An epic study demonstrating the importance of whole food nutrition, and the degeneration and destruction that comes from a diet of processed foods.
For nearly 10 years, Weston Price and his wife traveled around the world in search of the secret to health. Instead of looking at people afflicted with disease symptoms, this highly-respected dentist and dental researcher chose to focus on healthy individuals, and challenged himself to understand how they achieved such amazing health. Dr. Price traveled to hundreds of cities in a total of 14 different countries in his search to find healthy people. He investigated some of the most remote areas in the world. He observed perfect dental arches, minimal tooth decay, high immunity to tuberculosis and overall excellent health in those groups of people who ate their indigenous foods. He found when these people were introduced to modernized foods, such as white flour, white sugar, refined vegetable oils and canned goods, signs of degeneration quickly became quite evident. Dental caries, deformed jaw structures, crooked teeth, arthritis and a low immunity to tuberculosis became rampant amongst them. Dr. Price documented this ancestral wisdom including hundreds of photos in his book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.
This book changed my life but each case study in the book said the same thing (and was tedious to read) thus four stars, but worth skipping to the end and here's what I learned...
The average human needs 2000-2500 calories per day. Sugar is a concentrated form of energy (carbohydrates) and can quickly fill up the body's caloric needs without providing any body-building minerals. Body-building minerals include calcium, phosphorus, iron and magnesium. These minerals may be present in food yet unusuable by the body. They must be accompanied by fat-soluable and water-soluable vitamins such as Vitamins A and E.
The modern diet is made of products that ship easily to many different areas. Canned goods, sugar, rice, jam and vegetable oils are most commonly used. Bakeries provide many white-flour products. While these products still have calories and are sufficient to produce heat and energy in a human body, the minerals originally found in them have been either destroyed or removed. “In the production of white flour approximately eighty per cent or four-fifths of the phosphorus and calcium content are usually removed, together with the vitamins and minerals provided in the embryo or germ” of the grain. (p 285) “If we are to provide nutrition that will include an adequate excess as a factor of safety for overloads, and for such periods as those of rapid growth (for children), pregnancy, lactation and sickness, we must provide the excess to the extent of about twice the requirements of normal adults. (requirements stated in his book = .68g Calcium, 1.32g phosphorus .015g iron thus doubling them would mean 1.35g calcium, 2.64 phosphorus, .03g iron)” p 275 “Extensive laboratory determinations have shown that most people cannot absorb more than half of the calcium and phosphorus from the foods eaten. The amounts utilized depend directly on the presence of other substances, particularly fat-soluable vitamins.” p.269 “It will therefore be necessary for an adequate nutrition to contain approximately four times the minimum requirements of the average adult if all stress periods are to be passed safely.
The diets of the native Eskimos contained as much as 5.4 times as much calcium as the modern diet 5 times as much phosphorus, 1.5 times as much iron, 7.9 times as much magnesium, 1.8 times as much copper, 49 times as much iodine, and at least ten times that number of fat-soluable vitamins. The diets of the native americans of Canada, the native Swiss, Gaelics in the Outer Hebrides, the Aborigines of Australia and the native New Zealand Maori was similar. (see p 275-276) Not a single primitive racial stock was found living entirely on plant foods (i.e. vegetarian). p 279
Vitamin D which is not synthesized in the human body, is not available in plants. It is only available in animal products specifically egg yolks, butter, cream, liver and fish. Primitive peoples got this vitamin in four different ways. The Swiss, Arabs and Asiatic races got it from dairy products such as milk from cattle, camels or sheep. The native americans and Andean tribes got it from the organs of animals and the eggs of birds. The pacific islanders and coastal natives got it from seafood and the Australian Aborigines and African tribes got it from small animals and insects. (p 282-3)
The problem is manifested in the oral hygiene of those on inefficient diets. The natives had no problems with tooth decay. They got enough nutrition in their foods that the saliva composition protected their teeth without brushing or modern methods of cleaning teeth. When the proper chemical content of the saliva is reinstituted, bacterial growth is stopped and the tooth will harden in the area of the cavity. (p 286) The proper chemical content of saliva is directly related the the minerals absorbed by following a proper diet. Even in natives where the tooth was worn down to the gum line, the body was protected from bacterial infection by new layer of dentine where the pulp was exposed. “Available data indicate that the blood and saliva normally carry defensive factors which when present control the growth of the acid producing organisms (bacteria) and the local reactions at tooth surfaces. When these defensive factors are not present the acid producing organisms multiply and produce an acid which dissolves tooth structure. The origin of this protective factor is provided in nutrition and is directly related to the mineral content of the foods and to known and unknown vitamins particularly the fat-soluable.” p 301
As an example, the nutrition for children living in a poor district in Cleveland, OH was improved for one meal per day. Many of the children had vary large cavities which had decalcified the tooth to the pulp chamber. After the nutrition was improved, the tissues of the pulp built in a secodary dentine thus reincasing itself and the decay was inhibited. (p288) “The nutrition provided in this one meal included the following foods. About four ounces of tomato juice or orange juice and a teaspoonful of a mixture of equal parts of a very high vitamin natural cod liver oil (Vitamin A) and an especially high vitamin butter was given at the beginning of the meal. They then received a bowl containing approximately a pint of very rich vegetable and meat stew, made largely from bone marrow and fine cuts of tender meat: the meat was usually broiled separately to retain its juice and then chopped very fine and added to the bone marrow meat soup which always contained finely chopped vegetables and plenty of very yellow carrots; for the next course they had cooked fruit, with very little sweetening, and rolls made from freshly ground wheat, which were spread with the high-vitamin butter....Each child was also given two glasses of fresh whole milk. The menu was varied from day to day by substituting for the meat stew, fish chowder or organs of animals....These meals provided approximately 1.48 g calcium and 1.32 g phosphorus.” p 290 Also of note is that “two different teachers came to me to inquire what had been done to make a particular child change from one of the poorest in the class in capacity to learn to one of the best. Dental caries is only one of the many expressions of our modern deficient nutritions.” (p 290-291)
Whole wheat breads from a bakery is not comparable to Nature's foods “because of the factors that have been removed from the wheat either mechanically or by oxidation.” p 299
Nutrient content in foods varies depending on the nutrient content of the soil and foods eaten by cattle. If cattle are in gestation too often and fed foods low in chlorophyl the nutritional value of their milk is depleted.
