Are you on the government diet? You know, the one based mostly on foods that humans didn’t consume for most of their history? The government’s dietary guidelines are not based on science and are associated with an increased risk of disease. Populations that consume their native diet are truly healthy.

While the exact composition of a prehistoric diet continues to be debated, we know for sure what these groups weren't eating.
While the exact composition of a prehistoric diet continues to be debated, we know for sure what these groups weren’t eating.
Photo credit: flickr

There is, perhaps, no field of study more confusing than that of human nutrition.  There are dozens of conflicting theories on what humans should be eating to get and stay healthy, but two stand out in particular and we’ll focus on those here.

The first is the U.S. government’s Dietary Guidelines, or what we’ll call the “government diet”;  the second can be referred to as a “native” or traditional human diet. In considering the latter, we’ll look at Dr. Weston Price’s observations of healthy populations across the world in the late 1930s.

At first blush, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines seem sensible, though they are quite vague and rather generic:

  1. Focus on variety, nutritional density, and amount.  Choose a healthy eating pattern at an appropriate calorie level to help achieve and maintain healthy body weight, support nutrients adequacy, and reduce the risk of chronic disorders.  A healthy eating pattern includes fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy, grains, and oils.
  2. Focus on variety, nutritional density, and amount.
  3. Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake.
  4. Shift to healthier food and beverage choices.
  5. Support healthy eating patterns for all.

When viewed in the context of human evolutionary nutrition, however, the diet recommended by the government is, at best, contradictory and, at worst, dangerous. You may be surprised to learn that the government diet is not based on any scientific research. That was true of the very first set of dietary guidelines issued in the 1970s, and it’s still true today. In fact, government guidelines haven’t changed very much at all during that time, despite considerable advances in our understanding of the role of diet in disease formation.

Instead, the “experts” who devise these recommendations rely on outdated theories that conflict with the eating patterns that have allowed populations all over the world to remain healthy and free of disease into old age. Though each of these groups eats from a different menu, they share one common feature: they have continued to eat the diet of their ancestors. Or, at least they did until western influence became too much. That’s when they became less healthy and began suffering the types of illness that we’ve come to accept as a normal part of aging.

A committee tries to determine what is the best diet for health rather than considering the native diet of truly healthy people in other parts of the world.
A committee tries to determine what is the best diet for health rather than considering the native diet of truly healthy people in other parts of the world.
Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on unsplash.com.

The top causes of death in the U.S. are directly related to a poor diet. It’s been estimated, for example, that roughly 90% of heart disease cases and at least one-third of cancers could be prevented with the right diet.

We’ve known—through several “updates” of the U.S. dietary guidelines—that inflammation is the underlying cause of many chronic, degenerative diseases. We also know that the most inflammatory foods happen to be some of the very ones the government has been telling us to eat more of. It shouldn’t surprise you to learn, then, that many government nutrition experts have ties to the agricultural industry and to the biggest global food companies. Entire books have been written exposing this bias.

With tongue in cheek and a twinkle in my eye, I say that we know more about the proper diet for the beef cattle we raise than we do for humans! One certainly would not raise cattle to die prematurely of a heart attack or to be at the slaughterhouse full of cancer.

Dr. Weston Price’s Approach to Diet and Nutrition

Let us consider the issue of a healthy diet from a different perspective.  Instead of trying to determine which nutrients are needed to keep us healthy, let us look around the world and find people who actually are healthy. Then, let’s study their diet! This is the opposite of what the government does, but it’s exactly what Dr. Weston Price and his wife did. They observed native tribes that had not yet been influenced by the white man’s diet. In doing so, they found healthy humans.

A native diet is associated with healthy bodies.
A native diet is associated with healthy bodies.
Photo by Kamala Saraswathi on unsplash.com

Price traveled the world to study isolated human groups, including sequestered villages in Switzerland, Gaelic communities in the Outer Hebrides, Eskimos of Alaska, Melanesian and Polynesian South Sea Islanders, African tribes, Aboriginal Australians, New Zealand Maori, and the indigenous groups of South America.

Wherever he went, Dr. Price found that beautiful, straight teeth, freedom from decay, stalwart bodies, resistance to disease, and fine characters were typical of native people eating their traditional diet, rich in essential nutrients.

Price returned to these lands after the white man’s diet was introduced and he found unhealthy bodies with degeneration, tooth decay, and altered facial structures—similar to what we see among society today.

The Question

Should we be following the government diet—the base of which is grain and refined seed oils, which didn’t exist for 99% of human history—or should we look elsewhere if we want a healthy, vibrant life? 

America in 2020 is not a healthy nation. In my view, we need to continue our search for the best diet. Ours is a white man’s diet, no matter how we modify it.  Just as the white man’s diet harmed so many native societies when it was introduced, it is doing the same to our society today.

A native diet—free of added sugars and with limited amounts of starch—is a healthy diet.
A native diet—free of added sugars and with limited amounts of starch—is a healthy diet.
Photo by engin akyurt on unsplash.com.