Modern nutritional theory claims that too much dietary salt is unhealthy, yet does not distinguish between “natural” sea salt and highly refined commercial salt, which have different chemical compositions and nutritional effects. However, there is even a finer distinction that can be made about dietary salt, which many who consume “health foods” are unaware of.
A macrobiotic teacher with whom I once studied placed a great deal of emphasis on salt in the diet. He claimed it “balanced” certain negative characteristics of food, and he recommended taking salt with almost everything, including grains, vegetables, seeds, nuts . . . and even a tiny amount with fruit. The theoretical reason for the macrobiotic emphasis on salt was that “we” originally came from the sea during the process of evolution, and carried the salty ocean along with us by internalizing it in our blood stream when we colonized the land.
Therefore, the recommended sodium chloride percentage in dietary salt should be the same as that which existed in the oceans at the time biological life evolved onto the land . . . about 91-94 percent, the remaining 6-9 percent made up of various other minerals. To achieve this ratio, salt has to be slightly refined, as are many traditionally produced sea salts from around the world. Salt created by merely evaporating sea water has less sodium chloride, and a greater percentage of magnesium and other minerals than traditionally processed salt. While magnesium and the other minerals are beneficial to health in small quantities, they can be deleterious in higher quantities. [See Fall 2010 Wise Traditions article on magnesium.] In contrast, highly refined commercial sea salt is almost 100 percent sodium chloride, lacking any of the additional minerals.
Many people mistakenly describe traditionally processed sea salt as “unrefined,”but this label is inaccurate since it is actually partially refined. One example of the traditional refining process is practiced on the coast of France, where ocean water is moved through a series of evaporation pools during which unwanted minerals are gradually removed.
(Note: Macrobiotics may have the right idea about salt and other aspects of traditional dietary wisdom from the Orient, but the diet as a whole is unhealthy due to its strict avoidance of all but minor amounts of animal food.)
THE HUMAN ENDOBIOME
Gut dysbiosis is getting much needed publicity in Wise Traditions, in writings and lectures by Dr. Campbell-McBride, Elaine Gottschall and vendors of probiotics. Dysbiosis is a disease of what? Not the gut. We lack a word.
A great letter by Caroline Cooper (Winter 2010), titled “Industrial Food Sickness” needs a better word for “gut flora.” The right word is “endobiome.” “Endo” for inner; “biome” for living populations. Some use the term “microbiome,” but that term is not specific.
Few would understand the lymphatic system as well if we only referred to it vaguely as tissue fluid movement; nor the liver if we only thought of it as a brown mass under the ribs. Organs and systems need names.
The endobiome involves much more than elimination. It functions as an organ of the body, producing nutrients, affecting hormones, contributing to immunity, and likely performing more functions yet to be found. It is like a city of many diverse and interacting populations. A wrongly populated endobiome is a factor in many diseases including obesity and heart disease as well as digestive and elimination problems. More detailed study is described in an article by Brandon Keim “Gut-Bacteria Mapping Finds Three Global Varieties.” See www.wired.com, April 20, 2011.
The endobiome has parts, like any organ. The upper endobiome is in the mouth, nose and throat. The central endobiome includes stomach biota. Gut dysbiosis is disease of the colon biota, the lower endobiome.
A healthy endobiome is different for individuals and similar in families. Long ago, fecal transfer from closely related persons sometimes cured dysbiotic conditions almost instantly. This is the ultimate probiotic. (Interestingly, radio host Dr. Dean O’Dell, recently referred approvingly to an article about such a cure. Dr. O’Dell rarely approves of anything “alternative.”)
By thinking of our endobiome only as gut flora, feces, or whatever, we think little of protecting it. Rarely do we consider the wellbeing of the endobiome before antibiotic use, colonoscopies, surgery, colonic cleansing, or eating processed food. Obstetricians and pediatricians ignore the effect of Caesarian birth and bottle feeding.
We need to call it by its name, describe the functions of the endobiome, study it further, treat it as an organ, and protect it as an organ. Perhaps some WAPF person can get “endobiome” into the internet dictionaries. Perhaps one of your scientists can produce an effective article for Wise Traditions.
MORE ON SWEDISH BITTERS
I have been taking Swedish bitters for many years as was recommended by Dr. Thomas Cowan. One of the things he suggested when I was chronically ill over ten years ago was to consume nourishing traditional foods in rhythmical eating rituals. In addition he suggested I take Swedish bitters after every meal. and he suggested that I use the original formula from a company called www.amaluxherbal.com—I was amazed at the difference! When you open the jar and smell the herbs you breathe in a meadow in a jar! To save on cost, you mix the herbs and brandy, which makes this less expensive compared to what is found in stores.
The Austrian couple that provides this version of Swedish bitters did extensive historical research to discover the original complete formula from the actual medical writings of the individual who first formulated this elixir, the legendary Swiss physician Paracelsus who lived in the 15th century. Swedish Bitters is not originally from Sweden. It was rediscovered in Sweden. by Frau Maria Treben, who called the elixir “the short formula” or “the Maria Treben formula.” Her source of information was the notes and manuscripts of the Swedish physician, Dr. Samst, who had reduced the number of herbs to half.
Elizabeth Benner, Chapter Leader
Rochester, New York
BEST START FOR BABY
My husband and I adopted a little girl in July 2008. We were not prepared, as the process happened quite fast, so when we brought her home from the hospital we used the baby formula brand that was given to us. As I researched into providing the best start for our baby girl, a friend told me about your homemade baby formula.
At first I found it a little scary. Raw milk wasn’t new to me, but feeding it to a newborn!? I had all the words of pediatricians in my head about how feeding milk to a baby can get them very sick, how they can’t digest it, etc. Yet, I figured if the commercial formulas are “milk based” how could that be totally true? So I spent hours on your website until I felt comfortable enough to switch our daughter over to the homemade formula.
I remember, like it was yesterday, the first bottle we gave her of the homemade formula. I have to admit that I was a little worried because of the smell. I was not used to cod liver oil and I thought, “Oh no, it smells like fish, she will never eat it!” But she sucked down that first bottle in an instant! I never looked back. She was on the formula until she was a year old, when we began giving her plain raw milk.
She was one of the healthiest babies ever! Even my mother said that she had never seen such a healthy baby. She only had two mild colds her first year of life. No ear infections, no gas, no colic—nothing! She was the happiest and healthiest baby. Even today, as she is almost three years old, she still fights off colds very strongly. She also is one of the only toddlers that I have ever seen that eats all sorts of foods. She likes fish (go figure!), meat, chicken, all vegetables (minus peppers!) and all fruits. She would much rather snack on fruit for dessert than a cookie or some other sweet thing. I am sure it is because her tastes were formed with a formula that wasn’t loaded with sugar and fake tastes. In addition, I am sure that the ingredients in the formula helped her ability to comprehend and understand new things and learn quickly. She is a real “thinker.” I know that the formula ingredients were meant not just for physical health, but also for mental health too. I have the perfect example of that in my daughter! Thank you for helping my daughter to have the best start to life possible.
LOWFAT POSTER CHILD
When I was pregnant with my first child, my son, I ate whatever I wanted, including lots of butter, eggs and meats. The lowfat health craze hadn’t hit and I was very thin naturally so I didn’t worry about it. He was perfectly formed and had no problems at all.
By the time I had my third child, the mania for no-fat was in full swing—the advice was twenty grams of fat maximum and no high-cholesterol foods. She had a heart problem, allergies, asthma, learning disabilities, ADHD—you name it, I am a poster child for bad dietary advice. My daughter-in-law, unfortunately, is of the egg white omelet crowd, so I am going to send them the Weston Price info and hope for the best. And maybe I will tell her about what I ate to produce her beloved husband. I would have given anything to have had this wisdom from the beginning.
SUSTAINABLE A LA MONSANTO
During the Washington, DC morning and evening commute times, Monsanto has been running an advertisement on WTOP (Washington DC’s most listened-to radio station) telling all listeners how their version of “sustainable agriculture” is the real way to feed the world. I don’t know whether this is only a DC advertisement, meant for federal decision makers, or something that has been aired nationally? Have you heard this ad?
In it, there is no mention of GMOs, seed patent rights, or the use of Roundup ready with genetically engineered seeds. It just talks about Monsanto’s version of “helping” farmers so their seeds can feed the world. I live in Front Royal, Virginia, and work in Manassas, Virginia, which is about a forty-five-minute drive, so I hear this advertisement at least once a day.
I hope that WAPF members will contact any radio station that plays this ad and protest the sustainability claims that Monsanto is making. The yield of GMO seeds is lower than the yield of regular seeds and genetically engineered seeds require a chemically intensive agriculture.
Front Royal, Virginia
THE FACTS ABOUT HOME BIRTHS
In 1940, 44 percent of all births in the United States occurred at home. Since 1969, about 99 percent of all births in the United States have occurred in hospitals, according to an article in National Vital Statistics Reports titled, “Trends and Characteristics of Home and Other Out-of-Hospital Births in the United States, 1990-2006.” This means that the last few generations of women in the United States have had very little exposure to home birth, either in firsthand experience, word of mouth, or the media. The predominant feelings about birth in our culture are negative, and women have generally bought into the idea that labor and delivery are medical occurrences that need a doctor’s attendance.
In planning to have a home birth for each of my children, the response I typically encountered from others was something along the lines of “what if something goes wrong?” or “you are really brave!” These responses underscore the fact that most people in our society have no idea that home birth is a safe option, and they certainly don’t think labor is something women are designed to handle naturally, without interventions or drugs. In fact, home birth is as safe (if not safer) than hospital birth for low-risk women. The Canadian Medical Association Journal article, “Outcomes of planned home birth with registered midwife versus planned hospital birth with midwife or physician,” details birth trends for nearly thirteen thousand births.
There were three groups of women in this study: those planning home births with a registered midwife, those planning hospital births with a registered midwife, and those planning hospital births with a physician. The first two groups were attended by the same group of midwives; additionally, all of these women met the eligibility requirements for home birth, which means that women in both of these groups did not have any preexisting disease, significant complications of pregnancy (such as hypertension and gestational diabetes), or multiple fetuses, among other criterion. The study showed that rates of perinatal death (that is, death during the last weeks of pregnancy and up to four weeks following birth) were slightly lower in the planned home birth group (0.35 deaths per one thousand births) than in both of the groups of women
planning to give birth in the hospital (0.57 deaths per one thousand births in a hospital attended by a midwife and 0.64 deaths per one thousand births in a hospital attended by a physician). This means that there were fewer deaths of mothers and babies in the planned home birth group than in both of the hospital birth groups.
All obstetrical interventions, such as episiotomy, electronic fetal monitoring and assisted vaginal delivery, pose some risk to the mother and baby. The same study showed that “women who planned a home birth were significantly less likely to experience any of the obstetric interventions [that were] assessed, including electronic fetal monitoring, augmentation of labour, assisted vaginal delivery, cesarean delivery and episiotomy.” For instance, 3 percent of mothers in the planned home birth group received an episiotomy, while the women who planned hospital births with midwives and doctors had episiotomy rates of 7 percent and 17 percent respectively. Twenty-four percent of women who planned homebirths had some augmentation of labor (such as rupture of membranes or oxytocin), while the women who planned hospital births with midwives and doctors had labor augmentation rates of 40 percent and 50 percent respectively.
Additionally, women who planned to give birth at home were also much less likely to have adverse maternal outcomes, such as third- or fourth–degree peritoneal tears or postpartum hemorrhage. Furthermore, newborns in the home birth group were less likely to have birth trauma, require resuscitation at birth, or have meconium aspiration. All of these trends make it clear that mothers and babies in the home birth group were safer and healthier than those that planned births in a hospital.
Birthing at home allows the mother to be in control of her birth experience. It allows the mother to give birth as directed by her body’s intuition, not as directed by protocols and rules. It is a safe and healthy choice for mother and baby. It facilitates bonding, breastfeeding, and family closeness. It allows women to experience the true joy of labor and birth. A mother giving birth at home can listen to music, dim the lights, soak in her own bathtub, or even go for a walk and revel in the nature around her home. She also maintains control over important decisions, such as whether or not her child gets vaccinated, which germs the baby is exposed to, and what kind of food and drink she consumes. I am hopeful that someday our society will awaken to the truth about labor and birth, and will let go of the idea that the only place to give birth is in a hospital.
Sarah Smith, Chapter Co-leader
Las Cruces, New Mexico
I was born in Communist Romania, under the Ceausescu regime. As bad as communism may have been for the Romanian people, one benefit was that in Romania farming practices, and in particular the raising of livestock, were not industrialized. A large part of the meat on the market was what we would call free-range and grass-fed. Real farmers raised their chicken, pigs or cattle the old-fashioned way. Pork came from real pigs that ate scraps. Lamb came from real sheep that grazed on the foothills of the Carpathians (and produced some of the most delicious cheeses from its milk). Cows were largely grass-fed, too, although there were government feeding programs to bring them the dreaded corn feed. Fruits and vegetables were also not industrially grown and had real flavor.
I don’t believe it is coincidental that orthodontic work to correct children’s teeth was almost non-existent in Communist Romania pre-1989! I remember we came to the U.S. in the 1980s when I was a child and my mother was astonished at how many Americans needed braces and how screwed up and twisted their mouths were. Something like this did not exist in Romania in the epidemic proportions it did in the U.S. We didn’t understand why this was. Were Americans all like this? And why? Did they just all have smaller, misshapen jaws? My mom’s friend used to joke that all the ugly people left Europe for America, and this is why Americans all need braces. To come from one society where almost no one ever gets braces to one where it’s naerly the norm for kids under thirteen is a huge shock.
Anyway, the situation in Romania is changing now. My countrymen are beginning to buy into the American diet. Meat is now increasingly industrially raised, and vegetables no longer have any flavor. This is called “progress.” They haven’t yet really bought into the soy lie, but I bet it’s just a matter of time.
I haven’t been back in Romania for long enough, but I suspect as things go more and more towards the American diet, we may get epidemic proportions of kids needing braces. Already I see signs of it. My niece eats cereal in the
morning, drinks tons of Pepsi, and has to have her french fries at night. She’s a carb addict—and guess what? She has asthma and coughs up a storm almost every night. I am not sure whether one caused the other but we all comment that back under communism, when the food was fresher, kids seemed healthier. It could just be old folks seeing the past through rosy glasses, but your information supports the truth of this saying.
My niece and her parents look at me like I’m crazy when I try to explain the evils of insulin and hypoglycemia. I don’t blame them. There’s a long nutritional tradition in the U.S. of believing in high-carb, lowfat diets and this stuff has worked its way into Europe and Romania. The way to get poorer societies to buy into a marketing scam is get the rich people to do it first. So basically it’s considered “enlightened thinking” to believe in the American diet these days, even though the traditional Romanian diet was much higher in fat and animal protein.
Brooklyn, New York
As always, I want to thank you and your staff for an outstanding issue of Wise Traditions. I would like to comment on two letters in the Spring, 2011 edition.
First, I would like to concur with Shantih Coro and his comments on the northern Italian diet. My mother is of northern Italian heritage. When she took me to her family village, very close to the Swiss border, I was shocked by what I found. First, many of her family were tall, robust people. Also, I saw very little of the so called Mediterranean Diet foods I had heard of so much in the United States. These people in this small northern Italian town were eating lots of raw dairy foods, copious amounts of butter, fatty meats and bone broths, and more. They all seemed very healthy, and the children had broad faces and great teeth. As Coro mentioned, there is some pasta consumed but nowhere near the amount consumed in the U.S.
Second, I would like to comment on the letter titled “Folly of Food Questionnaires.” At the end of the letter, the writer mentions that by following the WAPF diet, she gained twenty-five pounds. She also mentions a low thyroid condition. I am not a doctor, and can’t speak to the thyroid issue, but I can speak to the weight issue. My result was the opposite. When I started the WAPF diet, I lost twenty-five pounds (which I much needed to do). But I did follow a few rules. In the beginning I ate with abandon. I think my body was starving. But after that initial phase, I was not as hungry and started to implement portion control, but not so strictly that it felt like denial. I gave my body the fuel and nutrients it needed to function properly, which included significant amounts of fats, moderate protein, and limited carbohydrates. I think limiting carbohydrates was, and is, key (and my doctor concurred), but I felt fine because I made sure I had sufficient amounts of fats including meat fat, butter, and lard. I ate three meals a day with no snacks, letting my digestive system rest between meals. I also ate till I was comfortable and felt satisfied but not overly full. I also added a little more movement to my day, but in no way was it a formal exercise program. I simply walked a little more and added more regular housekeeping, cooking, gardening activities to my day.
By the way, I have won my doctor over. He now advises his obese patients to limit processed foods, especially processed carbs and to eat a more nutrient-rich diet, including meat with the fat on
Finally, I wanted to mention that I watched the WAPF Press Conference at the Washington Press Club [posted at www.westonaprice.org]. It was outstanding! I loved the comment you made about Mrs. Obama stating that theirs is a bacon-and-eggs family. Oh how I wish that was her motto for all families. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a First Lady who promised an egg on every plate and bacon in every frying pan!
NOURISHING OUR CHILDREN
I recently got the revised Nourishing Our Children DVD and watched it with a few friends. It is really well done! My friends and I were very impressed! I am not adept at computers, so I didn’t get the PowerPoint version, but the DVD is great!
All you have to do is watch and listen. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly, highly recommend it.
It is an outstanding tool to educate groups of people about nourishing WAPF food!!
It would be wonderful to show at chapter meetings, as well as other community groups, food co-ops, local libraries, church groups, parent groups, home school groups and Waldorf schools. Doctors could show it on a laptop in their waiting rooms.
Nourishing Our Children is about real, nourishing food for our children and grandchildren, for all children, and for ourselves! It is well-paced, colorful, positive and very informative. To order it, visit www.nourishingourchildren.org.
SIGNS FROM NATURE
I was talking to one of my patients, who is a conservation officer. He told me about a doe living in a gated community that was having a difficult birth. One of the residents saw a deer with a fawn hanging out of the birth canal for several hours. They see this problem around housing developments and suspect it comes from a high carbohydrate diet or lack of exercise. He said the fawns get stuck in the birth canals more frequently in these gated communities than in the wild.
I immediately thought about the findings of Weston Price and wondered whether the diet of the deer was different inside these communities. He said these deer are fed frequently by the residents, who don’t realize what a deer’s healthy diet consists of. People give the corn, cheese doodles, bread and table scraps. Apparently the skeletal structures of these deer are being altered, and they are developing narrowed pelvic openings due to their modern diets, just as humans have.
He also pointed out that a mature buck normally weighs between one hundred forty and two hundred pounds. In these communities he sometimes sees them around ninety pounds, with large bellies and emaciated bodies.
Alan J. Stangl, DC
Editor’s Response: Another factor causing physical degeneration in the deer could be pesticides and other chemicals used on lawns and gardens.
A HEALTH QUESTIONNAIRE
Have you ever thought of developing a worksheet so that people can self-assess their family’s health? If people could tally up all the damage from a Standard American Diet, they may realize the harm that has been done and be more motivated to switch to a WAPF diet.
Questions could include the following: count how many people in the family have one or more cavities; count how many people have had or need braces; count how many people breathe through their mouth, especially at night; count how many infections requiring antibiotics occur in your family every year; count how many times people get a cold or flu every year; count how many chronic diseases, such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease and cancer, are present in your family; count how many people have mental or behavioral problems, such as ADHD or autism; count how many people in the family suffer from allergies; count how many miscarriages have occurred; count how many family members have trouble getting pregnant. The lower the score, the healthier the family.
What got me thinking about this is all the people I run into that claim to be “perfectly healthy” and “do all the right things.” But when I dig a little deeper, I see numerous health problems that are all related to diet.
Paul Sonntag Ericson
Mineral Point, Wisconsin
RAW MILK AND LYME DISEASE
The spreading epidemic of Lyme disease and the knowledge that Lyme bacteria can be transmitted from mother to child via her breast milk have made me wonder about raw cow’s milk. Do you know of any documented data regarding the presence of Lyme bacteria in the milk of infected cows? Assuming this transfer occurs, is it known whether the beneficial bacteria in the raw milk can either out-compete or kill Lyme bacteria?
Reply from Ted Beals, MD, expert on raw milk safety: Like many of these questions, it depends. It might be theoretically possible that the spirochete might be able to get into the milk from some source, either directly from the blood stream of the cow or from contamination. However, even if it got into the milk, it is unlikely to survive. And finally, it is highly unlikely that this organism would survive and by some mechanism that it doesn’t normally use, attach itself to the gastrointestinal lining cells and actually penetrate into the person’s blood stream. There is a big difference between “might” (possible theoretically) and “actual.” I am unaware of any case of a person getting Lyme disease by consuming milk or any food. I do not know of any research on theoretical or actual illness from cows. This organism is well studied and there is nothing factual to support even the possibility. Also, there is some possibility that drinking raw milk might make a person less susceptible to the disease.
I received an advertisement for a health newsletter called “The Food Doctor” by Dr. Victor Marchione. On one page of the advertisement it described a grocery store chain in New England, which decided to evaluate the nutritional value of the food and beverages they sell using a system of one to three stars. This grocery store chain found that 77 percent of their products received a nutritional rating of zero. If this evaluation is correct, it suggests that this is a problem that applies to the vast majority of American grocery stores.
Charles R. Hower
JUMPED TO CONCLUSIONS
Since the publication of my letter to the editor (Spring 2009) on the possibility that raw milk cleared up the cataracts of Mr. Bing Gibb (Winter 2007), Mr. Gibb and I have made many inquiries and have concluded that raw milk was not the cause of his improved vision. The key evidence is a statement from a cooperating ophthalmologist who said that Mr. Gibb now has incipient but clear cataracts; there is no reason to believe they were ever worse. An MD friend suggested that he might have had a corneal infection that the milk somehow affected.
George C. Krusen II, PE
A THANK YOU
To all the board members and staff of the Weston A. Price Foundation, I want to thank all of you for the hard work you’ve done to educate America about nutrition and traditional foods. I know that I am healthier and happier because of your work, and my children will be too.