By Rob Archangel, 180DegreeHealth.com staff writer
Back again with today’s Real Food Summit Roundup. I listened to part two of superstar Chris Masterjohn’s talk about Weston A. Price and what his research can tell us about how to live today. I like Chris because he’s a man of science, and measures his words and conclusions deliberately. And while he certainly is on board with the Weston A Price Foundation, I never get the sense that he’s twisting data to meet his (or the Foundation’s) preconceived dogma.
A couple quick comments from today’s talk: Price never said that it all “primitives” had the wisdom to avoid modern ills, though some did. So it’s wrong both to assume primitives are necessarily dumb, and to adopt a hard-line paleo stance that always valorizes them. Chris points out that we can’t really establish that traditional diets are what kept people heart-disease or cancer-free, for example. It could be that the natives stayed healthy despite their diet. There is a role for new research and understanding beyond a “traditional foods are always better” mantra. And while it makes sense to err on the side of what we see to be consistent with population-wide freedom from disease, there’s room for experimentation.
As Matt likes to say, we’re not what we eat, but what our bodies do with what we eat. In a low metabolic state, it might just be that modern rather than traditional foods are better for getting us back into high gear, into the robust health we want that the natives had. Maybe those diets are good maintenance diets but not good therapeutic diets.
And on the topic of it’s not (just) what we eat, I also caught Mark McAfee’s talk about raw dairy and its benefits for the immune system. I like Mark, I like what he does, I think Organic Pastures has a lot of integrity as a company and good stewardship practices. But I’m just not convinced raw milk is the sort of cure-all he implies. Just eating probiotic rich food, whether raw milk or yogurt or sauerkraut or kombucha is no guarantee that out bodies will re-balance our internal gut bacteria and optimize our immune systems. (He also mentions prebiotics, which feed beneficial gut bacteria, though curiously avoids mentioning that starches more than fruits and vegetables are effective sources.) It seems the bigger issue, again, is getting the body into a high-functioning state, and while raw dairy might help that, I don’t think it’s necessary or sufficient for most people.
Anyway, all good, fascinating stuff. Surely worth pondering.