Food, Supplements, Weston A. Price & Nutritional Principles
by Ron Schmid, ND
My Background in Nutrition
About thirty years ago, I recovered my health through natural foods. Eventually I decided to become a naturopathic physician. I went to the National College of Naturopathic Medicine, out in Oregon. I graduated in 1981. I moved to Connecticut then and got my license. I've practiced here ever since.
I've taught courses and seminars in nutrition at four of the accredited naturopathic medical schools in the United States. I served as the Clinic Director and Chief Medical Officer at the University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine. I'm on the Honorary Board of the Weston A. Price Foundation, and I’ve written for the Foundation’s journal, Wise Traditions.
I’m the author of Traditional Foods Are Your Best Medicine, a book about the history of the human diet and what primitive people in remote parts of the world ate and still eat in the few places where people still live in traditional ways. It's a guidebook to traditional dietary wisdom. I’m also the author of The Untold Story of Milk. In these books, I discuss the work of Weston Price, Francis Pottenger, Max Gerson, Henry Beiler, Sir Robert McCarrison, Max Warmbrand and a number of other nutritional pioneers whose studies are like a beacon in a sea of darkness. There's so much confusion about nutrition today, so much hype and false information. How do you sort it all out?
Weston Price and Other Nutrition Pioneers
My answer has been to apply the principles I learned from these men. Perhaps most important is the research and teaching of Weston Price. Dr. Price's most famous book is Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, first published in 1939. Price traveled the world in the 1920s and '30s, living amongst and studying people in so-called primitive cultures. He documented in great detail that as long as these people ate their native diets, they lived in splendid good health, with literally none of the medical problems of people eating modern foods.
That is a critical point. Dr. Price's work proved that people in native cultures everywhere, before contact with European conquerors, enjoyed incredibly good health. Here are several examples:
When Dr. Price interviewed a surgeon named Josef Romeg in Alaska in 1933, Dr. Romeg had been for 35 years caring for both the native people and the settlers who inhabited the seaport trading villages. Price wrote that Romeg told him that in those 35 years, he'd never seen a single case of cancer among the native people living in remote areas where they ate none of the white man's foods—sugar, flour, canned goods, and vegetable oils. These were what Price called the "foods of commerce," which the white men traded for animal skins. Dr. Romeg said that when the native Alaskans began eating these refined foods, they became subject to all of the diseases the white men suffered with-dental disease at first, then rheumatoid arthritis and tuberculosis, and after a few years, cancer. Romeg said that he had taken to sending the sick ones back to their native villages, far from the white man's foods, where they often recovered.
Dr. Price traveled to Switzerland in 1931, to the Loetschental Valley, high in the Swiss Alps. Until just a few months before, when a tunnel had been built, the villages in the Valley had been inaccessible most of the year because of heavy snow, and the people had always lived on their indigenous foods. Price learned that there were no policemen, jails, doctors, or dentists, and no need for them. Meticulous records had been kept for many years about births and deaths in the valley. Price discovered that there had never been a single death from tuberculosis. That's truly amazing, because in those years, tuberculosis was the leading cause of death throughout the world, including the rest of Switzerland.
Another study of the health and vigor of people living on traditional foods was done by a group of Soviet scientists and doctors who examined large numbers of old people in Georgian Russia, in the Caucusus Mountains, in the 1970s. This is an area that's renowned for the strength and vigor of its old people. The doctors could find no evidence of the usual chronic diseases in the hundreds of people they studied - no heart disease, no cancer, no intestinal problems, no diabetes, and none of the marked mental decline so typical in cultures eating refined foods.
Fascinating research was done by a Harvard team of scientists and doctors who traveled to southern Africa in the 1970s to study the Kung people in the Kalihari Dessert. About 12% of the people were over 60, about the same percentage as in America at the time. The doctors found no evidence of any chronic disease in any of over 200 people they examined.
