By Dean Perry, R.Ac, NTP
The chef Julia Child, who lived a vibrant life into her 90’s, famously said, “If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.” But her advice doesn’t make sense to a lot of us. Aren’t butter and cream unhealthy? What is a truly healthy diet? What foods keep us well-nourished, vibrant and healthy? Today we are all confused about what to eat. Each new food guide, diet book, and health fad makes our food choices more and more confusing. Try as we might, are we healthier following this every-changing advice? Unfortunately, we are not according to the statistics. In the early 1960s, 4% of Americans had a chronic disease, but by 2015, 46% of American children had a chronic disease according to Dr. Zach Bush, triple-board certified M.D. Today, diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, cancer, and heart disease rates continue to rise. So what has changed and what is contributing to this alarming decline in health? Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, considered to be the father of medicine, claimed, “Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.” So let’s take a look back at food—back to the wisdom of our ancestors—and gain some insights into attaining good health.
Dr. Weston Price, a Cleveland dentist working in the beginning of the 20th century noticed that cavities and crooked teeth were becoming more and more common. He began a series of unique investigations, travelling the world in the Thirties to study the health of populations untouched by Western civilization. He visited and lived with people in remote villages in Switzerland; Gaelic communities in the Outer Hebrides; indigenous peoples of North and South America, Africa, Australia, New Zealand; and South Sea Islanders. Across the board, he found people with exceptional health and strong resistance to disease. These populations had straight, strong teeth, robust physiques, and exceptional health. Analyzing their foods, he found diets that provided four times the amount of water-soluble vitamins, calcium and other minerals as well as ten times the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. He discovered that dental cavities and crooked teeth were the result of nutritional deficiencies, not inherited genetic defects. And, most important, he found that when people abandoned their traditional diets for modern food, cavities, crooked teeth and declining health developed. His discoveries and conclusions are documented in his textbook, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, still relevant today.
Dr. Price learned that while diets varied greatly by location, climate and geography, there were shared characteristics of all the traditional diets. Let’s look at some of these commonalities and begin to relearn the wisdom of our ancestors, reclaiming our health through a truly nourishing diet.
Characteristics of Traditional Diets
The diets of healthy peoples living in non-industrialized communities contained no refined or denatured foods, such as refined sugar, flour, and oils; no synthetic vitamins; and no pasteurized, homogenized or low-fat milk.
Diets always included some animal foods and included all parts of the animal; they ate “nose to tail.”
Food contained at least four times the minerals and water-soluble vitamins and ten times the fat-soluble vitamins of the American diet of Dr. Price’s time.
All traditional cultures consumed both cooked and raw foods.
Traditional diets had a high content of enzyme-rich foods and beneficial bacteria from fermented vegetables, fruits, beverages, dairy, meats, fish and condiments.
Seeds, grains and nuts were soaked, sprouted, fermented or naturally leavened to neutralize naturally occurring anti-nutrients, such as enzyme inhibitors, tannins and phytic acid.
Total dietary fat varied from 30% to 80% of calories. The majority of fat calories came in the form of saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids with only about 4% coming from naturally occurring polyunsaturated oils.
Traditional diets contained nearly equal amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids.
All traditional diets included salt.
All traditional diets made use of animal bones, usually in the form of bone broths.
Traditional cultures made provisions for the health of future generations by providing special nutrient-rich foods for parents-to-be and growing children.
So what do these traditional dietary characteristics mean for you? What do healthy dietary guidelines look like? How can you create a nourishing diet in this modern world - a diet best suited to you, your state of health and for your health goals? This is exactly what I do as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner: I start with a detailed health history and evaluation. Then we develop a comprehensive plan to guide you to the healthiest you. And, yes, we will discuss butter and cream.
Dean is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and Registered Acupuncturist at the reactive health Charlottetown Office.
To book in with Dean for a Nutritional assessment you can book online here
To call or email you can reach us at:
☎️ (902) 370-3146