Nourishing Traditions

Nourishing Traditions

Have you read this book?

Nourishing Traditions – by Sally Fallon. I borrowed it from a friend and I can’t see how I’ll ever be able to return it! It’s worth buying just for the introduction alone, which provides an amazing catalogue of nutrition information – going into detail about fats and how to choose good fats over bad and why, explaining why dairy needs to be raw and from pasture-fed cows, not pasturised, and covering proteins, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, salt and even beverages. Citing a long list of nutritional studies that have been done, Fallon makes the argument that refined and processed foods are harmful to our bodies, and that we need to eat as our ancestors ate, to achieve a healthy diet. Intuitively, this is something I’ve known for a long time, and have attempted to work towards in my own diet. The book bowled me over because of the number of areas in which my basic understanding of nutrition has been challenged. While I have suspected that dairy is probably not good for us, Fallon argues that except for those who have severe intolerances, dairy is very beneficial, as long as it is unpasturised and comes from the equivalent of “free range” cows. She makes a strong case for the health benefits of eating butter and cream, as these help us to absorb fat-soluble vitamins and minerals. Ideally, dairy foods should be fermented, enabling us to digest them more easily. Another argument she makes is that we would do better on nourishing fermented beverages which are more readily absorbed by our body, than by drinking plain water. She points to traditional healthy cultures all over the world who include some fermented foods with just about every meal, and advises us to consume fermented food often. It’s not just dairy that should be fermented, but most grains become more digestible and thus more nutritious when digested, as do a host of other foods. Soy products, she says, shoud not be consumed at all unless they’ve been fermented.

I should point out here that I don’t take everything Fallon says as gospel. She cites Dr Edward Howell with respect, despite the fact that I understand his work is based on a set of rather unlikely assumptions, not scientific proof. But she also cites many references I believe in and many of her recommendations do cross-reference well with other nutritional research I’ve done. I am interested, however, to see whether following her recommendations really do yield any health benefits for me.

Since I read the book in January, I’ve been making fermented beverages and drinking 2-3 cups of them most days. I’ve been eating kimchi every day, lots of it. I put miso on my food more often, and I’ve tried a handful of other fermented recipes in the book such as apricot butter (yum!), fermented bean paste (ok, definitely edible but I would only eat that OR kimchi at a meal and I prefer the kimchi), fermented blueberries (I didn’t like this much but Jesse loved it), and fermented porridge. I’ve also got the hang of adding a bit of whey to almost anything and leaving it out of the fridge for a while, which seems to be an easy way to innoculate food with good bacteria, and start the fermentation process. I’ve also sprouted and dried nuts for eating, rather than eating them unsprouted. I was consuming a fair bit of soymilk before, in preference to dairy, but now I’m only having a tiny bit of soymilk and am consuming raw milk instead – not loads of it, and most of it fermented.

One thing I’ve noticed in the last two months is that my period pain has been dramatically reduced. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but somehow I doubt it. Before I had Jesse my period pain was absolutely debilitating – drugs every cycle no matter what, despite being totally against taking drugs generally. Since his birth I’ve been able to get on with things a bit better but it’s still a toss up between taking drugs or having a very unpleasant day or two. But last cycle I just had very mild pain, definitely no cause for any drugs and not really a problem. And this cycle, it’s just been a few twinges. Does this mean my hormones are balancing out? The only change I can attribute it to is the changed diet. Maybe Sally Fallon is on the right track…

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