Monthly Archives: April 2014


Science-based dietary recommendations: How much do we really know?

The authors of a key, highly-cited (close to 900 times) paper on bioactive compounds [1], report that numerous bioactive compounds discovered in fruit and vegetables appear to have positive effect on health:

Bioactive compounds are extranutritional constituents that typically occur in small quantities in foods. They are being intensively studied to evaluate their effects on health. The impetus sparking this scientific inquiry was the result of many epidemiologic studies that have shown protective effects of plant-based diets on cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer. Many bioactive compounds have been discovered.”

The authors emphasize that “Much scientific research needs to be conducted before we can begin to make science-based dietary recommendations” and note that the list of bioactive compounds is “ever-expanding“. Nevertheless, they conclude that

On the basis of a large population database, there is sufficient evidence to recommend a diet high in food sources rich in bioactive compounds”.

Interestingly, in another study, reporting the inhibition of colon and breast cancer cell proliferation by fruits and berries [2], we read that there exists “a synergistic effect of vitamin C and other substances” that may play an important role [emphasis mine].

So the compelling questions that emerge are: How many more different compounds and complex synergistic processes that link them exist? What does our lack of knowledge mean, practically speaking, in relation to the desirable concept of ‘sound nutritional advice’? Considering the complexity of the human body, is it possible to fully grasp the complete mechanism of nutrition through the studies performed in artificial laboratory environments?

Notably, the authors of a very recent publication citing [1], which reviews current evidence regarding the relationship between vegetarian eating patterns and cancer risk [3], report that

A vegan diet, aside from its deficit of vitamin B12 activity (readily compensated by supplementation), is typically more micronutrient-dense (per calorie) than the diets favored by omnivores


Fears that a vegan diet may be inadequate in protein quality or quantity are unfounded”.

Importantly, the authors emphasize that

a broad body of evidence links specific plant foods such as fruits and vegetables, plant constituents such as fiber, antioxidants and other phytochemicals, and achieving and maintaining a healthy weight to reduced risk of cancer diagnosis and recurrence”.

In conclusion, modern science may only begin to understand the full benefits of plant-based diets. It may take a lot of research to unravel the various pathways that lead to better health through nutrients-rich fresh fruit and veggies. Enough evidence indicates nevertheless that such diets may not only offer superior nutrition, but also reduce the chance of serious diseases through simple and achievable lifestyle choices.

Let us not waste time waiting until science figures it all out.


[1] Kris-Etherton P.M., Hecker K.D., Bonanome A., Coval S.M., Binkoski A.E., Hilpert K.F., Griel A.E., Etherton T.D. Bioactive compounds in foods: Their role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer (2002) American Journal of Medicine, 113 (9 SUPPL. 2)

[2] Olsson M.E., Gustavsson K.-E., Andersson S., Nilsson A., Duan R.-D. Inhibition of cancer cell proliferation in vitro by fruit and berry extracts and correlations with antioxidant levels (2004) Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 52 (24) , pp. 7264-7271.

[3] Nagarathna Purada Kattimani Matada, Mukumbayi Mulumba Philippe, Raju Koneri. Department of Pharmacology, Karnataka College of Pharmacy, Bangalore, Karnataka, IndiaA Study on Plant Based Dietary Patterns and Cancer Risk (2013) Int. J. Pharm. Sci. Rev. Res., 23(2), Nov – Dec 2013; no 45, 265-278.

fruit scientist - perspective2

Do Whatever Works for You – A Perspective

By Don Bennett, DAS

A common piece of advice when experimenting with different healthy lifestyle practices is to “do whatever works for you”, but there is a definite risk when following this advice, and it revolves around the definition of the word “works”. If you’re not knowledgeable with respect to what you’re experiencing when making significant changes in one of your lifestyle practices, you may draw the wrong conclusions. For example: How you feel is not always a good indicator of what is really working for you. If, overnight, you switch from a typical Western diet to a healthy diet, you may feel worse before you feel better (I’ll explain why in a moment). If you don’t realize that this is normal, you may go back to what you were previously eating to see what happens, and when you feel better – which you most certainly will – you can misinterpret this and mistakenly conclude that an uncooked low fat plant-based diet doesn’t “work” for you, and that, for example, eating a lot of protein or fat or eating some cooked food does.

