Nutrition Expert Speaks About Autism and Modern Diet Problems
by Tim Collins,Editor, Treating Autism Newsletter
Earlier this month I had the pleasure to talk to Sally Fallon Morell, co-founder of the foundation and author of Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats.
Q: How did you first become interested and involved with nutrition?
A: I’ve always been interested in diet, health and cooking. I was very fortunate that my mother was an excellent cook. She never used margarine and we always had lots of eggs, cream and butter at the family meals. In the early 1970s, I read Dr. Price’s book and realized “ah-ha!” This can all go together. I raised my children on home cooked meals according to these principles, and they were extremely healthy, much healthier than I was as a child. None needed braces to straighten the teeth as I and my siblings did. So that’s when I decided we needed a book that puts Dr. Price’s findings into a practical form for the consumer.
Q: What are the main things wrong with the typical western diet?
A: Absolutely number one is the wrong kinds of fats. The liquid oils and the hardened, partially hydrogenated oils are an absolute disaster to the human biochemistry. Not only that, but they have replaced the very fats that we absolutely need to be healthy. That’s number one; I put that ahead of sugar and MSG and all the other horrible ingredients in the food supply. I think if you’re eating plenty of the right fats (which includes cod liver oil) and avoiding the wrong fats, you don’t have to be quite so careful about the other things. That being said, it’s good to reduce your refined carbohydrates to a very minimum – that’s sugar, white flour, high-fructose corn syrup, etc. It’s also important to avoid all the additives, especially the neurotoxic ones like MSG, which are basically in all processed foods.
Q: So these are things we should all do?
A: Yes, and you know you don’t need to deprive yourself of anything. You can eat wonderful, delicious fats like butter, which make your food really satisfying. This diet includes delicious, rich sauces. There’s nothing wrong with sweet things in moderation – homemade with good, high-fat ingredients like eggs, butter and coconut oil. This diet allows grains if they’re properly prepared. We teach that salt is essential, and it is best to use unrefined salt. So this is actually a very delicious diet and you don’t have to use a lot of will-power to stay on it. It’s the natural diet for human beings. Food should be a joyful experience. One of the problems with so-called “health food” movements—which advocate what I call a puritanical diet with lots of awful vegetable juices and dry, low-fat food—is that people cannot stay on this diet. So, then they switch right over to what I call the pornographic foods, processed foods with all the wrong fats and sweeteners in them. Instead of these two unpleasant extremes, we should just eat good old fashioned, wholesome, delicious foods.
Q: You describe this diet as traditional and old-fashioned. When was it that our diet started to go wrong?
A: The big change came after the Second World War. By then, the food industry had perfected the techniques for making fake foods using industrial fats and oils and they started promoting them with a vengeance. We have an article on our website (westonaprice.org) called “The Oiling of America,” which tells how it was done. It was planned and it was carried out with malice aforethought. The industry knew exactly what it was doing. In addition to advertising and marketing directly to consumers, it suborned government officials and scientists in universities to get government officials and scientists to do their advertising for them.
What the food industry has done is make a lot of money for a small number of people and created an enormous health crisis. We’ve almost come to think of it as normal to have some kind of health problem. That’s not normal. It’s normal to be healthy, vibrant and happy. It’s normal to not have cavities, to not have arthritis. It’s normal for babies to not cry and to learn easily and to be robust and healthy. But we’ve almost forgotten what normal is.
Q: How important is nutrition in the recovery from chronic illnesses?
A: It’s all important. Certainly there’s an emotional and spiritual component to disease, but first you need to address the needs of the body. The reason that the nutritional approach doesn’t always work is because people don’t understand what it is the body actually needs. It needs, first and foremost, the animal fats, but people are so afraid of them. And this is often why people get sick in the first place: they’re avoiding the animal fats.
Q: A lot of us think of ourselves as being very health conscious and have been avoiding things like animal fats, butter, red meat, etc. but this turns out to be exactly the wrong thing to do?
A: Well, there’s basically two forces at work here: One is industrial agriculture and the other is the food processing industry itself, which wants to keep its ingredients as cheap as possible, and so uses vegetable oils. These two forces together have demonised the animal fats while putting animals in confinement. They have created a system where the vitamins we should be getting from those fats—vitamins A, D and K2– simply aren’t there anymore, and these fats are critical for building a healthy gut and healthy brain.
Q: We’re also told that soy is great for us, but I understand that’s not the case?
A: Why are we hearing so much about soy? It actually has to do with a technical change in the way that shortening was made back in the late sixties. The industry figured out a partial hydrogenation process that made soy a better oil for this than corn oil. Up to this point, you heard a lot about corn oil margarine. When they started to use a lot of soy bean oil instead of corn oil to make margarine and shortenings, the result was they had a high protein sludge left over, definitely a horrible waste product, and they figured out how to extract the protein from that to make soy protein isolate. That’s the reason we’re hearing so much about soy being a wonderful food. It’s a totally made-up and deliberate campaign to sell a waste product. The notion that soy is healthy flies in the face of everything we know about the soy bean. We’ve known for sixty years that the soy bean is extremely toxic and that when you eat a lot of it you actually create nutrient deficiencies.
Q: The obvious question this raises is how has this been allowed?
