Disease Proof

Diet-Blog Looks at Nourishing Traditions

Diet-Blog is pondering the information in Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions, which promotes the benefits of saturated fat. Here's more:

Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions has been in Australia promoting her book. Fallon promotes the benefits of saturated fats (from research undertaken by the Weston Price Foundation).

Fallon has come under heavy criticism from the Dietitians Association of Australia:

"She's basing her ideas on observations of primitive populations in isolated areas who eat traditional diets, and it's so far removed from Western civilisation," [...] "In a population that is sedentary there is no need to consume saturated fats." (The Age)

So what is the truth? Are there any real answers to this controversial and ongoing debate?

The truth? The truth is to ignore this book! Dr. Fuhrman believes Nourishing Traditions is a sad commentary on nutrition. He lays it on the line in Fanciful Folklore Is No Match For Modern Science, take a look:

Nourishing Traditions is full of bad science and illogical reasoning and its appeal is dependent on people’s ignorance about nutrition. Fallon and Enig perpetuate long-held nutritional myths by referencing the same people who started the myths in the first place.


Nutrition is a complicated subject, and it takes familiarity with a comprehensive body of scientific studies and articles to devise recommendations to prevent disease and promote longevity. Science is not perfect, but evidence builds on prior studies, and ongoing research attempts to test each hypothesis and check validity in an unbiased manner. Today, we have a comprehensive body of knowledge with over 15,000 articles written since the 1950s documenting the link between a diet high in saturated fat and low in fresh fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and beans and the increased risk of cancer and heart disease.

While Nourishing Traditions has over 200 references, many are antiquated, with poor observations. For the most part, the authors reference their own articles and those of other Weston A. Price Foundation authors. Only fourteen of the references are from peer-reviewed journals published in the last ten years, and for most of those fourteen, the authors misrepresented what was stated in the articles. By contrast, my book Eat to Live contains over 1,000 medical references to peer-reviewed medical journals.

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Comments (9) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
LLouise - May 24, 2007 12:42 PM

The people who want to continue their bad habits will buy this. It's the same with most self-detrimental behaviors. Rationalizing rules the day. So many people swear by miracles when they started to consume coconut oil by the spoonsful; I bet they'll learn somewhere down the line, the terrible "mistake" they made.

It's crazy how people think eating healthfully = misery. I've never eaten so well, nor more delicious food than I do now; and it's better than any restaurant food, I'll tell ya that much.

A doctor told me the other day:
"Oh, so you're on an extremely restricted diet..."
Um...I am?
"Well, yes..."
Really? I thought I consumed a much larger variety of foods than most people.
"Well, yes, but, I mean...it's...restrictive..."
You mean meat? That's what's 'extremely restricted'? I eat a huge spectrum of foods.
~laughing~ "Wait a second...I'm on your side!"
Thanks, Doc. :)

a. - March 16, 2010 1:41 AM

my paternal grandmother, in india, has been telling me as long as i can remember about the wonderful nutritional properties of ghee (clarified butter) and coconut oil (a traditional part of the south indian diet) - both are valued highly in ayurvedic medicine. she also values fruits and vegetables - it's not like she's sitting around eating only fat all day. and out of all my grandparents, she's always been the healthiest - the least number of medical problems - still goes for a 2 mile walk every day, still cooks her own meals, eyesight's still great. my maternal grandparents believed western medicine when it vilified saturated fats, and switched to vegetable oils long ago - and my paternal grandfather had a weakness for sweets and processed foods that his wife didn't. sadly, they have all passed away,and my paternal grandmother is in fact the only one of my grandparents who is still living. from all that i have been reading lately about nutrition and health, and all i have observed of health patterns in my family, i absolutely believe that what sally fallon writes is true.

it's unfortunate that you (and others) distort the message of what she is saying. the message of nourishing traditions is much more complex than simply "eat saturated fats". first off, it makes the point that the animal fats need to come from pastured and grass-fed animals - that's when the animal fats are healthiest (and in fact, less saturated than from animals raised on grain). the guidelines also include eating organ meats, bone broths, wild-caught fish, eggs, a wide variety of vegetables and fruits, sprouted whole grains, and lacto-fermented vegetables and milk products. it's going back to eating the way our ancestors did - not only thousands of years ago, but as near as 100 years ago.

but perhaps most importantly, nourishing traditions makes the point that we need to completely remove modern processed foods, most importantly processed white flours, sugars, and processed vegetable oils, especially when hydrogenated, from our diets, because it is industrially processed foods that are what are causing our insane levels of "modern" diseases. it has nothing to do with "continuing bad habits" as llouise suggests. in fact, i've had to cut many of my bad habits - snacking on potato chips, crackers, etc, for example - in order to follow this diet. preparing the majority of food yourself means that treats like that really ARE once-in-a-while treats, not something you can reach for whenever you want. it makes so much sense, more than anything i have read about diet and nutrition in my life - and i read about this stuff a TON, always have. don't dismiss it based on hearsay - fallon and enig are dead-on correct.

