A Modern Day Weston Price — Dr. Jeffrey Leach

A Modern Day Weston Price — Dr. Jeffrey Leach post image

Have you heard of Dr. Jeffrey Leach? He is an anthropologist who is studying one of the few isolated cultures left on this earth — the San of Namibia. His research design is to study the impact of diet on the gut microbiome. I have written a great deal about the gut microbiome so if you have been reading this blog you know I am fascinated by it. Quite frankly, I believe that what we discover about the human microbiome, will lead us to an understanding about the real cause of modern disease, and this will lead us to a real cure.

Dr. Leach has designed a research project that will study groups of the San people who have reverted back to their ancestral hunter/gatherer diet and compare them with San people who are eating many Western foods. How cool is that!

The Human Food Project, Anthropology of Microbes

This project is one of the first of its kind to study the gut ecology of anyone, much less a group of people who are eating their true ancestral diet. The information gleaned from this project will shed light upon the microbiome-disease-diet axis that we are confronting in our health today.

By having this opportunity to study the gut ecology of traditional groups of people they will be able to determine if interventions may modulate and improve health in significant ways.

Since these traditional groups are fast disappearing, it is critically important to obtain samples of their gut ecology now.

What is a sample of someone’s gut ecology?

I’ll tell you in one word — poop! Yep. These researchers are going to take stool samples from the San people and analyze them for microbial diversity. What a brilliant idea! We have the technology to identify bacterial DNA. This is a perfect way to harness technology and use it to guide us.

The study will also include working with several of the San villages that will revert back to a pure hunter-gatherer lifestyle for 30, 60 and 120 day periods. Detailed diet and environmental conditions will be monitored, and a full suite of samples (feces, skin and oral swabs, etc.) will be collected and prepared for analysis.

They will also monitor the impact of seasonal changes in diet on the gut microbiome in a natural setting. This is something that has never been done. They will also monitor high protein/fat diets from terrestrial versus aquatic resources and the role hygiene plays on the gut microbiome and innate and adaptive immune systems.

Minimally contacted groups

The researchers will live amongst some very isolated groups. There will be no livestock, no agriculture, no western food, no medications. There will be natural births and extended breast feeding.

This project will be conducted for 12 – 18 months.

How did the idea for this project come about?

Recently, a study called the Human Microbiome Project was completed. It was supported by the National Institute of Health. This project was tasked to characterize and monitor the changes in the microbial communities of 242 healthy people over two years. This gives us  an incredible view of the gut ecology of people living in a western culture.

However, as great as that information is, as Dr. Leach says,

… it likely did not truly capture what a “normal” or “healthy” microbiome is, or might be. By this I mean the study volunteers were living a westernized lifestyle and probably eating a great many more processed and easily digestible carbohydrates than were present on the ancient nutritional landscape that selected for our current human-microbiome. In addition, the vast majority of the study participants were likely consuming less protein and good fats than our ancient microbiome was selected and the diversity and quantity of dietary fiber (oligo- and polysaccharides) was probably so low (<20g a day, on avg) as to not even register on our evolutionary radar.

The Human Food Project

Because of this confounding factor Dr. Leach has designed and implemented the Human Food Project. By studying the last few isolated cultures around the world, they will be able to identify what a normal and/or healthy gut microbiome is supposed to be like. However, they better do it quickly before globalization swallows these few cultures up.

Dr. Weston Price

In the 1930’2 and 1940’s Dr. Weston Price traveled the world in search of isolated cultures who were not eating the “displacing food of modern commerce.” Back then there were only 5 commercial foods. Even so, it was hard to find cultures that were still eating only their traditional foods — today there are thousands of additives and chemicals in the global food supply, so you can imagine how difficult it is to locate any isolated cultures at all.

Dr. Leach has designed his project to compare the San People who are following their traditional hunter/gatherer diet with other San people who are not. In addition, he will compare those two San groups with Americans who are eating a variety of diets: Paleo, vegetarian, vegan, etc.

However, he won’t be looking at teeth. Oh no. Dr. Leach will be analyzing in a lab the microbiota taken from all the individuals in these groups. He will be applying the most modern and advanced techniques in DNA to determine exactly what species and varieties of microbes reside in the guts, in the mouth and on the skin of these individuals.

From this data he will determine how our modern diet affects the microbial communities living within us. This is the first time this has ever be done an it is very exciting!

What do you think? Are you as excited as I am about this project? Leave a comment and let me know!

To find out more about this project click here.

Related posts:

To learn how to cook for a grain-free Paleo diet click here.

This post is shared at: Allergy free Wednesday, Mommy Club, Real Food Wednesday, Healthy 2Day, Sustainable Ways, Whole food Wednesday, Creative Juice Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter. Fill Those Jars Friday, Fight Back Friday, Freaky Friday, Sustainable Friday, Seasonal Celebration, Monday Mania, Traditional Tuesday


In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.

The owner of this website is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon properties including, but not limited to, amazon.com, endless.com, myhabit.com, smallparts.com, or amazonwireless.com. Disclaimer

Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil

Tropical Traditions Gold Label Coconut Oil is a product I use every day.

Leave a Comment

  • rebecca October 17, 2012, 7:21 am

    This sounds very exciting! Can’t wait to hear the results.

    Reply
    • Mariana October 20, 2012, 6:40 pm

      Super excited!!!

      Reply
  • Susan October 17, 2012, 8:51 am

    Very, very cool!

    Reply
  • The Soulicious Life October 17, 2012, 10:03 am

    Pretty neat!

    Reply
  • Kristina October 18, 2012, 10:43 pm

    This is really fascinating! I’m very interested. Also makes me sad that this type of lifestyle is fast fading.

    Reply
  • Jen October 18, 2012, 11:07 pm

    This is is fascinating. You find the most interesting articles. I look forward to hearing more about this in the future. Maybe it will shake some sense into those in charge of our food systems.

    Reply
  • Odile October 19, 2012, 2:50 pm

    This is really exciting. The study of “healthy” western people may lead researchers far astray, unless they can find people who have never taken antibiotics, painkillers or oral contraceptives – all of which have devastating effects on the gut biota. Just to name a few. Food additives, preservatives, and toxins in our environment are impossible to avoid. “Fake food” is everywhere. Sugar is in almost every processed food; when it isn’t, something worse is. Starch is the “staff of life” but sugars and starches feed Candida, which creates cravings for more and is suspected of being the root of all cancers. Look at Salvestrol.ca for more exciting research supporting organic farming.

    Reply
  • Lindsey Gremont October 21, 2012, 11:55 pm

    I am completely fascinated by any studies on our microbiome! I truly believe this is the next frontier in research and it is so exciting! So glad you did this post and I will certainly be sharing.

    Reply
  • Missii @ Unmistakably Food October 22, 2012, 6:40 am

    Wow thank you for posting! I will be following your blog for updates. I’m so fascinated by the work of Weston Price and by the “primitive” lifestyle in general. I can’t wait to hear more.

    Reply
  • Yolanda October 23, 2012, 8:06 am

    This is amazing. I can’t wait to read (I hope this will be possible?) their findings!

    Reply
    • Jill October 23, 2012, 10:06 am

      Hi Yolanda,
      I’m sure this will be published. You can participate if you sign up at the website. That, to me, is even more exciting!

      Reply
  • Kris Johnson October 26, 2012, 11:39 am

    Sounds like a very useful project. I think they really should get a dentist on board and check out their teeth and bone structure – an excellent reflection of their overall health. Not every isolated culture that Dr. Price found had the best of health, in spite of their traditional diet. I presume they will also be documenting what they do eat. Don’t have time to look at their website

    Reply
  • Genevieve December 5, 2013, 12:19 pm

    Jeff Leach is not “Dr. Leach.” Jeff Leach doesn’t even have a bachelor’s degree, or any real credentials. He’s a really, really excellent fraud, a huckster and a user.

    Google him closely, and you’ll find he was part of a company called “NakedPizza” as a co-founder. The reason he is no longer a part of that company is because he misused money, sexually harassed people, and abused employees.

    Then google him again in conjunction with the words “Egypt Revealed” and read about an old scam he ran where he sold subscriptions to a magazine that didn’t exist and then tours to Egypt that never actually happened.

    Then google him again in conjunction with the word “Amelia Earhart” and read about a bogus search for the remains of Amelia Earhart which he used to fleece yet another wealthy, connected person out of money.

    The dude’s a con artist. A really, really good one. Anyone writing about him who doesn’t take the time to do the research is doing the public a disservice.

    Reply
    • lori March 16, 2014, 2:12 pm

      Genevieve – While I was searching the internet for “Dr.” Leaches credentials I came across your post. Thank you for clearing this up…his postings and online footprint all seemed a little suspect. What a shame it is to take advantage of people who have an illness.

      Reply
  • jess May 5, 2014, 6:40 pm

    genevieve, who are your sources for the pizza allegations, how do you find that out? is he wanted for anything? he’s awfully public for someone with a suspicious history. all the hyperlinks connected to “dr. Jeffrey leach” have missing information or no longer work. even though a recent article (this year) claims he got a phd in anthropology in 2005, there are no credential pages anywhere, and it doesn’t even say where he got it from, including on his own website, so probably safe to say he’s not got the scientific background or training to pass scrutiny in his research endeavors and methodologies. maybe he is just the cheerleader for this area of study- if legitimate scientists are willing to support his monkey moves, then who cares if this guy has integrity? as for the other stuff, looks like he did run scams circa early 2000s- the texas attorney general made a default judgement of over 120,000$ against him for his fraud and deception in business dealings. apparently the case was closed because he fled and hid his assets. juicy stuff. maybe you’re right, maybe he is a sociopath to be wary of. http://www.swanet.org/zarchives/gotcaliche/alldailyeditions/03apr/cali040303.txt

    Reply