We started on real food over 3 years ago because it made sense from a stand point of eating foods as close to the way God designed them as possible. At that time, we didn’t get the entire food and health correlation. A few months into our real food transition we began to have physical improvements. This totally spurred us on to continue the journey to real food.
I do have to admit that while we have had some great health results from our real food journey that still hasn’t been the main focus for us. We have been very fortunate that we have not had severe health issues that we needed to alleviate. Joe and I both had been ‘diagnosed’ with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS- a diagnosis given when nothing else can be found) but nothing that was life threatening. It was somewhat ‘quality’ of life threatening though. On our real food diet we rarely have symptoms but straying from our real food diet brings on the symptoms.
While I still have much to learn in the area of nutrition and diet I am fully convinced that by changing from eating a diet based on processed, low fat, high carb, white sugar, white flour dishes to a diet based on real/whole/traditional foods we can drastically improve our health.
For the last several weeks we’ve been reading through Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston Price. We’ve looked at the varied diets of many native cultures. We’ve seen a variety of different cultures who have access to different foods but by relying on what is available in its whole form were able to have wonderful dental and physical health.
Chapter 15: Characteristics of Primitive and Modernized Diets
This chapter gives a general overview of the different people that Dr. Price studied on his journey and the focal foods enjoyed by each.
“There are certain characteristics of the various dietaries of the primitive races, which are universally present when that dietary program is associated with a high immunity to disease and freedom from deformities. In general, these are the foods that provide adequate sources of body-building and body-repairing material.”
What did we see that every native culture consumed? Animal products. Not always at each and every meal but these were included in the diet. Dr. Price did not find one completely vegetarian society. Also of importance, these animals would have been on native pasture and/or free range (think wild). The sea food would have been wild caught not grown in tanks. For the cultures that consumed dairy, the dairy was full fat, unpasteurized and not homogenized.
The excerpt below for Chapter 15 is an example of a problem with skim milk (and white flour).
“A minister in an industrial section of our city, during the period of severe depression, telephoned me stating that he had just been called to baptize a dying child. The child was not dead although almost constantly in convulsions. He thought the condition was probably nutritional and asked if he could bring the boy to the office immediately. The boy was badly emaciated, had rampant tooth decay, one leg in a cast, a very bad bronchial cough and was in and out of convulsions in rapid succession. His convulsions had been getting worse progressively during the past eight months. His leg had been fractured two or three months previously while walking across the room when he fell in one of his convulsions. No healing had occurred. His diet consisted of white bread and skimmed milk. For mending the fracture the boy needed minerals, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. His convulsions were due to a low calcium content of the blood. All of these were in the skimmed milk for the butter-fat removed in the cream contains no calcium nor phosphorus, except traces. The program provided was a change from the white flour bread to wheat gruel made from freshly ground wheat and the substitution of whole milk for skimmed milk, with the addition of about a teaspoonful of a very high vitamin butter with each feeding. He was given this meal that evening when he returned to his home. He slept all night without a convulsion. He was fed the same food five times the next day and did not have a convulsion. He proceeded rapidly to regain his health without recurrence of his convulsions. In a month the fracture was united.”
What kind of health improvements could the children of today experience with simple changes to their diet? Obviously we are not on the right path for our children’s health with our Standard American Diet! Just about every time the news comes on we are told of another health issue or epidemic overcoming our children.
How many of these are diet related?
Chapter 16: Primitive Control of Dental Caries
We saw in the previous chapters that the people on native diets had very little evidence of tooth decay. We also saw that when modern foods were introduced (white flour, white sugar, canned goods) the tooth decay increased.
Can we decrease tooth decay by reducing or eliminating these modern foods from our diet?
Before we started on our real food journey, my husband visited the dentist for the first time in several years. He returned home with a rather poor report. He needed two root canals, caps and 14 cavities filled. With our ‘wonderful’ dental insurance the dentist put a plan together to start with one root canal (at that time, we didn’t know of the dangers associated with root canals), the seond would come later, then the caps and then move on to filling the cavities the following year.
Joe had the root canal done but our life circumstances changed and we didn’t have dental insurance when the next year came to move forward with the rest. It was during that time that we changed our diet. When we got settled in Wyoming and once again had dental insurance, Joe went back to the dentist. We had been transitioning to a real food diet for over a year at this point.
This dentist still wanted to do the second root canal but only found 2 cavities instead of the original 14. We didn’t know enough at that point to really put together the diet and dental health relationship (we just thought the original dentist didn’t know how to read x-rays) but now it makes sense.
Dr. Price did an experiment of sorts in which he took a group of children and fed them one nourishing meal a day for 6 days each week. On just that one nourishing meal a day the saliva tests showed that it would be unlikely for tooth decay to develop. In addition, a couple of the children had behaviour improvements. This improvement was with no change in their meals at home or their home dental care, just the one nourishing meal each day.
Also detailed in this chapter are other people that are placed on a nutritional program that included butter oil and cod liver oil. He found that while the people were on this program their dental health improved (and in some cases they had marked physical improvements). When the program was stopped they developed cavities.
This chapter provides some great details on the quality of the foods we consume. Even in the 1930’s there were issues with poor nutrition associated with missing minerals and cows not being nourished properly. I would imagine the problem is even more abundant now with our increased use of fertilizers and GMO products.
“As I study routinely the sample dietaries being used by people suffering from dental caries, usually associated with other disturbances, I find large numbers who are not getting in their food even half the minimum requirements of calcium, phosphorus and magnesium and iron and usually only a fraction of the minimum requirements of the fat-soluble vitamins. These latter have a role which in many respects is like the battery of an automobile which provides the spark for igniting the fuel. Even though the tank is filled with gasoline there is no power without the igniting spark.”
So what did Dr. Price suggest we do?
“There are two programs now available for meeting the dental caries problem. One is to know first in detail all the physical and chemical factors involved and then proceed. The other is to know how to prevent the disease as the primitives have shown and then proceed. The former is largely the practice of the moderns. The latter is the program suggested by these investigations.”
I’m in agreement with Dr. Price. Learning how to prevent disease as evidenced by the native cultures makes sense. I believe Dr. Prices’ journeys shows that there is not one ‘perfect’ diet. I also believe that his studies really show the dangers of processed foods, white flour, white sugar and other modern conveniences. I’ve read that people think Dr. Price’s data is flawed. I admit that I don’t know much about that. It seems pretty evident to me that a diet based on real/whole/traditional foods leads to improved dental and physical health. My families experience reinforces this opinion.
My family’s journey continues. Not just our real food journey but our journey toward learning how real foods can lead to optimum health.
Have you experienced a correlation between what you eat and how you feel? What is your biggest challenge toward achieving optimum health?