Liz - March 17, 2010 8:04 AM

The personal who wrote this review of Nourishing Traditions is biased and probably being paid by someone. I don't believe they have read Sally Fallon's claims, because if they did they would not speak as if she claims that one should eat fat all the time. She basically claims that the processed food industry is controlling how we think about food and the "low fat" craze. She is right. He research is well presented and she points out that the "low fat" craze began with researchers who are funded by the process food industry. It's cheaper for a manufacturer to sell a tub of chemicals instead of butter, that's what it comes down to for me-money.

kimming - March 31, 2010 3:53 PM

Your say against my say. Be practical, go on Sally Fallon's diet for 6 months and proof her wrong! I just started mine, I am suppose to get up at 6 am for a 3 km jog or walk ( usually would not be able to do so ), its 4.45 am now, whole body felt all warm and raring to go ( Sally might be on to something, l o l ). Oneself as a guinea pig for 3 - 6 months won't really kill, for those who are keen to find out the outcome of my trial, mail me kimming.c@gmail.com

Courtney - June 17, 2010 7:01 PM

Yes, consuming fats constantly, even healthy fats, isn't good for you, but I have read Sally Fallon's book and can personally state she does not advocate such a diet. She says to replace chemical fats (margarine, shortening, etc.) with real fats that are good for you, and use them properly, in moderation. No one goes around eating spoonfuls of fat.
She also advocates eating a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, sprouts, grains, and other diet-musts. My grandparent have eaten this way all their lives and are still healthy and going. They didn't buy in to all these new diets and are much healthier than many people who have. I do use butter, coconut oil, etc. but of course, you need moderation.

MU Lee - July 29, 2010 8:00 AM

I have been trying to eat healthy on my life and spend a great deal of time reading about food. One thing I have noticed is that there are many sick people posting to sites like Dr. McDougall, but the people posting to the Weston A. Price foundation's website relate story after story of recovery their health.

I like eating a vegetarian diet, because I am a gardener. I find the food easy to prepare and tasty. Still, I cannot help but notice that despite all of the studies, people I can't ignore people getting well, whereas a book like The Vegetarian Myth makes me wonder about continuing that diet. After all, I want to be in the best health I can be.

Natalie - February 8, 2011 5:14 PM

I agree with a few of the other comments posted here. The author of this article did not accurately portray Sally Fallon's book, Nourishing Traditions. N.T. advocates a whole diet, beyond just eating "fats". I would encourage any reader of this article to read the book for themselves before taking this critical article to heart.

Todd Cesere - March 11, 2011 10:46 PM

People claiming that the author hasn't read the book don't seem to actually have read the review above, ironically. The article doesn't seem to state that Sally Fallon only promotes saturated fats.

The question isn't whether Sally Fallon's promoted diet is better than people eat today - advising against refined food by itself is good enough to do that - the question is whether it strays from scientifically supported information. Simply put, if she promotes a lot of good things, we know they are good because they are scientifically supported. If she promotes something not so great, like saturated fats, why would we stop listening to science at that point? Why choose "mostly correct" over advice that is much more accurate? What is the point of defending Sally Fallon for writing a book that has a lot of good advice and some bad advice, when we can choose the better advice?

And by the way, sick people commenting on blogs is pretty poor evidence, not to mention subjective and ambiguous. So is observing your grandparents without dutifully documenting many facets of their lives for many years, and so is noticing that you feel good at 4:45 am just after you started a particular diet. Health research is difficult, why would you expect to take a tiny slice of information and suppose you know who is right and wrong?

Soultrain - March 30, 2011 4:41 PM

It is estimated from the genome that the human body produces approximately 10,000,000 different chemicals each day. Now factor in that we are all somewhat different and you have to wonder if the reductionistic type science spoken of here has any validity at all. These so called scientists have been advocating low animal fat diets for about the same amount of time as we have seen a dramatic upswing in the rate of heart disease and diabetes. Collectively known as syndrome X. So why do people continue to advocate these ridiculous ideas. Because they find saturated fats on the walls of arteries? Big deal! If you eat saturated fats doesnt your body break it down before it is assimilated into the blood stream. So if anything your body recreates this saturated fat and deposits it. It is also well known that the metabolism of saturated fats produces double the water content at the arterial vein junction. Thus producing more blood volume and assisting the heart with circulation. And yes alfalfa and corn fed beef does contain something that increases the likelyhood of the aforementioned condition. But it is well known that cattle raised strictly on fast growing grass produce 3 to 5 times more CLA. Which is shown to boost metabolism and reduce these types of chronic diseases. If a person is really curious and not totally consumed in the fear propagated by the food industry they should simply try the diet. That is what I did. My cholesterol dropped. I lost weight. My knees dont hurt any more. My blood pressure dropped. I have mental clarity and energy like never before. I sleep well. My stress level is lower within the same life circumstance. Whenever I hear someone fear mongering like the cons above it does not arouse any anxiety but certainly suspicion as to their motive. Enuf said.

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