Dr. Weston A. Price, DDS, traveled the world in search of the perfect diet in the 1930’s. 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 an incredible variety of foods, but consistent standards of health and vitality.
In Switzerland, Dr. Price visited a group living in an isolated valley high in the Swiss Alps. He described the people as strong and hardy and documented their straight teeth, relative lack of cavities and absence of tuberculosis. Their diets comprised of rye bread from grain grown and ground in the valley, as well as cheese, butter, milk and occasional meat from their grazing cattle.
He compared the cavity rate from this area – at 2.3% of teeth being infected – with another nearby that had access to modern foods due to a road being built. White flour and sugar were regularly shipped to this village, and the people there had taken up baking refined goods and eating them with jams and jellies. The cavity rate increased by almost ten-fold to 20.2% of teeth being infected.
Another European destination for Dr. Price’s observations was the outer islands of Scotland. Here, again, he was able to make comparisons between the groups of people who had maintained their traditional nutrition customs and those who had switched to modern foods. Traditional individuals showed straight teeth, wide jaws and nasal passages and low cavity rates. These people subsisted mainly on locally cultivated oats and fresh seafood.
Those who had shifted to flour and sugar foods exhibited the same dental and health decay as individuals in Switzerland.
In Africa, Dr. Price visited many indigenous tribes including the Masai and the Kikuyu, among others. He found a wide variety of foods making up each tribe’s native cuisine. The Masai lived almost entirely on animal foods, namely milk, meat and blood from their cattle. He found these people to be tall, strong and resistant to the diseases often suffered by visitors to Africa. Of over 2,000 individual teeth he investigated, he found only 0.4% to be infected with dental decay. Unlike the Masai, the Kikuyu had a heavy reliance on plant foods, eating a selection of sweet potatoes, corn, beans, and millet. They had a higher rate of tooth decay and were not as notably tall as the Masai, but still had much better rates of dental health than any Americans.
Despite the differences in diet, Dr. Price observed that all populations in Africa who maintained their traditional diets had wide mouths full of straight, cavity-free teeth, housed in individuals who were healthy and robust. When he visited groups who ate modern, processed foods, there was quite a different situation. Often, dental arches were too narrow to fit all of the teeth, causing crowding and crooked teeth. Tooth decay increased greatly, but without adequate dental care, great quantities of suffering resulted.
Traveling through Australia, Dr. Price’s previous observations were reinforced and magnified. Australian Aborigines had been successfully living off the land for tens of thousands of years. The few individuals that could be found still living in their native life demonstrated sixth sense-like hunting and tracking skills, unparalleled physical strengths and abilities and, of course, wide mouths with perfect, straight teeth. Australia is hardly a lush paradise, indeed, the landscape is exceedingly harsh. Australian Aborigines lived off all that could be hunted or gathered: roots, seeds, berries, kangaroos, wallabies, insects, birds, and eggs.
The health of these native people as a whole has taken a tragic downturn of catastrophic proportions. The 20th century saw them forcefully removed from their native homes and placed in missions and reservations. Children were taken from their families and enrolled in boarding schools. With the loss of traditional lives came the loss of traditional food, and its replacement with refined and processed foods. Among a people whose frequency of tooth decay, heart disease, and diabetes was once near zero, the rates today now rival those found in modern America.
Next we’ll finish Dr. Price’s tour with his findings in the South Pacific and North and South America.
Price, W.A. (1939.) 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 firstname.lastname@example.org