Archeologists in Italy have proven the health benefits of the same primal diet I’ve been recommending to my patients for years.
It turns out that after conducting CAT scans on 30 men, women, and children buried in ash and rock from the volcanic eruption at Pompeii in 79 AD, the archeologists discovered these ancient Romans had stronger teeth and bones than most people today. 1
Even though they didn’t have toothbrushes or toothpaste, the inhabitants of Pompeii all had strong, well-formed teeth. And they suffered far fewer cavities than most Americans and modern Europeans.
And their bones were discovered to be dense, heavy and strong — despite the evidence of damage from the high concentration of fluoride in their water and soil that’s common in populations who live in volcanic areas.2
The reason for their excellent bone and teeth health: Their diet was primal, and there was a distinct absence of refined sugar.
Today, we live in a world where we eat enough to fill our bellies, but what we eat is so deprived of nutrients that our bodies don’t get enough to even reach a lowest level of what we need for basic nutrition.
And our modern diet is utterly overloaded with sugar, and the result is a worldwide epidemic of diabetics and other chronic diseases.
We’re full, yet starving.
Let me explain…
One of my greatest inspirations in medical school was the nutritional anthropologist and dentist, Dr. Weston A. Price. Back in the 1930s, he made a nutritional discovery similar to the Italian anthropologist while visiting dozens of indigenous communities around the world.
Dr. Price’s investigations answered a simple but profound question: Why do isolated, traditional cultures have no tooth decay (without any dental care) — as well as less arthritis, diabetes, cancer and heart disease than people living in industrialized nations?
His unique observation was that people were healthier when they ate traditional diets handed down by their ancestors. Each of the communities he studied had diets that were rich in animal fats — and there was a complete lack of refined sugar.
I’ve seen the same thing in the traditional tribes I’ve visited in remote Africa, the rainforests of South America or the mountains of Peru.
The typical Roman diet was primal. Archeological evidence reveals their diet consisted of healthy fats, like omega-3 rich fish, grass-fed meats, whole milk and olive oil, as well as plenty of fruits and vegetables, legumes and nuts.
All those healthy fats also contained what Weston Price called “Activator X.” Today, we know it as vitamin K2.
Dr. Price saw that people eating vitamin K2 foods had healthy teeth… muscular bodies… and NO chronic disease.
Since then, researchers have shown just how right Dr. Price was. Studies now show vitamin K2:
- Builds strong bones and lowers the risk of hip fractures by as much as 65%;3
- Stops heart attacks, lowers the risk of coronary artery disease by 57%, and slashes the risk of death from any cause by 26%;4
- Kills leukemia5, pancreatic and ovarian cancer cells6, and can reduce prostate cancer rates by as much as 63%;7
- Fights rheumatoid arthritis, one of the most debilitating chronic diseases. 8
Sadly, the modern Western diet is deficient in vitamin K2. But you can get plenty of K2 by eating traditional primal foods like our ancestors and the Romans did.
Here are four good choices:
- Grass-fed Organ Meats: If you’ve got a taste for it, liver is an excellent source of K2. Personally, I love liver and onions. But make sure you get your organ meats from grass-fed, free-range cattle. Animals that eat grass convert vitamin K1 from the greens into K2. If they eat grains, they don’t get the raw materials to make the conversion.
- Egg Yolks: I’ve been telling my patients for years that eggs are not the enemy. They’ll give you a good dose of K2, as well as plenty of other vitamins and nutrients. Whenever possible, choose pasture-raised, vegetarian-fed eggs.
- Grass-fed or Raw Whole Milk: Like organ meats, milk from grass-fed animals is rich in vitamin K2. Make sure it’s full-fat, and if possible, I would even recommend raw milk. Many states have co-ops that sell it. But check your local laws, as some states make raw milk illegal.
- Traditionally Fermented Cheese: Cheeses highest in K2 are Gouda and Brie. Each contains about 75 mcg per ounce. Other good choices are Edam, Emmental and Jarlsberg.
You can also take a vitamin K2 supplement. Just remember that K2 is not the same as K1. Vitamin K1 helps with blood clotting but not bone and joint health.
Vitamin K2 comes in several different forms called menaquinones. They’re numbered from four to nine. The higher the number, the more bioavailable and long-lasting the K2.
You may see many supplements with MK-4. But MK-4 has a very short biological half-life of only about one hour.
Look for a supplement with the MK-7 form. That’s the form used in the most recent RA study. It is much more bioactive than MK-4 and has a half-life of three days, so it has time to build up in your blood.
I recommend 45 to 90 mcg of vitamin K2 per day. And it’s fat-soluble, so take it with a meal to improve absorption.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1 Jed Smith. Scientists Think They Know Why Romans Had Perfect Teeth – One Thing Was Missing from Their Diet” Independent Journal Review. March 2016.
2 Petrone P., Giordano M. “Enduring Fluoride Health Hazard for the Vesuvius Area Population: The Case of AD 79 Herculaneum” PLoS One. Published online 2011 Jun 16. doi:
3 Booth SL et al. “Dietary vitamin K intakes are associated with hip fracture but not with bone mineral density in elderly men and women.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2000;71(5):1201-8.
4 Johanna M. Geleijnse et al. “Dietary Intake of Menaquinone Is Associated with a Reduced Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: The Rotterdam Study.” J. Nutr. 2004 vol. 134 no. 11 3100-3105.
5 Miyazawa K, Yaguchi M, Funato K, et al. “Apoptosis/differentiation-inducing effects of vitamin K2 on HL-60 cells: dichotomous nature of vitamin K2 in leukemia cells.” Leukemia. 2001;15(7):1111-7.
6 Shibayama-Imazu T, Sakairi S, Watanabe A, Aiuchi T, Nakajo S, Nakaya K. “Vitamin K(2) selectively induced apoptosis in ovarian TYK-nu and pancreatic MIA PaCa-2 cells out of eight solid tumor cell lines through a mechanism different geranylgeraniol.” J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2003;129(1):1-11.
7 Nimptsch K et al. “Dietary intake of vitamin K and risk of prostate cancer in the Heidelberg cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2008;87(4):985-92.
8 Abdel-Rahman MS, Alkady EA, Ahmed S. “Menaquinone-7 as a novel pharmacological therapy in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis: A clinical study.” Eur J Pharmacol. 2015;761:273-278.