Tag Archives: Nutrition

Weston A Price and a traditional diet

Weston A Price

One of the biggest influences of my beliefs about nutrition comes from the work done by a man named Weston A Price. He was a dentist from Cleveland in America. At the beginning of the 20th century Price was getting presented with an increasing number of people with dental cavities and physical degeneration. This he considered was due to a shift in the way food was being manufactured and the type of food people were consuming. In a short space of time people were beginning to consume more refined sugars, flours and processed foods. Local agricultural practices were being replaced by larger industrialised food processing methods.

In his search for answers to best practice, Price decided to visit the most isolated and primitive communities in the world that were free from western influences to study their diet and see how this impacted the quality of their teeth and their health in general.

Price studied isolated mountain people in Switzerland, island communities in the Outer Hebrides, members of the Maasai tribe and other African peoples, native Americans, the Inuit populations, Australian Aborigines and some South American tribes.

What Price discovered and this should come as no surprise to anyone was that these populations who rigidly their unprocessed, traditional foods had exceptional levels of health.

He found that these peoples who enjoyed an unrefined, unprocessed diet consumed an incredibly higher amount of vitamins and minerals than those consuming the manufactured and processed foods. They were robust and healthy, they had wide jaws and a full set of teeth with zero to no cavities. They had strong resistance to tuberculosis which was rampant at the time and showed no signs of the modern diseases which were becoming prevalent in western societies around the world. He also noticed that when the natives began eating foods other than those they traditionally ate, thing began to go wrong.  Once strong and healthy individual exposed to manufactured sugary, flour based foods with vegetable oils were sick more often and showed far less immunity to disease. They also displayed extremely deformed teeth structure.

Difference in teeth

What was interesting was that the diets varied in terms macronutrients content, I.e. the amount of protein, fat and carbohydrate but what was critical was the fact that the all foods were unprocessed, unrefined and ‘organic’.

If milk was consumed, it was raw or cultured. Animal sources were of huge importance and the whole animal was eaten, including organ meats and bones for broth. Animals were reared in their natural habitat and not extensively farmed or given foods to fatten them, Any grains consumed were whole grains and were only used after soaking or fermenting. All fruits and vegetables were grown naturally without artificial fertiliser or herbicide and eaten in season.

Many of the diets did have large quantities of fat compared to modern diets. The Inuit people consumed up to 80 per cent of their diet from animal fat (sea mammals, fish, land animals and birds) and very little fruit and vegetables due to the nature of the harsh cold climate. This high consumption of fat might scare the hell of most of us today but these people had no cancer, obesity, heart disease, cognitive disfunction or infertility. Unfortunately since then, they have been exposed to many of the ‘great’ new manufactured foods of western society and their once successful social structure and health has begun to unravel. Diabetes and obesity is extremely common amongst modern Inuit and they are succumbing to the diseases which are prevalent in western society.

Nutrition and physical degeneration

The main message that Weston Price tried to convey in his book ‘Nutrition and Physical Degeneration’ was that a diet full of nutrient dense foods was critical to maintaining optimum health. These traditional foods were chock full of vitamins and minerals and this ensured that the bodies who consumed them were free from strong and free from illness.

Take home message: most of us do not live on an isolated island or a jungle tribe so we will be exposed to ‘bad’ foods on a regular basis. To best ensure we maximise the quality of the food we consume we can try to follow some of these principals.

1. Eat in season, organically grown, locally produced fruit and vegetables.

2. Eat beef, lamb, game, organ meats, poultry, eggs from pasture raised animals.

3. Eat full fat milk products from pasture fed cows, raw milk, yogurt, cheese.

4. Use animal fats such as butter liberally. (Not margarine or pretend butter crap!)

5. Eat whole unprocessed foods.

For a full list of recommendations you can read the Weston A Price homepage.

http://www.westonaprice.org/basics/principles-of-healthy-diets

 

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Where has it all gone wrong?

With all the technological developments that have taken place in the world over the past hundred years, the human population has gone through a period of incredible growth. An abundant and readily accessible food supply has enabled us to multiply like never before. We are living longer here in Ireland than ever but are we healthier?

Irish life expectancy

Are we living a life full of energy and vitality into our late years or are we barely surviving?

Modern advancement in medicine has been remarkable and has enabled us to treat many ailments and increase our lifespan. Despite these advances in medicine, chronic disease is not abating, rather it is speeding up.

