Does Food Heal?
(This article is an excerpt from Kristina Amelong's book,
Ten Days to Optimal Health.)
"You've heard it before, but it bears repeating: nothing in life is more precious
than your health. If you take care of your body, not only do you prevent disease
and illness and prolong your life, but you also vastly improve the quality of
— Dr. Joseph Mercola
It is human nature to want to be healthy, vibrant, and energetic.
It is human nature to love life from the moment we are born until
the moment we die. This innate desire to live well doesn't change as
we age. It is clear that people do not want to lose their health, ever.
Why, then, are so many people struggling with illness?
The Role of Genetics
To begin our exploration of what influences our health, let us look
at what role our genes play. Many people think that our genes
fully determine our health, or at least determine the risk of such
diseases as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. What we are certain
of is that our genes do have an effect on our aging process.
However, the extent to which our health status is inherited is not
Certainly genetics play a role in how we age, as well as the diseases
that we struggle with. However, our focus on hereditary as
the reason for our health woes needs to be examined in the light of
Linus Pauling's Thoughts on Genetics
In 1949, Linus Pauling, the founding father of molecular biology
and author of Vitamin C and the Common Cold, Cancer and
Vitamin C, and How to Live Longer and Feel Better, made public
his theory that the origin of disease is based on specific changes in
genetic materials due to environmental influences, which in turn
modify physiological function. In other words, Pauling's theory
states that disease is not solely caused by genetics, but rather due to
the interaction between an individual's genes and his/her surroundings.
Bishop and Waldolz point out in their book, Genome, that
"aberrant genes do not, in and of themselves, cause disease. By and
large their impact on an individual's health is minimal until the person
is plunged into a harmful environment" (Simon and Schuster,
New York, 1990). To clarify, it seems that each person's gene pool
has the flexibility to express itself with health and longevity, or with
illness and degenerative disease, depending on environmental conditions.
Unfortunately, we take for granted that when a person's genes
do express sickness, or even early death, these diseases are genetic,
or destined to occur.
Environmental and Political Factors
It is oppressive the way in which all people are systematically hurt
by the belief structures and behaviors of their society. People are
forced into decisions that cause their bodies to express disease.
We are lied to and made to believe that things that are harmful to
health are actually good for us. Why? Because our culture is fixated
on profits. In his book, Natural Cures "They" Don't Want You
To Know About, Kevin Trudeau explains why the United States
government, the major food companies, and the drug companies
systematically promote ideas that may cause people harm.
Our current societal structure prioritizes profit above health. Health
is created or destroyed by the way we set up our lives. If we eat
well, we tend to be healthier. If we rest deeply and daily, we tend to
be healthier. If we are close to other people, we tend to be healthier.
If we exercise and spend time outdoors, we tend to be healthier. If
we have a rich spiritual life, we tend to be healthier. If we nourish
our emotional selves, we tend to be healthier. When all of these
activities are combined, most people are going to express health
genetically and not disease. Unfortunately, most of us aren't able to
pull all of those elements together.
Profitability Before Health
For example, most people don't eat foods that support their optimal
health. Most of us don't even know what it means to eat well.
Foods and all other ingestible products are produced to have long
shelf lives, be conveniently transported, and to be produced with
the lowest overhead and the highest profitability. Very few producers
of foods, supplements, pharmaceuticals, and other bodily products
place health above profitability. Most foods are available primarily
for the purpose of the suppliers to make a profit and not for
their high nutrient content. Diet ought never be based primarily
on the needs of the economy and the way in which the economy
encourages people to eat. For example, one in four people in the
developed world eat at McDonald's every day.
Limited Access to Quality Food
The average person has very little incentive or education that
would lead them to seek out and to choose optimally nutritious
food. Most people have limited opportunities to choose the best
possible nutrition for their body. How many people have access
to organically grown food, high-quality meats, and raw milk from
pasture-raised animals? Not many. In our family, we have had to
go to great expense to obtain the foods that have assisted my healing,
like raw milk and butter and grass-fed meats, even though we
live in one of the finest metropolitan areas for organically grown
and local food. By understanding how environmental and political
factors influence our lives and our cultures, and by healing those
scars of oppression, we will be more fully able to eradicate degenerative
disease and be optimally healthy.
Nutritional Content of Food
What are the nutritional resources that your body needs in order to
be optimally healthy? What is optimal nutrition? Is it possible to
practice an optimal diet within a culture that values food for profit
over food for health? Through my experiences with healing and
working with clients, I have come to believe that we can identify
nutritional resources and head ourselves toward optimal nutrition.
Nutritional researchers have studied cultures whose entire population
was much healthier than ours is today. Dr. Weston A. Price
analyzed the nutritional content of the diets of our healthiest
ancestors to decisively identify foods that create environmental
conditions for their bodies to genetically express health and not
illness. Looking at our healthiest ancestor's food to determine
what foods are therapeutic is turning out to be enormously successful.
Well-known nutritional experts Sally Fallon, Dr. Robert
Atkins, Donna Gates, Dr. Joseph Mercola, Dr. Andrew Weil, and
Dr. Jordan Rubin all share a common theoretical premise: many of
the foods our healthiest ancestors ate are now so vital to the wellbeing
of our bodies due to their nutrient content, that they can be
considered healing to the body, or medicines.
Principles of Healthy Diets and the Work of Dr. Weston A. Price
What scientific evidence supports the argument that the diets
of our ancestors were therapeutic and could assist us to optimal
health? To answer this question, I will cite the work of Dr. Weston
A. Price. Dr. Price was a prominent dentist and researcher who
conducted studies during the 1930s and the 1940s regarding the
prevention of tooth decay, gum disease, and orthodontic troubles.
Within this context, he sought to understand what makes humans
healthy and what allows humans to have perfect teeth -- not what
pushes people toward illness. His determination to study what
makes humans healthy and not what makes humans ill makes his
works an excellent source of insight. He details his research methods
in his book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration:
"Primitive man* did not have the same disease pattern as
modern man. Primitive man suffered from infectious disease
but was almost free of degenerative diseases. Modern man
has almost eliminated infectious disease but is suffering
from an epidemic of degenerative diseases."
* Weston A. Price first published Nutrition and Physical Degeneration
in 1939. At that time in history, European writers commonly used the
term "primitive racial stocks" to denote indigenous peoples, which I
see as offensive and dated. Price uses the term "primitive racial stocks" to mean people, whether European or indigenous, whose diets were
untouched by the "foods of commerce." Foods of commerce are foods
whose value is seen in terms of profit and not health.
"In my search for the cause of degeneration of the human
face and the dental organs I have been unable to find an
approach to the problem through the study of affected
individuals and diseased tissues. In my two volume work,
Dental Infections, Oral and Systemic and Dental Infection,
and the Degenerative Diseases, I reviewed at length the
researches that I had conducted to throw light on this problem.
The evidence seemed to indicate clearly that the forces
that were at work were not to be found in the diseased tissues,
but that the undesirable conditions were the result
of the absence of something. This strongly indicated the
need for finding groups of individuals so physically perfect
that they could be used as controls. In order to discover
them, I determined to search out primitive racial stocks
that were free from the degenerative processes with which
we are concerned."
