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.

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