by Peter Holleran, DC
Some may find parts of this article rather cryptic and obscure. It is not a polished essay but more of a collection of ideas, both technical and esoteric, serving as food for thought, of which the hyperlinks are an essential part. Please read them all as you read this article.
There are a few points left out of most considerations on diet, and this article will attempt to tie up those loose ends. Suffice it to say that, whether low-carb or standard vegetarian, the chief benefits of either diet versus the SAD (Standard American Diet) accrue, in my estimation, from the elimination of refined sugar and flour products, by eating as many foods as possible in their natural state, by increasing the omega-3 : omega-6 oil ratio, and eating more fruits and vegetables.
Beyond this point is where proponents of one diet or other, in my opinion, often border on the religious, whether that religion be the achievement of total purity and purification (as in Jainism or extreme forms of Veganism), or belief in the gospel of evolution and the eons of so-called genetic adaptation often used as justification for meat eating and low-carb diets. Let me elaborate on this further. I am sure that some will say that here is where Dr. Holleran goes a bit off the wall, but it appears that it just can't be helped.
On the one hand there are those who come close to believing that what you put in your mouth is more important than what comes out of it (!), and that animals and even plants are more important than people. These are those who forget that perfection or total purity is rarely achieved, and even if it were, it still wouldn't avoid the inevitable: namely, that "by the time you finally get it, you've had it!" The true purpose of diet becomes forgotten in a misguided pursuit of bodily immortality.
There are others who strive for a form of nutritional perfection in a quasi-romantic appeal to the hypothetical diet of our paleolithic ancestors, or their modern day counterparts among certain native cultures, such as the Inuit. This is the approach of followers of Dr. Weston Price. While I agree with Price that the near-perfect dental arches and bone structure of such people is, in general, a good indicator of overall bodily health, in that it likely means that those people have adapted to a diet that controls the release of insulin, and the balance of calcium in the body, major factors for good health, I also have some reservations about the long-term effects of such a heavy animal protein diet. Of course, it maybe necessary for sheer survival in the Arctic regions. But those regions are not the marker for optimal human health. In fact, the work of Price does not confirm a long lifespan for those on high animal fat diets. And it is little known, due to the missionary efforts of the Weston Price Society, i.e., the 'pale camp', that Price himself advocated a mostly plant-based diet! For those of us in the temperate zones (arguably the more natural environment for man), high animal fat and protein is not so great. Just look at what happened to the famous Dr. Atkins. Overweight and heart attack. Also, Stephen Byrnes (whose "Myths of the Vegetarian Diet", a Weston Price propaganda piece, which I once had posted on this website) sadly died of a stroke at age 45. So the proof is in the pudding. Countries on a largely plant-based diet simply do not succumb to the major Western diseases except in a minority of the cases. But then, they are usually not a 100% plant-based culture either - and the Weston Price people make good points about the demerits of too many refined grains and sugars, and the health benefits from some animal products. It may be too easy to say, as staunch vegans do, that everyone can thrive on a 100% vegan diet, or that all dairy (including raw milk), all eggs (even pastured grass-fed eggs), all fish (even wild salmon, sardines, and the like that are high in DHA), and even all meats (including grass-fed beef, also higher in omega-3 oil), are the cause of cancer, heart disease, and all other major diseases. However, the Weston Price people go way overboard in demonizing fresh fruit, probably the healthiest food on the planet, with many life-extension properties.
In the end, one must do his own research and find what works for him.
While Dr. Byrne in his analysis of the findings of Dr. Price claimed that there were likely many Inuit, for instance, who were sixty years old or more (which is not that old as far as longevity goes, in my opinion; see Secrets of Healthy, Happy People), he also issued the caveat that they probably didn't have the longest of lives chiefly BECAUSE they lived in such a harsh climate. Duh. It was, in fact, I suggest, probably their climate and lifestyle that ALLOWED them to benefit from a high intake of fatty, flesh food without the problems it might cause us, but it has not been proven that it contributes to extraordinary longevity.
At times there also appears to be the uninspected belief that such cultures, because they may be less materialistic, less psychically divided, and less environmentally exploitive than ours, have a superior form of spirituality as well, which may carry over into arguments for their form of diet. They may very well have a more superior form of spirituality than that in our conventional exoteric religions, but it isn't necessarily that high when compared to the advanced or esoteric forms of spirituality hidden within those religions. In other words, even though it may have much to offer us, the shamanistic level of primitive cultures is not necessarily the last word on the subject of God or reality.
