“The China Study” Author Dr. T. Colin Campbell Talks About His Dream of Becoming a Dancer
Why the temperature of the water we drink is important, how countless nutrients work together to make us sick or healthy, how Dr. Campbell eats well while speaking around the world, and a his childhood dream.
Alicia: Welcome back to Healthy Gypsy Soul. I am your host, Alicia Free, 100 pounds of hugs and hell yeah. My guest today is Dr. T. Colin Campbell.
This is part two of a three part interview series with Dr. Campbell who is the co-author of the controversial bestselling book The China Study. Books like this one and countless lectures by Dr Campbell have inspired thousands of people to eat more plant-based whole foods and arguably add years to their lives.
Just in case you’re not familiar with this book, it explains the research findings of what has been called the most comprehensive study of health and nutrition ever conducted. Here’s a hint for you; Dr. Campbell stopped eating dairy and meat in responses to his research findings.
So, Dr Campbell is a professor emeritus at my alma mater, Cornell University, where he taught and researched for decades. I’m happy to say that I’ve worked with Dr. Campbell and I’m fortunate that our families have known each other and have shared many a delicious plant based meal. It is an honor to have you back here Dr. Campbell.
So, you’ve traveled so much delivering lectures to decision makers and celebrities and medical doctors and researchers all over the world. Do you have any healthy travel tips that you would like to share with us?
Dr. Campbell: That has turned out to be one of the better parts of my story in a sense because wherever I go everybody knows what I want to eat. So I usually end up getting a gourmet meal of plant based food, and I never have to think about it. (My wife) Karen and I, she goes with me a lot, we just eat what they give to us. So we don’t have to pay too much attention. Most are really wonderful hosts and we get a chance to experiment with their food.
If we’re on the road ourselves in between and have to go to restaurants that’s a little trickier. But we both learned how to handle that, I think quite well, especially Karen. She makes sure she tells the waiter and whoever else wants to listen, here’s how we eat. And restaurants are really quite good; they’re quite good about that.
I think the key thing is not adding oil. I can’t eat stuff with oil on it; you know, added oil. So, that’s probably one of the more challenging things because I think the Indian restaurants or the Chinese too. We like Chinese and Indian food, but we’ll say, “No oil, no this, no that”. Sometimes, they come back and they can’t quite imagine not adding some and so, that’s a little more trickier.
Alicia: I definitely saw a ton of very oily food in India when I was just there. It seems to be getting worse, and I imagine a lot of people there are really addicted to oil at this point.
Anyway, I love to drink water and all of my dance videos, I drink water while I’m practicing and teaching hoping that all the people dancing with me will enjoy drinking water with me as well. It’s important. So Dr. Campbell would you like to take a sip of water with me right now together?
Dr. Campbell: You know the water thing Alicia, warm water is better than ice-cold water. We quench out thirsts in two ways; we quench it either with temperature or with water volume. That we known for a long time. Unfortunately, our society is also addicted to ice water. You know, always ice-cold stuff. We’re not drinking as much water as we should be getting. I mean, I did some research early on many years ago, that’s a stress, that’s a stress trigger. It increases cholesterol, it increases the risk for heart disease.
So, I got into first using just room temperature water, but as time passed, I actually grew to like warm water; almost hot water. I find it very comfortable, I could drink more. It’s just consistent with what my body wants. In that way, I make sure I get enough water which I find really key. Athletes know well that they don’t get enough hydration, they have some issues. They usually talk about it in the context of electrolytes. But I also must say it’s also should be considered in context of the total water volume.
So, it’s another dimension of this lifestyle that’s important; adequate water, I’ll throw in more and more; sunshine, outdoors-big deal. We should be outdoors as a good bit of the time when we can. Between the sunshine and the water and exercise at the base of it is eat right food.
One more thing is having a good mind and good soul and keeping sensitive to what’s going on around us and having some compassion. I mean, that’s really a big thing but one of the things that I find about that is again, food it puts you into a better friend of mind. We’re getting to do some research on that too. So, it’s a total package. It’s really nice.
Alicia: For any listeners who may be new to Healthy Gypsy Soul, this is actually a podcast about dance and music and travel and food. Dr. Campbell, you often use this fantastic metaphor pairing “the complexity and beauty of a symphony with the way that food nourishes our bodies”. Can you tell us more about that?
Dr. Campbell: That word appeared to me for a couple of different reasons. One is I like music. But aside from that, get into the science and realizing that our focus on individual things, individual notes over our body if you want to call them that.
I realized when you start to put these notes together they automatically add up to something that’s greater than the sum of its parts. And the more we do that, finally start to realize there’s almost countless nutrients, there’s countless mechanisms, there’s systems; it’s the wisdom of nature that keeps that in order and integrates all that sort of thing in nanosecond periods of time; always adjusting.
And we’ve got to 10 to 100 trillion cells in out our bodies and they’re all talking to each other too. We’ve lost sight of our cells you know, from a scientific point of view. I mean, I can describe all of this scientifically, which I enjoy doing. But at the end of the day it turns out that that scientific description, the imagery of that, it turns out we all know it sort of intrinsically. It’s just feeling healthy, it’s feeling alive and vibrant. So, that symphony thing is a good way to describe what’s going on inside the cell and it really extends itself beyond the cell to the whole body.
Alicia: I think we all have ways of relating to music and relating music to things in our life that we’re really passionate about. I want to hear more about you as a dancer. I think this is a side of you that most people don’t know; they think about the scientist. It was so much fun dancing with you at the Global Roots event in Dominican Republic.
Dr. Campbell: That was fun. That was great fun.