A: The food processing industry is extremely powerful. They control the FDA, they control USDA and they’re on the loose; on the rampage in a sense. That’s why we set up the Weston A. Price Foundation, to provide accurate information to people. It’s a way of counteracting all the malicious propaganda. By the way, I don’t know if this is true for your child, but most of the autistic children we hear about were brought up on soy formula.
Tim: Yes, we switched to soy formula due to our son’s milk allergies and he basically became addicted to it!
Sally: It’s interesting that you say it seemed addictive to him. We find that people do seem to be addicted to the soy products. I don’t know if this is because of the oestrogens in it or because they are actually using an addiction technology, which the industry definitely has developed. But one of the key problems with the soy formula is that it contains no cholesterol. Cholesterol is the critical component for building the brain, the nervous system and the lining of the intestinal tract. These are not being built properly in these growing children.
Tim: Now, most of us think we should be cutting down on our cholesterol but this is actually vital for growth and development?
Sally: It is interesting that we have one branch of our government saying we need 400-500 mg of choline per day– choline comes from food that contains cholesterol like egg yolks and liver. Another branch of our government is saying that we shouldn’t eat more than 300 mg of cholesterol per day so these two things don’t work; to get adequate choline you have to eat a lot more cholesterol. What’s really tragic is telling women who want to get pregnant to cut back on cholesterol because this is the very time that they need it. Adults may be able to get by on reduced cholesterol but when a child is being formed and growing, that child cannot make all the cholesterol they need to form the gut and the brain, and that’s why we recommend that pregnant women eat liver frequently and at least two egg yolks a day, and that the first food for a child should be egg yolk. You just can’t have too many egg yolks, I can’t stress that enough!
Tim: Unfortunately, quite a lot of children have intolerances or allergies to eggs! Do you have any tips for other good sources of cholesterol?
Sally: Often, egg allergies are to the egg whites rather than the yolks, but liver and bacon are other good sources of choline.
Q: You’re also a campaigner for real milk (unpasteurised). What is it that’s wrong with the lovely organic pasteurised milk that we can get in our supermarkets?
A: When you pasteurise milk you just mess up everything in the milk and the body thinks all these warped and distorted proteins are foreign and has to mount an immune response with every sip of pasteurised milk. This puts a tremendous strain on the body, the digestive process and the immune system. The other thing that’s messed up are the carrier proteins for the nutrients. In raw milk, every single vitamin and mineral is efficiently absorbed so your body can use them. This is not the case when you pasteurise. It’s a lot harder to get the nutrients in the milk when you pasteurise. By the way, when we say “real milk”, we mean three things: first of all it’s not pasteurised, secondly, the cows are raised on grass and third, the milk has all the fat in it – it’s full-fat milk.
Q: I assumed we had pasteurised milk because drinking raw milk was dangerous. Is it safe to drink raw milk?
A: That was the reason given but we have shown that this is completely false. There are numerous components in raw milk that kill pathogens and strengthen the immune system, and also there are components that actually line the gut to prevent you absorbing any pathogens and toxins, not just in the milk but in anything else you eat. These are mostly destroyed by pasteurization. Regarding the safety of raw milk, we have looked at probably every published report accusing raw milk of causing illness. About 97 percent of them you can throw in the trash can, they do not prove that raw milk causes illness. There’s another 2 or 3 percent where it might have caused an illness, but raw milk is much less likely to cause people to get sick than pasteurised milk or other foods. Also, raw milk is such a wonderful food for the growing child. It’s designed to create the immune system in the child. It has a special enzyme which ensures that the child absorbs all of the cholesterol in the milk; it is designed for digestive systems which are not yet working. This is true for the autistic child as well.
Q: Do you, yourself, have any insights into the importance of nutrition for the recovery from autism?
A: As Natasha says, these autistic children absolutely need the good fats. Slowly introduce the good fats: coconut oil, butter, lard. As much fat as possible. Egg yolks if they can tolerate them. Cod liver oil is critical for getting vitamins A and D. The bone broths are a big facet of what we teach, they are very healing to the intestinal tract and very good for the autistic child. The child should get off all grains until the gut heals and when they are reintroduced, they need to be properly prepared so they are more digestible.
Tim: It’s great to hear an autism diet that emphasizes what to give rather than what to remove!
Sally: Yes, just taking things away is not going to help very much if you’re not putting into the diet what these children need to heal.
Q: Autistic children can be notoriously picky eaters. Do you have any tips for introducing new, healthy foods?
A: You have to be sneaky with things like organ meats. You can chop up liver very, very fine and put it in stuffed peppers, for example, in a ground beef mixture or in soups. I used to make enchiladas with chopped organ meats. I made them very spicy and they tasted good that way—the children never knew they were eating organ meats. One thing we get from our farmers is called organ-blend, organs all ground up like ground beef. I will add that to chilli, meatloaf, hamburger patties and so on, and they don’t know it’s there.
Tim Collins is the editor of the Treating Autism newsletter. Treating Autism is a UK-based charity promoting biomedical approaches to the treatment of autism – diet and nutrition being, by far, the most important.
For more information about the Weston A Price Foundation, go to www.westonaprice.org.
Reprinted with permission from the Treating Autism Newsletter.
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