Meet An American Family [Diet Makeover pt. 2]

My sister’s family is a classic middle-American family. She’s a stay at home mom with a photography business on the side, he’s a worker’s comp attorney who switched firms a few years back so he could spend more time with his wife and kids. We’ll call them Mrs. Mom and Mr. Dad.
Their super-cute kids are six and four; a boy and a girl. He has a vivid imagination, and may be a cowboy or superhero on any given day, and also waxes philosophical at times. She is a snuggly princess, who is fairly low maintenance if she knows mama and daddy love her. We’ll call them Brother and Sister. Baby Mac was introduced to you in the last post.
Like many middle-American families, they have a list of health challenges, even without counting the Spina Bifida saga. Mom and Dad both suffer from multiple seasonal, food, and environmental allergies; Brother has has episodes of seizures and fixation/stemming (Tourette’s like) since infancy. Sister has a small jaw with crowded teeth. Baby Mac needs to gain weight; after losing weight and requiring extra calories for tissue healing at each of his hospital stays, he currently weighs less than his cousin (my baby girl) who is six months younger than him. Here’s a picture of the two babies side by side.

Our hope is that the Specific Carbohydrate Diet can make an effect on these symptoms through cleansing of pathogens, gut healing, replacement of positive gut flora and the ensuing immune boost and enhanced mineral, vitamin, and calorie absorption.
Up next: our kitchen and pantry clean out.

Butter Review

“Mmm . . . butter is the most yummy thing to eat!” said my seven year old daughter as we enjoyed pats of butter and peanut butter on crackers.

It’s not only yummy, it’s good for you (assuming you aren’t eating it with enough sugars/starches to begin gaining weight). Butter is an excellent saturated fat for absorbing and utilizing the important vitamins A, D, and E, which are too often lacking in the western diet, as well as metabolizing the calcium and other minerals in our diets.

However, there’s a big difference in the quality of butters.

Here are two different colors of yellow butter. The one on the left is Kerrygold, which comes from cows in Ireland which graze on green grass. It is always yellow, and is cultured with probiotics during the butter making process. The one of the right is Trader Joes Sweet Cream butter; it is nearly white compared to the Kerrygold.

Here is a photo (mobile download from a friend; thanks Stephanie of of homemade butter (left) from fresh raw milk from cows eating the quickly growing green grass of spring, and a stick of Costco butter (right). This photo is not doctored; I’ve seen and tasted butter this yellow. It’s an indicator of the high levels of vitamins in the butter.

About a hundred years ago, Weston A. Price traveled the world to find the healthiest peoples. He discovered some astounding truths of optimal health, one of which was that cows and other dairy animals give nourishing milks when they are fed their natural diets of green grass. Cows kept in stalls in the city, and fed hay and grains, gave milk products which did not produce the excellent health, stature, and dentition in the people who drank it in comparison with the people drinking the milk from grass fed cows. (Whew! Did you catch that? It even confused me, and I wrote it. Bottom line: grass-fed milk=healthy people, grain-fed milk=not-as-healthy people.)

Here are two excellent brands of cultured butter (probiotics used in the butter making process). Little difference can be seen in the butter color, although there is a slight difference in flavor. Both are from pastured cows, which gives the yellow color, although not as bright as the spring butter. Both are from pasturized milk; the Organic Valley brand is unsalted. I found it interesting that these cultured butters were easy to cut with a butter knife, even straight out of the fridge, not rock hard like conventional butter. Both taste fabulous.

I purchase the “conventional” butter from Trader Joes (top picture, right side) to use when baking things for potluck or other groups where nobody cares a whit about the butter quality so I can stretched my grocery dollars further. This way, I can purchase Kerrygold for spreading on bread and vegetables at home.

I also regularly purchase Trader Joes Organic Butter, which is a little cheaper than the Kerrygold, and I purchase it for baking and frying at home. It is not cultured with probiotics, but does have a similar color to the Kerrygold most of the year. However, as I understand that Trader Joes uses a number of local vendors around the nation for their fresh products, their organic butter in your are may not be this yellow (indicating that it is not delivering vitamin A in good amounts).

