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Excerpt from "Primal Nutrition"

Chapter 8: Creating A Primal Diet for Health & Longevity

by Ronald F. Schmid, N.D.

The body’s needs constantly change, and an optimal diet is dynamic. To maintain balance, a sense of which foods are most needed now is required. Foods eaten at the last meal, and in the last day or two, strongly affect this sense. But there are longer cycles during which a need to emphasize certain foods may be felt. Some cycles relate to seasonal availability of foods; others are internal and may last for a few days, months, or even years. 

Several signals may be monitored as a guide in food selections. Difficult bowel movements with hard stools and straining may signal a need for more fats, raw vegetable salads, fermented vegetables, or cooked vegetables. 

Appearance of excessive mucus in the respiratory system--sinus or nasal congestion, postnasal drip, or early symptoms of a cold--is often a sign the body is reacting poorly to dairy products. Raw milk products too may cause these symptoms when they are from grain-fed animals. 

Abnormal redness on the skin--pimples, rashes, small blemishes--may be a sign of eating sugar and sweets. Honey and other sweeteners, fruit juices, dried fruits, and excessive amounts of fresh fruit may cause this sign. The skin is an organ of elimination and often is the first  part of the body to reveal an imbalance. The person eating no concentrated sweets for a time may have the quickest reaction when sweets are eaten--the body is well balanced and immediately eliminates excesses. 


I divide all foods into the following six groups that lead us to what I call the Primal Principle. 

1. Grassfed Animal Foods and Fats. Wild fish, shellfish, and fish eggs; grassfed meat, organs, bones, fat, and broth; pastured fowl and eggs; raw milk, yogurt, kefir, cheese, butter, lard, and ghee. 

2. Salad Greens, Raw and Cooked Green and Other Vegetables, Fermented Vegetables, Sprouts, Fruits, and Sea Vegetables. These include lettuces and other leafy greens palatable raw in salads, parsley, celery, and sprouts. Cooked green vegetables include kale, broccoli, green beans, Brussels sprouts, and others. A wide variety of fruits eaten in moderation are both tasty and healthful. Sea vegetables include dulse, kelp, nori, and others. Fermented vegetables are wonderful traditional foods. 

3. Foods Made from Whole Grains, Nuts, Seeds, and Beans. The key to healthy use of these foods is proper preparation (typically involving soaking) and moderation. These foods may be part of a healthy diet, but they are not for all people at all times. 

4. Healthy Oils and Vinegars, Spices and Seasonings, and Alcoholic and Other Fermented Beverages. One hundred percent extra virgin olive oil and cold-pressed coconut oil are essential in daily food preparation. Other healthy and beneficial oils to use in moderation include macadamia nut, avocado, sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin oils. Raw apple cider vinegar and balsamic vinegar are used in salad dressings. Sea salt may be used to taste. Freshly ground black pepper and other spices enhance the taste of many foods. Wine is a traditional drink that enhances appetite and the flavors of foods and is enjoyed the world over in its own right. Beer too may be enjoyable and generally presents no problems, though beer is grain based and those avoiding grains may wish to avoid beer. Indeed, handcrafted unpasteurized microbrew beers are a healthful addition to kombucha and other fermented beverages when used in moderation. 

5. Special Foods, Vitamins, Minerals, and Food Supplements. When carefully selected for individual needs, these items may complement even the best primal diets to aid recovery from health problems, build optimal health, and enhance longevity. Examples relevant for most people include carefully crafted cod liver oil, krill oil, organ and gland supplements, iodine supplements, and nutrient formulas that help protect vision and memory as we inevitably age. Others benefit from supplements that help in correcting dietary deficiencies or deal with environmental stresses. 

6. Everything Else (refined and manufactured foods, particularly sugar and white flour). Foods not included in the above five groups are not natural foods and are for the most part best avoided. The degree to which one can tolerate their occasional use depends on the state of health of the individual. Recovery from most medical problems is greatly enhanced when “Everything Else” is studiously avoided. Sugar in particular is highly addictive and indeed poison for many people if even the smallest amounts lead to overconsumption, a common occurrence. 


1. Foods in groups 1 and 2 are the most primal, fundamental, basic foods, essential for prevention, healing, and recovery from disease. Most of your diet should consist of foods in groups 1 and 2. 

2. Use the foods in groups 3 and 4 in moderation. 

3. Take advantage of modern wisdom about primal diet and health to help correct medical problems and achieve optimal health by utilizing the items in group 5. 

4. Avoid the foods in group 6 like the plague. 

The proportions of different foods most appropriate for each person vary from individual to individual, depending on one’s genes, state of health, stage of life, tastes and inclinations, and health goals. Those ideal proportions will change as you go through life. I believe that by following the framework outlined in this chapter, you will find your way to the best proportions. It helps to have an experienced guide, a mentor if you will. He or she might even be a physician. Doctor is, after all, the Latin word for “teacher.” 

Ronald F. Schmid, N.D., a licensed naturopathic physician, is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the National College of Naturopathic Medicine. He has taught at all four accredited naturopathic medical schools in the United States and is the former clinic director and chief medical officer at the University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine. He is the author of the The Untold Story of Milk. His company, Dr. Ron's Ultra-Pure, makes additive-free food supplements and natural body care products. In 2015 Ron retired after 35 years in private practice. He and his wife Elly have a small farm in rural Connecticut, where they play tennis and walk the country roads around their home.

Primal Nutrition by Ronald F. Schmid, N.D. © 2015 Healing Arts Press. New edition of Traditional Foods are Your Best Medicine. Printed with permission from the publisher Inner Traditions International. www.InnerTraditions.com

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