Since I often mention the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) in my posts, I thought it was about time that I devote a post to the man behind the movement. Dr. Weston A. Price was a prominent dentist of the 1920’s & 30’s who became frustrated with the dental problems and disease he saw in his patients. Western children were suffering from frequent infections, allergies, anemia, asthma, poor vision, lack of coordination, fatigue and behavioral problems in numbers that were troubling.
At this time, it was well established that there were groups of “primitive” people throughout the world who “exhibited a high degree of physical perfection and beautiful straight white teeth” despite no dental care. The general consensus was that these groups were genetically “pure” and that western disease was a result of “race mixing.” Dr. Price did not believe this to be the case, however, and he decided to take his work into the field and he began traveling the globe to study dental-health in pre-industrialized populations.
In his travels, Price found 14 traditional cultures that experienced little to no tooth decay or dental deformity. These groups, he discovered, were also relatively free from disease (both physical and mental) and reproductive problems. As he continued his study, Price realized that members of these traditional groups who had moved away and adopted the western diet began to experience health problems. Despite having the same genetic inheritance, those who became westernized exhibited dental decay in the first generation removed, and in the second generation, the children were born with narrowed facial structure and subsequently experienced orthodontic problems. This generation also began experiencing degenerative health problems and disease that was previously not seen within the culture. Meanwhile, “mixed race children whose parents had consumed traditional foods were born with wide handsome faces and straight teeth” thereby discrediting the “racial purity” theory.
|Melanesians who began eating a Western diet
|Melanesians of Fiji still eating a traditional diet
Following this realization, Dr. Price began to examine the native diets of these groups more closely and he found that their diets were quite different from one another. The Swiss mountain villagers subsisted primarily on unpasteurized and cultured dairy products, butter and cheese as well as whole-rye bread. The Dinkas of the Sudan ate a combination of fermented whole-grains with fish, along with smaller amounts of red meat, vegetables, and fruit. The Bantu tribe of Africa were primarily farmers whose diet consisted mostly of fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes along with small amounts of meat and dairy. The Masai, another African tribe, consumed virtually no plant foods, but lived on beef, organ meats & raw milk, and were well known for drinking cow’s blood. Despite the many dietary differences, Price found that these diets had several things in common.
- These diets contained no white flour products, refined sugar, polished rice, jams, canned goods or vegetable fats
- These diets contained some animal foods: meat with its fat, organ meats, whole milk products, fish and insects
- These diets had high nutrient density: they were very rich in vitamins in minerals, especially fat soluble vitamins A, D & K2
When Dr. Price put these diets under a microscope (literally) he found that they contained four times the water soluble vitamins and 10 times the fat soluble vitamins A & D than the Western diet of the 1930’s. Price described vitamins A & D as “activators” which allow all other nutrients (protein, minerals and vitamins) to be assimilated in the body. Price also discovered a third fat soluble vitamin that was an even better activator or catalyst for nutrient absorption. He called this “Activator X” and found that all of the traditional groups had this vitamin in their diet. Many considered foods containing the X factor to be “sacred” and these foods were often eaten to promote fertility. Activator X is now believed to be vitamin K2 and like vitamins A & D, it is “found only in animal fats–butter, lard, egg yolks, fish oils and foods with fat-rich cellular membranes like liver and other organ meats, fish eggs and shell fish.”
Sadly, Price’s work has been all but forgotten despite the fact that current scientific research continues to prove the accuracy of his findings. It is now taken as fact that “vitamin A is essential for the prevention of birth defects, for growth and development, for the health of the immune system and the proper functioning of all the glands” and that “vitamin D is needed not only for healthy bones, and optimal growth and development, but also to prevent colon cancer, MS and reproductive problems.” Price knew this and used foods high in vitamins A & D, such as spring butter and cod liver oil to treat a variety of degenerative diseases and failure to thrive in children. Price always advocated the use of animal fats, which we now know is the only way for infants and children to get an adequate supply of vitamin A as they are unable to convert the precursors (such as carotenes) to true vitamin A. Unfortunately, many nutritional “authorities” now advocate low-fat diets for children and those with degenerative disease essentially robbing them of essential vitamins and the activators necessary to absorb other nutrients.
As parents, we must sift through so much information and try to figure out what is driven by truth & evidence and what is driven by politics & money. At times, this seems like a full time job, as it takes an enormous amount of cunning & discipline to protect our children from “those displacing products of modern commerce that prevent the optimal expression of their genetic heritage–foodstuffs made of sugar, white flour, vegetable oils and products that imitate the nourishing foods of our ancestors–margarine, shortening, egg replacements, meat extenders, fake broths, ersatz cream, processed cheese, factory farmed meats, industrially farmed plant foods, protein powders, and packets of stuff that never spoils.”
But the time has come for all of us to stand up for the purity of our food supply and to look to those who came before us…those who ate instinctually and were not influenced by all of the trappings of the modern food supply. We owe it to ourselves and to our children to return to “traditional whole foods that are organically grown, humanely raised, minimally processed and above all not shorn of their vital lipid component.” To quote Dr. Price, “Life in all its fullness is mother nature obeyed.”
Eat Well, Be Well,
All quoted text came from the article Ancient Dietary Wisdom for Tomorrow’s Children by Sally Fallon Morell.
For more information, please read Dr. Price’s book.