It is my understanding that, over time, the truth always prevails. Like when we finally learned and accepted that the earth was round, one day it will be common knowledge that saturated fats are good while grains, vegetables oil and excess carbohydrates are bad. Only the future though will tell us how much time, sweat and uphill battle it will take for the main institutions to accept these facts.
Fortunately for us, more and more great minds and specialists are joining the right side, probably because of the undeniable evidence. You’ll often find that nutrition “specialists” who still push the wrong dogma of high carbs, low fat and whole grains either push what’s told to them without asking questions or have financial and/or egoistic interests in this broken dogma that’s killing so many people.
As more and more parties get interested in spreading the right nutritional information, many names will be given to the approach. For example, Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint and Dr. Mary and Micheal Eades’ 6 Weeks Cure and Protein Power offer views very similar to the Paleo diet. The exact guidelines to follow are up to you and all the approaches offer very sound advice.
Even if the concepts are getting more and more popular, some have been researching and education people about proper nutrition for quite some time already.
Weston A. Price and the Weston A. Price foundation is one of those organizations. Weston A. Price was a dentist that lived between 1870 and 1948. He wasn’t just like any other dentist and, among other things, was the chairman of the research section of the American Dental Association from 1914 to 1923.
In 1939, he published Nutrition and Physical Degeneration where he wrote about his observations of multiple cultures, their nutritional habits and their health. He studied traditional cultures still eating a diet that they’ve been eating for thousands of years as well as cultures in the process of changing their diets to a more westernized one.
The idea came to him because of all the teeth problems he saw people struggling with. It was unconceivable to him, with reason, that almost everybody had teeth and gum problems.
The observations he documented are now invaluable because almost all of those cultures now eat a more westernized diet and there would simply be too few examples to study this way.
He went in places such as some areas of Switzerland, Scotland, Ireland, Alaska, Sudan, Australia, Peru, New Zealand and the American prairies for signs of dental degeneration and the link with diet.
In the scientific community, there often is a lot of criticism made towards observational and epidemiological studies because some variables can always be overlooked and can affect the outcome. In the case of Dr. Price’s study though, the cultures are so diverse, yet all show the same core diet principles and great health markers that it’s undeniable that the findings are at least really important and worth more investigation.
The fact that he was also able to study cultures transitioning to a more westernized diet and see the direct effect it had on their health is very revealing. He even saw that mothers had easy delivery and children with well-formed jaw and facial bones and saw the opposite in babies born from a mother eating a non-traditional diet. This is effectively a physical degeneration from one generation to the next. It’s no wonder, then, that we see more and more obese babies and that malformed teeth is now the norm. I think it can only get worse if our society doesn’t radically change its nutritional approach and the children can only get sicker and sicker over time, and this, right from the very start of their lives.
This is why not taking nutrition and health seriously is a huge mistake and whole generations are paying for it.
The traditional diet
Is it any surprise that the traditional diets studied by Weston A. Price where very close to the Paleo diet? I don’t think so.
Although the diets where very diverse depending on the climate and food availability, some important points where consistent.
All the diets contained animal products of some kind, often in high quantity. There was no plant-based or vegetarian diets. When meat or fish where not a staple in the diet, raw milk, yogurt and cheese often was. Keep in mind here that we’re talking about unpasteurized, full-fat milk coming from pastured and grass-fed animals and a green grass growing on a nutritionally rich soil. This makes for a completely different food than what you find in grocery stores. That milk is high in healthy saturated fat and contains high levels of carotenes, vitamin K2, butyric acid and a host of other essential nutrients.
Weston Price also found that the cultures often had sacred food that they would feed pregnant and breastfeeding women as well as growing children and take care not to waste.
Some of those sacred foods where fish eggs, liver, bone marrow, raw milk and cod liver oil. These sources of food are all high in saturated fat as well as fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K2. These vitamins work in combination to activate other vitamins and important body processes. Weston Price was the first to talk about the importance of vitamin K2 and called it activator X. Among other things, these vitamins work together to create strong bones, articulations and cavity-free teeth. The functions of those vitamins explain why they are so important for pregnant and nursing women as well as growing children. The cultures studied understood this importance instinctively and by tradition.
Today, the work of Weston A. Price is protected and promoted by the Weston A. Price foundation lead by Sally Fallon Morell, who also wrote the excellent book Nourishing Traditions. The work of the foundation is really important and they have chapters in all major cities. Those chapters offer a great way to connect with like-minded people.
I leave you with an excellent presentation by Sally at one of the Weston A. Price foundation’s conferences in UK. It’s filled with great content that should teach you a lot about having a healthy diet.