He continued, "To accomplish this it became necessary to
locate immune groups which were found readily as isolated
remnants of primitive racial stock in different parts of the
world. A critical examination of theses groups revealed a
high immunity to many of our serious affections so long as
they were sufficiently isolated from our modern civilization
and living in accordance with the nutritional programs
which were directed by the accumulated wisdom of the
The Traditional Diet
Once Dr. Price determined that he needed to study isolated people
who appeared to be the healthiest of the peoples on this planet,
he spent several years conducting research in his Iowa laboratory
before he went into the field. He analyzed the nutrient content of
different foods to communicate to the world what nutrients gave
health to whole populations of people. As soon as he established
his laboratory support, he and his wife set off to learn from the
diets of these isolated groups. Every summer, they traveled to remote places and in the end, visited over fourteen tribes, clans,
and villages whose members all displayed remarkable freedom
from mental, physical, and emotional imbalances. Whether they
were investigating the Maori of New Zealand, Irish fishermen,
Native Eskimos, the Swiss, Australian Aborigines, African tribes,
or Pacific Islanders, they came upon vibrantly healthy people, as
long as they were eating traditional diets. This most important
discovery was duplicated in all cultures: If the people were eating
their traditional foods, they had very little or no tooth decay or
physical degeneration elsewhere in the body. Through his continuous
research, Dr. Price concluded that tooth decay and degenerative
diseases were irretrievably linked and stemmed from the same
cause — one's diet. When people cease to eat the traditional, nutrient-
rich diet of their native culture and choose instead the "displacing
diets of commerce"*, there is a high correlation with illness
and disease. It is by eating the simple, basic, nourishing foods
indigenous to native culture that individual populations thrive and
live long, disease-free lives.
* The "displacing diets of commerce" are diets that are driven by
commerce. These foods are available primarily for the purposes
of the suppliers to make a profit and not for their high nutrient
content. Diet ought never to be based primarily on the needs
of the economy. The fact that this has happened is a flaw in our
current capitalistic social structure. Dr. Price had the wisdom to
strengthen his argument that the body does indeed have requirements
for certain nutrients by examining the health status of the
same races of people who had changed their dietary ways away
from the traditional foods to the foods offered by modern commerce.
This gives his work the true gauge of scientific validity.
He writes, "In every instance where individuals of the same racial
stocks who had lost this isolation and who had adopted the foods
and food habits of our modern civilizations were examined, there
was an early loss of the high immunity characteristic of the isolated
Price's Dietary Principles
Fortunately for us, Dr. Price left detailed records of his research
in his landmark work, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. From
these records, health professionals and scientists have identified
particular foods and particular methods of preparation that are common
to each culture. The dietary principles of the fourteen cultures
that Weston A. Price studied serve as a guide today in whatever
diet we choose. Listed below are eight universal dietary principles
that Dr. Price witnessed in every society that he studied. Some
aspects of the following principles may not be familiar to you;
please know that I will go into further detail on each principle
later in the book. The principles that each culture followed are:
1) Ate up to ten times the amount of natural, non-synthetic, vitamin
A, vitamin D, and Activator X in the diet as did most
people of Dr. Price's day.
2) Never consumed refined or denatured foods including: protein
powders, high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, white
flour, or fruit juice.
3) Used both cooked and raw foods in their meals, especially animal
4) Ate raw foods high in enzyme content: dairy, meat, honey, cultured
vegetables and tropical fruits like papaya. Furthermore,
consumed lacto-fermented foods and drinks such as kvass,
yogurt, and kefir.
5) Always fermented, soaked, sprouted, or naturally leavened
their seeds, grains, and nuts.
6) Ate significant quantities (30%-80%) of their total diet in fat.
In every case, polyunsaturated fats comprised only 4% or less
of the fat in the diet. Omega 6 and omega 3 fats were in a
ratio of 1:1, and generous amounts of saturated fats were also
7) Included unrefined salt in their diets.
8) Used bones for broth.
Now, with the principles of traditional diets in mind, let's explore
my basic program, the Optimal Health Center (OHC) plan. The
OHC plan is an easy-to-follow, clinically proven, traditionally
based, and solidly researched dietary program. Enjoy. And feel free
to contact me if you need support. I want you to be successful! And,
most importantly, I want you to be able to intelligently choose a
healthy diet for yourself.
You ask, "What if I descended from people with very different
cultures and eating habits? Do I eat the foods indigenous to where
I live now or where my ancestors lived?" I propose that instead
of thinking rigidly about the foods your ancestors ate, you take
the common dietary factors from each of the healthy cultures that
Dr. Price studied to determine your optimal foods. The foremost
point to keep in mind is that no matter what 'diet' you choose, you
need to eat foods that are rich in specific nutrients in order to be
optimally healthy. I will highlight these nutrients as I explain my
(This article is an excerpt from Kristina Amelong's book, Ten Days to Optimal Health.)