Category Archives: Singer’s Health

Grandfather’s wise healthy traditions speak to his grandaughter’s vocal health

I recently received this letter from a singer in Norway who suffered from career-threatening acid reflux:

I’ve received your e-book and find it very inspiring, thank you. I’m a vocalist and was diagnosed with reflux disease a year ago. None of the medics I’ve been given has solved this problem. In fact–it’s worse. It’s only one and a half month to concerts and I’m so happy to be able to start a new approach, changing my diet.

Luckily there is a store here in Norway (where I live) that sells organic broth. My grandfather who is 95 has never been sick, except from food poisoned once during a holiday. When he was hospitalized, the doctors could not believe his high age. His health and body is comparable to someone decades younger. Guess what he’s been eating his whole life? Self-caught fish, meat and broth from cows and mutton and chocolate :) (He’s also eating some bread, but I guess his stomach tolerates it, living on fresh foods from day 1.)

Again, I’m very happy to have find your book and are now going to follow the recommended diet.

Traditional, nutrient-dense foods are what our ancestors thrived on–take heed and return to real food. Sourcing your foods is critical. Organic, pasture-based and home-made is best.

For more information on building health and healing with nutrient-dense foods see my book, Performance without Pain and my e-book on healing acid-reflux.

Best in health,

Kathryne Pirtle


Quenching the Fire—Real Hope for Those who Suffer from Acid Reflux

After decades of being told by the experts that a diet high in fiber and low in fat is the key to robust good health, why is it that one in every 5 Americans is being treated for Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease, (GERD)?

Studies show more than 60 million Americans are currently being treated by their physicians for acid reflux. Last year there were 470,000 hospitalizations and 1.9 million visits to the emergency room as a result of GERD, commonly known as acid reflux. What’s more, GERD is now being diagnosed in children, birth to four years.

Since 1999 the majority of Americans say they are now following the dietary guidelines recommended by the FDA, eating at least 5 servings of fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains each day.  We are also following the advice of the medical community and eliminating from our diets traditional fats,(like butter) and decreasing our intake of protein—especially our favorite food-to-hate—red meat.

What is it, then, that such a large percentage of our population is doing that would promote the massive increase in this ailment? Should our entire nation succumb to popular medications that merely treat the symptoms but do nothing to remedy the underlying cause?

In my e-book, Acid Reflux: A National Epidemic and Precursor to Chronic Illness I pull back the curtain of misinformation to reveal the truth about why we are all chronically ill not only with GERD, but a variety of ailments including cancer, heart disease, allergies, dementia, even autism: see The Healing Diet for Acid Reflux Disease

Much of what we are told about good nutrition today is based on trends and faulty research funded by the Goliath factory farming industry. For 25 years I suffered from debilitating pain and chronic illness. Over that time I also suffered from symptoms of impaired digestion including persistent flatulence and at the age of 42, I was diagnosed with acid reflux that almost ended my career as a professional clarinetist. Even though I diligently followed popular health dictates as outlined in the traditional Food Pyramid and the resulting digestive illness and malnutrition nearly cost me my life.

If the Food Pyramid isn’t the answer, what is?  In Acid Reflux: A National Epidemic and Precursor to Chronic Illness I explain how our bodies actually work to digest and assimilate the food we eat.

Before the 1950s most of our foods came from small family farms. These high quality foods were from animals eating their natural diets.  Cows ate grass, chickens ate bugs and worms, and all fish were caught in the wild.  These are nutrient-dense foods our bodies need for optimal health and digestion, but unfortunately, this is not what we find at our grocery stores today.

Consider how many ads you see for drugs to address chronic health problems like acid reflux, gas, indigestion, constipation, and diarrhea. Pharmaceutical companies expect to earn a whopping $400,000,000 in annual sales from going over-the-counter with the ‘little purple pill. This remedy for acid reflux is nothing more than a slow death.

Current information on so-called healthy eating will not heal digestive disorders and will ultimately lead to nutrient deficiencies, illness, and even death, it behooves us to learn the difference.

The principles of a truly healthy diet are but one aspect found in this exceptional e-book.  Acid Reflux: A National Epidemic and Precursor to Chronic Illness also provides information on where to find nutrient-dense foods, shares delicious recipes and menu ideas, and makes the road to true healing informative and enjoyable.

For more information on healing and building health with nutrient-dense foods and seminars on this subject, see Performance without Pain and The Healing Diet for Acid Reflux Disease

Best in Health,

Kathryne Pirtle

Acid Reflux–A Singer’s Worst Nightmare

Help for Singers: Effective Nutritional Solutions to Healing Acid Reflux Disease

Imagine: You are rehearsing for your first major singing role with an opera company and your vocal range has become unpredictable. Some days you have your full range; others, you do not. But you have never experienced this problem. The opening night is in just one week. Your doctor says you have a nodule on your vocal cords, which has developed because you have acid-reflux disease. He tells you that you must rest your voice and not do the performances. You are devastated.

Health problems that affect performance are extremely frightening. They not only affect you physically, but they are an enormous burden to your mental well-being. Acid-reflux disease is a serious ailment that can permanently damage the voice. If we heed the profound statement of Hippocrates (460-370 BC) that ”All diseases begin in the gut,” then we must make a serious pursuit finding the root cause and correcting the source of any digestive issue. Since the longevity of a vocal career depends on health, it is imperative that true solutions are found to this problem.

Have you ever asked yourself why digestive ailments have become so common? There are endless radio, television and magazine ads about medication that helps acid-reflux and other digestive complaints. What is a large percent of our population doing that would promote this massive increase in the incidence of digestive disorders? Should the entire population succumb to these medications? It would seem that there are underlying reasons that so many people have these disorders.

I had acid reflux disease in my early forties just prior to becoming extremely ill with a life-threatening digestive disorder that nearly ended my musical career. I am the clarinetist and executive director of the Orion Ensemble, now in its 18th season. We tour throughout North America, present three series each year in the Chicago metropolitan area, and perform a live, internationally broadcast series on WFMT, Fine Arts Radio in Chicago. Besides playing principal clarinet with the Lake Forest Symphony, I frequently perform with the Lyric Opera Orchestra, Grant Park Symphony and the Ravinia Festival Orchestra. In addition, I have taught for over 30 years and have served on the faculties of the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music, Northern Illinois University, Indiana University and Bradley University. In 2004, the Hal Leonard Corporation released my solo album of Bach unaccompanied cello and violin suites and sonatas transcribed for the clarinet.

In the fall of 2001, I became chronically ill for two years, suffering from a severe inflammatory condition in my spine, which caused debilitating pain in my arms, shoulders, hands and fingers making it difficult to play. I developed chronic diarrhea and my embouchure, the facial muscles I use to produce my sound, also began to shake uncontrollably. This was ultimately diagnosed as coming from a long-term digestive problem, intestinal damage and malabsorption as a result of following common nutritional dictates and Celiac disease—an intolerance to gluten grains.

