Forks Over Knives – a Second Opinion

Faith Schlabach

Faith Schlabach › Faith Schlabach and her husband, who grew up Amish, live on a farm between two mountains ...

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In the documentary Fork Over Knives, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn examine the claim that many diseases can be controlled or reversed both by avoiding processed foods and by becoming a vegetarian.

The documentary reveals their personal journeys as two doctors who both researched and concluded that a whole plant-based diet is the way to heal the body and prevent disease, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Putting the theory to the test, they follow a couple of actual patients with beginning and “ending” blood work and medical exams. Not surprisingly, these patients had wonderful improvements in their health and numbers. This documentary, complete with charts and statistics, is very convincing.

Though I applaud Campbell and Esselstyn’s work as a step in the right direction and agree that abandoning a processed, sugar- and chemical-laden diet brings vast health improvements, I believe that a far superior wellness approach exists and can readily be substantiated.

Let’s introduce the whole story of whole foods before we fork over our knives.

I was disappointed that the doctors only compared their research to the standard American diet (SAD) and did not compare it to a whole foods-based, non-vegetarian diet — one where food is consumed as close to its whole state as possible. In other words, a diet of food raised without chemicals, prepared without preservatives, flavor enhancers, conditioners and other chemicals. A diet of wholesome food raised locally and with integrity, such as grass-fed meat, milk, and eggs, where animals are nurtured and cared for as they were intended to be and not raised in a confined and unsanitary environment. That would be a worthwhile comparison.

We already know that processed, isolated, sugared, GMO, pasteurized, homogenized and dead food diets are incubators for a myriad of diseases!

I do know of a doctor who has done a study very similar to this and has proven that one can live to be well over 100 years old on a whole foods diet that includes animal proteins AND animal fats raised on grass. This someone was Dr. Weston A. Price. He wrote a fascinating 600-page book called Nutrition and Physical Degeneration about his 10-year study. Dr. Price visited remote people groups, untouched by modern diets, who lived well over 100 years, had straight healthy teeth and died healthy as a rule. They ranged from Eskimos who lived primarily on whale, whale blubber, and other marine products to hunter-gatherers in the Amazon, Africa, Australia, and the Everglades who ate meat and vegetables, to an African cattle-herding race that lived primarily on blood, meat, and raw milk eating no vegetables!! I tell you, raw milk is good stuff!

Dr. Price brought home some samples and discovered that the food was four times higher in minerals. This was over 60 years ago! Sadly, our soils are even more depleted today. Because of this mineral depletion of our soils, our family and anyone I can convince, use an ionic trace mineral product with 72 trace minerals by Trace Minerals Research, which can be ordered at your local health food store. It absolutely resurrected me! I am convinced that we are excessively low in many minerals. That is why we feed all our cows free-choice kelp, Redmond natural trace mineral salt, and other natural supplements. These are all great sources of natural trace minerals.

Dr. Price also discovered that on average these “untouched” groups consumed 10 times more vitamins A and D than the diet of his contemporaries. Something that I found amazing was his research on teeth. Dr. Price found that all these people groups had straight teeth with no crowding of the palates. There were cases where a child would move to a city and start eating a modern processed and fried diet. The first generation of children would have crowding of the palate and crooked teeth to one degree or another. However, when this same person returned to his native people group and native diet, the next child born would have straight teeth.

Now that we have discovered raw milk in addition to a whole foods diet, our family has experienced no tooth decay. My daughter, for example, who had decay every 6 months, has not had one new cavity in 8 years since adding raw milk to her diet. Can you fathom that? It is hard to imagine. We have more energy and have halted all dairy allergy symptoms such as lactose intolerance and congestion.

One other major concern that I have with the “Fork Over Knives” philosophy is that when one becomes depleted in some of the amino acids found in protein, it can alter the mood. I highly recommend a book by Dr. Julia Ross titled The Mood Cure. She outlines four of the major moods that people suffer from and then gives a plan to bolster the amino acid associated with each. In the beginning of the book, one takes a test for the four moods — fatigue, depression, crying or sensitivity, and inability to adequately handle stress. For example, my husband who was a vegetarian for seven years severely depleted himself in some amino acids and eventually almost had a breakdown brought on by high stress. Thankfully, we knew about her recommendations and were able to follow her instructions in the book to help him, thereby avoiding a crisis point.

In my own example, I was SEVERELY depleted in GABA, which is an amino acid that helps you handle stress. I would stress out, recover and repeat — over and over. I was always saying peace scriptures to myself and doing deep breathing exercises just to survive. I had to take GABA faithfully for about a year, but I did build up my reserves and now only use it as a preventative if I am under severe stress. I also was very low in DLPA and would cry very easily. The only bad thing about bringing up my reserves in this amino acid is that I can no longer cry when I am stopped for speeding! This book is on my top ten list for recommended reading. I have referred countless people to her book and most have gotten great results. You do have to read the book with highlighter in hand.

With our chemical-laden air, water, food, and environments, there is no magical escape; however, my family has certainly been able to dramatically improve our quality of life and reverse or improve most symptoms. I feel better now in my late 40’s than I did in my early 20’s. Based on my research and experience, I believe that we need to eat more raw foods, eat whole foods, meats from naturally raised animals, laugh often, and live realizing that people are more important than stuff.

I appreciate what Dr. Campbell and Dr. Esselstyn are trying to convey in Forks Over Knives and believe they have the best of intentions. However, I feel they looked through the too-narrow lens of the conventional SAD diet, comparing a strictly unhealthy diet to vegetarianism — instead of a diet that included whole foods and grass-fed animal proteins.

How do you feel about Forks Over Knives? Has it re-shaped your diet?

Photo Credit: Tomiko Peirano