Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, by Weston A. Price.

In the 1930's, numerous commentators were proffering all sorts of unlikely explanations for the alarming rise in tooth decay, including the alleged 'soiling' of racial stock by interbreeding. Accomplished dentist Weston A. Price had long suspected faulty nutrition. To find out just whether inter-racial marriages or substandard diets were to blame, Price decided to visit isolated communities around the world. He reasoned that if genetics were the sole explanation, then native peoples would have the same incidence of tooth decay regardless of whether they ate traditional diets or imported Western foods.

During his extensive travels, Price examined Australian Aborigines and Torres Strait islanders, African tribes, isolated Swiss and Gaelics, Polynesians, Melanesians, New Zealand Maoris, Eskimos, North American Indians and Peruvians. Among all these isolated populations he noted one recurring theme; when people lived on their native diet of unrefined whole foods they enjoyed excellent health and an almost complete absence of tooth decay.

However, when people from the same racial stock were exposed to western-style processed and refined foods, including canned goods, sugar and white flour, Price noted that their health took a sharp turn for the worse and the incidence of tooth decay would skyrocket. Price documented his findings with photographs comparing those on a native diet with those who lived near ports or other areas where "modern" foods were sold. Many of these are included in the book and the differences are striking. Those eating the traditional diet show clear complexion and excellent facial and jaw structure while those eating western foods exhibit marked dental and facial deformities.

Price called for a return to real food, warning that the widespread consumption of denatured foods would lead to much illness and suffering in Western nations and in developing nations where these foods were becoming ever more readily available. Price's warnings were ignored, and his prophecies fulfilled.

Nutrition and Physical Degeneration has to be one of the most important texts ever written on nutrition. Forget all those infomercial-style diet books--this is the real deal! A timeless classic that should be on the shelf of every serious student of nutrition.

-Anthony Colpo.

Dr. Price's Nutrition Studies

Price noticed that his patients were suffering more and more chronic and degenerative diseases. He also noticed that his younger patients had increasingly deformed dental arches, crooked teeth, and cavities. This definitely concerned him: he had not seen such things just ten or fifteen years ago.

Why was it happening now? Price also noticed a strong correlation between dental health and physical health: a mouth full of cavities went hand in hand with a body either full of disease, or generalized weakness and susceptibility to disease. In Price's time, tuberculosis was the major infectious illness, the White Scourge. He noticed that children were increasingly affected, the ones with the lousy teeth.

Dr. Price had heard rumors of native cultures where so-called primitive people lived happy lives, free of disease. He hit on an idea: why not go find these people and find out (1) if they really are healthy, and (2) if so, find out what they're doing to keep themselves healthy. Being rather well off financially, he and his wife started traveling around the world to remote locations. They were specifically looking for healthy peoples who had not been touched yet by civilization - at that time, such groups were still around.

Price's work is often criticized at this point for being biased. Critics claim that Price simply ignored native peoples that were not healthy, therefore, his data and conclusions about primitive diets are unfounded. These critics are missing the point and motivation for Dr. Price's work. Dr. Price was not interested in examining sick people because he'd seen enough of them in America.

Price wanted to find HEALTHY people, find out what made them so, and see if there were any patterns among these people. During his nine years of journeys, Price did indeed come across groups of primitives who were having problems for various reasons. Price noted these groups down, what appeared to be their difficulty, and then passed them over. Again, he was not interested in sick people. Price often found that the health problems were caused by food shortages (especially a lack of animal products), droughts, things people living off the land must face from time to time, or contact with white European civilization.

Dr. Price and his wife went just about everywhere in their journeys. They traveled to isolated villages in the Swiss alps, to cold and blustery islands off the coast of Scotland, to the Andes mountains in Peru, to several locations in Africa, to the Polynesian islands, to Australia and New Zealand, to the forests of northern Canada, and even to the Arctic Circle. In all, Price visited with fourteen groups of native peoples.

After gaining the trust of the village elders in the various places, Price did what came naturally: he counted cavities and physically examined them. Imagine his surprise to find, on average, less than 1% of tooth decay in all the peoples he visited!

He also found that these people's teeth were perfectly straight and white, with high dental arches and well-formed facial features. And there was something more astonishing: none of the peoples Price examined practiced any sort of dental hygiene; not one of his subjects had ever used a toothbrush!

For example, when Price visited his first people, isolated Swiss mountain villagers, he noticed right away that the children's teeth were covered with a thin film of green slime, yet they had no tooth decay. What a difference this was from the children in Ohio!

Dr. Price also noticed that, in addition to their healthy teeth and gums, all the people he discovered were hardy and strong, despite the sometimes difficult living conditions they had to endure. Eskimo women, for example, gave birth to one healthy baby after another with little difficulty.

Despite the Swiss children going barefoot in frigid streams, there had not been a single case of tuberculosis in any of them, despite exposure to TB. In general, Price found, in contrast to what he saw in America, no incidence of the very diseases that plague us moderns with our trash compactors and cellular phones: cancer, heart disease, diabetes, hemorrhoids, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, osteoporosis, chronic fatigue syndrome (it was called neurasthenia in Price's day), etc.

Dr. Price also noticed another quality about the healthy primitives he found: they were happy. While depression was not a major problem in Price's day, it certainly is today: ask any psychiatrist. While certain natives sometimes fought with neighboring tribes, within their own groups, they were cheerful and optimistic and bounced back quickly from emotional setbacks. These people had no need for antidepressants.