Summary: Reduce intake of white flour, sugar, and over processed foods. Increase intake of whole grains, freshly ground wheat, dairy products, fruits and vegetables. Make particular efforts to get double to quadruple the minimum daily amounts of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron along with natural Vitamins A, B, C, D, and E.
Proper nutrition will reduce the number of cavities, reduce risk of disease, make childbirth easier and reduce risk of mental and physical deformities in infants and adults. An example of a mental deformity in infants that is related to nutrition is the increased risk of downs syndrome for children born to parents over forty years of age. See book for an extensive look at the effects of nutrition on downs syndrome children.
Required reading, especially for people thinking about having kids. So shocking to see such strong evidence that all orthodontic needs are NOT genetic but actually evidences of nutritional deficiencies IN UTERO. Fascinating how much effort he has to go to prove what is really common sense and yet people still don't know this stuff. Why didn't I learn about this until now? I am so angry about what a useless waste of time public education is. Why don't we learn anything useful at all?!!!! ARGH!!!!
This book has flaws though, but the pros far outweigh the cons. And as for how the "scientific community" regards his "poor scientific methods"... I'm totally with him on that one. Isolating variables in human being living habits is next to impossible and why spend all your time trying to do that to cure sick people when instead you can go hunting for healthy people and learn from them? EXACTLY!
I don't think he has the evidence to prove that nutritional deficiencies in utero also cause criminals and other problems. It does not mean he is wrong, just that he really didn't spend much time researching that or gathering enough evidence to support his theory.
В края на 19 век индустриализацията на света върви с пълна сила и индустриалните храни започват да навлизат сред все повече общества. Захар, бяло брашно, консервирани храни, хидрогенизирани растителни масла - са вече съвсем евтини и стават основни хранителни продукти на много хора, които до сега са се хранили по традиционния начин - с отгледани от тях продукти.
Авторът Уестън А. Прайс е канадски зъболекар, който забелязва, че точно в този период бизнесът му се увеличава неимоверно - водят му деца с десетки кариеси, с маломерни челюсти и криви зъби - при условие, че родителите им, невежи селски хора, имат силни, здрави и правилни зъби.
В продължение на десетилетия, той и съпругата му обикалят света, за да изучават местните примитивни хора, които живеят и се хранят според древните си традиции и обичаи и техните сблъсъци с модерните храни (главно що се отнася до здравето на зъ��ите им). Двамата документират изследванията си с над 15 хил. фотографии и издават тази книга през 1939 г.
Изводите, които правят са фрапиращи - независимо дали става дума за селяни в швейцарските алпи, ескимоси, папуаси или африкански племена, туземците практически не познават кариеса и зъбните изкривявания. Зъбите им са често мръсни, изтъркани от употреба и с наслоен зъбен камък, но не са развалени. Наблюдават се кариеси между 0.09-5 на 1000 зъба.
Там обаче, дето тия местни хора вече са в контакт с цивилизацията и ядат бяло брашно, захар и производните им храни, не само зъбите им се развалят неимоверно (разбира се, за това допринася и фактът, че не ги мият), но и се наблюдават зъбни и челюстни изкривявания.
Изводът на автора от тия наблюдения, изследвания на храните и проведени клинични експерименти относно хранителното съдържание на традиционните храни са изключително интересни и полезни и някои по-късни учени наричат У.Прайс "Чарлз Дарвин на хранителната наука".
Прайс обръща голямо внимание на мазнините като основен разтворител на повечето витамини - особено кравето масло от хранени с трева крави, рибеното масло и маслото от рибен черен дроб. Описва също така и пълнозърнестото брашно, като източник на калций и фосфор (макар че племената, които се хранят с напълно животински храни - инуити в Аляска и масаи в Африка - имат всъщност най-ниски нива на кариес).
Макар в книгата да личат недостатъците на епохата (малко архаичен научен подход и език, модерните за периода расови залитания и т.н.) тя е невероятно четиво за тия от нас, които се интересуват от здравословен живот и хранене.
My mother, who was born in 1916, had a “sweet tooth.” When I was born, she had dentures, no teeth. White flour and sugar were common ingredients in many meals I consumed between childhood and into my 40s. She got diabetes, and I did too. My first dentist said I had teeth like a horse. They are crowded and crooked. All four of my wisdom teeth were surgically removed, because they were growing sideways, toward the molar next door. I brushed my teeth, but still got cavities.
Back in the sixteenth century, Queen Elizabeth also had a sweet tooth. Sidney Mintz told an amusing story about her meeting with a German gentleman, who was deeply impressed when her smile revealed a mouthful of black teeth. The peasants looked much healthier than the royalty, because they couldn’t afford sugar, which was an expensive luxury in those days.
In 1893, Weston Price became a dentist in Cleveland, Ohio. As the years passed, Price became aware of a highly unusual trend — the amount of tooth decay that he observed was growing sharply. Something strange was happening. He was watching a serious health crisis emerge right before his eyes, and he didn’t understand the cause. Price suspected that the problem was related to dietary changes.
His curiosity grew. Finally, he decided to do some travelling, in search of healthy people, to see how they lived differently. He spent much of the 1930s visiting many lands, examining the teeth of the residents, taking photographs of them, and studying their diets. He went to remote places where people continued to live in their traditional manner, in regions including Switzerland, Ireland, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the Arctic, and Peru. He found many people with beautiful perfect teeth, and he found many with serious dental problems, like his patients in Cleveland. Importantly, he discovered a clear difference in the diets of the two groups.
The people with happy teeth ate the traditional diet of their region, never used a toothbrush, and never saw a dentist. The people with crappy teeth ate a “modernized” diet, including white flour, refined sugar, canned vegetables, jams, and marmalades. Those who lived in remote villages in the hills were fine, but those who lived by the shore, and ate imported modern foods, suffered for it. If one brother stayed in the hills, and the other brother moved to the city by the sea, the difference in their dental health was often striking. Among those eating the modernized diet, the incidence of problems varied from place to place. In some locations, only 25 percent of them had problems, but in other locations up to 75 percent were affected.