Paul Dudley White was President Eisenhower's personal physician in the fifties when the president had two heart attacks. White was a Harvard educated heart specialist. He'd published a textbook titled Heart Disease in 1943. In that book, Dr. White wrote, "When I graduated from medical school in 1911, I had never heard of coronary thrombosis."
Now this was the President's doctor. The reason he'd never heard of coronary thrombosis in 1911 was because the first article about it, detailing four unusual cases of this new phenomenon, was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1912. Coronary thrombosis is a heart attack. This is a modern disease that is caused by refined foods. We don't call these problems the "diseases of civilization" for nothing!
The point is that diet and disease are intimately related, and so-called "primitive diets" are associated with freedom from modern diseases. My own version of primitive nutrition forms the basis the type of diet I follow and recommend. Our supplements are designed to work together with such a diet to achieve health.
Traditional Nutrition and Fat-Soluble Nutrients
Native people throughout the world followed dietary regimes that were largely dictated by custom, by the wisdom of their ancestors. Price wrote that when he asked native people the reason why they ate the way they did, they invariably replied, "So we can make perfect babies."
What were the foods that were considered most important for woman and men who wished to conceive a child, for pregnant women, and for growing children? Price studied this in great depth. His answer, based on his careful observations, is that animal source foods were considered absolutely essential in every culture throughout the world. These foods included seafood (fish and shellfish), meats, especially the organs (from wild animals or grass-fed domestic animals), and raw milk, cheese, and butter from grass-fed animals.
Those are the foods that native people everywhere said were most important for their strength and health, and for making perfect babies. These foods all are incredibly rich in fat soluble vitamins A, D, and E, in essential fatty acids, in EPA and DHA, in trace mineral – as well as a host of other nutrients.
Of course, animal fats are supposed to be bad for us. But this is simply not true (see chapter 10, “Cholesterol, Animal Fats and Heart Disease,” of my book The Untold Story of Milk). The healthiest foods in the world come from healthy wild or domestic animals. This is why high vitamin cod liver oil, organ and gland capsules, and butter oil and ghee are among the most critical supplements to take regularly. Note, it is important to balance fermented cod liver oil, butter oil and vitamin K2. See my recommended doses of these oils
Cows, steers, goats, and sheep are ruminants, designed by nature to eat grass. This is one reason our organ and gland supplements are from New Zealand animals fed on grass all year long. Seafood, meat and organs, raw milk, eggs, and butter from healthy, grass fed organic animals are wonderful foods. The fatty part of all these foods carries essential nutrients. These foods, together with fresh vegetables and small amounts of fruit, constitute the primitive diet. Animal fats are not causing our modern problems. We actually suffer from a lack of the nutrients our ancestors got from healthy animal fats.
Weston Price and Traditional Wisdom About Nutrition
Several other important principles emerged from the work of Price and other nutritional pioneers. Native diets were made up entirely of whole, unrefined foods. Many foods, including animal foods, were often eaten raw. Vegetables were important, but fruits were eaten in very limited quantities. Milk products where available were used raw and carefully prepared in ways that preserved the enzyme content.
A healthy diet follows these principles and incorporates carefully designed pure supplements to best provide optimal amounts of critical nutrients. Weston Price's work gives us a basis for understanding this. Price was an incredible person. He was a dentist, and that led to his interest in native diets. He noticed that the children of his dental patients were having problems the parents never had – decay, crooked teeth and crowding of the dental arches. The specialty of orthodontics was invented because of this! Price wondered why this happened in children of people who had all 32 teeth, perfectly straight. He knew from his studies of anthropology that native people everywhere were renowned for their splendid, beautiful teeth. He began in 1928 to search the world to learn if something in their diets was responsible.
He kept meticulous records and photographic accounts of all he saw. His work shows that nearly everyone in traditional cultures had all 32 teeth, perfectly fitting into the dental arch, perfectly formed, as long as the people had no access to refined foods. Eating refined foods invariably caused dental decay and systemic diseases, and in the next generation, crooked and crowded teeth.
