I had the pleasure of spending a Real-Food-Filled weekend in Dallas for the Weston A. Price Foundation’s “Mythbusters” conference.
I talk about the Weston A. Price Foundation frequently, both here and at my personal blog, CaveGirlEats.com. I’ve build many of my professional protocols as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (my professional site here) on the principles of Ancestral Diets as observed by Dr. Weston Price himself.
Weston A. Price was a physician who traveled the world – particularly in the 1930s – who observed that his modernized, American patients were presenting with massive dental decay and physical degeneration. He wanted to know why – and so, rather than looking at what made people sick, he began searching for the healthiest people on the planet to find out what made them well. Price was, in essence, looking at ancestral cultures’ dietary habits for clues to health & wellness. Sounds pretty “Paleo,” no?
(Below, left: Dr. Weston Price fights Modern Dietary Propaganda; below, right: Captain Paleo, another Real-Food superhero.)
Dr. Price visited cultures in Switzerland, Alaska, Africa and Australia, among others, and observed that these cultures had nearly perfect dentition, flawless facial structure, and overall extraordinary health. While their diets varied massively (some used raw dairy and a higher proportion of carbohydrate; some, like the Inuit, remained extremely high-fat and low-carb) they were all replete with animal products and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Their diets were also totally free of the “foods of modern commerce” – refined flours, sugars, and seed oils (see Dr. Kurt Harris’ “Paleo 2.0”) and, as soon as these “modern” foods were introduced, the cultures saw rapid degeneration.
Most of my “Paleo Plus” recommendations are WAP-based. If we’re truly going to emulate the health-promoting aspects of an ancestral diet, we can’t escape looking at things our ancestors did to make their available foods as healthful as possible. Fermented foods, raw pastured dairy, organ meats, and bone broths are THE most nutrient-dense foods on the planet (yes, raw pastured dairy. Much of the research regarding dairy does NOT address the difference between raw/pastured and “conventional.” It’s not for everybody, but it is inarguably replete in fat-soluble vitamins.) “Paleos” aren’t the first to discover these ancient, nutrient-dense foods, and we won’t be the last to reap their benefits.
It’s clear that the Ancestral movement is gaining steam. Not only do we have the annual Ancestral Health Symposium, but we have the annual Weston A. Price Foundation Conference, which I attended last weekend. Both are dedicated to advancing the Ancestral Health movement.
The Weston A. Price Conference – entitled “Mythbusters” – fell into several categories: Scientific; Nutritional; and Bad-ass. Read on for more!
Category 1: Scientific.
The Weston A. Price foundation has some of the most brilliant minds in Science behind it (click here for a list of speakers). Of the many Doctors, PhDs, and researchers present, my two favorites were Chris Masterjohn and Dr. Stephanie Seneff, PhD.
Masterjohn, a Paleo favorite, (his website here) is a doctoral candidate in Nutritional Sciences at the University of Connecticut. He has authored three peer-reviewed publications including a hypothesis on the molecular mechanism of vitamin D toxicity and lectures on the scientific (in)validity of the anti-cholesterol, anti-saturated-fat contingency. An awesome take-home from his lectures? Arachidonic acid – an Omega 6 substance demonized by Barry Sears of The Zone Diet – is actually an extremely healthy substance when obtained from good sources like egg yolk and pastured animals. Its anti-inflammatory capabilities (yes, it’s an Omega 6, but it IS a potent anti-inflammatory) are among its vital functions in the body. Conclusion: Chicken skin is SUPER Paleo!
Dr. Seneff is a Senior Research Scientist in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT who lectured on cholesterol, sulfate, and lactate as vital components to a healthy body; as well as some science regarding Vitamin D’s action in the body. Interestingly, vitamin D3 supplementation may not be a good replacement for sun exposure (the more I learn, the more I realize you simply can’t fool mother nature)! As a result of her talk, I’m looking into purchasing a light box.
Category 2: The Nutritional.
Speakers at the WAP conference covered a wide variety of nutritional topics, from biodynamic farming to mineral sufficiency, but my personal favorite was Denise Minger’s myth-busting lecture on The Vegetarian Guidebook The China Study. Minger, another Paleo darling, is quick-witted and intelligent – not to mention gorgeous – and damn good at completely dismantling more of the “Bad science” that backs some of the most powerful interests in the world today. Find her de-bunking of The China Study here, and her de-bunking of Forks Over Knives here.
Did I mention her shoes? (Also filed under “Bad-Ass.” Photo taken by Laura of AncestralizeMe!)
Category 3: The Bad-Ass.
While this category overlaps slightly with the others, I have to say – this year’s conference was replete with awesomeness. I had the thrill of meeting Laura, a Paleo-oriented RD candidate and author of “Ancestralize Me;” chatting briefly with Paul Jaminet of The Perfect Health Diet (who had actually HEARD OF MY BLOG!); hanging out with Tressa, Amanda, and Jennifer of US Wellness Meats; having lunch with Chris Masterjohn and dinner with Denise Minger. By the end of the conference, I had literally met all of my nutritional heroes.
Did I mention the food? Liverwurst. Braunschweiger. Fermented veggies. Sausage. Raw milk cheese. Smoked salmon.
Ghee. BUTTER. This is the healthy future of this country, people!