His expedition was part nutritional, part dental and part anthropological.
He was growing concerned with the increase in dental issues among his American patients – including cavities, crooked teeth, and poorly formed arches – and was suspicious of the role a diet high in refined white flour and sugar might be playing in these issues.
Over his tour of five continents, his main objective was to observe the health and diet of those living in isolated communities, away from the “foods of commerce,” who maintained the traditional food ways of their respective cultures. What he found was incredible variety in foods, but consistent standards of health and vitality.
New Zealand/South Pacific
Dr. Price continued to make remarkable similar observations throughout his travels. Among native populations of the islands north of Australia, in New Zealand and the South Pacific, he found individuals with straight teeth, strong bodies, and notable disease resistance. These people lived on locally procured fruit, such as bananas, pumpkins, and pawpaws. Their diets were also rich in seafood, both fish, and shellfish. Dr. Price observed very few cavities among those who maintained their traditional diets.
In contrast, extensive observations were made on those who began consuming imported foods available at government-sponsored stores. Foods available here included white flour and sugar-based foods, sweetened items, and canned goods. The first generation of customers to such stores displayed a striking increase in tooth decay and a higher susceptibility to diseases such as tuberculosis. The second generation and beyond who lived off of these processed foods faired far worse.
These children were born with narrow dental arches and nasal passages. Without adequate space in their dental arches, their teeth were crowded and grew in crooked.
The narrowed nasal passages contributed to chronic mouth breathing, which is not meant to be the primary mode for breathing.
These patterns were repeated among various native groups in North America. Dr. Price traveled to Alaska and visited with villages along the Kuskokwim River. He noted that in Bethel – where there was the greatest access to modern foods – the highest rates of dental decay existed when compared to more isolated villages. All Alaska Natives he encountered who lived exclusively on their ancestral diets had straight, healthy teeth without cavities.
In Alaska, Dr. Price made a few interesting observations. First, he noted that very young native children whose mothers consumed only traditional foods did not struggle or suffer when they cut their teeth. Additionally, he spoke with an Alaska Native mother whose husband was white. She continued to live on traditional foods, while her husband and children ate many of the modern and processed foods available.
The woman had wide dental arches with space for her teeth to grow in straight and cavity-free.
Despite her good diet and dentition, her husband and children experienced many dental issues. Forty-one percent of the teeth in the family contained cavities.
Dr. Price listed some of the foods that made up the Alaska Native diet supportive of good health: dried salmon, salmon eggs, seal and seal oil, caribou, ground nuts, kelp, and cranberries. Replacing these foods with imported goods negatively impacted the consumers of the foods as well as the generations that came after them. Similar results were seen in native populations in Canada and Peru.
Across the world, Dr. Price witnessed the same story being told again and again. Groups of people who avoided modern foods made from sugar and white flour were able to maintain the optimized health of their ancestors. These people were uniformly robust and strong, with wide dental arches that adequately housed all of their teeth, allowing them to grow in straight without orthodontic assistance. Their lack of cavities ensured they enjoyed good dental health for life.
From Dr. Price’s observations, it can be hypothesized that crooked teeth are an unfortunate symptom of multi-generational sup-optimal nutrition. Crooked teeth – in turn – suggest a higher risk for disease infection, respiratory issues, tooth decay and possibly other skeletal issues. The implications are extensive.
These health problems cannot be cured or reversed, but much can be done.
Returning to a natural diet will help any individual maximize their health potential. It may not widen dental arches or straighten teeth, but in some cases can be extremely helpful for tooth decay.
Furthermore, returning to whole, vitamin-rich foods early enough in life will be supportive of the next generation having access to a better quality of life rather than a reduced opportunity. Education as early as elementary school is essential.
But what should be eaten? Whole foods are a start. Whole foods have one ingredient only. Squash. Lamb. Almonds. Dr. Price’s survey showed a wide variety of foods across the world providing different groups with exactly what their body and genes needed. To find what is best for you, look to your ancestors. Which part or parts of the world does your lineage reach? Some research into the foods of your ancestors can give you clues as to the best foods for you, and the generations that will come after you.
Price, W.A. (1939, 2014.) Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. Price-Pottenger Foundation: Lemon Grove.
This is for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice.
Sara Kennedy is a certified Nutritional Therapy Consultant. She lives fitness, nutrition and wellness – and wants to help save lives and change the world’s view on health and nutrition. Learn more about Sara and her plans at thriveak.com To reach her, email email@example.com