The children of those who ate modernized diets had even worse problems. In addition to tooth decay, their dental arches were deformed, so their teeth were crowded and crooked (like mine). Their nostrils were narrower, forcing some to be mouth breathers. Their skulls formed in unusual shapes and sizes, often narrower than normal. Their hips and pelvic bones formed abnormally, making childbirth more difficult. They suffered from far higher rates of chronic and degenerative disease, including cancer, heart disease, and tuberculosis. Their overall health was often weak or sickly. Some were mentally deficient.
Price finally went home and wrote a book to document his findings. Nutrition and Physical Degeneration was published in 1939. The book is loaded with stunning photos. Readers will never forget the powerful pictures. Most of the book’s contents, including the pictures, are available HERE. Click through the pages. His writing includes some racist language that was common in that era.
For the first 200 pages, the chapters proceed, region by region, comparing the health of the people, based on their diet. His descriptions get repetitive, because wherever he goes, he reports the same findings — people who ate their traditional diet had healthy teeth, and people who ate the modern diet more often had lousy teeth and other problems.
All of those enjoying good health included some animal-based foods in their diet. He noted, “It is significant that I have as yet found no group that was building and maintaining good bodies exclusively on plant foods. A number of groups are endeavoring to do so with marked evidence of failure.”
I did some research to see if white flour and sugar were newer foods for the working class and poor. Yes, they were. By the late nineteenth century, both products had become widely available and inexpensive. The primary reason for this was new technology, steam-powered steel roller mills, which appeared around 1890. Melissa Smith and Steven Gundry wrote about the unintended consequences of roller mills.
Previously, grain had been milled between stones, which ground together all parts of the wheat berry, resulting in whole wheat flour. White flour had been made by bolting — sieving whole wheat flour through fine cloth. This was a time-consuming process, so white flour was expensive. White bread was a luxury that only the rich could afford. The waste byproduct of the bolting process was the super-nutritious bran and germ, which was usually fed to livestock.
The new roller mills crushed the grain, rather than finely pulverizing it. This made it much easier to separate the bran and germ from the powdered endosperm (white flour). Because of this, white flour could now be cheaply mass produced. Since people perceived white flour to be a desirable luxury food, they eagerly consumed it.
Gundry noted that the new process eliminated both the fiber-rich bran, and the germ, which was rich in oil and vitamins. White flour was little more than highly refined carbs, which rapidly enter the bloodstream — empty calories. White flour had a much longer shelf life than whole wheat, because it had no oil which would go rancid over time. White flour could be shipped to the ends of the Earth, and stored indefinitely.
By the 1920s, folks realized that white flour was crap. New regulations required that white flour be “enriched” with nutrients, including thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and iron. Despite enrichment, white flour remains nutritionally inferior to whole wheat.
With regard to sugar, the steel roller mill was a big improvement. It could extract up to 85 percent of the juice from the cane. The previous technology could extract only 20 percent. So, each ton of cane could produce much more sugar, which lowered the price, and enabled mass production.
Sugar became a major component of the working class diet. By 1900, 20 percent of the calories in the English diet were provided by sugar. Many factory workers started their day with a slice of white bread spread with sugar-packed jam, marmalade, or treacle — many calories, few nutrients. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics, the average annual consumption of caloric sweeteners per person in the U.S. peaked in 1999 at 151.6 pounds (68.7 kg). In 2016, it was down to a mere 128.1 pounds (58 kg).
Sugar consumption nearly doubled in the U.S. between 1890 and the early 1920s — an era of rapid growth in the candy and soft drink industries. In some U.S. cities, diabetes deaths quadrupled between 1900 and 1920. By the 1930s, the cancer rates in the U.S. were clearly on the rise. Diabetes and cancer are far less common in societies that do not eat a Western diet.
Smith discussed Dr. Thomas Cleave’s “Rule of 20 Years.” The old doctor noted a spooky pattern. In numerous locations, 20 years after the arrival of white flour and white sugar, primitive people started to suffer from heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, gallbladder disease, and colitis.
You are what you eat!
Mintz, Sidney W., Sweetness and Power — The Place of Sugar in Modern History, Penguin Books, New York, 1985.
Gundry, Steven R., Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution, Crown Publishers, New York, 2008.
Smith, Melissa Diane, Going Against the Grain, Contemporary Books, Chicago, 2002.
This is the best book I've ever read. The amount of research, depth of knowledge, and pictures that capture more than words can describe makes a very though provoking read. Forget everything you have head about nutrition from so called experts over the last 60 years. This is the only book you need.
This book is quite simply the best and most succinct argument for a natural, non-synthetic diet. Chapter after chapter of detailed surveys, statistics, and citation establishes that diet directly influences not only the superficial problems of tooth decay, but much more serious issues of prenatal development, degenerative disease, and mental acuity. One would expect a work on dental health in primitive cultures to be dry going, but Weston Price has an eye for the beauty in Nature, especially the beauty of the unmarred and healthy physical form, and therefore he regularly interrupts the scientific narrative to discuss weird or colorful items in his journey across the world. The results of that journey, photographed regularly and precisely, can leave little doubt: the modern diet kills. Only the vitamins and minerals present in non-synthetic primitive diets can ward off such modern ills as heart disease, dental crowding, and infant deformities. In fact, it is remarkable how much of the human experience relates to this basic idea of good nutrition, a fact that appears irrefutable from the thousands of cases documented by Price.
While the claims of this book touching only on dental hygiene would make it fascinating reading in itself, other conclusions are particularly relevant to contemporary culture: 1) Vitamins do their best work when ingested as much as possible from their natural source. This means that capsules and pills are secondarily useful - much better to eat freshly-ground wheat or fish eyes. 2) Childbearing in primitive cultures is prepared for months in advance; the result is that it is often a quick and simple event, contrasted to the arduous, lengthy experience of many women in Western societies. 3) Mental disease in infants can be traced in a high percentage of cases to a lack of over-nutrition in the mother (since sufficient nutrition only takes care of her own health). And finally, 4) A good diet derives from satisfactorily answering two questions: what is my food? and where does it come from? Modern diets have tended to focus exclusively on the former, which means that the vegans are right, in a way - meat does present serious risks when it comes from the feedlot system, but a diet that contains no animal products whatsoever not only cannot deliver vitamins and minerals efficiently, but has been rejected by the primitive cultures of the world, who have not suffered tooth decay, degenerative disease, or mental retardation in the process.
