In Search of the Perfect Human Diet
Written and directed by CJ Hunt
Hunt Thompson Media, LLC
We are inundated with contradictory information about nutrition. The cacophony of claptrap is occasionally clarified with insightful newsflashes like this one from ABC News: Americans are fat. David Getoff, vice president of Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, is one of the first experts to appear in this film. He explains that the facts aren’t changing but we are confused because what the media want us to believe as fact keeps changing. Most believe that nutrition has something to do with obesity but there is little agreement beyond that.
Anyone who has worked in some way with nutrition will understand when Barry Sears, PhD, says that it is an emotionally charged issue. Religion, politics and nutrition are belief systems, and people often don’t respond well to challenges to these systems. They put a lot of work into fortressing those beliefs so when you come along with some offensive fact that upsets that system, you will incur some hostility.
Getoff briefly explains how Weston Price studied the health results of traditional cultures that had been following their diet and lifestyle for thousands of years and remained healthy. When a modern study covering six months or even ten years appears to contradict what Weston Price saw, which one do you suppose is correct? Because the world is very different today it is almost impossible to duplicate Price’s work exactly but a professor in Australia confirmed some of it with a group of Aborigines who grew up on their traditional diet. They were healthy up to that point, then moved into civilization, gained weight and developed other related health problems. When she observed them return to the outback and the old ways, they lost weight and their health issues were resolved. Their traditional diet was 64 percent animal-based and they were less active in the bush than in the city. That clashes with a lot of belief systems. Jay Wortman, MD, has seen similar results with First Nation peoples in Canada.
We are next treated to the vegetarian view. We hear Joel Fuhrman, MD, claim that not only should we eat more fruits and vegetables but ought to make those foods the foundation of our diet. Alan Goldhamer, DC, says the mistake vegetarians make is trying to make up for the lack of meat in the diet. He wants us to just get rid of the meat, period. The creator of soy jerky says that anatomically we are herbivores. I’m not sure whose anatomy he is looking at, but I don’t have multiple stomachs nor do I have the intestinal capacity of a gorilla.
Michael Eades, MD, points out that we can only get vitamin B12 from animal foods and that fact alone does irreparable damage to the theory that we are naturally pure vegans. A series of other experts reinforces the need for animal-based nutrition, including Sally Fallon Morell. She points out that the Framingham study has been used to promote margarine and other foods that don’t contain saturated fat. What the study really showed was that those who ate the most saturated fat, cholesterol and calories weighed the least, had lower levels of serum cholesterol, and were more physically active.
USDA guidelines are decided mostly by politics and politicians, not science. Eades analyzed the feed used by factory farms or feedlots to fatten up their cattle and pigs and found it almost exactly matches what the USDA food pyramid recommends for the optimum human diet. Are we being fattened up for the slaughter?
More evidence that we are not adapted to a rabbit diet comes from archaeological and anthropological studies. Many thousands of years ago humans moved far enough north that only animal food would be available for large parts of the year. They have not found any evidence that they had produce trucked up from the south at that time. Professor Mike Richards has done extensive bone analysis to determine what the original owners of those bones ate. He has found no vegans until recently. There were a few cases where they thought they found an exception but later discovered they accidentally got a cow bone mixed in with the human bones. How that could happen, I’m not sure, but if some people think we anatomically look like herbivores, I suppose that would be an easy mistake to make.
A wide range of experts was interviewed in this movie and so, as you might expect, even those who are on the same side of the issue do not agree on every detail. One detail everyone might agree on is made by Getoff toward the end of the film. A healthy diet may not be convenient but an unhealthy diet will lead to even more inconvenience. The big picture message does agree with my thumb, which is UP for this movie.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Fall 2012.