Of great significance, despite the fact that I was chronically ill for two years, is that I had experienced ongoing musculoskeletal inflammation, often of a severe nature, since my 20s and relieved it through physical therapy-type approaches common to the field of music—you name it; I became an expert at it! In my late twenties and throughout my thirties, I was constantly “chasing” pain and stiffness from practicing and performing. When I would solve the discomfort in one area, another area would become irritated. I was also trying to eat a healthy diet and closely followed popular guidelines for healthy eating.

Along with inflammatory conditions, I had early digestive illness symptoms starting in my childhood.  Beginning in my youth I had ongoing flatulence, which is a sign of poor digestion and intestinal bacterial flora imbalances. When I was 42, I began to experience acid reflux disease. A very distracting problem for a wind player, I felt a constant pressure in my throat and the sensation of wanting to burp. Of course, when I did burp, acid would be released into my esophagus. This was very frightening and I sought answers to this problem. At this point, my solution was to stop eating wheat, which was quite helpful for the time being. However, several years later, I developed a spinal inflammation followed by a severe digestive disorder—life-threatening chronic diarrhea and malabsorption. Obviously, cutting out wheat was not the full answer to acid reflux, as my digestive disorder, unknowingly to me, continued to develop.

We have become complacent in accepting the widely publicized recommendation that a low-fat, high fiber diet is essential to good health. I later learned that the nutritional advice I was following was not based on the study of healthy people, but on trends. Although I thought I was eating a healthy diet, and for years had faithfully followed the US governmental guidelines, these modern conventions were clearly causing health problems.

If following modern dietary trends resulted in digestive problems, what then were the answers to healing? In order to not only save my career, but also save my life, I needed accurate information. This complicated puzzle was solved through a radical change in my diet based on studying the work of Dr. Weston Price that reversed my acid reflux and intestinal damage, and provided my body with the nutritional elements necessary for building health. I am now recovered and vibrantly healthy! For the first time in 25 years, even with a full performing, practicing and teaching schedule, I have had no pain or inflammation in my body for over four years. My embouchure is completely strong and I have excellent stamina and muscle strength.

Dr. Price was a prominent dentist in the 1930s who was baffled by the large percentage of degenerative illness in his patients—chronic ailments of all sorts such as arthritis, inflammatory conditions and digestive complaints, fertility problems, cavities, crooked and crowded teeth and behavior and learning problems in children. He sought answers to these problems by traveling worldwide to see if there were cultures free of these types of conditions. He found 14 vibrantly healthy isolated cultures that had no signs of degenerative illness and had eaten the same foods for centuries from generation to generation. Although their diets were completely different, he analyzed their foods and found common characteristics that determined their diet’s ability to promote optimal health and genetic potential in humans. He was able to cure chronic illness in his own patients through his findings. He wrote an incredible book called Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. Through his unprecedented work and the development of the Weston A. Price Foundation, ( there is a growing movement of people who are finding solutions to healing chronic conditions and serious illness through traditional foods.

What are some of the foods that Dr. Price found to be absolutely essential to optimal human health? The surprising traditional practices involve high-fat, easy-to-digest, nutrient-dense nutrition from pastured animals and wild-caught fish including:
•    Nutrient-dense, high-vitamin A and D foods, such as liver, cod liver oil and egg yolks—essential for nutrient absorption (Price found that healthy populations had 10x the amount of Vitamin A and D from natural sources in their diets.)
•    High quality traditional fats critical for digestion and nutrient absorption, such as raw butter and coconut oil.
•    Bone-broth soups made from chicken, beef, or fish with vegetables, simmered for up to 36 hours that heal the intestinal tract, are easy-to-digest, and provide essential nutrients in an easy-to-assimilate form, such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and other amino acids. Secondly, they provide important bone and tendon-healing components.
•    Easy-to-digest, high-enzyme, traditionally cultured foods to help develop a healthy intestinal flora, such as homemade sauerkraut, pickled beets, and raw milk kefir and yogurt from grass-fed cows.
•    High quality proteins—meats, raw dairy and dairy products, poultry, eggs and fish—from animals eating their natural diets.

By focusing on eating ample nutrient-dense, traditional foods that support good digestion, such as raw milk from grass-fed cows often cultured into kefir or yogurt (yes, it’s legal—for details on finding a certified raw milk source, visit ), traditional lacto-fermented vegetables, egg yolks, meats and poultry from pastured animals, liver and organ meats, wild-caught fish—especially salmon and seafood, bone-broth soups daily, cod liver oil, and ample traditional fats, I was able give my body the nutritional elements to heal and build optimal health. Through these easy-to digest, nutrient-rich foods that supported the development of a healthy intestinal flora, I also corrected the low-acid state of my stomach, which ended the ongoing stomach and intestinal fermentation that I had experienced for so many years. Therefore, I no longer suffered from flatulence or any other digestion ailment symptoms, including those from acid reflux and a hiatal hernia. And after five years of following the principles of that Dr. Price discovered, I continue to notice improvements in my well-being.

Since my recovery, I felt that I needed to write a book that would help people in high-performing fields and others understand how our modern foods are causing so many health problems and offer accurate answers to healing. I knew that many artists were desperately trying to find solutions to serious career-threatening ailments, and had often exhausted all available resources. With the help of co-authors, Sally Fallon, international lecturer on nutrition and the founder of the Weston A. Price Foundation, and Dr. John Turner, DC, CCSP, DIBCN, the doctor who helped me with my recovery and has over 25 years of experience treating athletes, artists and the general public, I wrote a book called Performance without Pain (pub. 2006 by New Trends Publishing) and an acid reflux e-book called Acid Reflux: A National Epidemic and Precursor to Chronic Illness: Achieving Lasting Healing with Traditional Foods.

I have given over 70 seminars since 2004 for the general public, performing artists and families with children who have Autism. Since then, I have had the opportunity to witness how powerful Dr. Price’s principles are in helping world-class singers permanently recover from acid-reflux. The following are two recent stories that chronicle recovery with traditional foods:

I am a successful, internationally acclaimed singer in my fourteenth year of singing professionally. In that time, I have often struggled, plagued with GERD or performance anxiety that resulted in a reduced performance capacity. Let me start from the beginning, though, before I became a singer.

I grew up poor in a small town in Indiana. I was blessed to live in an area where growing one’s own vegetables or going to local farmer’s markets was common. We drank powdered milk and ate lots of red meat, all of which was corn-fed. Wonder bread was a staple, but, luckily, junk food was an expensive indulgence, as was eating-out, so we seldom experienced either, although we had our fill of KoolAid. I was diagnosed at the age of seven with a nervous stomach, which I now believe was reflux. I avoided sausage and very spicy foods, which seemed to make we feel the worst, and didn’t think anything else about it. I was always a very high-strung person, with lots of energy, nervous and otherwise, and I attributed that to metabolism and personality.

