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Eating Well: Some Background August 28, 2008

Posted by Laura in Uncategorized.

Some of the strongest evidence supporting the idea that it is modern processed food that is causing our health problems was presented by Weston Price, DDS.  He became interested in the link between diet and dental health back in the early 1900’s.  He spent time living with many tribes and groups of people who still existed entirely on traditional diets of local foods.  What he found astounded him.  No matter the cultural heritage, the environment, the amount of saturated animal fat they consumed, or even number of calories eaten, they were extremely healthy.  Despite the fact that many had absolutely no dental care or even toothbrushes, they rarely had any dental health issues.  He found they had excellent bone structure and almost no cancer or other serious illnesses to speak of either.  The women easily birthed healthy babies and fertility among them was quite high.

The really telling part of his research though, came when he tracked their health on a “modern diet.”  Occasionally, some group members would take jobs outside their homeland or move to “civilization” for some reason.  The change in the members’ health when they adopted a modern diet of processed foods, high in trans fats and sugars, was drastic.  They began to exhibit atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, cancer and all the other health problems so common today.  Their health only improved again if they returned to a traditional diet and swore off commercialized “food.”

I think that is fascinating and so telling.  The traditional diets of the various groups were quite diverse.  The Eskimos existed almost entirely on raw food from the ocean.  Some African tribesmen drank up to 7 quarts of fermented raw milk a day.   Some peoples ate huge amounts of red meat and animal fat.  And so on and so on.  The unifying factor in all their diverse diets though, was the absence of processed food.

To me, that begs the question of why we get got away from food that actually tasted good and kept us healthy and adopted the processed foods that make us sick.  Why indeed?



1. reeska - August 28, 2008

The book I was writing about actually quotes Weston Price a few times.

2. Laura - August 28, 2008

Yes, I was going to mention in an upcoming post how much I have enjoyed Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. Most of what she proposes is supported by others, too. I need to list some of the books I have read so people can read them if they are interested.

Hope you all are doing well. Talk to you soon.

3. Grams - August 29, 2008

A question: how do these experts account for the fact that our ancestors had shorter lives and fewer teeth when they died?

4. Laura - August 29, 2008

Good question. I had wondered about that too.

I think it has a two part answer, from what I’ve read so far. If we are talking about in the last 110 or so years (from the very beginning of processed food), it was the shift in diet. We began adding more sugar to our foods even before the turn of the century though (about the time we colonized this country- the slave trade involved sugar cane too). If it was prior to the 1900’s, the causes of death were different, they would say.

During the same period of time that we began processing food, we have also made great strides in medicine and vaccines. Child mortality from illness is greatly reduced. I have also read that one is much more likely to survive a heart attack nowadays. That’s despite the rising rates of obesity, high blood pressure, and atherosclerosis. The difference is the medical advances, especially the pharmaceuticals, that keep us alive or resuscitate us, not the low-fat diets we adopt.

What I’ve been reading is so contrary to what we’ve been told for so long that it is hard to assimilate it. If I weren’t finding lots of support for these ideas in many sources, I think I may have a hard time believing it.

5. Dreamer - August 29, 2008

“To me, that begs the question of why we get got away from food that actually tasted good and kept us healthy and adopted the processed foods that make us sick. Why indeed?”

The Industrial Age, moving off the farm and into urban centers and the Feminist Movement. Combining the two and we now have families with both parents working long hours outside the home in urban areas with little to no access to real foods and not enough land to raise their own. Today it all boils down to convenience. I wonder what people who lived in the mid-19th century would think of our lives today.

6. Laura - August 30, 2008


I think you are right on target with those reasons. I plan to touch on them (and a couple more) in a future post.

I hope you and your family are doing well. Give the girls a hug for me!

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