I can't think of a book I'd be more likely to recommend in the near future than this one. A necessary read.
Weston A. Price is a master scientist. He traveled the world with his wife, Indiana Jones style, but instead of ancient relics, he searched for ancient foods. He found the key to ending chronic disease!... but no one listens because if we were to practice what he found, food lobbyists and manufacturers, ad companies, commercial farmers, and most importantly Monsanto & Big Pharm would be out of business.
Very cool book. A cross between adventure dentistry, cultural anthropology and nutritional science. Some of the material he discovered is common knowledge now: the importance of vitamins, the role of sugar and refined flour in tooth decay. But the really interesting stuff was his data on physical development in people who had gone from traditional (aka "primitive") diets to modern diets and then back again. Children born under the primitive diets were healthier, stronger, and had resistance to cavities, while children born under the modern diets had stunted bone development, high disease (tuberculosis was particularly common) susceptibility, and low cavity resistance.
There are lots of interesting tidbits about the cultures studied as well, like the Maori school children who would run to the beach at lunchtime, make a bonfire, dive for lobster, then have quite a seafood feast before returning to class. The coverage of special, pre-marriage and pre-childbearing diets (for both mothers and fathers) and child spacing were fascinating as well.
"Weston Price noted that all the groups he studied provided special foods to prospective parents—to both mother and father before conception and to women during their pregnancy." (from publisher's prologue)
"…soil improvement, humane animal husbandry, nontoxic farming and gardening, pollutant-free housing, holistic medical therapies, nontoxic dentistry, and, above all, proper food choices and preparation techniques that promote optimal health generation after generation." (from prologue)
"Since they have accumulated so much accumulated wisdom that is passing with them, it has seemed important that the elements in the modern contacts that are so destructive to them should be discovered and removed."—Weston A. Price, Preface
“In Nature’s program, minerals are loaned temporarily to the plants and animals and their return to the soil is essential.” (chapter 20)
Interesting stuff, but not as relevant to the modern reader as it might seem. There's a world of difference between being raised on whole foods in a pre-industrial environment with plenty of exercise VS. being raised on processed foods and switching to whole foods. The latter can actually be harmful, depending on the circumstances. Overall, this book is an interesting source of information, but somewhat poor source of dietary guidance. I recommend the research of Matt Stone instead (or in addition); it's much more relevant.
A sometimes racist, often subjective, occasionally factual, outdated, repetitive scientific read. This is what you get, I guess, reading 1st person biological science from the 1930s. Nevertheless, this book is fantastic in 3 ways:  It shows us what science used to think was correct;  excellent descriptions of "primitive" diets (the delight of most readers of this book);  Can also be read as an anecdote-filled nutritional travelogue.
Found myself skimming entire sections. Overall, an overrated book. Not sure I'd recommend this one, unless you're pretty primed up about human nutrition.
This book changed my perspective on food and dental care. Cavities can be healed (easier while young than old), teeth can be remineralized, and what we eat has a direct effect on our health (I already knew that part of course, but never read it this way before).
This book is a fascinating story of a dentist in early last century who traveled to pockets of people still eating their age-old ancestral diet. He found that their traditional diet, widely different in content depending on the area, equaled good health, including healthy teeth. It was when people changed their diet to a modern western diet (white flour, white sugar, etc) that their health deteriorated. Interestingly enough, no diet was entirely vegetarian. Little meat, sure, but not totally vegetarian.
I've read The China Study and am trying to decide how to apply them both, since they seem to contradict each other. So far, my conclusion is, if I get cancer, follow the China Study with strict veganism. For every day, increase bone broths, choose meat and vegetables with the highest nutritional content, eat local and pesticide free and from scratch where possible, and include a good cod liver oil.
I loaned my copy of this book to a dentist friend who became President if the Oregon Dental Association. When we talked some years later, he brought up remineralization of teeth to me (he'd forgotten I lent him the book, which he still has). So this book, old though it is, is influencing dentists today.
Recently, I heard someone say that, "The more you learn, the more you realize you don't know." That was how I felt after reading this book. It opened up a whole new world of learning for me about health.
Dr. Price traveled around the world in the 1930's to find primitive societies who were as isolated as possible. He wanted to find people who weren't touched by the modern world and find out how healthy they were. His observations and clinical studies are documented in this book, and if you choose to read it, it will open your eyes. Not only were these native, primitive tribes incredible healthy, he also noticed many other things that he didn't expect. Tooth decay and dental arch deformities were practically non-existent, disease was minimal even though they had no doctors or hospitals, just to name a couple. He also noted that the common practice of removing wisdom teeth in modern society was something that wasn't practiced in these primitive cultures because they simple grew in the way they were supposed to.
Even though we can all look around and see how far we've come as a society in so many ways, this book shows how there are some ways in which we have degressed. In addition, it also gives a glimpse into the wisdom of the primitives and show us a little how we can live in such a way that we can get many of the same benefits that they received.
Fascinating account by a dentist who traveled the world in the 1930-40s to examine communities which remained isolated from modern food and diet (refined flour, sugar, processed oils and meats). He found not only remarkable dental health (a paucity of cavities and lack of crowded teeth) he also found that heart disease, cancer and even diseases like inflamed gall bladders were rare. Within one generation of eating "modern foods" - dental health markedly deteriorated, as did general health. In is extensive analysis of food he postulated a key nutrient for bone and teeth health, Factor X, which has subsequently been shown to be Vit. K2. If you are interested in learning more about the connection between diet and health - this is a classic.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get through this voluminous, dense book, which is a classic within the field of dentistry.
I’m not particularly interested in dentistry but have been having dental issues and thus found my way to this book.
Weston Price travelled around the world investigating the teeth of so-called primitive peoples. His focus was to find societies untouched by Western society who thus still existed totally on a diet of indigenous foods.
The prologue states that Price proved conclusively that dental decay is caused primarily by nutritional deficiencies and “that those conditions that promote decay also promote disease”.
The diets studied by Price were diverse, some being based on sea foods, some on domesticated animals, some n game and some on dairy products. Some contained almost no plant foods while others contained a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. In some, mostly cooked foods were eaten while in others many foods, including animal foods were eaten raw.
“Price found fourteen tribal diets that, although radically different, provided almost complete immunity to tooth decay and resistance to illness.”