Fast-forward to college, when I am finally singing on a daily basis. I experienced problems with lots of unfocused, frantic energy that made settling into singing difficult. I also panicked easily. I would experience my “nervous stomach” problems before important events, and would never really know when I would have trouble with my voice. Being an extremely determined person, I soldiered on and performed well by sheer willpower. I advanced and improved and managed to make it into Orlando Opera’s Resident Artists program. I shortly thereafter was admitted into the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. I had to complete my work with Orlando, which included many exhausting programs for children and adults, sometimes having three to four shows in one day. I snag myself into a vocal node, and was on vocal rest for almost two months, only talking for two minutes a day. The first time I sang in public again after the node was my house audition for the Lyric; thus began my vocal descent.

My node never healed, my “nervous stomach” got much worse, my range was erratic, my voice unpredictable, my nerves shot. People heard that I was in trouble, but attributed it to bad repertoire choices and tried to change my fach. I still had the same willpower, which did help me get through performances, but it wasn’t enough. I had my biggest successes during this time, but suffered from the fact that my voice wasn’t “stellar” like it used to be. On a day that I was in vocal distress, I visited an ENT in Portland who scoped my cords and informed me that the node I had contracted five years earlier had never healed, and the “nervous stomach” from which I had suffered was indeed GERD. Scared, shocked, and a bit relieved, I visited a famous doctor who specializes in vocal surgery, which was very successful. My surgery was very successful and my cords were perfect again, and there was no reason that I should struggle anymore. Yet, I still had GERD, which acid reflux medicine and the diet the doctors prescribed didn’t help, and it wasn’t consistent enough for me to want to be on a medication constantly. My nerves were still shot, also, and I was panicked beyond belief. I found a wonderful teacher and got into therapy, which helped enormously. I also had a baby, which tends to affect the voice in a positive way, but I still could not get rid of the GERD, so my top range was inconsistent, and my focus and nerves were spotty on the best days, like I couldn’t stop the constant stream of noise in my head.

I met Kathy Pirtle when I was a guest performer with the Orion Ensemble, of which she is a founder. She saw I was drinking a lot of water, and had mentioned that I had GERD, which is a bad combination. She talked to me about Weston Price and the book she herself had just written about her performing problems and the life-changing diet she discovered. At this point, I had tried everything, from vegetarianism to Atkins to South Beach to the Blood-type diet, so I was willing to try anything. I was terrified that such a high fat diet would make me blow up like a balloon, and I had just gotten rid of all the weight I had gained from giving birth, but I thought my voice and health were more important. From day one, I noticed that I was hungry on less, and felt vital. My mood calmed down and my nerves settled, so that I could focus and think while singing, which is something I was rarely able to do. Also, reflux was a thing of the past, as well as gas, which I thought was something with which all people had to deal. I also continued to lose weight, and didn’t bloat the way I used to at any hormonal times of the month. If I decided to cheat and eat lots of refined grains and sugars, I would bloat up again, quickly put on pounds, get gassy, and might have reflux that night, so the proof for me has been, so to speak, in the pudding. Now, I am happier in my singing than any other time in my life, and feel I finally have the stamina to do it.

Another huge reason I decided to take up the diet was because of my mother. She recently has been diagnosed with breast cancer, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, high blood pressure, Atrial Fibrillation, plantar fasciatis, bone spurs, thickening of the uterus, and depression. It all started for her with GERD, which went unnoticed for fifty years. I knew if I did not do something, I could end up in that condition. It wasn’t all about my voice, it was about my quality of life after my singing career was through.

Here is another professional singer’s story of healing from acid-reflux through traditional foods:

When I was in my early 20’s, I remember having a ‘sensitive’ stomach but thinking it was dorm food in college or stress. I didn’t think much of it. My stomach would hurt but I didn’t have throat burning or excessive throat mucous. This was prior to the first surgery.

I had my first vocal surgery in 1992. I was 33. I had a varicosity on my left vocal cord that needed to be cauterized. They had no idea what caused it. They said it could’ve been overuse—hereditary—they weren’t sure. No one at that time mentioned acid reflux. I had been experiencing erratic vocal symptoms. Sometimes I felt great, strong, like I could sing anything and for extended periods of time. Other times I would experience quick fatigue, muscle tensions that I couldn’t control and tightness in the throat. I later learned it was from the varicosity, which would swell sometimes but not always. He thought it had probably been there a long time and was working it’s way to the surface of the cord. It eventually burst which was how I figured out what was wrong. I lost my singing voice entirely when that happened. It was like I suddenly went hoarse.

I had another vocal surgery in 1997 for a similar thing. This time I had a pollup on the left vocal cord but when they went in to take it off, they found more varicosities on the cord, which they again cauterized. At that time, my doctor mentioned that he thought I maybe had some acid reflux symptoms and suggested I go on some medication. I can’t remember which one it was—maybe Nexium? He said I could take it whenever I felt it was necessary so I messed around with it a little but didn’t feel like I wanted to get dependent and didn’t end up taking it. I didn’t really believe him because at that time I wasn’t experiencing throat burning or even upset stomach. This surgery was a surprise. I had been singing regularly and had been feeling great. He thought it was a ‘vocal accident’—just a fluke.

By 1999, I had started my own business and was having more severe problems. I would notice that certain foods seemed to trigger symptoms. I was experiencing painful upset stomach and lots of gas and burping. I tried to control it with eating blandly and eating more often in lesser amounts. This helped some. I was under a tremendous amount of stress at that time with a new business and trying to get pregnant with our second. We eventually ended up adopting. I was noticing that the acid reflux was sometimes affecting my endurance and my voice would tire more quickly. I also felt like I needed to clear my throat a lot which of course exacerbates the symptoms. I was in a vicious cycle and it was starting to mess with my head. I felt I had no control over my instrument and couldn’t rely on it. Sometimes it was fine. Other times I felt nothing but struggle. I was experiencing a mild form of depression because of it. I had fantasies of quitting entirely and just giving up.

By 2002, I needed another surgery. This time, I had had it. I worked with a vocal therapist who told me that acid reflux can cause varicosities on the vocal cords. I had always been against taking medication and so struggled with the idea of taking something every day. But the therapist said I needed to take it regularly or it wouldn’t work. It needed to build up in my system. After the surgery, I had barely been talking, let alone singing and one month later, another swelling appeared on the right vocal cord (first time on this side). I went into a tail spin. I decided to go on the medication to protect my voice. I also decided to wait and see if I could ‘heal’ the problem naturally. I just wasn’t ready for another surgery. I found a great voice teacher who helped me get back on track. I was singing better but still feeling some vocal symptoms that I couldn’t control. (Weird fluttering in my mid register was the most annoying and prominent). I decided to have a fourth surgery in 2004 to get rid of the pollup. At this surgery, he said the cords looked cleaner and there was less redness and varicose problems so I felt like the medication was helping. I still felt uneasy about being on it indefinitely though.

