If you are following the latest diet craze, you may have heard the word Paleo. For those who don’t know what a Paleo diet is, it is the way our ancestors, “the cavemen,” used to eat before the agriculture revolution created mass-produced dairy and grains. Our cave ancestors’ main diet consisted of meat, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Theories abound that since we have strayed from how our bodies were meant to metabolize food, we have struggled with all kinds of debilitating health issues, including infertility. I would definitely agree that since the 1950’s, when convenience foods (e.g., the TV dinner) became available, we have strayed further away from how nature created our food and are accelerating our fall into a black hole of disease.
I think that one of the most convincing arguments to eat the way our bodies were designed to process food comes from a 10-year study done by Francis M. Pottenger Jr., MD, who was dedicated to the prevention of chronic illness. He is famous for his feeding experiment with 900 cats during the years 1932-1942. Dr. Pottenger’s job at the time was to help determine the correct dose of adrenal extract required to support life. He was using laboratory animals, in this case the many cats that were donated to him during the Great Depression, to accomplish these goals by feeding the cats raw milk and cooked meat scraps. He soon had so many cats that he had to place a call to the local butcher shop to request donations of raw meat scraps to feed all of his test subjects. What he noticed was that the raw meat-eating cats were in better health than those cats being fed cooked meat. This better health also extended to the kittens of the raw meat-eating cats, while the cooked meat-eating cats had kittens with signs of deficiency leading to skeletal deformities and organ malfunctions. He used his initial observations to devise a feeding experiment that lasted 10 years and four generations of cats. What he came to realize during his study of cats is quite fascinating and now the human race appears to be paralleling his findings about cats.
Dr. Pottenger discovered that the cats that maintained their natural raw diet proved resistant to infections, fleas, and other parasites and showed no signs of allergies. They were friendly and predictable in their behavior patterns and produced kittens that were homogeneous generation after generation. Miscarriages were rare and the mother cat nursed her young without difficulty.
However, Dr. Pottenger found that cats fed a cooked diet developed heart problems; eye problems (nearsightedness and farsightedness); hypothyroidism and inflammation of the thyroid gland; infections of the kidney, liver, testes, ovaries, bladder; and arthritis and inflammation of the joints and nervous system. The study was terminated due to the high mortality rate of the third deficient generation of cats (they were so ill that none survived beyond the 6th month of life). Female cats receiving cooked meat showed more irritability than raw food cats. The cooked food males, on the other hand, were docile and lacked interest in sex. When deficient cats were returned to a raw diet, it took four generations to regain normal health. The most important discovery was that after being subjected to a deficient diet for 12-18 months, female cat fertility was so reduced that the cats never again were able to give birth to normal kittens. Even after eating an optimum diet for three or four additional years, the kittens still showed signs of deficiency in their skeletal and dental development.
Other important discoveries involved pasteurized milk and dry feed sources, not only with cats, but with cows, chickens, and guinea pigs. Cats fed raw milk and raw meat usually did not die of health related issues but from old age and injuries suffered in fighting. However, when they drank pasteurized milk, evaporated milk, or sweet condensed milk, the cats started developing health issues.
The studies also showed that the feed given to the cows had a direct correlation on the quality of the milk they produced. Dr. Pottenger and his staff found that the adrenals and milk produced by grass fed cows were far superior to those cows being fed the typical dry feed comprised of molasses, cotton seed meal, beet pulp, orange pulp, grape pulp, other industrial by-products, field dried alfalfa and grain. The experiment found that cats fed raw milk from dry feed cows showed similar deficiencies as those cats fed pasteurized milk. This was not so with the cats receiving high grade raw milk from grass fed cows eating fresh cut greens.
Similar findings in the chicken industry were made concerning dry feed versus fresh feed. Hatchery chickens fed grains and dry feeds laid thin shelled eggs and pale yolks. A large percentage of eggs failed to germinate when fertilized. It is the fresh, raw factors in feed that seem to be the key between a healthy reproductive animal capable of producing healthy offspring versus unhealthy offspring. 
Another experiment involved guinea pigs being fed dry feed versus fresh feed. The guinea pigs eating dry feed showed hair loss, paralysis and high litter mortality. When allowed to forage for fresh grass and weeds, the animals showed greater improvement, even more so than the guinea pigs in pens being fed fresh cut grass. What Dr. Pottenger and his staff discovered was that the fresh cut grass being fed to those in the pens had become semi-cooked in the heat, which partially destroyed its nutrients.
The main takeaways from Dr. Pottenger’s work show how important good quality nutrition is to the health of current generations of animals (including humans) and the continued effects of those food decisions on future generations. The experiments done over 70 years ago do not even take into account that feed lot animals are now being fed growth hormones, antibiotics, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and that we, in turn, are ingesting them! In addition, the deficiencies caused by pasteurized milk may be impairing the life-long health of children as well as adults.
So if we proceed down this bumpy road of poor nutrition, will our self-imposed nutritional deficiencies result in the end of the human race, just like what happened to Pottenger’s cats? Let’s help educate people about good nutrition and preventing disease so that they can take corrective action before it’s too late. Feed lot animals do not have a choice but to eat what they are fed, but WE as CONSUMERS can demand industry changes by voting with our dollars and choosing organic grass-fed meat, dairy, cheese, eggs, and butter. You ARE what you eat, and so is your progeny. So remember the choices you make not only affect your health, but that of your children and grandchildren.
To learn more about the fascinating studies that were done, I highly recommend reading Pottenger’s Cats, by Francis M. Pottenger, Jr., MD. You can purchase the book, Pottenger’s Cats: A Study in Nutrition,:
I also recommend checking out the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation for current articles and other information that empower people to attain exceptional health for this and future generations. Click here to go to Price Pottenger Nutrition Foundation
 Francis M. Pottenger, Jr., MD, Pottenger’s Cats: A study in Nutrition (La Mesa: Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, Inc., 1983), 10.
 F.M. Pottenger, Jr., MD, Pottenger’s Cats (La Mesa: Price-Pottenger, 1983), 11.
 F.M. Pottenger, Jr., MD, Pottenger’s Cats (La Mesa: Price-Pottenger, 1983), 12.
 F.M. Pottenger, Jr., MD, Pottenger’s Cats (La Mesa: Price-Pottenger, 1983), 13.
 F.M. Pottenger, Jr., MD, Pottenger’s Cats (La Mesa: Price-Pottenger, 1983), 15.
 F.M. Pottenger, Jr., MD, Pottenger’s Cats (La Mesa: Price-Pottenger, 1983), 18.
 F.M. Pottenger, Jr., MD, Pottenger’s Cats (La Mesa: Price-Pottenger, 1983), 19.
 F.M. Pottenger, Jr., MD, Pottenger’s Cats (La Mesa: Price-Pottenger, 1983), 19.
 F.M. Pottenger, Jr., MD, Pottenger’s Cats (La Mesa: Price-Pottenger, 1983), 20.