Weston Price Dietary Recommendations

Synopsis and Review

Roasted pork chops with salad
Low-Carb Diets. Claudia Totir / Getty Images

The Weston Price Foundation has dietary guidelines which are not very concerned with carbohydrate content but generally end up being lower in carbohydrate than most diet recommendation. The actual carb content is going to vary according to individual food choices. There is definitely overlap between the Weston A. Price dietary recommendations, reduced-carb diets and also (perhaps especially) Paleo diets.

Weston A. Price was an American dentist in the first part of the 20th century who traveled all over the world examining groups of isolated people, taking note of their dental and physical health, analyzing their diets, and doing follow-up research on nutrition. He came to the conclusion that the nutrient-dense diets of these people contained vital clues for dental and physical health, and reported his findings in the book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. The Weston A. Price Foundation was formed in 1999 by Sally Fallon Morell and Dr. Mary Enig to disseminate his ideas about health and nutrition.

Here are some of the dietary recommendations of the Weston Price organization. For more information, visit their Web site:

Eat whole, unprocessed foods, ideally organic - Eat lots of organic vegetables and fruits. Animal products should be from animals eating "what the animal was meant to eat" -- e.g. meat and dairy from grass-fed cattle, sheep, etc, wild fish, shellfish from unpolluted waters, eggs from pastured hens, etc.

Eat the whole animal - They point out that in earlier times (and not all that long ago!) people ate the organs, feet, and all of the animals, which contain nutrients that are more difficult to get when we eat, for example boneless, skinless chicken breast. Stocks and soups made from bones are very much encouraged.

Eat full-fat dairy, preferably raw and/or fermented (e.g. yogurt or kefir). Animal fats are actively encouraged.

Cod liver oil is highly recommended.

Eat fermented vegetables and fruits such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles (it actually turns out almost anything can be fermented and turned into condiments such as chutneys) and drink fermented drinks such as kombucha.

If seeds, grains, legumes, or nuts are eaten, they should be soaked or sprouted to reduce antinutrients such as phytic acid.

Oils should be limited to "traditional oils" such as olive, coconut, palm, and small amounts of sesame and flax. Specifically to be avoided are soy, corn, safflower, canola, or cottonseed oils, and any oil heated to a high temperature during processing.

Also avoid: refined carbohydrates, processed foods, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, added sugars, protein powders, powdered milk, processed meats (e.g. luncheon meats), unprepared nuts and grains, artificial sweeteners, and other additives.

Other points: Vitamins A, D, and K2 are often found together in the recommended animal foods (e.g. cod liver oil) and work synergistically together. Weston Price talked a great deal about "Activator X", which he believed was in these foods.

Now it is thought that vitamin K2 is Activator X.

Thoughts about the Dietary Recommendations of Weston Price

We have come a long distance from the way our ancestors ate. Some of this is great -- for example, we have access to many foods that would not have been possible in earlier times. However, the point is well-taken that we have lost a lot of traditional foods that humans had adapted to eating over millennia, and that these foods probably provide a lot of important nutrients, bacteria, etc, that are no longer in our diets. I am particularly interested in the emphasis on the nutrients in animal foods.

I've long maintained that the recent research geared towards finding phytonutrients in plant foods (antioxidants, etc.), while really a great thing, may have the unfortunate side effect of giving an impression that animal products don't have anything to offer besides protein. Probably the main reason we haven't found more important benefits of animal foods is that we haven't looked very hard!

Of course, I'm also a fan of eating whole foods, which usually not only provide a greater concentration of nutrients (and less "bad stuff") but probably contain a variety of factors that work together in ways we don't yet understand. This could be why, for example, taking antioxidants in pill form often doesn't work well -- the thousands of phytonutrients actually work together, and there is speculation that an excess of one may even have an oxidizing effect.

Some of the recommendations of the Weston Price Foundation are a little "fringier" (e.g. the recommendation to avoid microwave ovens), but I would guess they would say that the above recommendations produce the vast majority of the benefit they are seeking. Also, I am not familiar enough to comment about the benefits of soaking grains and seeds.

I recommend Sally Fallon's book Nourishing Traditions if you are interested in learning how to use these principles in your cooking and eating.