Rss Feed Tweeter button Facebook button Reddit button Linkedin button Youtube button

Weston A Price v The Paleo Diet

by Suz on April 4, 2012 · 25 comments

in Events, Food

I went across to Auckland, New Zealand at the weekend to hear Sally Fallon-Morell, of the Weston A. Price Foundation, speak.

 As with the Melbourne Sugar lectures, the audience was full of people new to the concept that the government approved low-fat diet is not the right approach. It is great to see so many people interested in making changes to their diet and I find it encouraging how many people were in attendance.

I meet up with Julianne Taylor at the talk – and I also meet and spoke Paleo with Rodney Hide. There’s nothing like being able to have real-life conversations on your favourite topic, is there? After the talk Rodney introduced me to Sally, which having had her book Nourishing Traditions for such a long time, was a real privilege.

Sally Fallon-Morell Suz Crawt, Julianne Taylor Julianne and I meeting Sally Fallon Morell in Auckland

Whilst there are some important differences between the Paleo style diet that I follow and the WAPF diet, I think it’s more useful to focus on the similarities, of which there are many. Whilst I believe a Paleo style diet is the optimal nutrition plan, if anyone were to convert from a SAD diet to a WAPF plan, I think they would see tremendous health benefits. If they then went one small step further to a Paleo or Primal diet, I think they’d see even more health benefits.

There are a number of principles that are the essence of the nutrition recommended by the WAPF.

FIRST PRINCIPLE: No refined or denatured foods

So much SAD food is refined or modified in some way;  sugar, flour, industrial seed oils, HFCS and so many more. If people did just one thing differently, completely removing these products from their diet would surely be the most beneficial. On this point Paleo/ Primal and WAPF are in complete agreement.

SECOND PRINCIPLE: Every diet contained animal products

As with Paleo, the WAPF believe that a healthy diet needs to include animal products and an optimal diet can’t exclusively contain plant food. Organ meats were mentioned a lot in the talk as an important source of many nutrients.

THIRD PRINCIPLE: Nutrient Density

The primitive diets studies by Weston Price were far richer in nutrients than much of the food available today. Mineral content in soil is depleted so many produce just don’t have the same nutrient density. This is where selecting good quality food comes in. Organic, home grown and grass-fed all promote far better nutrient density than the same items produced from intensive farming. Again, this is completely in line with Paleo.

FOURTH PRINCIPLE: All cultures cooked some or most of their food; but always ate some of their animal foods raw.

Weston Price noted that whilst primitive cultures did cook animal products, they also all ate some raw. This came down to raw dairy, which, whilst I agree it is absolutely better than pasteurised dairy, I find a big grey area. The talk focused on comparing processed dairy to raw dairy – where clearly raw dairy is the winner. Excluding dairy wasn’t discussed, which is the approach taken by a lot of the Paleo community, myself included.  My areas of concern with dairy are around the insulin response and the growth hormone IGF-1, which weren’t mentioned at all during the talk. I’d like to come to a more definitive view point on dairy, so had hoped to hear compelling reasons why dairy should be included. As it stands, until I find more conclusive evidence, I’m still of the view that dairy is best excluded.

FIFTH PRINCIPLE: High Levels of Enzymes and Beneficial Bacteria

This focuses on foods that provide enzymes to promote good digestion & metabolic health. Whilst raw dairy is noted as a good source, the super-foods here seems to be lacto-fermented foods such as Sauerkraut. The take-away point for me here is on fermented foods – something I need to make a conscious effort to include in my diet far more.

SIXTH PRINCIPLE: Seeds, grains, legumes & nuts are soaked, sprouted, fermented or naturally leavened

This principle starts off in line with Paleo, observing how components such as anti-nutrients, phytates and lectins in grains are not desirable. Where Paleo excludes grains and legumes altogether, WAPF promotes preparing these foods to minimize the damage. As with the dairy issue, I didn’t hear any compelling reasons why it is better to have grains in this form, than not at all. This is the main point on which Paleo/ Primal varies to the WAPF – whilst I’m certain people transitioning from a SAD diet to a WAPF would see significant improvements by preparing grains and legumes – I think their health would be far more optimal foregoing the grains and legumes altogether.

