Presentation given at Fields of Athenry Farm by
Sally Fallon Morell
June 19, 2010
Thank you to Elaine Boland of Fields of Athenry Farm for inviting me to address this group today. I am delighted to see so many young women of childbearing age in the audience—our current and future mothers. I have an important message for you young ladies: the entire future of our planet is on your shoulders, and nobody else’s. Because if you don’t learn the principles of good nutrition, and then take the time and effort to eat properly and feed your children properly, there will not be another generation of human beings, certainly not in the western world.
Our future is in the hands of the young women and future mothers of this world. This fact gives us a whole new way of looking at what’s important, and who most needs our support—it is the young women and future mothers. And the role of all the rest of us as parents, siblings, as partners and husbands, as aunts, uncles and grandparents, is to provide whatever support is necessary to these young women, whether it’s information, whether it’s the food itself, whether it’s financial support or emotional support. For example, I love the idea of raw milk grannies–grandmothers being the ones who bring the raw milk every week for their children and grandchildren.
Today we are seeing an epidemic of behavior problems and learning disorders in our children. While treatment of these conditions is very costly for our society—not only in terms of the financial cost, but also in terms of emotional cost—very little attention is focused on diet and nutrition for the treatment—and prevention—of these tragic conditions.
Most discussions on the mental and emotional development of children ignore the fact that the brain is an organ of the body, and just like every other organ of the body, it requires good nutrition. And when we talk about the brain, we also need to talk about the second brain–the small intestine, where digestion and assimilation take place. If you think about it, the brain and the gut look similar. The brain looks like smushed up guts, and they are similar in many other ways. For example, there are just as many nerve cells in the gut as there are in the brain, and most of the nerve cells in the gut connect with the brain.
So, the nutritional requirements of the gut and the brain need to be considered together when we talk about emotional and mental health of our children. And we need to have this conversation very soon because we are facing an incredible crisis, the likes of which we have never seen before in the history of mankind. Some children are damaged so profoundly that they cannot even make emotional contact with their parents and their siblings. In the old days, we had a certain number of children who were retarded–we used the word “retarded.” But these retarded individuals could express emotions. Today the horrible condition called autism—along with other manifestation of brain starvation such as learning disorders, mental problems, inability to concentrate, behavior problems, violence, addiction and mental retardation—threaten the fabric of our culture.
I am not going to mince words here. These problems are the direct result of the dietary guidelines coming out of the Department of Agriculture since the early 1980s, along with the advertising for industrial fats and oils and the foods made with industrial fats and oils. These problems are the tragic fallout of industrial foods and government guidelines. And now what are we going to do? How do we get back to having normal children, and how do we help the children who have these problems?
I’d like to start—as I always do—with an introduction to the research of Dr. Weston A. Price. Weston Price was a dentist who traveled throughout the world during the 1930s and 1940s, studying healthy traditional peoples. He found fourteen healthy groups scattered in different locations, all eating very different foods, but all exhibiting excellent dental health, which served as a sign of excellent overall health. They had no cavities, no dental deformities, their faces were broad and their teeth were naturally straight. Everybody in the community! Nobody needed braces! He also noted the cheerful, optimistic outlook of these people–how spiritual they were, how well they got along. He did not observe any mental illness among healthy traditional populations. He wrote about his discoveries and published his fascinating photographs in his book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.
One particular place that he visited was the South Seas. The first Europeans to visit these South Sea Islands were Captain Cook and his sailors. When they arrived in Tahiti, they had scurvy and tooth decay and were just barely holding on to life. The South Sea Islands, with their beautiful, happy people, seemed like a paradise on earth, as they seemed to Dr. Price. The best bone structure that he found was in the South Seas–such beautiful, smiling, healthy people.
These people ate a mixed diet based on seafood and pork. The most important plant food in the diet was coconut. So it was a high-fat diet, as pork and coconut are high-fat foods. Like all the cultures he studied, the South Sea Islanders had at least one sacred food. Sacred foods were foods consumed by men and women before conception, by women when pregnant and breast feeding, and by all children when growing. Unlike our fatalistic society, which blames any problem in a newborn or in our children on two things–germs and genes–the South Sea Islanders knew that the health of their children was their own responsibility. They understood that growing children needed abundant nutrition–not minimum daily requirements, or minimum daily allowance—there was nothing about minimum in these cultures. They knew that nature could provide for abundance, abundant nutrition, especially during that time when the baby was being formed and growing.