Lest you think Dr. Price made all of this up, he was sure to take along with him one modern invention that would forever chronicle his research and startling conclusions: a camera. Dr. Price and his wife took pictures - 18,000 of them. Many of the pictures are contained in Price's masterpiece Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. The pictures show native peoples from all over the world smiling wide as the Mississippi river, their perfect teeth shining bright. What the People Ate

In addition to examining the natives, Dr. Price also gathered considerable data about their distinctive cultures and customs, and these descriptions fill many of the pages of his book. Price took great care to observe what these people were eating for he suspected the key to good health and good teeth was in good food.

He was surprised to find that, depending on the people in question and where they lived, each group ate very differently from the other.

For example, the Swiss mountain villagers subsisted primarily on unpasteurized and cultured dairy products, especially butter and cheese. Rye also formed an integral part of their diet. Occasionally, they ate meat (beef) as cows in their herds got older. Small amounts of bone broths, vegetables and berries rounded out the diet. Due to the high altitude, not much vegetation grew. The villagers would eat what they could in the short summer months, and pickle what was left over for the winter. The main foods, however, were full fat cheese, butter, and rye bread.

Gaelic fisher people of the Outer Hebrides ate no dairy products, but instead had their fill of cod and other sea foods, especially shell fish (when in season). Due to the poor soil, the only grain that could grow was oat, and it formed a major part of the diet. A traditional dish, one considered very important for growing children and expectant mothers, was cod's head stuffed with oats and mashed fish liver. Again, due to the extremely inhospitable climate, fruits and vegetables grew sparsely. Price noted that a young Gaelic girl reeled in puzzlement when offered an apple: she had never seen one!

Eskimo, or Innu, ate a diet of almost 100% animal products with hefty amounts of fish. Walrus and seal, and other marine mammals also formed an integral part of the diet. Blubber (fat) was consumed with relish. Innu would gather nuts, berries, and some grasses during the short summer months, but their diet was basically all meat and fat. Price noted that the Innu would usually ferment their meat before eating it. That is, they would bury it and allow it to slightly putrefy before consuming it. Innu would also eat the partially digested grasses of caribou by cutting open their stomachs and intestines.

The Maori of New Zealand, along with other South sea islanders, consumed sea food of every sort - fish, shark, octopus, sea worms, shellfish - along with fatty pork and a wide variety of plant foods including coconut and fruit.

African cattle-keeping tribes like the Masai consumed virtually no plant foods at all, just beef, raw milk, organ meats, and blood (in times of drought).

The Dinkas of the Sudan, whom Price claimed were the healthiest of all the African tribes he studied, ate a combination of fermented whole grains with fish, along with smaller amounts of red meat, vegetables, and fruit. The Bantu, on the other hand, the least hardy of the African tribes studied, were primarily agriculturists. Their diet consisted mostly of beans, squash, corn, millet, vegetables, and fruits, with small amounts of milk and meat. Price never found a totally vegetarian culture. Modern anthropological data support this: all cultures and peoples show a preference for animal foods and animal fat.

Hunter-gatherer peoples in Northern Canada, the Florida Everglades, the Amazon, and Australia, consumed game animals of all types, especially the organ meats, and a variety of grains, legumes, tubers, vegetables, and fruits when available.

Price noted that all peoples, except the Innu, consumed insects and their larvae. Obviously in more tropical areas, insects formed a more integral part of the diet. Price noted that: The natives of Africa know that certain insects are very rich in special food values at certain seasons, also that their eggs are valuable foods. A fly that hatches in enormous quantities in Lake Victoria is gathered and used fresh and dried for storage. They also use ant eggs and ants. Bees, wasps, dragonflies, beetles, crickets, cicadas, moths, and termites were consumed with zest also, particularly in Africa.

Price also noted that all cultures consumed fermented foods each day. Foods such as cheese, cultured butter, yogurt, or fermented grain drinks like kaffir beer (made from millet) in Africa, or fermented fish as with the Innu were an important part of native diets.

Curiously, all native peoples studied made great efforts to obtain seafood, especially fish roe which was consumed so that we will have healthy children. Even mountain dwelling peoples would make semiannual trips to the sea to bring back seaweeds, fish eggs, and dried fish. Shrimp, rich in both cholesterol and vitamin D, was a standard food in many places, from Africa to the Orient.

The last major feature of native diets that Price found was that they were rich in fat, especially animal fat. Whether from insects, eggs, fish, game animals, or domesticated herds, primitive peoples knew that they would get sick if they did not consume enough fat. Explorers besides Dr. Price have also found this to be true.

For example, anthropologist Vilhjalmur Stefansson, who lived for years among the Innu and Northern Canadian Indians, specifically noted how the Indians would go out of their way to hunt down older male caribou for they carried a 50 pound slab of back fat. When such animals were unavailable and Indians were forced to subsist on rabbits, a very lean animal, diarrhea and hunger would set in after about a week. The human body needs saturated fat to assimilate and utilize proteins and saturated animal fats contain high amounts of the fat soluble vitamins, as well as beneficial fatty acids with antimicrobial properties.

Of course, the foods that Price's subjects ate were natural and unprocessed. Their foods did not contain preservatives, additives, or colorings. They did not contain added sugar (though, when available, natural sweets like honey and maple syrup were eaten in moderation). They did not contain white flour or canned foods. Their milk products were not pasteurized, homogenized, or low fat. The animal and plant foods consumed were raised and grown on pesticide-free soil and were not given growth hormones or antibiotics. In short, these people always ate organic.

 

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Nutrition and Physical Degeneration

 

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