Every so often, there comes a book that is a true legend of its time. A book that dives into real facts and exposes truths that most ignore. A book that inspires analytical thinking and promotes logical reasoning from a big picture perspective. A book that opens our eyes and expands our minds to connect dots and cultivate a deeper understanding of the topic at hand. When it comes to nutritional science, Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition is one such book. This book is a must-read if we want to fully understand the health and nutrition landscape in which we find ourselves today.
The modern field of nutrition is far from what it was several decades ago. What we have discovered and learned, what has been proven on both a personal and collective level, is leaps and bounds different compared to what we used to know. The landscape of nutritional science has vastly changed, yet most people, including experts and the general population, are still operating from old and outdated paradigms where this field is concerned. This is a significant problem because faulty beliefs lead to faulty choices. As we examine what is happening across our society, we find that we are in the midst of a nutritional crisis where fad diets and lack of proper expertise and information are influencing most people’s food choices. Alongside this, we have chronic rates of obesity, diseases, and drug use at all-time highs. People have succumbed to believing that a life sentence of medical and pharmaceutical interventions are a normal part of life. But how did we get here? How did things get so bad and so far removed from the balance, perfection, and potential with which our bodies are capable of functioning?
To help us understand these issues and answer such questions comes along Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, which covers the topics of “whole food” and “wholistic science” by giving us the “whole” picture. This book has the potential to have a tremendous impact on anyone who reads it, and in turn, to shift and influence our society in positive and meaningful ways. This is why I feel deeply called to talk about this book in hopes that it reaches more people, reduces the amount of stress and suffering associated with health and nutrition today, and ultimately saves more lives.
Authors of “Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition”
Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition is written by Colin T. Campbell, along with Howard Jacobson, and was published in the spring of 2013.
Colin T. Campbell, PhD., is currently a Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University. For over 50 years, he has been at the forefront of nutrition research, authoring more than 300 professional research papers, and involved in research work internationally. He has lectured worldwide, been featured in numerous documentaries and media outlets, and is also the author of the best-selling book The China Study. You can learn more about T. Colin Campbell and his work here.
Howard Jacobson, PhD., is an online marketing consultant, health educator, podcast host, and ecological gardener. He has degrees from Temple University and Princeton and is also the co-author of several other books, including Proteinaholic and The Plant-Based Journey and The Low-Carb Fraud. You can learn more about Howard Jacobson and his work here.
Content Summary of “Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition”
Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition is just under 300 pages and composed of four parts that make up 19 chapters. Here is a summary of the book’s content to help you know what you can expect to learn from this book and how it can benefit your life:
Part 1: Enslaved by the System
Chapter 1 - The Modern Health-Care Myth
- Shares about the false promises of the modern medical system
- Explains why the whole food, plant-based (WFPB) approach is the ideal human diet
- Shares the 80-10-10 nutrient breakdown as an optimal dietary approach
- Points out the societal reluctance to adopt a WFPB diet
Chapter 2 - The Whole Truth
- Presents the proof and research in favor of a WFPB diet
- Teaches how to evaluate research presented in society
- Explains the concepts of statistical significance versus actual significance
- Shares about the potential of using the WFPB approach as the first means to prevent, treat, and reverse disease
Chapter 3 - My Heretical Path
- Shares about Dr. Campbell’s traditional scientific and research path
- Shares about the discovery of the negative impacts of animal protein on our health and links to cancer
- Shares about the shift in Dr. Campbell’s approach to nutrition and health
I am now convinced that there is no healthier way to eat than a whole food, plant-based diet, without added fat, salt, or refined carbohydrates.
Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition
Part 2: Paradigm as a Prison
Chapter 4 - The Triumph of Reductionism
- Introduces the concept of reductionism versus wholism
- Shares how and why so much science is flawed, as it studies parts out of context
Chapter 5 - Reductionism Invades Nutrition
- Presents how reductionism has led to poor nutritional policy and confused consumers
- Shares why nutrition resists the reductionist model and problems with nutritional reductionism
- Explains why contradictory studies exist
- Shares about the role of funding and how it influences what results get reported and how
- Presents the compounding effects and bioavailability problems related to nutrients and supplements
Chapter 6 - Reductionist Research
- Explains how wholism uses complex models to provide simple solutions
- Explains how reductionism uses simple models to offer complex solutions
- Explains why the Newtonian 17th-century approach does not work for nutrition
- Shares about the role of biomimicry and evolutionary biology in determining the ideal human diet
- Explains why nutrition cannot be tested like drugs are tested, and why it needs a different approach
Chapter 7 - Reductionist Biology
- Shares about some of the studies done and why the “one-nutrient, one-disease” hypothesis fails
- Demonstrates the profound complexity of a single enzyme in one reaction to bring awareness to the complexity of the whole body
Chapter 8 - Genetics versus Nutrition, Part 1
- Explains why the DNA/gene mapping venture is a dead-end since genes do not function external of their environment
- Explains the biology basics of DNA, RNA, and protein
- Explains the role of nutrition in turning our genes on/off
Chapter 9 - Genetics versus Nutrition, Part 2
- Examines the root of disease with respect to genes
- Shares a model of cancer development
- Talks about synthetic versus naturally-occurring chemicals and their link to cancer
- Shares how current cancer theories completely undermine nutrition
- Shares why mixing nutrition with cancer information is not a popular approach
Chapter 10 - Reductionist Medicine
- Explains how modern medicine only reacts to problems rather than focusing on preventing them, and treats symptoms rather than causes
- Explains how the reductionist-based medical treatment needs multiple drugs and increases toxicity within the body
- Shares about the single disease tunnel vision that we have today
Chapter 11 - Reductionist Supplementation
- Explains why we cannot use isolated compounds in supplements or isolate nutrients and think we are doing a good thing for our body, or anything equivalent to the efficacy of whole food
- Shares about the impacts of the reductionist infiltration in the field of alternative health
- Provides an examination of top supplement studies, including vitamin E, omega-3, and beta-carotene
- Explains how nutrients do not act alone, and when they work alone, they act improperly
Chapter 12 - Reductionist Social Policy
- Explains how animal food production is a waste of resources with links to unsustainability and global climate change
- Shares about the UN Report findings that show animal food production is the worst for climate health
- Shares about the implications of animal food with respect to animal cruelty, testing, farming methods, and human poverty
Nutrition has a wholistic effect on health; one that we consistently miss and misinterpret when we focus on isolated nutrients.
Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition
Part 3: Subtle Power and Its Wielders
Chapter 13 - Understanding the System
- Explains how profit is at the center of the healthcare system
- Brings to our awareness how we as consumers are driving the very problems we do not want
- Shares about the role of the industry and disease foundations
- Explains the market manipulation with the collusion of the government
- Explains how reductionism causes new problems as it tries to solve old ones
- Explains the source of subtle power that continues to fuel bad behavior
Chapter 14 - Industry Exploitation and Control
- Examines the medical, pharmaceutical, and supplement industries
- Shares a personal story about direct industry manipulation
- Explains how the root of the problem is in the system, not at the individual level
Chapter 15 - Research and Profit
- Explains what true science is and how today’s science is not real science, rather mere technology
- Explains why more wholistic studies and results are not pursued, as modern science rewards the reductionist path alone
- Explains the funding and research conflicts that support profit-seeking funding
- Explains the problems associated with research that is too narrowly focused and why it cannot offer conclusions about the whole picture
Chapter 16 - Media Matters
- Explains the role of the media today, its poor representation, and lack of quality journalism
- Shares about the lack of honesty, integrity, and credibility in scientific journals
- Explains how the media tells the story that the industry wants people to hear
- Explains why studies are so contradicting as they share out of context details and mislead by omission
- Shares how what is presented through media today results in bias, confusion, and the omission of inconvenient data
Chapter 17 - Government Misinformation
- Explores the influence of ‘Big Pharma,’ ‘Big Insurance,’ and ‘Big Medicine.’
