Going beyond the standard dietary recommendations lies a vast area of information and research that has led me to rethink the concept of healthy nutrition based on the work of Dr. Weston A. Price, an American dentist from the 1930s. In his quest to discover reasons for tooth decay, Dr. Price travelled the world and studied groups of isolated communities worldwide who enjoyed excellent dental health. Although these non-industrialized peoples he studied came from different geographical regions they had the following in common:
• Traditional diet of indigenous foods
• Long healthy lives
• No chronic illness, obesity, infertility or birth defects
• Strong bones and straight teeth (including no cavities)
Reading about Price’s work struck a chord within as I have respected many of the traditional customs of our healthy ancestors. Focusing on their nutrition, he found they shared common eating habits. Much to my surprise they weren’t vegetarians! They consumed nutrient dense foods high in vitamins and minerals such as cream, butter, eggs, organ meats, fish, fish oils and shell fish.
Sacred Foods for the Next Generation
In his research Dr. Price saw that each group reserved the most nutritious foods, known as ‘sacred foods,’ for the next generation which included couples in their pre-conception phase to pregnant women, nursing mothers, babies and children. One of the staple foods of healthy ancestors were bone broths (also known as chicken soup) which provided the calcium for healthy bones and teeth. Grains and nuts were soaked, sprouted and/or fermented for easier digestion. The use of high quality butter and other animals fats are prized for health and fertility. Fermented vegetables (such as sauerkraut or kimchi) and dairy products (kefir, yoghurt) provide healthy bacteria similar to probiotics. Little by little I’m implementing tasty culinary dishes with my family. Although this diet is not vegetarian, there are many preparations that vegans will find helpful.
In standard medicine, obesity (including high cholesterol) is thought to be linked to consuming a higher fat diet, hence we are all encouraged to avoid high fat. However, I’ve come to realize that cholesterol is important and plays an important role in health. This new look at an old diet is higher in healthy fats which runs counter to the standard American recommendation of a low cholesterol diet. Yet as we’ve been encouraged to consume low fat diets, the rates of chronic disease in children and adults is on the rise. Cholesterol is known as the mother of all hormones. “A Medical Research Council survey showed that men eating butter ran half the risk of developing heart disease as those using margarine (Nutrition Week).” The following is a list of 12 tips that parents can easily begin to implement.
1. Butter. What doesn’t taste better with butter? Butter is high in Vitamin A which is needed for proper functioning of thyroid, adrenals, growth, heart function, protein and calcium assimilation. Also known for its anti-oxidant properties, butter contains lecithin, which aids cholesterol and fat metabolism. It also has many important minerals, fatty acids and Vitamins D, E, and K. Sources include: Raw and organic butter (includes Kerrygold Irish Butter at Trader Joes).
-High Vitamin Butter Oil- a rich nutrient made from the milk of cows grazing on rapidly growing springtime grass. Like a daily vitamin, my family and I take Butter Oil and Fermented Cod Liver Oil (FCLO). Suggested serving of High Vitamin Butter Oil: 3 months to 12 years old: ¼ teaspoon (begin earlier if on formula). 12 years to adults: ½ teaspoon. Pregnancy and lactation: 1 -2 teaspoons. Mix in beverage or on baby’s bottom.
2. High Vitamin Fermented Cod Liver Oil (FCLO) In the past, European children were given cod liver oil because it is a good source of Vitamins A, D, K, E and DHA – which are important for strong bones, growth, fertility, skin, and brain development. According to Dr. Price, the effects of FCLO are enhanced when combined with high vitamin butter oil. It is especially important for women and men (before conceiving), during pregnancy, lactation, and for children. Suggested Serving FCLO: 3 months to 12 years old: ½ teaspoon, 12 years to adults: 1 teaspoon. Pregnant and lactation: 2 teaspoons. Can be mixed with water or beverage. (½ teaspoon FCLO = 5000 IU Vitamin A, 500 IU Vitamin D).
3. Organic Fruits and Vegetables: Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables preferably organic, grown locally and in season.
4. Soaked Grains: By soaking grains for 12-24 hours, grains are more easily digested. Nowadays many people are sensitive to grains which can cause digestive disturbances and wheat allergies. Soaking breaks down phytic acid, which would otherwise block absorption of minerals in the gut leading to deficiencies and bone loss.
5. Raw Milk and Dairy Products. Milk drinkers should consider consuming raw whole fat milk. When produced by reputable companies with healthy cows, raw milk is considered safe and contains many healthy components that is not found in the standard market variety. The enzymes and antibodies in raw milk are less vulnerable to contamination than pasteurized milk. Pasteurization destroys valuable enzymes and nutrients, changing the quality of the milk which can trigger an immune response that leads to milk intolerance and increases health problems such as allergies, asthma, attention deficit disorder, frequent ear infections. Pasteurization of milk began in the 1920s following a number of diseases surfacing from inferior production methods and poor animal health.
