I didn't particularly want to write this post, but since I think Weston talks a lot of sense, and flies in the face of what constitutes received wisdom about what constitutes a healthy diet, I think it is necessary. There is no Weston diet as such, there is not a menu, it just talks about what our bodies were designed to eat, and why those foods are healthy. Much of the basic building blocks can be scientifically proved to be correct, and the more I read the more I realise he will be proved right by further modern scientific investigation. And because the site talks about health, that means male health and sexual health too.
The tagline on the Weston A Price website is "Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts". Basically a dentist Weston A Price at the beginning of the 20th Century visited a number of Pacific South Sea Islands and discovered that those islanders who had not been exposed to western diets, were much healthier than their counterparts who had been. This manifested itself in healthier teeth, wider faces, and resistance to disease, absence of things like cancer and heart disease. So Weston set about finding out what was the distinguishing features of these healthier islanders. In retrospect this was an unrivalled window of opportunity because, it would not be long before western culture totally invaded all the islands and one island therefore became indistinguishable from the others, and their health rates deteriorated. In his island hopping activities, he was a bit similar to Charles Darwin who basically formulated his theory of evolution from a comparison of Galapagos island finches, and we know how iconoclastic that idea has been
As I said Weston essentially put down the difference between the two sets of healthy and unhealthy island peoples to diet. What he discovered was that:
"Well-muscled hunter-gatherers in Canada, the Everglades, the Amazon, Australia and Africa consumed game animals, particularly the parts that civilized folk tend to avoid--organ meats, glands, blood, marrow and particularly the adrenal glands--and a variety of grains, tubers, vegetables and fruits that were available. African cattle-keeping tribes like the Masai consumed no plant foods at all--just meat, blood and milk"
(PS, we've seen those pictures of the Amazonian hunters. yes we know they get more exercise, but they have the kind of bodies we would die for, and many of them are fathering children in their eighties- so they must be eating right too- right?)
"South Seas islanders and the Maori of New Zealand ate seafood of every sort--fish, shark, octopus, shellfish, sea worms--along with pork meat and fat, and a variety of plant foods including coconut, manioc and fruit. Whenever these isolated peoples could obtain sea foods they did so--even Indian tribes living high in the Andes. These groups put a high value on fish roe which was available in dried form in the most remote Andean villages. Insects were another common food, in all regions except the Arctic. The foods that allow people of every race and every climate to be healthy are whole natural foods--meat with its fat, organ meats, whole milk products, fish, insects, whole grains, tubers, vegetables and fruit--not newfangled concoctions made with white sugar, refined flour and rancid and chemically altered vegetable oils."http://www.westonaprice.org/traditional-diets/ancient-dietary-wisdom
Now you and I with our modern diets could not be farther from our ancestors in what we eat. I for one will not be picking up locusts tomorrow and having tried organ meats such as liver, and unpasteurised raw cheese, I found them relatively unpalatable. But then that is because we are too accustomed to sugar, salt and highly processed foods. The most obvious thing though about Weston is that it is common sense. Ancient cultures living in relative harmony with their surroundings for millennia each discovered what were the best foods to give them the biggest health benefits. Bear in mind that they would not have survived in the absence of modern healthcare to propagate the species without careful analysis of what foods worked. In fact most cultures actually had a whole trial and error system for evaluating those foods, mainly based on giving them to healthy young adults first, before accepting them into their lifestyles.
But Weston makes some extraordinary statements that you can read for yourself on the website, many of which are contrary to our popular understanding of health maintenance through nutrition.
1. Organ meats contain more vitamins than vegetables.
2. Fats, including LARD are good for you!
3. Fat doesn't make you fat.
4. Cholesterol is not the enemy, particularly from animal products.
5. Red meat does not cause inflammation.
6. Fat and meat do not cause heart disease.
Of course what I am saying here is tantamount to heresy. Everyone knows that fat is bad for you, or if you want to split hairs that there are good and bad fats. But again bear in mind that if what I am saying is false then how come Masai peoples can live off nothing but their own cattle? Eskimos living in the Arctic circle survive on a diet of reindeer meat, reindeer milk, bone marrow and fish? And those peoples are healthier than we are- or at least continue to be so if they eschew western influences on their diet. Yes they do eat veg when they can get it- they're not stupid- but it is in short supply.
And I know these guys exercise more, but they also eat more calories. Isn't there a happy medium of eating nutrient dense foods that fit our lifestyles and avoiding nutrition-less foods and empty calories from sugary snacks? In this regard less is more, eating nutrition dense foods, means we need to eat less, because we feel fuller and at least if we are not exercising, we are also not eating foods that make us fatter faster- like sugar; more of this later.....
