the
motivational triad. This is a trio of
biological mechanisms that nature has designed
into every creature on earth so they can survive
to pass their genes on to the next generation. The first leg of the
motivational triad is pleasure seeking. And, primarily, two things
are the cause of that, and those two things
are food and sex. So in the case of a
great white shark, its basically got a neon sign
flashing across its forehead saying, “food, sex,
food, sex, food, sex.” Unless it’s a male, then it
says, “sex, food, sex, food,” but it’s pretty much
the same thing. The other two legs of
the motivational triad are avoiding pain and doing everything with
the least amount of effort. Pleasure seeking,
pain avoidance, and energy conservation, that really sums up
animal behavior, whether we’re talking about a
paramecium under a microscope or a great white shark. Richer foods naturally
excite our senses because it’s nature’s
way of telling us they will provide the highest
amount of dietary reward with the least amount of effort. This helped our ancestors
find the most calorie-dense and ripe foods available, which contributed
to our survival. But in today’s environment, we can artificially
increase calorie density well beyond what our ancestors
would have found in nature. The resulting foods give us a
hyper-normal amount of pleasure, leading us into something Dr. Lisle calls the
pleasure trap. What the pleasure trap
is is an interaction between our natural instincts, which are trying to tell
us the right thing to do, and some kind of artificial,
modern stimulation that is piggybacking or
hijacking that process. So the classic example
of the pleasure trap would be drugs and
drug addiction. The way drugs work
is they hijack the existing pleasure circuits. When certain chemicals
hit those areas, they cause feelings of
euphoria and excitement. The same drug-like
effect happens when we eat highly
concentrated, processed foods. We’ve removed the fiber,
we’ve removed the water, we’ve removed the minerals. We’ve done everything
that we can to hyper-concentrate
sugar and fat and add a bunch of salt
as well into the food, and now what the food has become is it’s become a
low-grade addiction. These things are drugs. They have other
deleterious side effects, not the least of which is
adding a lot of empty calories. Dr. Terry Mason is
commissioner of health for the city of Chicago. He’s one of the few public
officials in America who openly supports
a plant-based diet. If it walked, hopped,
swam, crawled, slithered, had eyes, a mom and a dad…
don’t eat it. Dr. Mason contends that the less affluent
segments of our population have difficulty making
the best food choices. Well, first of all, the diets are calorie-rich
and nutrient-poor. This is the real problem. And, unfortunately, poor
people are poor in everything. They’re poor in health,
they’re poor in food choices, they’re poor in almost every
aspect that you could think of. This makes the less prosperous particularly vulnerable to
the low-grade addiction of highly processed foods. People want stuff that’s fast, people want stuff that’s quick, and they like the
stuff that’s salty, and they like the taste
of something fried. And so those are the
kinds of things that you see in our community. San’dera Nation lives
in a quiet suburb in Cleveland, Ohio,
with her five children. In October 2008, she was
stricken by a strange illness. I wanna say something,
but it’s not coming out. I’m getting really
shaky and sweats, and then I’m cold and I’m sick and I’m fatigued, and my
stomach hurts and everything. So I went to the doctor, and that’s when he diagnosed me
with hypertension and diabetes. Like Joey Aucoin, San’dera was treated with
expensive prescription drugs. I was in denial for a while. I heard what they said, but
I was in denial, like, mmm. I still ate things
I shouldn’t have. I didn’t really
get the education that I needed to know, so I really depended on
that pill to save me. Then San’dera met with
Dr. Esselstyn, who recommended that she
treat her illnesses with a whole foods,
plant-based diet. Come on in, and
we’ll get to work. I was a little nervous, but
he made it real easy for me. I was real interested
in what he had to say and what he was
going to teach me and the new journey that I
would be taking with him. Between China and the
United States… In 1974, Chinese
premier zhou enlai was hospitalized
with bladder cancer. Knowing that his
disease was terminal, he decided to give his country a more complete
understanding of cancer. So he initiated
what would become one of the largest
and most thorough scientific studies in history. 650,000 researchers catalogued
the mortality patterns caused by several
types of cancer for the years between
1973 and 1975. The study encompassed
every county in China and over 880 million people. Zhou died in 1976, years
before his study was complete. Okay, and you’ll need
how many shirts? Probably three? – Yeah.
– Okay. Zhou enlai’s cancer study would ultimately
have a major impact on what Dr. Campbell himself
has called the capstone of his research. Early 1980. And you were there for
two or three months? Dr. Junshi Chen is now
senior research Professor with the Chinese center for
disease control and prevention. He first met Dr. Campbell
at Cornell in 1980, when he was a member of
the Chinese Institute of Food and Nutrition Science. The cold war was just
beginning to thaw, and Dr. Chen was among the
first senior scientists from China to visit
the United States. By then, Dr. Campbell had become one of the most distinguished nutritional biochemists
in the world. When they discovered this book, a significant
collaboration was born. This is the atlas of
cancer mortality in China. Published in 1981,
the cancer atlas was the result of Zhou
Enlai’s nationwide study. It showed a highly unusual
geographical distribution of different types
of cancer in China, which tended to be clustered
in certain hot spots. The same was true with
cancer after cancer. And the counties with
the highest levels were often far greater than the counties with
the lowest levels. So, for example,
esophageal cancer, according to this cancer map, the mortality has a
400-fold difference among different
counties in China. – That’s huge.