- Explains how bills are passed around without tackling actual healthcare issues
- Explains how the nutrition labels and government guidelines are responsible for health misinformation
- Explores why it is impossible to measure nutrients precisely and the impacts of sharing inaccurate information about nutrients
Chapter 18 - Blinded by the Light Bringers
- Examines the role and agenda of the agencies and foundations that claim to be working towards the treatment or eradication of a disease
- Explains how the basis of such groups is still profit and not overall health
- Explains how profit and power get in the way of seeking actual solutions or treatments
- Shares how the American Cancer Society is pro-chemicals, anti-diet, and anti-alternative approaches
- Shares how the MS society is funded by junk food and pharma
- Shares how the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics misinforms the public to protect junk food sponsors
All in all, the story the media tells us about health and nutrition comes from a script written by the very people who profit from our pain and suffering.
Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition
Part 4: Final Thoughts
Chapter 19 - Making Ourselves Whole
- Shares about the importance of changing how we think about nutrition and making it a cornerstone of the healthcare system
- Summarizes personal and collective shifts needed to attain a more wholistic understanding of nutrition and health
- Explains why true and essential change will come from the individual level, not the governing or organization level
Personal Commentary about “Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition”
Ever since I discovered T. Colin Campbell’s work a few years ago, I was instantly drawn to his wisdom, reasoning, humility, and grounded approach. Yes, he has decades of expertise in the field of nutrition and a Ph.D. behind his name. Still, these things, unfortunately, are no longer any kind of guarantee of receiving quality information from a person. Instead, we must look at what the person is actually saying to determine its worth and validity. And when it comes to T. Colin Campbell, his message is crystal clear about the problems we face and why they exist in the first place, and it is a message that entirely resonates with my observations and research in the field of health and nutrition. What he is sharing is evident all around us, but few are willing to look at it and talk about it with such honesty, clarity, and integrity.
I was, therefore, very excited and eager to read his new book when I learned about its release. Given the profound effect The China Study had on me personally and professionally, I felt that this new book would be a valuable read, and indeed it was all that and more. In fact, it left me feeling that Whole should be required reading for all health and nutrition professionals, as it provides a profound, comprehensive, and eloquent overview of our entire health, medical, and nutrition systems.
Since the beginning of my personal and professional journey as a health and nutrition educator and holistic nutritionist, I have seen the best and worst sides of these fields and how convoluted the information in these fields can be causing people to be completely misinformed. Contradictions, fallacies, omissions, and flat-out lies are all too common throughout our society today when there is money to be made or a reputation at stake. I had the same questions that every single, health-conscious person has at some point in their journey: How can health and nutrition experts with similar degrees and levels of experience be in complete opposition to each other? How is it possible that studies which go against the underlying logic of human health and nutrition are allowed to be published and publicized? Why are so many health and nutrition organizations teaching such counterproductive things when it comes to human health and nutrition? Through my keen interest and research into these subjects, I unraveled many layers to get to the truth and core of the issues at hand, yet it still felt like some piece was missing. That was until I read Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition.
Thanks to this book, I found what I consider the “final piece” in seeing and understanding the big picture where the modern field of health and nutrition are concerned. I knew that the science — the source of information in our society today — was flawed, but the actual basis of this flaw evaded me. Sure, I had heard about the reductionist or Newtonian science before and how limited it was across all areas of science. I just never realized how powerfully and restrictively it represented the field of health and nutrition. It was thanks to Dr. Campbell’s eloquent, comprehensive, and transparent dialogue about reductionism versus wholism in science, nutrition, and medicine that the final piece came together for me.
The implications of this book for my work are profound, as it gave me a deep understanding and confidence to take the next step when it came to helping others understand optimal human nutrition. This book does an outstanding job of bringing to light modern nutrition flaws and challenges. It also provides trustworthy and reputable explanations for the state of things where our education systems, organizations, and governments are concerned. After all, people cannot get healthy if they are being ‘fed’ the wrong information, not to mention the wrong food. The book exposes significant flaws in the system, as much as it teaches how to spot and understand them. It provides a critical analysis and empowers us to be more discerning thinkers where the science of nutrition is concerned. It fills in the gaps, busts myths, and connects the dots so that the reader can gain a complete view and understanding of the state of health and nutrition that is prevalent today.
