Diets of Traditional Cultures
When looking at the diets of various traditional cultures, we immediately discover two things:
|There is a distinct lack of any of the chronic and autoimmune diseases rampant in the westernized world today.|
|There are some cultures who often lived in perfect health to 100 yrs. old or more, with none of the degenerative diseases we have now come to associate with old age.|
Weston A. Price Foundation
There are also many independently published dietary intervention studies that clearly show certain dietary principles from these cultures can not only prevent, but also reverse degenerative disease, eliminate the need for medication, and restore the body to health.
Villages & tribes worldwide - Teeth tell the story...
Harvard University's Dr. Percy Howe ran a series of articles in Dental Digest that discussed the results of his dental experiments. He found that animals fed their natural diet had good, strong teeth, but when they were fed a deficient diet that was developed for "civilized people," teeth problems emerged. Dr. Howe concluded that the teeth deficiencies in children were at least in part the result of deficiencies in the diet of the mother before the child was born, as well as the diet of the child. This is because it is not just about teeth, it is also about cranial development and bone structure of the face and jaw. When a diet is deficient, bones do not develop as they should, nor do teeth.
The Findings of Dr. Weston A. Price
Dr. Weston A. Price,(1) a Cleveland dentist considered the "Isaac Newton of Nutrition," studied various traditional cultures throughout the world and made a direct correlation between dental deformities and diet. He also discovered that if parents eat a healthy diet, they have a better chance of having children with straighter teeth and clearer eyesight. The findings of his well-respected research have been published in peer review journals.
In all the groups he studied, Dr. Price found beautiful straight teeth, little to no tooth decay, and children who were healthy, strong, and alert. No dental deformities were found, and no cancer was evidenced whatsoever in either adults or children when eating their traditional foods. Dr. Price found that their foods provided at least 4 times the amount of calcium and other minerals, and at least 10 times the fat-soluble vitamins from animal foods such as unpasteurized butter, fish eggs, shellfish, and organ meats as compared to today's westernized diet. The healthiest tribes he visited incorporated some raw animal foods in their diets.
In general, native societies who ate traditional foods had beautiful teeth and suffered from little to no disease. Children with tooth decay were a result of deviating from traditional diets in favor of a more modern and nutrient-deficient diet. Western diseases developed when natives visited westernized locations and ate the "modern, new foods." Dr. Price noted that they recovered from these illnesses when they returned back to their traditional diets.
What Was This Magical Diet?
The villages and tribes Dr. Price studied were far and wide, including Switzerland, Gaelic communities in the Outer Hebrides, Eskimos, American Indians of North America, Melanesian and Polynesian South Sea Islanders, African tribes, Australian Aborigines, the New Zealand Maori, and Indians of South America.
Depending on the part of the globe Dr. Price visited, foods eaten were extremely varied but all had the same thing in common. They did not include chemicals, unnatural preservatives, were not processed, did not contain any artificial coloring or flavoring, were not genetically modified or irradiated, nor were any dairy products pasteurized. The result was healthy and robust populations that did not exhibit any of the sicknesses or dental deformities associated with the western world.
A first weaning food in many of these cultures was liver, and these babies slept well and did not cry. Their bodies were strong and healthy, and their emotional temperaments were even. The moment their diets were altered to include other food sources and westernized foods, tooth decay began to occur. This provided an important clue that tooth decay is a sign of a poor diet. When modern disease followed, so did teeth problems, as well as altered facial and mouth structure.
Native societies who ate their traditional foods were very attractive with beautiful teeth. When modern foods arrived, the beautiful smiles disappeared, and healthy dental characteristics were lost.
|Good skeletal development and muscles.||Poor development and posture. Easily injured.|
|Keen eyesight and hearing.||Poorer eyesight and hearing.|
|Optimal functioning of organs.||Compromised function of organs.|
|Optimistic and happy, learns easily.||Prone to depression, behavioral problems, and learning problems.|
|Round pelvic opening, easy childbirth.||Oval pelvic opening, more difficult childbirth.|
|Straight teeth.||Crooked, crowded teeth.|
This was a healthy and robust population, with no tooth decay and children who were strong and alert. They also did not cry, the conclusion being that they were not hungry or lacking for nutrients. Any missing teeth were due to chewing on leather for clothing. No dental deformities were found, and no cancer was evidenced whatsoever from people eating traditional foods. Western diseases only began to surface when these individuals visited areas where they ate westernized foods. Recovery from illness was noted when these individuals returned to their traditional diets.
Their diet consisted of:
- Raw animal fat
- Seal oil
- Eskimo ice-cream (seal oil with berries)
- Fermented fish (which they noticed gave people more strength and stamina)
- Raw meat in large quantities, especially fatty meat with the organs eaten first
- Lean meat dried and smoked, spread with fat
- Sacred foods (dried salmon eggs, considered important for healthy babies)
There have been several long-term studies conducted on Alaskan and Eskimo tribes who ate large quantities of fatty animal products, yet no evidence of heart disease or high cholesterol were found. These healthy fats were not the highly processed, cooked fats of today, and nor did they come from factory-farmed animals pumped with antibiotics and growth hormones fed an unnatural diet of genetically modified corn or soy.
Switzerland Mountain Villages
This population was heavily nourished on dairy and grains. Several popular diets claim that dairy and grains are not fit for human consumption, but there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. Dr. Price found less than 1% of tooth decay, and children had straight teeth and no dental deformities. Their faces were round, and their frames were strong and stout. They did not brush their teeth (which, although covered in green slime, had no teeth decay). At a time when TB was a #1 health concern in Europe, there had never been a single case in the villages.
Their diet consisted of:
- Raw dairy (whole milk, lots of butter and cream eaten in large quantities)
- Rye (made into dense sourdough bread, hung on a hook and cured for 2 weeks)
- Meat eaten once a week (the entire animal, including the organs, fat, and bones in soups)
- Vegetables (eaten only during the summer months)
Once connected to modern commerce via roads, with foods being trucked in contrary to their traditional diet, tooth decay began, as did TB. Children born after the road came into the village had dental deformities, including crowded and crooked teeth.
Gaelic Villages (off the coast of Scotland)
Again, virtually no tooth decay or TB was found. Their diet consisted of:
- Seafood (every type, with the entire fish eaten)
- Oats (used for porridge and oat cakes)
- Fermented foods
- Sacred foods (e.g. cod heads stuffed with oats and cod liver)
South Seas Villages
Again, perfect teeth and facial structure were noted. There were no diseases from the western world, and huge, happy smiles were noted. Their diet consisted of:
- Sea animals (including octopus and crab, with the shell ground and added to food)
- Pig (roasted in an underground oven and eaten whole)
- Taro (fermented underground for 2 weeks)
- Fatty sea worms (eaten as treats)
No Vegetarian Diets Were Noted
Although there are cultures where semi-vegetarian diets exist (see below - Semi-Vegetarian Cultures), Dr. Weston noted no vegetarian diets in the people he studied, but rather the opposite - cultures ate large quantities of animal products. Animal protein was usually eaten raw, never pasteurized, and never contained the dangerous chemicals in today's factory-farmed meat and dairy. For centuries, many cultures have been eating animal protein, including the Eskimos, Native Americans, Africans, Europeans, Chinese, and Tibetans.
If you have become a vegetarian because you feel that it is unhealthy to eat meat, this is not the case. What is unhealthy and unnatural is the quality of the meat and dairy that we eat today, and the animal cruelty rampant on factory farms. If you have given up meat, but your body still craves it, respect what your body needs. At this moment, it may need animal protein. Some people thrive on a diet free of animal products, while other do not. The quality and amount of meat we eat does, however, affect the vibrational frequency of our bodies and can make us more susceptible to disease.
The Body Healer Protocol...
If you do eat meat, please take the time to understand what factory farming is (99% of the meat in the US is factory-farmed - if it is not organic or pasture-raised, it is factory-farmed), why you should never eat factory-farmed meat, and how to make responsible decisions when it comes to purchasing and eating meat.
- Why is factory farming banned in other countries?
- Why is eating factory-farmed meat dangerous for your health?
- Eat meat responsibly: Your choices make a difference
A Very Different Health Picture
The "civilized world" is arrogant enough to think that they can learn nothing from traditional cultures, and think these cultures should feel "lucky" to have westernized modernization and its benefits - which includes the very food that brought them the chronic diseases we have created. In reality, it is us who have much to learn from them.
There is hardly a child born today that does not have asthma, allergies, or has dental deformities requiring braces. Many even have cancer and arthritis, and are obese or overweight. Dental issues are VERY RARELY genetic - they are nutritional, a result of diet during pregnancy and during infancy and early childhood. The first bones that are affected by poor diet are the jawbones, which should be nice and broad. Broad jawbones lead to straight and uncrowded teeth. It is interesting to note the many of the movie stars earlier in the century had broader and fuller faces. They radiated natural health and beauty. This was a time before food industrialization, when foods were not sprayed with dangerous pesticides or filled with chemicals, when dairy was not pasteurized, and when animals were raised naturally on pastures.
We Can Reverse the Trend of Degeneration
We can actively reverse this trend of physical degeneration, but it does take more than one generation. If parents eat a healthy diet, then they have a chance of having children with straighter teeth and better eyesight. This conclusion is based on the exhaustive observations of Dr. Price.
#1 - Hunza's
In a survey of the long-living Hunza's, Pakistani nutritionist Dr. Magsood Ali found that, "their almost-vegetarian diet had a very low caloric intake of 1,923 calories with 50 grams of protein, 36 grams of fat, and 354 grams of carbohydrates. Meat and dairy products constituted only 1.5% of the total."(3 - Cited) The diet of the Hunza's is composed mainly of grains (wheat, barley, and buckwheat), jobs, and small seeds. Green vegetables, root vegetables, pumpkins, and plenty of cottage cheese were eaten, as well as beans, chickpeas, and other pulses such as lentils and sprouted pulses. Fruits include mainly wild apricots and berries, which were eaten fresh or sun-dried. Meat was eaten only on rare occasions.
#2 - Vilcabamban's
Similar figures have been reported by Dr. Guillermo Vela of Quito in Ecuador, who found an extremely low caloric consumption among the elderly of Vilcabamba. The average daily diet provided 1,200 calories, with 35 grams of protein, 12-19 grams of fat, and 200-260 grams of carbohydrates. Protein and fat were mainly from vegetables.(4)
#3 - Abkhazian's
Dr. Sula Benet, Professor of Anthropology at Hunter College in New York, studied individuals in the Soviet Republic of Abkhazia. Their diet consisted of abista (a corn meal mash cooked in water) eaten with dipping sauces, raw goat's milk cheese, and very little meat. Other staples include fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, a wide variety of pickled vegetables, and lima beans slow cooked and mashed, and served with a sauce of onions, peppers, garlic, pomegranate juice, and pepper. Large quantities of garlic were always at hand.
They drank neither coffee nor tea, but they consumed a locally produced dry red wine of low alcoholic content at lunch and dinner, and considered it "life giving." Local honey was also used.(5)
The Abkhazians were blessed with good eyesight, most had their own teeth, and their posture was unusually erect, even in old age. Many of the 70+yr old people walked several miles and swam in mountain streams. There were no reported cases of either mental illness or cancer in a-9 year study of 123 Abkhasians over 100 years old. Overeating was considered dangerous, and fat people were regarded as ill.
#4 - The Tarahumara Indian's
The Tarahumara Indian's main source of nutrition included maize, pumpkin, beans, wild plants, and some sweet-water fish. Meat was only eaten occasionally at special ceremonies. They commonly engaged in ultra-long distance runs for 24-48 hours (150-300 km), in which teams competed for a ball they kick forward on mountain paths.
These cultures all share several common features in their lifestyle that are considered powerful contributors to their long-livedness:
- A very large amount of physical activity (walking, hiking, farming practices), from childhood to old age. They exhibited a high degree of cardiovascular fitness as well as muscular strength.
- A frugal, semi-vegetarian diet low in calories.
Dr. Alexander Leaf, a professor of clinical medicine at Harvard Medical School and author of Youth in Old Age, also noted that a frugal diet and an active lifestyle were hallmarks of long-lived people of the Caucasus (Abkhazian's), the Karakorum Range (Hunza's), and the Andes (Vilcabamban's).(3)
A word about soy...
Concern over the dangers of soy are so significant that foreign governments and multiple agencies have issued warnings against it, including the:
- Israeli Health Ministry
- British Dietetic Association
- French Food Agency
- German Institute of Risk Assessment
- Australian & New Zealand Food Agency
In Asian cultures, soy was never consumed as the processed product and in the massive quantities it is consumed today. It was also never used as a replacement for animal foods. The exact opposite is true. Soy was eaten in very small quantities that Americans would consider a condiment. Fermented soy is a very different, very flavorful product used to create foods such as miso, natto, tamari, and unpasteurized soy sauce (nama shoyu) - the true soy of Asian cultures. If not fermented, the whole soybean (edamame) was boiled, and was never genetically modified.
Epidemiological studies have shown that the historic soy consumption in both China and Japan is tiny:
- In Japan, average soy consumption is about 30g/day (2 tablespoons)
- In China, average soy consumption is about 10g/day (2 teaspoons)
Christopher Dawson, owner of Clearspring (a maker of organic soy sauces and other products), lived in Japan for 18 years and his Japanese wife is a cooking teacher. Dawson stated "I never saw soy beans on the table in Japan - they are considered indigestible." But soy consumption has now exploded worldwide as food manufacturers have rushed to capitalize on the sale of soy-based products packaged in containers blazoning false health claims.
The problem with soy today is 4-fold:
- The sheer quantity that is eaten
- How it is processed and refined
- The fact that most of it is now genetically modified
- Lack of fermentation to increase digestibility by breaking down the proteins and starches
What Is Processed Soy
Food manufacturers begin with a de-fatted soy protein meal (a result of the industrial crushing process). The raw beans are broken down into thin flakes, which are then percolated with a petroleum-basedMany cheap-grade soy sauces are no longer fermented over a period of time, but rather are made in 2 days. De-fatted soy flour is mixed at high temperatures and under pressure with hydrochloric acid to create hydrolyzed vegetable protein. Salt, caramel, chemical preservatives, and artificial flavorings are then added to create artificial color and taste. This rapid method of hydrolysis uses an enzyme as a reactor to create the unnatural form of glutamate found in MSG. This chemical excitotoxin is highly addictive. to extract the soy oil. The remains of the flakes are toasted and ground into a protein meal, much of which is now used in animal feed as well as for soy veggie burgers, sausages, and soy "cheeze." Similarly, soy flour is cleaned, bleached, and deodorized (to remove the smell of the oil). The lecithin that forms during the oil storage used to be discarded as a waste product, but is now used as a food emulsifier.
This is the soy that has been shown to have damaging effects on the body, and is the soy filling millions of processed, packaged, liquidized, and frozen human and pet foods today.
Cleverly deceptive marketing techniques cover product packages with false health claims and pictures of healthy, active people enjoying soy products. The term "heart healthy" is slapped on many of them. Exploiting soy for profit is big business. The food industry has spent millions to convince consumers that soy products are part of the new, healthy food revolution by blazing ridiculous health claims on their packaging. The American Heart Association has stated that "soy does not lower cholesterol, nor does it prevent disease."
A word about grains & gluten...
Traditional cultures intuitively knew how to prepare their grains using methods such as soaking/germinating and fermentation. These methods helped the body to absorb the nutrients in the grains, and also reduced and eliminated anti-nutrients such as phytic acid. These grains were much simpler, non-hybridized, and definitely not genetically modified with new protein structures.
As little as 30 years ago, allergies and reactions to food items containing gluten were largely non-existent. We never heard of people having a gluten intolerance. But again, the gluten in our food chain today is radically different from the gluten eaten by traditional cultures. 30 years ago, peanuts allergies were almost unheard of, and yet today, peanut allergies are a serious health issue. In fact, bringing peanuts into some schools can create an uproar. Food allergies and intolerances are not just on the rise - they are reaching epidemic proportions.
Why has gluten become a sudden
health issue for so many people today?
A word about cooked foods...
Contrary to the beliefs of some people, raw meat and fish are not "biologically inappropriate foods." Those following the Natural Hygiene philosophy especially feel very strongly that humans are not carnivores, and were never biologically built to eat flesh products. This is not true. What we were not biologically built to eat was the highly processed diet of today. Many traditional cultures and their indigenous diets show that not only did they eat meat and dairy, but some consumed a diet very high in these products. Evidence shows them to be robust and healthy, and free of today's diseases.
The Inuit Eskimos are a clear example of a culture whose indigenous food mainly consisted of raw meats and fish on a very high fat diet, yet heart disease, high cholesterol, and cancer were unheard of. They lived free of the degenerative conditions today that are synonymous with old age. It was only when food industrialization expanded the availability of westernized foods that our diseases appeared in these cultures. (see below in the Eskimos section)
The issue of food safety is, however, and entirely separate matter. Yes, you can get sick from eating raw meat and fish (as those of us who eat sushi are aware). Yes, you have to be very careful about where you buy raw meat and fish from and how you handle it. Always ensure you only purchase raw products from a reputable manufacturer. Like any food, if it is from an unsanitary environment and it is not handled appropriately, then you put your health at risk.
Raw cheese is now available in almost every major supermarket chain in the natural food section. Raw milk is also available in the supermarkets and health food stores in several US states for purchase, whereas it is illegal in others.
A word about eggs, meat & dairy...
Weston A. Price Foundation
There are many examples of traditional cultures that thrived on meat and dairy, but today's factory-farmed meat and dairy is vastly different in terms of quality and nutritional value compared to what our ancestors were nourished on. Much of this animal protein was consumed raw, cured, or fermented.
- Livestock was naturally organic, with no dangerous pesticides sprayed onto grazing grounds.
- Livestock was grass fed its natural diet, which translates to a much healthier meat. Today, factory-farmed animals are fed a highly processed and unnatural diet filled with genetically modified corn or soy.
- Livestock were never fed pharmaceuticals. Today, 80% of the antibiotics in the US are used by the agricultural industry.
- Livestock were never fed growth hormones, or other chemicals to artificially fatten them to the point that their limbs become deformed. This and other cruel practices are common on today's factory farms.
- Dairy was never pasteurized, which seriously compromises not only its nutritional value and enzyme content of the dairy, but also the digestibility of milk proteins. Back then, the nutrients and enzymes remained intact. Today, pasteurized milk products are very unhealthy food items that should be no part of our food chain.
Many different civilizations throughout history used large amounts of raw butter, milk, cream, and cheese, and maintained a very high standard of health, comparatively free from the high cholesterol and cardiovascular problems of today, even through to old age. Raw milk and its products have a long history of use as foods in Europe, Russia, and the Balkans. Well-known Russian scientist Dr. Ilya Mechnikov, one of the founders of modern immunology, linked the longevity of the Bulgarian people to their consumption of raw dairy, and reported that many Bulgarian peasants lived a century because they used raw milk and its products lavishly, with no danger of high cholesterol. These cultures consumed a great deal of dairy products, yet diseases of the heart and blood vessels were comparatively rare.(5)
But raw milk products are very different from their pasteurized counterpart today. The enzyme "lipase" which helps us predigest and metabolize dairy fat is destroyed during pasteurization, and an important study showed that those who are overweight are often deficient in this enzyme. The study concluded that obesity and abnormal cholesterol deposits are significantly impacted by eating fats that are deficient in lipase, which is only found in raw, fatty foods (both plant-based and animal-based). There is something in raw milk and raw butter that negates high cholesterol. Evidence points to lipase as being the missing link (see "Eskimos" below).
Is dairy bad for us? The answer is both yes and no. The milk and dairy available today in stores is not a healthy product. It is pasteurized, homogenized, and comes from confined animals pumped with antibiotics and hormones who are raised on unnatural diets. After this milk has been processed beyond all recognition, it is then "fortified" with vitamin D2 (meaning that artificial vitamins are added to a product that did not contain it to begin with - milk does not, nor has it ever naturally contained vitamin D2). The final product in no way resembles a healthy food item.
Pasteurized milk only serves to acidify the body, which forces the body to release alkaline minerals in order to balance this excess acidity. One of these alkaline minerals is calcium, which the body leaches from bones and teeth to restore the acid/alkaline balance in the body. It is no coincidence that countries which consume the most pasteurized dairy products also suffer the highest rates of osteoporosis and weak bones.
Dairy & Digestibility
Not everybody can easily digest dairy. Biologically, our bodies adapt to digest the foods that our ancestors ate, which is why certain ethnic races can digest foods that others do not tolerate as well. Dairy is a good example of this, with various indigenous people consuming high amounts of dairy with no health issues. Some people feel that dairy is not an appropriate food for the body and that it is an unhealthy food, but this is not true. Do some people react negatively to dairy? Yes, they do, just as some people react negatively to various other foods. Unpasteurized dairy is not an unhealthy food when handled properly.
For many Americans, milk is not easily digested after childhood. Pasteurization has a role to play in this, as pasteurization destroys the enzymes that help us predigest the milk proteins. But it is also important to remember that infants produce rennin and lactase up to the age of 3, both of which help break down the protein and sugars in milk. After the age of 3, the body no longer produces these enzymes because milk is no longer required by the body. This is why breast milk is called "the perfect first food."
For many, milk causes the body to produce mucus. As our body attempts to digest the milk protein, it increases mucous production as a form of respiratory elimination. A reaction to dairy is not always apparent until it is removed from the diet completely for a period of 2 weeks and the body's sensitivity is reset. Once reintroduced, mucus is then often immediately experienced in the back of the throat (which feels like a post-nasal drip). Many people who experience this reaction to pasteurized milk do not have the same adverse reaction to unpasteurized milk, likely because the enzymes present in unpasteurized milk that help us digest the milk proteins have not been destroyed.
Milk & Increased Osteoporosis & Bone-Related Diseases
Countries with the highest milk and dairy intake also have the highest incidences of osteoporosis and bone-related disease. For every study showing processed foods fortified with vitamin D (and calcium) are good for you, more show they are bad. But common sense should clearly tell us that artificial nutrients added to an already processed food is definitely not healthy.The processed food industry is more than happy to continue the deception. They also will not tell you that the artificial calcium added to dairy and many other processed foods may increase your risk of heart attack by up to 30%.
Why Many Are Becoming Vegetarians or Vegans
In the US, we have plentiful access to raw cheese. But unless you have access to raw milk from a reputable source, and free range organic meats, and eggs from free-range chickens, cutting out dairy and meat is a great idea because they are no longer healthy food choices. Purchasing these products also contributes to the animal cruelty very common in factory farms.
