A book that explained a lot about why our dental health has changed so dramatically over the years is Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, by Weston A. Price. It’s even more timely and prescient than ever. Price was a dentist who graduated from the University of Michigan dental school in 1893. As he got into the first two decades of his practice in the 20th century, he became increasingly alarmed at people with bad teeth, poorly formed palates, cavities, and deformations of the jaw – and with that, serious health problems. He and his wife, beginning in 1929-30, traveled around the world to 14 different countries to find how health elsewhere corresponded with mainly modern Americans. He visited isolated and respectively more modernized cultures in a Swiss village, Gaelics in the Islands of the Outer Hebrides, Eskimos, North American Indians, Melanesians, Polynesians, numerous African tribes, Australian Aborigines, Torres Strait Islanders, New Zealand Maori, and the Peruvian Indians. As well as studying the kept skulls of ancient Peruvians – nearly perfect palates and teeth.
Bottom line: he investigated these peoples, who subsisted on their native “wild” foods – variably, meat, blood, butter, organ meats, milk, fish, rye, oats, some vegetables – and observed in them perfect dental arches, very rare tooth decay and cavities, and most of all, immunity to tuberculosis; their health, as well as their physiques, was found to be outstanding. However, in those groups where certain segments obtained “modern foods of commerce” – white flour, sugar, jams, vegetable fats, canned goods – their health suffered, tuberculosis became rampant, as well as serious birth defects, cavities, deformed jaws, crooked teeth, and a host of other degenerative conditions. There are hundreds of photos throughout, and the difference between those who ate their native foods and those who had manufactured foods is truly, jaw-dropping shocking.
Price documented his findings rigorously, thoroughly, with percentages and averages noted throughout. He also conducted numerous tests, curing several people of their health problems just by a change in food. The tests on vitamin A, D, butter, and minerals reveal some crucial findings and results. Animals with no vitamin A were born blind, or disfigured. There are several X-rays and photos that show the outcome of his tests. He notes conditions of soils, contents and values of whole grains, grasses and how they affect the final outcome – results of the consumption of the food in humans and animals.
What it all boils down to is chemistry. The closer a food is to its natural origins and source, the better the health. The further away from its origins it is, processing, poor nutrients in growth cycles, denaturing, the worse the effect. In some of these cultures, no two young people were allowed to procreate unless they had undergone six months of concentrated nutrition to maximize the health of the conceived child. Price makes constant note of the “native wisdom” that had been passed down from generation to generation. He presents not just a few token cases but hundreds of them, across several thousands of miles – and it is startling how consistent the findings are from place to place.
Though it was written in the 1930s, it is nonetheless eerily prophetic of the ominous trends that punctuate modern technology, namely the changing nature of how humans and animals eat. There is a “Twilight Zone” sense of foreboding as Dr. Price’s research and findings unfold, chapter after chapter. What this book amounts to is a convincing, virtual warning on what is happening to the planet, to its food in all forms, and the humans and animals that inhabit it. Dr. Roca has no reservations about saying that this may be the most crucial piece of work on nutrition to ever have been written.