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Sacred Foods: Intro to Nutrient-Density & Traditional Diets


Nourishment and Support for Growing Families

Sacred Foods: Intro to Nutrient-Density & Traditional Diets

Angie Needels

This call introduces nutrient-density and traditional diets.

We need nutrient-dense foods in our diet for optimal functioning of our bodies and minds. Nutrient-dense foods give us the highest concentration of vital components, like vitamins and minerals, that each of our body systems need to function optimally on a regular basis. Traditional diets, diets similar to what our ancestors around the world have been eating for thousands of years, were found to be rich in nutrients to allow human evolution to occur.

The Earth has been in existence about 4 billion years, and humans have been evolving about 2 million years. Traditional hunter-gatherer societies traveled around in small clans, hunting animals, birds, and fish, and gathering fruits, plants, nuts, seeds, and tubers to sustain them. Around 10,000 years ago agriculture began (timeline of agriculture and food technology), along with the establishment of more settled civilizations. The ability to cultivate more food, namely grains, and feed more people led to exponential population growth in dense area/cities.

Jump forward to the 1930s---Dr. Weston A. Price, a dentist in Cleveland, OH was concerned that the patients he was seeing, particularly children, were having an increased number of dental issues like cavities, crooked and crowded teeth, and mouth diseases. He started looking at the diets of his patients for possible causes of these issues; he theorized that eating processed foods like white sugar, white flour, and condensed milk might be leading to the deterioration of his patients’ teeth and their overall health. Dr. Price went on to spend ten years traveling and doing research, looking for people that lived without these dental issues and the other diseases and deformities of modern civilization. He spent time with fourteen different traditional cultures around the world (from Fiji, to Swiss mountainous clans, to inuit in Alaska, to maori in New Zealand, to the Masai in Africa etc.) that had healthy, beautiful teeth, and did not have the diseases of modern civilization. These cultures were not eating processed foods. They were eating traditional foods, including healthy fats that contain important fat-soluble vitamins and fermented foods that contain beneficial bacteria. These cultures also provided extra nutritious foods to women of childbearing age to support conception, pregnancy, birth, and postpartum, ensuring the health and longevity of their future generations.

"Paleo" diets are also gaining lots of attention, a similar style diet to the observations of Dr. Price and focusing on unprocessed foods, but with a few twists and load of research to back it (check out this year's Ancestral Health Symposium). Even though we don't know exactly what our ancestors in the paleolithic period were actually eating, we can use it as a template on finding out more about our individual body's needs. So many people have found huge relief and remission from life-threatening disease and illness when switching to eating this way. The messages that ring true in the paleo communities that I really jive with are... 1) eat only unprocessed foods 2) a great mixture of meats, eggs and veggies mostly... giving you anti-inflammatory foods, rich in nutrients and 3) rely on your body to tell you what's working and what's not. 

We can use this information from traditional peoples in our present day lives. Most processed foods we eat today contain ingredients (like wheat, corn, and soy) that are manufactured in ways that reduce the nutrient quantities or make the nutrients unrecognizable and unusable to our bodies. It is important we eat nutrient-dense foods to maintain health, prevent disease, and also detoxify our bodies---we have an increasing number of toxins in air, water, and soil to manage and mitigate with our body systems.

People are realizing that Western medicine and the pharmaceutical industry are not delivering us health and happiness as hoped. People are also realizing the correlation between processed nutrient-depleted foods and the rise in rates of life-threatening illnesses and are scared. I'm ecstatic to see a bold curiosity in trying these different dietary and lifestyle changes and seeing more and more people feeling great, including myself of course.

When we eat a traditional diet based on nutrient-dense foods, we wake up feeling vital, happy, healthy and in direct participation of maintaining and perpetuating more of that. Nutrient-dense diets support the health of individuals in our community starting at conception, pregnancy, birth and childhood development, setting them up with a hearty body ready to tackle a long life.

MamaKai aims to bring more wisdom and knowledge about nutrient-dense foods back  for the good of our individual health as well as for the collective health of future generations.



Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Dr. Weston A. Price

This book details Dr. Price’s scientific research with tribes around the world.

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon

This book makes Dr. Price’s research more accessible, providing information on traditional diets and nutrient-dense foods, and it includes recipes to try at home.

The Weston A. Price Foundation

A comprehensive resource on the work of Dr. Weston A. Price, traditional diets, and nutrient-dense foods.

The Barker Theory

Dr. David Barker’s research found a correlation between low birth weight in babies and susceptibility to diseases later in life, such as coronary heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Nutrient-dense diets help nourish pregnant mothers and prevent low birth weight babies.

Kitchen Literacy by Ann Vileisis

This book addresses the history of American food systems, how we lost knowledge of where food comes from and why we need to get it back.