Primal Info Day 1: Getting back to nature and tradition

Remember back when you first heard that you should no longer be eating butter because it’s got saturated fat in it and saturated fat is bad for you because it causes heart disease? And then they said, use margarine instead? And then you ate it and you were like…”Ew. Gross, this doesn’t taste good.” Maybe you didn’t eat the margarine, but you didn’t go back to eating butter either… Fast forward a few years and now they are saying trans fats are really bad for you and causes heart disease. Well, margarine has those trans fats in them (hydrogenated oils). They are oils that at room temperature are normally liquid, but have been altered by humans to be more solid (like butter) at room temperature. But, in the process of changing the natural properties of this oil, we create these incredibly-dangerous-to-humans trans fats. Now we aren’t supposed to eat margarine either!

I beg to differ with the people who say that butter isn’t healthy. But, I have to admit, it took me a while to get to the point where I can truly feel confident saying that butter actually improves health. So, I understand if it takes you a while, too. I encourage you to read on and dive into some of the resources I provide to probe deeper on your own and come to your own conclusions.

Traditional foods:

Today’s message is not really supposed to be all about butter, it’s mainly to point out how far we humans have strayed from the foods that truly nourish our vibrant health and fitness. I want to introduce you to the idea of Traditional Foods and the Weston A. Price Foundation. Dr. Weston A. Price (1870-1948) was a dentist from Cleveland who was seeing more and more people with tooth decay and physical degeneration and went in search of a solution. He suspected it had something to do with nutrition. He studied those with good, healthy teeth to figure out how to prevent tooth decay and physical degeneration. To find people with healthy teeth, he had to travel the world to find isolated communities of “primitives” like villages in Switzerland, Gaelic communities in the Outer Hebrides, Eskimos and Indians of North America, Melanesian and Polynesian South Sea Islanders, African tribes, Australian Aborigines, New Zealand Maori and the Indians of South America.  All of these people had beautiful straight teeth, no tooth decay, wide faces with strong dental arches, and resistant to disease despite not having access to modern dental care. They didn’t need it!

Each of the human groups he studied lived on traditional diets that consisted of very nutrient dense foods. Typical diets consisted of animal foods like butter, shellfish, fish eggs, and organ meats. When Price analyzed the foods, he found these isolated people groups were consuming at least four times the amount of calcium and other minerals, and at least ten times the amount of fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) than civilized people groups were consuming.

Compared to civilized people who ate nutrient-poor foods like sugar, white flour, pasteurized milk, and processed foods filled with additives and stabilizers, the “primitives” had stronger bodies, better reproduction, emotional stability, and weren’t stricken with degenerative diseases.

In his book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Price documents his conclusions and discoveries on what happens when human groups incorporate a diet of modern foods and give up their nourishing traditional diets.

You can find more information about Dr. Price and the Foundation that seeks to educate people on the doctor’s research at www.westonaprice.org. They even have a section addressing veganism and vegetarianism in regards to the animal based diet.

What did they eat?

Traditionally, before agricultural development, humans were hunter/gatherers with a diet based mostly on animal foods with some fruit, veggies, nuts, and seeds mixed in. Anthropologists have studied the bones of these hunter-gatherers and amazingly, the hunter-gatherers had superior health and longevity compared to people who cultivated their own crops. Many people argue that humans were created to subsist on mostly animal based foods. And even though we have access to lots of other foods like grains and legumes, we may not benefit from consuming them. I suggest reading this post by Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple. It sums things up really nicely.

One thing that I find particularly interesting, being the science geek that I am, is that isolated people groups that Dr. Price studied knew instinctively or anecdotally which foods were of value without any scientific studies or research or nutritional analysis. Just something to ponder…

So, now we live in a world where we are bombarded with advertisements and store shelves filled with modern convenience foods that have an ingredient list of things that we cannot pronounce. And we have been trained to look for “whole grains” on those ingredient lists and that those are healthy. We will talk more about grains tomorrow…

The problem with all of these processed foods is that they are replacing all of the nutrient-dense foods that we should be consuming to achieve optimum health and vitality.

It may seem like a world without convenience foods would be a starving world, but trust me when I say that humans have been around for a very very long time, and convenience foods have not. On the day God created the plants and animals, he did not create a fast food restaurant.

So here are a few resources you can look at to dig further into this topic:

http://robbwolf.com/

http://balancedbites.com/

http://cavegirleats.com/paleo-primal-weston-a-price/

If all of this info seems a little overwhelming, that’s normal. Just keep seeking out information and it will all start to make sense. It definitely will once you feel the difference pulling away from the processed foods makes. I’ll see you tomorrow with more on the specifics of what to eat!

Have a great day!

Danah

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