Traditional DietsCategory Archives

Nutrition in the Loetschental Valley

I am currently reading Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price.  Dr. Price was concerned about the degeneration of dental health that he was seeing in his practice.  He decided to go out and find populations where dental health was still good.  He traveled the world looking for people still eating traditional diets.  This book was first published in 1939, but it would be very difficult to write such a book today because virtually all populations now include modern foods in their diet.  What Dr. Price found was that those still eating their traditional diets did indeed have healthier teeth and facial bone structure.  He did explore to some extent other health issues, but these were not his primary interest or expertise.  It is unfortunate that researchers from other medical specialties did not likewise engage in similar studies.

So far, I have read through the chapter in which Dr. Price describes the differences he found in the traditional Swiss and their modern counterparts.  When Dr. Price inquired as to where he could find populations in Switzerland still eating a traditional diet, he was directed in Switzerland to the Loetschental Valley that had only just recently been reached by rail service.  They were still producing all of their own food and clothing in the valley.  This population had very few caries (decayed teeth)—only 2.3 out of every 100 teeth.  That’s less than one per mouth.  Meanwhile, severely rotten teeth were common in the modern population.  The traditional population had wide dental arches with no crowding.  Their facial bones were well-formed.  The teeth of the modern population were crowded, and there were some deformities of other facial structures causing some to be mouth breathers.  Also, tuberculosis was a major health problem in Switzerland, and yet not one case had been recorded in the Loetschental Valley.  These traditional people were very healthy.

The daily diet in the Loetschental Valley included 100% whole grain rye bread and large slices of cheese.  They ate meat once a week and would use the scraps to make soups the rest of the week.  I assume this means they were eating bone broth, but this was not specifically mentioned in the book.  They ate some vegetables in the summer when they could grow them.  There were no fruits in the diet.  There was no sugar and no white flour.  Their dairy and meat was pasture raised and highly nutritious.

The modern population ate less dairy.  Much of the milk they produced went into the production of chocolate.  They were eating white bread with jams and jellies.  Their cattle were kept in barns.  The quality of the nutrition in the dairy and meat suffered for it.

The traditional diet in the Loetschental Valley was distinctly not Paleo since it was mainly grain and dairy, and yet they enjoyed superb health.  The secret to their health appears to be in the superior quality of the foods they did eat.  They were eating pasture raised animal products and freshly ground whole grains.  Those modern-day populations who have gone Paleo in their eating may be enjoying improved health because they are eating whole fresh foods more like these traditional peoples.  The secret may not necessarily be in the elimination of dairy or grains.  If doing so helps them, it may be because the quality of modern dairy or grains is inferior and in some way deleterious.  Dr. Price recommended in the introduction that all bread should be made from freshly ground whole grain flour.  The fats in flour that has been stored for any length of time tend to go rancid, possibly contributing to ill health.  And, of course, white flour has had most of its nutrition removed to the extent that the law requires that it be enriched with vitamins to prevent malnutrition in the populations eating it.

Bone broth for health

Bone BrothBone broths are an important element of traditional cuisines.  They are the basis of wonderful sauces, soups, and gravies.

Bone broth is a great way to get the nutrients needed for healthy bones and joints in an easily absorbable form.  Bone broth is rich in glycosaminoglycans, glucosamine, calcium, magnesium, and potassium—basically a total bone- and joint-building package.  The gelatin in bone broths can be used to treat many intestinal disorders such as colitis and Crohn’s disease.  The amino acids in broth act as a tonic for the bowel wall.  Bone broth helps the liver cleanse itself from the residues of metabolism.

Bone Broth Recipe

The following fits well in my oval Crock-Pot. Scale the recipe to fit your pot.

I give bone broth to my dog, too, so I don’t use onions in the broth. You can add an onion if you will not be feeding the finished stock to a dog. Do NOT feed the cooked bones to your pet. They will be too soft and may break into pieces. Seriously, feeding soft bones to your dog can result in intestinal blockage that could potentially kill your dog.

I have included directions for three methods: electric pressure cooker, stove top, and slow cooker.  According to the Serious Eats Food Lab, the pressure cooker method yielded the best results followed closely by the stove top method.

Ingredients

4 lb. raw bones with or without skin and/or meat
8 cups water
½ cups apple cider vinegar
2 carrots
2 stalks celery

Directions (electric pressure cooker)

  1. Add your choice of bones into pressure cooker. Cover the bones with cold water just until covered; or 2 cups of water per 1 pound of bones. DO NOT FILL MORE THAN 2/3 FULL!  Add 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar per 1 pound of bones. Let stand for one hour.
  2. Set pressure cooker to high for 2 hours for chicken bones or 4 hours for beef bones. If you are using a stove top pressure cooker, you will need to monitor it closely the entire time.
  3. After the broth is cooked, let the pressure release naturally.
  4. Bones will become soft when touched by a fork.
  5. Strain broth through a colander or sieve lined with cheesecloth or paper towel. Discard bones.
  6. Cool broth in the refrigerator for several hours. The fat can then be removed rendered for use in cooking.

Directions (stove top)

  1. Add your choice of bones into a large pot. Cover the bones with cold water just until covered; or 2 cups of water per 1 pound of bones. Add 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar per 1 pound of bones. Let stand for one hour.
  2. Bring to a low boil. Remove any scum that has risen to the top,
  3. Reduce heat. Let simmer for 6 to 48 hours for chicken bones or 12 to 72 hours for beef bones. Bones will become soft when touched by a fork.
  4. Strain broth through a colander or sieve lined with cheesecloth or paper towel. Discard bones.
  5. Cool broth in the refrigerator for several hours. The fat can then be removed rendered for use in cooking.

Directions (slow cooker)

  1. Add your choice of bones into a slow cooker. Cover the bones with cold water just until covered; or 2 cups of water per 1 pound of bones. Add 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar per 1 pound of bones. Let stand for one hour.
  2. Set the slow cooker for high heat and bring to a boil. Remove any scum that has risen to the top,
  3. Set the slow cooker for low heat. Let simmer for 6 to 48 hours for chicken bones or 12 to 72 hours for beef bones. Bones will become soft when touched by a fork.
  4. Strain broth through a colander or sieve lined with cheesecloth or paper towel. Discard bones. You can also cook bone broth in a crock-pot. Low heat.
  5. Cool broth in the refrigerator for several hours. The fat can then be removed rendered for use in cooking.

Sally Fallon on Bone Broth:

How To Make Beef Stock:

References:
Mary Enig, Sally Fallon. Eat Fat, Lose Fat: The Healthy Alternative to Trans Fats.  Plume (March 28, 2006).
Catherine Shanahan, Luke Shanahan. Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food. Big Box Books (November 14, 2008).

Dr. Cate Shanahan on diet and brain health

I’ve been listening to the Paleo Summit with Sean Croxton.  Today, I listened to the author of Deep Nutrition, Dr. Cate Shanahan, MD, talking about how important proper dietary fat is to the brain. Brains are primarily made of fat and cholesterol. She says that kids with ADD or ADHD are actually exhibiting signs of poor nutrition that could lead to more serious mental illnesses later such as schizophrenia if the nutrition is not corrected. The crux of Dr. Cate’s talk today was that most pharmaceutical use can be eliminated with proper diet. She recommends Paleo and traditional diets. These tend to be lower carb, higher fat diets.

References:
Shanahan MD, Catherine (2011-04-22). Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food (p. 287). Big Box Books.
Dr. Shanahan’s site: http://drcate.com/