According to the book ‘The Health Delusion’,

  • more than one in three has cardiovascular disease
  • one in six has high cholesterol
  • six out of ten has high blood pressure
  • one out of ten has diabetes  and almost 4 out those 10 may be on the verge of diabetes
  • two out every five will be diagnosed with cancer at some stage in their lives

More than half our 50’s are currently living with two or more chronic diseases (diabetes, stroke and coronary heart disease) and this figure is likely to dramatically increase by the end of the decade.

http://www.thejournal.ie/chronic-disease-1119276-Oct2013/

Are we supposed to be sick? Why is this happening? What can we do to reduce our chances and our family’s chances of being one of these chronic illness statistics?

Many of us go through life with a blinkered approach. We eat and drink what is socially acceptable, consume processed crap that is advertised as food in the media and follow outdated and misguided government guidelines. We assume that if it’s in a pack, it must be ok to eat and we do not take responsibility for our own health and wellness.

Then BOOM!…suddenly we get sick. We wonder why and blame bad luck!

Sickness

We don’t just get sick by accident, there isn’t a magic illness dice that spins and suddenly lands on us. We get sick because our body is struggling to deal with problems brought on by environmental, physical, mental or emotional stresses. These stresses are determined by our nutrition and lifestyle and our interaction with the world around us. In nearly all cases we are in control of these factors!

Genetics also play a role and this why our own health as parents plays a huge role in the makeup of our future kids. Any sicknesses we have will be transported in our genes to our future offspring making them more susceptible. It is a blue print for our children. If your parents had any chronic disease such diabetes or heart disease, you will have a higher risk factor of contracting these illnesses as you grow older. Epigenetics though suggest there are switches in our genetic make up that can be turned on or off based on our dietary and environmental choices. Therefore just because your parent had diabetes or heart disease doesn’t mean you will have it too.

My belief is that we can all shape the destiny of our lives and live healthier and happier lives.

Illness/health

What factors can determine our likelihood of contracting disease?

  • Nutrition – eating a diet full of sugar, refined grains, trans fats, additives and alcohol can lead to huge problems. Alternatively eating foods that are locally sourced, minimally processed, nutrient dense plant and whole animal foods, nuts, seeds and good fats can be like medicine for our body and enable it to function the way it was designed.
  • Exercise – sedentary lifestyles are a recipe for disaster. An increased risk of obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease are just some of the dangers. There is a magic solution – move more! Sitting for hours on end can be detrimental for our health. Do whatever exercise you enjoy and make it a regular part of your life.
  • Stress and Emotional Wellbeing- people who suffer from continuous long-term emotional, physical or mental stress will exacerbate the likelihood of chronic illness. Solution – chill out, all that stress is doing you harm! Do some yoga, meditate, go for a walk, worry less, and laugh more. Give thanks, don’t hold grudges, do voluntary work and smile;)
  • Sleep – Poor quality sleep can put people at an increased risk of depression and anxiety. It can lead to an increased chance of immune deficiency and heart disease. Quality sleep enables out body to recover and regenerate. We should be aiming for 8 hours sleep every night. We should be try to go to sleep earlier and try to avoid caffeine, white light(unnatural light produced by computers, tv and light) and rigorous exercise near bedtime. If we can do so, our bodies will be able to produce the hormone melatonin, while at the same time reduce our levels of cortisol as we near bedtime. Our bodies will be primed for sleep and we can maximise its benefits.
  • Environmental toxicity – we are being exposed to a huge amount of toxins. Over exposure to these toxins can make us sick.

Toxins where, I hear you say?

Avoid: Chemicals in our foods such as herbicides and pesticides. Antibiotics in farmed animals. Poisonous additives which increase shelf life. Eat fresh, organically grown and minimally processed

Avoid: Cosmetic products contain dangerous chemicals such as oxybenzone and parabens which can be toxic in the body.

Avoid: PFOA – Perflourooctanoic Acid, used in Teflon non-stick coatings, avoid high heat when using Teflon or better again use a stainless steel pan.

Avoid: Certain plastics such as BPA used in certain food containers and bottles should be avoided. Chemicals can leach out into our food and drink especially if exposed to high temperature or light. Studies have shown huge dangers to brain and infant and child development. Glass is a safer alternative.

Don’t accept illness as a ‘normal’ part of your life. Take control and do something about it.

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