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From the book: Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Dr Weston A Price.

You may have heard of the expression: To lose sight of the forest for the trees! In the process of focussing on a single tree the observer forgets the existence of the forest. When science focuses too closely on a single detail it loses touch with the bigger picture. Those people who would have us believe that a single food supplement or drug provides the answer to good health have lost sight of the forest that nurtures health.

Dr Weston A Price, an American Dentist in the late 1930's, vacated his dentist chair in preference of a research program designed to find the fundamental cause and answer of rampant tooth decay. Rather than focus on tooth enamel, acids, bacteria, fluoride and so on he expanded his horizon.

He studied isolated groups of people living on a traditional diet and compared them with other groups of the same racial stock living on a western diet. (The term Dr Price used for 'western diet' was 'foods of commerce'.) Dr Price studied both isolated and primitive groups of Swiss, Gaelic's, Eskimos, North American Indians, Melanesians, Polynesians, African tribes, Australian Aborigines, Torres Strait Islanders, Maoris and Peruvian Indians.

Price's research method was simple: Travel to a remote area to locate a group of people living on a traditional diet. Examine the teeth of school age children for dental decay; record any health problems; send samples of food back to a laboratory for analysis; and take photographs of both children and adults to compare the racial features and teeth with those of the same racial stock living on a western diet.

In those groups living on a traditional diet Dr Price found little evidence of tooth decay, less than 1%. He also found little evidence of degenerative diseases such as tuberculosis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, etc. In societies living on a traditional diet he found little need of a dentist and only occasional need of a doctor. In addition child birth was not fraught with the complications of those people who had made the transition to a western diet.

In contrast to the traditional groups, amongst those who ate a western diet he found rampant dental decay, degenerative disease, difficulty in childbirth, and a significant change in the racial form characterised by a narrowing of the face and nasal passages, buckled teeth, a narrowing of the birth canal, and other physical injuries such as hair-lip and club foot.

Most significantly Dr Price found no evidence of a one hundred percent vegetarian diet that supported good health. In fact in the late 1930's the 100% vegetarian Madras in the south of India had the lowest life expectancy in their country.

We might ask why a group of people would change their traditional dietary habits when it had promoted good health for generations, in favour of the foods of commerce which invariably led to degenerative disease?

One answer may be that a western lifestyle carries with it a certain prestige. Another is that of coercion by political and economic interests. During the period of colonial expansion traders initially encouraged natives to exchange their nutrient rich foods, such as coconut, for skeletonised products such as: sugar, refined flour, jams, treacle, coffee and a few textiles. Eventually however, the natives were driven from their land and forced to grow cash crops such as sugar and coffee. Having 'lost' their land and their traditional source of food, the natives had no choice but to shop for western food stuffs at the local store.

(Incidentally, Globalization which allows the USA to trade freely with any country it chooses, is continuing to separate local people from their food supply.)

Dr Price observed that degenerative disease can be corrected by returning to a traditional diet. At one time, due to a world downturn in the price for Coconut produce, Polynesians were able to return to their traditional diet. In such cases Dr Price saw evidence of the remineralisation of tooth cavities.

Dr Price reports that traditional peoples had an implicit understanding that the cause of their physical (and moral) degeneration was caused by a change in diet. Native and western doctors related to Dr Price how they successfully treated tuberculosis and other degenerative disease by advising their patients to return to a traditional diet.

Dr Price discovered a correlation between season and peak periods of morbidity. He noted that the period of optimum national health in the USA correlated with the period of rapid growth of pasture, and that the period of highest morbidity correlated with the lowest growth of pasture. Farm animals too, showed signs of degenerative disease in areas of low soil fertility and in times of drought. Laboratory analysis showed that the highest quality butter came from cows fed on rapidly growing pasture. Another study showed that intelligence was related to nutrition and that areas of high soil fertility in the USA was correlated with the birthplace of scientists.

Any sensible person would agree that the fundamental basis of nutrition is to convert elements from the air and soil into a form that a plant or animal can utilise. Unfortunately modern farming practices have stripped minerals from the soil, transported them to the cities in the form of food and dumped them in the ocean via the sewer. Dr Price's calculations showed that if the minerals in farm land were not replenished, then the soil would be exhausted after fifty to one hundred harvesting's.

The challenge that faces us in the 21st century is to design a diet that regenerates our body. Two books well worth reading on this subject are: Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Dr Weston A Price. Nourishing Traditions which contains some 700 recipes on traditional diet, also provides multiple sources of access to high quality information in the form of nearly 1000 excerpts from books and articles on nutrition and health.


1 teaspoon = 5 ml / 5 gm. 1 tablespoon = 15 ml / 15 gm. 15 tablespoons = 1 cup / 225 ml. 1 cup = 8 fluid oz / 225 ml. 1 US gallon = 3.6 litres. 1 lb = 16 oz / 454 gm. Temperature 20C = 68F. Conversion from Fahrenheit to Celsius: C = (F - 32) / 1.8. Conversion from Celsius to Fahrenheit: F = C x 1.8 + 32

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