– Yeah. And in…
I understood, in the United States, only several-fold difference.
Not even… maybe twofold or so, we see. Yeah, yeah.
So that caught our attention in term of, so, why? Because they’re all Chinese. Genetically, they
are all the same. And the why they have
so much difference in single cancer mortality? So we believe it has to be
related to the environment. The bigger environment. And from our professional
perspective, of course, it’s
diet and nutrition. Dr. Chen and I said, you know, “why don’t we just go
there and do a study?” For Dr. Campbell, it was the opportunity
he’d been looking for. Among other things, he could
examine how his observations about liver cancer
in Filipino children and the findings
from his lab studies applied to a large
human population. The project would consider 367 diet and
health-related variables, making it one of
the most ambitious nutritional studies
ever conceived. Dr. Campbell and his associates carefully chose 65 counties
scattered across China. These counties were
mainly located in rural or semi-rural areas. We used the rural counties because they are stable
in their residents, and they have been
in this lifestyle for at least 20 to 30 years. More than 350 workers
were trained. They carefully surveyed
the diet and lifestyle of 6,500 people in
the chosen counties. Urine and blood samples
were also taken. In 1983, doctors Campbell,
chen, and their collaborators began to analyze the vast
amount of information that had been collected. The job would take years. After eight weeks eating
plant-based foods, Joey Aucoin was still off
all his medications. When I started this, I had
all these side effects from medication and from
my being so unhealthy. But now I’m getting in better
and better shape every day. I feel more healthy. I very seldom get
tired during the day. I just feel so
good all the time. This… this is the scale
that I weigh myself on. And it started about eight weeks
ago way up here around 218, 220. And now it’s bouncing
between 180 and 185. None of my belts fit. This one here, I
actually had to have two new holes punched in, ’cause
I liked the belt so much. Nothing fits.
I gotta go shopping. It’s just everything,
all my clothes. A good problem to have. It’s been fun for him, because I think he’s learned in addition to the fact that
he’s seeing such great results, that it’s…He loves it. I don’t think he’ll go
back to his old ways. He feels too good, and he likes… even if he started to
go off a little bit, he feels too good, his energy’s
too good, he looks younger. And the fact that he
would have to go back on all the meds, you
know, if he did, I think that that’s
a huge motivation for him to maintain
the lifestyle. In the mid-1980s, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn was struggling to
organize a study on coronary artery disease. His plan was to put
a group of patients on a diet of low-fat
plant-based foods, along with small quantities
of low-fat dairy products and minimal amounts of
cholesterol reducing drugs. And slowly over the
next, uh, 18 months, I got the 24 patients
that I had asked for. But the ones they sent me Were a little bit sicker
than I had thought. These were patients
who had failed their first or second
bypass operation. They had failed their first
or second angioplasty. And there were
five who were told by their expert cardiologists they would not
live out the year. One of the most
gravely ill patients was a 59-year-old speech and
communications teacher, Evelyn oswick. Ate all the chocolate
candy I could eat, ate every doughnut I
could put my hands on. Oh, I just love
things like that, a lot of gravy. And then, um, I had my… I have had two heart attacks
before I met Dr. Esselstyn. When I had the
second heart attack, the doctor said that I
should prepare for death, really is what he said. And I looked at him and I said, “do you really mean that
what you want me to do “is buy a rocking chair and just sit there and
rock away and wait?” And he just looked
at me and he said, “yes, that’s just exactly
what I’m saying.” Anthony Yen was born
and raised in China. And we were eating a typical
Chinese cultural diet. A very small piece of meat. But they sliced it, and so
it was cooked for flavor rather than your American style, when you eat, you eat a large,
great, big piece of meat, which you could easily fed
the whole family in China. And we eat a lot of
vegetables in China. And we had soup. But once I came to
the United States, you find beginning to
experience fast food. The hamburgers and
cheeseburgers, pizza. And I noticed my weight
beginning to gain. When Mr. Yen was 56 years old, he suddenly experienced
severe chest pains. At that point in time, I
had a open heart surgery. I have five bypass… five. But it was very interesting. About a week later, uh, I felt my chest
tighten up again. So myself and my wife went
to see Dr. Esselstyn. I saw every one of
these patients myself every two weeks for
the first five years. And at that visit, we would get a full cholesterol
lipid profile. We would get blood
pressure, weight, and I would go over
every morsel they ate. By using simple foods as the main treatment
for his patients, Dr. Esselstyn was bucking a
high-tech, high-cost system that was deeply entrenched
in both big medicine and big government. You know, behind my back, I got to be known as Dr. Sprouts. But I guess I’ve always
liked a challenge. We preheated the oven,
got the water going. I just added some seasonings. And then we add the
onions and the spinach. I’ve never been a morning
person, my whole life. And, uh, but previous
to this experience, um, it had probably
been worse than ever. And that entailed needing
to get up in the morning and caffeinate myself with cokes and red bulls
and stuff like that, uh, before I could even
think or start to work. We didn’t make the rice noodles, but you can just
boil them real quick and then throw this
on top of them. Right, right. He’s actually eating more often, but he’s eating the right
foods, and he lost weight. So he certainly feels
much better that way. And you can tell it in
his face, in his neck, you know, in his belly. It’s all…
he’s lost a lot of weight there. He also has a better energy. Um, he’s waking up earlier now. That’s great, because we have
then some morning time together. I don’t have to carry anything. You’re the doctor. 1990. Following nearly a decade
of intense effort, Dr. Campbell and his colleagues finally publish
their China study. It identified no less
than 94,000 correlations between diet and disease. Those are big numbers
for any study. And in the end of the day, when we did all these
correlations in this book here, and we looked at
the number of them that were statistically
significant, it was between about
8,000 to 9,000. When you have that large
number of correlations then you start
analyzing each one, if it works out as
statistically significant, this means that if 19 out of 20 are pointing in the
same direction, it’s highly significant and likely to be true. Hundreds of detailed
