Real Food

In my first post I talked about Real Food. Well what exactly is Real Food? The following is a brief overview of it’s history:

    
Weston A. Price
Source: Wikipedia.org   

The health benefits of Real Food was discovered in the 1930s by a dentist named Weston A. Price. At the time processed foods were starting to become more common place and he was beginning to see a correlation between poor dental health and declining physical well-being.  During this time tuberculosis was widespread and Price made the connection that his patients with the worst dental health were also the most susceptible to illness. His observation of increased  tooth decay and declining health lead him to spend a decade visiting isolated parts of the world in order to study people unaffected by the industrialized food system. It is very important to understand that this type of research would be very difficult to do in today’s times as there really aren’t many areas left that have been untouched by civilization. Price studied 14 diverse groups, among  them were Alaskan Inuits, North and South American tribes, Australian Aborigines, Ploynesians, Swiss Alps villagers and the Maasai African tribe. These native groups ate entirely local foods and prepared in the way of their ancestors.

Price found a striking similarity across all the populations he studied despite the fact that they came from different parts of the world. Those who held on to their traditional, native diets of real food had significantly better overall health than those same tribe members who became “civilized” and  turned to processed foods. Traditional eaters had straight teeth, healthy gums, no tooth decay (remarkable since none ever brushed their teeth!), were healthy, strong and able to birth children with ease. Industrialized eaters had crooked teeth, tooth decay, degenerative illnesses and infertility.

Although the specific foods that each tribe ate may have differed depending on their location, they all placed an emphasis on full-fat and ate foods found in their whole, natural state.  There were no preservatives, artificial colors, refined flour, low fats, or pasteurization. Their fruits and vegetables were grown organically with no pesticides and their animals were not subjected to growth hormones or antibiotics.

Price brought home some traditional foods to analyze in his lab and he discovered that their vitamin and nutrient content were much higher than those typically found in western diets. For example the native foods contained four times the calcium and at least ten times the fat soluble vitamins A & D. He also noted  the common practice of fermentation increased enzymes that aided digestion and allowed the nutrients to be better absorbed.

While it’s unfortunate  that the natives that moved away from their traditional ways began to suffer from ailments and tooth decay, it’s important and even more so encouraging to understand that if they returned to their traditional way of eating that their health was regained and their tooth conditions reversed. This is great news to us modern people who wish to achieve optimal health!

Below are some basic guidelines of Real Food:

-Organic Fruits & Vegetables
-Pastured or Grassfed Meats and Wild-caught Seafood
-Traditionally prepared food to increase nutrient content and decrease anti-nutrients (examples: fermenting and soaking)
-Avoiding GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms)
-Avoiding processed foods, including fat-free or low-fat foods
-Eating full fat foods including pastured butter, coconut oil, and lard

If you aren’t eating a Real Food diet then you are most likely consuming:

-Pesticide containing fruits and vegetables
-Hormone and antibiotic containing meats
-GMOs like high fructose corn syrup and soy
-Trans fats
-MSG
-Artificial flavors and colors
-Artificial sweeteners
-Preservatives

If you would like to learn more in-depth information about Price’s research and work you can read his book, Nutrition & Physical Degeneration. If you would like to learn more about traditional real food, including cooking techniques and recipes then I highly recommend Sally Fallon Morrel’s book, Nourishing Traditions.

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