My answer has been to apply the principles I learned from the pioneers in the nutrition and natural health field. Perhaps most important is the research and teaching of Weston Price. Dr. Price’s most famous book is Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, first published in 1939. Price traveled the world in the 1920s and ’30s, living amongst and studying people in so-called primitive cultures. He documented in great detail that as long as these people ate their native diets, they lived in splendid good health, with literally none of the medical problems of people eating modern foods.
When Dr. Price interviewed a surgeon named Josef Romeg in Alaska in 1933, Dr. Romeg had been for 35 years caring for both the native people and the settlers who inhabited the seaport trading villages. Price wrote that Romeg told him that in those 35 years, he’d never seen a single case of cancer among the native people living in remote areas where they ate none of the white man’s foods—sugar, flour, canned goods, and vegetable oils. These were what Price called the “foods of commerce,” which the white men traded for animal skins. Dr. Romeg said that when the native Alaskans began eating these refined foods, they became subject to all of the diseases the white men suffered with-dental disease at first, then rheumatoid arthritis and tuberculosis, and after a few years, cancer. Romeg said that he had taken to sending the sick ones back to their native villages, far from the white man’s foods, where they often recovered.
Dr. Price traveled to Switzerland in 1931, to the Loetschental Valley, high in the Swiss Alps. Until just a few months before, when a tunnel had been built, the villages in the Valley had been inaccessible most of the year because of heavy snow, and the people had always lived on their indigenous foods. Price learned that there were no policemen, jails, doctors, or dentists, and no need for them. Meticulous records had been kept for many years about births and deaths in the valley. Price discovered that there had never been a single death from tuberculosis. That’s truly amazing, because in those years, tuberculosis was the leading cause of death throughout the world, including the rest of Switzerland.
Another study of the health and vigor of people living on traditional foods was done by a group of Soviet scientists and doctors who examined large numbers of old people in Georgian Russia, in the Caucusus Mountains, in the 1970s. This is an area that’s renowned for the strength and vigor of its old people. The doctors could find no evidence of the usual chronic diseases in the hundreds of people they studied – no heart disease, no cancer, no intestinal problems, no diabetes, and none of the marked mental decline so typical in cultures eating refined foods.
Fascinating research was done by a Harvard team of scientists and doctors who traveled to southern Africa in the 1970s to study the Kung people in the Kalihari Dessert. About 12% of the people were over 60, about the same percentage as in America at the time. The doctors found no evidence of any chronic disease in any of over 200 people they examined.
Paul Dudley White was President Eisenhower’s personal physician in the fifties when the president had two heart attacks. White was a Harvard educated heart specialist. He’d published a textbook titled Heart Disease in 1943. In that book, Dr. White wrote, “When I graduated from medical school in 1911, I had never heard of coronary thrombosis.”
Now this was the President’s doctor. The reason he’d never heard of coronary thrombosis in 1911 was because the first article about it, detailing four unusual cases of this new phenomenon, was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1912. Coronary thrombosis is a heart attack. This is a modern disease that is caused by refined foods. We don’t call these problems the “diseases of civilization” for nothing!
The point is that diet and disease are intimately related, and so-called “primitive diets” are associated with freedom from modern diseases. My own version of primitive nutrition forms the basis of the type of diet I follow and recommend.
Native people throughout the world followed dietary regimes that were largely dictated by custom, by the wisdom of their ancestors. Price wrote that when he asked native people the reason why they ate the way they did, they invariably replied, “So we can make perfect babies.”
What were the foods that were considered most important for woman and men who wished to conceive a child, for pregnant women, and for growing children? Price studied this in great depth. His answer, based on his careful observations, is that animal source foods were considered absolutely essential in every culture throughout the world. These foods included seafood (fish and shellfish), meats, especially the organs (from wild animals or grass-fed domestic animals), and raw milk, cheese, and butter from grass-fed animals.
Those are the foods that native people everywhere said were most important for their strength and health, and for making perfect babies. These foods all are incredibly rich in fat soluble vitamins A, D, and E, in essential fatty acids, in EPA and DHA, in trace mineral – as well as a host of other nutrients.
Of course, animal fats are supposed to be bad for us. But this is simply not true (see chapter 10, “Cholesterol, Animal Fats and Heart Disease,” of my book The Untold Story of Milk). The healthiest foods in the world come from healthy wild or domestic animals.
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