tables and charts were included in the study. Each one presented the raw
data that was collected. Then this information
was cross-referenced in multiple ways to
demonstrate its reliability and to show how it linked
with the 367 variables the study examined. I think the major message we got out of all these
correlation analyses is only one message. The plant food-based diet, mainly cereal grains,
vegetables, and fruits, and very little animal food is always associated with lower
mortality of certain cancers, stroke, and coronary
heart disease. The New York times called it “the most comprehensive
large study ever undertaken “of the relationship
between diet and the risk of
developing disease.” For Dr. Campbell, he finally had
large-scale data on people, and it was remarkably consistent
with his earlier discoveries. Together, he found that the
scientific evidence was clear: Whole, plant-based foods were
beneficial to human health, while animal-based
foods were not. San’dera nation’s journey
to better health wasn’t easy at first. It was a little hard, ’cause
I’d been eating fatty foods and grease and
everything for 38 years, you know, as long
as I can remember, so it was kinda hard
to go from that to changing the next
day completely. I started a journal for maybe
the first three weeks, write down my feelings
and emotions, what I felt like…
So that other people could know it’s okay
to feel that way. Along the way, San’dera had strong support
from Dr. Esselstyn and his wife Ann. They keep in touch,
and they’re like, “we haven’t forgotten
about you,” and I know they haven’t. I really feel here
that they haven’t. “I went to Wal-Mart this day. “I had wanted a subway sandwich, “and I said I’m gonna get
me that meatball sub. “I then received a call
while I was at Wal-Mart “from Mrs. Esselstyn, “as if they knew I was
weak at this moment. “She stated, ‘promise me “you will not eat
anything from Wal-Mart.’ “it gave me chills to know that
she called at that moment. “Therefore I left the store without getting
that meatball sub.” What do you see? While Dr. Campbell was
publishing his China study, Dr. Esselstyn was getting
some powerful data from the research
he’d started in 1985. He began with 24 patients, but 6 had dropped out
in the first year, leaving him with a total of 18. At the end of five years, we
had follow-up angiograms, and 11 of the group had
halted their disease. There was no progression. And there were four where we
had rather exciting evidence of regression of disease. These results were astonishing. The diet produced something
that medication and surgery never had before: Actual
reversals of heart disease. The biological mechanism
that caused these reversals centers on the lining of
our veins and arteries… the endothelial cells. They are the absolute
life jackets of our blood vessels. You’re young, and you’re a
teenager, you’re healthy, you could spread those
out one layer thick, and you’d have something
that would cover six or eight tennis courts. In 1988, scientists discovered that endothelial
cells manufactured the gas nitric oxide. Well, what did nitric oxide do? Nitric oxide keeps our
blood flowing smoothly without being sticky. It also helps to dilate
constricted blood vessels during physical activity and inhibits the
formation of plaque. And most importantly, nitric
oxide is a powerful force for eliminating the inflammation that seems to go
with this plaque. However, scientific
tests have demonstrated that when we start eating
the typical Western diet, our endothelial
cells are damaged. When you’re getting to be in
your 40s and 50s and 60s, and you’ve been slaughtering
your endothelial cells, you don’t have those six
or eight tennis courts. You may be down to one
and a half or two, and they can’t protect you. Yet according to Dr. Esselstyn, when we begin eating a whole
foods, plant-based diet, the damage to our endothelial
cells not only stops, it starts to reverse. About five years into his study, Esselstyn made a small
but significant change in his patients’ menu. It started in 1990, when he read the glowing review
of Dr. Campbell’s China study the New York times. Dr. Esselstyn saw that, and he invited me to
come to a conference he was organizing in Arizona. These two revolutionaries, who, up until then, had been
on similar but separate paths finally met face-to-face. On the one hand, I’m coming
from the scientific group, getting some ideas. He’s coming from
the clinical route and doing some
dramatic research. Here’s the science, here’s
the clinical evidence. Put the two together,
it’s amazing. When he learned of
Campbell’s research, Esselstyn removed dairy products
from his patients’ diet. The results of his ongoing study
continued to be impressive, and in 1995, he
published a paper detailing them in a noted
scientific journal. Yet one of Esselstyn’s most
remarkable success stories involved a colleague of his
at the Cleveland clinic, Dr. Joseph Crowe. Actually I was, um,
active, healthy, very busy, uh, mid-40s, absolutely,
um, no risk factors at all for any heart problem. But Dr. Crowe, even with
what was considered to be a healthy cholesterol level, was actually ravaged
by heart disease. This angiogram, taken after his first nearly
fatal heart attack in 1996, shows how badly damaged one of his coronary
arteries was. This angiogram was done
after less than three years of entirely dietary treatment. Dr. Crowe was fortunate. In 25% of cases, sudden death is the first and only sign
of coronary artery disease. Of Dr. Esselstyn’s
original 18 patients, all survived the initial
12 years of the study. Today, 14 patients
are still alive over two decades after
the study began. The thing about essy, although
he’s always very pleasant, when you said, “I’m going
to be on this program and I’m going to stay
with this diet,” you stayed with the diet,
or there was the door. You had no choice. I mean, his smiles
are wonderful, but he is very stern. You know, that’s why
I’m still living. But, you know, he’s just… He’s just a wonderful man. And I look at the pictures… Some of my pictures
years ago, 20 years ago actually looks older than today. The only thing is I lost
more hair, you know? Anthony and the
other male patients also noted another change. When you’re young, when you were teenager, you see a female or so on,
it gets kind of excited. And the first
reaction physically, you know, it gets
attention, you know? Raise the flag, I call it. This happened to us,
all the other, uh, Dr. Esselstyn’s, uh, I call
’em all the Guinea pigs. The flag still rises. Talking to your doctor about e.D. May be the last
thing you wanna do, but it’s definitely a
conversation worth having. I’m a practicing urologist and have been so for
the last 25 years. And erectile dysfunction
is actually the first clinical indicator of generalized
cardiovascular disease. It’s the canary
in the coal mine. It’s the thing
that lets you know that you have some
significant endothelial and vascular disease, much earlier than
will a heart attack or something like that. We have to stop
thinking of the body like it’s compartmentalized.
