Transcript: Dr. Burkitt’s F-Word Diet
The famous surgeon Denis Burkitt is better known for his discovery of a childhood cancer now known as Burkitt's lymphoma than for his 1979 international bestseller Don't Forget the Fibre in Your Diet.
Anyone asked to list the twenty or more most important advances in health made in the last few decades would be likely to include none of what Dr. Burkitt considered to be among the most significant. What was the #1 most important advance in health according to one of the most famous medical figures of the 20th century? The fact that "Many of the major and commonest diseases in modern Western culture are universally rare in third- world communities, were uncommon even in the United States until after World War l, yet are now common in anyone following the Western lifestyle,” so it's not genetic, they're lifestyle diseases, which means they must be potentially preventable.
Those eating the standard American diet have very high levels of all of these diseases —here are two examples—similar to the rates of disease in the ruling white class in apartheid Africa, whereas the rates in the Bantu population were very low. These native Africans ate the same three sisters diet of many Native Americans, a plant-based diet centered around corn, beans, and squash. In fact it was reported that cancer was so seldom seen in American Indians a century ago they were considered practically immune to cancer. What is meant by “very low” rates? 1300 autopsied over 5 years in a bantu hospital and less than ten cases of ischemic heart disease, our #1 killer.
Their rates of heart and intestinal disease is similar to poor Indians, whereas wealthier Indians who ate more animal and refined foods were closer to those in Japan, until they moved to the U.S. and started living like us. And you can do similar charts for all the other so-called Western diseases, which Burkitt thought related to the major dietary changes that followed the lndustrial Revolution a reduction in healthy plant foods—the source of starch and fiber, and a great increase in consumption of animal fats, salt, and sugar. His theory was that it was the fiber. None of these diseases—including our #1 killer--are common in communities where large, soft stools are customarily passed. His thought was that all of these major diseases may be caused by a diet deficient in whole plant foods, the only natural source of fiber.
Fiber? In a survey of 2,000 Americans, "Over 95% of graduate school-educated participants and health care providers weren't even aware of the daily recommended fiber intake. Doctors just don't know.
If a floor is flooded as a result of a dripping tap, it is of little use to mop up the floor unless the tap is turned off. The water from the tap represents the cost of disease, the flooded floor the diseases filling our hospital beds. Medical students learn far more about methods of floor mopping and about turning off taps and doctors were specialist and mop some brushes can earn infinitely more than those dedicated to shutting off taps. And the drug companies sells rolls of paper towels, so patients can buy a new roll every day for the rest of their lives. To paraphrase Ogden Nash, modern medicine is making great progress, but just headed in the wrong direction.
Preventive medicine, is, frankly, bad for business….
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Ariel Levitsky.
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