Since that time, I have read your book and have been following the recommendations (at least about 80% of the time). I have taken myself off the medication and my voice is healthier than it’s been in a long time. I feel like my range has diminished slightly but other than that, I’m in good shape. This may be due to the fact that I’m older and am not using the upper most part of my range as much as I did when I was singing more classical music. It may also be because I’m peri-menopausal—at least that is what my doctor has suggested. I like to think that it has nothing to do with that, but I’m not sure. Additionally, through eating this way, after suffering my whole life with debilitating back pain, my back is much better. I’m sure it’s all related. I have a ways to go but am doing what I can to get as healthy as I can. Your book, along with Sally’s and the Weston Price Foundation’s stuff has been an inspiration. I finally feel like I’m on the RIGHT track.

These are just a few examples of healing through traditional foods. Why did our food supply change? To better understand this, let’s first examine the drastic changes that occurred since the dawn of the profit-based industrial farming industry in the 1950s. The foods we are purchasing in our grocery stores today have almost no resemblance to the quality and types of foods that our ancestors ate for thousands of years. With profit as the sole guiding force, our livestock are fed unnatural diets, which are generating foods that are very low in nutrient value; we pasteurize, homogenize, irradiate and alter our fresh foods in countless ways; we use chemical fertilizers and spray our foods with insecticides and herbicides; the shelves of our grocery stores are bursting with processed junk food of all kinds and the average person is eating about 180 pounds of sugar a year.

Before the 1950s, most of our foods came from small family farms. These high quality foods came from animals eating their natural diets—cows ate grass, chickens ate bugs and worms and all fish were wild caught. The food from animals raised on their natural diet was nutrient-dense. The grains, nuts and seasonal vegetables and fruits were, of course, also naturally, or “organically,” grown. Sugar consumption was much less—at about 40 pounds a year per person. With the industrial farming industry, came dramatic changes in land use. As our livestock were now fed grains instead of their natural diets, much of the land that was formerly used for pasturing animals was now allotted for grain production.

Significantly, profit from grains was essential to this new system of farming. This ignited a huge push to make profit from products made from grains. Thus the processed food industry progressed, vegetable oils were developed, the cholesterol-heart disease theory evolved and the Food Pyramid, which emphasized grains, became our nation’s nutritional guide. We went from a country that primarily ate nutrient-dense foods—raw whole milk and milk products; eggs; high quality meats, poultry and organ meats; traditional fats like butter, lard and coconut oil; seasonal fruits and seasonal vegetables—to a country that ate a lot of nutrient-poor grains and new-fangled processed foods, refined sugar, vegetable oils, and meats, dairy and poultry that were factory farmed. Beginning in the 1970s, fresh fruits and vegetables from around the world also gradually became available year round.

How did these changes to our food supply affect my dietary choices? As a child in the 1960s, my family ate plenty of grains—both whole, refined and in some processed foods—modest amounts of meat, eggs, dairy, vegetables, sugar and vegetable oils, including margarine, which was hydrogenated vegetable oil, and no butter or other traditional fats. I remember “Velveeta Cheese,” “Miracle Whip,” powdered milk (which my mother added to whole milk to make it stretch farther), “Blue-Bonnet” margarine, and many “new” sugarcoated breakfast cereals. All these exciting products had endless television commercials touting their wonderful attributes. My mom (thank goodness), having to stretch the family budget to feed 5 kids, did not let us have “Twinkies,” “Hostess Cupcakes” or other very popular—and expensive—snack cakes in our lunch like all the other kids—we got plain old, store bought, bargain cookies and fresh fruit.  I also remember the “bran cereal phase” where my mother heard that bran was really good for you—fiber was the “craze” in the early 1970s. We had bran breakfast cereal with added wheat germ every morning! My approach to “healthy eating” beginning in college in the late 1970s, did not include the “new-fangled” processed foods, but incorporated lots of salads, whole grains, fresh vegetables, fruit, peanut butter (it was cheap), small amounts of meat, dairy and eggs, vegetable oils, little sugar and no “evil” traditional fats—the Food Pyramid was in full force in our country and the “key” to healthy eating.

The consequences of these dietary habits were profound. First, I learned that the lack of traditional fats contributed to my problems with digestion and nutrient absorption. Second, I developed malnourishment and a “leaky gut”—a factor in inflammatory conditions—because most of the foods I ate as a child and those I thought were so “nutritious” as an adult were difficult-to-digest, nutrient-poor, and created intestinal flora imbalances, an incomplete digestion of foods to occur and nutrients to be unavailable. In fact, without foods that promote a healthy intestinal flora, the whole grains that I consumed could not be fully digested, and contributed to the development of “gut dysbiosis,” where unhealthy bacteria thrive in the intestinal tract and cause bacterial fermentation and intestinal damage. When the intestinal tract become damaged, undigested proteins can “leak” through the intestinal wall, causing an immune system response and inflammatory chemicals to constantly circulate throughout the body. Third, the result of following the US high-fiber nutritional dictates was persistent flatulence and fermentation in the stomach from these bacterial imbalances, which lead to acid reflux—my first serious digestive disorder symptom.

Often, acid-reflux disease is a sign of a hiatal hernia, where part of the stomach protrudes up through the esophagus and stomach acid can easily be released in the wrong direction. A lifetime of fermentation in my stomach produced a constant upward pressure against the esophagus due to the undigested foods being acted on by bacteria and yeast, thereby causing both of these ailments. Insoluble fiber is exceedingly difficult to digest, especially when digestion is not optimal, and historically, people consumed far less fiber in favor of more nutrient dense, easy-to-digest foods such as high quality dairy from grass-fed animals—raw milk, cream, cheese and butter—high quality meats and fish, bone broth soups and cooked vegetables with butter.

In a remarkable book by Konstantin Monastyrsky called Fiber Menace, (pub. by Ageless Press, 2005), the author describes major health problems that can develop from eating what’s considered a modern healthy diet high in insoluble fiber from grains, raw vegetables, fruits, legumes and even fiber supplements. He details how high-fiber diets cause large stools which stretch the intestinal tract beyond its normal range—eventually resulting in intestinal damage—and a drastic upset of the natural bacterial flora of the gut. The end results can manifest as hernias, acid-reflux, hemorrhoidal disease, constipation, malnourishment, irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease. He also provides numerous medical references to show that high fiber diets do not confer the benefits claimed for them.

The author of this book is a brilliant professional man who suffered a life-threatening illness from years as a vegetarian living on high-fiber foods. Konstantin Monastyrsky was trained as a pharmacologist, but after immigrating to the US from the Ukraine, pursued a career in high technology. He worked in two premier Wall Street firms: as a senior systems analyst at First Boston Corporation and as a consultant at Goldman-Sachs & Co. He has also written two best-selling books in Russian: Functional Nutrition: The Foundation of Absolute Health and Longevity, and Disorders of Carbohydrate Metabolism.