Kerrygold runs around $2.69 for a half pound at Trader Joes (more elsewhere)
Organic Valley runs about $5.50 a pound at my local Fred Meyer
Trader Joes Organic runs about $4.79 a pound at Trader Joes
Trader Joes (Conventional) Sweet Cream Butter runs about $2.99 a pound at Trader Joes

Butter is an excellent choice in baking and frying (along with virgin coconut and palm oils, and beef or duck fat) since the saturated fats are so stable and will not be damaged into a trans fat form.

Dental Health and Nutrition

Have you ever read a book that sort of pulls together a lot of loose questions for you? I mean, you have been told a basic theory about a topic, and yet you know of personal situations that don’t fit into the basic theory. And then you are presented with a new paradigm that makes so much sense on a diverse clinical level.

Such was my experience with the book Cure Tooth Decay: Heal & Prevent Cavities with Nutrition by Ramiel Nagel. Although I knew, like most moms, that a proper diet which included calcium was essential to making healthy teeth, I didn’t know that an excellent diet can actually prevent tooth decay. Even without brushing. Whaaat?

I’m not advocating not brushing one’s teeth (neither is the book’s author), however, there is extensive documentation of hundreds of people in cultures across the globe with excellent, carie-free, dental health. And they were armed with excellent diets (which varied across the globe, naturally) rather than with toothbrushes. (This documentation was the work of Dr. Weston A. Price, a dentist who traveled the globe to find people with traditional diets and to observe their dental health. He became so impressed with their overall health, and longevity, that his life work became titled Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.)

How can people have excellent dental health without brushing (and flossing, and swishing, and getting dental cleanings every 6 months)? This is what I wondered, as my paradigm for dental health was that the things that we put on our teeth (food, especially sugar) and then failing to brush it off soon enough, will cause acids and/or feed bacteria that eat away at our tooth enamel. This book debunks the “sugar on teeth” theory, in that white sugar does not feed bacteria, it actually kills it. But we all know some kid that’s addicted to sugar, and has a mouth full of fillings to prove it, right? This is where the nutrition factor comes in: it’s not the sugar on the teeth that wear away at the enamel, it’s the sugar inside the body. White sugar (and white flour, and a bunch of other nutrition negatives) cause the body to swing towards an acid pH, and the body must compensate by pulling an alkaline substance (like calcium) from storage to keep the pH balanced, or to send to a more important part of the body, like the brain or heart. The body may decide in this crisis situation that losing a tooth is better than losing an organ, and so a living tooth slowly loses it’s health from the inside out.

This explains why one tooth may be in decay, while the one next to it is fine (one would think that all teeth in the mouth would decay at the same rate if it were the foods present in the mouth affecting them, as sugar would be distributed everywhere). The body may prioritize one tooth as a source for pulling calcium over another tooth. This also explains why breast-fed babies tend to have more excellent dental health than their bottle-fed counterparts. Dental caries in infants have long been blamed on formula pooling in the cheek from bottle feeding, yet breastfed babies can also sleep with pooled milk and yet have better teeth. It is the better nutrition in the breastmilk that is the basis for better dentition, rather than the absence of milk on the teeth themselves.

Of course, breast-milk is not always excellent nutrition; the health-giving properties of breastmilk are tied to the excellence of the mother’s diet. Ramiel Nagel’s own daughter was being exclusively breastfed when she began to develop tooth decay. The whole family was vegetarian, so they thought they were very health conscious in their diet, yet the lack of essential animal fats and proteins had actually thrown them into a state of malnutrition. As Mr. Nagel research Dr. Price’s writings, he became convinced that they must change their diet dramatically, or all suffer physical and dental degeneration.

