It is important to know that everybody IS different. We all have different genetic and cultural traits. Each person’s genetic inheritance influences their bone structure, body size, shape, and weight differently. When we follow some basic truths about nutrition we conclude that eating “whole foods” not only tastes good but is also clearly healthier for our bodies, better for the environment and the economy. The reasons for this have been clearly studied since even before the 1930s. There have been numerous doctors and scientists who have published research on the benefits of eating a whole foods diet. One such important body of research comes from a man named Dr. Weston A. Price.
Dr. Price was a dentist that lived between 1870 and 1948. He wasn’t just any dentist though. He founded the research institute National Dental Association, which became the research section of the American Dental Association, and was the NDA’s chairman from 1914 to 1928 and should be considered an anthropologist as well for his studies of multiple cultures.
In 1930, Price shifted his attention and studies towards nutrition. In 1939, he published Nutrition and Physical Degeneration in which he wrote about his observations of multiple cultures, their nutritional habits, and their health. He studied traditional cultures that were still eating the same diet they had been eating for thousands of years and other cultures that were in the process of changing their diets to a more westernized one.
The idea that tooth decay was related to diet came to him because of all the teeth problems he saw people struggling with. It was inconceivable to him why almost everybody in a particular society had teeth and gum troubles, and other societies had none of these difficulties.
Price’s work is often criticized at this point for being biased. Critics claim that Price simply ignored native peoples that were not healthy, therefore, his data and conclusions about primitive diets are unfounded. These critics are missing the point and motivation for Dr. Price’s work. Dr. Price was not interested in examining sick people because he’d seen enough of them in America.
Price wanted to find HEALTHY people, find out what made them so, and see if there were any patterns among these people. During his nine years of journeys, Price came across groups of primitives who were having problems for various reasons. Price made notes of these people, what appeared to be their difficulty, and then passed them over and moved on. Again, he was not interested in sick people. Price often found that the health problems were caused by food shortages (especially a lack of animal products), droughts, things people living off the land must face from time to time, and quite notably – contact with white European civilization.
The observations he documented have proven to be invaluable. Price went into some areas of Switzerland, Scotland, Ireland, Alaska, Sudan, Australia, Peru, New Zealand and the American prairies looking for links between dental degeneration and diet. In Dr. Price’s study, the cultures are very diverse, yet all show the same core diet principles and great health markers.
Dr. Price’s study of cultures that were transitioning to a more westernized diet and his observations of the direct effect it had on their health are very revealing. He observed:
- Mothers had easy deliveries with children that had well-formed jaws and facial bones in societies who ate animals and fat.
- Babies born from mothers who ate a non-traditional or westernized diet and manifested into a physical degeneration from one generation on to the next. We now see more and more obese babies, malformed teeth, and other terrible maladies that begin in infancy.
- Entire generations are now growing up with poor nutrition and its accompanying illnesses because of modernization in agriculture that depletes soils, deprives plants and animals of the nutrition they need and considers speed and profit as a priority over physical health and ecological well being.
The Western Diet
Some older studies showed that saturated fat, a large part of the standard American diet and the diets of much of the Western world, contribute greatly to obesity, inflammation and heart disease, as well as complications having to do with the liver, bowels, digestion, and overall well being.
More recent studies, however, show that saturated fats can be harmful mostly in conjunction with processed carbohydrates, another large component of Western diets, concluding that the fats are not causing problems, but the highly processed sugars and chemical-containing packages the public is putting on their plates (NY TIMES Decades-Old Study, Rediscovered, Challenges Advice on Saturated Fat & Time Magazine “Confused About Fat…”
The Traditional Diet
Although the diets were very diverse depending on the climate and food availability, some important points were consistent.
- All the diets contained animal products of some kind, often in high quantity. There were no plant-based or vegetarian diets. When meat or fish were not a staple in the diet, raw milk, yogurt, and cheeses often were. Keep in mind here that we’re talking about unpasteurized, full-fat milk coming from pastured and grass-fed animals that grazed on plants growing in nutritionally rich soil. This makes for a completely different food than what you find in grocery stores today. That milk was high in healthy saturated fat and contained 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 took care not to waste and would feed to pregnant and breastfeeding women as well as growing children. Some of those sacred foods were 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.
Dr. Price’s Message
The obvious conclusion of Price’s research is that for humanity to survive, it must eat better. The foods it must eat MUST be whole, fresh, and unprocessed. More and more, people are beginning to see this and have been changing their eating patterns. For the majority, however, the continuation of negative dietary habits will inevitably lead to decreased vitality, unhealthy children, and in short – the degeneration of the human race. In this world of survival of the fittest, we need to take every opportunity to bolster our position or we really do risk extinction.
- Eating whole foods tastes good! The first happy lesson to be gleaned from traditional diets and Price’s work is that good food can and should taste good. It’s alright to have sautéed vegetables and meats with butter (grass fed pastured butter). It’s okay to consume whole (unpasteurized, non-homogenized) milk, meat with its fat, pastured cage free eggs, liver with onions and bacon! It’s okay and healthy to eat homemade soups made from gelatin-rich bone broths and sauces made from drippings and even pastured cream.
- Eating whole foods is good for the environment as well. The building blocks of a whole foods diet are pesticide-free plant foods raised on naturally enriched soils, and healthy animals that live free to graze and manure the paddocks of their farms, as opposed to standing in a cramped stall, never seeing sunlight, being fed soybeans and corn meal, and being shot up with steroids and antibiotics.
- Eating whole foods is better for the economy as well. Organic foods are usually raised by small farms. Each time you buy an organically raised plant or animal product, you are helping someone to earn a living. Isn’t that preferable to giving your money to a multinational food company that mass produces its product, not caring about the health of the soil, the planet, the animals, or ourselves?
- Finally, eating whole foods is healthier. We, humans, evolved eating certain foodstuffs in certain ways. You did not see a caveman trimming the fat off of his meat – he ate the whole thing. You did not see a Swiss Alps villager eating low-fat cheese – she ate the whole thing. You did not see Maori fishermen avoiding shellfish for fear of cholesterol – they ate the whole thing. Foods are packaged in ways that nature intended: they contain all the nutrients within themselves for optimal assimilation by our bodies. Eating whole foods ensures us the highest amount of nutrients food has to offer. Tampering with them is ill-advised – the less that is done to them the better.