Price collected over 10,000 samples of native foods. He sent them back to America for analysis in his laboratories. Price was a pioneer in developing assays for vitamins A and D in the 1920's. He wrote a textbook on dentistry that was on every United States naval vessel. His studies of problems associated with root canals were rediscovered 70 years later, and became the basis for the recent book Root Canal Cover-Up. His articles appeared in dental journals throughout the twenties and thirties. His classic book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, was required reading in Harvard anthropology classes for many years.
Supplements, Special Foods and Optimal Nutrition
Quality supplements are absolutely critical as a complement to even the best diets today. Price's analysis of the foods of native people is highly relevant to why supplements are so important today. His studies revealed that these people consumed at least ten times more of all of the then known vitamins and minerals than people eating refined foods. For many nutrients, the figure was thirty, forty, or fifty times more.
The implications of this are staggering. This enables us to understand in historical terms why so many nutrients, including many discovered since Price's times, are so effective in seemingly large doses. Of particular importance are animal source vitamins A and D. Many published studies have shown that the synthetic versions of these vitamins cause problems when taken even in moderate doses. They are different biochemically from their natural counterparts, which appear to both safe and highly beneficial in reasonable doses.
The emphasis native people placed on certain foods shows the importance of substantial amounts of key nutrients. Native people used all of the animals they ate. But specific parts, especially the eggs of sea foods and the organs of land animals, for example, were considered essential to making perfect babies generation after generation. These foods are now known to contain the extremely high concentrations of critical nutrients.
Optimal nutrition has a profound effect on people. Some stories from Price’s writings illustrate this. One tells of an Eskimo man in a time when food ran short during the long winter night north of the Arctic Circle, when for months there is no daylight. He takes to stormy seas in a kayak to hunt seal with a harpoon. In darkness, bitter cold, high winds, and rough seas, he searches the dark waters for food. A wave crashing over a kayak can snap even a strong man's back; as breakers approach, the kayaker rolls the vessel, submerging himself. The tight fit of seal skins between the upper edge of the kayak and his waist keeps water from entering. When the white water passes, he flips upright and continues the hunt. Finally he kills a seal and returns home with food for his family.
As impressive as Weston Price found the physical strength of primitive Eskimos, he was even more impressed with their character. He wrote of their courage, honesty, openness, dedication to family and community, and their ability to survive and thrive in their harsh northern environment.
Another of Price’s stories is also set in the far north. Great, unexplored areas of northern British Columbia and the Yukon Territory were still inhabited by Indians in the 1930's when Price visited. Groups of Indians lived in the regions inside the Canadian Rockies in the far north, where winter temperatures of seventy below zero precluded the possibility of growing cereal grains or fruits, or of keeping dairy animals. The diet of these Indians was thus almost entirely limited to wild animals and some plants and berries in the summer.
One old Indian was asked through an interpreter why Indians did not get scurvy, which is caused by vitamin C deficiency. He replied that scurvy was a white man's disease; while it was a possibility for Indians, they knew how to prevent it and white men did not. When asked why he did not tell white men how, he replied white men knew too much to ask Indians anything. Asked how, he went to his chief for permission to tell. Upon returning he explained that when an Indian kills a moose, he opens it up and finds the small ball in the fat above each kidney. He cuts these balls – the adrenal glands – into pieces that are immediately eaten, one by each Indian in the family.
The adrenal glands, we now know, are among the richest sources of vitamin C in all animal or plant tissues. Cooking destroys vitamin C. The Indians' empirical knowledge and use of different organs and tissues of animals has certainly been verified by modern methods of analysis. Their wisdom preceded these methods, and the discovery of vitamin C, by thousands of years.
Such wisdom is again demonstrated in a story of a white man running out of supplies while crossing a high plateau in the far north country just before the fall freeze-up. He was a doctor of engineering and science, and he was forced to hike out of the wilderness when his prospecting plans fell apart. While crossing the plateau, he went almost blind with a violent pain in his eyes that persisted for days. He nearly ran into a grizzly one day, and an old Indian tracking the bear recognized the white man's plight.