One sacred food in the South Seas was shark liver. They didn’t need to hunt the sharks for food; they had plenty of food and hunting sharks was dangerous. But they hunted sharks to get their livers so that they could have healthy babies. The livers were removed from the sharks and put inside the stomachs of the sharks and hung up inside the trees and allowed to ferment. The oil that came out was fermented shark liver oil, very similar to the fermented cod liver oil that we recommend, and this was taken by the young adults who were about to get married and by women when they were pregnant, and also given to growing children. In addition, the men ate the male reproductive organs and the woman ate the female reproductive organs of the shark. So they had foods specific for men and woman to ensure fertility.
We received a sad letter a few years ago from a gal whose father had been a dentist and a big admirer of Weston Price. He had taken his children to the South Seas in the 1950s. At that time, she said, it was indeed a paradise on Earth. The people were so beautiful, so happy, always smiling and healthy in every way. In the 1970s, she took her family on a cruise to the same island. When they got to the port, the ship sat in the harbor for half a day, and they weren’t allowed off. When she queried the captain about why they were waiting, he replied, “Oh, we have to unload the Sara Lee Coffee Cake first.” The captain added that the whole shipment of coffee cake would be bought and eaten within two days. When they finally got off the ship, she was utterly shocked at what she saw. The people were unhealthy looking; they had tooth decay. But the most startling difference was the change in behavior. She had never heard a child cry when they visited in the 1950s; but on this trip the children were crying and fighting on the docks. So, there was not only a change in the way the way the people looked, but also a change in the way they acted–all because of the incursion of western foods. What she observed was most definitely paradise lost.
CHOLESTEROL AND THE BRAIN
Focusing now on the nutrients needed for our brain, as well as our second brain, the main nutrient we find when we analyze the brain is cholesterol—something that is very bad for us, right? The brain contains more cholesterol than any other organ in the body. But we are not supposed to eat cholesterol, right? Young women are supposed to eat a lowfat diet, even when they’re pregnant, even though animal fats are our main source of cholesterol. And according to government guidelines, a child is supposed to be put on a lowfat diet when he or she turns two.
A recent study showed that women who ate lowfat dairy foods tended to be infertile, while women who ate high-fat dairy foods had no problem getting pregnant. And so the scientists said, if you can’t get pregnant eating lowfat dairy foods, eat the high-fat dairy foods until you get pregnant and then go back to the lowfat dairy foods during pregnancy! Doesn’t it seem rational to conclude that the same kind of diet needed to get pregnant is also needed for normal fetal development?
Mother’s milk contains a lot of cholesterol along with a special enzyme to ensure sure that all that cholesterol is absorbed–because babies can’t make all the cholesterol they need to properly form the brain and the second brain. The second brain has lots of cholesterol in it, too. The cells lining the gut need a lot of cholesterol to work properly. So, the number one way we have gone wrong is the endorsement of lowfat, vegan and vegetarian diets for women of childbearing age. And our children are paying the price!
FATS AND THE BRAIN
Now, if we look at the fats in the brain, the two major fats are saturated fat and a fat called arachidonic acid. But we’re not supposed to eat saturated fats, right? Yet saturated fats like butter, meat fats, lard, and coconut oil are the kinds of fats your brain wants and needs. And if you don’t eat those fats, your body says, “Well, give me the next best thing: refined carbohydrates.” Your body can make saturated fats out of refined carbohydrates. And that’s how people get cravings for refined carbohydrates—especially pregnant women and growing children. Unfortunately, eating refined carbohydrates robs the body of nutrients, while natural saturated animal fats provide some very important nutrients.