Dr. Price found that the people groups he studied with the most excellent dental health, some with nearly 100 percent immunity to dental caries across the entire population, ate liberally and daily from the following 3 food sources:

  1. Dairy products from grassfed animals
  2. Organs and muscle meat from fish and shellfish
  3. Organs of land animals

Mr. Nagel’s book goes into fascinating detail on the whole diets of several groups of people (some peoples ate hardly any dairy, etc. but had larger doses of the other special foods, etc.). He also explores the minerals and fat-soluble vitamins (namely calcium, phosphorus, Vitamins A and D from natural sources) which are the reason (or part of the reason) that these foods build healthy teeth (and bodies).

At the end of this article are some lists of Eat Daily/Weekly/Rarely/Never which are Ramiel Nagel’s suggestions. This list is overwhelming to me, as it would seem like a full time job to make sure each of my children ate all the recommended foods daily and weekly. However, I have to remember that we are doing a decent job on the 3 important foods categories: particularly eating lots of raw milk, yellow butter, and cod liver oil. And considering that the rest of our diet is very whole-foods centered, and that I have had this good nutrition while pregnant and breastfeeding, it isn’t surprising that my children all have beautiful strong teeth (so far!). For those that are already realizing poor dental health as a result of poor nutrition, it may be wise to go drastic and follow Mr. Nagel’s diet to reverse tooth decay, as he was able to accomplish for his daughter.


Of course, many factors are likely present in decay situations, and tooth surfaces that allow for compacted food to be left on them, like molar chewing surfaces, and the baby’s teeth which are in the pool of milk, do tend to be the first to decay. Brushing seems to be a reasonable and helpful habit for minimizing these factors, especially if the toothpaste does not have toxic fluoride but instead a healthy dose of Xylitol, a natural bacteria-fighting sugar with re-enamalizing properties. (Ramiel Nagel has a negative opinion of Xylitol based on one study on its safety; my research leads me to believe it is safe and effective. Read Xylitol: Alternative to Fluoride.)

However, brushing should be seen as the secondary dental habit, with excellent nutrition being the first and most important.

Diet Lists

Ramiel Nagel outlines a diet that has allowed 90% of those who follow it to stop tooth decay. If you already have teeth decaying in the mouth, consider a strict adherence to this diet.

Foods to Eat Daily:

  • 1/8-1/2 tsp. fermented Cod Liver Oil 3x daily with meals, or 1/2-4 T. organic/wild liver
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp. of high vitamin butter oil 3x daily with meals, or 1-2 T. yellow butter per meal
  • 2-6 cups raw grassfed whole milk
  • 2 cups bone broth
  • 1-4 T. grassfed bone marrow
  • 2 fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt
  • Substantial quantities of vegetables, such as carrots, beet greens, kale, chard, zucchini, broccoli, celery, sting beans, including soups and juices
  • Seaweed or kelp

Eat Several Times Weekly:

  • Raw, rare cooked, or marinated/fermented wild caught fish
  • Raw, rare cooked, or marinated/fermented grassfed beef or lamb
  • Raw fresh oysters or clams
  • Raw, rare cooked, or marinated/fermented liver of grassfed beef, lamb, chicken, fish, turkey, etc.
  • Raw or soft cooked eggs from grass-fed poultry

Eat Only Rarely/Avoid If Dental Health is Poor:

  • Dried Fruit, and any very sweet fruits, such as orange, grapes, peaches, banana and pineapple
  • Natural Sweeteners, such as unheated honey, organic maple syrup, agave nectar, fruit juice, and rapadura

Foods to Completely Avoid:

  • Sugar, in all processed forms
  • Flour and grain products, unless soaked or sprouted
  • Hydrogenated Oils, and low quality oils, such as soybean, canola, safflower. Replace with organic coconut, olive, or palm oils, butter, suet, or tallow.
  • Any junk food
  • Coffee, soft drinks, nutrasweet, and anything artificial
  • Soymilk, protein powder, and excess Tofu (my note: protein powder which is unheated raw whey is OK as it is still raw milk)
  • Pasteurized milk, even organic
  • Non-grassfed meat and eggs, and farmed fish
  • Alcohol and cigarettes
  • Drugs, whether recreational or prescription, and vaccines