Going Back to Our Roots for Better Health

WAPFBy Ali Wetherbee

What is the Weston A. Price Diet?

Dr. Weston A. Price was a dentist from Cleveland who traveled the world studying non-Westernized populations in an effort to discover the secrets to dental health. These isolated populations relied heavily on nutrient-dense foods full of vitamins and minerals, some type of animal protein, a mix of raw and cooked foods, and soaked, sprouted, and fermented foods — with absolutely no refined, processed, or artificial ingredients. He found that those who followed traditional diets were in better health, had stronger, straighter teeth, and were more immune to disease than those who had switched over to modern diets relying heavily on processed foods. The Weston A. Price diet (often shortened to “WAP” or “WAPF”) guidelines recommend eating only real, whole, unprocessed foods. The diet is a return to our traditional roots, and in many ways clashes with the popular nutrition ideologies of limiting fat, oils, cholesterol, salt, eggs, and red meat:

“Fat free is best.”

“Coconut is full of artery-clogging saturated fat.”

“Vegetarians are healthier.”

Mainstream media bombards us with these well-intended catchphrases. But while nutritionists across the country are trying to guide us in better food choices, Americans have continued to face countless health problems — many of which could be prevented or reversed by returning to a traditional diet. Below, we have the top four nutrition myths, busted.

Myth: Cholesterol and saturated fats are bad for the heart.

Fact: Despite the trend of cutting back on saturated fats and cholesterol, heart disease rates have continued to rise in America. Countries including Spain and France, where animal products are regularly consumed, do not have high rates of heart disease. There is little to no evidence supporting the claim that eating foods high in cholesterol and saturated fat contributes to cardiovascular disease or clogged arteries, and arterial plaque is mainly composed of calcium deposits and unsaturated fatty acids — not cholesterol and saturated fat. Cholesterol is essential for brain and nervous system health, helps fight infection and fend off depression, and is a precursor to vitamin D formation.

Myth: A vegetarian or vegan diet is healthiest.

Fact: While some vegetarians suggest that humans were not designed to eat meat, populations following traditional diets have always consumed meat or fish in some form. Our teeth and jaws are specifically designed for tearing and chewing meat, and our bodies produce enzymes to digest certain proteins only found in animals. There are several nutrient requirements that cannot be met on a vegan diet; for example, vegan diets lack vitamin B12 in an absorbable form, as plant-source B12 is not well absorbed. Vegetarians are diagnosed with diseases such as atherosclerosis and cancer just as often (sometimes more often!) as meat-eaters. Additionally, a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that vegetarian men and women are more likely to die than non-vegetarians. The effect was particularly pronounced for women.

Myth: Low fat is the way to go.

Fact: Low fat foods are overly processed, with much of their nutrition removed along with the fat. Those who follow low fat diets are more likely to suffer from depression, fatigue, and mental health problems, and in children, learning disabilities and failure to thrive. Americans consume an excess of omega-6 fatty acids (found in vegetable oils), which is associated with disease, and benefit from omega-3 fatty acids, found in foods such as fish, fish oil, eggs, nuts, and seeds. Saturated fats help fight inflammation, and healthy oils such as coconut oil are associated with lower rates of heart attacks and heart disease.

Myth: Eat more soy — it’s so good for you!

Fact: There is a lot of controversy around this one. Proponents point to the fact that soy has been used for thousands of years and is a staple in Asian diets, so it must be healthy. In fact, soy foods are used sparingly in Asian meals, and almost always in fermented forms. Fermenting neutralizes the toxins in soybeans, but most soy foods sold in America are not fermented and contain high levels of carcinogens. Furthermore, most soy grown in the U.S. is genetically modified. It is also full of phytoestrogens, which disrupt the endocrine system and may lead to thyroid dysfunction, impaired fertility, and hormonally mediated cancers. Soy foods can also deplete the body of calcium, protein, and vitamins D and B12, as these are not properly absorbed from soy and actually cause the body to require more of these nutrients.

The WAPF Diet Guidelines

The Weston A. Price Foundation Diet overcomes these myths and provides the healthiest, most nutritionally sound foods nature has to offer. Below is general outline of WAPF recommendations:

Fruits and Vegetables

  • Choose organic

  • Consume in salads, soups, or steamed

  • Eat lacto-fermented fruits or vegetables regularly

  • Avoid GMO produce and any produce that has been sprayed, waxed, canned

Meat and Seafood

  • Do not avoid animal products; they are essential to health

  • Choose products from naturally-raised animals

  • Use bones to make bone broths, which should be consumed frequently

  • Avoid meat from factory-farmed animals

Dairy

  • Consume dairy from pastured cows

  • Opt for raw or fermented dairy when possible (yogurt, cultured butter, sour cream, fresh whole cheeses)

  • Avoid processed, imitation, pasturized and ultrapasturized dairy

Grains

  • Prepare grains by soaking, sprouting, or sour leavening to reduce phytic acid content and anti-nutrients

  • Avoid white flours and white rice

Fats

  • Use animal fats, including butter

  • Use extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, and sesame and flax oils

  • Avoid refined vegetable oils such as corn, soybean, safflower, and canola oils

  • Avoid polyunsaturated and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils

Other Guidelines

  • Drink and cook with filtered water

  • Choose natural supplements

  • Consume only natural sweeteners (raw honey, stevia, maple syrup), in moderation

  • Use only cast iron, stainless steel, glass, or enamel pots and pans

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