The book is packed with photos of people showing their teeth. In a photo of two groups, black and white, from Thursday Island, the natives have “beautifully proportioned faces” and broad dental arches (not that I know what dental arches are), while the whites have “pinched nostrils and marked disturbance in proportions of the faces” and crowded teeth (poor diet apparently deforms not only teeth but faces).
In another series of photos we see a boy aged 5 (not from any of the “primitive” societies) who suffered from inflammatory rheumatism, arthritis and “heart involvement”. “He was so badly crippled with arthritis in his swollen knees, wrists, and rigid spine that he was bedfast and cried by the hour.” After a year of improved diet where white flour products were removed, and small doses of cod liver oil were added, together with “specially high vitamin butter produced by cows pasturing on green wheat”, the boy’s pain had subsided, his appetite had improved, he slept soundly and he had gained rapidly in weight.
It’s a pity I didn’t manage to read much of the book, since it proved really interesting, and contains, as can be seen from the above, not only material about how to improve one’s teeth through good diet but also much about the improvement of general health and healing of diseases.
Being a vegetarian, aspiring to be vegan, I can’t eat many of the foodstuffs Price recommends, such as liver, whole milk and bone marrow, and wheat these days is not what it was in Price’s time (the book was written in 1939).
I found the language to be extremely dated (e.g. “bedfast”) but, of course, comprehensible. But it is not the most readable of books and its size is off-putting. So I would recommend it mostly to dentists and others absolutely interested in dental matters.
To sum up, Price’s basic tenet is that dental decay and disease as a whole are caused mainly by nutritional deficiencies. In my experience, as regards dental decay, this is not something that the dental profession is aware of.
P.S. I have just begun to read a fascinating book by a former dentist who contends that dental decay is primarily caused not by bacteria, lack of good brushing or poor nutrition, but by our feelings. So it’s all getting quite interesting. (I believe that the feelings are probably the primary cause, but everything is interconnected, and good nutrition is obviously absolutely important.)
Studies of native diets were documented by inveterate dentist Weston A Price in a watershed time between the two world wars where there was means for diplomacy, photography, air travel, and scientific analysis of foods and soils in diverse living conditions around the globe.
Dr. Price and his wife sought out peoples where there were similar stock exposed to western foods, such as sugars and highly milled flours and other grains living in close proximity to the same racial stocks not yet exposed to the western diet. These places included Swiss, Gaelics, Alaskan Eskimos, Indians of Central Canada, Seminole Indians, Melanesians, Polynesians, African Tribes, Australian Aborigines, Torres Strait Islanders, New Zealand Maori, and Peruvians. He wrote of these peoples with respect, giving credit to their traditional nutritional knowledge and practices.
Many photographs document his findings as well as tables and graphs. It is indeed sobering to understand the changes in facial structure in just one generation exposed to unhealthy foods. He also documents successful treatments for nutritional diseases which can be adopted.
His concerns extended to depletion of soil nutrients, which has been addressed somewhat in recent years with artificial fertilizers. (See: The Alchemy of Air: A Jewish Genius, a Doomed Tycoon, and the Scientific Discovery That Fed the World but Fueled the Rise of Hitler by Thomas Hager).
I found it especially interesting to learn about fat soluble vitamins, which need activators to be utilized by the body. For instance, skim milk contains nutrients but provides no delivery system. Cream provides the necessary activator.
Sadly, Dr. Price's work has been swept aside by modern dentistry and orthodontia. His work is kept alive through the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, P.O. Box 2614, La Mesa, CA 91943-2614, www.ppnf.org and firstname.lastname@example.org which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, tax=exempt organization. Membership includes a quarterly newsletter.
There's certainly plenty of "heavy lifting" required with the reading of this book, but it is definitely worth the journey.
This book is invaluable for Price's documentation of his visits to communities untouched by modern civilization. They are absolutely fascinating. His focus is on diet and teeth but other little details he records about customs and clothing etc. are so interesting. He goes on to document what happens when these healthy communities are introduced to modern foods and the results are tragic. You can easily draw your own conclusions from the accounts and photos, and it can't help but inform your ideas about ideal human diet and nutrition.
The rest of the book is exploration, explanation and further studies done by Price, which are worth a read but can get a bit heavy. Some of the book is archaic in its views and language, so a pinch of salt is needed at times. But I really would recommend to anyone; it is eye opening.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
First of all, yes. This book was written in the 1930's and it is full of politically incorrect terms describing native populations (primitives, savages) as well as handicapped individuals (idiot, retarded, moron, etc.).
It also features theories that are now baseless.
Mr. Price assumed that the theory of the land bridge to north america following the ice age was infallible so all the native population were from common ancestry and therefore their regionally physical differences were entirely based on nutrition.
Modern DNA testing reveals that the indigenous populations of the Americas are from varied regions of the world who, most likely, arrived at different times and locations.
If you can get past this distraction there is an amazing wealth of nutritional research in this book.
If you are interested in nutrition like me, you should also check out my other two favorite books on the subject:
The China Study by Thomas Campbell and, T. Colin Campbell
The Detox Miracle Source book: Raw Food and Herbs for Complete Cellular Regeneration by Robert S. Morse ND
What is truly interesting here is that "Nutrition and Physical Degeneration" seems to stand in opposition to these other preferred works of mine. It has provided a reference point for what appears to be an exceptionally long review!
Weston A. Price and his wife Florence did some exceptional research on untouched ancient cultures around the world and their relation to corresponding populations that had been introduced to modern diets. This is something that would be much harder to document today.
The majority of the diets studied were high in animal products. (Milk, Meat, Blood) It literally went without mention that the milk was raw as were any products made from it. (Cheese, Kefir, Yogurt) Little mention of the preparation of the meat was made. Often the meat was wild game as opposed to domesticated. Also, the use of organ meats was given great importance. Many Eurasian and African cultures used blood from blood-letting procedures on live animals.
There are many interesting anecdotal notes regarding hunting and fishing as well as animal management practices.
The most vegetarian-like diet studied is of the Quetchus Indians on the Capachica Peninsula near Puno in Peru. These people are surmised to be descendants of the Incas.
Potatoes are an important part of their diet. These are dipped in an aqueous suspension of clay to prevent "sour stomach". The clay is called "Chacco".