Here is a "what if?" I have sometimes pondered: "what if" the Inuit are destined to reincarnate again and again AS Inuit, eating flesh all day long, with a lifespan relatively healthy but still "short and brutish"? Not only will such a diet not necessarily work for those of us in the temperate zones, but spiritually, it may not be that healthy either. The whole subject of "light" and vibration regarding food is not touched on by the Weston Price people, or any of the high meat advocates (or, to be fair, in most dietary argumentation in general). According to spiritual teachings found in the unadulterated translations of the major texts of the world's religions, however, man is more than the physical body alone, he is/has subtle bodies and spirit as well. The nature and quality of the food one eats can affect the transmission and quality of energy between these different levels, and it may also affect the karmas that propel our destiny, in this and other lives, and maybe the karma of the planet as well, including the plant and animal kingdoms. I think all these things need to be considered, but we should do so freely and without blame, guilt, or righteousness. It is part of the complete picture, unless materialism remains your fundamental and absolute position. In which case it might just as well be steak and eggs, "who cares", and "forgetaboutit." But you care or you wouldn't have bothered to read this far.
Here is another idea to ponder. Maybe the current belief that millions of years ago our ancestors ate a paleolithic diet - to which we are still genetically adapted - is wrong. Perhaps the primitive cultures investigated by Weston Price and others are NOT representative of our remote ancestors, but rather, are only descendants of even earlier civilizations that were actually more advanced or more pure. Maybe there is something to all of the flood legends found in sacred texts and legends worldwide that indicate we originally lived in some sort of Garden of Eden and only later were forced to wander the earth struggling to survive Neanderthal-style, and even later still developing a grain-based agriculture. Perhaps our truest and most ancestral genetic heritage was an adaption to fruit and vegetable eating. As Genesis (1:29) states: "And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat." The early Mormon Church seemed to believe this and taught that the best diet for man was vegetarian, with meat eating to be reserved only for times of cold, famine and extreme hunger, and then only in order to preserve life.
In response to this Dr. Mercola takes the middle road and makes a reasonable argument that since the biblical "fall" the Genesis 1:29 diet needs to be supplemented with 5-15% animal foods for optimal health. This would avoid the acid ash residue problem with heavy meat consumption while providing key nutrients sometimes lacking in strict vegetarian diets.
An argument often used in medical propaganda is to compare the incidence of a disease at two different times in history. For instance, pro-vaccination people say that "before the vaccination era we had thousands die yearly from measles, whooping cough, etc., but now there are very few cases." And this is true. The assumption, however, that mass vaccination is responsible for the eradication of these diseases, is not. Why? The devil in the details: if we look at the year the vaccines were first introduced (i.e., ~1946 for whooping cough (pertussis), according to official national and international statistics, this disease was ALREADY 90-99% eliminated as compared to the 1800's-early 1900's when it was indeed a killer. This is also true for diphtheria, polio, tetanus, measles, and others. I know if you are reading this for the first time it may sound unbelievable, but government statistics, used also by insurance companies, do not lie. So any argument remaining on this issue is only applicable to the remaining few percent of cases since the time the vaccines were begun.
The Paleo people use a similar distorted logic. They say our paleolithic ancestors ate one way, and that therefore we should eat that way because of our genetic adaptation. But, as Dr. Gregor argues, why stop at about 2 million years ago, as the paleos do - why not go back to 25 million years ago and investigate what was the primary diet for man or his ancestors? The results are quite different using this time frame. In my opinion, Dr. Gregor offers a very powerful argument against the paleo diet in these two short videos. For the most part of his history man ate a plant-based diet.
When we look at the pictures of the people of Hunza and elsewhere in Dr. Bernard's books, we find that they all may not have the best dental structure (although they do show other signs of being from "strong calcium stock", as Bernard puts it), but nevertheless they live very long, healthy lives. Perhaps great dental arches, then, a key argument of Dr. Price, are not the most important criteria for determining good health! The outdoor lifestyle of the Hunzas insures that they get alot of sunlight, which has been shown to increase the health and bone density of those on vegetarian diets. (The Hunzas do consume dairy products, although little if any meat).
It has been said by those wiser than I that "it is more important what comes pout of your mouth than what goes into it." On these matters, therefore, "strive for knowledge", but "judge not lest ye be judged," seems a reasonable course to take.