The other really interesting fat in the brain is arachidonic acid. Aracadonic acid is an omega-6 fatty acid that is found only in animal fats, such as in butter, egg yolks, organ meats and meat fats. Like saturated fats, arachidonic acid has been the victim of demonization. The popular author Barry Sears warned against eating butter, liver and other fatty foods, claiming that these foods caused inflammation. Many other health writers have picked up on this false information. If anything, arachidonic acid moderates inflammation.
What Barry Sears didn’t tell you was the fact that the brain is 11 percent arachidonic acid, much higher than the levels in our other organs. Arachidonic acid is really critical for brain function. The best source is butter, followed by liver.
Arachidonic acid is critical for the second brain also because it is needed for tight cell-to-cell junctures. Arachidonic acid ensures that your cells are nicely scooted up to each other, which gives you that good impermeable gut you need so that allergenic proteins don’t get through to the bloodstream.
VITAMIN A AND THE BRAIN
We’re going to move on to my favorite vitamin, one that should be at the top of the vitamin hit-parade; unfortunately, mainstream thought puts it at the bottom of the vitamin hit-parade. That vitamin is vitamin A. Dr. Price was really interested in vitamin A because he found that traditional cultures put a big emphasis on foods that were high in vitamin A. Liver was a sacred food in every culture that he studied, and liver is our richest source of vitamin A. Primitive peoples considered liver very important for pregnant women. The fat of grass-fed animals, especially butter, can be rich sources as long as the animals are outside eating green grass; so will egg yolks if they come from chickens raised outside.
By the way, the yolk is the most important part of the egg. You can throw the whites away if you want to. And the whites tend to be the allergenic part, not the yolks.
Another excellent source of vitamin A is cod liver oil.
Now, we’ve been hearing that vitamin A is toxic, and the government warns pregnant women against consuming liver, cod liver oil and other vitamin A-rich foods, claiming that vitamin A causes birth defects. The RDA for vitamin A is extremely low. As a result, we have a national deficiency in vitamin A.
Yet vitamin A is the main vitamin that you need while your baby is being formed! This is something we have learned from stem cell research. Stem cells are undifferentiated cells in the embryo, which turn into the differentiated cells of the heart, the brain, the stomach and so forth. The first organ to form in the fetus is the heart—stem cells get a signal and become heart cells. After the heart come the lungs, the brain, the kidneys, the skin and all the other organs.
By the sixth week of gestation, all the organs have been formed—key organs have formed even before a woman knows she’s pregnant. Those stem cells are turning into organs, including the brain and the gut. Now, there is something that tells those stem cells what to do, whether they should become a heart cell or a brain cell or whatever, and that something is vitamin A. So, if a woman gets pregnant and she has been on a lowfat diet, avoiding liver and not taking her cod liver oil, or eating a lot of lean meat, which rapidly depletes vitamin A, or taking protein powders, which is the quickest way to deplete your body of vitamin A, then she doesn’t have enough vitamin A for those stem cells to know what to do. The heart may not form at all, and she has a miscarriage; or the heart forms with a defect in it. Or the brain doesn’t form well, or the gut doesn’t form well.
Since most of the organs are already formed by the time you know you are pregnant, it is critical to have good levels of vitamin A before you get pregnant. Because by the time you know you’re pregnant, they key organs have formed. And that’s what traditional cultures knew instinctively. They didn’t have PhDs and they didn’t have government officials telling them what to do, but they knew enough to load up on vitamin A-rich foods before they got pregnant. I can’t stress enough the importance of preparation for pregnancy!
Since vitamin A is the number one focus of the Weston A. Price Foundation, we had to find out whether it is toxic, as claimed. Looking at all the studies on vitamin A, we discovered that the vitamin is only toxic if it is taken without the co-factors. And the two main co-factors for vitamin A are vitamin D and vitamin K2. These vitamins typically come in the same foods as vitamin A, so if you’re getting your vitamin A from foods, no problem. But if you are taking vitamin A as a supplement, or eating foods “enriched” with vitamin A, such as cereal or milk, then yes, vitamin A can be a problem. In Europe, vitamin A is added to a lot of foods, and researchers there found a connection of vitamin A with osteoporosis, especially in Scandinavian countries. What vitamin A does in these situations is create a vitamin D deficiency, hence the problem with bone loss.
Vitamin A plays a fascinating role in mental health. Chris Masterjohn wrote an article called “Nutrition and Mental and Emotional Development,” now posted on the Weston A. Price Foundation website. He describes research involving rats, which found that if the animals have plenty of vitamin A in their diet, they will complete tasks. For example, when the rats are given the task of climbing a hill to get to some cheese at the top, they will do it. And if they are deficient in vitamin A, they won’t make the effort to get the cheese. Studies in humans also indicate that vitamin A is very important for planning and completion of tasks, which is what makes us human and mentally healthy. Planning and carrying through of tasks is what builds civilizations, so vitamin A is critical, not just for primitive people, but for civilized people as well.
VITAMIN D FOR THE BRAIN
The companion of vitamin A is vitamin D, which we get mostly from the same foods, namely certain seafoods and the fats and organ meats of animals raised outside in the sunlight–this is why we are so insistent on pasture-raising of animal foods. If the animals consume green green grass, they will have plenty of vitamin A in their fats and organ meats; it they live outside in the sunlight, they will have plenty of vitamin D in their fats and organ meats.
Now vitamin D has many roles in the body but the one I want to focus on today is its role in making endorphins. Endorphins are feel-good chemicals. One of the most amazing things scientists have discovered in the past ten years is that our bodies, when they are healthy, make exactly the same chemicals that we find in opium and marijuana. The opiates and cannabinoids that your body makes are precisely the same as those found in the plant world. And we have receptors for these chemicals in our brains—which is obvious because when people take drugs, they get high. Actually, the body was designed to feel high all the time, to feel good all the time, and without any negative side effects, without addictions except the addiction to feeling good all the time.
So let’s connect the dots here! Why do people take drugs and get addicted to them? It’s because they are trying to feel normal! They’re trying to feel the way we are supposed to feel all the time, but don’t because the receptors aren’t working and they are not making their natural cannabinoids and opiates. Vitamin D is absolutely critical to this process. Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin; sunshine makes us feel good, and vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, helps us make these opiates and ensures they work properly.
We are designed to feel good from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed. And we are designed to feel happy when we complete a task, whether it’s washing the dishes or writing a book. And I think we now have a lot of children and adults who never feel that way. So they look to thrills, to drugs, to junk food, to childish behavior, as a substitute.
VITAMIN K2 FOR THE BRAIN
Another vitamin for brain health is vitamin K2. Dr. Price studied this vitamin, but he was never able to name it. He called it Activator X because it seemed to be a very important vitamin for using minerals in the body, as well as for growth, neurological function and protection from cavities.
Dr. Price tested many foods for Activator X and found that the richest source was butter from cows eating rapidly growing green grass in the spring and fall. He called it “high-vitamin butter.” Dr. Price always gave cod liver oil, rich in vitamins A and D, together with high-vitamin butter, rich in Activator X. He often got miraculous results with this combination, such as reversing tooth decay. He actually cured a child of seizures with this combination.
We finally figured out that Activator X is vitamin K2, the animal form of vitamin K. We looked into the literature and, lo and behold, we found that vitamin K is critical to the formation of the myelin sheath and the nerves in the brain.
So Dr. Price’s fat-soluble activators, vitamins A, D and K2, are critical nutrients for the brain to be formed, to function properly, for good mental health and for the completion of tasks and the feeling of satisfaction that comes from completing tasks. And where do we get these vitamins? Do we get them from vegetable oils? No. Do we get them from flax oil? No. We don’t even get them from coconut oil. Do we get them from margarine? Only a little bit of synthetic vitamin A added to the margarine. We get them from the fat of grass-fed animals–the very food that has disappeared from our diets. We’re afraid to eat these fats and even if we do eat these fats, if we obtain them at the supermarket, coming from confinement cows, they are not going to provide a lot of the fat-soluble activators.
That means, if we want to have intelligent, happy and well-adjusted children, we will need to seek out sources of these foods. We’ll need to make an effort to purchase our animal foods—our milk, butter, eggs and meat—from a farmer practicing grass-based animal husbandry.
