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Health and Nutrition in Isolated Traditional Societies

Armen Hareyan's picture

In the 1930's, Dr. Weston Price wrote a classic book called Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, about isolated populations living on native diets, and compared them to the disastrous effects of the processed foods and commercial farming of modern civilization. It is a book you should all read because it will keep you from going astray in a sea of misinformation. It is distributed by the Price Pottenger Foundation. Dr. Price was distressed by seeing so much decay in people's teeth, and children being born with crooked and crowded teeth, and he didn't believe we were meant to be this way. He was interested in seeing for himself if there were people in the world who didn't have this problem, and he had the brilliant idea of travelling to areas of the world who had had no contact with modern civilization.

SWISS ALPS He first went to an isolated village in the Swiss Alps. You could only get to it by a foot path which was not large enough for a wheeled cart. The only foods in the village were grown there. Their diet consisted mainly of very rich dairy foods, rye which they grew themselves, a few vegetables, and a small amount of meat. He examined children in this village, and was absolutely amazed to find that most children had no tooth decay; they all had absolutely straight teeth and no dental occlusions. They were all very handsome with very broad faces, wide nostrils and sturdy bodies. Their athletes ate special rich cream during athletic events. They considered butter a life-giving spirit, a sacred food. The people in this village were very spiritual and were known for their strength and beauty. Price was able to compare this village with a village just a few miles away into which a road had been built several years before. The shops were already full of white bread, jam, white flour, condensed milk and chocolate. He found one out of every three teeth of these villagers was decayed, and children born to people who had already switched to these foods had crowded and crooked teeth and narrow faces.

SCOTLAND Next he went to a very isolated island off the coast of Scotland. These people had no dairy products. Their diet consisted mainly of seafood, oats which they grew, and oat cakes, shell fish, fish and fish broth. Once again, he found very little tooth decay and the people's faces were broad and handsome, there was no crowding of the teeth, they had wide nostrils, a broad chest and were strong and sturdy.

ESKIMOS Next he went to visit the Eskimos. Eskimos are known to be sturdy and strong on their native diet. Eskimos ate a lot of sea food, much of which they fermented. They used whale and seal oil. These are not marine oils; they are animal fats. He found no tooth decay and their teeth were uniformly straight and without cavities. When the Eskimos were exposed to the so-called civilized foods in towns where ships came and set up stores, they immediately began to experience rampant tooth decay and the onset of infectious and chronic disease. But the most striking thing he found was that children born to parents who had adopted this diet had what he called altered germ plasm. In other words, they did not reach their full genetic potential. Their faces were not as broad as those of their ancestors, their nostrils were narrower and their teeth were crowded.

NORTH AMERICAN INDIANS Dr. Price also studied Indians living in Canada and the Seminole Indians in the Florida Everglades, both of whom lived mostly on game. Once again the people were very sturdy and handsome, did not suffer from degenerative disease or even infectious disease.

SOUTH PACIFIC He spent several years in the Pacific, around Polynesia and New Zealand, where he found people who were isolated from civilization, living on their native foods, and once again, he found the same thing, no dental decay, and beautiful facial and dental structure. The people lived on roots, sea food, and crab. When ships came to the islands and people were exposed to the devitalized foods of commerce, there immediately occurred rampant tooth decay, and children born to parents who had adopted these foods had altered facial structure, thin faces and crowded and crooked teeth, and these children were much more susceptible to disease.

ABORIGINES He studied the Aboriginal women who had an extremely high fat diet from animal sources, eating almost anything that comes their way including insects and kangaroos. They were strong and healthy with beautiful teeth. When they were exposed to modern foods, there was rampant tooth decay, and in the next generation, the children had crowded teeth. So the food was affecting the genetics.

SOUTH AMERICAN INDIANS Finally, he went to South America in the Andes. These people ate a variety of plant foods, small animals and fish eggs. The people were strong with good facial structure and good dental structure. After the people adapted to civilized foods, the children born to them had crowded teeth and narrower faces. He studied Amazonian Indians who lived mostly on animal foods with a few plant foods and fish. Again when they were exposed to civilized foods, there was lots of tooth decay, and crowded and crooked teeth in the next generation.

AFRICAN TRIBES He found the same thing in Africa. He found seven tribes with absolutely no tooth decay. These tribes kept cattle and ate milk, meat and blood. When they adopted the western diet there was tremendous suffering because there were no dentists in these communities. The children born had altered facial structure with narrowed nasal passages and sinus cavities. This leaves less room for all the glands, the ears, the eyes, and there is a squeezing of everything in the head.

PHYSICAL DEGENERATION IN CIVILIZED SOCIETIES Francis Pottenger, a researcher and archivist at the Price Pottenger Foundation found that diets that cause this kind of alteration in the facial structure, whether it be of humans or animals, eventually leads to extinction. If we continue through generations eating foods that produce these kinds of bodies, we will eventually experience general sterility among the population.

The American diet of just a generation ago produced many very attractive handsome people. It was a diet of whole traditional foods. People had access to raw whole milk, naturally raised products, and plenty of sea food including fish eggs. Today children from the best of families who can afford to spend plenty of money on food have thin faces, protruding ears, often circles under their eyes indicating allergies, and most have orthodontic work on their teeth. We have forgotten what a healthy baby used to look like. A healthy baby has a broad round face, the eyes are in the center of the head, the mouth is very small in comparison to the rest of the face, and the face actually should be quite flat, and when the child starts out with this kind of good facial structure, it is maintained right into adulthood.