The old man led the prospector to a nearby stream, and with a trap of stones caught some trout. Throwing the fish on the bank, he told the prospector to eat the flesh of the head and the tissues behind the eyes. In a few hours the prospector's pain was largely gone, and in a day his sight was returning. In another day, it was close to normal. He'd been living on refined flour and sugar, and was suffering from xeropthalmia, due to vitamin A deficiency. The fatty tissue around the eyes is one of the richest sources of vitamin A in any animal's body.
Problems with Vegetarianism
My last story is about Viti Levu, one of the Fiji Islands and among the largest islands in the Pacific. When Dr. Price visited, he thought he might find natives in the interior living far enough from the sea to be entirely dependent on land foods. He could not. Everywhere in the interior, piles of seashells were found.
His guide told him that food from the sea had always been considered essential. Even when they were at war with coastal tribes, the interior tribes had arrangements to send special plant foods by courier to coastal tribes in exchange for seafoods. The couriers were never harmed. (Compare that with the wars between supposedly civilized societies.) No places were found where seafoods were not eaten. As Price's studies progressed, it emerged ever more clearly that healthy, free-ranging animal life of the land and sea everywhere provided humans with essential nutrients apparently unobtainable in adequate quantities from plants.
These stories make it obvious that the development of native cultures was not simply a matter of people randomly eating what was available. Rather, throughout the world, cultures passed on the accumulated wisdom of the group to the next generation. This wisdom was concerned with laws of nature that when ignored lead to sickness, death, and the degeneration of succeeding generations. We know not from where this wisdom came. We know only of its loss from the consciousness of the vast majority of people today.
There are two points to the stories. One is that native people everywhere discovered that following fundamental nutritional laws put them in harmony with nature. Modern civilization has chosen to ignore these fundamental truths. The sophistication of our technical knowledge has bred arrogance that has precluded an appreciation of native peoples' superior skill in interpreting cause and effect. The wisdom of indigenous people in understanding laws of nature and living in harmony with these laws is a treasure humanity must not lose if we ever wish to regain our lost strength and resistance to disease.
The second point is that native people had detailed information about using specific parts of animals and the unique importance of each part, as well as vast knowledge about the importance of specific plant foods and the medicinal use of herbs. The special foods and herbs native people emphasized had concentrations of nutrients far beyond that found in foods generally available to most of us today.
Implications for Food Supplements
Think of it. Coenzyme Q10 …the richest source is heart! But who eats heart today?
Alpha lipoic acid is another nutrient in short supply in modern foods. It's a unique antioxidant that's both fat and water soluble. It's richly supplied in these foods native people emphasized.
The nutrients known to be critical for bone health include calcium, magnesium, boron, manganese, and vitamin D. These nutrients are in short supply in the muscle meats we customarily consume today, but they're richly supplied in the calcium hydroxyapatite of bone. Other trace minerals including selenium and chromium are found in their highest concentrations in the organs. Glucosamine and chondroitin are found in the cartilaginous tissue that surrounds the joints. MSM, methylsulfonylmethane, or organic sulfur, is a food constituent found almost exclusively in animal source foods, and in highest concentrations in the organs.
Not all supplements are created equal. Most contain magnesium stearate or stearic acid, used as lubricants (flowing agents), to speed up the manufacturing process. All Dr. Ron’s products are completely free of stearates and all other additives.
In a key study in the journal Pharmaceutical Technology, the percent dissolution for capsules after 20 minutes in solution went from 90% without stearates to 25% with stearates. These substances clearly adversely effect the dissolution and absorption of nutrients.
Pure supplements work more efficiently. My patients’ experience with patients confirms this. Nutrient delivery is rapid and thorough. There are no hidden ingredients to cause reactions, no upset stomachs.
But pure supplements are not found in the vast majority of health food stores. They're chiefly available only through physicians. In our supplements, you will find the best quality nutrients and herbal extracts. Capsules are topped off with synergistic natural ingredients rather than fillers that may be allergenic. Encapsulation machinery is run slowly in order to avoid the use of stearates and all other additives.