It really isn’t. The blood goes
everywhere in the body. And so if you have
vascular disease anywhere, you have it everywhere. Despite the apparent success
of the dietary approach, some critics say eating
this way is extreme. Now, with the Western diet, this guarantees there
are gonna be what? A half a million people
in this country this year who will have to have the front
half of their body divided, their heart exposed, then veins will be
taken from their leg and sewed on their heart. Some people would
call that extreme. Dr. Esselstyn has now
successfully treated over 250 patients
with heart disease, using almost exclusively a
whole foods, plant-based diet. Heart disease, as far
as I’m concerned, is an absolutely
toothless paper tiger that need never, ever exist. And if it does exist, it
need never, ever progress. Las Vegas, Nevada. At the extreme couture gym, we found an extraordinary
plant-based athlete… ultimate fighter
champion Mac danzig. In the mixed martial arts world, strength, toughness,
and endurance are of Paramount importance,
and Mac has them all. I had cut dairy out of my diet
when I was about 18 years old, um, because I had a, uh… Ear, nose, and throat
allergy to dairy, and I was getting a
lot of ear infections and things like that. So when I cut that out,
really the only thing that was separating me
from having a vegan diet was chicken and fish. So I was just eating
that for years, and I was eating it because
I thought that I needed to, because everyone
tells you, you know, if you’re an athlete,
you need, you know, at least chicken and fish
in your diet for protein. You know, something that’s
just one of the myths that’s been perpetuated
for a while. All it took was me cutting
the chicken and fish out, and I did it cold Turkey. I think a lot of people,
stereotypically speaking, think someone that’s
a vegan is, like, some skinny hippie
type of person, and, uh, you know,
I’m not necessarily trying to break the stereotype. I just… I tried the diet
for my own personal reasons, and it worked for me, I feel like I have more energy now that I don’t eat
the meat products. And I also feel like I recover
better in between my workouts. I’m not trying to be part
of some exclusive club or anything like that. I’m just doing my
thing, and, um, you know, don’t plan on
eating meat or dairy or anything like that for
the rest of my life. This, uh, guide is called the
type “a” planning guide. Now, it includes
foods that are found in the basic four food groups, because we are concerned
about the total daily needs, and this is a part of it. We must serve 1/2 pint
of fresh fluid milk to provide calcium, riboflavin, and the other nutrients that
are needed for our children. For decades, the dairy industry and U.
S. government have been saying that milk
is good for our bones. While all whole foods
contain calcium, an essential nutrient
for bone health, it is argued that we
need the higher amounts found in dairy. Children and aging
women in particular have been singled out to drink
more and more and more milk. What do you think the
most important nutrient we get from dairy
products is, like milk? Calcium. – Calcium.
– Calcium. – Calcium.
– Calcium. – Calcium.