A word about saturated fats & cholesterol...
Many doctors do not understand that the major contributing factors to heart disease come from:
- The saturated fats from our heavily processed and refined food chain.
- The pasteurization of our dairy.
- The dangerous health impact from eating factory-farmed meat.
- Our sedentary lifestyle.
- Our high level of stress.
What About Cholesterol?
Even though dairy and eggs have been accused of contributing to cholesterol, the NIH (National Institutes of Health) created a massive, double-blind study replacing animal fats with polyunsaturated oils, and abandoned it after 2 years, stating that this diet change did NOT lower cholesterol levels as much as they expected.
Fermented foods were common...
The Body Healer Protocol...
Weston A. Price
The Native Americans fermented cooked corn meal for two weeks, wrapped in corn husks, before preparing it as a flat bread or tortilla. Fermented foods are also part of the daily diet in many other countries:
A Korean specialty consisting of spicy, fermented vegetables.
Fermented soybean products
Such as tempeh, miso, and natto (which is distinct-tasting, high in plant protein, and can be tossed into salads.). Eaten by millions, kabitofu is a Chinese food prepared from soybean curd.
A creamy fermented milk product that originated centuries ago in the eastern European Caucasus mountains. It is made by adding kefir grains to milk. Kefir contains several major strains of friendly bacteria, such as lactobacillus caucasus, leuconostoc, acetobacter species, and atreptococcus species. The longevity of the Caucasus mountain people has been associated with their consumption of kefir. Many lactose intolerant people are able to tolerate kefir with no adverse reaction because although it contains lactose, the live cultures in it act to “predigest” elements in the kefir, helping the body then effectively digest it.
Raw Kombucha Tea
Made by placing a kombucha mushroom in sweetened black tea. The bacteria and yeast from the mushroom cause the tea to ferment. Kombucha is an acidic, sharp-tasting drink that tastes best refrigerated, and is found in the refrigerated section of health food stores.
Such as cabbage, turnips, eggplant, cucumbers, onions, squash, and carrots are prepared by many cultures worldwide.
This fermented drink is enjoyed by Indians before dinner, based on the principle of using sour milk as a probiotic delivery system to the body.
Chopped cabbage pickled in brine has been used by numerous cultures for its health benefits.
The national dish of Lebanon, kibbeh consists of raw lamb and crushed wheat, pounded together for about an hour, and then kneaded, seasoned, and eaten raw. The enzymes (cathepsin and lipase) in the meat, and the protease, amylase, and lipase of the wheat which are activated when pounded, assist in pre-digestion and inactivation of enzyme inhibitors.(7)
A sour porridge commonly eaten in central America which is fermented for several days to reduce phytic acid content.
Nijimanche & Masato
Consumed by the Jivaros Indians, nijimanche is made by the women who chew the yucca plant and store the thoroughly chewed product in large jars which causes it to ferment in the saliva. Adults drink 4-5 quarts a day. The Yagua of the Amazon River have a similar product called masato, except that they added cane sap to the yucca mixture.
A fermented, cassava-based beer brewed by the Caribbean natives of the Lesser Antilles.
A traditional Quechua food prepared from fermented potato pulp.
A fermented beverage of maize or manioc broken down by the enzymes of human saliva, traditional to the Tupinambá and other indigenous people of Brazil.
Fermented Foods of Africa
In Africa, products are fermented for long periods of time to produce foods such as kishk, banku, mawe, and injera:
- KISHK, a fermented product prepared from boiled wheat and milk, and consumed in Egypt and many Arabian countries.
- BANKU, a popular staple consumed in Ghana prepared from maize or a mixture of maize and cassava. The preparation involves steeping the raw material in water for 24 hours, followed by wet-milling and fermentation for three days.
- MAWE, a sour dough prepared from partially de-hulled maize meal that has undergone natural fermentation for a 1-3 day period.
- INJERA, the most popular baked product in Ethiopia is a fermented sorghum bread with a very sour taste. The sorghum grains are de-hulled manually or mechanically, and milled to flour that is subsequently used in the preparation of injera.
The Eskimos: High fat animal-based diet = no disease...
The Eskimos - A Paradox? Not Really
The Inuit diet contains a very high intake of marine oils (a specific peculiarity of the Inuit diet not common in other cultures). They obtained vitamin D from fatty fish and marine oils.
The term "Eskimo" is derived from the American Indian language, and means "he eats it raw." The practice of eating large quantities of raw meat and fish has been reported by many respected authorities as being common in separate Eskimos groups throughout northern regions.