Weston A Price Lecture Paleo

SEVENTH PRINCIPLE: Total fat content of traditional diets varies from 30% to 80% of calories, but only about 4 of calories come from polyunsaturated fatty acids.

This is a key point on which Paleo and WAPF are in agreement. I would probably promote this as the key point, since it concerns the importance of saturated fat and the dangers of the industrial seed oils.

EIGHTH PRINCIPLE: Nearly Equal Amounts of Omega-6 and Omega-3 Fatty Acids

This is also essentially in line with Paleo, stressing the importance of maintaining a good Omega 6/ Omega 3 ratio. This comes down to making the right choices in choosing quality meat and avoiding seed oils.

NINTH PRINCIPLE: All diets contined some salt

I think this point is hard to accept for people transitioning from Conventional Wisdom, where we are told how dangerous salt it. Once the processed food is removed the natural levels of salt remaining are often very low, so supplementing with a good mineral salt is very beneficial.

TENTH PRINCIPLE: All traditional cultures made use of bones, usually as bone broth

Another point I need to work on, bone broths are such a great source of nutrients, easy and cheap to make and very satisfying. 

ELEVENTH PRINCIPLE: Traditional cultures made provisions for future generations

This principle was very interesting and concerns issues such as optimal spacing of children, nutrition of pregnant and nursing women and teaching nutrition to the younger generations. This seems to be all too often ignored or not considered in modern society.

Paleo vs Weston A Price?

I learnt a lot from this talk and it was a great reminder that I need to make sure I make provisions to include more organ meat, fermented foods and bone broth in my diet. I plan to make sure I include these regularly.

Whilst I completely agree that prepared grains are far superior to their refined counterparts – and that raw dairy is far superior to pasteurised, I didn’t hear anything to make me consider changing my anti-grains, legumes and dairy stance.

What do you think about the Weston A Price principles? Do you agree with their stance on dairy and grains?

The Paleo Recipe Book
Did you enjoy this article?
Get my 2 FREE Paleo eBooks!
Sign up to receive my weekly email, full of Paleo tips, recipes, events and news and download my free Paleo ebooks

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Lynda April 4, 2012 at 3:06 pm

I also was at the talk in Auckland :) I found it extremely interesting – especially the part about “all diets included some animal products”. I will still not eat grains but did agree with Sally that primitive people would have had sources of grains. I just find it easier to not eat grains. I do eat dairy and have no reason to give this up that I am aware of. I don’t have a lot but do have cheese and some yoghurt, cream and a little milk.

I believe we all choose to eat what suits us and as long as it is whole, unprocessed food then we are all winners!

Reply

Suz April 4, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Ah, I wish I’d realised, I’d have loved to have met you!
Absolutely, avoiding processed foods is key.
The problem is, by the time Weston A Price studied these primative cultures, diets had already changes – so the fact that they ate grains 100 years ago is probably neither here nor there.

Reply

Ian March 20, 2013 at 3:49 am

Yeah, nobody is arguing that the cultures Price studied were a true representation of the paleolithic diet. The point is, they were almost invariably very healthy. So, if grains are treated properly, they CAN be a part of a healthy diet (doesn’t mean they need to be, since we obviously have enough other options it’s not necessary to include them).

Reply

AmandaLP April 4, 2012 at 3:25 pm

I think the WAPF blends well with the Primal type diet, with the distinctions you mentioned above. I do lots of bone broth because it is a cheap and tasty meal and a good way to get in minerals, and I’ve started eating more offal. I have decided that while sourdough bread is amazing, I am better off wheat/grain free as much as I can be. But, I do drink raw milk because it is tasty, doesn’t upset my stomach like pasturized milk does, and I think it is a good source of bio available minerals that I would not get outside of dairy. (I don’t do a lot of dark leafy greens, so if I went dairy free, I would probably make eggshell calcium). I haven’t noticed any effects on insulin, but I tend to drink it away from other foods.

I think everyone should eat more fermented foods :)

Reply

Suz April 12, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Isn’t bone broth great! I need to make it more often. Eggshell is meant to be great, just not sure what I’d do with it.

Reply

Frank April 23, 2012 at 2:02 pm

I put eggshells in my bone broth. I’m assuming the calcium in them leaches out into the liquid.

