For years, I’ve often wondered why on earth I was going to have to have my wisdom teeth removed (which I did, in July). Why did I have teeth naturally grow in that would have to be unnaturally removed in my 20s? What did they do hundreds of years ago without the modern dentist? Who removed their wisdom teeth then? What about eskimos and primitive peoples?
Dentists never seemed to be able to answer my questions. They would usually say, “You may not have to have them removed.” “Some people don’t; but most do.” “They’ll cause problems later.” But none of them could say why it was necessary in general! Why on earth have several generations of humans had to have their third molars removed!!?
Well, now I know.
Regardless of how you feel about his research (ie. whether you’re vegan or paleo or a weight watcher), it’s obvious from the context of the book that the prevailing thought in the 1930s was that the removal of the third molars was a new practice that was caused by a deformation or malformation of the dental arch! Deformation. Yes. All of us who are having our third molars removed are, in fact, deformed. Deformed?! Yes.
Why are we all deformed?
That was the question that Dr. Price was trying to answer by engaging in the research he presented in his book. Many dentists at the time recognized that impacted third molars were causing problems for their patients, but they couldn’t figure out why it was happening so prevalently all of a sudden. To wit, it was a new problem!!
The reason we are deformed, Dr. Price argues is because we, beneficiaries of modern advancement in technology and nutrition, are malnourished. Our mothers and fathers were malnourished and we, when we were in our mothers’ wombs were malnourished, and during our formative years, we were malnourished. We are a generation of malnourished deformed people. We’re freaks.
If we are the freaks, then who are the normal ones? Dr. Price had an inkling that ‘the creator intended physical perfection for all human beings, and that children should grow up free of ailments’ [when fed the ideal diet]. And so he decided to:
“...travel to various isolated parts of the earth where the inhabitants had no contact with “civilization” to study their health and physical development. These investigations occurred at a time when there still existed remote pockets of humanity untouched by modern inventions; but when one modern invention, the camera, allowed Price to make a permanent record of the people he studied.” 1
What did he find out?
Dr. Price discovered a high degree of physical strength and handsomeness, perfect dental arches, and little to no cavities in the bodies and mouths, respectively, of the primitive people he was studying. He also found no cases of modern diseases. But here’s the kicker: when these people groups began to adopt modern foods, they also began to develop deformed dental arches, cavities, and became susceptible to tuberculosis and other diseases. Dr. Price also found that when these people would go back to their primitive foods, the problems would cease.
What were they eating?!
Price took samples of native foods home with him to Cleveland and studied them in his laboratory. He found that these diets contained at least four times the minerals and water soluble vitamins–vitamin C and B complex–as the American diet of his day. Price would undoubtedly find a greater discrepancy [these days] due to continual depletion of our soils through industrial farming practices. What’s more, among traditional populations, grains and tubers were prepared in ways that increased vitamin content and made minerals more available–soaking, fermenting, sprouting and sour leavening.
It was when Price analyzed the fat soluble vitamins that he got a real surprise. The diets of healthy native groups contained at least ten times more vitamin A and vitamin D than the American diet of his day! These vitamins are found only in animal fats–butter, lard, egg yolks, fish oils and foods with fat-rich cellular membranes like liver and other organ meats, fish eggs and shell fish.
Price referred to the fat soluble vitamins as “catalysts” or “activators” upon which the assimilation of all the other nutrients depended – protein, minerals and vitamins. In other words, without the dietary factors found in animal fats, all the other nutrients largely go to waste. 1
So what’s the point?
The point is: our dental deformation betrays the fact that we are poorly constructed because our food is poorly constructed. We’re eating empty calories. That is, food devoid of body-building materials and chemicals. Food that is used only for energy. White flour. White bread. Jams. Canned vegetables. We were eating it in 1938 when Dr. Price published his book, and – unfortunately he wasn’t successful in changing the world – we’re still eating it.
A lot of new books are on the market right now about the right way to eat and several of them are on my Christmas wish list! But I recommend that anyone who’s interested in researching and thinking about “what then shall we eat” head over to this website that has the entire book online. But here, for reference, are the chapters:
- Why Seek Wisdom from Primitive Races
- The Progressive Decline of Modern Civilization
- Isolated and Modernized Swiss
- Isolated and Modernized Gaelics
- Isolated and Modernized Eskimos
- Primitive and Modernized North American Indians
- Isolated and Modernized Melanesians
- Isolated and Modernized Polynesians
- Isolated and Modernized African Tribes
- Isolated and Modernized Australian Aborigines
- Isolated and Modernized Torres Strait Islanders
- Isolated and Modernized New Zealand Maori
- Ancient Civilizations of Peru
- Isolated and Modernized Peruvian Indians
- Characteristics of Primitive and Modernized Dietaries
- Primitive Control of Dental Caries
- One Origin of Physical Deformities
- Prenatal Nutritional Deformities and Disease Types
- Physical, Mental and Moral Deterioration
- Soil Depletion and Plant and Animal Deterioration
- Practical Applications of Primitive Wisdom
Alternatively, you could buy it from Amazon.
For more information about what the primitives were actually eating, read the book, or head over to the Weston A. Price Foundation website and poke around. This page about Ancient Dietary Wisdom is a good place to start and is also the page from which I got the above quotes.
For the record, I’m not giving them money and they’re not giving me money (or anything else for that matter). I simply read the book and had to share the information. I think it might be a game-changer.