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What is the Weston A. Price (WAP) diet? And why is it so popular?

Updated: Aug 15, 2023



The Weston A. Price Diet, also known as the “WAP Diet” or the “traditional foods diet,” is a nutritional program that is based on the research of Dr. Weston A. Price, a dentist and nutritionist who traveled the world studying the diets of traditional cultures in the early 20th century. According to Dr. Price’s research, traditional cultures that consumed a diet rich in nutrient-dense, whole foods were generally healthier and had fewer health problems than those who consumed a modern diet that was high in refined and processed foods. This was primarily evidenced by their dental health. Dr. Price first identified pockets of people who had perfect movie star teeth (no crowding or decay), then documented everything that they ate. This is a similar approach to what was used in the Blue Zones study that looked at pockets of people who routinely lived to be older than 100 years old.

The WAP Diet emphasizes the consumption of nutrient-dense whole foods, including:

  1. Fresh, unprocessed meats and animal products (such as organ meats, bone broth, and raw dairy)

  2. Fresh, whole vegetables and fruits

  3. Nuts and seeds

  4. Traditional fats (such as butter, lard, and coconut oil)

  5. Fermented and sprouted foods

  6. Fruits of the sea

The Price Diet advises against the consumption of refined and processed foods, including:

  1. Refined sugar and flour

  2. Industrial seed oils (such as vegetable oil and canola oil)

It’s worth noting that the Price Diet is not a prescribed or rigid dietary plan, and it is not intended to be followed blindly. Instead, it is a set of principles that can be used as a guide for making informed, healthful food choices.

Myths about Dr. Price and the WAP diet

  1. Myth: Weston A. Price was an anti-vaxxer. This is false. Vaccines weren’t a big thing in his day and I’ve never been able to find a comment he made against them. The Weston A. Price Foundation is anti-vaccine but that doesn’t mean Dr. Price was an anti-vaxxer just because a foundation named after him is. There is no problem with agreeing with Dr. Price’s research but also being pro-vaccine. Many vaccines are required for school attendance or in the case of yellow fever vaccine, it’s required for entry into many African countries. You could miss out on a lot in life and put yourself at risk by not getting vaccinated.

  2. Myth: The WAP diet conflicts with modern recommended best practices. This is mostly false. Modern nutritionists encourage consumption of whole foods in a less-processed state. A few key differences would be that Dr. Price encouraged moderate consumption of animal products whereas many experts are trying to get people away from that. Also, he encouraged a lot of consumption of natural fats (lard, butter, etc.) and scientists and nutritionists are only now coming around to that idea. For a long time they advised against fats. For the most part, the WAP diet as discussed in his book is not hugely in conflict with modern science. Of course a lot of WAP adherents substantially depart from what he wrote down.

  3. Myth: Dr. Price recommended consumption of fermented cod liver oil. This is false. People in the WAP Foundation have pushed the product but Dr. Price himself warned against consumption of rancid fats and oils. Cod liver oil can’t actually be “fermented.”

Resources

  1. Weston A Price’s book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration

  2. Sally Fallon’s cook book, Nourishing Traditions

 

Photo credit: Farhad Ibrahimzade

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