Just Eat Real Food!
I attended the Weston A. Price Foundation annual conference in November. The WAPF is dedicated to promoting traditional whole foods eating, as researched by the American dentist Weston A. Price in the 1930’s. Dr. Price examined about 13 isolated communities around the world who were eating their native, traditional diets and compared them to similar people in those areas who had adopted modern diets. The modern diets all included processed canned or packaged foods and refined flours and sugars. The traditional diets were all based on whole in-season local foods. The actual foods varied greatly depending on the location, but all included some amount of animal foods as well as a variety of plant foods. The proportions of fat, carbohydrates and protein also varied greatly, again depending on what was available in their local environment. Dr. Price found that the people eating their traditional diets had much better health than those people who were eating lots of the modern foods.
Eat Whole Foods
Even before I began my nutrition studies, I had begun eating mostly whole foods because of my numerous food allergies and sensitivities. I am sensitive to gluten, dairy, corn and soy and at least one of these is in almost every packaged food. Look on the labels and check it out yourself! Eating whole foods substantially reduces the amount of chemicals and other additives that we consume. Over 10,000 additives are allowed in food, according to the Environmental Working Group. Many of these chemicals have not been studied by independent researchers, and even those that have are usually in isolation and not combination. Click here to read more about some of the most problematic food additives.
Eat Enough Omega 3 Fats
People need many different nutrients for optimal health. Two of these essential nutrients are the the anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats EPA and DHA. They are called “essential” because the body can’t make them. We need to get these from either food or supplements. The best sources of EPA and DHA are found in fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, herring, anchovies, and mackerel. DHA is also found in marine algae. The precursor fatty acid, ALA, is found in many nuts and seeds such as walnuts and flax. Supplements, including fish oil, are also available. Having adequate consumption of omega 3 fats from foods has been shown to be necessary for optimal brain and eye health, heart functioning, skin and human growth and mental development. The research has been mixed as to whether these same benefits are obtained when supplements are used instead of food. So, just eat real food!
Try Bone Broth
Bone broth is one of the foods encouraged by the Weston A. Price Foundation. Most traditional cultures cooked their meats, whether fish, beef, poultry or other animals in pots with water including the bones. They did this to get the most nutrition possible from their food, although they did not know about nutrients. These bone broths and stocks are very rich in a number of minerals including calcium, magnesium and and potassium. They are also a rich source of gelatin which is very healing to the gut. Commercial bullion cubes or stocks are not nearly as nutritious as homemade and also often have added chemicals. I encourage you to try your hand at making homemade broth. I hope to offer a cooking class on broths and stocks in the new year. Let me know if this is something that interest you.
Eat Probiotic (Fermented) Foods
Fermented foods are another type of traditional food that WAPF encourages us to eat. Almost all traditional cultures fermented some foods so that they could be preserved for longer periods of time. This was essential before modern refrigeration came about. Some of these fermented foods include sauerkraut, kimchi and other fermented vegetables; yoghurt, kefir, cheese and other fermented dairy products, kombucha (fermented tea) and water kefir. We now know that fermented foods are rich sources of probiotics and certain vitamins including vitamin C and vitamin K2. As with omega 3 fats, these nutrients are often better utilized from these food sources than from supplements.
Get your Vitamins from Foods
Many of you have read of the need for adequate levels of vitamin D in the body. It is necessary for the bones to use calcium and low levels have been associated with heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, autoimmune diseases and other illnesses. But did you know that adequate amounts of vitamins A and K1 and K2 are also needed along with D? Some of the best sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, milk and eggs. Sources of vitamin A include liver, carrots and sweet potatoes and foods high in vitamin K2 are fermented foods, cheeses, eggs and butter. While you may also need supplemental vitamin D if your blood levels are low, make sure to include sources of vitamin D foods in your diet on a regular basis.
The word “supplement” means in addition to something. Targeted supplements are often needed, particularly for specific health conditions, but they should be used on top of a varied, nutrient-rich whole foods way of eating. Remember to JERF: just eat real food!
If you need help designing the most appropriate whole foods diet for you, contact me for a free 20-minute phone consultation to see if my services would be good for you.