Diet and Disease

For many, food plays an immense role in their lives. Family gatherings, celebrations and movie nights all seem to involve food in some way. After all, we all need food to sustain life, don’t we? However, with the presence of mouth-watering steak advertisements and the increased availability of delicious premade meals, it is near impossible to resist the temptation and resort to a bowl of freshly chopped vegetables at home. As a result of this, America, as a prime example, is struggling with its worst health crisis. Despite the 2.2 trillion dollars Americans invested in health care each year (more than any industrialised country in the world and 5 times more than the American defense budget), the population is sicker than ever. 

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With the consumption of processed sugar increasing from 40 pounds to 147 pounds from 1913 to 1999 and dairy product consumption increasing from 294 pounds to 605 pounds, there are no surprises as to why tooth decay was on the rise and coronary heart disease experienced a boom in the 1960s.


Drugs such as lipitor have been prescribed much more commonly to solve the issue, making it the most prescribed drug in the world, but no obvious improvements have been seen. The answer is clear - we need to address the root cause: our diet. 


The idea of reducing or eliminating the consumption of refined, processed and animal based food was researched in depth by Doctor Colin Campbell and Doctor Caldwell Esselstyn. They believed that certain diseases can be prevented and sometimes reversed by adopting a plant based diet. The two doctors prepared an investigation involving 3 groups of rats. Initially, they tested two groups of rats by feeding half of them 20% casein (the main protein found in dairy products) and the other half 5% casein. After a total of 12 weeks, it seemed to be the case that the rats being fed 20% casein had a greatly enhanced level of early liver cancer growth. On the other hand, the 5% casein group had no evidence of liver cancer development whatsoever. Extending on their first investigation, the doctors decided to feed a new group of rats by alternating between 5% casein and 20% casein. This concluded that the size of tumour can increase and decrease. Hence, they believed diet can reverse some diseases (eg. cancer)

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Not only did the two doctors prove cancer to be reversible, they also looked into the most dramatic decline in circulatory related disease yet. This was the case in Norway during World War 2. During this time, the Germans invaded Norway, taking away all farm animals to supply food for themselves.This left the Norwegians with mainly vegetables to consume. The graph displays how after the occupation of the Germans in Norway, the number of deaths from circulatory diseases continually decreased. Although there could be other factors, many believed diet to be the major reason.



Written by Winnada (Mild) Khomate

Shrewsbury International School