Monday, February 9, 2009

My Nutritional Mentors: Part One

I consider myself a student of nutrition. Prior to my professional career as a chiropractor and certainly since becoming a health care practitioner, I have pursued “nutritional truth.” Prior to becoming health conscious, I was a junk-food vegetarian for 13 years plus I toyed around with veganism for a year. However, it wasn’t until I discovered nutrient-dense whole food that I began to discover health. Nutrient-dense whole foods are the foods that nature intended humans to eat. These foods are packed with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, enzymes, and fat-soluble activators that are necessary to achieve optimal health. These foods nourished humans for millenia but sadly, modernization has resulted in people eating devitalized food, i.e. processed food with little or no nutritional value.

Concern about processed foods and their related health consequences, led one man, Weston A. Price, to embark on a world wide odyssey that explored the issue further. Dr. Price was a dentist in the 1930s and he noticed a disturbing and increasing amount of dental decay and deformity in his practice. Consequently, Dr. Price traveled the world for nearly a decade in search of what it meant to be healthy. Dr. Price discovered and observed population groups that had yet to be touched or influenced by modern civilization. These groups included isolated Swiss and Irish peoples as well as the Inuit of Alaska, African and Australian tribes. These people ate the traditional foods that their ancestors had been eating for thousands of years. Although the specific diets varied from culture to culture, what linked these healthy populations was a complete lack of refined food products. Another link was that these groups were completely void of diseases such as cancer, heart disease, dental decay, and mental illness. Infertility was unknown and every generation produced healthy, strong and vibrant children.

Dr. Price chronicled his journey around the world and nutritional findings in his seminal book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. Dr. Price was a keen observer and researcher. Since he was a dentist, he focused on peoples’ teeth. He not only photographed the populations extensively, but he also learned what they ate that allowed them to maintain such exceptional health. Additionally, he sent back traditional food samples to his American lab so he could analyze their constituents and gain greater understanding of the foods’ nutrient density.

Since these populations spanned the globe, their sources of food varied considerably. Much to Dr. Price’s surprise, none of these cultures lacked animal protein. They ate seafood or other animal protein and fats plus vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains, all in their unrefined state. Dr. Price also noted the peoples prepared the food and I’ll discuss that at another time.

Since learning about Dr. Price and the health associated with traditional foods, I have changed my eating habits completely. I look forward to sharing my evolution with you. But in the meantime, I leave you with this video produced by the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation.

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