Traditional farm animals do poorly at this altitude. The main indigenous animals include: llama, alpaca, wild deer, birds, and guinea fowl. Theses are all eaten.
Parched corn and parched beans are eaten while carrying a heavy load or walking a long journey.
Cocoa leaves are chewed like tobacco. Ash of a particular plant is included to extract the alkaloids. A large quid lasts several hours.
Dairy is not a large part of this diet.
Mr. Price's research proved that a "primitive" diet of primarily animal products would produce healthy teeth, dental arches, bones and babies.
Without providing any evidence, he denounced all the modern processed foods of the day. Refined flour products, sweetened foods, canned foods, and polished rice.
Mr. Price, being a dentist by training, was a great admirer of dental arches and cavity-free teeth. These he found in great abundance in these native populations. Also in the study of ancient skull repositories.
He attributes malnutrition to "mouth breathers" such as myself, with pinched nostrils.
From malnutrition is also derived delinquency in the population. So that would explain my youth!
It is worth noting that some of the well-nourished indigenous populations had a history of war, murder and hostage taking.
What is the ideal diet?
I'm still not sure, but it seems an updated version of this book would be of great assistance in informing the populace.
This book was written quite a long time ago, the 1930’s is when Weston Price did his investigations. He was an American dentist, and he travelled around the world with his wife, looking at people’s teeth and recording what he found.
The reason that he started this expedition was that when he was looking at people’s teeth in America, and how bad they were, he wanted to understand how diet affects teeth, and he struggled to find a control group that wasn’t eating the Western processed food diet which was already common at that time. That diet includes refined white sugar, white flour products, white rice, etc., and then all the products that are made out of them as well such as jams.
He was looking for people as far removed from what you would call civilisation as possible, and for people living on as natural a diet as possible, so it might not be the same diet everywhere, and there were big variations in diet across the different people that he saw depending on where they lived and what was locally available, but it was the fact that they were eating food that was pretty much unprocessed. It was not completely unprocessed, so they may be eating, for example, rye products, but they were being made to use, rather than highly processed goods. And what he found was that there was an incredibly low occurrence of tooth decay in people who didn’t eat highly processed food – pretty big finding – a revelation! Not only did he find that they had much lower levels of tooth decay, they actually had a much lower level of general illness, and were usually fitter, healthier, happier people. So this should really have been an amazing finding to educate people of the time and instruct how we conduct our societies and sort out what we eat, because what is the point of civilisation? Shouldn’t happiness, health and social cohesion be part of the goal? How naïve!
It was a bit depressing reading the book because it was written so long ago, the information is very well laid out and put forward, he’s got his observational studies and then he also does more scientific lab-based testing on the nutrient levels of food etc. And it seems pretty clear that what we eat affects us – who knew?! So if you eat a highly processed diet, particularly things with refined white sugars, and of course nowadays we have things like corn syrup and the seed oils etc. Not good, just not good. It is pretty depressing really that here we are nearly a hundred years later and where have things gone, what direction have they gone in? I certainly don’t see an improvement in people’s heath! And obviously you only need to go to your local supermarket to see that these foods are EVERYWHERE, absolutely everywhere.
This was such a good book and I really recommend it to people who are interested in food, diet, health, mental wellbeing, society etc. Who wouldn’t be interested in all that? I really recommend it for people to understand more about; who we really are, what’s really important to us, what is really valuable to us, what we really want out of our society; do we just want to collect stuff and be sickly and fat and miserable? Or maybe have a bit less stuff and better health. and happiness, and mental strength – that would be good wouldn’t it!
It was really interesting to hear about the people who he visited and the lifestyles they lived. Some of them were in Europe, there was an isolated community in the Swiss mountains; he also goes to a little fishing island in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland; there were also Native Americans in Alaska; he goes through Northern and Eastern Africa; he goes to New Zealand and South America as well. So really completely different places, there’s a real mix of different diets. What’s really interesting about that is that there is a recurring theme through the different people that he visits, it’s this lack of a need of doctors, dentists, police and jails. And I just think that’s something that we really need to try and learn about because in our society we’re absolutely dragged down by health problems and social cohesion problems. And what these people can teach us, not just about diet, but about a whole way of living which I think would make the majority of people healthier and happier. I really think it’s something that should be taken more seriously because it’s not only a lack of tooth decay – which let’s face it would be great – tooth decay is something that I have struggled with personally and it’s horrible, it’s miserable. But also the fact that these people are so physically well formed, they’re stronger, they have a lack of illness, both physical, mental, as well as disabilities, they’re healthier spiritually, there’s a lack of suicide.
He talks a little bit about the variations of diet depending on the area. So for the Eskimos of Alaska their native diet is liberal use of organs and other special tissues of large animal life of the sea as well as fish, and all the things they do to them to preserve them for the Winter. The diet of the people in the Outer Hebrides was chiefly oat products and sea foods including the wide variety of fish there. For the Indians living inside the Rocky Mountains in the far North of Canada, the successful nutrition for nine months of the year was largely limited to wild game, largely moose and caribou, as well as growing plants, in the winter they made use of bark and buds of trees. (There’s great emphasis on eating the organs of the animals – this is stuff that we don’t do!) In the various archipelagos of the South Pacific and in the islands North of Australia the natives depended greatly on shellfish and various scaled fish from adjacent seas, these were eaten with an assortment of plants, roots and fruit, raw and cooked. The native tribes of Eastern and Central Africa used large quantities of sweet potato, beans and some cereals, when they were living sufficiently near fresh water streams and lakes large quantities of fish were eaten, goats or cattle, or both, were domesticated by many tribes, other tribes used wild animal life quite liberally. So what this is showing is that there’s many different ways this can be done, and it’s not a one size fits all thing, it’s completely dependent on where you are and what’s available locally. It’s about getting food that’s really fresh, not been refrigerated for months and then sat on a shelf in a shop for another few weeks. It’s about eating food that’s fresh and not processed, and also eating a wider range of things, like the organs, and other plants and things that we otherwise neglect, especially ones that are local.
Throughout the book there’s photos of different people who he’s met where they’re showing their jaws and their teeth formation and then he’s pointing out how their diet has affected their whole facial form and the arch of their teeth and obviously tooth decay. There’s an abundance of examples throughout the book of what Price is discussing, he visits many different groups of people both either eating a completely traditional diet, or with new foods introduced, and then he analyses their health.