Well, when I was young, I did like to dance. I was on a farm and our town with 200 people. Now, it’s sort of a national heritage town; it’s just 50 miles west of Washington D.C. So, we had an exposition each fall. My dad helped to start that and it’s called the Waterfront Fair; people around Washington Baltimore know that. They started it in 1943. The people from the city would come to our little town and wander through these old houses. And so, we put on some stuff. I belonged to a square dance group, and so we did square dances for them when they came out. We called it Hill Billy. That was a forerunner to culture of music. Then we got into, in those days, it was called round dancing, you know, like ballroom dancing.
I really like that. I loved it. I never took lessons. I created my own sort of steps because we didn’t have that opportunity of getting trained. Then along came Elvis Presley; the rock n roll, I didn’t know what that was because that was quite strange from our kind of dancing. So, I thought I would almost like to grow up and be a dancer. Never did.
Alicia: I always ask my guests about music to broaden the musical exposure and appreciation of our listeners. So tell us about some of the music that inspires you.
Dr. Campbell: I just had an opportunity recently. I was in Italy, meeting in a very very old village that was first built 8 thousand years ago and it was reconstructed around 1100 AD. A very rich fellow in the United States bought the whole thing and he got in the business of restoring these houses. It’s called Monteverde. It has become a little bit famous now. He only had 25 people there and he had invited me to come over to tell my story. I talked and we had a great time together. It was just-it was surreal. Each of three nights, they had a world famous musician come and play in that little chapel for about 25 to 30 of us.
One played Beethoven’s Ninth from memory. Oh, it was unreal. And then he had just great Mezzo soprano. Her performance was…it’s hard to describe. I can’t describe it.
One reason he wanted to talk to me was because they like my word symphony. I was really inspired because I love to see what they’re doing. It’s chilling. I can almost describe what I’m learning in the body by their musical notes. It is just unreal. Yeah, I don’t know what else to say. They just merged together.
Alicia: That’s beautiful. I know there is this great online course through the Center for Nutrition Studies, your non-profit, that helps people learn more about a whole food plant based diet. What resources are out there for people who want to transition to a plant based diet?
Dr. Campbell: You know, I’ve got a number colleagues now who are doing various things and a lot of people are getting into this. This sounds very family oriented, but obviously our family is doing this. My son Tom has a book called “The China Study Solution” and now he’s doing this program in Rochester. People attending these kind of sessions is one way to do it, and it’s not just him.
John Esselstyn had a program for sometimes is really very good. Their son Ripp Esselstyn has done it.
Films are another way. I think I’ve been in at least 10, and I think most celebrated one is Forks Over Knives. That really started with the China Study. I’m told that as of about two years ago now, they said there was upwards of 20 million people seen that film.
I get stopped lot and airports and places like that because of people seen Forks Over Knives; which started with China Study. And then our oldest son made Plant Pure Nation. That’s on Netflix. He’s now developed this really neat relationship with a big health system in south Florida and building that network of so-called PODS.
You know, it’s conferences of various kinds or going to a conference or a cook off. My daughter LeAnne Campbell got a bunch of chefs together and they got a chance to spend half a day with a chef and cook with them. I’m just saying what I’m most familiar with but, you know, I’ve got a lot of friends doing some really great stuff too.
I think that Plantrician Conference is one I particularly like; organized by Dr. Scott Stoll and Susan Benigas and Tom Dunnam. That’s a good conference. Last time I was there, I spoke to 800 doctors. They asked me if I would tell my story; the difficulties. And I was too excited about doing that. I’d lived with a lot of nonsense but upon thinking about it, I thought, “Well, okay. I’ve got to tell that in a proper way just so others know some of the difficulties that exist in this field”.
And as I said, there were 800 physicians and I got a standing ovation at the beginning and at the end. So, I guess I did okay. And that’s going to be online. That’s the story about both the yin and yang of this field. I don’t know if it’s the right metaphor to use; the difficulties as well as the, you know, the great rewards that come with this.
I spoke to the European Parliament in Brussels last spring and have had a chance to speak to some very key groups like that; lot of bad schools. I’m just saying my own very you’re asking me for different ways people could do things. I think just having a block party and bringing a dish pass, I think is one of the things that I noticed some people like to do. Creating a local community like Lewis and Priscilla Freedman. I mean, they have the record; almost 20 years of doing that. That kind of thing. Now, they’ve got a great cookbook to go along with it. And so, I think that there’s so many different things.
In Europe, I had a chance to now lecture in about 12 countries and they’re all doing all sorts of various things. It’s kind of enlightening. It’s kind of exciting.
Alicia: It’s good to hear that so many great things are happening.
Dr. Campbell: Yeah they are; they really are. I have to just say that this is a very exciting, wholesome, sincere and compassionate way to deliver a message to the world that has to be heard. And I think the way you’re approaching the issue; involving in the whole human being existence, who we are – is very special. And so I really applaud your efforts.
Alicia: Thank you so much Colin. I’m looking forward to the final part of this three-part interview where we’re going to focus on the history of the plant-based movement. This is something that Colin has never spoken out about before and he’s been thinking about this for decades.
So, we’re going to be talking about the history of the plant based movement as well as the opposing forces who have really led our society down this meat-every-meal road that is speeding us towards global climate change disaster. It’s likely contributing to devastating obesity, diabetes and cancer rates and generating downright bad karma for all of the poor conditions for people and animals in slaughterhouses. It doesn’t have to be this way. We can change at one meal at a time.
So, please subscribe to this podcast if you haven’t already and post your comments. I want this show to change your life. So, let me know if that’s happening or if there’s something else that you need that I can give you. Visit healthygypsysoul.com for vegan recipes, belly dance videos and more gifts that will help you dance, travel, eat well and beautiful. Much love from my healthy gypsy soul to yours.