Dr. Rabinowitch, a member of early Canadian exhibitions studied the life, customs, and health of the Canadian Arctic Eskimo and complied some very important research, with his findings published in peer review journals. Looking at the eating habits of these Eskimos offers very valuable insight and helps to dispel some common myths on animal food intake and saturated fat. In the far north, very little plant food is eaten. Traditional Eskimos ate huge quantities of animal products, but this meat was not cooked. It was raw. Eskimos who eat several pounds of raw animal fat per day baffled medical teams who found not only no obesity, but also found clean arteries and a complete lack of heart disease.
Rabinowitch reported that meat was always eaten raw and that livers of all animals except the white bear were eaten. The plant contents of walrus and caribou stomachs were also eaten. Animals such as caribou were left for several days without any disemboweling or cutting, yet no ill effects were observed from eating this meat. Today, people today would consider this "putrefied" meat.
The All Important Cathepsin & Lipase
Raw fat contains the fat-digesting enzyme called "lipase" which is found in all raw foods containing animal or vegetable fat. This enzyme helps our bodies to pre-digest the fat in the foods. Animal flesh and organs also contain cathepsin within the meat itself, which assists us in the digestion of the meat. When an animal ingests another animal for food, the cathepsin inside that prey then becomes inherited by the animal who eats it.
This is contrary to the common approach of cooking meat, which destroys both the lipase and the cathepsin, rendering it more difficult to digest. The easiest way to separate fat from the lipase that helps us digest the fat, is to destroy it by cooking. Lipase was present in olive oil, back when it was thick and opaque. But when factories began refining the oil and producing clearer versions, the commercially prepared oil was stripped of lipase.
Obesity & Lipase
Tests conducted on the abdominal fat of 11 extra heavyweights (ranging from 280-430 lbs, with an average of 340 lbs.) discovered an enzyme deficiency in their fat deposits. Lipase is the enzyme found to be deficient in obese humans, the same enzyme that helps the body to digest and metabolize fat.(8) A conclusion reached was that obesity and abnormal cholesterol deposits are significantly affected by eating fats that are deficient in lipase (which is found in raw, fatty foods, both plant-based and animal-based). This is why traditional cultures such as the Eskimos that ate a high-fat diet of animal foods, ate these foods raw, preserving this important enzyme to help the fats digest appropriately in their bodies.
It is hard to ignore the fact that huge quantities of raw, fatty foods were eaten and yet weight was not an issue. Raw blubber and other fats used by the Eskimo, along with the raw butter that was formerly enjoyed throughout America, were found to not promote any weight gain. Raw fats are evidently very different to cooked ones. Medical reports on primitive, isolated Eskimos discovered no hypertension (high blood pressure) or hardening of the arteries. Lipase is obviously a factor, and is an enzyme missing from most of the refined fats in westernized diets.
- Raw, frozen liver and seal blubber were common foods eaten by primitive Eskimos in Greenland. After a walrus hunt, these Eskimos would dine on raw clams eaten out of the stomach of the walrus.(9)
- Eskimos aged their meat, which naturally assisted in pre-digestion - "aged walrus meat tastes like old, sharp, and rich cheese".(10)
- Siberian Eskimos ate raw, frozen reindeer.(11)
- Alaskan Eskimos are heavy eaters of lean meats and large amounts of blubber, and rarely cooked their meat. It was customary to devour it raw. Titmuck, a frozen, raw fish, was reduced to a consistency requiring ladling and then eaten.(12)
- The diet of Greenland Eskimos included the meat of whale, walrus, seal, caribou, musk ox, arctic hare, polar bear, fox, birds, and fish, all usually eaten raw.(13)
- Anthropologist V. Stefansson lived among the Northern Canadian Eskimo for 7 years and reported the excellent state of health and freedom from disease of the people. He ate the Eskimo diet, which required some time to adapt too. Partially digested plant food from the caribou stomach was removed and eaten as a salad. After returning from the expedition, Stefansson was placed under medical observation and no signs of any nutrient deficiencies were found.
- Over 3,000 primitive Eskimos were examined during 3 trips to the Arctic, with only one overweight person found, even though enormous amounts of fat were eaten.(14)
- Even though the Eskimos lived in freezing temperatures, their dwellings were kept at temperatures of 80-90° F, or even higher from the constant burning of seal-oil lamps. Men living in the dwellings often stripped to the waist for many hours, replenishing liquid lost by sweat by drinking large amounts of melted snow. When exposed to outside temperatures, they were insulated by fur garments. In contrast, Eskimos living under identical conditions of climate, but who lived near white communities and ate an extensively cooked "modern" diet suffered poor health and numerous modern diseases.(15)
- The medical practice of Dr. J. A. Urquhart in the Northwest Territory of Canada studied a population of 4,000 Eskimos and Indians. Their diet consisted almost entirely of fat and protein from whale, fish, fat, blubber, caribou, bear, and seal. He analyzed several thousand urine specimens, testing mainly for diabetes and kidney disease. In the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 1935, Dr. Urquhart wrote about the strong health of both the Eskimos and Indians, and that he had not seen a single case of cancer malignancy.