Monastyrsky explains that human teeth are fashioned to chop flesh and that our digestive system is built to handle mainly protein digestion, with only small amounts of fiber. When we eat too much insoluble fiber, digestion lasts longer and fermentation occurs, damaging the bacterial flora and causing problems such as bloating, flatulence and enlarged stools, leading to acid reflux, constipation or diarrhea, IBS and diverticular disease.

From eating a high fiber diet that encouraged poor intestinal bacterial flora, I also developed low acid in the stomach, further contributing to acid reflux. Where most research on poor digestion focuses on unhealthy intestinal flora, the book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome, by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD, Mmed (neurology), MmedSci (nutrition), (pub. by Medinform, 2004), uniquely points to many problems with gut flora actually beginning with an unnatural growth of the fungus, Candida Albicans, in the stomach when it is not producing enough acid. Dr. Campbell-McBride discusses that this overgrowth interferes with the first step of digestion by causing the stomach to produce inadequate amounts of the hydrochloric acid necessary to break proteins into “peptides” before entering the small intestine. For instance, under normal circumstances, the gluteomorphine and casomorphine proteins in wheat and milk are broken down in the stomach in the presence of proper amounts of stomach acid. However, with less stomach acid, these foods in fact begin to ferment in the stomach and are not broken down into peptides before passing into the small intestine. Besides causing an inadequate digestion of foods, the pressure of the gas created from this fermentation can lead to acid reflux, esophageal problems and even hiatal hernias, which are some of the most common digestive problems that people experience. Consequently, medications that curtail the production of stomach acid further exacerbate poor digestion and bacterial flora problems.

For those who worry about getting enough nutrients without eating raw vegetables and fruits, nutrient-dense animal foods contain concentrated nutrients because the animals spend their whole lives “chowing down” literally bushels of fresh green grass and other plant matter. The result is meat and fat containing all the vitamins and minerals found in fresh produce, not only in more concentrated form, but also one that is easy to digest.

In Fiber Menace, the author gives practical advice not to eat anything that your great, great, great, great grandparents wouldn’t eat . . . but when our grandparents did include high-fiber foods like grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables in their diets, they could do this without ill effects because they had a healthy intestinal flora from eating cultured beverages and fermented foods, and they knew how to properly prepare legumes and grains for easy digestibility through soaking, sprouting and sour leavening or, in the case of vegetables and even many fruits, by cooking.  Additionally, they were able to eat these foods because they did not weaken the intestinal mucosal tissue by following a low-fat vegetarian diet.

It is wise to refrain from consuming raw vegetables and fruit until acid reflux symptoms are well under control for an extended period of time. After a full recovery, it may be possible to add small amounts of these foods providing symptoms do not return. The addition of grains, however, should be very cautious, as they may be difficult to tolerate or produce allergic reactions. It is best to only test properly prepared grains.

If you are concerned about constipation, some of the healthiest cultures had very little fiber in their diets. A diet with adequate traditional fats, fermented and cultured foods and beverages for a healthy intestinal flora, and easy-to-digest bone-broth soups will correct irritable bowel symptoms of both constipation and diarrhea.
Acid reflux is a very complicated problem that requires a thorough and honest assessment of all possible causes. As the optimal health of every body system is dependent on nutrition that supports the proper functioning of the digestive system, certainly studying and applying the essential components of the diets of cultures that had perfect health is a wise endeavor.

Although finding high-quality foods and changing your diet may at first be complicated, your health is your most important asset. Without your health, you may not reach your potential and your dreams may not become a reality. The foods that Dr. Price found that supported optimal human health are not the foods that are currently recommended by US governmental standards for healthy eating. However, these nutrient-dense foods were the permanent answer to correcting malnourishment, healing acid reflux and my digestive tract, and therefore, my long-term pain. The exciting news is there is a growing movement of people across the country that is turning to these same foods to improve chronic illness of all kinds.

Written By Kathryne Pirtle

Kathryne Pirtle is a world-class clarinetist whose career nearly ended because of performance difficulties caused by celiac disease, acid reflux, chronic inflammation and other health problems. Performance without Pain, written with Sally Fallon, President of the Weston A. Price Foundation and John Turner, DC tells the story of her trials and recovery.   As a health educator, she has given more than 70 workshops around the country with Dr. John Turner and appeared on numerous radio and television shows.  She has been published in the Autism File Global, Advance Magazine (a publication for Physical Therapy), Wise Traditions, International Musician, the Clarinet and writes a blog on her website about issues relating to building health with nutrient-dense foods. She has also just published an e-book called Acid Reflux, A National Epidemic and Precursor to Chronic Illness—Achieving Lasting Healing with Nutrient-Dense Foods.

Pirtle is executive director of the Orion Ensemble, which gives three concert series in Metropolitan Chicago, presents a live internationally broadcast series on Chicago’s WFMT-FM Fine Arts Radio Network and tours throughout North America. She is also is principal clarinetist of the Lake Forest Symphony and frequently performs with the Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra, the Grant Park Music Festival, The Ravinia Festival Orchestra, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

For more information on building health and healing with nutrient-dense foods see Performance without Pain and our new e-book on healing acid reflux.

The Asthma Epidemic–The Acid Reflux connection

Asthma is one of the serious epidemics we are seeing in our population. Since just 1995, the number of diagnosed cases of this illness has jumped from 14.9 million to 34.1 million! Although one would assume this jump is a direct result of toxins in the air, this is not the underlying cause in many cases. You may be surprised to learn that 41.1% of non-smokers who have a chronic cough and 60% of those who have asthma also have acid reflux!

How does acid reflux cause asthma? First, the refluxed liquid may cause people to inhale tiny drops of acid into their lungs thus aggravating the delicate pulmonary lining and initiating spasms in the airways triggering an asthma attack. Second, the digestive acid may damage the esophageal lining and expose some of the nerves that are connected to the lungs. The irritation of the nerve endings can create a constriction of airways, thereby causing an asthma attack. Additionally, the acid can cause inflammation of the throat and larynx. To make things even more complicated, some asthma medications that dilate the bronchial tubes can produce acid reflux symptoms as they may cause the cardiac sphincter to relax—allowing acid to escape up through the esophagus. Therefore, treating the symptoms of asthma without looking at the possibility of acid reflux is like holding your finger over the hole of a sinking boat!

If the acid reflux issues are symptomatically treated with yet more medications, there may be a risk for serious long-term health issues. Acid reflux is most often treated with acid-lowering drugs.  However, the true source of most acid reflux problems is a Candida, or yeast overgrowth, in the stomach that is actually caused by low acid in the stomach itself! A yeast overgrowth slows down digestion and foods will ferment under these conditions. As Candida will also paralyze the esophageal sphincter, the gases from the fermentation push the food up through the weakened esophageal muscles.