If you were born with a less than perfect expression of your genetic potential, you are going to have to work harder at being healthy, but the good news is that this degenerative process can be reversed. If you return to the healthy diet of your ancestors and eat lots of natural whole foods, children born in succeeding generations can be healthy with a full expression of their genetic potential and intelligence. If you eat a rich diet during pregnancy and feed your children whole foods during their growing years, they will be able to avoid the health problems which their parents had.

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CHARACTERISTICS OF TRADITIONAL DIETS The diets of these isolated communities differed in many particulars. Some had seafood in them, some had dairy products, some had meat, some had more plant foods, some had hardly any plant foods, but the underlying characteristics of these diets can be used so that you can apply them to the foods you prefer and the foods which suit you. Dr. Price was a scientist, and he was able to analyze the foods of these people, and he found that they were ten times richer in fat soluble vitamins, and four times richer in minerals and water soluble vitamins than the American diet of his day, and that was in the 1930's.

FAT SOLUBLE VITAMINS I would like to bring your attention especially to the fat soluble vitamins of these diets. We are talking about vitamins found in animal fats, exactly those foods that we are now being told to avoid. Price found these were the critical foods for producing these healthy populations. The two main vitamins in the animal fats that have been studied are vitamin A and vitamin D. These are found in liver, organ meats, insects, fish eggs, cod liver oil, fish and shellfish, eggs, butter and cream, exactly the foods you have been told to avoid in order not to get heart disease and cancer. But all these isolated groups ate foods like this and they didn't have heart disease or cancer.

VITAMIN A In order to convert carotenes into vitamin A, you need fats in your diet, so if you are on a low fat diet, eating a lot of plant foods, you are not going to convert those carotenes into the vital vitamin A that you need for so many things like thyroid hormone, certain enzymes and vitamin E. Vitamin A is needed for proper growth, prevention of birth defects, proper functioning glands, and for the endocrine system and immune system. It's needed for the eyes, skin and bones. There is more emphasis on carotenes today than vitamin A, but carotenes are not a good source of vitamin A.

Babies and children do not convert any of the pro-vitamin A found in plants into vitamin A. They must get this all important nutrient from animal fats or breast milk. What happens when we put babies on low fat diets? We get failure to thrive, stunting of growth, learning disabilities, and problems with the immune system. The low fat diet that is being encouraged for our children today is genocide. Diabetics also do not convert carotenes into vitamin A and yet most diabetics are put on low fat diets. Vitamin A is absolutely essential for protein and calcium assimilation. That is why all mammalian milk contains butterfat. Butterfat is the carrier for vitamin A and it is required for absorption of calcium and protein in the water fraction of the milk. Skim milk and 2% milk are not natural foods; they are not whole foods. They are fractionated foods. All the healthy people that Dr. Price studied consumed whole milk, and the cows of 100 years ago had more fat in their milk than today's cows. We have bred a freak Holstein cow that has reduced fat content in the milk. So if you do drink milk, you should drink whole organic milk, raw milk, preferably from Jersey cows.

Vitamin A stores are depleted by stress and cold weather. That is why people in colder climates need more fat in their diets, not less. Vitamin A stores are depleted by fever and illness. The depletion of vitamin A stores in children with measles is the reason that they go blind. Children with high fevers need to be given cod liver oil. Physical exertion also depletes vitamin A stores and this is responsible for burnout in athletes on low fat diets.

VITAMIN D We also don't hear much about vitamin D, another fat soluble vitamin. Healthy primitive peoples had rich dietary sources of vitamin D complex such as marine oils, fish, insects or butterfat. Vitamin D is needed for healthy bones, proper growth, mineral metabolism, muscle tone, insulin production, reproduction and immune system functions. Vitamin D regulates calcium metabolism which is essential for a healthy nervous system and cellular function. There are vitamin D receptors in almost every cell of the body, which means there are probably more roles for vitamin D than we know about. Synthetic vitamin D added to milk can cause symptoms of vitamin D deficiency including calcification of the soft tissues and hardening of the arteries. Rats and mice fed synthetic vitamin D as .1% of their diet died in 24 to 48 hours.

FABRICATED FOODS In order to have healthy children, we have to know how to feed them. The agenda of people in power and powerful corporations, the people who fabricate food, is to make you think that these traditional foods that have nourished mankind for thousands of years aren't good for you, that they cause heart disease or cancer or obesity or other diseases, so that you will then switch to the fabricated foods, the skim milk, milk powder, margarine, various protein powder foods, canned foods, and so on.

We at the Price Pottenger Nutrition Foundation have no ties with any commercial venture, and that allows us to tell you the truth. We are interested in foods. We are not against vitamins, but our philosophy is the basis of health has to be food.


Dr. Weston Price's book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration and Sally Fallon's book Nourishing Traditions are two of the best books on the market. Nourishing Traditions is both a health book and a cook book. The premise of Sally's book rests on the fact that our modern foods have severely compromised our health because they have departed radically from our ancestors' tradition healthy diet. Included in the cookbook are many ancient methods of food preservation and beverages.

Sally Fallon is a nutrition journalist and food historian. She is the author of Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats, a full spectrum nutritional cookbook which documents the politics behind the cholesterol theory of heart disease, and contains a detailed description of what fats and oils are good for us and why, with supporting scientific documentation. Sally is the editor of the Price Pottenger Nutrition Foundation Health Journal, and is a regular contributor to a number of alternative health publications.

The source of this article is http://www.consumerhealth.org