- A number of traditional aboriginal diets consisted of large quantities of raw meats, organ meats, and berries, including the traditional diet of the Nenet tribe of Siberia.
Should We Eat Raw Flesh?
I am not advocating eating raw flesh. Yes, it can contribute to parasitic infections and bacterial illness if it is not handled properly and from a reputable source. The point is that these foods were very commonly consumed in other cultures that did not suffer from the cardiovascular and high cholesterol conditions that millions of people around the world now suffer from.
Then vs. Now - What Happened
Yes, that was a lot of information to absorb! So here is a handy summary of the important elements that formed the healthy diets of many long-lived cultures around the world and throughout the ages, as compared to today's westernized diet:
In looking at the major differences between traditional diets and today's westernized diet, the biggest difference is the industrialization of our food chain, food that is now filled with chemicals and toxic ingredients that form the bulk of the American diet. For more information, read up on The Dirty Dozen. Some of the chemicals used in popular refined foods within the US are banned in other areas of the world such as Europe, Australia, Japan, and New Zealand because of the recognized health concerns.
When Americanized Food Arrives - Chronic Disease Begins
The health consequences of America food industrialization have had global repercussions, directly impacting the health and wellness of other nations worldwide. People around the world are excited about American products and the American lifestyle, oblivious to the decline in the health and well-being of the American public. Whether it is fast food, movies, or fashion, the influence of America on the world is powerful. Societies are abandoning their traditional diets in favor of becoming fast-food and processed food junkies. As quickly as our chemicalized food spread around the world, so does our cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and growing list of autoimmune disorders. The traditional cultures who previously enjoyed good health and freedom from these diseases are now suffering our fate.
Dr. T. Colin Campbell, American Biochemist and author of critically acclaimed The China Study, noted direct correlations between the introduction of American fast food overtaking the eating habits of traditional cultures, and the rise in chronic and autoimmune health conditions, especially cancer.
- Since it became a state, the number of native Hawaiians suffering diet-related medical conditions has risen dramatically. Once they became more dependent on mainland food, losing access to their traditional foods because of hotels, spas, and golf courses, their health began to decline. With approximately 80% of their diet imported from the mainland US, spam is now a top preferred food.
- In Japan, a country previously synonymous with health and longevity due to a diet rich in organic whole grains, sea vegetables, fish, miso, and vegetables reflected in lovely, clear skin and slim bodies, their health issues now mirror those of the Americans. Obese and overweight individuals include many Japanese youngsters.
- The stark contrast in health is not more apparent than in Africa which, previously associated with hunger and food scarcity, has now seen a drastic rise in diabetes and obesity, with over 1/3 of Africans now considered overweight.
- On a recent trip to Male, Maldives, a local resident who showed us around the island educated us on the culture of his people. He sadly recounted earlier days before "American foods" entered the islands when chronic health issues such as cancer and heart disease simply did not exist. Now, he expressed fear at the growing rates of cancer and heart disease. He was also quick to point out the many significantly overweight people who surrounded us in the marketplace.
View Sources & References
- (1) Weston A. Price Foundation
- (2) People, Plants, & Genes: The Story of Crops & Humanity, by author Denis J. Murphy
- (3) Youth in Old Age, Dr. Alexander Leaf
- (4) European Vegetarian Union, Issue 2 / 1996
- (5) Nobel Prize Winner, Dr. Ilya Mechnikov
- (6) Abkhazia: The Long Living People of the Caucasus. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1974
- (7) National Geographic, William S. Ellis, 1970
- (8) Dr. David Galton, Tufts University School of Medicine
- (9) D. B. MacMillan, authority on the Arctic who lived with primitive Eskimos in Greenland, providing articles on the subject to National Geographic
- (10) The Eskimos, by author K. Birket-Smith
- (11) The Last Voyage of the Karluk, by author Ralph A. Bartlett
- (12) Eating With the Eskimos, by author C. M. Garber
- (13) Dr. W. A. Thomas, physician with a polar exhibition to Greenland
- (14) Dr. V. E. Levine, Omaha, Nebraska
- (15) V, Stefansson & D.B. MacMillan, who lived with the Eskimos for extended periods of time
- Dr. T. Colin Campbell
- Enzyme Nutrition, by author Dr. Edward Howell