The China Study - Nutritional and reading recommendations
April 30, 2014 10:11 AM   Subscribe

The China Study and associated diet was recommended by my physician this morning. I am looking for your advice both nutritionally and educationally, as I'm very open to this after the last few weeks.

This morning, my physician leaned hard on me regarding the China Study and the associated diet. I was motivated to set this appointment because of some likely gallstone issues the last few weeks, and I'm quite open to ideas and changes. I've also been moving this way somewhat slowly, so I think this is the push I need.

I am looking for help in a few areas:
-What books, websites, articles or communities do you recommend about The China Study and the heavy plant based diet associated with it? My goal is to transition to this diet. I understand it is vegetarian so resources there are welcome, too.
-She recommended a few supplements I need your advice on. The fact that supplements are unregulated (even though I believe the FDA is more reactionary than preventative) concerns me. What brands or trade groups do you recommend for fish oil and B12?
-What vegetable protein powder brands do you use? I'm open to hemp, spirulina and anything else (I know that the whole diet of what I eat is an important part of my protein intake, too, so I'm not looking to go overboard on protein here but I want to hear what brands of protein powder you use).

Also, any advice or personal stories on the transition you made to this diet will be welcomed, too.

(yes, I noticed previous AskMeFi questions related to these topics, but the most important was 8 years old).
posted by glaucon to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It's not just vegetarian, it's also vegan.

Here's the book on Amazon.

Before I started this kind of VERY restricted diet plan, I would get a few more opinions. At least a second opinion.

If this type of eating appeals to you, Here is a nice cookbook.

But I will tell you from my experience, what works for one, may not work for another. I didn't eat meat for over a decade. I became VERY anemic, and after a battery of tests, it was determined by my hemotologist (oncologist) that for whatever reason, my body needed meat. Anecdotally, this also happened to my cousin, so it may have a genetic componant.

If your doctor recommended it, and you're interested in it, by all means try it. But I'd be wary of any advice that was so drastic.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:50 AM on April 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Re: supplements, my doctor recommended to only take supplements displaying the USP verification.

For that reason, NatureMade vitamins are often my go-to.

I think fish oil is a whole 'nother kettle of fish, if you'll pardon the expression. I don't know anything about which brands/types are best.
posted by purple_bird at 11:04 AM on April 30, 2014

Read Dr. Calwell Esselstyn's book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease (2007). After undergoing cardiac surgery in 2010, former President Bill Clinton adopted the plant-based diet recommended by Dean Ornish, T. Colin Campbell, and Caldwell Esselstyn.

See also the 2011 documentary, Forks Over Knives-- based on Esselstyn's work in Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease and the research of his colleague T. Colin Campbell in The China Study (2005).
posted by hush at 11:51 AM on April 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

I usually take Whole Foods brand fish oil, but sometimes I take Trader Joes (labeled "omega 3 oils" I believe). The Trader Joes line of supplements was rated quite highly relative to the list of brands Consumer Reports tested.
posted by Blitz at 12:49 PM on April 30, 2014

nutrasea is my favorite fish oil brand, they test very thoroughly & you can look up your lot # online.

this is a good book about different nutrients vitamins & minerals, what they do & where to get them in your diet. There's a table at the back that breaks down what quantities are in what foods.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 1:03 PM on April 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: And, it's not just vegan. It's vegan without fat of any kind - no nuts, no avocado, no oil and no refined carbs so basically no flour. My ex-husband has been doing it for a couple of years and it brought his numbers (blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides) all into normal or better than normal range. It requires a ton of planning and it's almost impossible to eat out.

Having said all that, this site has a lot of great recipes: Fat Free Vegan.
posted by dawkins_7 at 1:09 PM on April 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I can't really offer any advice about The China Study specifically, but I do work in the Vitamin/Supplement industry and can offer some advice about your other questions.

I really second the recommendation above for Nutrasea fish oils. Not only do they work sustainably, they also third-party verify the purity of their fish oils (ie: free of mercury, PCBs, dioxins and other contaminants). If you can take a liquid, I suggest going that route. Take it with a meal or get enteric-coated capsules (and freeze them prior to taking) to avoid the fishy burps people sometimes get taking fish oils. Downside? Nutrasea is pretty expensive.

If you're a little hesitant about the taste of fish oil, you could try Barlean's Omega Swirls. These are liquid 'smoothie style' fish oils that are naturally sweetened (with Xylitol) and naturally flavored to disguise the fish flavor and make it easier to take. I know it -sounds- kinda gross, but I assure you, you do NOT taste the fish oil at all. I'm a huge fan of them. They taste great mixed in yogurt or drizzled on a banana (especially the Pina Colada flavor). The fish oil is also specially processed for greater bio-availability and third-party verified to be free of contaminants (mercury, PCBs, ect). They are more reasonably priced than Nutrasea but you won't get the much higher overall content of Omega-3s, EPA and DHA as found in just pure, straight, unflavored/unsweetened fish oils.

When it comes to a B12 supplement, try to get one that offers the coenzymatic form of the vitamin. The coenzymatic form of B12 is Methylcobalamin, which is more bioavailable and easily absorbed/utilized by the body than Cobalamin (which your body converts to Methylcobalamin). Liquids, lozenges or sublinguals are the best way to take a B-Vitamin as they're water-soluble and absorb through the thin membranes in the mouth easily. This means you feel the effects sooner. When you take tablets, capsules or softgels, you'll need to wait for your body to break down the actual capsule/tablet in the stomach and intestines before you feel the effects (which can take 30 minutes to hours depending on your digestive health).

There's increasingly more choices for vegan protein powders, so choosing one is pretty tough. I had a vegan diet for a few years and was pretty fond of the following protein powders:

Lifetime Basics Plant Protein - Contains Rice, Pea and Hemp proteins. Contains Chia seeds for Omega-3-6-9 fatty acids. Sweetened with Stevia and Fructose (roughly 5g of sugar total). I was really fond of the Chocolate flavor of this brand. It mixes smooth and creamy with little chia seeds (kinda like tapioca in mouthfeel) and went great with the chocolate flavor Amazing Grass. Pretty inexpensive. About $30-$40 for a month supply or you can do a half-dose and stretch a single $15 tub into a 30 day supply.

22 Days Protein - Contains brown rice protein. Just a quality rice protein. Not much to say. The chocolate flavor is good IMHO.

Plant Fusion - Another quality vegan protein blend. Pea, Artichoke, Amaranth and Quinoa. They also make a vegan meal replacement called Phood that I've heard good things about (flavor-wise).

Garden of Life Vegan Protein - Flavor on this one is VERY hit and miss. People either really like it or really hate it. The ingredients are good quality and there's tons of extra goodies included. The company itself is also all about being Raw and cultivating the nutrients via fermentation. If you like the taste - it's a great one - frequently on-sale and/or coupons are easy to acquire.

Good luck!
posted by stubbehtail at 1:47 PM on April 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

I like Mark Bittman's Food Matters. He argues for eating plant based whole foods for most, but not all, of your meals. It's a good middle ground between the standard American diet and The China Study.
posted by balacat at 6:33 PM on April 30, 2014

I don't know anything about the China Study, but from what others have posted here I'd guess that Dr. McDougall's recipes would fall in line with what you are looking for, because his philosophy seems to be the same. I have The New McDougall Cookbook, and it's pretty good.

Dr. Dean Ornish is another person with the same philosophy, so you might look him up.

I first heard of McDougall and Ornish back in the 1990s, from Susan Powter. Keep an eye out for her books at discount prices. Her first one had low-fat recipes along with a conversational/motivational thing that she was really good at, but then more and more her books became all about vegan recipes. Maybe start with Food (1995). (Somewhat strange things have happened with her, starting maybe in the early 2000s. The writing on her website does not really resemble the writing in her books from the 1990s.)
posted by Houstonian at 7:48 PM on April 30, 2014

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