Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon: A Book Review
Find the book on Amazon here
Sally Fallon does an excellent job detailing what ancestral nutrition is and explaining how traditional practices can maximize the nutrient density of foods and beverages. She reviewed the lipid hypothesis and how our country came to think that fat was “bad,” thus sending us on a health deterioration spiral that we have just begun to recover from.
The comprehensive details and descriptions given about macronutrients and the specific vitamins, minerals and enzymes that keep us healthy will serve as a helpful reference when learning further about nutritional deficiencies.
I learned that animal products provide readily available nutrition that is not as easily accessed from vegetable sources. I also learned that a vegetarian diet including raw foods as a temporary intervention could possibly help replenish helpful enzymes and detoxify the body in the short-term.
While initially reading this book, I wondered several times to myself if what I was reading was true and still accepted by the holistic nutrition community. As I was just beginning the NTP nutrition certification program, I could not necessarily say these things were contradictory to its philosophy, but I had many questions.
I have been under the impression that grass-fed AND grass-finished beef is the healthiest because cows are not equipped to digest grains and therefore they are simply fattened up by grain and made sick from toxins from the grain pesticides. However, the author challenges this thought by saying that grain-finishing imitates the natural feeding habits of cattle because they are supposed to fatten up on grain from the fields in the late summer. She goes on to state that animal parts in feed are acceptable because it mimics the nutrients from insects that cows ingest (stuck to the grasses they eat). I am interested to find out if other researchers corroborate this.
Other ideas I questioned were: the implication that pork may feed cancer cells, that the best source of vitamin B is whole grains, the suggestion to avoid all sources of caffeine, the suggestion that dried spices should be limited in the diet, that citric acid contains MSG, and that the best source of protein in the vegetable kingdom are legumes and grains. There is so much in the nutrition world that can be contradictory, but it is helpful to read varying viewpoints, put a pin in them and continue digging until I find the most current and reliable research. I really do try to keep an open mind on these things.
Our tendency as a modern culture towards foods of convenience has led us to ingesting hyper-processed edible products that are not optimizing our health, to say the least. Refined and damaged oils are causing free radicals in our bodies and putting us at risk for acute and chronic diseases. Excess sugar and refined carbohydrate intake is leeching calcium from our bones and teeth and depleting our nutrient stores, thus making our bodies work harder to keep us in homeostasis. Depleted nutrients in our soils means we often aren’t even getting the nutrients we think we are from our foods. Change must come at a most basic and fundamental level regarding nutrient sourcing so we can take back our vitality and prevent modern diseases. Sally Fallon has highlighted the importance of a whole food, nutrient-dense diet that offers balance and not dogma. The book contains recipes and tips for how to bring ourselves back to ancestral eating and cooking methods so we can optimize our health. Below is a description of my experience with her nut mix recipes.
This photo is from my first experience soaking nuts so I could make an a healthy and gut-friendly nut mix.
This book, Nourishing Traditions, has recipes for all of the nuts above- pecans, walnuts, cashews and almonds (and more!)
The recipes include instructions for soaking, sprouting, dehydrating and seasoning.
The soaking process releases enzymes that improve digestion.
The dehydration process (in the oven in this case) makes the nuts crispy and delicious while avoiding rancidifying the fats by using low heat.
Almonds can be sprouted, which could take a few days.
Sprouting nuts, grains and seeds increases their vitamin C, vitamin B [especially B2 (riboflavin), B5 (pantothenic acid) & B6 (pyridoxine)] and carotene content.
“Sprouting neutralizes phytic acid, a substance present in the bran of all grains that inhibits absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc.” -Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions
This means that when we eat whole grains, we could be preventing the absorption of many other wonderful nutrients present in our foods if we don’t account for the phytic acid!
You might be wondering why we shouldn’t just buy roasted nuts to save all this “work?” Well, the nuts we find in the grocery store are almost all roasted with damaged oils, at too high heat. This means the fats can be rancid and none of the yummy nutrient benefits are left.
Rancid/damaged oils wreak havoc on the digestive tract and impact us all the way down to the cellular level. Nuts don’t have to be moldy or obviously expired to be rancid, so many of us eat them not thinking anything of it. I used to think of pecans and walnuts as bitter until I had them freshly soaked and dehydrated, realizing I had been eating RANCID nuts. The nuts should NOT taste bitter! If they do, they could likely be rancid from age or improper drying and roasting practices. If buying nut mixes from the store, check the ingredients and avoid vegetable oils like soybean and canola. Buying raw nuts and soaking/dehydrating yourself is the best way to go! But Costco has shelled pistachios with no added oils, for example, so we buy them.
Think you hate nuts because they’re bitter? Once you have freshly soaked and dried nuts, you will see the difference for yourself. Let me know in the comments if you have tried this!