And, it wasn’t just tooth decay, it was all illnesses. Price was saying that a lot of the places he was going to, once they’d had the Western foods there was big problems with tuberculosis and arthritis etc. and they just did not exist in the groups of people who were completely separated from the Western civilisation because their health was so much better.
Lots of interesting thoughts in there as well about how health works, that health is really down to our personal health, because we’re around these pathogens all the time and it’s out personal health that changes how affected we are by these things which are around us all the time. Really interesting.
I’m pretty much at the end of the book now. It was such a good book, it covered so many things. It’s not just about teeth, it’s not just about diet, it’s about our whole health and even how our societies are laid out. I think that’s one of the things that I found so striking about the book, was that these people just seemed happier, and in fact many societies had no known cases of suicide until they had Western foods and got toothache – toothache could actually lead to suicide. If you’ve ever had really bad toothache then you can understand that.
I feel that we are missing so much wisdom which is right there, and maybe we should question a little bit more about what we’re missing that wisdom for. What is it that we’re achieving? That’s not to say that everything in our civilisation is terrible but let’s face it, there’s a lot of shit, and I just think if you’re not healthy and you’re not happy, what are you doing it for? Lots and lots to think about. It’s quite depressing that this book was written so long ago, and obviously you see these organisations that make a lot of money out of food and medication, and the whole way that society is laid out, and they seem to have become more powerful and stronger, and people seem to be more submissive and more happy to give their health and wellbeing away, that’s quite sad. I do hope that more people are becoming aware, the internet’s been brilliant for spreading ideas and allowing people to educate themselves rather than relying on sources of information that are often corrupted. So, a really valuable book and I’m so glad that I read it and I absolutely recommend it.
This is one of the most important books on nutrition ever written. Dr. Price presents in this work documentation of the detrimental effects on health, bone structure and fertility that are seen when modern foods (sugar, white rice, white flour, canned foods, jams, lean muscle meat, vegetable oils), replace traditional foods (liberal use of sea foods, organ meats, eggs of many species of animal and fish, full-fat dairy from cow, goat and camel raised on fast growing grasses on mineral-rich soil, freshly cracked and ground whole grain breads).
This book is at its best when he documents his travels in the late 1920s through mid 1930s. He traveled to isolated parts of Switzerland, northern Scottish islands, northern Canada and Alaska, the Melanesian and Polynesian islands, the Peruvian Andes and Amazon regions, throughout Central and East Africa, New Guinea and Australia. In each location he meticulously documented dental cavities and dental arch and skull deformities, plus immunity to tuberculosis and other infectious diseases. He compared groups of the same "racial stock" that had no contact with modern foods, and were still eating their traditional diet to groups where "traditional" foods had been replaced by "modern" foods. And it is not pretty. More important than the data he collected are the photos that he took. It's enlightening to see photos of so many vibrant, strong, well-developed people. People that ate exclusively traditional diets. People that never used a toothbrush, yet had no history of tooth decay. It is equally heart-breaking when you see photos of what happens when "traditional" foods are replaced with modern foods. A photo can tell a thousand words, and simply scanning the photos in this book alone is well worth the purchase price.
The last third of this book rambles along, and it is written in the 30s, so there is some language that is not politically correct now. I wish he would have spent more time rigorously documenting the exact diets of the groups he came in contact with. It also would have been great to have more data on life expectancy, as well as tumor and heart disease data on the groups he studied. For those reasons, I give it 4 out of 5 stars.
Still, this book is so immensely important and influential to many, because we live in an age where there are virtually no people left on the planet that are eating completely traditional diets. The "white man's" food has replaced traditional foods for almost everyone. For that reason, most of the photos that we now see of so called current "primitive" groups, show people negatively impacted by modern foods. Dr. Price provides hundreds of photos of what these people looked like 80 years ago, before unhealthy foods were introduced. The photos of these beautiful, vibrant people will blow you away, and make you reconsider what "normal" and "healthy" really is. Sadly, it's hard to find examples of comparable levels of good health in those around us now.
This is one of the most important books ever written and should be required reading in all schools. It also should be required reading for anyone planning to have children. Although not a fast-paced or exciting read, it contains wisdom that is crucial to the health and survival of the human race.
Through the foods we eat, we have a lot more control over our health than most of us realize. Dr. Weston A. Price, a dentist and the first research director of the National Dental Association (later renamed the American Dental Association), traveled the globe in the 1930s studying the health and diets of different races. Over and over again he found that no matter what the race, the isolated people who were eating their traditional nutrient-dense foods had excellent dental and overall health, whereas members of the same race who instead ate processed foods had poor dental and overall heath. He concluded that lack of proper nutrition is the root cause of all physical degeneration, including degeneration of the teeth and gums.
According to Dr. Price’s research, your physical health is greatly influenced by what your parents ate before conception, what your mother ate during pregnancy, what you ate as a growing child, and what you now eat as an adult. The definition of proper nutrition that emerged during Dr. Price's research is not the same as the mainstream definition of proper nutrition today. The following Web pages provide a brief summary of Dr. Price's findings:
The wisdom in this book should be common knowledge today, but it is not. Why? Please keep in mind that if we all avoided the damaging processed foods (like sugar, white flour, and vegetable oils), ate nutrient-dense foods, and as a result had excellent health, we would not need dentists, orthodontists, or doctors, just as the isolated people studied by Dr. Price didn't need them. Not only would the producers of the processed foods lose a lot of money, but dentists, orthodontists, doctors, and Big Pharma would also lose a huge income stream. It is much more profitable for them if we are not sick enough to die but sick enough, for example, to need cavity fillings, orthodontics, or medications like statins that must be taken for the rest of our lives. These groups have a big influence on our government, so that explains why the US government's food pyramid does not reflect Dr. Price's research and instead reflects the financial influence of these groups.
Weston Price’s classic “Nutrition and physical degeneration” still offers worthy insights to us today. Price, a dentist, travelled all over the world to “primitive” tribes to see what their diets were before and after contact with modern Western man. Price believed there was a clear relation between modern diets and irregularities in teeth and jaws (badly formed dental arches, caries, etc.) and wanted to investigate this idea further.
His travels definitely increased his suspicions. Wherever he went: Fiji, Congo, Peru, Loetschental valley and Gaelic islands, the findings were similar. People who ate modern diets had disproportionate amounts of caries and badly formed dental arches; pre-modern tribes who ate traditional diets all had straight, white teeth without caries, wide jaws. These people never brushed their teeth or saw a dentist – they didn’t need to. Price believed that traditional diets were richer in vitamins and certain amounts of micronutrients (potassium, magnesium, iodine, etc.) He was struck by the richness of seafood, especially.
Price did a lot of further thinking with regards to his ideas. For example, he checked what happened to animals (like pigs) raised a modern diet. Result: they had all kinds of development problems (blindness, disfigured limbs, etc.) So, Price concluded agricultural land tended to get over-used, making the agricultural products low in micro-nutritional content and thus unhealthy – for animals and people. During the book, Price seems to see other effects of micro nutritional shortages in human: club feet, small faces, small frames, bad development in the pelvic area (problems during pregnancy and labour).
This book, however, is old and, therefore, a bit dated. In many ways research and insights have falsified certain conclusions. He seems to argue pre-modern dietary wisdom was better than anything the modern West has to offer. Well, look at a map today, 100 years after this book? Does anyone prefer to live in pre-modern societies? I sure don’t. That’s not the big story, in my opinion. What is noteworthy is how many of Price’s ideas have resulted in useful practices today. Price would have supported a paleo diet, for example, and frowned upon the veganism craze; children and pregnant women get all sorts of dietary supplement; we all value fresh and nutrient rich food today; and we all understand the importance of eating healthy food and the prevention of teeth decay.
You could sum up this book in few points really. So to spare You the trouble of hearing words like: "dental", "cavity", "teeth" and "dental arches" a MILLION times.
Here is my quick sum up:
1. The author and his team of researchers traveled around the world and studied the teeth and overall health (but focused on teeth as the main factor) of different primitive tribes (or at least what would SOME call primitive) - some of them included Aborigines, Malaysians, Native Americans, Peruvian Indians, New Zealand's Maori and a few more.
2. They compared this data with the modernized representatives of these groups (mostly eating white people's imported food)
3. The results were quite shocking. In most cases of the primitive tribes all the teeth problems amounted to much less than 1% of all the teeth. For example: for 1000 teeth checked only 3 had any sign of dental caries.
4. In contrast the white people or the modernized people of the same tribes had rampant tooth decay, different facial abnormalities.
5. The modernized people were eating white flower, polished rice, food rich in sugar and canned goods
6. The primitive tribes, free from the dental caries and with perfectly formed dental arches were thriving on their native diets .(these included mostly wild animal (including their organs), wild fish, blood, diary products).
7. The main reason that the primitive people can keep their teeth in such a splendid form is the food they are eating is rich in all sorts of vitamins and minerals. The most important ones being vit. a, vit d, calcium, phosphorus and others.
8. The author arrived at a great way to replenish the deficiencies of those vitmains and minerals once they reach a dangerously low level.
9. A rich in fat soluable vitamins butter (only from grass fed cows) along with cod liver oil.
10. Avoid sugars and white flower products as much as You can.
If You still think white flower is good for You than I recommend You read "Grain Brain" and/or "Wheat Belly"
All the best and stay healthy. Thanks for taking the time to read my review, Łukasz
"One of our modern tendencies is to select the foods we like, particularly those that satisfy our hunger without our having to eat much, and, another is to think in terms of the few known vitamins and their effects. The primitive tendency seems to have been to provide an adequate factor of safety for all emergencies by the selection of a sufficient variety and quantity of the various natural foods to prevent entirely most of our modern affections."
Imagine that you are a dentist treating tooth decay (dental caries) and you decide to investigate the root causes, and discover that primitive and isolated tribes do not have tooth decay. Then you start checking the effects on the dental health on the primitive tribes of the contact with modern diets, and it becomes apparent that tooth decay is one of those effects. That dentist was Weston Price.
Even though i understand that Price was controversial, moralist in part of his conclusions, i still recommend this book because it sheds light on two things: one is the effect of the nutrition in our health and how primitive tribes found ways to eat in a balanced way, and second on the effect that the fast assimilation of our culture had on those tribes.
So very interesting. Dr. Price (actually a DENTIST...not an MD) wrote this in 1939 after studying the effects of various diets on isolated, primitive peoples. He describes is great detail (with insightful pictures) how our diet affects our health. Although not all arguments were entirely substantiated, the overall picture shows the potential harm our Western diet can inflict. I am the exact type of person who SHOULD be a health-nut...unfortunately, I read as many cookbooks as other books and love trying new recipes and experimenting with ingredients. Even if it may not be good for me, I want to try out that new chocolate cake recipe I read in a magazine. Darn my hypocrisy. Still, an eye-opening look at food and how it not only fuels, but actually shapes our societies. Maybe someday I'll have the will-power to convert to whole foods and health...that day isn't today. Sorry Dr. Price.
I had read many recommendations which suggested this book as a great nutritional reference. While I do not doubt the value of the information here presented, the book itself is awfully tedious. After a while it becomes very repetitive, it just goes on and on and on with examples of exactly the same problems and situations. It indeed reflects some interesting facts but at a certain point the text does not add anything at all - just looking at the different example pictures would suffice to most readers.
I would only recommend it to those readers who are deeply interested in the unhealthy effects of modern nutrition and would not mind a bit of a boring read just for the sake of finding more evidences that support their opinion.
This is a really great book, it reads like a textbook so is hard to get through all of it and I had to skim through parts of it. Basically in the 1930's Weston Price and his wife scoured the earth for the most remote and primitive populations. Ones that weren't tainted by a modern diet. The people were healthy in every way, bones and teeth were well formed and there was little disease. As modern diet encroached on their traditional diets their health and vigor decreased with each generation. All of this is documented with pictures, and a picture is worth a thousand words.
Have you ever wondered why we experience tooth decay? How about why we are so vulnerable to diseases? This book, written in the 1930s, is an amazing study about nutrition. It is hard not to believe every word in this book -- Dr. Price visits isolated communities throughout the world and learns why they are free from all the degenerative diseases that were prevalent in the 1930s and even more so today.
Quite verbose, but such an amazing book. The terminology would need a review and update though! Some definitions result to be racist and discriminatory in our modern times. People are addressed as 'monsters' or 'idiots'..frankly unacceptable!