Can we have the incredible health of our ancestors in the 21st century?


I’ve had a fantastic couple of days listening to Sally Fallon and her husband, Geoffrey.  Sally Fallon founded the Weston A price foundation and is a world expert on traditional food preparation.  Yesterday, we had a great day at the Te Aranga Marae, the site of my nutritional intervention that featured on 60 minutes a couple of years back.  Pictured below is Sally and Geoffrey with two good friends of mine, NZ local hero award winner, Henare O’Keefe and Des Ratima.  And a picture of us talking after.

Geoffry_and_friends

 

ben_and_sally

Characteristics of Traditional Diets according to the Weston A Price foundation (www.westonaprice.org)

  1. The diets of healthy, non-industrialized 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 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 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.
  3. The diets of healthy, non-industrialized 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 vitamin K2–Price’s “Activator X”) as the average American diet.
  4. All traditional cultures cooked some of their food but all consumed a portion of their animal foods raw.
  5. Primitive and traditional diets have a high content of food enzymes and beneficial bacteria from lacto-fermented vegetables, fruits, beverages, dairy products, meats and condiments.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Traditional diets contain nearly equal amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids.
  9. All traditional diets contain some salt.
  10. All traditional cultures make use of 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 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.

The only supplement that Sally believes we need is cod liver oil.   The product she recommends is Green Pastures Blue Ice Fermented Cod liver oil (this can be purchased through the BePure store).   I completely agree that we need more Omega 3 in our diet, the modern diet is heavily skewed towards excess omega 6 and maintaining the balance between Omega 3’s and 6’s is essential for control of inflammation (as noted in characteristic #8).  Cod liver oil is a great source of fat soluble vitamins A and D and therefore also fits perfectly with characteristic #3 of traditional diets.

We know that traditional cultures were in fact incredibly healthy, many cultures had no words for today’s modern diseases.  For example, the Hawaiians had no native words for any chronic diseases.   I know, some people say…  Well maybe they didn’t know they were dying from a heart attack, sure they might not have a word for ‘heart attack‘ but I’m sure they would have developed a word for ‘sudden pain the chest and then you are dead’!  The Maori in New Zealand had no cancer, the early European Doctors were studying them to find out why they were “immune” to cancer.  The cure for cancer is known, a clean environment and great nutrition!  There’s no doubt, traditional diets were and are the healthiest for sustaining life, it’s been proven through thousands of years.

Unfortunately, and fortunately we live in a very different world to our ancestors….

 

Modern lifestyle increases need for nutrition….

Traditional lifestyles were more relaxed than today, there’s no doubt they had there fair share of stress.  But a good friend of  mine who lived with different traditional tribes around the world for 2 years told me that in his experience they basically only work 4 hours a day, in the morning, and sit around under a shady tree all afternoon…sounds great to me!  The harder you push your body, the more stress you are under, the more vitamins and minerals your body uses.  In time of stress your body uses more B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium and zinc just to name a few.  I believe most of us in the western world are living beyond our nutritional limits, the evidence of stimulant use like caffeine and refined carbohydrates are good examples of the crutches people are using to deal with the day to day load of stressors.  The harder you push your mind and body the more nutrients you need!  It makes me wonder where people are getting these nutrients from considering their diets and lack of supplementation.

Modern farming increases need for minerals….

Many of the healthy traditional diets had access to mineral dense foods, whether that was seafood (the ocean is the biggest source of ionic minerals), even healthy inland cultures like the Hunza – had access to minerals, they irrigated their fields with mineral rich glacier water and carried the river bed soils up to their fields.  It is well established that modern agriculture is stripping the top soil of essential trace minerals, and nobody is paying the farmers enough to remineralise the soils.  Hence, the foods we are eating are becoming more and more deficient in minerals.   Minerals are key enzyme cofactors, I see mineral deficiencies as a common factor in many peoples health complaints, from fatigue to depression and sleep issues.

Modern food convenience means we get less nutrients…..

Traditional diets were based on eating fresh or fermented fruits and vegetables (since no refrigeration was available to them).  Fresh and fermented foods retain the highest amount of water soluble vitamins.  Water soluble vitamins in fruit and vegetables are very unstable. In fact, as soon as you’ve picked them or unplugged them from the ground they start deteriorating.  To the extent that after 4 days after being harvested up to 80% of the water soluble vitamins (B’s and C are lost).  With the average age of fruits and vegetables in the supermarket being 2 weeks old, it’s easy to see why people feel better when they take a B vitamin supplement – seeing that they are most likely deficient even when eating lots of fruit and vegetables.

Modern eating eliminates the most nutrient dense foods….

Traditional cultures went out of their way to get nutrient dense foods.  Eating organs, glands and special parts of animals, such as the eyes, to maximise nutritional intake.  One healthy isolated culture Dr. Price visited in Scotland ate fish heads stuffed with cod liver and oats for breakfast, a far cry from today’s breakfast choices.  Organs, particularly the liver, is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet, unfortunately many people in the modern world simply cannot stomach eating such foods and are therefore missing out on the incredible nutritional benefits from doing so.  For example, eyes are known to be a great source of lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants vital to our own eye health due to the fact they protect the  eye from UVB radiation.  As most modern people are not eating these foods, they need to make sure they are getting these nutrients from other sources.

Environmental toxins increase need for micronutrients….

Traditional peoples lived in a relatively pristine environment. lets face it organic food didn’t exist, because that’s all there was!  We know that environmental toxins block enzyme function and increase the need for antioxidants, minerals and vitamins needed by the liver for detoxification of these toxins.  The modern world is full of environmental toxin exposure, from PCB’s and Dioxins from plastics to heavy metals mobilised in the soil by acidic fertilisers – they are simply everywhere, you cannot escape them!  All you can do is support your body’s system’s for dealing with them, which means more minerals, vitamins and antioxidants.

Polymorphism of genes means we need more nutrients for enzymes to function optimally….

As our gene expression is diluted by poor nutrition by our parents, physical characteristics change (narrower jaw, nasal passages etc) and internal gene expression become less efficient.  For example, I have what is believed to be a genetic (or epigenetic) polymorphism in my liver enzymes meaning they don’t work as efficiently as they should.  Therefore, I need to take 40,000% the RDA of B12 to up regulate my enzymes to work at the optimal level to protect me from inflammation and heart disease.  This is potentially quite common, but most people simply do not know….

 

There’s no doubt that an ancestral diet to your own individual macronutrient needs should be the basis of your nutrition.  But on top of this, we need to the lay a foundation of broad spectrum supplementation to ensure our micronutrient needs are met. Hence, I recommend nutritional supplementation of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants something like what’s found in found in BePure ONE is perfect.  Even research published in the ultra conservative Journal of the American Medical Association recommend that adults should take a multi-vitamin, mineral supplement daily.  It’s very difficult to even get the recommended daily allowances from diet alone, let alone the optimal amounts.

The Weston A Price foundation diet is a fantastic basis for nutrition – and they are firmly entrenched in the BePure principles – but to truly have incredible health in the 21st century – there’s so much more to it….

God bless Dr. Price and the Western A Price Foundation for their passion in helping people have healthy lives.  And thanks.

In health and happiness

Ben Warren

 

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  1. #1 by Ben on April 4, 2012 - 10:23 pm

      

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