There’s a lot of confusion today about what we should be eating, and with so many new health and digestive issues that people have that never existed before (or very rarely), many people can’t even eat regular food anymore – or maybe that’s because the food we have today is “irregular.” Some of this confusion can be eliminated by learning what healthy societies ate and how they prepared their foods.
Dr. Weston A. Price (whose findings this site is based on) wrote extensively in his book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, about the many native and primitive populations he visited around the world – from the Arctic to the South Pacific – in order to identify those nutritional factors that contributed to good dental health and good health in general.
Here are 12 ways you can improve your nutrition and health based upon the dietary principles of numerous healthy traditional cultures Price examined, who were free of free of dental decay and illnesses caused by a Western diet:
- Remove manufactured foods and artificial food products from your diet – no traditional cultures ate processed or denatured foods.
- Weston Price found that as soon as traditional people began eating a Western diet of processed and nutrient-deficient foods they began experiencing tooth decay. Their children had deformed dental arches and other deformities as a result of their parents’ inadequate nutrition from before conception.
- Eat good quality animal proteins – all traditional cultures ate animal foods including fish, meat, eggs, and dairy from grass fed animals; some cultures even ate insects.
- The diets varied in the amount of meat they had, but all had some animal foods even if it was only insects. Meats contain many important bodybuilding materials not easily obtained otherwise.
- Weston Price found that traditional cultures that ate a mostly plant based diet, by circumstance rather than choice, were not as physically strong as those who ate more animal products. They also had significantly more tooth decay.
- Include properly prepared grains in your meals – all traditional cultures ate grains.
- Grains were soaked, fermented, or sprouted so that they were more easily digestible and the nutrient profile was increased.
- Cook most of the foods you eat- all traditional cultures cooked most of their food, especially their plant food.
- Many vegetables eaten raw today were never eaten raw by traditional societies.
- Cooking breaks down tough vegetable fibers and makes nutrients more available. Other vegetables contain components, like oxalic acid and goitrogens, that are not healthy and which are destroyed with heat. These include cruciferous vegetables, some leafy greens, potatoes, and some others.
- Eating vegetables with butter or other healthy fats is also important for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
- Include some raw food in your diet regularly – all traditional cultures ate some of their foods raw such as raw meat, liver, fish, and dairy.
- Cooking destroys vitamin B6 among other nutrients so raw foods provided some important nutrition.
- Raw milk, butter, and cheeses from healthy grass-fed animals contain many vitamins, beneficial bacteria, and important enzymes that are destroyed during the pasteurization process. Milk also contains fragile proteins that are denatured upon pasteurization.
- Buy or make your own sauerkraut and other lacto-fermented vegetables – all traditional cultures ate lacto-fermented foods.
- Lacto-fermented foods and beverages, including sourdough breads, contain beneficial bacteria that are important for overall health. Beneficial bacteria aid in proper digestion, are responsible for the breakdown of foods into the constituents we need, produce critical vitamins and enzymes and other nutrients, and keep harmful intestinal bacteria from proliferating.
- Prepare bone broths – almost all traditional cultures used bone broths.
- Bone broths contain important minerals, including trace minerals, in a form that’s readily absorbed. Also included are materials from broken down cartilage and tendons including glucosamine and chondroitin sulphates that are important for joint health.
- Use sea salt- all traditional cultures used sea salt, even going to great lengths to obtain it if it wasn’t local.
- Sea salt contains many minerals not found in table salt which are important for the sodium to work properly in your body.
- Salt is involved in many critical bodily functions and is particularly important for children as it is needed to form glial cells in the brain.
- Eliminate manufactured polyunsaturated and other oils from your diet – all traditional cultures ate healthy fats including butter, animal fats, coconut oil, and palm oil.
- Fats help us absorb fat-soluble vitamins and are important sources of nutrition.
- Our cell membranes and brain are composed of saturated fats and cholesterol.
- Weston Price found that butter from cows grazing on fast-growing spring and fall grasses was particularly rich in vitamins A and D and what he called “Activator X”, now believed to be vitamin K2.
- Eat nutrient dense foods – all traditional cultures ate nutrient-dense foods from nutrient-rich soil.
- Weston Price found that the food grown and eaten by traditional cultures contained many more times the vitamins and minerals than did the same foods in the Western diet.
- Fertilization with manure from grazing animals and other types of nutrient-rich fertilizers were important for maintaining soil health and growing nutrient-dense foods.
- Eat fermented soy sparingly – Traditional cultures that ate soy fermented the soy for a long time and only ate small quantities of it. Fermented soy products include miso, tempeh, properly prepared soy sauce, and other products.
- The high phytic acid content and enzyme inhibitors in soy necessitate fermentation in order to break them down. Soy also has phytoestrogens that negatively affect the thyroid and hormonal balance.
- Ensure that you and your spouse are well- nourished before conceiving- traditional cultures made special provisions for pregnancy, providing special foods for both the mother and father at least six months prior to marriage to build up their nutritional stores before conception. The mother kept to this diet through nursing, and fed it to their children while they were growing. This way, each member of the tribe or village was well nourished. They also put three years between each child so that the mother could rebuild her nutritional stores before conceiving again.
By keeping to their traditional diets, primitive cultures were able to maintain good health and pass it on to their children as well. Individuals from these populations who began eating Western foods experienced dental decay and ill health; future generations had physical deformities resulting from their parents lack of nutrition.
While we may not be able to (or want to) live and eat just like they did, we can certainly adopt many of these practices in order to improve our health and pass a better legacy on to our children.
Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook That Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats
by Sally Fallon with Mary Enig, Ph.D.
Related Posts and Pages:
Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World
by Sally Fallon Morell and Kaayla T. Daniel