What Traditional Diets Taught Us about Nutrition

real food

In the 1930s, there was a Cleveland dentist named Weston A. Price who traveled to isolated parts of the earth to study the health of peoples untouched by western civilization.  His goal was to figure out what factors were responsible for their excellent dental health.  His studies revealed that dental cavities and malformed dental arches resulting in crowded, crooked teeth are the result of NUTRITIONAL DEFICIENCIES, not inherited genetic defects.

Mamas, this is HUGE.  Did you read what I just wrote?  

He found that nutritional deficiencies are the cause of narrow faces, crowded teeth and cavities.  WOW.

So why would that be?

After analyzing the diets eaten by these populations, he found that in comparison to the American diet in the 1930s, they provided at least FOUR times the water-soluble vitamins, calcium and other minerals, and at least TEN times the fat-soluble vitamins.  These came from animal foods such as butter, fish eggs, shellfish, organ meats, eggs, and animal fats (the cholesterol-rich foods now shunned by the general American population as unhealthful).  

The healthy traditional people knew instinctively what scientists in the 1930s had recently discovered - these fat soluble vitamins (vitamins A and D) were essential to health because they acted as catalysts to mineral absorption and protein utilization.

I have to repeat that.  Vitamins A and D in traditional diets significantly enhance mineral absorption and protein utilization.  Without them, we can't absorb minerals, no matter how many there are in what we eat.

Dr. Weston Price also discovered another fat-soluble nutrient that he called Activator X, that is present in fish livers and shellfish, and organ meats and butter from cows eating rapidly growing green grass.  All primitive peoples had a source of Activator X, now thought to be vitamin K2, in their diets.

Dr. Price found similarities between all the healthy populations he studied.

The Characteristics of Traditional Diets
© The Weston A. Price Foundation

  1. The diets of healthy primitive and nonindustrialized peoples contain no refined or denatured foods such as refined sugar or corn syrup; white flour; canned foods; pasteurized, homogenized, skim or low-fat milk; refined or hydrogenated vegetable oils; protein powders; artificial vitamins or toxic additives and colorings.

  2. All traditional cultures consume some sort of animal protein and fat from fish and other seafood; water and land fowl; land animals; eggs; milk and milk products; reptiles; and insects.

  3. Primitive diets contain at least four times the calcium and other minerals and TEN times the fat soluble vitamins from animal fats (vitamin A, vitamin D and the Price Factor–now believed to be vitamin K2) as the average American diet.

  4. In all traditional cultures, some animal products are eaten raw.

  5. Primitive and traditional diets have a high food-enzyme content from raw dairy products, raw meat and fish; raw honey; tropical fruits; cold-pressed oils; wine and unpasteurized beer; and naturally preserved, lacto-fermented vegetables, fruits, beverages, meats and condiments.

  6. Seeds, grains and nuts are soaked, sprouted, fermented or naturally leavened in order to neutralize naturally occuring antinutrients in these foods, such as phytic acid, enzyme inhibitors, tannins and complex carbohydrates.

  7. Total fat content of traditional diets varies from 30% to 80% but only about 4% of calories come from polyunsaturated oils naturally occurring in grains, pulses, nuts, fish, animal fats and vegetables. The balance of fat calories is in the form of saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids.

  8. Traditional diets contain nearly equal amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids.

  9. All primitive diets contain some salt.

  10. Traditional cultures consume animal bones, usually in the form of gelatin-rich bone broths.

  11. Traditional cultures make provisions for the health of future generations by providing special nutrient-rich 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. 

Fascinating, isn't it?

This is how traditional populations ate to produce robust, strong children with healthy mouths.  Knowing that, shouldn't we strive to eat more like this?  I sure think so.  

While he's still growing,  I want to make sure I get vitamin A, D, and K2 into my son's diet along with properly prepared healthy organic foods.  

I want to make sure he eats this way and learns the value of proper nutrition before he leaves home and is out on his own. 


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