Because candida only grows in low acid conditions in the first place–acid lowering drugs are going to further compromise digestion. As Candida proliferates,  it can promote severe dysbiosis, or poor intestinal flora. With poor intestinal flora, foods are not digested properly, nutrients are not absorbed, intestinal damage is forthcoming and eventually malnourishment will occur. Besides compromised nutrient absorption, intestinal damage causes leaky gut, which can initiate allergic tendencies such as asthma!  Therefore, one problem incorrectly treated cascades into more problems.

If we can find the source of the asthma and acid reflux epidemic, we will have the answer to help millions of people. Both asthma and acid reflux have grown exponentially since the industrialization of our food supply that spurred the creation of processed, denatured and low-nutrient foods. Before this time, most people’s diets included foods that were high in nutrients and supported good digestion like meats, poultry, eggs and dairy from grass-fed animals and cultured dairy and vegetables like kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut and pickled beets. They also ate ample traditional fats like butter, lard and coconut oil and foods with natural sources of vitamins A and D like cod liver oil, liver and egg yolks, which are necessary for good digestion and nutrient absorption. With good digestion and a nutrient-rich diet, a person will diminish the probability of suffering from an illness like acid reflux, allergies and it’s related condition–asthma.

By returning to traditional farming and the foods that our ancestors ate, we will diminish the exponential growth of illnesses rooted in poor digestion. If we can move from the symptomatic treatment of asthma to solving the problem, we will help to support better health for generations to come.

For more information building health and treating acid reflux and its related illnesses such as asthma with nutrient-dense foods, see our new e-book on healing acid reflux.

Best in health,

Kathryne Pirtle

Natural Remedies for GERD/Acid Reflux–are they effective?

There are mountains of books on natural healing from digestive disorders. Considering that 1 in five people have GERD/acid reflux–the mountain of information does seem necessary. In most circles, an illness that affects 1 in 5 people would surely be considered an epidemic! I have gleaned all the health books that have natural remedies and have compiled a good list below. While all of these are helpful for healing the symptoms, they do not address the fact that with a digestive disorder there is serious long-term malnourishment. These books also do not ask the question, “Why do we have an exponential increase in acid reflux in our population?” Or–“Is acid reflux a precursor to other degenerative illnesses?” If we look at the two profound statements of leaders in the study of optimal human health; that “All diseases begin in the gut,” of Hippocrates and “All disease is caused from malnourishment,” of Dr. Weston A. Price, we can begin to ascertain the magnitude of the acid reflux epidemic and see that we are probably at the brink of a health disaster unless we begin changing our food supply. A nutrient-dense, traditional foods diet is an effective approach to healing symptoms and the underlying cause of acid reflux/GERD. When you purchase traditionally raised foods from small farms dedicated to bringing you the highest quality foods, you vote with your wallet! (For sources of nutrient-dense foods see

Good Suggestions:
• Eat small, frequent meals
• Eat slowly
• Follow an anti-Candida diet
• Take enzymes and probiotics
• Eat fermented foods
• Eat an easy-to-digest diet
• Cut down on simple carbohydrates
• Cabbage juice, celery juice potato juice may be helpful
• Aloe Vera juice may be helpful for healing
• Helpful herbs: slippery elm, ginger, marshmallow root, licorice, bladderwrack, chamomile, fennel seed, lemon balm and turmeric, cumin, meadowsweet
• Orange peel extract may be helpful
• Papaya and papaya juice may be helpful
• Bitters may help digestion
• Colostrum may help to boost the immune system
• Raw honey and cinnamon before bed may be helpful
• MSM and Zinc Carnosine helps heal damaged tissue in stomach and intestinal lining (never found bone broth as a remedy, which will do the same thing much more effectively)
• Acupressure may be helpful
• Wear loose clothing
• Minimize stress
• Meditation is helpful
• Regular exercise is helpful
• Sleep 8 hours
• Elevate you bed
• Avoid eating 2-3 hours before bedtime
• Avoid allergenic foods
• Avoid grains
• Avoid vegetables that produce gas
• Avoid high-fiber foods
• Avoid fried foods
• Avoid juices and citrus fruits (except lemon)
• Avoid alcohol, coffee, chocolate, tomatoes, mint and mint flavorings
• Avoid spicy foods
• Avoid microwaving, food additives, vegetable oils and nutrient-poor foods
• Avoid NSAIDS and antibiotics
• Avoid smoking

For more information on a healing and building health with nutrient-dense foods, see our e-book on acid reflux and Performance without Pain.

Best in health,

Kathryne Pirtle

Raw Apple Cider Vinegar Treatment for GERD/Acid Reflux

There are many natural treatments that you can read about that help with the symptoms of GERD–also called acid reflux. One of the common suggestions that you will see is taking raw apple cider vinegar. This approach has a lot of merit as it will often help a great deal.

First, because with acid reflux, you have fermentation and actually low acid in the stomach caused from a yeast or Candida overgrowth, the acidic raw apple cider vinegar helps to change the PH in the stomach. Normal PH for good digestion is between .2 and 2.8, but when the PH rises to 4.0 and above, there will be a rapid colonization of yeast, bacteria and viruses in the stomach–this is not ideal! GERD or acid reflux is caused by fermentation in the stomach from low acid and a yeast overgrowth. So the raw apple cider vinegar can raise the acidity of the stomach to improve digestion and keep yeast, bacteria and viruses in check.

Second, the raw apple cider vinegar contains healthy bacteria like acidophiles that eat the yeast. As the yeast overgrowth disappears, the PH of the stomach will be normalized.

However, raw apple cider vinegar is mostly a symptomatic treatment for GERD and does not address the long-term malnourishment that goes along with any digestive disorder. Malnourishment is a precursor to chronic illness. The only way to truly heal from the nutritional ramifications of having GERD is to eat a diet that is rich in traditional, nutrient-dense foods.

For more information on healing and building health with nutrient-dense foods, see our e-book on healing acid reflux and our book Performance without Pain.

Best in health,

Kathryne Pirtle

Tradtional fermented foods–why everybody needs them for good health

Traditionally cultured and fermented foods like plain whole milk kefir and yogurt from grass-fed cows, homemade sauerkraut, kimchee and pickled beets, and beverages like beet kvass and  kombucha were common foods throughout history before refrigeration. They were a way to preserve foods worldwide. Would it surprise you to know that you absolutely cannot afford to live without them though?

In order to function properly–that is to break down our foods into usable components and detoxify our body– the human digestive system needs ample probiotic bacteria and enzymes. Fermented and cultured foods naturally provide these components. Without these kinds of foods, we may develop many serious digestive problems like candida overgrowth, which chemically change the way our foods are processed and we will not be able to get rid of toxins. Ultimately, poor digestion equals poor health. In fact, acid reflux, inflammatory conditions of all kinds and cancer can be linked to poor digestion and a toxic overload.

