In my book, The Hormone Zone, I discuss one of the best ways to eat for optimal health. It spells out how to eat like our ancestors did. Old School Eating…or, Before there was School Eating. Our ancestors, going way back over 10,000 years ago, used to eat in a particular way, with little variance across the continents other than what was peculiar to the area. This Indiana Jones archeological way of looking at human nutrition brings us to an understanding of how to eat for power, performance and the best health we could ever experience. Our ancestors would instinctually eat what would bring them the best health and they were far more in touch with this instinct than we are now. But we have something they didn’t have…the internet. And me, bringing this information to you now!
There are many names for this type of eating. Paleo Diet, Primal Diet, Caveman Diet, and my preference, an Ancestral Traditional Diet. Even though we can look back to over 10,000 years ago to see how we eat, digging up bones and other things, we have a great example of these ancient practices by looking at peoples from all over the globe who still eat “traditionally.” A pioneer in nutritional science Dr. Weston A. Price traveled the world during the early 20th century exploring isolated groups of people who were still eating the same way they had been eating for thousands of years. It had never been done before and he spent years studying them and brought back this information that we are still benefiting from today.
Of the groups of peoples he studied, the ones that eat and lived traditionally had the best overall health including straight teeth with little to no cavities, strong jawlines and excellent facial structures, strong bones, excellent stamina and no chronic diseases. It was the complete opposite for those peoples who eat a more modern diet of processed foods high in sugar, high in refined carbohydrates such as white flour, and little high quality animal proteins.
What did Dr. Price figure out? What was the common practices of the diets of these Traditional Peoples?
Here’s the summary of what Dr. Price found to be the common diet and lifestyle practices that helped people maintain amazing health:
Eat whole, natural foods.
Eat only foods that will spoil, but eat them before they do.
Eat naturally-raised meat including fish, seafood, poultry, beef, lamb, game, organ meats and eggs.
Eat whole, naturally-produced milk products from pasture-fed cow preferably raw and/or fermented, such as whole yogurt, cultured butter, whole cheeses and fresh and sour cream.
Use only traditional fats and oils including butter and other animal fats, extra virgin olive oil, expeller expressed sesame and flax oil and the tropical oils—coconut and palm.
Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably organic, in salads and soups, or lightly steamed.
Use whole grains and nuts that have been prepared by soaking, sprouting or sour leavening to neutralize phytic acid and other anti-nutrients.
Include enzyme-enhanced lacto-fermented vegetables, fruits, beverages and condiments in your diet on a regular basis.
Prepare homemade meat stocks from the bones of chicken, beef, lamb or fish and use liberally in soups and sauces.
Use herb teas and coffee substitutes in moderation.
Use filtered water for cooking and drinking.
Use unrefined Celtic sea salt and a variety of herbs and spices for food interest and appetite stimulation.
Make your own salad dressing using raw vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and expeller expressed flax oil.
Use natural sweeteners in moderation, such as raw honey, maple syrup, dehydrated cane sugar juice and stevia powder.
Use only unpasteurized wine or beer in strict moderation with meals.
Cook only in stainless steel, cast iron, glass or good quality enamel.
Use only natural supplements.
Get plenty of sleep, exercise and natural light.
Think positive thoughts and minimize stress.
You want to feel great right? You want to really feel your best? I know this because patients tell me this, in one way or another, every day. People want to lose weight, improve their energy, conquer their chronic diseases like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, chronic pain and osteoarthritis, frequent infections, and many other problems. You can. Enhance your diet and follow the basic Traditional Guidelines of your own ancestors. Notice I am not saying “change” your diet. Change your diet seems to imply that people need to do an immediate about-face 180 degree turn in their lives. You don’t. Start to add and enhance your diet, fortify it, stack it with new things, good things, and the rest of the unnecesseary things will just go away naturally. My family and I largely eat this way and we seek daily to follow these basic, truly instinctual practices. We are not perfect. There is no such thing. We just make constant efforts that eventually become easy over time. We keep learning and keep exploring.
If the ideas of Dr. Price and Traditional Diets resonate with you and it looks like a good idea for you and your family, then simply start small. Make a copy of the guidelines and just start working on one or two enhancements and new choices for you and your family. It does not need to be drastic. Just take one step at a time.
So what about cultures who only eat a true vegetarian diet? What did Dr. Price found about them? Were there any vegetarian cultures that were experiencing thriving health and happiness? Yes and no. Technically, there were areas where peoples eat only a vegetarian diet, but did occasionally eat meat. It was a very special kind of meat that helped them to maintain some level of health. Look out for the answer to this question on my next blog post tomorrow. You don’t want to miss the answer to this one!!
To Your (Traditional) Health,
p.s. By the way, my youngest daughter Ilora (E-lora), now a year old, has been eating this way since she was about 4 months old, slowly adding news things over time. She eats raw milk only, raw milk cheeses, multiple types of vegetable, tuber, and fruit purees, bone broth (she really loves this one), egg yolks from pasture raised chickens, pasture-raised chicken, lamb, beef, and she was practically weaned on chicken and beef liver mixed with cultured butter. She loves liver! She has never had white sugar and has never had any grain-based carbohydrates particularly “cereal” containing wheat. She is in the 95th percentile in both weight and height, extremely strong, no food allergies of any type, amazingly vibrant and precociously curious, all with an even temperment (most of the time!). Oh, and she is friggin’ cute too!
p.p.s. Truly, you really want to learn what meat source those vegetarians were eating! You won’t believe it, but it’s true!