With Howard Jacobson at Vegetarian Summerfest, Johnstown, PA.

What a delightful surprise to discover, in my mailbox, a package addressed to “The Plant-Based Fitness Expert” from Ben Bella books, containing their most recent release Whole:  Rethinking the Science of Nutrition by one of the most respected science and nutrition writers of our time, T. Colin Campbell and co-author Howard Jacobson, PhD.  Honored by this gift and excited to get started, I tore into the book that very afternoon and sent a quick thank you note off to the publisher who had included a kind, personalized note to me inside.


 They also put me in touch with Howard Jacobson right away so that he and I could have a conversation about this new masterpiece.   Not only that, but Howard and I compared calendars and discovered we were both scheduled to be presenters at the 2013 Vegetarian Summerfest in Johnstown, PA.  It seemed to just kept getting better!

Howard graciously answered some interview questions pronto, which I’ve included in their entirety for you in this article.  We also arranged to meet up at Summerfest and as you can imagine never ran short of topics to discuss while there!  Howard, an instant Fit Quickies fan, interviewed me for a recent podcast on the new website that is that is an outgrowth of the book Whole, immediately upon return from Summerfest. (You can catch the audio of Howard’s interview of me here: Wholevana interview of Lani Muelrath:  the Plant-Based Fitness Expert.)  Quite the honor!

Back to the book.

Whole does just as its title promises:  it explains why, when it comes to what we eat, foods as presented in their natural, unprocessed state deliver more than we might imagine, nutrition that cannot be duplicated by fractioning them into a pile of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients.  In this case, the whole is truly more than the sum of its parts.  I’ve long had my suspicions about isolated nutrients and super supplements – it just seemed that the best way to offer nutrition to our bodies is to invite nutrients to the table in a state where they come along with all of their ‘friends’.  You know, whole.

Perhaps the best snapshot of the compelling content in Whole can be found on pages 152 – 153:

Red Apple with heart

In studying the apple, Professor Liu and his team began by choosing to focus on vitamin C and its antioxidant effect.  They found that 100 grams of apples (about a half cup) had an antioxidant, vitamin-C like activity equivalent to 1,500 milligrams of vitamin C, (about 3 times the amount of a typical vitamin C supplement).  When they chemically analyzed that 100 grams of the whole apple, however, they found only 5.7 milligrams of vitamin C, far below the 1,500 milligrams that the level of antioxidant activity associated with the vitamin C indicated.  

The vitamin-C like activity from 100 grams of whole apple was an astounding 263 times as potent as the same amount of the isolated chemical!  Said another way, the specific chemical we refer to as vitamin C accounts for much less than 1 percent of the vitamin C-like activity in the apple – a miniscule amount.  The other 99-plus percent of this activit is due to other vitamin C-like chemicals in the apple, the possible ability of vitamin C to be much more effective in context of the whole apple than it is when consumed in an isolated form, or both.  ~Whole, pages 152 – 153.

Interview questions for Howard Jacobson

To get right to the heart of things, I asked Howard to respond to the following three questions so that I could report his answers back to you.

Lani Muelrath:  Describe the two to three biggest takeaways you would like for readers to get from reading Whole.

Howard Jacobson:

  1. Most of what you’ve been told about nutrition just isn’t true. The profit motive has replaced most science with marketing, and few people in government or media or medicine are incentivizes or even trained to tell the difference.
  2. You can prevent, halt, and even reverse most diseases through an “open-source” approach to health. No longer is your health and longevity in the hands of the fates, or dependent on the prescriptions of doctors and the good will of insurance companies. The real key to vibrant health is within your control – the food that you choose to put into your body every single day.
  3. Switching to a Whole Foods Plant-Based (WFPB) lifestyle is one of the most powerful steps you can take for your health, for society, and for the planet as a whole.

Lani Muelrath:   Name two immediate action steps that people can take to advance the Whole message in their lives.

Howard Jacobson:

  1. Assess your current state of health. Get some bloodwork done. Ask yourself, “Am I where I want to be?” Look at your energy levels, your moods, your weight, your fitness, and your key predictive numbers (blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, etc.  (If you’re taking meds or have a condition such as diabetes, let your doctor know that you’ll be improving your diet and expect to reduce or eliminate your prescriptions over the coming days and weeks.)
  2.  Try a complete plant-based immersion for 21 days. Be patient while your taste buds adjust, and commit to giving yourself the gift of the world’s healthiest diet. And see what happens. After 21 days, my prediction is that you’ll never want to go back.

Lani Muelrath: List two activist steps that people can take to advance the Whole message in the world.

Howard Jacobson:

  1. Become a shining example of the goodness of the WFPB lifestyle. Walk around so people look at you and say, “I’ll have what she’s having.”
  2. Become a critical consumer of health claims, and ask critical questions when you hear dubious ones. “Who funded the study? What are their assumptions? What problem are they trying to solve? What questions are the researchers asking (and what aren’t they asking)? What’s the evidence for their conclusions? What unforeseen consequences might come from accepting these conclusions?

Inspired?  That’s the message of Whole:  to inspire you to cut through the clutter of nutrient isolation marketing and focus on whole foods on your plate.  I just want people eating more plants and moving their bodies more, and Whole underscores wholistic.

How to enter to win a copy of Whole

For one entry in the drawing:  Simply leave a comment below to leave your thoughts with regards to this question:  Which of Howard’s interview questions above do you identify with  most, and why?

To receive five entries in the drawing:  Complete the task above AND forward your Amazon receipt for a purchase of Fit Quickies:  5 Minute Targeted Body Shaping Workouts dated August 1 – 4, 2013 to  I’m always looking for extra ways to encourage you to keep eating more plants and moving your body!

Winner will be selected August 6th.

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