To realize why the above scenario occurs, it’s necessary to understand the concept of detoxification. If you’re in a less than optimal state of health (and you can be without knowing it), it’s unlikely you got into this condition overnight; it probably took decades. So when you decide to improve your health, it isn’t going to happen overnight; it’ll take time (so obviously the time to start improving your health is now). For every four years of unhealthy living habits it can take approximately one year to reverse the negative effects, and as I said, you may feel worse before feeling better. So to avoid drawing the wrong conclusions it’s a good idea to have a working knowledge of what’s happening as you improve your health.

A long time ago there were very few toxic substances you could take into your body. And those that were toxic would be immediately evident; if a plant tasted bitter, odds were that it was probably poisonous, and the bitterness was a signal to not eat it… so you wouldn’t. In this way, you were protected from consuming toxic things. But today, that taste protective mechanism doesn’t do us much good; processed foods that taste delicious can contain toxins. And even if something tastes “yuk”, many people still consume it because it’s socially acceptable, and their peers do it, and there’s something to like about it. To me, beer and hot spicy food do not taste yummy, so I don’t consume them, but I did at one time… my peers did, and I liked the effect, so I did too. But that was very disrespectful of my body, and not respecting your body is a huge mistake if robust health is important to you.

When toxic and irritating substances enter the body, the body tries to keep these things from harming its cells. If the body doesn’t have enough vitality to expel these substances as they come in, it has only two choices: leave them in the system where they can go around damaging things, or put them someplace where they’ll do the least amount of harm. Naturally it tries to store them, and the place where they can do the least damage is in the fat cells. When someone who is losing weight experiences symptoms, it is often because those toxins that were stored in their fat cells are now becoming systemic (their storage containers are shrinking) and the body now has to deal with them.

If you’ve been exposing your body to toxic substances every day for decades, and then you stop doing this, your body is finally able to rid itself of the stored toxins, and begin the task of repairing any damage caused by them. The process of expelling stored toxins is called detoxification (detox), and is never pleasant. And since you feel terrible, some people mistake detoxification as a sign that their body did better when it was given non-human food because when they go back to eating those things, they feel better. Why? Because the detox process stops! (Some people call the detox process “withdrawal”, but that’s an inaccurate term.)

fruit scientist - healthierAnother scenario is when, in our efforts to improve our health, we transition from an unhealthy diet and lifestyle to a healthier one, and we experience improvement so we assume that this new way of living is what “works” for us and is now the way we should live, when in actuality the short-term improvements were mainly due to what we stopped doing. The wheat grass, cayenne pepper, and high fat raw food recipes and the other new things that we started doing were simply healthier than what we had been doing, and although we’re seeing improvement in the short term, these things will not serve us and allow us to thrive in the long term. Indeed, this healthier way of living may still allow serious disease to occur, even though it may happen farther down the road than it would have if we had not made any changes at all.

So be very careful when deciding what works for you, because you are not going to know what “works” until you know if it “worked”… and that can take decades. This makes it critically important to make correct decisions now as to what lifestyle practices to follow. And since very few health educators have 100% correct information, it’s a good idea to not follow any one health educator’s advice, and instead to take a multi-educational approach to your information gathering (as a researcher and not as a student). Yes, this is unfortunate because it’s so much easier to just pick someone and do whatever they advise, but if your goal is optimal health, you need lots of correct information, and not just some. And you won’t have access to a time machine to go back in time and try something else if what you thought was “working” for you turned out not to work (because you got a diagnosis of something serious). The knowledge of what is likely to still be working for you in the “winter” of your life, and not merely in the short term, is crucial if maximum health creation, illness avoidance, and a robust quality of life for your whole life is your goal.

Featured image courtesy of

Don Bennett

Don Bennett

Disease Avoidance Specialist, 20+ years all-raw, fruit-based, 99.9% vegan, 100% sincere, 40+ years researching the realities of health. Not an optimist, not a pessimist, a realist. It's been very heartening helping people regain their health by helping them understand the realities of health.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me: