Weston Price’s greatest contribution was to go where the healthy people are to find out just what made them so robust. His quest took him to remote areas of the world, but he accomplished his mission and returned with valuable findings on nutrition.
Dr. Price was a Harvard-trained dentist and dental researcher who hailed from Cleveland, Ohio. He’s been called the “Charles Darwin of Nutrition” and he’s a health legend, if you ask me. Holistic health would be stunted without his ground-breaking nutrition findings and contributions.
As a dentist, Price saw more than his fair share of unhealthy mouths, which he believed were a result of the modern diet. Price heard of people who had healthy mouths and astoundingly good health, but those people were mostly untouched by modern society. If he wanted to find answers, he knew he had to go where the healthy people were, even if that meant going where civilization had not crept in.
He decided to follow his inner researcher. Price and his wife went on an adventure to find a control population that wasn’t yet affected by modernized man and his diet. That led him to many primitive cultures and to some amazing discoveries.
Price’s classic book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, captures his 10-year epic, world-traveling journey to study how these people groups retained their health when so much of the world was not faring as well. Unlike many of his colleagues, Price didn’t focus on individuals who weren’t healthy. Instead, he focused on those who were healthy and made it his mission to understand how they maintained such robust health. What a concept!
This is what Price found during his excursions in the 1920s and 1930s: people groups who followed their traditional, “wild” nature-based diets enjoyed exceptional health. All counted, Price traveled to 14 different countries, hundreds of cities and assessed 134 people groups, including tribal Africans, Pacific Islanders, Eskimos, North and South American Indians, Australian Aborigines and Irish fishermen.
By contrast, Price found that people who ate the modern, “civilized” diet of processed and sugary foods had ill health, including unhealthy teeth and bones. What’s more is Price found that health degeneration increased with each successive generation who lived on the modern diet, not the traditional diet.
Price’s studies indicated that the best diet for overall health was one that was based on natural whole foods—nutrient dense foods often found in animal products, including wild fish, organ meats and unprocessed dairy.
In fact, Price compared the traditional diets of these people groups with the average American diet of his day. He found that the traditional diet provided at least four times the water-soluble vitamins, calcium and other minerals and at least 10 times the fat-soluble vitamins from animal foods like eggs, butter, dairy and meat.
Price believed that the amount of fat-soluble nutrients found in these foods—especially vitamin D and A—helped the body utilize minerals and absorb protein. Price also believed that nutrient-dense soil offered the most nutritious plant foods and whole grains.
Price was especially enamored with what he termed “Activator X,” a fat-soluble vitamin, which is now believed to be vitamin K2. It’s found in fish livers, organ meats and butter that comes from cows grazing on rapidly-growing green grass in the spring and fall. Interestingly, all the primitive groups he studied had food sources of “Activator X” in their diets.
In short, Dr. Weston Price found a proverbial fountain of health when he went to find where the healthy things are. That’s an honor that I believe places him among the top health legends.