If there is one take away message from Weston it is that these primitive societies and modern indigenous cultures go out of their way to secure foods that are rich in Vitamin's A and D. It just so happens that we get quite a proportion of vitamin D from sunlight, triggering it's production in our skin. Vitamin D cannot therefore be absorbed sufficiently in higher latitudes in the Arctic circle where there is no sunlight for 6 months of the year. If it were not for the fact that Eskimos could get it from fish livers, those cultures would not be able to even exist. And it happens to be the case that the best source of these vitamins are stored in animal livers, just as we also store vitamin A in our livers. Vitamin A can be taken from vegetable sources but only in barely adequate doses. Weston effectively says that there are virtually no upper limits on the amount of vitamin A that we can ingest, which is also fiercely contested by the medical profession. An example used in the site is that of sailors eating whale blubber which contains 1,000 of times the government RDA. In fact modern doctors deliberately tell pregnant women to reduce their intake when primitive peoples deliberately set aside vitamin A foods for expectant mothers.http://www.westonaprice.org/fat-soluble-activators/vitamin-a-saga
But this also has relevance to our sexual health because we can get the following from animal products- cholesterol, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin D, all of which we need to produce testosterone. So if we are not getting enough of these nutrients we won't perform. Not to mention that animal products provide us with a full range of amino acids- eggs are in fact the gold index for measuring comparative foods amino acid profile. And since Arginine which is the precursor of nitric oxide, is an amino acid, the best sources are animal products.http://www.westonaprice.org/mens-health/vitamin-a-forgotten-bodybuilding-nutrient
Vitamin D: http://www.westonaprice.org/caustic-commentary/caustic-commentary-summer-2005
Cholesterol and Testosterone: http://www.westonaprice.org/know-your-fats/cholesterol-friend-or-foe
I think this passage is particularly important:"Without cholesterol we would not be able to have children because every sex hormone in our bodies is made from cholesterol. A fair percentage of our infertility epidemic can be laid at the doorstep of the diet-heart hypothesis. The more eager we became to fight animal fats and cholesterol, the more problems with normal sexual development, fertility and reproduction we started to face. About a third of western men and women are infertile, and increasing numbers of our youngsters are growing up with abnormalities in their sex hormones".
Now I am not a cheerleader for Weston per se- because I found the main foods barely palatable, but I do take a daily cod liver oil capsule, and I'm now reducing my refined sugar intake. It makes sense because the diets are tested historically and across cultures. And some of Weston's findings are now becoming mainstream. It is only 10 years ago that my doctor told me that cod liver oil is only good for aching joints, but now there is solid evidence that cod liver oil contain essential
fatty acids, Omega acids, that we can't do without. http://www.westonaprice.org/cod-liver-oil/cod-liver-oil-basics
Much of our brains are made up of phospholids which are made up from these essential fatty acids, which is why cod liver oil is great for children with developing brains and can help them perform better at school.
Now there are specific criticisms of the Weston diet built around misunderstandings about what causes heart disease. Some would even say that Weston is all very well for those people who are still out hunter gathering, but not for modern sedentary males.
Well first off, things like Beef don't cause heart diseasehttp://www.westonaprice.org/food-features/its-the-beef
The point is that fat from beef doesn't make up arterial plaques, and death rates do not go up for people on fatty diets. All from the article above, but Weston explains these subjects in greater detail elsewhere- particularly the lipid hypothesis. The lipid hypothesis is what all of western medical science with regard to heart disease is based on, and it is a bust. It isn't actually true. It turns out all this comes out of the fact that cholesterol levels are being rammed down our throats because modern medical science has discovered how to measure them, and therefore they must be measured. That the actual scientific theory all boils down to one study is hardly enough evidence to build a whole panic around. http://www.westonaprice.org/traditional-diets/mediterranean-diethttp://www.westonaprice.org/search/search?q=lipid+hypothesis+heart&w1=before&d1=&w2=before&d2=http://www.westonaprice.org/cardiovascular-disease/what-causes-heart-disease
That is not to say that fat people are not at risk of a variety of diseases, being obese is terrible for your health-it is just that fat doesn't make you fat, refined sugars and carbohydrates do. And that evidence is everywhere not just on Weston.http://www.google.co.uk/#sclient=psy-ab&fhp=1&hl=en&safe=off&fhp=1&biw=1193&bih=626&source=hp&q=fat%20doesn't%20make%20you%20fat&pbx=1&oq=&aq=&aqi=&aql=&gs_sm=&gs_upl=&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=dadf24f08248c534&pf=p
Basically we can't metabolize fat quickly enough to lay it down as fat in our bodies- sugar however is the opposite. Sugar is almost pure fuel for energy and too much of it and our bodies have to shuttle it away into fat storage, unless we are being really active- mostly around our guts.
As for fats causing inflammation. If you Google this you will get a mixed message, because plenty of people still believe that this is the case. But again even this is a misconception. What inflammation is caused is generally protective:http://www.westonaprice.org/food-features/its-the-beef
" This hypothesis is predicated on the fact that meat contains arachidonic acid, a fatty acid from which the supposedly pro-inflammatory Series Two prostaglandins—local tissue hormones—are formed. This is one of the nuttiest notions to take hold in the scientific community for a long time. It was promulgated by Barry Sears, author of The Zone, and taken up with a vengeance by the anti-meat forces. These people know nothing about prostaglandins. Some of the prostaglandins that the body makes from arachidonic acid do indeed promote inflammation—which is a very important protective response when you have injured yourself. But the same arachidonic acid also forms the basis of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins that the body uses, when appropriate, to reduce inflammation.19 And besides, the amount of arachidonic acid in beef is very low—less than half a percent of total fat content. It is much lower than the amount of omega-3 fatty acids, the current darlings of the nutritional community, yet none of the voices promoting omega-3 fatty acids ever tell us that we can get them from beef."
I don't buy that being sedentary makes any difference. If you are fat, you've been overindulging in the wrong foods and not getting enough exercise. So the remedy is to eat right and exercise. Fats from animal products won't kill you before sugar does. Yes hydrogenated fats are bad for you, in fact they are some of the worst things you can put in your body- but they are artificial creations not found in nature.
I challenge anyone to read all the articles that Weston has amassed on this page, and still tell me that Weston is wrong! http://www.westonaprice.org/know-your-fats
You'll notice a link too, on MSG, which is the other food additive I now avoid like the plague.
Now of course why am I still suffering from ED if I have adopted these dietary hints? Well of course, I haven't and I won't. I'm still fat around the middle and I don't exercise. I only stopped taking refined sugar in the last month, and my only real addition is cod liver oil. I don't like the taste of cow's liver. But I am trying to eat better and less crap- so we shall see.