6. Bone Broth (also known as chicken soup) Make stock from the bones of chicken, meat, fish. The stockpot is considered one of the most valuable utensils in our ancestors’ kitchens. Broths are nutritious, and chicken soup has been used for colds, flu and a myriad of health problems. Gelatin rich broths aid digestion, and are important for those with intestinal disorders and many chronic illnesses. Use as a base for soups or sip broth.
7. Fermented foods. In the past, foods were fermented as a way to preserve them for longer periods. Known as lacto-fermentation, lactic acid is produced and works by inhibiting the bacteria from spoiling the food. Advantages include easier digestion of vegetables, increased vitamins and enzymes known for antibiotic and anti-cancer properties. In addition, it helps support the healthy bacteria in the intestine (similar to probiotics). Easy to make at home from sauerkraut to kimchi. Cultured milks include yoghurt, kefir and sour cream.
8. Organic Meats, Poultry, Fish, Eggs, and Organ Meats. Consider the sources when you purchase meats, poultry, fish and eggs. Wild fish, free range chicken, grass fed beef, and eggs without antibiotics or growth hormones are a priority – and can be consumed in moderate amounts. No longer a staple in the American kitchen, organ meats have been valued for being rich in vitamins, fatty acids and minerals.
9. Healthy Fats. Not all fats are created equal, and fats from animals and vegetable sources are important for energy supply, cell membranes and the production of hormones in the body. All fats should be whole full fat, avoid consuming low or non fat products. For cooking use butter, lard (pigs), chicken fat, palm, palm kernel and coconut oil (olive oil is okay at low temperatures). Use olive oil, expeller pressed flax oil (in small amounts), expeller pressed sesame and peanut oils (small amounts) for salads and for steamed vegetables. Junk food and processed food contains hydrogenated (partially hydrogenated, trans fats) oils which are linked to cancer, heart disease, sterility, learning disabilities, osteoporosis and growth problems. Avoid soy, corn, safflower, cottonseed, grape seed and canola oils. Read more on fats at www.drfeder.com.
10. Avoid Processed Foods, Cereals and Crackers. Eat whole foods. Avoid the following: white refined foods (flours, rice and sugar), cereals and crackers (including organic brands, goldfish crackers, organic O’s, and rice cakes), artificial sweeteners and soy products. Cereals are made using an extrusion process of high temperature and intense pressure which destroy nutrients, causes oils to go rancid and difficult to digest. White flour is broken down into the body like sugar, and contributes to moodiness and increased cravings. Most soy is manufactured in a way that denatures proteins and increases levels of carcinogens. Soy leads to deficiencies of vitamin D and calcium, hypothyroidism and soy based formula has the estrogenic equivalent of five birth control pills per day.
11. Sugar and Salt. Read the labels. Avoid the use of refined white sugar and artificial sweeteners. For baking use rapadura (raw cane sugar), pure maple syrup, raw honey or molasses. Stevia can be used in a beverage. Because natural sweeteners can affect blood sugar and contribute to sweet cravings, use natural sweeteners in moderation 2-3 times a week as part of a meal. Use unrefined salt (i.e. Celtic sea salt, Himalayan crystal salt). Standard iodized table salt lacks important minerals due to manufacturing, and contains additives (including sugar).
12. Sacred Foods: Feeding our Future Generations: Couples, Pregnancy, Nursing and Babies For couples in their pre-conception phase (6 months prior) to pregnancy, lactation, babies and children.
Pregnant Women: Eggs, butter, organ meat, raw milk, bone broth. Fermented cod liver oil and high vitamin butter oil.
Lactation: Liver, eggs. Fermented cod liver oil and high vitamin butter oil
Babies: 4 months: -Boiled egg yolk + unrefined sea salt (4 months old) brain development.
6 months – 10 months. Vegetables (Steam mash puree, add warm water in a soup form – add butter, coconut oil or olive oil) Begin with white root vegetables, parsnip, turnip, white sweet potatoes, taro. Yellow vegetables (squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, Green vegetables (broccoli, kale. Bananas, mashed. Fruit: avocado, melon, mangoes, papaya (mashed and raw). Peaches, apricots, apples, pears, cherries, berries (cooked) Buttermilk, yoghurt, kefir (small tastes) Meats, pureed
8 months – Creamed vegetable soups, stews, cottage cheese.
12 months – Cereals, grains, lentils (all soaked) . Soaked brown rice may be tolerated earlier
After 1 year – Organic nut butters, raw salad vegetables, citrus fruit and whole egg.
Resources: Weston A. Price Foundation. Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig.