“The United States spends more money per capita on ‘health’ care than any country on earth, yet when the quality of our health care is compared with other industrialized nations, we rank near the bottom.”
“Drugs and surgical advances are keeping the death rates more or less constant despite the increased risk factors … But the data make it clear that none of our advances in medicine deal with primary prevention, and none are making us fundamentally healthier. They aren’t decreasing the death rate. And the price we’re paying for these advances is steep.” – Page 4
“Side effects … of prescription drugs are the third leading cause of death, behind heart disease and cancer.” – Page 5
“The ideal human diet looks like this: Consume plant-based foods in forms as close to their natural state as possible (“whole foods”). Eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, raw nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, and whole grains. Avoid heavily processed foods and animal products. Stay away from added salt, oil, and sugar. Aim to get 80 percent of your calories from carbohydrates, 10 percent from fat, and 10 percent from protein.” – Page 7
In 2000, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that prescription drugs and their side effects are the third leading cause of death in the US. Since then, the number of prescriptions issued in the USA has increased. Data published in August 2020 show an increase from 3953 to 4218 (in millions) from 2009 to 2019. And this increase is not unique to the USA. In 2017, the UK National Health Service (NHS) published a report showing that prescriptions for diabetes medication had increased over 80% in the last decade, with no equivalent decrease in disease rates for the same period.
As prescriptions rise, might one of their side-effects (death) also rise, perhaps one day overtaking even heart disease and cancer? Even if it has not yet, even if it does not, how does this make sense? In a country that outspends every other country on the planet for health care, the increasing death toll caused by “care” does not make sense. Or does it?
Let’s be honest, this “health care system” is actually a disease care system. It is not concerned with the root causes of diseases, but only with mitigating their debilitating symptoms. Patients are lulled into a false sense of health and wellness, a lie reinforced when snapshot test results show the patient’s “numbers” within a normal range. But these numbers do not provide a true picture of health inside the body; rather, they are the artificial stabilization achieved by drugs. Maintaining those numbers requires that patients continue their “treatments” indefinitely. When expanding profit and increasing return customers are the goals, and the entire health care system is geared toward those efforts, the increasing use of prescription drugs begins to make a lot of sense.
The system functions similarly to the illicit drug trade in that pharmaceutical companies (drug lords) provide free samples to doctors (dealers) who in turn supply their patients (addicts) with a free taste. And once the addict feels a little better, they come back for more and are now ready to pay—with their wallets, their health and ultimately their lives. Their family and friends may see their “improvement” and ask their own dealers for a free sample, perpetuating the cycle. This reductionist, profit-driven disease care system has dire consequences.
Critical to the system’s continuation is the lie that all the medical developments, treatment options, and pharmaceuticals are actually advancements in health and improving the overall quality of life. The truth that they do not share with the public is that, with few exceptions, health has not improved. Of course, there is a time and place for medicine, therapies and surgeries. Medicine as a reaction to disease has made great strides and has the capacity to provide life-prolonging care. Nevertheless, the current disease care system has a long way to go. Death rates have remained more or less constant for most leading causes of death, except for diabetes, which has increased astronomically.
Why? If medicine is so much more advanced, then why have rates of obesity increased? Why did the age-adjusted type 2 diabetes rate more than double in the USA between 1980 and 2010? Why did hypertension rates among adults increase by more than 30 percent between 1992 and 2009? The answer to all those questions is simple: the disease care system is not prepared or motivated to create health proactively. After all, there is no money in that.
A health care system, by contrast, would be proactive, not reactive. It would emphasize and support health that begins with nutrition, which determines the vitality of one’s physical, intellectual and emotional health. It would allow doctors to be educated on and reimbursed for wholistic approaches to health, beginning with the truth that if we nourish the roots (with whole plant-based foods), the entire organism will thrive. Society as a whole must choose wisely and approach health, and our systems for “caring” for it, with a critical mind, lest the current lies become our truth.
The other option is bleak. If we keep reducing health and nutrition to the elemental level, society may one day find that their food comes in the form of a pill. Anyone remember Soylent Green? Scary stuff indeed.
Whole By T. Colin Campbell, PhD with Howard Jacobson, PhD
Whole picks up where The China Study left off. The China Study revealed what we should eat and provided the powerful empirical support for this answer. Whole answers the question of why. Why does a whole-food, plant-based diet provide optimal nutrition? Whole demonstrates how far the scientific reductionism of the nutrition orthodoxy has gotten off track and reveals the elegant wonders of the true wholistic workings of nutrition, from the cellular level to the operation of the entire organism. Whole is a marvelous journey through cutting-edge thinking on nutrition, led by one of the masters of the science.
This article series is intended to provide thought provoking quotes from the book Whole in order to encourage discussion amongst its readers. Please leave your thoughts or answers to the discussion questions in the comment section below.
Copyright 2023 Center for Nutrition Studies. All rights reserved.
100% online, learn at your own pace
A trusted credential from eCornell
Personalized feedback from our team of instructors
20,000+ students and counting