Do your health a big favor–devote time to learning to prepare these delicious cultured and fermented foods. As your digestion improves so will your health!

For more information on preparing cultured and fermented foods see our website at Both of our books, Performance without Pain and our e-book on healing acid reflux are wonderful guides to optimizing digestion.

Best in health,

Kathryne Pirtle

Concentration, mood and digestion–what’s the relationship?

Artists know very well that the ability to concentrate is critical to both practicing and performing. However all of us need these concentration skills to do well in our everyday lives. In addition mood instability that curtails a sense of well-being may impact our success. Today the cutting edge treatments for working with children who have autism, ADD, ADHD and mental health issues is a dietary protocol based on nutrient-dense foods that also maximizes digestion and absorption. This is because this scientific community has proven that this approach has offered remarkable advances in the reversal of all of these problems. These very same advances for serious ailments in children have a direct relationship on how we can look at what is helpful for optimal concentration and mood in less critical health situations.

When the diet is high in difficult-to-digest foods like high-fiber, complex carbohydrate and processed foods or sugar, digestion can slow down and cause an overgrowth of candida in both the stomach and the intestinal tract. The byproduct of sugars broken down by yeast (candida) is alcohol and acetaldehyde. The byproduct of poorly digested gluteomorphine protein from gluten grains is a morphine-like chemical. Need I say more! That alcohol and morphine would affect both the mood and the ability to concentrate even in small amounts is obvious. Acetaldehyde will bind itself to proteins we consume and make their nutrients unavailable to the body. Additionally, these foods become very addictive because of the chemicals they produce under these circumstances.

Therefore–changing your diet to foods that are easy-to-digest and nutrient rich is the best way to insure that your body and mind are able to function at peak performance.

Optimal digestion requires certain components.

  • The first is good intestinal flora, which helps us to break down our foods and keep the intestinal walls and villi functioning well for optimal nutrient absorption. Foods that enhance good gut flora are old fashioned probiotic, high-enzyme  foods like cultured dairy–whole fat kefir and yogurt; lacto-fermented vegetables–homemade sauerkraut and pickled beets and cultured drinks like kombucha and beet kvass.
  • Second, a diet rich in nutrient-dense foods such as meats, poultry, eggs and dairy from animals eating their natural diets and traditionally made bone broth soups
  • Third, a diet that includes traditional fats like butter, cream and coconut oil which help with nutrient absorption, cell integrity and hormone function.
  • Fourth, adequate vitamin A and D from natural sources like cod liver oil, egg yolks and liver also for nutrient absorption

For more information on healing and building optimal health with nutrient-dense, traditional foods, see

Best in health,

Kathryne Pirtle

Do you get hungry two hours after eating breakfast?

If you are getting hungry two hours after eating breakfast, you may be choosing the wrong kind of foods for your morning meal and this may be a sign that you have absorption problems as well. Let’s look at both of these important issues.

First, a breakfast of cereal, toast or a bagel with non-fat spreads and a piece of fruit may not be the breakfast of champions! For years before I got deathly ill with a digestive disorder, my favorite breakfast was bagels, no-cholesterol “buttery flavor” spread and a piece of fruit. Another choice was a bowl of cold cereal. However by 10AM, I was very hungry again. This is not good. A healthy breakfast is not one that would leave you hungry in just a few hours.

Instead, a breakfast with higher amounts of protein and fat from traditional foods will literally nourish you until the afternoon and will offer far greater levels of nutrients. In our book we recommend a few great breakfasts that besides being nutrient-dense, will also help improve digestion. Smoothies made with 16 oz. whole fat kefir or yogurt (preferably raw milk from grass-fed animals), 2-4 raw egg yolks (from pastured chickens–not commercial eggs), fruit and 1 T. coconut oil are a fabulous breakfast. Another is old fashioned bacon (organic, no-nitrate) and eggs (from pastured chickens). Nutrient density is the key to building optimal health and maintaining blood sugar meal to meal. Nutrient-dense foods have ample high-quality traditional fats, protein and carbohydrates.

However, another reason that you are hungry just two hours after eating may be that you are suffering from inflammation in your intestinal tract. Inflammation is usually caused from bacterial imbalances in the gut flora like a candida overgrowth. When inflammation is present, nutrient absorption will be hampered and a person will feel hungry very quickly after eating a meal. After years of malabsorption, malnourishment is sure to follow.

For optimal health we need eat foods that are high in nutrients and also those that will support good digestion. For more information on building health and healing with nutrient-dense foods see Performance without Pain and our new e-book on healing acid reflux.

Best in health,
Kathryne Pirtle

Can the Body Convert Beta Carotene in Vegees to Vitamin A?

We have discussed the critical importance  of the vitamins A and D from natural sources. Dr. Weston A. Price found that without adequate amounts of these nutrients you could not absorb the nutrients from your foods no matter how good the diet. The best sources of these vitamins are from Green Pasture fermented cod liver oil, pastured animal foods like egg yolks, liver, butter, lard and from fish eggs. Healthy cultures consumed these foods liberally and yet today we are told to avoid most of these because of their cholesterol levels.

But what about getting vitamin A from the beta-carotene in vegetables? The following article by Sally Fallon discusses this issue.

Vitamin A Vagary

by Sally Fallon

This article has since been expanded and updated on the Weston A Price Foundation site as Vitamin A Saga

“Eat carrots for vitamin A.” Such statements, found in many popular diet and nutrition books, create the impression that the body’s requirements for this essential nutrient can be exclusively met with plant foods like carrots, squash, green leafy vegetables and orange colored fruits. The low fat school of nutrition benefits greatly from the fact that the public has only vague notions about vitamin A; for the family of water-soluble nutrients called carotenes are not true vitamin A, but are more accurately termed provitamin A. True vitamin A, or retinol, is found only in animal products like cod liver oil, liver and other organ meats, fish, shell fish and butterfat from cows eating green grass.

Under optimal conditions, humans convert carotenes to vitamin A in the upper intestinal tract by the action of bile salts and fat-splitting enzymes. Of the entire family of carotenes, beta-carotene is most easily converted to vitamin A. Early studies indicated an equivalency of 4:1 of beta-carotene to retinol. In other words, four units of beta-carotene were needed to produce one unit of vitamin A. This ratio was later revised to 6:1 and recent research suggests an even higher ratio.1 This means that you have to eat an awful lot of vegetables and fruits to obtain even the daily minimal requirements of vitamin A, assuming optimal conversion.

