This week I’ve been tucking into Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price, DDS. Yes, that’s right, the author is a dentist, but Dr. Price is not your average dentist. He may, in fact, have been one of the first to study and write about the connection between health and eating a local, whole foods diet.
Dr. Price traveled all over the world in the early 30’s to towns and villages that were isolated from the influence of the Western diet. In each of these villages he examined the residents’ teeth and found that cavities and dental disease were rare, and the level of overall health was high. In less isolated villages nearby, children had been born with deformed dental arches, crowded teeth and cavities, and “facial deformities” within one generation of being exposed to refined and processed foods. In every case, this generation also had remarkably poorer health compared to previous generations.
Though the connection between diet and health may be obvious to us now, it wasn’t so obvious back in the 30’s. Gee, if the medical community had noticed Dr. Price’s work then, it sure would have saved us a lot of time. Here we are, almost 80 years later, finally getting the message that eating whole foods from the local environment is key to our health and the health of coming generations!
– Carol White
Ditto from me. This has been one of the most influential books in my career. I have never seen such thorough and impressive field research.
I’ve gotten a couple of comments lately expressing some skepticism about whether it’s okay to eat butter or not. In the nutrition department at Bastyr University, where I teach, we believe that the best fats come from traditional source. In other words, we’re less impressed with the large selection of refined polyunsaturated oils that are so widely used and more impressed with the fats that have come from natural whole foods sources: like butter, ghee and (dare I say it) lard. Yes these products contain saturated fats. And I’m proud to stand up and say I eat them. There.
Did you know saturated fats and cholesterol make the membranes of the cells firm? Without them the cells would become flabby and fluid. If we humans didn’t have cholesterol and saturated fats in the membranes of our cells, we would look like giant worms or slugs. And we are not talking about a few molecules of cholesterol here and there. In many cells, almost half of the cell membrane is made from cholesterol. Foods with cholesterol in them have been a natural part of the human diet for …well forever. Recent studies are actually linking cardiovascular disease more strongly with refined grains, lack of exercise and stress. Not to eating too much butter.
Butter is 66% saturated fat and 30% monounsaturated fats. It is stable, has fewer rancidity problems and maintains its integrity when cooked. Butter contains lauric acid, lecithin and vitamins A & D. If the butter comes from cows allowed access to pasture, the possible presence of omega 3 fatty acids increases. This is great stuff. Plus the temperature at which butter sizzles but doesn’t brown happens to be perfect for cooking eggs. Let’s hear it for auditory cooking signals! When you add fats to certain vegetables it increases the bioavailability of certain nutrients, particularly the fat-soluble vitamins. Nice. Sauté kale in butter and garlic. Live long and prosper.
Within reason (what does that mean? – like a couple of tablespoons a day) butter in the diet is preferable to seed oils and certainly preferable to imitation butters. If you’re still nervous check out THINCS (The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics) – a group of international physicians and scientists that don’t believe that eating foods that contain cholesterol is linked to heart disease. Who knows, maybe they’ll even find out the eating butter helps you make more brown fat (the nutrition buzz word in today’s news). Let’s make scones! Weigh in kids. Do you eat butter? Give me support.