One of the most amazing parts of this book, which is one of its many highlights, is how simple and elegant the solution is for fixing our health, nutrition, environmental, and climate crises. A whole food, plant-based diet provides everything we need to solve these modern-day challenges, and it really couldn’t be any simpler! Yet it appears that most of society is determined not to have this solution play out. We can all apply this solution instantly, right now, on an individual level. If our leaders wanted to, they could also make it happen on a collective level. Yet, something is preventing us from budging. This is again where Whole describes point by point, fact by fact, why we have a society so insistent on sabotaging its own health, wellbeing, and survival. However, it is time on both an individual and collective level to shift away from the limiting reductionist approach and embrace a more wholistic perspective when it comes to the research, findings, and practical applications.
Aside from the outstanding content, I very much appreciated how the information was shared. There is a clear-cut transparency and unmistakable authenticity in the author’s approach. Campbell addresses all angles and lays it all out for us in that “nothing to lose” sort of way. He also uses excellent, easy to comprehend analogies to explain harder to grasp scientific concepts, or simply to prove a point. There are some diagrams included throughout the book as well that further support some of the information that is shared.
So what can you gain from this book? Everything specifically where your health and food choices are concerned. This book will teach you and help you make sense of the maze that the field of nutrition has become today. Even though the book only has about a paragraph giving the reader the guidelines of what they should eat for optimal health and wellbeing, most of its entirely is dedicated to understanding why this powerful and simple approach is not readily accepted and advised by health and nutrition organizations and professionals. You will learn the reasons for this, as well as why the government shares the resources on health and nutrition that it does. You will learn the role of the media and other outlets in perpetrating false information. You will learn how to see through the false agendas of the organizations and foundations that operate to give the illusion that they are searching for “a cure.” It will definitely make you think twice before you donate your time or money to any disease charity. You will learn about the direct relationship that your diet has with cancer, as well as other states of ill health. You will learn how supplements are often more a waste of money and false security than anything else. And finally, you will discover that you do not need to wait for anything or anyone else to change except yourself to benefit from a state of optimal wellbeing.
Perhaps it’s time to stop declaring war on ourselves through toxic drugs and dangerous surgeries, and instead treat ourselves with kindness by feeding ourselves the sorts of foods shown to grow and sustain healthy, vibrant people and cultures.
Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition
Here is a summary of the general highlights of the book:
- Outstanding presentation of multifactorial data and information
- Eye-opening, enlightening, and mind-expanding
- Highly empowering, motivating, and inspiriting
- Encourages and mobilizes us to take personal action
- Connects the dots for us between the data presented to us by the media
- Provides clear outlines of the causes and effects we see prevalent in our society
- Presents accurate, credible, and high-quality science
- Progressive in its approach for real solutions
- Presents the details and the big picture
- Authentic and transparent presentation of information
- Forces us to confront what we believe to be right about nutrition, health, and the many “systems” that govern these areas
- Transformational and life-changing
This book is excellent in every way, but its limitation is the type of audience or reader that it will attract. This book is highly educational and more of an academic read, and thus it may not be an enjoyable read for those who prefer light reading. It includes science-focused content, such as some studies and their results, which may be challenging for some readers to comprehend or be fully interested.
In conclusion, this is one of those rare, few books that will play a significant role in shifting the paradigms of how we think and approach health and nutrition in our society. I am not only proud to support and share about it with others, but also to recommend it as a must-read for anyone who is genuinely interested in understanding their health, the food and medical systems, and nutrition properly.
Without a doubt, this book has made me more “whole” in my approach and how I will continue to teach and help others understand nutrition for optimal health, and I know it will have a tremendous impact on your life as well. I invite you to experience this book for yourself to see the whole picture of science and nutrition and enjoy the benefits of clarity when it comes to making the best choices for your health and quality of life.
Books by T. Colin Campbell
Bonus Video Interviews
To learn and benefit even more from these topics, enjoy the following video interviews that I did with the authors of Whole where they talk about the health, nutrition, and political challenges of our modern-day society and how to overcome them.