But the transformation of carotene to retinol is rarely optimal. Diabetics and those with poor thyroid function, a group that includes at least half the adult US population, cannot make the conversion. Children make the conversion very poorly and infants not at all —they must obtain their precious stores of vitamin A from animal fats —yet the low-fat diet is often recommended for children.2 Strenuous physical exercise, excessive consumption of alcohol, excessive consumption of iron (especially from “fortified” white flour and breakfast cereal), use of a number of popular drugs, excessive consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids, zinc deficiency and even cold weather can hinder the conversion of carotenes to vitamin A3, as does the low-fat diet.

Carotenes are converted by the action of bile salts, and very little bile reaches the intestine when a meal is low in fat. The epicure who puts butter on his vegetables and adds cream to his vegetable soup is wiser than he knows. Butterfat stimulates the secretion of bile needed to convert carotenes from vegetables into vitamin A and at the same time, supplies very easily absorbed true vitamin A. Polyunsaturated oils also stimulate the secretion of bile salts but can cause rapid destruction of carotene unless antioxidants are present.

It is very unwise, therefore, to depend on plant sources for vitamin A. This vital nutrient is needed for the growth and repair of body tissues; it helps protect mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, throat and lungs; it prompts the secretion of gastric juices necessary for proper digestion of protein; it helps to build strong bones and teeth and rich blood; it is essential for good eyesight; it aids in the production of RNA; and contributes to the health of the immune system. Vitamin A deficiency in pregnant mothers results in offspring with eye defects, displaced kidneys, harelip, cleft palate and abnormalities of the heart and larger blood vessels.

Nutrition pioneer Weston Price considered the fat soluble vitamins, especially vitamin A, to be the catalysts on which all other biological processes depend. Efficient mineral uptake and utilization of water-soluble vitamins require sufficient vitamin A in the diet. His research demonstrated that generous amounts of vitamin A insure healthy reproduction and offspring with attractive wide faces, straight teeth and strong sturdy bodies. He discovered that healthy primitives especially value vitamin-A-rich foods for growing children and pregnant mothers. Working in the 1930’s, he found that their diets contained ten times more vitamin A than the typical American diet of the time. This disparity is almost certainly greater today as Americans have forsworn butter and cod liver oil for foods based on polyunsaturated oils.

In third world communities that have come into contact with the West, vitamin A deficiencies are widespread and contribute to high infant mortality, blindness, stunting, bone deformities and susceptibility to infection.4 These occur even in communities that have access to plentiful carotenes in vegetables and fruits. Scarcity of good quality dairy products, a rejection of organ meats as old fashioned or unhealthful, and a substitution of vegetable oil for animal fat in cooking all contribute to the physical degeneration and suffering of third world peoples.

Supplies of vitamin A are so vital to human health that we are able to store large quantities of it in the liver and other organs. Thus it is possible to subsist on a diet low in animal fatfor a considerable period of time before overt symptoms of deficiency appear. But during times of stress, vitamin A stores are rapidly depleted. Strenuous physical exercise, periods of physical growth, pregnancy, lactation and infection are stresses that quickly deplete vitamin A stores. Children with measles rapidly use up vitamin A, often resulting in irreversible blindness. An interval of three years between pregnancies allows mothers to rebuild vitamin A stores so that subsequent children will not suffer diminished vitality.

One aspect of vitamin A that deserves more emphasis is its role in protein utilization. Kwashiorkor is as much a disease of vitamin A deficiency, leading to impaired protein absorption, as it is a result of absence of protein in the diet. High protein, lowfat diets in children induce rapid growth along with depletion of vitamin A supplies. The results —tall, myopic, lanky individuals with crowded teeth, and poor bone structure —are a fixture in America. Growing children actually benefit from a diet that contains more calories as fat than as protein.5 Such a diet, rich in vitamin A, will result in steady, even growth, a sturdy physique and high immunity to disease.

So it’s a bit embarrassing to the low-fat people, especially as the truth is beginning to come out, even in orthodox publications. A recent New York Times article noted that vitamin-A-rich foods like liver, egg yolk, cream and shellfish confer resistance to infectious diseases in children and prevent cancer in adults.6 A Washington Post article hailed vitamin A as “cheap and effective, with wonders still being (re)discovered,” noting that recent studies have found that vitamin A supplements help prevent infant mortality in third world counties, protect measles victims from severe complications and prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV virus.7 The article lists butter, egg yolk and liver as important sources of vitamin A but claims, unfortunately, that carotenes from vegetables are “equally important.” So vagueness about vitamin A continues, even among science writers.

Those familiar with the work of nutrition pioneer Weston Price are not so easily fooled. They know that vitamin-A-rich foods like liver, eggs, and cod liver oil are vital to good health. If you–or your children–don’t like liver, eggs and cod liver oil, don’t despair. Studies show that the best and most easily absorbed source of vitamin A is butterfat,8 a food relished by young and old alike. So use plenty of butter and cream from pasture-fed cows for good taste and wise nutritional practice.

Vitamin A Vagary was first published in the Price-Pottenger Health Journal. (619) 574-7763


1. Solomons, N.W., and Bulus, J., “Plant sources of provitamin A and human nutriture”, Nutrition Review, Springer Verlag New York, Inc., July 1993, v. 5 1, pp 199204.
2. Jennings, I.W., Vitamins in Endocrine Metabolism, Charles C. Thomas Publisher, Springfield, Illinois.
3. Dunne, Lavon J., Nutrition Almanac, Third Edition, McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, 1990.
4. Solomons, Op. Cit.
5. Personal communications, Mary G. Enig, Ph.D.
6. Angler, Natalie, “Vitamins Win Support as Potent Agents of Health”, New York Times, March 10, 1992.
7. Brown, David, “It’s cheap and Effective, With Wonders Still Being (Re)discovered”, The Washington Post, November 7,1994.
8. Fraps, G.S., and Kermerer, A.R., “The relation of the Spectro Vitamin A and Carotene Content of Butter to its Vitamin A potency Measured by Biological Methods”, Texas Agricultural Bulletin, N.- 560, February 1938.

Sally Fallon M.A., food historian and nutrition journalist, combines extensive background in nutrition with training in French and Mediterranean cooking. She is the author of Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats, a full spectrum nutritional cookbook with a startling message —animal fats and cholesterol are not villains but vital factors in the human diet, necessary for reproduction and normal growth, proper function of the brain and nervous system, protection from disease and optimum energy levels. Mrs. Fallon’s book also provides information the values of Real Milk products, both to the consumer and the conscientious farmer. She is President of the Weston A. Price Foundation and editor of Wise Traditions, the Foundation’s quarterly magazine.

To order Nourishing Traditions, call 877 707-1776 or visit New Trends Publishing.

A Campaign for Real Milk is a project of The Weston A. Price Foundation
PMB 106-380, 4200 Wisconsin Ave, NW, Washington DC 20016
Phone: (202) 363-4394 | Fax: (202) 363-4396 | Web:

For more information on healing and building health with nutrient-dense foods and seminars on this subject, see

Best in Health,

Kathryne Pirtle