In the early 1930s, a Cleveland dentist named Weston A. Price (1870-1948) began a series of unique investigations.
For over ten years, he traveled to isolated parts of the globe to study the health of populations untouched by western civilization. His goal was to discover the factors responsible for good dental health. His studies revealed that dental caries and deformed dental arches resulting in crowded, crooked teeth are the result of nutritional deficiencies, not inherited genetic defects. The groups Price studied included remote villages in Switzerland, Gaelic communities in the Outer Hebrides, indigenous peoples of North and South America, Melanesian and Polynesian South Sea Islanders, African tribes, Australian Aborigines and New Zealand Maori. Wherever he went, Dr. Price found that beautiful straight teeth, freedom from decay, good physiques, resistance to disease and fine characters were typical of native groups on their traditional diets, rich in essential nutrients.
When Dr. Price analyzed the foods used by isolated peoples he found that, in comparison to the American diet of his day, they provided at least four times the water-soluble vitamins, calcium and other minerals, and at least TEN times the fat-soluble vitamins, from animal foods such as butter, fish eggs, shellfish, organ meats, eggs and animal fats—the very cholesterol-rich foods now shunned by the American public as unhealthful. These healthy traditional peoples knew instinctively what scientists of Dr. Price’s day had recently discovered—that these fat-soluble vitamins, vitamins A and D, were vital to health because they acted as catalysts to mineral absorption and protein utilization. Without them, we cannot absorb minerals, no matter how abundant they may be in our food. Dr. Price discovered an additional fat-soluble nutrient, which he labeled Activator X, that is present in fish livers and shellfish, and organ meats and butter from cows eating rapidly growing green grass in the spring and fall. All indigenous groups had a source of Activator X, now thought to be vitamin K2, in their diets.
The isolated groups Dr. Price investigated understood the importance of preconceptual nutrition for both parents. Many tribes required a period of special feeding before conception, in which nutrient-dense animal foods were given to young men and women. These same foods were considered important for pregnant and lactating women and growing children. Price discovered them to be particularly rich in minerals and in the fat-soluble activators found only in animal fats.
The isolated people Price photographed—with their fine bodies, ease of reproduction, emotional stability and freedom from degenerative ills—stand in sharp contrast to civilized moderns subsisting on the “displacing foods of modern commerce,” including sugar, white flour, pasteurized milk, lowfat foods, vegetable oils and convenience items filled with extenders and additives.
The discoveries and conclusions of Dr. Price are presented in his classic volume, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. The book contains striking photographs of handsome, healthy, indigenous people that illustrate in an unforgettable way the physical degeneration that occurs when human groups abandon nourishing traditional diets in favor of modern convenience foods.
Characteristics of Traditional Diets
- The diets of healthy, nonindustrialized peoples contain no refined or denatured foods or ingredients, such as refined sugar or high fructose corn syrup; white flour; canned foods; pasteurized, homogenized, skim or lowfat milk; refined or hydrogenated vegetable oils; protein powders; synthetic vitamins; or toxic additives and artificial colorings.
- All traditional cultures consume some sort of animal food, such as fish and shellfish; land and water fowl; land and sea mammals; eggs; milk and milk products; reptiles; and insects. The whole animal is consumed—muscle meat, organs, bones and fat, with the organ meats and fats preferred.
- The diets of healthy, nonindustrialized peoples contain at least four times the minerals and water-soluble vitamins, and TEN times the fat-soluble vitamins found in animal fats (vitamin A, vitamin D and Activator X, now thought to be vitamin K2) as the average American diet.
- All traditional cultures cooked some of their food but all consumed a portion of their animal foods raw.
- Primitive and traditional diets have a high content of food enzymes and beneficial bacteria from lactofermented vegetables, fruits, beverages, dairy products, meats and condiments.
- Seeds, grains and nuts are soaked, sprouted, fermented or naturally leavened to neutralize naturally occurring anti-nutrients such as enzyme inhibitors, tannins and phytic acid.
- Total fat content of traditional diets varies from 30 percent to 80 percent of calories but only about 4 percent of calories come from polyunsaturated oils naturally occurring in grains, legumes, nuts, fish, animal fats and vegetables. The balance of fat calories is in the form of saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids.
- Traditional diets contain nearly equal amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids.
