What Do We Eat?
Instead of chasing the latest fad diet, the best way to find out what to eat is to go back and look what traditional cultures ate. Weston Price studied the remnants of primitive cultures there were still present in the early 1900s. He found that the foods of modern industry quickly lead to physical degeneration that was documented in his book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration published in 1939.
The Importance of Nutrient Intake From Traditional Foods
Our body is designed to be unsatisfied if the diet is lacking in critical nutrients. The craving for food is an instinct placed for survival in an extreme environment. This is why obesity often results from switching to the modern died of processed foods (this craving cannot be overcome with will power). The major elements missing from the modern diet have been documented. Many critical nutrients have been found to be deficient in over 50% of our population.
#1 Vitamin A: Dr. Price found that the primitive diet had 10 times more animal-source vitamin A in the diet than a processed foods diet.
#2 Vitamin D: There is a documented epidemic of low vitamin D levels in the population of the United States and other industrialized countries.
#3 Vitamin K2: This vitamin is derived from the action of animal metabolism on green grass.”I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle and you well eat and be satisfied” (d 11:15). There is evidence of widespread deficiency.
#4 Minerals: Many minerals like calcium, magnesium, iodine, and zinc are now deficient in the soil and thus have become low in our foods, thus in our bodies. This results from monoagriculture and getting away from traditional agriculture where the land is replenished. Modern food processing also removes these minerals.
#5 Healthy fats: The omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA levels are deficient in up to 80% of the population. Modern confinement feeding operations have dramatically lowered the omega-3 content of animal foods and increase the omega 6 content. An optimal ratio omega 6 to omega 3 is 2:1 for humans and our modern diet usually contains more like 20:1. Another problem with fats as it we have traded the natural saturated fats that are healthy for man-made, saturated trans-fats which cause disease. Saturated fats constitute up to 50% of the cell membrane in every cell in our body. Saturated fats are also the preferred energy source for the heart. Human breast milk is over 50 % saturated fats; that fact alone can tell us about its safety and benefits.
#6 Enzymes: the catalyst for life. Enzymes optimize all biochemical reactions in the body including energy production and detoxification. Without digestive enzymes we could not survive. Modern food processing which optimizes shelf life is done so at the expense of having any intact enzymes. Studies in dogs show that if all their food is cooked, the pancreas becomes hypertrophied and their brains and testicles tend to shrink. All healthy primitive cultures had a portion of their diet that contained active enzymes.
#7 Phytonutrients: present in fruits and vegetables. These are needed for antioxidant and detoxification functions in the body. There is a huge body of scientific evidence of multiple health benefits. I recommend 2 cups of leafy greens, 2 cups of cruciferous vegetables and 2 cups of colored fruits, berries and vegetables per day if possible. Juicing these is a good option to make them more digestible. Some vegetables should be cooked (like the cruciferous).
#8 Symbiotic organisms: Consideration of the Microbiome. Recent estimates, gleaned from the field of genome testing, shows that we have been underestimating the number of microorganisms that live with us—or in other words, our ecology. The NIH Human Microbiome Project has allocated 113 million dollars to study this because the Microbiome effects on health are basically unknown. So far they have found that the total number of organisms far outnumbers our own cells by a factor of 10-to-one. The number of genes associated with these organisms may out number our own genes 100-to-one. You can wait the five to fifty years before they understand even a tiny fraction of the Microbiome’s effect on health, or you can assume that it’s critically important, just like having our solar system in the correct position in the spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy to prevent its destruction. There is a growing body of evidence that flora in the gut is very important and that probiotics have been successfully used, even by mainstream medicine, for irritable bowel syndrome and antibiotic caused diarrhea.
Studies at Duke University on premature infants show that those with the most diverse flora are more resistant to disease. There are other areas of health that have been shown to be improved with probiotics. One is urinary health and prevention of urinary tract infections. A study of pregnant women taking probiotics significantly reduced the occurrence of eczema in their babies which is brought on by allergies. Studies have shown a reduction of vaginal yeast and bacterial infections with the use of probiotics.
By taking in living organisms, as opposed to dead ones, have been shown to stimulate the immune system more when comparing fermented dairy with pasteurized milk. A recent study of Amish farmers showed their children had far fewer allergies than city kids. One of the researchers suggested it might be the ingestion of raw milk.
A study at Stanford University found that obese people had different gut bacteria that normal weight people which gives us an indication that gut flora plays a role in weight management as well. There are a few studies that suggest that giving probiotics after weight loss surgery helps the patient maintain their weight.
Suggested Sources of Living Organisms
- Plain yogurt
- Raw milk (goat, sheep, cow)
- Kombucha tea
- Dirt (soil based organisms)
#9 Proper preparation of grains and seeds: Seeds and nuts contain antinutrients to keep them from sprouting. If these foods are consumed without removal it will ultimately be detrimental to our health. Soaking seeds and nuts in a slightly acidic environment will inactivate the natural preservatives and unleash the seed’s nutritional potential. All traditional cultures practiced soaking, sprouting, leavening and fermenting grains throughout the ages. Modern farming techniques, milling and food preparation have turned bread from being the staff of life to a toxin. Add to this the fact that modern breakfast cereals are created by an extrusion process that denatures the protein by extreme pressure and temperature and are best avoided.
#10 Hidden infections. Many people have chronic infections, that unless addressed, they may never have full health. This can be from viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites. By adhering to the Natural Foods Diet you will strengthen your immune system to fight off the pathogenic critters. When you have persistent symptoms despite detoxing and a good diet, you may want to see a natural medicine physician to try to identify and treat infections.
#11 Food additives: Modern foods now contain chemical additives to deceive our taste buds and artificial colors to deceive our eyes. An example is MSG that has been found to be in excitotoxin that causes brain damage in animals. This is found in most processed foods but is hidden in the ingredients list under disguised names such as hydrolyzed vegetable protein, soy lecithin, natural flavoring, spices, yeast extract, textured protein, gelatin, sodium caseinate, and others. Without MSG, these processed foods would not taste good and we would avoid eating them. It is interesting that the timing of our current obesity epidemic coincides with the increased use of MSG.