– Calcium. Calcium. Calcium. The science in terms of
dairy’s role in healthy bones is pretty strong, and, in fact, the national
osteoporosis foundation, of course, utilizes that science
in their recommendations. Osteoporosis is a
degenerative bone disease, which has been widely linked
to a lack of calcium. If this is true, nations with a
high intake of dairy products, which are a major source of
calcium in a westernized diet, should have low levels
of osteoporosis. But according to a study done by a distinguished
Harvard researcher, nations with high levels
of calcium intake tend to have high levels
of hip fractures, which is a key indicator
for osteoporosis. And so, in fact, the higher
the dairy consumption, the higher the rate
of osteoporosis… exactly the opposite of
what the dairy industry has been telling us for so long. One of the primary mechanisms
for that is that animal protein tends to create an acid-like
condition in the body called metabolic acidosis. To combat this condition, the body draws upon its most
readily available acid buffer, namely calcium in our bones. As the calcium is extracted to
neutralize the excess acid, our bones are weakened. In defending the health
benefits of milk, many national health
organizations now recommend that we consume low-fat
dairy products. It can be milk,
it can be yogurt, it can be cheese, it can be
anything made from milk. But again, the
important message, it’s a message that comes from the American
Dietetic Association, the National Osteoporosis
Foundation, Cancer, Heart, we’re all on the same page. It needs to be
low-fat or fat-free. So as the fat’s taken out, the protein becomes a larger
proportion of the total. So they become higher in
protein, lower in fat. And when we compare
these high-protein, low-fat milk products,
for example, with prostate cancer, the relationship is
as strong as it is for cigarette smoking
and lung cancer. Most of these animals here
are what we call heifers. Uh-huh. They’re the young
females, not yet cows. So they haven’t had
their first calf yet. Haven’t had their first calf. So they have to have
their first calf before they can lactate. And once they come
into lactation, they almost keep
them, these days, they keep them
pregnant continuously for three of four years. Why are they eating grass now? Well, this is the last
time, in their lifetime, they’re going to see grass. After that they’re in the barn, they’re standing up for
the rest of their life. When I was young, we
defended our product, promoted our product, because it was nature’s
most perfect food. And, uh, so I believed that. But it took a slightly different
twist as time passed. I mean, it’s the most
perfect food for calves. And trying to switch the milk of
one species to another species doesn’t make a lotta sense. Only two months
into her treatment, San’dera was experiencing
dramatic effects on her type 2 diabetes
and hypertension. Since I’ve been on a
plant-based diet, blood pressure’s been wonderful. My blood sugars are in the 80s. It shocks me, 70s. So I was alarmed when it was 60. I’m like, “aah!
Isn’t that bad? It’s 60?” You know, and I talked to
the diabetes educator, which is wonderful. She’s like, “no, that’s
a normal blood sugar.” You’re pancreas is working,
it’s reversing.” Ironically, San’dera works at an outpatient
facility for diabetics. Yet the treatment that was achieving success
with her diabetes came from outside the
established medical system. The positive results
went far beyond San’dera’s chronic diseases. Mentally, not having
the sluggishness, the fear of the
disease progressing. Because I feel I’m in control and have power of taking
it back the right way now. So, mentally, I feel great. I’m eating the
things I should eat. The one thing that is
true that Ann said to me, “you really start tasting the real taste of
what you’re eating,” cause I’d eat a peach,
and you’d think… I was in heaven with
my white peaches. I get to eat, and that feels good
to be able to eat, bringing the sugar down, you’re losing the weight, your whole everything changes. You know, I think we’re
a little dependent on, you know, our doctors
and the medications. We should take a little
bit more responsibility and check it out for ourselves. And speaking of doctors
and medications, how does San’dera’s
regular physician feel about her new lifestyle? When I recently approached her about my blood sugars
being so great, my question was, “should I
not take my medication?” She said, “no, you still
take your medications.” And she said, “what is
that doctor trying to do? Take you off your medications?” And I’m looking like, “yeah,
I’m hoping that’s the… The goal.” So there’s still people we
have to make believers, yeah. Sally and Jim eat their
breakfast at about 7:00. It’s a good breakfast of
good foundation foods. Today, they’re
having milk, cereal, poached eggs, and
sliced oranges. They are starting the day right. The key agency that sets nutritional guidelines
for Americans is the United States
department of agriculture. The u.S.D.A.
Helps determine what foods are served to everyone from our
soldiers in the field to our kids in their
school cafeterias. These guidelines are also
taught in our schools, influencing what our
children will eat for the rest of their lives. Dr. David klurfeld is a
nutritional scientist and national program
leader for human nutrition with the u.S.D.A.
‘S agricultural research service. We’ve made dietary
recommendations since the 1890s, from u.S.D.A. And that was before we knew
about vitamins and minerals. Subsequently, we’ve had
different food groups, and we had the basic 4 and 5 and 7 and 12, and it varied as the
science changed. Perhaps the best known
of the food groups was the “basic four”,
introduced in 1956 in a leaflet called
“food for fitness.” The mainstay of nutrition
education for over 30 years, the basic four defined what an entire
generation of Americans believed was healthy to eat. The four food groups
was replaced in 1992 by the “food pyramid,” then
updated by “my pyramid.” These guidelines recommend three servings of dairy
products per day, and meat is still a primary
source of protein. In following “my pyramid
,” a 15-year-old girl can eat a daily menu consisting of a bowl of lucky
charms with low-fat milk and a glass of orange juice
from concentrate for breakfast, cheese-flavored crackers
for a morning snack, a cheeseburger on
a whole-grain bun with French-fries and
a coke for lunch, chocolate pudding and grapes
for an afternoon snack, and chicken nuggets
with a biscuit and canned green
beans for dinner with low-fat ice
cream for dessert. I see now what’s
happening with the way that we feed many of our
children in our school systems. We shouldn’t be surprised that
we’re seeing childhood obesity at the rates that
we’re seeing it. Dr. Neal barnard is a
medical researcher and president of the
physicians committee for responsible medicine. Well, the problem is, when
a kid is pulling his tray down the school lunch line, you see federal
policies in action. There are burgers
topped with cheese, the milk is heavily subsidized. But the vegetables and fruits,
a little bit harder to find. And this is because the
government contracts are going to particularly
the meat producers and other producers as well. It has nothing to do with
the health of the children. It has all to do with
the financial health of the big
agribusiness entities. What we have with the u.S.D.A. Is it’s really a farmers
advocacy organization. And, okay let’s have one, but that same group cannot
advocate for farmers, help subsidize their operations, manage commodity foods, subsidize the price
of growing things, and then turn around and say, “okay, we’re going to
tell people what to eat.” They’re going to tell
people what to eat based on their constituents, which are the farmers,
not the American public. In 1998, barnard’s group sued the u.