- All traditional diets contain some salt.
- All traditional cultures make use of animal bones, usually in the form of gelatin-rich bone broths.
- Traditional cultures make provisions for the health of future generations by providing special nutrient-rich animal foods for parents-to-be, pregnant women and growing children; by proper spacing of children; and by teaching the principles of right diet to the young.
- Eat whole, unprocessed foods.
- Eat beef, lamb, game, organ meats, poultry and eggs from pasture-fed animals.
- Eat wild fish (not farm-raised), fish eggs and shellfish from unpolluted waters.
- Eat full-fat milk products from pasture-fed cows, preferably raw and/or fermented, such as raw milk, whole yogurt, kefir, cultured butter, full-fat raw cheeses and fresh and sour cream.
- Use animal fats, such as lard, tallow, egg yolks, cream and butter liberally.
- Use only traditional vegetable oils—extra virgin olive oil, expeller-expressed sesame oil, small amounts of expeller-expressed flax oil, and the tropical oils—coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil.
- Take cod liver oil regularly to provide at least 10,000 IU vitamin A and 1,000 IU vitamin D per day.
- Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably organic. Use vegetables in salads and soups, or lightly steamed with butter.
- Use whole grains, legumes and nuts that have been prepared by soaking, sprouting or sour leavening to neutralize phytic acid, enzyme inhibitors and other anti-nutrients.
- Include enzyme-rich lacto-fermented vegetables, fruits, beverages and condiments in your diet on a regular basis.
- Prepare homemade stocks from the bones of pastured chicken, beef and lamb fed non-GMO feed, and wild fish, and use liberally in soups, stews, gravies and sauces.
- Use filtered water for cooking and drinking.
- Use unrefined salt and a variety of herbs and spices for food interest and appetite stimulation.
- Make your own salad dressing using raw vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and a small amount of expeller-expressed flax oil.
- Use traditional sweeteners in moderation, such as raw honey, maple syrup, maple sugar, date sugar, dehydrated cane sugar juice (sold as Rapadura) and stevia powder.
- Use only unpasteurized wine or beer in strict moderation with meals.
- Cook only in stainless steel, cast iron, glass or good quality enamel.
- Use only natural, food-based supplements.
- Get plenty of sleep, exercise and natural light.
- Think positive thoughts and practice forgiveness.
- Do not eat commercially processed foods such as cookies, cakes, crackers, TV dinners, soft drinks, packaged sauce mixes, etc. Read labels!
- Avoid all refined sweeteners such as sugar, dextrose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup and fruit juices.
- Avoid white flour, white flour products and white rice.
- Avoid all hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats and oils.
- Avoid all industrial polyunsaturated vegetable oils made from soy, corn, safflower, canola or cottonseed.
- Avoid foods cooked or fried in polyunsaturated oils or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.
- Do not practice veganism. Animal products provide vital nutrients not found in plant foods.
- Avoid products containing protein powders as they usually contain carcinogens or damaged proteins formed during processing. Likewise, avoid lean meat, skinless poultry, reduced-fat milk and egg whites without the yolks. Consumption of protein without the cofactors occurring in animal fats can lead to deficiencies, especially of vitamin A.
- Avoid processed, pasteurized milk; do not consume ultrapasteurized milk products, lowfat milk, skim milk, powdered milk or imitation milk products.
- Avoid factory-farmed eggs, meats and fish.
- Avoid highly processed lunch meats and sausage.
- Avoid rancid and improperly prepared seeds, nuts and grains found in granolas, quick rise breads and extruded breakfast cereals, as they block mineral absorption and cause intestinal distress.
- Avoid canned, sprayed, waxed and irradiated fruits and vegetables. Avoid genetically modified foods (found in most soy, canola and corn products).
- Avoid artificial food additives, especially MSG, hydrolyzed vegetable protein and aspartame, which are neurotoxins. Most soups, sauce and broth mixes and most commercial condiments contain MSG, even if not indicated on the label.
- Avoid caffeine and related substances in coffee, tea and chocolate.
- Avoid aluminum-containing foods such as commercial salt, baking powder and antacids. Do not use aluminum cookware or deodorants containing aluminum.
- Do not drink fluoridated water.
- Avoid synthetic vitamins and foods containing them.
- Avoid distilled liquors.
- Do not use a microwave oven.