We have been examining the impact of different diets on our health. Last week we looked at the Paleolithic Diet. This week I want to highlight two classic researchers from the field of healthy longevity—Ilya Metchnikoff (who founded the field of Gerontology) and Weston Price.
Classic Studies in Longevity and Aging
The Prolongation of life: Optimistic Studies by Ilya Metchnikoff PhD, 1909.
Dr. Metchnikoff has been called the Father of Probiotics. He was a Russian Zoologist, Nobel Laureate, who in 1904 became director of the Pasteur Institute upon Pasteur’s death. Metchnikoff, getting on in years, became focused on the concept of longevity, believing “Longevity can be associated with the preservation of intelligence and the power to work.” He hypothesized that lactic acid bacteria, when in sufficient numbers within the digestive tract, could, by preventing putrefaction, prolong life.
Metchnikoff backed up his theory by identifying and studying the dietary habits of cultures around the world with the greatest number of healthy old people. He concluded that eating lactic fermented foods is of critical importance and a common feature in cultures whose citizens reached robust longevity.
In The Prolongation of Life, he links senility along with other degenerative conditions of old age to putrefaction in the digestive track. In our May 12th, 2011 Forward Thinking, I discussed more thoroughly the two possible pathways in the decomposition of food—fermentation and putrefaction. The bottom line is that Dr. Metchnikoff believes that gut health it key to healthy longevity, and that the regular consumption of fermented foods is key to longer, healthy life.
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston Price DDS, 1939
Dr. Weston Price in Nutrition and Physical Degeneration details a series of ethnographic nutritional studies performed by him across diverse cultures, including the Lötschental in Switzerland, Native Americans, Polynesians, Pygmies, and Aborigines, among many others. The photographic material and notes collection in this research included over 15,000 original photographs.
In Nutrition and Physical degeneration, Dr. Price claimed that various diseases endemic to Western cultures of the 1920s and 1930s – from dental caries to tuberculosis – were rarely present in non-Westernized cultures. He argued that as non-Western groups abandoned indigenous diets and adopted Western patterns of living they also showed increases in typically Western diseases, and concluded that Western methods of commercially preparing and storing foods stripped away vitamins and minerals necessary to prevent these diseases. His pictures are amazing in graphically showing the degeneration that occurs in populations adopting the Western highly processed foods diet.
These are the foods that are allowed on the Weston Price Diet:
Foods to avoid are:
The diet also encourages eating locally when possible as well as choosing foods that are raised without pesticides, antibiotics, hormones and fertilizers. The diet’s basic message is that fat is not to be feared as long as a whole-foods and nature-based diet is steadily consumed. It promotes a general low-carbohydrate, nutrient-dense, unprocessed diet as a way to maintain health and stave off disease.
As I promised last week, this week in Clinical Notes is the beginning of a series of one to two minute video clips highlighting our various Therapeutic Foods. In this, our inaugural video, we Welcome you to the World of BioImmersion.
The Last Quiz Answer:
This photo was taken December 22, 2006 by Japanese scientists of a female Giant Squid (Architeulthis martensi). The taxonomy of the giant squid has not been resolved. It has been proposed that there are eight species. But, because they live at such great depths they have never been completely studied. Giant squids are the world’s largest invertebrates and reach up to 60 feet in length. There are however many accessible species of squid (over 300) that have been well studies. One such creature that we’ve highlighted below in Green Facts, the Bobtail Squid, is helping scientists understand, the language of the microbial world and its relevance to our own survival today.