S.D.A. Every five years, the
government reformulates the dietary guidelines
for Americans. That’s the blueprint of what
Americans are supposed to eat to be healthy. And we looked at the panel that
pulled it together… 11 people. 6 of the 11 had
financial relationships with the food industry. So we said, hey, wait a minute. There are laws about what
they’re supposed to do and how transparent they
are supposed to be. They violated those. And we brought them to court, and it was a long
trial, but we won. But that doesn’t change the fact that the policies
they came up with continued to favor industry
as they always have. I don’t think there
really is a problem with industry connections
between scientists and the food industry, primarily because if
the beef industry has a question about
their products, shouldn’t they go to
the best scientists? And if the best scientists are consulting for
the food industry, I still want the best
scientists on these committees that make nutritional
recommendations. Financial conflict of interest is only one conflict
of interest. You know, there are people who’ve spent their
entire careers trying to prove that a
vegetarian diet is good for you or that red meat is bad for you. Now, they may not
have industry ties, but they too have a
conflict of interest. You know, we do develop
biases personally. I had those biases, too. But I got to a
point in my career that I was getting results
that went against what I had thought was true. So I had to self-reflect,
criticize my own bias, look at it really carefully, and I changed my views. Dr. Campbell paid a price
for changing his views. He’s been marginalized by key administrators
of his own university, this after being
a lead scientist and securing millions of
dollars in research grants for Cornell’s nutritional
sciences division. He had a popular
nutrition course canceled by the
division director who had long been a
major consultant to the dairy industry. Numerous observers feel this
was an arbitrary decision that violated the standards
of academic freedom. Dr. Campbell has also witnessed
serious corporate influence over research that
is used to develop the government’s
nutrition policy. One example he cites centers on the prestigious national
academy of sciences. The building behind
me here is perhaps the single most
important building in the area of science
in the country. This is where scientists
participate in deliberations about issues of the day and determine how that science
can be used to affect policy. In the early days
when I was involved, those panels were mostly
funded by public money. But on the other hand,
in more recent years, I have seen more and
more corporate money coming in to support
these activities and more and more people being
allowed on the committees, especially the chairs
of the committee. And, of course, they can
pick the kind of people they want to pick in order to get a certain
kind of conclusion. It’s not the way it should be, and I’m sure that if the
public were to know how powerful is this influence,
they would be surely upset. I had been a runner
for 14 years, in fact, a marathoner. 47 years old, the
top of my game. In 1982, Ruth heidrich’s
running career came to a sudden stop when she was diagnosed
with breast cancer. After a mastectomy, her doctors
recommended chemotherapy and radiation to
treat the cancer that had by then spread
to her lungs and bones. Ruth decided to visit
Dr. John Mcdougall instead. And I said, “Ruth, I
spent my residency “collecting information on
diet and breast cancer. “It’s all in these
files right here. “Sit in my office
and read through it and see what you think.” He said, “these are the
studies that show… “what I’m trying to prove is that diet can reverse
breast cancer.” And she read it, and she comes out and she says
“okay, I’ve changed my diet.” She changed her diet. So he showed me how to eat. No added oils, lots of fruits
and vegetables, whole grains. Ruth then started training for the ironman
triathlon in Hawaii, which combines
running a marathon with long-distance
biking and swimming. I became obsessed. Kept up the running, of
course, never stopped, and then added swimming, biking, and, for good measure,
lifted weights. And people were saying,
“you’re crazy. You’re a cancer patient.
You should be resting.” Doctors told me this. I felt so good. I felt fit, and I wanted to
maintain that level of fitness. And I felt sure that if
I had a healthy body and I was putting the
right food into it that I could beat this cancer. At the ironman triathlon, Ruth won a gold medal
in her age group. Stuck with the diet. Found out my arthritis
disappeared. My constipation disappeared. My dandruff disappeared. No sign of depression, which you might expect
with a cancer diagnosis. I felt renewed, invigorated, and out to show that diet
is so much more important than anybody ever thought. Mmm! Other women get
over breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer. There are people who’ve had
metastatic prostate cancer all over their body who have gone through what we
call spontaneous remission. In other words,
they’ve been cured. And it’s not the
end of the world when you get this diagnosis.
Some people get over it. Ruth did. So I’m still racing. Still daily training. Now how many people in their
70s are doing triathlons? Not very many. So that gives hope for
all of us as we age that not only will
you stay healthy and beat the degenerative
diseases that most people get, but you can start
collecting medals. The food choices we make have profound global effects. It takes over ten times
the amount of energy from fossil fuels to produce a
calorie of animal-based food than it does to produce a
calorie of plant food. Since the 1970s, 20% of
the Amazon’s rainforest has been destroyed. That’s an area the
size of California. 80% of this cleared land is
now occupied by livestock. The world’s cattle alone
eat enough grain to feed 8.7 billion people, nearly 2 billion more than
the population on earth. With almost a billion
malnourished people across the globe, redirecting
even a portion of the grain used to fatten cattle could feed every hungry mouth
on the planet. For Gene Baur,
factors like these, combined with a deep
respect for animals, helped convince him to
adopt a plant-based diet. Mr. Baur is president and
co-founder of farm sanctuary near Watkins Glen, New York. It provides a safe
haven for animals that have been
abandoned or abused. I grew up eating animals like
most people in our country, but once I started
considering my food choices I recognized that I didn’t
want to eat animals. And the more I learned,
the more I saw that I was healthier if
I didn’t eat animals and that I had a much lighter
footprint on our planet. The livestock industry
is a greater contributor to global warming than the
entire transportation industry according to the United Nations. So by eating meat, milk,
and eggs the way we are, we’re harming our own health, we’re slaughtering 10
billion innocent animals every year in the U.S., and we’re destroying the planet. Statistics compiled
from the United Nations and the World
Health Organization demonstrate the
profound global effect that diet has on health. These are the estimated
amounts of animal foods produced in nine countries, a figure that’s closely related
to animal food consumption. These are the numbers of deaths
due to heart disease and cancer in the same countries. In the United States, the very same diseases continue
to have a grave impact. Even with the
billions of dollars spent on cardiac treatment, heart disease is still the
number one cause of death, killing over 600,000
people a year. And the elephant in the room, when we talk about stents
and heart bypass surgery, is the fact that while
it’s no question in an emergency, these procedures are
absolutely lifesaving. But when they’re
done electively, these procedures do not protect
from new heart attacks. Stents and bypass operations are used mainly to treat
large arterial blockages. Yet according to many
research studies, only a small percentage
of heart attacks are caused by the largest
build-ups of plaque. The rest are caused by the
more numerous, newer blockages that are far more inflamed and much more likely to rupture than the larger, older,
more stable plaques. And so this is why
those procedures don’t treat the disease. They are treating symptoms. Doctor Esselstyn has been
eating the same foods that he has recommended to his
patients for over 25 years. One of his sons, Rip Esselstyn,
used a plant-based diet to fuel a successful
ten-year career as a professional tri-athlete. When Rip turned 34, he was
ready for a career change and trained to become
a firefighter. Rip was assigned to
engine company number 2 in Austin, Texas. We’re incredibly competitive
here at the fire station, and we love making bets. So we were out on the
porch one night, and we kind of made
this little bar bet to see who had the lowest
cholesterol level. So the next morning, we
drove to a lab, got tested, and the results came back. And it lead to a
discovery that J.R., James Ray, our resident redneck,
had a cholesterol of 344. Pretty much means you’re
knocking at death’s door. And so what we did, in
an act of solidarity, is the next day we went about
eating a plant-strong diet, to basically save his life
and save his arteries. The men agreed to change
their firehouse diet. But in Texas, old
eating habits die hard. Meat’s almost a sport in Texas. I have several good friends
that, they’re barbeque teams. That’s what they do. That’s their sport on weekends. Texans are serious
about their barbeque. Texas, Kansas. Well, guys associate being
manly with eating meat. And if you’re a firefighter,
it’s exponentially so. Last year, for example, there
were 133 firefighter fatalities in the United States. 52% were from heart disease. Our number one killer of
in-the-line-of-duty deaths for firefighters
is heart disease. After just three weeks
on his new diet, j.R.
Tested his blood cholesterol, and it dropped 148 points,
a decrease of 43%. His results inspired the others, who also saw their
cholesterol drop and their energy levels rise. As firemen, they were not
only helping themselves, they were in better
shape to assist others. One of the things about
being a firefighter is you don’t have any idea
what your next call could be. We may have a high-rise alarm, where we have to go up
20 flights of stairs with air packs on, with all of our bunker gear on, with a high rise
pack on our backs. Anybody can go down the poll, but not everybody can go up,
especially without their legs. And right there
you’re talking about an additional 75 to 100 pounds that you have to carry
up 20 flights of stairs. You have to have an
amazing aerobic capacity and strength in
order to do that. Real…Men…Eat…Plants. Real…Men…Eat…Plants. You know what, as firefighters, everybody thinks that we
fight fire, and we do. But over 70% of our calls
are medical emergencies where we are responding
to heart disease, hypertension, type 2
diabetes, rampant obesity. And so we see, up
close and personal, basically the destruction
that’s being caused by the standard American diet. To me, the answer is just absolutely so
simple, it’s criminal. It’s just people
starting to take responsibility for their health and starting to eat
more plant-based foods. It’s that simple. After 13 weeks on a whole
foods, plant-based diet, it was time to get my results
from Dr. Lederman. When you started, your
weight was 231, 231 pounds, now 211 pounds. Okay, that’s good. – It’s a 20-pound drop there.
– Wow. Your blood pressure was 142
over 82 when you started. It’s now 112 over 70. Wow. That’s a big drop. That’s a nice drop.
