Masters of Health Magazine May 2022 - Page 13

The photographs Price took, the descriptions of what he found and his startling conclusions are preserved in a book considered a masterpiece by many nutrition researchers who followed in Price’s footsteps: Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. Yet this compendium of ancestral wisdom is all but unknown to today’s medical community and modern parents.

Nutrition and Physical Degeneration is the kind of book that changes the way people view the world. No one can look at the handsome photographs of so-called primitive people–faces that are broad, well-formed and noble–without realizing that there is something very wrong with the development of modern children. In every isolated region he visited, Price found tribes or villages where virtually every individual exhibited genuine physical perfection. In such groups, tooth decay was rare and dental crowding and occlusions–the kind of problems that keep American orthodontists in yachts and vacation homes–nonexistent. Price took photograph after photograph of beautiful smiles, and noted that the natives were invariably cheerful and optimistic. Such people were characterized by “splendid physical development” and an almost complete absence of disease, even those living in physical environments that were extremely harsh.

The fact that “primitives” often exhibited a high degree of physical perfection and beautiful straight white teeth was not unknown to other investigators of the era. The accepted explanation was that these people were “racially pure” and that unfortunate changes in facial structure were due to “race mixing”. Price found this theory unacceptable. Very often the groups he studied lived close to racially similar groups that had come in contact with traders or missionaries, and had abandoned their traditional diet for foodstuffs available in the newly established stores—sugar, refined grains, canned foods, pasteurized milk and devitalized fats and oils–what Price called the “displacing foods of modern commerce.” In these peoples, he found rampant tooth decay, infectious illness and degenerative conditions. Children born to parents who had adopted the so-called civilized diet had crowded and crooked teeth, narrowed faces, deformities of bone structure and reduced immunity to disease. Price concluded that race had nothing to do with these changes.

He noted that physical degeneration occurred in children of native parents who had adopted the white man’s diet; while mixed race children whose parents had consumed traditional foods were born with wide handsome faces and straight teeth.

The diets of the healthy “primitives” Price studied were all very different: In the Swiss village where Price began his investigations, the inhabitants lived on rich dairy products–unpasteurized milk, butter, cream and cheese–dense rye bread, meat occasionally, bone broth soups and the few vegetables they could cultivate during the short summer months. The children never brushed their teeth–in fact their teeth were covered in green slime–but Price found that only about one percent of the teeth had any decay at all.

The children went barefoot in frigid streams during weather that forced Dr. Price and his wife to wear heavy wool coats; nevertheless childhood illnesses were virtually nonexistent and there had never been a single case of TB in the village. Hearty Gallic fishermen living off the coast of Scotland consumed no dairy products. Fish formed the mainstay of the diet, along with oats made into porridge and oatcakes. Fish heads stuffed with oats and chopped fish liver was a traditional dish, and one considered very important for children.

The Eskimo diet, composed largely of fish, fish roe and marine animals, including seal oil and blubber, allowed Eskimo mothers to produce one sturdy baby after another without suffering any health problems or tooth decay. Well-muscled hunter-gatherers in Canada, the Everglades, the Amazon, Australia and Africa consumed game animals, particularly the parts that civilized folk tend to avoid–organ meats, glands, blood, marrow and particularly the adrenal glands–and a variety of grains, tubers, vegetables and fruits that were available. African cattle-keeping tribes like the Masai consumed no plant foods at all–just meat, blood and milk. South Seas islanders and the Maori of New Zealand ate seafood of every sort–fish, shark, octopus, shellfish, sea worms–along with pork meat and fat, and a variety of plant foods including coconut, manioc and fruit.