B12 AND THE BRAIN
Another important vitamin for the brain and nervous system is B12, in fact it is critical for neurological health. Vitamin B12 comes from animal foods. You need it for your nervous system to function normally, and deficiencies manifest as psychiatric disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive behavior, irrational anger, depression, manic depression, Alzheimer’s and dementia. We only get vitamin B12 from animal foods and, in the case of land animals, only if there is cobalt in the soil. Seafood is an excellent source of B12—clams, oysters, mussels, crab, shrimp.
CHOLINE FOR THE BRAIN
Another very important nutrient for the brain is choline. When the baby is growing and developing, there are certain periods when the body says “time to make some connections up there.” And to make those connections in the brain, you need choline. If the mother is deficient during pregnancy, and the baby is not getting enough choline during growth, then those connections will not form. And you can’t go back later and make the connections. The window of opportunity has passed.
The best source of choline is egg yolks; the second best source is liver—so once again, critical nutrients for the brain are found in the high-cholesterol foods our government doesn’t want us to eat. I have been listening to the USDA webinars on the new dietary guidelines. One man on the guidelines committee was insistent that we lower the daily allowance of cholesterol from 300 mg to 200 mg. (We could only hear the discussion–we were listening through the computer–we couldn’t see the committee members.) Two hundred mg of cholesterol translates to less than one egg a day for animal food. One of the women on the committee said, “Yes, but what about choline?” These children need choline for their brains to form. And the man said, “Well the problem with choline is that it comes with cholesterol.” That’s the attitude of our government officials. They are willing to sacrifice good nutrition on the altar of the cholesterol theory.
Studies with rats show that if you give them ten times the daily allowance of choline, their brains form so well that they are impervious to decline in old age. Moreover, they are totally protected from excito-toxins like MSG. And they are also protected from the new threat—EMFs, all these waves in the air from cell towers, cell phones and computers. So choline is really important for making those connections in the brain and for having a really good, solid well-built brain that works properly into old age.
SALT AND THE BRAIN
Another key nutrient for the brain is salt. Years ago a company making soy formula decided they were going to make it “healthy” and also save money by leaving out the salt. Giving baby formula based on soy is bad enough—for one thing, there is no cholesterol in soy formula—but taking out the salt made it worse. It was called Low-Sodium Formula; babies brought up on this formula had poor mental development; they had lots of problems compared to those who had soy formula with salt. My colleague, Mary Enig, was an expert witness in a trial against the formula company. The plaintiffs won their case, got a big settlement and that company went out of business. The formula industry learned the lesson to always put salt in the formula. But what about a nursing mother who is on a low-salt diet, thinking she shouldn’t eat salt? Or a pregnant woman who believes she shouldn’t eat salt? La Leche League’s book for nursing mothers recommends a low-salt diet, so there’s not going to be much salt for the breastfeeding baby. What salt does is stimulate an enzyme that helps form glial cells. Glial cells are the cells that make you capable of creative thinking.
MINERALS FOR THE BRAIN
Two key minerals for mental development are iron and zinc. These are found mostly in animal foods, especially red meat and liver, and both require vitamin A for proper assimilation. Zinc is involved in over one hundred enzymatic processes in the body. Lack of iron leads to mental retardation. Babies and children with iron deficiency anemia tend not to smile, not to have social interaction. This is not a fate we want to impose on our babies! It is very important for mothers to eat iron-rich foods like liver while pregnant and nursing, and for baby to get iron-rich solid food by the age of six months.
THE SECOND BRAIN
Now, let’s consider our second brain and discuss what the digestive tract needs to be healthy–because if there are problems in the gut, there are going to be problems in the head.
We have seen an amazing paradigm shift during the last ten years. We now know that for the gut to be healthy it needs to be coated with a bio-film. If you have a healthy gut, you have six pounds of beneficial bacteria coating every surface of the small intestine. You have more bacteria in your gut than you have cells in your body.