Reply

Suz April 23, 2012 at 4:19 pm

I’d love to try that Frank! Do they disolve completely?

Reply

Frank September 10, 2012 at 10:05 am

Sorry, just saw this question! They go crumbly like the bones do, but don’t dissolve. I guess if you kept them in for long enough they might. I also put mussel shell etc in for similar reasons.

Brian Cormack Carr April 4, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Nice comparison. I think it’s horses for courses, really. Some people do well without dairy and *any* grains; others seem to do better when they include them (in appropriate amounts). I’ve heard Sally Fallon say that she doesn’t feel at her best when she eschews grains entirely, for example – and I know other people who do well on some grains (usually not wheat, however!)

I think one problem of the WAPF approach is that they don’t seem to say much about proportions. I followed the WAPF way for a while, but I found I was just eating too much in the way of grains and dairy. However you cut it, grains aren’t an efficient food in terms of nutrient density compared to energy value.

I think if you can tolerate (or even do well) on grains and dairy, eating them in moderation and in line with WAPF recommendations – soaked/fermented in the case of grains; raw/fermented in the case of dairy – could add real interest and texture to a paleo-style diet.

Reply

Suz April 12, 2012 at 5:08 pm

You’re right Brian, nothing was mentioned about portion sizes – which are still really important, even if you only eat the “right” foods.

Reply

Phil April 5, 2012 at 5:29 am

I went to the Wellington presentation and was also fortunate to have Rodney introduce me to Sally.

I tend to have a foot in both camps but rather than approach the use of paleo or wapf as labels, look to them as guidelines for optimising my nutritional and lifestyle needs. To that extent dairy and eggs, plus homemade fermented veg, form my raw foods intake. I tolerate dairy well, and the research I have done (admittedly littered with confirmation bias) satisfies me enough to take raw cream and add it to my intake of raw egg yolks. I see these, and to pick up on Brian’s point, as an efficient way to maximise nutritional density.

As far as the grain/legume question, notwithstanding the anti nutrient aspect, it just seems an inefficient way of getting nutrients.

Having been 2 years eating this way, if there was any food weakness I have, it would be for fresh baked sourdough dripping in butter. The smell and taste do it for me. But in that 2 years there is enough of an argument against eating it, for me not to succumb. I don’t feel deprived, as the balance of what is available to eat without the negative impact of wheat/gluten more than satisfies me.

Brian, I would further agree with you regarding quantities. Although I don’t look to wapf, or any other way of eating, for guidance on quantities. Rather I had to learn that the mantra of “just eat” whole foods does come with a rider. That just because a group of foods is good for you, doesn’t mean wholesale consumption without an impact on body composition.

Suz, I like what you are doing here, and appreciate the kiwi/aus context you bring to this.

Reply

Suz April 12, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Thanks Phil, that’s great you went to the Wellington talks, I’m so impressed how many NZ venues were covered on the tour. I know what you mean about food weaknesses – I find knowing more about what the foods actually are makes such a difference to what I will and won’t eat.

Reply

Primal Toad April 7, 2012 at 5:39 am

Very well written write up!

I think the convergence of WAPF and Paleo would be HUGE for the health of the world. Grains and legumes may not be ideal but properly preparing them does make them more digestable and more tolerable for a lot of folks. They don’t focus on grains too much. They just know that we eat so many of them so they place a huge importance on preparation.

The WAPF seems to be all about the healthy animal fat for good reason. Conventional wisdom continues to tell us how bad it is for us!

Bone broths and fermented foods is also big in the WAPF community.

Like I said… both “camps” need to come together!

About raw dairy… Sally says that 90% of the folks that are lactose intolerant can tolerate raw dairy. I seem to be lactose intolerant to pasteurize dairy but have no idea when it comes to raw milk as I have never had it. I’ve just enjoyed raw cheese a few times.

Reply

Suz April 12, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Thanks Todd! If the majority of the population went WAPF/ Paleo can you imagine the difference?!
I think raw dairy is very different to pasturised and far more tollerable – I’ve not yet found any research to tempt me towards re-introducing dairy of any form though. I think there is a lot more research to be done with dairy.