Oh, yeah, that’s… that’s great, and, uh,
it’ll just keep getting… It’ll keep dropping as
you continue to do this. Your pulse was resting
at 92 when you started. It’s now down to 60, resting. Okay, cool. Your total cholesterol though
went from 241 down to 154. What? Yeah, that was pretty amazing. 241 down to 154. 154? 154, yeah, that’s really… and your LDL, which is
your bad cholesterol… um, I think this is the
most impressive… went from 157 down to 80. No way! Yeah. That’s amazing that
it dropped almost in half. Uh, we did C.R.P. Last time, which is sort of the
marker of the inflammation in the heart and
the blood vessels. And that went from
6.0 down to 2.8. Without using any medications, I significantly
reduced my chances of getting a heart attack
and many other diseases. Tomorrow marks 20
weeks on the program. I’ve lost 45 pounds. I’ve reversed the diabetes. You have to know that everybody is so incredibly proud
of what you’ve done. I don’t have to rely
on the medication. I have a lot of energy
that I didn’t have before. My children love it. They’re so proud of me, and
they tell me all the time. I had a little saying
that I’ve carried around for maybe the last two years. And it’s “win the war. “Do not let one lost
battle end the war. “If you do break down and give
into temptation, do not quit. “Just get right back on track. Not tomorrow, but right now.” The diabetes is not coming back. I’m not gonna let it come back, nor the weight. The message is, you’re
in control of your life. Joey Aucoin had over two
dozen health problems, including type 2 diabetes. But after 22 weeks eating
plant-based foods, his condition had
changed dramatically. Hey, how you doin’? – Back again.
– And you’re getting healthier. Your weight is down 28 pounds. You feel better than you have. 26 out of 27 complaints
are gone completely. Your marker of inflammation
in the vessels is down to that of
a normal person. Uh, your blood sugars
are coming down. They continue to come down
even on a daily basis, which are gonna get better. Your cholesterol is
significantly lower than it was when
you first started, before you ever started
taking any pills. Your blood pressure
is normal now, compared to how it was
before while on pills. It was still elevated. And you just…
you know, you just said you’ve never felt
like this before. You look…
look at how you look in the pictures. You look healthier. So, you know, like
I told you before, I explained how the
numbers can affect… can affect our judgment
of what real health is. And it’s not just the numbers. It’s overall the entire picture, and your picture
looks fantastic. I was takin’ nine pills
a day and two shots. I was spending almost a 150
to 200 a month on medication, above my insurance. Just think about that: I’ve
been doin’ it five months. I’ve saved, you know,
$800 to a $1000 already, ’cause I haven’t taken
one pill, one shot. So think about what
that saved me… not just me, the
insurance company. The U.S. government will
give you figures that 75% of the dollars
spent in health care are due to chronic illnesses, and these are due to
diet and lifestyle. Let’s get rid of the problem, which is the sickness which
is caused by the food. Now well into their 70s, doctors Campbell and Esselstyn
are both vital and active. They also continue to
spread their message. If you carefully look
at our school children, already the arteries
to their brain, their carotid artery, is getting
some intimal medial thickening. Dr. Esselstyn lectures
about his research all over the United
States and abroad. His wife Ann frequently
accompanies him to help council patients and to demonstrate
the preparation of plant-based foods. Dr. Esselstyn is also director of the cardiovascular disease
prevention and reversal program at the Cleveland clinic’s
Wellness Institute. Like Dr. Esselstyn, Dr. Campbell continues to lecture
throughout America and beyond. Dr. Campbell, you believe that
even if animal-based proteins, meat, dairy, et cetera…
are free from contamination, you don’t think people
should eat them? No, I don’t. I think the closer we get
to a plant-based diet… I should say a whole-foods,
plant-based diet, the healthier we’re going
to be for all of us. In China, where Dr. Campbell did his large study
a generation ago, the population has experienced
dramatic increases in the amount of meat,
dairy, and processed foods the average person consumes. At the same time, the rates of degenerative
diseases are skyrocketing. Many Chinese now share
some of the same beliefs Americans have about nutrition. Dr. Campbell’s message
is resonating with growing numbers
of concerned people around the world. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thanks to the efforts
of both these pioneers and their colleagues, thousands of people
are realizing that profound improvements in health and quality of
life are within reach. You have two choices: You can eat yourself into
poor health and early death, or you can eat yourself
into good health and a long, healthy life. And that road is on a plant-
centered dietary pattern. You know, I know of
nothing else in medicine that can come close to what
a plant-based diet can do. I can say this with a
great deal of confidence, that our national authorities
are simply excluding this concept of nutrition from
the debate and the discussion in order to protect
the status quo. In theory, if everyone
were to adopt this, I really believe we could cut
health care costs by 70% to 80%. That’s amazing. And it all comes from
understanding nutrition, applying nutrition, and
just watchin’ the results. The greatest gift that
you could possibly give to yourself and your family, not only those in
your generation, but your children and
your grandchildren, if you can make them be aware of the incredible power that
resides within each of them to avoid life’s most poignantly
tragic and painful events, you just don’t have to have
those kinds of events. I believe that
with all my heart, if anyone listen to this, and they really should look
at their refrigerator, and look at their
diet, and give a try. You lose weight, and
you’ll be healthier. Nothing could lose if you just take
few weeks and try. You could see how easy it is. I’m not gonna say
it was difficult. Again, I made up my mind,
this is what I’m going to do. I never felt like I wasn’t
getting what I wanted. So I didn’t have ice cream, so
I didn’t have the doughnuts, so I ate something else. I can thank them in every
way I can think possible, and my doctor, especially Matt, and they just can’t
understand what it’s done to change my life. And it really has. Not just mine, my
family’s, everybody’s. It gives me shivers
talking about it, because it’s so serious. It’s a life-changing experience. You can be in control, and I stress this, ’cause
there’s so many things going on in my life that
I’m not in control of. And that’s my message. You can control your
outcome of your body. Eat to live and
don’t live to eat. You better get that. You better get the recipe. This is good.

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