Your biofilm does many things: it keeps out toxins, it helps digest our food, it produces feel-good chemicals and keeps bad micro-organisms at bay, pathogens like candida, fungi and some of the horrible microorganisms that we are finding in the guts of unhealthy children, especially in autistic children. Some of these fungi and yeasts can produce veritable nerve toxins. One of these nerve toxins produced by pathogenic yeasts in the gut is identical to the toxin the people in the Amazon use to coat their spears to anesthetize animals. In humans, it causes a strange way of walking that we often see in autistic children, where they flap their hands in a spastic way. And some yeasts produce alcohol, so the child is basically hung over all the time.
We need to feed not only ourselves, we also need to feed our bio-film to make sure it’s healthy. That means eating lacto-fermented foods like sauerkraut, full of beneficial bacteria. All traditional cultures had these types of fermented foods or beverages to constantly replace the bacteria in the intestinal tract. We don’t mean pasteurized sauerkraut or sauerkraut made with vinegar, but cabbage that’s fermented to produce lactic acid and lots of good bacteria. There are a host of recipes in Nourishing Traditions for making these delicious foods. The idea is to eat a small amount day, hopefully with every meal, in order to feed that bio-film.
At the same time, we don’t want to hurt our bio-film. The first thing that hurts the bio-film is antibiotics, and there is a very big correlation between autism and mothers having been on many courses of antibiotics. Fluoridated and chlorinated water also really mess up the bio-film.
One more thing: in order to be kind to our biofilm, we need to make sure that we don’t eat things that are indigestible. When we eat foods that are indigestible, the good bacteria make way for candida and yeasts, because they can break down indigestible foods, and that’s when our problems start.
Grains are indigestible—human beings cannot digest grains. We can predigest them though, and all traditional cultures did this by soaking the grains, fermenting the grains, or using a sourdough culture to prepare the bread. So we soak our porridge overnight; we soak our flour to make pancakes, we use only genuine sourdough bread. Beans are a nutritious food but also are very hard to digest; they need to be soaked several times and rinsed thoroughly before cooking.
Another thing that is hard on our ecosystems is pasteurized and ultrapasteurized milk. Also, vegetable oils, both liquid and hardened, are a huge assault on our internal flora.
Many vegetables are impossible to digest, especially for those with an immature or sensitive digestive track. Very high-fiber vegetables such as dark leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables need to be thoroughly cooked.
And then there’s sugar and white flour—these are empty foods for humans but candida and yeasts go crazy over them. That’s why it’s important to keep these refined foods to an absolute minimum—which is very difficult to do in modern society.
BROTH FOR THE SECOND BRAIN
One other food that provides amazing support for your intestinal tract is gelatin-rich bone broths, made from the bones and cartilage of animals—the famous chicken soup of our ancestors. They never threw away the bones; instead they made soup with them. For example, Native Americans never drank water, they always drank bone broth. Very interesting! That’s something we’ve gotten out of the habit of doing in our modern culture. Bone broth is important for many reasons—it helps digestion and supports detoxification. But most importantly, bone broth is the magic healer for the gut, in fact the most healing gut food there is.
THE DIET FOR A HEALTHY BRAIN
So what does our diet look like in practice–a diet for creating a healthy baby and helping that baby to have optimal development? It’s a diet that needs to start before you get pregnant.
First of all, let’s focus on the foods to avoid, namely industrial foods, foods containing industrial fats and oil;, pasteurized processed dairy products; foods containing MSG, artificial sweeteners and other neurotoxic additives; lowfat products; foods containing sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Try to get off sodas and caffeine. It’s worth the effort, I guarantee you!
Now let’s focus on the positive. The diet for preconception and a healthy pregnancy contains one quart of whole raw milk from grass-fed cows per day, plus lots of butter. You should eat at least two egg yolks per day. You can have the whole egg if you want but the important part is the yolk.
The diet should include cod liver oil every day, cod liver oil to provide 20,000 units of vitamin A and 2,000 units of Vitamin D. If you take fermented cod liver oil, or a product called high-vitamin butter oil, you will also get Activator X, vitamin K2. By the way, it’s easy to take cod liver oil. I’m a very picky eater yet I have no trouble taking cod liver oil. The key is not to take it on a spoon; that’s the worst way to take cod liver oil! Instead, mix it with a little water, a little milk, a little fresh juice, something like that, then just take it in one gulp.
The diet should contain some kind of organ meat two or three times a week. Liver is the most nutritious organ meat, and the best way to eat liver is as paté. I had never eaten liver in my life until I went to Europe and ate paté. Then my body gave a sigh of relief because it was getting what it needed. I have enjoyed paté ever since. It’s easy to make chicken liver paté and chicken, goose or duck liver is probably the best kind of liver to eat because it contains a beautiful balance of A and D and it’s also very high in vitamin K2. You get all three in poultry liver.
Cheese! Cheese is a great food to consume during your pregnancy. Raw cheese that comes from pastured animals has everything you need in it. You could live on raw cheese and nothing else. It’s a very rich source of vitamin K, very good source of A and D, wonderful source of calcium and all the minerals! Did you know the USDA is targeting cheese in the new dietary guidelines? They are going to tell you not to eat cheese because it contains what they call “solid fats.”
You can include meat in the diet and also seafood. We’re not afraid of seafood! People are afraid of seafood because they have been told it contains mercury. But you have a powerful protection against mercury if you have a good biofilm in your gut. That biofilm keeps out mercury—but it won’t keep out the mercury out-gassing from your fillings. It might be a good idea to have those out if you are trying to get pregnant. But a good biofilm will keep out the mercury in the fish you eat—after all, there has always been mercury in the sea. And numerous studies have shown that mothers who eat seafood have smarter babies.
You’ll want to eat lacto-fermented foods to support that good biofilm. And broth every day to help digest your food, give you lots of nourishment, and support a healthy gut.
Remember to include lots of butter in your diet, and you can cook in lard; you can have all the animal fats you want. And you can have fruits and vegetables, you can have natural desserts. Also, we like to point people to natural, healthy soft drinks like kombucha and healthy lacto-fermented ginger ale and root beer.
Be sure to include salt, you can have as much salt as you want, preferably unrefined salt. So you can eat salty foods, fatty foods, sweet foods, you can have nice bubbly drinks–you can have all those things but in the form that’s going to be nutritious for you. So, you won’t be depriving yourself at all, this is a really delicious and satisfying diet.
This diet continues during pregnancy and during breast feeding. And most of our gals just sail through their pregnancies on this diet.
I do want to say something about morning sickness. If you have morning sickness, the very best food for you is raw milk. It’s very high in vitamin B6, needed to combat nausea. You just sip that raw milk all day long, and in most cases it works very well.
The result will be a beautiful, healthy baby. You will notice that these babies are very alert from the moment of birth. They seem to be aware of things very early on. They take directions easily. They are strong, they have strong muscles. They digest their food well.
The ideal is to breast feed for at least a year, maybe even two years. But I do want to warn about exclusive breast feeding past the age of six months. Breast milk is low in iron for a reason, because it competes for zinc, needed for the nervous system. Fortunately, every single bit of the iron in breast milk or in raw milk is absorbed because an enzyme called lactoferrin insures that all the iron is utilized. But by six months, baby needs more iron; he will not get enough from breast milk. And in traditional cultures, the first food was usually liver, which the mother chewed and gave to the baby.
So, we recommend some puréed liver as a first food. You can add butter and salt to it. And the other first food for baby is egg yolk, starting slowly, maybe just a teaspoon at first, and then gradually build up to one egg yolk a day.
If you are feeding your baby this way while you are nursing, by the time your baby is ten or eleven months, he or she will be sitting up and wanting to eat like a big boy or a big girl. And so you gradually introduce other foods. Please don’t hold back if your baby wants solid food. You’ll find that these babies are very mature quite early. They have good digestive systems. And then as they grow, you can feed them just the way you have been eating, the same foods for creating a healthy baby are what baby needs to grow properly and be healthy.
THE BIG CHALLENGE
Of course we live in the modern world, and there are all sorts of temptations out there. And the big challenge as the child grows and starts to have friends and goes to people’s houses and to school is creating that balance of being careful about the diet while also allowing your child to have a normal social life. This is a big challenge for moms. You can’t be too extreme and not let them go to friends’ houses where they’re going to eat garbage, because if you do, they will rebel. But if you have started out right and protect them with a good diet at home, I think your children themselves will realize that these foods aren’t good for them. At least they will only get the occasional bad meal when eating at their friends’.
We had a rule in our house as the children were growing up: they had to eat six out of seven dinners at home. I made their lunches and made their breakfast. And I figured if one meal out of twenty-one was not a good meal, they were protected by all the others.
That balance is very hard to achieve because you want to protect them, but you don’t want to be too strict, always saying no. Finding that balance is another burden that falls mostly on mom.
In his book, Dr. Price described a fascinating custom: throughout the South Seas and Africa, it was considered shameful to have a child more than once every three years. This is a very wise practice because it allows the mother to recuperate her nutritional stores before the next pregnancy. While this practice was instinctual among traditional cultures, it is totally validated by modern science. We now know that the ideal spacing for prevention of birth defects is three years; and the ideal spacing for the emotional development of the child is also three years. Three years allows each child to have lots of attention from mom, and then when that child wants his independence, and might be smothered by too much attention from mom, mom has another baby to focus on. So, three-year spacing works out very well for both mother and child. We explain how to do this without hormones in the book Honoring Our Cycles, which presents a scientific way of using the rhythm method that is remarkably effective.
DIET FOR THE PROBLEM CHILD
The diet that we are advocating for preconception and pregnancy is the same diet for a child that has developmental or emotional problems, although you may need to make the changes slowly. Just switching from pasteurized to raw milk could make a huge difference in your child’s behavior. Getting them on cod liver oil, starting to make good, old fashioned chicken broth, and using it in soups and sauces, will help them with their digestion–these principals apply to everyone and can help almost any medical condition.
Sometimes you have to be sneaky. If you’ve been eating the standard American diet but now want to change, don’t give them kidneys for dinner! It’s not going to work! But, for example, we get organ blend from our farmers, and we put some in meatloaf along with ground beef, a nice spicy meatloaf that will cover any strong flavors. They never know they are eating organ meats! Chopped up fine in soups, in chili, you can add heart, or you can add ground heart to hamburger. There are ways of getting these organ meats in kids without them knowing it.
And most kids are fine with foods like milk, cheese and butter.
Cod liver oil is a little tricky. Here’s what we did with our daughter and three boys. When our horsewoman and three little cowboys came down to breakfast in the morning, they had to have their cowboy whiskey. Each one had a shot glass, and they came up to the bar and drank their slug of cowboy whisky, which was cod liver oil mixed with water or a little fresh juice. I explained to them why they had to take their cowboy whiskey–that it would make them healthy, it would help them be good in sports, have good grades and not get sick. And then, when they get to be older, when they get to be teenagers, you can explain other benefits from the cod liver oil.
So, that’s the recipe. It really is a recipe for good health, and I can tell you that it works. Please go to our Healthy Baby Gallery at westonaprice.org to see the beautiful babies born to mothers who followed our diet. These babies are not only attractive but also intelligent, they behave themselves and they can study and concentrate. Another plus is that they won’t need braces.
There is a process going on right now in our society that I call the “natural selection of the wise.” The people who do not change their diet will die out. That sounds pretty harsh, but that’s Mother Nature’s way of getting rid of the unfit. They become infertile or the children do not reach adulthood. And this is what we are seeing today–most tragically.
We can’t change everybody but we can certainly educate the people who come to us. Start by being a good example and then provide further information if they show an interest.
By the way, you’re not going to change the school lunch program; don’t waste your time. It is not going happen—the schools must follow the atrocious USDA dietary guidelines, and most people involved in school food have very little knowledge about nutrition, or even about food! But you can make your children’s lunches and help educate the few parents who notice that your child is healthy and become interested. Then convince them to make their children’s lunches also. With time, no one will eat the school lunches—but this won’t happen for a while.
All this might seem very complicated, but I urge you to make a start. It soon becomes second nature, very easy. And eating this way is worth the effort, I guarantee you. There is no greater blessing on earth than healthy children—and your own good health to enjoy them.