Reply

Frank September 10, 2012 at 10:08 am

I think pasturisation destroys a lot of the lactase that is naturally present in milk (Lactase being the enzyme needed to digest lactose) That would be why it’s better. I don’t go for raw dairy either though, my raw animal products are usually jerky or raw/cured fish.

Reply

Gaby April 8, 2012 at 4:28 pm

I’m so sad I missed it. I’m with you, a Weston A Price kind of diet is hundreds of times better than any “modern” diet.

Reply

Suz April 12, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Hopefully they’ll be over in Australia at some point in the future Gaby!

Reply

Christie April 13, 2012 at 5:34 am

Great writeup! I’m so jealous – I would love to hear Sally speak! I’m reading Nourishing Traditions at the moment, and it’s made such a huge difference to my diet! I made my first bone broth last week, and I’ve been experimenting with fermented food. Now I just need to find a way to start incorporating more organ meat in my diet…

I think one of the great advantages of a WAPF-style diet is that it’s less “radical” for someone transitioning from a SAD diet. My husband listens patiently to all the nutritional information I give him, but still refuses to give up his sandwiches for lunch. I figure if I can at least make sure he uses bread made from properly-prepared grains, some of the damage will be mitigated. I’m also not willing to cut dairy out of my toddler’s diet, but he is now drinking raw milk (and eating home-made yoghurt made from raw milk) and loving it!

Reply

Suz April 23, 2012 at 11:35 am

Great to read Christie, sounds like you’ve been making some really good changes! WAPF definitely seems like a really good stepping stone to Paleo.

Reply

Karen Brien November 12, 2012 at 8:30 am

I would love to receive your newsletter and have your free e-books. The link above to sign up did not seem to work for me,
warmest wishes,
Karen

Reply

Jean Stewart December 8, 2012 at 1:01 pm

I live on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada and have just heard about the Paleo way of eating so am scouring the web for as much information as I can. I have also ordered a book of slow cooker recipes from my local bookstore.
Dairy in the form of milk is something I would have difficulty giving up, but I am writing this to tell you that in Canada one cannot buy unpasteurized milk. I don’t know the precise details of government regulations but a nurse friend of mine recently undergoing cancer treatment had to get a supply “under the counter” from a local farmer.
On the question of milk, would skim be preferable to 1% MF or 2% MF?

Reply

sylvia January 30, 2013 at 1:29 pm

There are some fabulous podcasts around, Jean. That’s where I’ve been getting heaps of information. You listen to some of these and they’ll have interviews with various experts in their fields so then you can link to their stuff and you’re off. Jimmy Moore has some great guests ( he himself is into ketosis but has lots of Paleo speakers) and I really like Chris Kresser for his balanced and really intelligent analysis of all the research around Paleo and many related topics.

Reply

mark January 29, 2013 at 1:19 am

Excellent article ! thanks!

Reply

sylvia January 30, 2013 at 1:21 pm

It was a Weston Price seminar in Sydney with Sally Fallon about 15 years ago that moved me from vegetarianism – which I’d followed for 30 years – to a radical change in diet. Have been eating this way ever since, with Nourishing Traditions as my stand-by recipe/guide-book. Just recently had been doing the green smoothie thing and the fruits (and other carbs) were creeping up and up in my diet, so it was great to find Paleo and see how I could get back to something a bit more nutrient dense. Eternally grateful to Sally and co for getting me back to sensible eating as I had a number of issues as a veggie – one of which was that I couldn’t seem to digest fat. Now I could just about live on it ( but don’t of course :)

Reply

Sarah October 21, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Hey,

Your post is very interesting. However , I am a follower of the WAPF diet ( of a sort) not exactly strictly, being in the pastry industry. I believe that eating grains is not only beneficial but essential in a developed world like this. I don’t think that the Paleo diet is sustainavle enough to feed the world’s population. I think that is also a huge factor , as we wany the world to eat healthily, not jist ourselves. It seems to me that on a Paleo diet you just eat way too much meat – not in a biological sense , I’m sure good quality meat can onlybe beneficial – but in a sustainavle sense. You can feed so many more people on crop than on meat. In any case , although the primal diet may be better for you , as a civilised peoples we need to revert to agriculture and not forget that patt od our history. It is agriculture after all that allowed us to florish,and we didnt really suffer until the grains we grew were processed etc.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: